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frog: Microsoft And Google Pull The Plug On Responsible Energy Consumption – PSFK

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Last week marked a setback for consumers looking to track and manage their home energy consumption. In 2009, Microsoft and Google launched services aimed at the nascent consumer home energy market. The two tech giants were looking to be the first to establish platforms for the anticipated wave of home energy management products. But in simple statements just days apart, both said that the services would be discontinued due to low adoption rates. How quickly they pulled the plug is disappointing, but speaks volumes about the challenge of innovating in the energy industry.

Google Powermeter allowed users to track their personal energy consumption. Designed as an open system, Google had been steadily forming Powermeter partnerships with hardware and software companies, such as the TED, Current Cost, and the UK’s AlertMe, smart electric meter manufacturers, and a number of prominent utility companies.

Microsoft Hohm was a web-based application that allowed users to monitor and analyze their energy consumption, and included a blog with energy-saving recommendations. Hohm created a rating system called a “Hohm Score,” which rated your home’s energy efficiency.

Both companies have claimed that these services were simply ahead of their time. Both voiced their long term commitment to green energy practices and future platforms.

What’s really behind these decisions? With Google pulling out first, it took the pressure off for Microsoft to keep Hohm afloat. Say what you want about Microsoft, but both tech companies know the importance of getting products to market quickly. In contrast, the energy industry is built on century-old technologies and complex physical infrastructure—power plants, point-to-point transport using ships and trains, substations and distribution lines to cities and homes, not to mention the tangled bureaucracy of federal, state, and municipal governments with a mix of regulated and deregulated service areas. It’s likely that both companies discovered that the energy industry operates on a geological timescale where fast-paced innovation is a foreign concept, and simply decided to get the hell out.

The lack of first-mover technology investments and large-scale competition is a huge loss. If two of the largest, deep pocketed tech companies pulled out after only two years, what does this say about the near term future of green energy products? What will happen to product companies hoping to build (or that have already built) on top of these platforms? Without a broad platform that connects products, services, and utility companies, there isn’t a viable ecosystem for true energy management at the consumer level.

(Continue reading here.)

[Written by Collin Cole. Main image elements copyrighted by Michael McCauslin, courtesy of Creative Commons. Reprinted with kind permission from design mind, a publication of global innovation firm frog.]

design mind is a publication of global innovation firm frog that is updated daily to keep the design and innovation community updated with fresh perspectives on industry trends, emerging technologies, and global consumer culture. Learn more about design mind and frog.

Reprinted with kind permission from design mind, a publication of frog.

Collin Cole is the co-founder of frog design’s media group and the senior vice president of frog’s Design Realization group. He works closely with the design and engineering teams to bring innovative ideas to the market. Learn more about Collin Cole.

via frog: Microsoft And Google Pull The Plug On Responsible Energy Consumption – PSFK.

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Written by Kees Winkel

July 5, 2011 at 22:04

Apple Staff: Keepers Of The A.P.P.L.E. Code – PSFK

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They come equipped with blue shirts with Apple logos, white and grey ID tags, and an iPhone or iPad. Who are they? They are “Keepers of the Code,” the A.P.P.L.E. code that is. This is one of the key factors that makes Apple the successful $12 billion plus empire that it is today. Most of us thought that the Apple was just a logo that identifies all their devices. However, it also stands for basic in-store guidelines for the staff to facilitate consistent customer interactions:

* A pproach customers with a personalized warm welcome.

* P robe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.

* P resent a solution for the customer to take home today.

* L isten for and resolve any issues or concerns.

* E nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Some other A.P.P.L.E. codes include:

* Listen and Limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc.

* Any employee who is 10 minutes late three times in six months is as good as gone. (Probably a good rule of thumb for anyone working in today’s world where jobs are scarce).

* Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs — some of which they may not even realize they have.

* Employees can’t correct mispronunciations of Apple products. (It’s considered condescending to correct a customer if they, for example, call iPod Touches “iTouches.” Just let them say it however they please).

* Apple staff do not have sales quotas, but are encouraged to sell Apple Care. (Seeing as how Apple Care has benefits like Genius Bar walk-ins, it shouldn’t be too difficult a task).

With Steve Jobs still heavily involved in the thought process and design behind all things Apple, consumers can expect to have the same user and design-friendly experience that they see in all Apple products.

via Apple Staff: Keepers Of The A.P.P.L.E. Code – PSFK.

Mobile Disco: How Phones Make Music Inescapable – PSFK

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It’s a summer afternoon, and a park in north London is teeming. Scattered randomly across the grass, relaxed Brits of all generations and backgrounds laze on rugs, read papers, and tend disposable barbecues and small children. More active groups play keepy-uppy or show off their capoeira skills. And there’s a soundtrack, one you wouldn’t have heard even 10 years ago: the buzzing treble of music coming off people’s mobile phones. Whether it’s Lady Gaga’s Poker Face emerging from a gaggle of new parents, or the sharply-attired twentysomethings wearing their choice of Donaeo’s funky house anthem Party Hard as ostentatiously as their sunglasses, most groups are playing music off their phones. The revolving mobile jukebox in my group takes us from Johnny Cash to the Knife to Guido. None of these quite work without the bass, but that’s OK: it’s just nice to have a bit of music playing, right?

Not for everyone. Playing music aloud on mobile phones has become a divisive phenomenon in city life, given its own name by those who resent it: sodcasting. The name, some say, originated in Pascal Wyse’s Wyse Words column in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine back in 2007: “Sodcast [noun]: Music, on a crowded bus, coming from the speaker on a mobile phone. Sodcasters are terrified of not being noticed, so they spray their audio wee around the place like tomcats.”

Read more via Mobile Disco: How Phones Make Music Inescapable – PSFK.

Move Over Cable, Mobile Internet Usage At Home Is Growing – PSFK

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This article titled “Over 3m homes rely on mobile broadband for internet, finds Ofcom” was written by Charles Arthur, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 26th May 2011 21.56 UTC

Around 7% of UK households, or 1.5m of the total 21.3m, use mobile devices exclusively to connect to the internet, and a total of 3.6m, or 17%, used mobile broadband for internet access, according to new research by communications regulator Ofcom.

The study, carried out between September and December 2010 with broadband monitoring specialists Epitiro, found that the number of homes using mobile devices for exclusive access had doubled from 3% in 2009.

 

The average mobile broadband speed was 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), which meant that basic web pages took an average of 8.5 seconds to download. The Digital Britain report, which has been taken up by the coalition government, aims for a minimum 2Mbps connection for every home via mobile or fixed broadband.

By contrast fixed broadband over telephone lines offers an average 6.2Mbps in a study done in November and December 2010; with that, the same pages loaded in less than 0.5s.

The research involved over 4.2m tests and measured average speeds as well as the performance of the five mobile operators in areas of good 3G network coverage. However, it did not include smartphones, looking only at 3G dongles and datacards.

via Move Over Cable, Mobile Internet Usage At Home Is Growing – PSFK.

Written by Kees Winkel

May 31, 2011 at 20:13

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