Monthly Archives: May 2008

Fabulous Handheld Spider

I’m getting ready to go on vacation, so of course I checked out new games I can load onto my Pocket PC and bring with me. I’ve been addicted to Spider on my PC for a few years now, but never found a good implementation of it on a handheld until now. But Astraware has finally done it – made a version of Spider that’s actually playable on a handheld.

It’s hard to do – the screen is small, and you can’t use handy keyboard shortcuts for hint or undo like you can on a desktop. But they’ve solved the problem with a mode that shows all available moves, so you don’t have to go to the menu to see each one (why didn’t Microsoft do this in their version? It’s so obvious once you think of it), and an Undo button right on the screen. The cards are as big as they can be, and the stacks resize as they fill up.

This is a lesson in usability for handheld developers. (No, I’m not playing games. I’m learning about usability. Really.) There are 12 different solitaire games in the package, and it looks like the others are just as well implemented. Brilliant job, Astraware. And thank you – the flights and airport are going to be a lot more bearable for me now.

Dangerous Marketing

Marketing is a tricky business, and one wrong move can set you back twice as far as a good campaign can move you forward. We recently posted an article entitled “Windows has left the building!”, talking about an ill-conceived marketing tag-line that appeared at the Microsoft website. The reason this caught our eye wasn’t just a chance to laugh at Microsoft. We happen to like Microsoft a LOT over here at Ilium Software. Instead, it was a chance to see how even a company like Microsoft, with all of its resources, can miss something simple and end up hurt by it.

First impressions are a huge part of marketing. It isn’t about what the customer thinks after they’ve taken time to dig into your message and really understand it. The sad reality is that most customers never bother. Rather, it is the immediate, visceral response your message generates.

Using the “Windows has left the building!” tag-line as an example, the phrase is (obviously for many folks) based off the famous “Elvis has left the building!” line. Using a well known and familiar line and tweaking it is a great way to strike a familiar chord in your audience. Unfortunately, the original line was about the King leaving the stage. The show was over. Everyone could go home. It wasn’t about Elvis hitting the street to do a show for the crowd out there. He was done. Finis.

So, when Microsoft uses this line they are accidentally saying, “Show’s over folks! The King is done and has left the stage!” Someone at the Microsoft PR firm deserves a swift kick for this snafu. I mean yeah, when you think it through you can figure out what they mean, but unfortunately by then it is too late. They’ve made their impression.

I’ll leave you with a great, simple example of this that I learned in a fantastic marketing class at University of Michigan. A professor said, “Unless you are an exterminator, never get a flyswatter with your company name on it. Having your product directly associated with bug guts does not create a positive impression in the minds of the customer.”

Marc on TV

WDIV, our local NBC station, stopped by Wednesday and interviewed Marc about eWallet. We were all pretty excited to see him – and our software – on the evening news!

You can see it here; the video link is right under the photo.

The emphasis on the iPhone is theirs – Marc showed versions of several devices, and they picked which parts to use (in the car, going back to Detroit, apparently. I’m impressed).

Anyway, check it out; Marc looks and sounds very professional. I guess all those years of voice training paid off.

Most People Wouldn’t Call These Mothers’ Day Videos

Even the FTC is getting into the video act. They’ve released videos about phishing, identity theft, and protecting personal information on YouTube. I’ll admit I only watched the short ones, but they were pretty good.

I’m guessing that everyone who reads this blog knows all this already, but I’m also guessing that everyone who reads this blog knows someone who could use a reminder. I’m very careful what I click on, but I know too many people who forget, or just don’t realize, that what looks like a very, very legitimate email might not be.

Most people wouldn’t call these Mothers’ Day videos, but if watching and remembering one of these videos makes someone’s mother stop and think before she clicks a link in an email, it will be worth a lot more than flowers.

“Windows Has Left the Building”

No, I’m not quoting one of the Microsoft-bashing sites. It’s not from one of the articles that says Microsoft’s lost their vision, is years behind Apple, or will never catch up with Google. It’s from Microsoft’s site – in fact, it’s from the biggest graphic on Microsoft.com’s top page today.

Here’s a screenshot of the page, in case it goes away by the time I finish writing this. The top graphic says:

Ladies and gentlemen, Windows has left the building.

I’m delighted that Windows Mobile is being featured by Microsoft. Really I am. But that headline – even with pictures of Windows Mobile devices and screens behind it – just doesn’t seem to me like the right approach.

I may be wrong. I’m a marketing professional only in the broadest definition (I get paid for it), but I’m not an expert, or even close. And I’m sure that the Microsoft spot has was made by very highly trained, experienced, knowledgeable people, who know way more than I do.

But I still don’t think it’s a good idea. Anyone else? I’d be very interested in hearing what other people think.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

June/July IssueThe next time you head on over to your neighborhood newsstand, bookstore, or wherever you go to grab the latest copies of your favorite magazines, be sure to pick up the June/July issue of Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine, which recently hit the shelves. Just look for the fancy pictures of the iPhone and the new Sony XPERIA X1 on the cover. The issue takes a look at the new device and sizes it up to the Apple iPhone.

But wait, there’s more! If you flip on over to page 34, you’ll find a wonderful review of a little something we like to call eWallet. It’s written by none other than expert reviewer Clinton Fitch, whose Windows Mobile news and reviews can be found all over the web, including his own site ClintonFitch.com and the Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine blog.

What’s that you say? You can’t run down to the corner store right now, and you’re just dying to read the review this second? Well, you can click this link right here, and read Clinton’s full article on the magazine’s website. Whether you read it online or in print, the article is packed with information about all the cool new features in eWallet 6.0, tips for using the program, as well as some nice screenshots and a shout-out to our world class tech support. We’re all pretty excited about this review, but quite frankly, eWallet has been acting like a bit of a diva around the office since it came out. There’s talk of it moving out to Hollywood now to start its own reality TV show, but I think that’ll go away after some of the newness dies down. Let’s hope so anyway.

A big thanks to Clinton and the magazine!

And the Winner Is…

May is here, and it’s time to pick another winner out of our Blog Contest Hat. Well, there really is no hat, but I think I might start referring to it as the Contest Hat, because that sounds fun and exciting, and I really like this new graphic I found.

For April, the lucky winner is Chris Baggott, for commenting on the post eWallet for Apple Newton. Congratulations! I just sent you an email explaining how to get your prize. If you don’t receive it, reply to this post and let me know.

Honestly, I don’t know why everyone seemed to think that post was so funny – I mean, we were going to put eWallet out for the Newton, but we got such an unexpected response from our commenters that we just decided to pull the plug…. What? Oh, April Fool’s Day jokes don’t work in May? You don’t believe me? Oh, okay, moving along – to everyone else out there, keep the comments coming, we love to hear what you think. And next month, the winner could be you!