A Warning to Naked iPhone 6 Plus Owners

WHAT ALL IPHONE 6 PLUS OWNERS URGENTLY NEED TO KNOW

So you bought that amazing Apple iPhone 6 Plus, and you just love the beauty of the form factor, and how gorgeous it looks without a case? Good luck. Enjoy your happiness while it lasts. Because when you break that lovely new Apple device, you're gonna be depressed.

Since its release, I have had to experience the extreme displeasure of telling people who bring broken iPhone 6 Plus smartphones to my shop exactly how much financial damage they are in for. I sincerely hate to them coming, and I don't enjoy being the bearer of horrible news.

Right now, breaking your iPhone 6 will set you back about $100 for a new LCD/digitizer assembly, and $60 labor for the installation (if you come to my shop, Gadget Gurus). But if you own the Godzilla-sized iPhone 6 Plus and jack up your screen, you are going to have to dig really deep in your pocket to come up with $350 for the LCD/digitizer assembly, plus the $60 labor.

People taking a chance on using their iPhone 6 Plus in the nude are playing financial Russian roulette. My advice to anyone who owns one of these devices is to leave it in the box until you have a shock-proof case (like an Otterbox or equal) and a tempered glass hard screen protector ready to install on it.

What most people don't understand is that they are packing a powerful $1,000 laptop computer in their pocket with no keyboard and a super expensive touch screen. If you purchased a laptop for that price, you certainly wouldn't be carrying it around using it while walking, running, or sitting on the toilet (yes, I said that).

But in this day and age of rapid technological change, people have been slowly boiled like the frog in the pot. They aware the change that has taken place. These super expensive new smartphones are very small and sleek, but they have evolved so quickly, people don't realize today how intricate and expensive they are.

If you're gonna drop the bucks (or the long-term contract) for that fancy decipherin' machine, get it double-protected. Put the shock-proof 2-piece case on it, and get the tempered glass protection. It's worth every penny.

That doesn't mean you'll be 100% safe from every drop. I have people bringing me shattered iPhones in Otterboxes quite often. If you drop it just right, you can still jack up the screen or LCD. But you WILL at least increase your chances of saving your phone after a drop if you have it double-protected.

You do have one other option if you break your iPhone 6 Plus. You can send it in to Apple, or take it to an Apple store IF you have one in your city, and they will replace the LCD/digitizer for $129. That's an incredible deal, but there's no guarantee that you'll get it, or how long they will offer that price.

I believe Apple is subsidizing the true cost of the LCD replacement, at least until the wholesale prices come down on the after-market parts. If they didn't do this, there would be a lot of disgruntled iPhone 6 Plus owners out there. Apple corporation doesn't like letting things like this get out of control, so this is probably a preemptive move.

In due time, the price for the after-market LCD/digitizer assemblies will come down. But for now, don't take any chances on using your iPhone 6 Plus in the nude!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

 

The Truth About Customer Service With AT&T - Unbiased Testimony

AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE GETS THE REAL REVIEW FROM THE ZONE

I've heard a ton of opinions about AT&T Wireless coverage, the devices, and their customer service. There are as many opinions out there as there are people. I am often asked what I think of the various carriers, because of my Gadget Gurus business and my superior geek status.

Well I've been a customer since 2006, so I believe I have put in the time to be able to give you the straight no-fluff evaluation. But we will focus this post to one facet of business: customer service

As you can see in the picture, I am proud to officially announce to my esteemed audience that AT&T has received the first ever "Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion" designation from The Carlton Zone! I'll explain why...

The first reason emanates from the the excellent level of customer service on the toll free phone line. I have yet to have one bad experience with customer service agents at the AT&T call centers. I have found them to be courteous, happy to speak with me, and very accommodating when dealing with my situations of need. I can't tell you how many other service companies have dropped the ball in this area. But this is an area that AT&T as excelled in. It must be a company philosophy.

A second reason results from where AT&T excels on a more personal level. Evidence can be found in the experiences I have had at the local corporate store in Jefferson City, Missouri. A small percentage of people say that they don't like the service at the local store. I'm not sure I understand what it is that they are looking for that would spark such a reaction, because I have clearly had only the best experiences when visiting the for any reason.

Our local store stays very busy on a constant basis, and the staff are often swamped with customers. But the way that they handle the load is worthy praise. When I walk in the door, I am greeted with a smile, and an agent immediately logs me into the queue. I am told how long I can expect to wait to see an agent, and then I'm turned loose to "play" with all the devices on display.

The staff has always been pleasant, very helpful, and willing to go the extra mile to see to it that my needs are met. But it's not just about business. After each experience at the corporate store, I feel that I have gained a friend (or two) after my visit.

These are the main two fronts that any carrier will gain or lose ground in customer service, and AT&T has nailed it on both fronts for me. And for those who don't agree with me, let's just say that there are a few other slightly credible sources who would agree... like the J.D. Power 2015 Wireless Customer Care Study. Go ahead, click the link and read it for yourself.

Oh and hey, sorry about "Bogart-ing" your logo, J.D. Power. It was just a perfect fit for The Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion designation to AT&T. By all means, if you want to copy some of my amazing graphics from the blog site, please borrow one for payback. I'll understand!

Carlton Flowers
THE Gadget Guru

 

Microsoft & Nokia Reach Market Dominance In 2015... Or Not

BOLD PREDICTIONS FIZZLE AS 2015 COMES TO FRUITION

A few years ago, I was on the bandwagon of belief when all of the tech pundits made bold predictions that Nokia & Microsoft would reach total market dominance over Android & Apple by the year 2015. What happened?

We all bought the story because of the reasoning, that Nokia once dominated the world of feature phones, and that Microsoft dominated the world of operating systems. Windows Mobile plus Nokia hardware was supposed to equal unparalleled success in the smartphone market.

But what happened?

All of the cards foretold of fortunes to be made by these two tech juggernauts, and the planets were supposedly lined up to create the stage for the impending takeover of the smartphone world. But now that we have reached 2015, where is Microsoft and Nokia in the grand scheme of things?

Apple continues to dominate with the new iPhone 6 and 6+, with the new iOS 8 platform. And Samsung continues to squash the Android market with its flagship Galaxy products, powered by Android KitKat. But our "match made in heaven" comprised of Microsoft and Nokia seems to be lagging far behind, as they always have.

I thought Microsoft and Nokia had a great start with the Lumia 920 smartphone, and all of the later versions of their device. The operating system was supposed to be super easy to use, and a much better match for those of us using Windows based PCs. I thought I would be a prime target for converting to Windows on my smartphone, since I use a PC and a laptop every day.

But it never happened. I've tested and tried the Nokia devices using the Windows Phone platform. While I did find it easy to use, I worried about not having the ability to find all of my most favorite apps under their system. When I switched from Apple to Android in 2012, I was able to download about 80% of my most used apps on the Android platform.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that Windows will capture the attention of developers around the world and motivate them to bring all of my favorite apps to the Windows Phone market. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't have much confidence believing it will in the near future.

While the Windows-based Nokia devices are super slick and durable, I have found them to be a total pain-in-the-derrier when it comes to servicing and repairing the hardware. As the owner of a smartphone repair shop, I have learned to send Nokia smartphone owners to my competitors down the street. Cracked screen? Busted LCD panel? Take it somewhere else, because it's not worth the headache.

That might be part of the reason why Nokia failed to dominate the market as predicted. It might just be that Microsoft and Nokia never became "cool". Whether their devices and operating system functionality is great, or a pile of crap, nothing matters until their products become a "thing".

The smartphone market is like the fashion industry. Until Microsoft and Nokia become "cool" in the minds of consumers, they will never hit critical mass and dominate the market. I would love to see a competitor break into the Apple/Android monopoly, but I don't believe we will witness such an even for a few years if anything.

In the meantime, It's Samsung & Android for me on the smartphone front, Apple's iPad for my tablet, and my Windows-based custom PC for my desktop.

What do you think the reasons are behind the failure of Microsoft and Nokia to fulfill the predictions of the past? I'd sure like to hear your opinion!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Apple-Samsung Smartphone Slugfest Phablet Style

SAMSUNG GETS SNIPPY WITH NOTE 4 VIDEO DISS

Okay people I'm back. I've been out-of-pocket lately, on blogging vacation. But with the recent developments on the tech forefront, I think this is a good time to chime back in.

Transient

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch has passed, and phones will start shipping within the next few weeks to anxious customers. While the iPhone 6 Plus breaks "new ground", Samsung has taken the opportunity to make a snarky video about Apple's sudden change in design.

It is truly ironic to see what has transpired, truthfully. Looking back over the last handful of years, we have seen Apple make multiple accusations against Samsung for stealing their designs. At that same time, the Apple execs swore that a smartphone bigger than 3.5" was entirely stupid, and it was something you would never ever see their beloved company produce.

Fast forward to the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their massive 4.7" and 5.5" diagonal displays, and it makes me sit rubbing my head wondering what just happened. Apparently, I'm not the only one who wonders what happened in Cuppertino. Maybe they all inhaled, or drank their own Kool-Aid.

How in the world could the same company who accused Samsung of blatant copyright infringement turn an about-face and produce a phone which is in the form of the Galaxy Note without a stylus? Especially after swearing off phablets and larger-screened smartphones?

Samsung released a very sarcastic video that sums it all up. But what I am left wondering is whether or not Samsung will quickly blow the whistle and sue the pants off of their hypocritical chief competitor much in the same way that was done to them.

Only time will tell.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll stick with my Apple iPad Retina Mini for all my iOS needs, but I'll take a pass on the iPhone 6 Plus and stick with the Galaxy Note line and move from the 3 to the 4 when it is released.

I'll let the hypocrites OOPS I mean Apple Enthusiasts have their feeding frenzy with the stylus-less iPhone 6 Plus that they swore off before Apple lost its mind and followed the leader on phablet phorm phactors.

Carlton Flowers
THE GADGET GURU

Business Owners - New Shocking Trends That Will Make Or Break You 2014

URGENT FACTS YOU CAN'T SLEEP ON IF YOU PLAN TO SURVIVE & THRIVE IN 2014

If you are a business owner or an organization that caters to commerce via the web, take note. These are the alarming trends that you must be aware of if you plan on staying competitive in the future. This information could change your marketing strategy for the new year.

Do you own an ugly website that is not optimized for use with mobile devices? Now is the time to start thinking about these trends which speak for themselves. If you fail to pay attention now, you will risk losing your position in the market. Use these facts wisely, and then act on it accordingly.

If you are a retail store owner, a proprietor of a service based company, or you are responsible for your company's marketing efforts, stop what you are doing and take the time to read each and every oneof these facts. This is critical information you must know in this day and age if you desire to stay competitive.

Now then... let's take a look at what's going on in the world of your consumers, the people that you serve each and every day that make your business profitable and sustainable. Here are the shocking facts!

56% of adults are using smartphones at the close of 2013. That's more than half of your customer base. If you're not serving up your company's presence in an easily viewable way on a smartphone or mobile device, they will bounce (leave) immediately after discovering your site.

75% of Americans take their smartpones with them to the bathroom. While sitting on the can, you can potentially have the undivided attention of your target market! But can your website hold their attention while they are held captive?

27% of companies worldwide planned on implementing location-based marketing in 2013. That means optimizing your website to gain placement in local searching. Is your site optimized for placement in your local market? This is a critical area you must master to remain competitive in your town's market area.

Retailer apps with "store mode" gather 5X more more engagement than regular sites. This means you need a mobile web app that is optimized for veiwing on a smartphone across all platforms. Is your boring traditional website going to cut the mustard when your competitors have mobile apps developed to display their wares to your customers? You must compete in this category.

Mobile devices out-populated the entire human population by the end of 2013. That means your customers own multiple smartphones and tablets that they use for browsing and shopping purposes. Have you tapped into this alarming trend?

46% of "showroom shoppers" still made their purchases in-store in 2013. What does that tell you about the remaining balance? I'm sure you canfigure that out.

Price comparisons weremade on a daily basis by your customers in 2013 by use of smartphones and tablets. Consumers don't need to pick up a newspaper or hit the stores by foot to find the deals they are looking for. You must know your competition, and be able to stand out on the web or you will lose out.

Consumers spent 6X more time browsing retailer web apps in 2013 than what they did in 2012. If you're not set up with a mobile-friendly site, you will have a high "bounce rate" (customers immediately leaving your site after arriving) for your online audience.

25% of marketing executives see mobile devices as the most disruptive force in their industry as of 2013. If the big shots are preparing for this trend, what should small businesses do? Take note immediately before ending up on the losin end of the marketing war.

65% of US shoppers do their research on a smartphone, tablet, or PC before they make a purchasing decision. So you've got a great website... you've won half the battle. But what about the mobile device market? Are you prepared?

54% of consumers would prefer using touchscreen devices right in your store to assist their shopping experience. Is your store equipped with tablet stations to assist them? The trend in small business is to equip retail areas with tablets that have custom catalogs via a proprietary web app, and more are popping up as we speak.

48% of consumers use (or would like to use) their smartphones while shopping in your store. Do you have a poster or sign displaying your webapp to greet customers when they arrive at your location? Those that do keep the attention of thier customers long after they have left the premises. This can prove to be quite profitable.

Nearly 50% of shoppers feel that they are more informed than your store sales associates. You can work with this trend by providing customers a way to allow them to continue learning about your products and services (i.e. a web app), or stay in the dark and let your sales staff argue with them to prove who knows the facts better.

80% of smartphone owners want more smartphone optimized product information while they are shopping in your store. In 2014, you had better serve them with most slick, user-friendly web app possible. This will alleviate the demand on your sales staff to assist your customers.

Within 5 years, half of all smartphone shoppers will be using mobile wallet apps to provide payment for your goods and services. Is this in your future business plan?

Time spent using mobile apps is now challenging television. Your customers are now spending 127 minutes per day on mobilel apps compared to 168 minutes watching television. Are you tapping into this trend by providing the best mobile experience for your business?

24% of consumers used a mobile device to browse Black Friday deals over Thanksgiving in 2012, up from 14.3% in 2011. The numbers are not in for 2013, but it will be highly likely that the percentage has taken another hike.

4 out of 5 consumers have used a smartphone to shop as of 2012. The number is on a steep incline, and this has become the norm. This year, you probably will struggle to find a person who has not used their smartphone to shop at least once.

57% of consumers surveyed said they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed website that is not optimized for mobile viewing and shopping to their friends.

53% of consumers say they have stopped an in-store purchase because they found a better deal online using their smarphone. The only way to combat this behavior is to provide the best mobile optimized website for your customers use.

44% of smartphone owners look for coupon opportunities on their mobile devices to take advantage of special deals and pricing in your store. 17% of consumers have already used mobile coupons at least once as of 2012.

These are enough facts to shock you into the reality of the 2014 consumer mindset, and should more than convince you of how imperative it is to make mobile marketing a focus of your advertising and sales efforts. If you remain unconvinced, which is nearly impossible if you are serious about serving the needs of your customers, stay tuned for part two. I'll have another slew of facts to open your eyes.

Considering all of this information, you might be overwhelmed. But you don't have to solve all of your high tech marketing marketing challenges all at once. Here are a few easy steps you can consider taking to get you on the road to conquering mobile marketing in 2014 and prosper your business.

1. Evaluate Your Website - Pick up your smartphone and pull up your company's website, and take a look at what your smartphone weilding customers are seeing. If the formatting is horrible and it doesn't present well, have an expert evaluate what can be done to have it optimized for mobile viewing. This is your lowest-cost action item on your high tech to-do list.

2. Identify Areas Of Improvement - Even if you have a mobile website, what easy improvements can be made for your customer's experience that won't break the bank?

3. Ask Your Customers What THEY Want - Find out what things your customers would like to have on your mobile website that would streamline their shopping and purchasing experience. Post a sign in your store, hand out a survey to buyers, or post a message on your website asking for ideas. Your customers might have ideas which could have a great impact in increasing your sales.

4. Get A Local Expert - find a local web developer that is experienced in creation of mobile web apps that can work with you in person and coach you to the next level. Beware of online services that claim to provide cheap instant solutions. You might waste your hard-earned money, because many online "consultants" are only out to get your money with no personal interaction or coaching.

Last but certainly not least, if you are located in the Central Missouri area, let me give a shameless plug for Web App Concepts, a locally-owned team of web app developers that can provide you with a complete web app solution for your business at a rate the heavy duty consultants cannot compete with... all while providing a superior prodcut to boot!

Get in touch with me via email at "carlton.flowers@gmail.com" for a free recommendation and evaluation of your current mobile marketing needs.

Carlton Flowers
Partner, Web App Concepts LLC

p.s. Ask about our high-profile web app recently developed for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce "GovWatch" program! See it here ---> http://www.mogovdirect.net/desktop/index.php

I Call Shennanigans On T-Mobile The "Uncarrier"

THE BIG ELEPHANT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE T-MOBILE "UNCARRIER" SHOWROOM

T-Mobile is on a rampage. They are fishing for converts from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint by offering to pay all of your current contract cancellation fees to make the switch to the "uncarrier". But when you take away all the fluff, they're no different than any other carrier.

If you're not paying full price for a smartphone, or bringing your own phone, you're still required to sign a 2-year contract agreement with T-Mobile. I'm so surprised that nobody seems to realize this.

Smartphones are super expensive miniature computers. They can cost anywhere from $350 to $800. A lot of people don't realize that you're not getting a "free smartphone" or a brand new handset for $200 when you sign on for an agreement.

The cost of that amazing little device that you landed is built into the fees charged to your 2-year agreement. That's how it is paid for.

For example, if you want to upgrade before your 2-year commitment is up, you've still got to finish paying for the device that you have. That's why AT&T offers the "Next" program where you pay an extra $25 (roughly) per month, which covers the cost of paying for the device early.

No carrier currently offers smartphone deals with no contract. You'll pay for it one way or another. It will either be up-front in full, through your monthly fees, or through a special program that catches you up from switching to new devices early. T-Mobile is no different.

So why is T-Mobile promoting their company as the renegade "uncarrier"? I have no idea. I call 100% shennanigans on this practice. It's sneaky marketing, period. They are no more an "uncarrier" than the next company.

Just consider this...if you want the same great deal with AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint, you can do the same exact thing by paying for your smartphone from the get-go. When you do, you won't have to be bound to a 2-year agreement.

Thus far, their marketing scheme is working.  In the 4th quarter of 2013, T-Mobile acquired 866,000 new customers by supposedly undercutting the competition. But in the end, the only thing you'll undercut is yourself, if you switch to T-Mobile in one of their crappy coverage areaa (like Central Missouri).

Chew on that a while.

Carlton Flowers
Carrier Balonga Caller

 

How To Make Money With A Blog - My Secret Source!

HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG THE EASY WAY

One of the biggest struggles people have who are active bloggers is finding the best way to monetize the traffic that it generates.

If you have an active blog and you just haven't found the best way to generate money from your work, I'm about to reveal the best source that I've found to date that pays out the largest margins for affiliate orders... and it's super easy to implement. Read this carefully, and take action!

People often ask me, "how can I make money with my blog site?" I've gotten so many inquiries about this recently that it is necessary for me to write this article to explain the details in full.

I've been blogging for over 5 years, and I've tried several methods. I had great success with Amazon for a period of time, making as much as $500 per month. But the percentage paid for referral traffic is low, from 4% to 7%. But my new source is even easier to use, and pays much better.

The source I am using pays a considerable amount of money when people click through and purchase the specials listed on my rotating banner, and the best part about this company is the fact that they give extreme discounts on brand-name merchandise that is in high demand.

The company that I now use in place of Amazon.com is called Moolala. Visitors to your blog site receive anywhere from 50% to 90% off the price of merchandise offered in stores and online, and they can only get these deals through this referral source.

The deals listed on the Moolala website are normally time-sensitive, ranging from 1 day to a week or more. This gives visitors a sense of urgency to purchase. Once the deals are gone, the deep discount disappears. It is very similar in nature to Groupon, but you get paid well to refer the participants.

For example, there was a recent deal on a smartphone/iPod external charging pack that retails for $40. It was offered for $8 on Moolala, and the referring affiliates were paid $3 for every purchase they brought. That's an unheard of 37.5% comission paid on the already deeply discounted purchase price. That's unheard of in the world of affiliate marketing.

There's an added bonus to the Moolala discount service. You can build your own affiliate matrix and earn income up to 4 levels of depth for others who take advantage of the affiliate program. This could turn into serious income for your blog site.

There are affiliates earning several hundred to several thousand dollars per month using this monetization source. That is significant. The most important thing you can do when you build a blog site that is generating traffic is to connect it with the most profitable source for converting that traffic into money.

Moolala is fairly new, and it is growing. The tools they provide are being enhanced to help you earn money. All you need to do is copy and paste HTML code to add banners to your blog site, and you are done. Plus they offer excellent support to help you with the technical aspects of adding banners to your site.

My best advice to those who want to earn money blogging is to focus on putting out quality content on the topics within your niche and build your readership. This way, you don't come accross as a "spammy" site attempting to take advantage of visitors.

If you create the best content and focus on building your audience, people will passively click on the banners provided by Moolala on their own accord. That's the easiest and least aggressive way to turn your efforts into recurring income.

Click on the banner below and you will be forwarded to the Moolala site where you can watch an introductory video that will give you all the details. I invite you to join my matrix now, and start earning with Moolala. I'm confident that it will be as good for you as it has been for me!

Carlton Flowers
Blogging Strategist

Click the banner now, and get started today!

Moolala Banner

 

"MOP" Up Your Work Life! My Favorite Free Online Productivity Sites

MAXIMUM ONLINE PRODUCTIVITY - MY MOST USED FREE ONLINE RESOURCES

Trying to clear up the clutter of your life and become more efficient in your daily tasks? You can "MOP" up your daily routine with some of these valuable resources... all online, all free!

Taken from my presentation to the Missouri State Capital chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, this is a collection of my most used online resources to make my work life run more efficiently. And hey, this might be a super silly/corny acronym, but I came up with this on the spur of the moment and it made me chuckle. So it stuck!

Download the PDF by clicking on the link below or the picture, or right click and "save as" to a location on your hard drive. Then get to mopping.

Do you have a favorite website that you use often? We would love to hear about it! Share it in the Disqus comments section below!

Carlton Flowers
Exhalted WebGeek Pontiff

"Maximum Online Productivity" PDF download

Pinterest Advertising & Promotional Strategy - Three Secret Tips That Get Results Fast

THREE SECRET PINTEREST PROMOTIONAL STRATEGIES YOU CAN EMPLOY RIGHT NOW

Unless you live rent-free under a large rock on a deserted island, you're probably aware of the fact that Pinterest is the hottest new social scene on the Internet today. But as a small business owner, you may be struggling with finding ways to tap into the huge audience that Pinterest has built. Here are three secret strategies you can employ to get immediate exposure and free advertising for your brand.

1. "Join The Club"

Have you ever seen a popular board that is run by a community, rather than a single user? People make contributions to a community board and they tend to generate tons of activity. The great thing about it is the fact that the crowd is already there, and members expect to see new things posted each and every day. Make contributions to the board, along the lines of its theme, and place your brand or logo on all of your pictures. Host the picture on your website, and write a story about it. When users click on the Pinterest picture, they will be redirected to your landing page. Once they are on your site, pitch your visitors with an irresistable special offer or call-to-action for your product or service.

2. Host A Viral Video

Keeping with the idea of participating on public boards, post a video from YouTube of a popular viral video and give your reaction in the comments. Tell your followers why you found this particular video to be so entertaining, funny, touching, moving, or motivating. Make it personal. Again, link the video to your own website landing page and feel free to garnish the surroundings with as many tantalizing advertisments for your business as you can think of. You will generate a lot of traffic, so make the ads effective!

3. Caption Contest Trick

Post a picture of something intriguing or funny. Use a picture that would be a shure-shot for a caption contest. You can borrow funny pet pictures or animal pics from all over the net. Post the picture as it is, or add your brand logo to one corner. Ask your readers what they would write as the caption to the picture. Host the pic on your website, and allow comments to be posted in blog format style. Have a special offer or giveaway prepared for the best caption submitted, or something for everyone who participates!

Three easy ideas, tons of potential eyeballs on your brand. It's quick, simple, and best of all, free. Like these ideas? How about a complete guide that gives you step-by-step instructions on setting up a complete marketing campaign on Pinterest? You could be moments away from dominating your niche and exploding your online audience! Just click the link below the salutation and check out my video special report and see for yourself...

Carlton Flowers
Pinterest Marketer

CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO THE PINTEREST REPORT!

"Pinterests" - Pinteresting Things Business Owners Should Realize

SOME PINTERESTING FACTS YOU MUST KNOW AS A BUSINESS OWNER

Business owners, sales professionals, service consultants, and everyone else who works in some type of entrepreneurial profession, there are some "Pinteresting" things you should know about marketing your business with Pinterest. I have made a brief list of "Pinterests" for you that will move you into action.

These are the interesting things you should keep in mind if you aren't yet marketing yourself on the hot new mega pictoria social media site. Enjoy!


TOP REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE A BUSINESS PRESENCE ON PINTEREST

  • The bulk of users in this online community have a household income ranging from $25k to $75k per year. This is a fertile target market for your business.
  • 60% of the users have a college education, and the majority of them are females. In households, the women are usually the decision-makers when it comes to purchasing.
  • The average Pinterest user spends 88.3 minutes per day on the website. Couple that with the fact that there are 10,000,000 unique visitors coming to the site every single month.
  • Pinterest is the #7 traffic source on the Internet today. That means you can potentially drive massive amounts of visitors to your website. More traffic is generated on a referral basis than from YouTube, Google Plus, and LinkedIn combined.
  • If you have any type of product or service that can be represented in a nice photo, you could get viral exposure, all for free.
  • Because of the visual nature of human beings, Pinterest is a highly effective way to establish and maintain top-of-mind dominance in your niche for your brand by keeping a regular presence.
  • When you post pictures that link to your website, you get powerful backlinks that add to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) score. That means you’ll have a better chance of showing up on the first pages of Google when people are searching for your product or service.
  • Pinterest isn’t just for pictures… you can also post videos. The possibilities for generating buzz for your business through videos is endless.

Want this in a nice PDF format to keep on your computer, or to post and share on social networks? Then click this link to download the Free report! --> http://bit.ly/YTlHjn

Carlton Flowers
Business Marketing Expert 

The Next Giant Set To Fall - Paradigm Shift Coming?

ON THE BRINK OF CHANGE - THE FUTURE OF TV

Newspapers thought they were invincible. They were rendered obsolete. The telephone companies bit the bullet next. Movie rental companies got moth balled. Then the bookstores. Is television the next slaying ground for a behemoth that needs to be laid to rest?

Yes. And the dinosaur is called the cable company.

I really never thought it could happen until now. Cable television is about to be put out to pasture. The cable companies are teed up and ready to be whacked right down the center of the obsolescence fairway.

All the signs are there, and the cable giants know that the clock is ticking. This will be the last hoorah for cable television as we know it. And the day that LTE coverage blankets the entire map, the final nail will be put in the coffin.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the average household pays well over $2,000 a year for TV programming, all while being given the worst possible service at the highest possible price? Up until now, we've been held hostage.

I've had fairly decent luck with my cable service provider. Customer service is decent, but response to problems is not. I've had instances where we were forced to wait 3 weeks for a service tech to fix an outage. We had no recourse, because there was very little competition.

But what will put this problem over the edge in short order is the fact that the majority of programming is now available over the Internet. I've never considered going the route of replacing my cable TV with a Roku box or something similar, because of one big missing piece of the programming puzzle...

Sports.

There's no way I could cut my cable TV and live without Monday Night Football. Or watching Mizzou basketball live. Or the NBA playoffs. Or the Minnesota Lynx with my cousin Maya Moore.

But times are a changing. The NFL now provides subscription services that allow you to watch games online. So do several other major sporting networks.

With this last significant piece of the puzzle quickly filling in, I could realistically pull myself away from my addiction to my cable TV service and just continue on with high speed cable Internet. But I would still be somewhat stuck... until LTE comes to Central Missouri.

The advent of LTE will set the captives free, while providing high speed wireless internet service at double the speed of the big fat wire. And how many times does the cellular network go down in comparison to cable TV? Answer that yourself.

My best guess is that LTE service from AT&T will be in my neck of the woods sometime this year. Verizon Wireless already has blazing fast 4G LTE service in Central Missouri as we speak, and wireless devices run on their network faster than you can even imagine.

The cable company won't give up easy, though. They have just rolled out a 105Mbps package for those that want ridiculous download speeds. But that comes at a cost.

The cable company had to decommission several analog channels to swap out the bandwidth needed to provide the 105Mbps service. All they are doing is running several frequencies in parallel to get the desired new high speeds. But their ability to expand beyond this point is finite.

Unless research & development comes up with a breakthrough way to compress data and get more speed out of the existing network of cables, their doomsday is already within sight. Plus they have to fight against a decrepit, aging infrastructure that takes an enormous amount of maintenance.

If 4G LTE service arrives before the cable TV providers figure out a way to continue ramping up speeds, it will be too late. All things being equal, why would I stick with the less dependable and overly expensive big fat wire when I could possibly combine my cell phone service with wireless Internet for my computer?

Unless something catastrophic happens, or the cable company has a huge trump card, I give it a year before I dump my cable TV service in the same trash can that my land line phone service is sitting in right now.

The changes we see in the next year should be exciting. And we might be hearing a resounding THUD as the giant we call cable TV breathes its last breath and goes the way of the newspaper, the record player, the telephone, the bookstore, the DVD rental store, and the portable CD player.

Carlton Flowers
Technology Prognosticator

 

Facebook Holdouts In 2012 - Wise Reasoning, Paranoia, or Social Ineptness?

A VIEW OF FACEBOOK HOLDOUTS IN 2012 - THE PHENOMENON EXAMINED

It is the final month of the year 2012, and the global Facebook population is at an astounding 1 billion people. Yet in your community of educated professional people, there are still holdouts.

What are the common reasons for the restistance to participation? Are some of the reasons logical? Are they fear-based, anti-social, or with valid reason?

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure. We have experienced a paradigm shift in the way that we as a people communicate and interact in this society, and whether you like it or not, it's called Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has forever changed the world with the idea he hatched over a decade ago.

But getting back to the topic at hand, the Facebook Holdouts come several different flavors. We'll take an in depth look at each one, and then hold a general discussion. So let's have a look at the variety of the common Facebookless citizens of our world!

THE FOUR FACEBOOK HOLDOUTS - "PROFILES" DEFINED

The Technologically Challenged Facebook Holdout - this holdout doesn't participate on Facebook because they simply don't know how to. They are either elderly or unplugged from all technology, living off the land somewhere deep in the woods. This type of holdout could care less, because they don't have the wherewithall to figure out any type of technology more complex than a feature phone. They get a pass for not participating.

The Paranoid Conspiracy Facebook Holdout - due to an enormous fear of "big brother" watching every move they make, this Facebook Holdout wouldn't dare post a single detail on such a public forum for fear that the government will use it against them whenever they round up all the people and throw them in concentration camps. Forget the fact that this paranoid individual doesn't break the law in any way. That doesn't matter. But the fear of retribution from posting about posting your favorite cookie recipe is real.

The Ostrich Facebook Holdout - this individual is antisocial and would rather bury their head in the digital sand and not be known. They are happy in isolation, and could care less about interacting with people. Facebook would only be an intrusion into this person's perfect quiet life in isolation.

The "I-Don't-Trust-My-Spouse" Facebook Holdout - Infidelity fuels this holdout's funk with Facebook. With the divorce rate as high as it is, and the growing number of affairs that start on social networks, the IDTMS types not only stay off the network themselves, but they also forbid their philandering significant others from flirting with the Facebook family. Sadly, Facebook forbiddance fails to fend off the frivolous behavior.

Enough about the obvious Facebook Holdouts. We've seen these types, and they are no surprise. But what really gets me are those that don't have an excuse to hold out on the world's largest social community.

What leaves me confused are those who would obviously benefit from having a Facebook profile and interacting with people. This would include business owners, sales professionals of all types, those in medical professions, consultants, attorneys, and others of similar nature.

People with these backgrounds have no excuse to hold out on Facebook whatsoever. It goes against the very purpose of their profession - to interact with people and transact business.

Let me paint a scenario...

It's 1975. A new business opens up in a local town. It's a bakery. The owner has the greatest tasting pastries and breads that any tastebuds could ever experience. He wants everyone to experience his award-winning goods, and is excited to open for business.

But before he opens, he tells the phone company that he refuses to have a listing. He chooses to keep his number unlisted. He also is against signs. He will have no part of any signs being erected on his structure.  He also has a beef with the local newspaper, so he refuses to place any ads for his bakery in the paper. Plus he doesn't own a radio or TV, so he can't see spending money advertising with either.

Do you think this would be a wise marketing strategy for a startup business? Of course not! Sure, maybe this guy could generate a fair amount of traffic from the waft of fresh bread baking in the ovens. But he would be turning a deaf ear to the majority of his market by not making his presence known.

I know what you're thinking... that was a stupid example. But it's no more stupid than a professional or business owner in 2012 that refuses to leverage theirself with a Facebook presence.

It is an undeniable fact that the majority of the eyeballs in this world are plastered on Facebook. It's the new town hall, the new phonebook, the new high-tech hangout. Call it what you want, this is where people now live and play.

But for the Facebook Holdout that can find no credible reason for their refusal, what fuels their fight against the most obvious free marketing opportunity on planet Earth?

Carlton Flowers
Self-Proclaimed Facebook King

Coming Soon: How I Figured Out The Golden Path to Facebook Marketing Success Without A Single  Advertisement!

 

Mediacom - Great Customer Service But One Achilles Heel

THE WEAK LINK IN MEDIACOM CABLE INTERNET IS...

I am writing this blog post from my smartphone. Why? It's because my cable internet service provided by Mediacom is down.

I don't knock Mediacom, though. High speed cable internet service is not something guaranteed by the Bill Of Rights. There's no way a company can promise uninterrupted internet service.

But the friendly folks at Mediacom have not solved one critical aspect of their service - timeliness of responding to customer outages.

I have stuck with Mediacom over the years, and have preferred it over slower DSL serivce. But even though the DSL in our area is not capable of pumping out mega-fast data througputs, it was more dependable.

For whatever reason, the Mediacom cable internet infrastructure is seriously sensitive. It doesn't take much to knock out the signal.

While we can't control the reason for outages, you would expect the service provider to do the best they can in getting techs to fix the problem.

But in my experience with Mediacom over the past ten years, the average time of response when my service is interrupted for whatever reason has been one to three weeks.

While the company provides excellent customer service, in my opinion, response time is an area that they have a huge opportunity for improvement.

The most glaring evidence of this is shown when you compare the time it takes for an install versus the response time for a service tech. New installs can be taken care of in a matter of days.

But the reason for this, I am led to believe, is that the company utilizes contract workers to help them with new installs. Employees cover service calls.

I have had the most outstanding Mediacom employees come to the rescue when my cable internet is botched up. But their excellent work is overshadowed by the length of time you've got to wait for them to shuffle through the cue.

When you call with a problem, the answer you get from the toll free customer service line is usually, "the earliest we can get a service tech out to your house is 2 weeks from today".

If you have a customer who is depending heavliy on their internet access for business purposes, or for taking collegiate courses online, a two-week wait just doesn't sit well.

Sure, you can always go to McDonald's or Panara Bread and use their free WiFi, so it isn't life or death. But I am not convinced that the company has made the effort to truly improve upon this problem.

Opinions about Mediacom Cable vary from person to person. I still happen to be a fan of theirs. But their reputation for quality of service provided could go from average to great if they made the firm decision to improve in this area.

Burn the boats, Mediacom, and don't look back. Take this issue head on, and get it solved. If you do, the arrival of LTE won't shake your customer base.

What are your opinions about Mediacom, CenturyLink, or other high speed internet service providers? What do you see in the future for internet access? Will the wires survive, or will the wireless rise?

Carlton Flowers
Wired Up Geek

 

Does Verizon Wireless Have Their Central MO Blog Radar On?

VERIZON WIRELESS YET TO DISCOVER AMAZING CZ BLOG

About a year ago, AT&T St. Louis discovered the best tech blog site in the Midwest, the CZ Blog. They noticed my articles talking about their devices and wireless service. AT&T seems to be on top of all social media activity surrounding their company.

Since I was first contacted by AT&T, I have gladly made myself available to test and review many of their wireless devices such as smartphones and tablets. I don’t get paid to do it, so my opinion is somewhat unbiased.

I say “somewhat unbiased” because I am an extremely happy customer, having had my AT&T wireless account for the past 7 years. I was formerly with Sprint. I enjoyed Sprint for many years, but had to make the switch due to a big dead spot at my new place of employment.

The question I have right now is, how long will it take Verizon Wireless in Central Missouri to discover the amazing CZ Blog? I have written quite a few articles that cover their products and issues, so there should be a blip on their blog radar.

In my opinion, there are only 2 choices for wireless service in Central Missouri: AT&T and Verizon. AT&T provides excellent customer service and good coverage. Verizon has good coverage, plus 4G LTE service in Central Missouri already. Sprint is spotty, and T-Mobile doesn’t even have 3G coverage in our area. how sad is that?

To keep it fair for the top dogs in the Mid MO market, I would love to review Verizon products and report on their usability and service if offered. A lot of my readers want to know how the different providers do in our area, so this would be very valuable.

I’d love to hear a report from T-Mobile concerning the timeframe for expanding respectable high speed coverage in our market.

As of last year, when I broke the contract for my wife’s T-Mobile smartphone, they had no idea when an upgrade would come. That was during the midst of the possible AT&T buyout that did not pan out. Maybe they have new plans. I would love to hear about it if they do.

Until then, I’ll keep reporting on AT&T developments straight from the horse’s mouth, and I’ll fill you in on any worthwhile news from the other carriers concerning our Show-Me state market area.

Carlton Flowers
Avid Gadget Tester

Apple Slams Samsung While Google Sits On Their Can - My Controversial Thoughts

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE APPLE/SAMSUNG LAWSUIT RESULTS AND WHY GOOGLE WILL SUFFER

So Apple won the ridiculous lawsuit against Samsung, claiming they copied all of their products and operating system. This seems to be a big huge deal. Or is it? Who is the real winner here? Apple, Samsung, or the consumer?

On the face, it looks like the whiny Cupertino tech giant slammed the mighty bully who kept stealing their stuff. They get a billion dollars in damages, plus they now own the rights to rectangular electronic devices that have icons.

The result will be that Samsung might have to jack up their prices and pay a royalty fee to Apple, IF they let them continue using the designs that they now apparently own. But one thing I don't understand is why Google sat back on their fat cans and didn't say a word throughout this process.

Samsung is the biggest distributer of smartphones in the world of Android. Google could potentially be hurt if their number one customer, Samsung, cannot continue selling their phones at neck-breaking speeds. I would have thought that Google would be on top of this with their endless cadre of lawyers to help out their Korean brothers, but they did not.... as far as I know.

What does this mean to the consumer? You might be paying $10 more (or so) for your Samsung device so they can pay off the mob boss Apple. You might also see an operating system that doesn't look like iOS. But will the $1,000,000,000 fine really hurt Samsung? Probably not.

I was reading in PC Magazine where they were reminiscing about Microsoft buying Skype for $8,000,000,000. It sure didn't vault them to the top of the gadget pile with their smartphones. They also talked about the huge amount of cash that Google was paying to buy out Motorola.

So putting that into perspetive, $1,000,000,000 isn't really such a bad deal for getting to rip off the design and operating system of the iPhone and land yourself at the top of the pile in cell phone gadgets.

To be honest, the rotten Apple folks have a point. Yes, Android looks exactly like iOS. Rows of icons that you scroll around, on a nice rectangular screen, running apps that are basically identical. This shouldn't come as a surprise, however, because tons of design folks defected from Apple to work for Google.

What I don't get is what difference it will make for Apple. If they shut down Samsung (if their wildest dream came true), people like me still wouldn't buy their products. Why? Because I don't want a heavy, clunky, super fragile device that can't survive a drop 2' above the pavement.

Nor do I want a device that has sticking home buttons, jammed up power buttons, gummed up silent switches, and jacked-up volume buttons. Who needs all of that? I don't. I'm not going to buy an Apple brick phone if I don't have to. But I will eventually, because of my app development company CoMo Coding LLC, and our iOS apps that we are developing.

What do you think is going to happen to the lesser Android handset manufacturers that can't afford these battles? HTC, Haweieee (or however you spell it), Pantech, and LG all have iPhone look-alikes too. If Apple comes up against them now that they own the rights to rectangular touch screen gadgets, they could be toast.

I'm okay with paying an extra ten bucks to keep my Sammy smartphone fresh and new each year. But I would be the first to say that Samsung needs to get away from the fake-iOS-clone-looking Android operating system and do something different. It is possible.

Just look at the Microsoft Windows Phone Mango platform, for example... it looks nothing like iOS. Plus, it's FAR more intuitive and less maddening than the jam-200-icons-on-a-screen concept of iOS and Android.

Step it up, Samsung. You seriously won big by getting to the top of the heap riding the iOS copy bandwagon. Now put your heads together and get away from Apple before they lawsuit you to oblivion.

Just my rambling thoughts.

Carlton Flowers
Crabby Android Fan

 

Tablets Or Laptops - What Is Best For Business Use?

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PICKING A MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICE FOR BUSINESS

I had a great question from my friend who is realestate professional in Florida, Vaughn Herren. He asked me for advice on whether or not he should buy a laptop or a tablet device for work purposes.

He liked the idea of the portability of a tablet device, but wondered if it would have the utility of a laptop. Plus, he had plans on using Microsoft Office with whatever device he picked.

Tablets can be a great tool for real estate agents. They can take pictures, get online with mobile 3G or 4G service, and can run certain software packages. They are widely used and are very popular with agents across the country, especially the Apple iPad.

While tablets are super convenient and very powerful devices, it might not be the best choice depending on the type of software you need to run. If you're going to be doing any work on a spreadsheet, a tablet can be maddening.

Manipulating your way around Microsoft Excel on an Android tablet or Apple iPad is not easy. You've got to learn a lot of tricks to get the functionality of what the mouse can do with ease. In my opinion, it is not worth the trouble if you will be working a lot with spreadsheets.

Yes, you can perform the functions that you need to do. But if you are looking to be fast and efficient, you're not going to be breaking any records doing cumbersome number crunching and spreadsheet analysis on a tablet.

That's where a laptop comes ahead and wins the competition. Having a mouse touch pad or external mouse gives a clear advantage in manipulating and working through spreadsheets and databases.

One alternative is to get an iPad or possibly the upcoming Microsoft Surface RT with a keyboard. This makes the tablet much more usable. I find tablets useless when it comes to typing on a touch screen. Without real keys to seat your fingers, you just can't type with any real speed.

So adding an external keyboard to an iPad or Surface RT will give it a laptop-type user experience. There are some high quality keyboards available, so your typing efficiency would be off the charts if you're a fast typer.

But you still don't have the use of a mouse with a tablet. That's a big drawback. For me, I'm a spreadsheet finatic. I use it to make balance sheets, cost estimates, inventory tracking, payroll tax calculations, and more. There isn't a way in the world I would do my business computing on a tablet. If I did, what little hair I have on the top of my head would be gone.

But that's just me. Maybe the uses a person may have are more geared toward a tablet. If they are, then a tablet may be the way to go. But for maximum computing power and flexibility to run all business related software efficiently, I'm going to have to say that a laptop would be the smart first investment.

Later on down the road, if money is not a problem, I think a tablet device would compliment the use of a laptop. I just don't think it would replace it.

For me, you'll see me toting a full size 17" HP laptop. And how will I diversify my cadre of computing components? With a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. That will be my bottom-level device. Desktop PC, laptop, and phablet. My winning formula!

What is your comination of gadetry that you haul off to the workplace or field each day? Share with us in the new Disqus comments section what your weapons of data warfare are!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Advisor

 

Nextel Push-To-Talk Punches Out, AT&T Plows In

AT&T PUSH-TO-TALK SERVICE EVENT COMING TO 27 US CITIES IN 2012

Do you remember how popular the "push-to-talk" feature was around 10 or 15 years ago when feature phones ruled the market? If you are a business customer, you quite possibly could could still be using it to this day.

Sadly, Sprint will be shutting down the Nextel network that plays host to goo-gobbles of customers using legacy push-to-talk phones.

Apparently, Sprint is pushing their new Direct Connect push-to-talk phone devices that will run on the regular Sprint network.

All the while, AT&T push-to-talk service is rolling strong, and they will be marketing a new enhanced version with events occurring in 27 cities, including Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri.

AT&T will be knocking out a huge event called the "Field Force Automation Forum" on October 2nd in STL-MO, and October 25th 2012 in KC-MO to introduce the newly enhanced service. Check out the KC event registration page, and the St. Louis event registration page by clicking the links.

Push-to-talk is a convenient and often integral part of business communications, offering a much-needed method of 2-way conversations similar to a walkie talkie radio.

It is heavily used by construction site workers, engineers, police officers, service and repair professionals, event planners, taxi drivers, and more. The big benefit is the ability to talk to a group of people instantly, without waiting for someone to answer.

Carlton Flowers
Communications Collaborator

Blast From The Past - Square Trumps Paypal For Credit Card Processing

Hi gang! Here's another "Blast From The Past" post that I think small business owners and entrepreneurs will find very useful. It's about the Square Card, a revolutionary device that you can use with a smartphone to process credit cards. Check out the post, and give this a serious look if you are a local small business owner or traveling vendor!

SQUARE REVOLUTIONIZES CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FOR THE “LITTLE GUY”

I can’t tell you how excited I am about Square, the company who came up with something more valuable to me than my beloved Paypal account.

Square is a new service that actually allows me to turn my iPhone into a mobile credit card terminal. I downloaded the Square app for free, and next I’ll wait for my Square credit card reader to arrive in the mail. It plugs into the audio jack of my iPhone. Combined with the free app, I’ll be able to enter in a transaction amount, swipe a person’s credit card, and immediately have money transferred straight into my bank account.

Years ago, I was very excited to have a “Premier” Paypal account and the Paypal Debit Card. This revolutionized my small business. I could sell an item on eBay or my website, and after receiving the payment electronically, I could then immediately withdraw that money using my Paypal debit card at any ATM. The only drawback was paying a transaction fee on top of an ATM fee. But this mean immediate access to my money when I made a sale.

The only frustrating thing about Paypal was the inability to accept a credit card without setting up a “buy-it-now” or “add-to-cart” button on my website. To solve that problem, I upgraded to the Virtual Terminal account. It allowed me to type in the credit card account number and a transaction amount. After using it for a few months, I dropped it because I couldn’t justify the cost.

Now Square has hit the scene, and it fills a huge gap perfectly. Sure, I’ll still have use for my Paypal account and its ability to make website transactions happen, but nothing will beat the convenience of accepting credit cards on the spot wherever I have cell phone reception. This is going to open up doors of opportunity for me like never before.

When I owned 2 retail establishments, I considered hiring a traveling salesperson to sell some of my products. But to have a mobile credit card terminal, I would have had to spend several hundred dollars on equipment plus $40 a month for the subscription to the service. That doesn’t even include the regular transaction fees. That puts mobile credit card acceptance out of reach for most small and independent business owners.

With Square, the playing field has been leveled. Now anyone can enter the game, even if they don’t have good credit. This is definitely going to make a lot of “little guys” excited, and expand their possibilities. Can you imagine how useful this would be even for the smallest garage sale entrepreneur?

Carlton Flowers
Hustler/Entrepreneur

Blast From The Past - My Thoughts On Microsoft 1 Year Ago

Hi gang! As you might know, I switched blog host providers a couple of weeks ago. In the process, I lost my entire blog. I've decided to start from scratch. But in between my bright flashes of creativity, I'm going to post some of my old articles that I dig up on the Internet Archive's "Way Back Machine" and see how things have turned out since posting.

This is the first "Blast From The Past" post that I wrote on the topic of the Microsoft Corporation's slipping market dominance. I think I would disagree with this article now, especially since Microsoft has made a bold new aliance with the Nokia corporation. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below!

With no further adieu, here is the old post:

I SEE A DISTURBING TREND FOR MICROSOFT IN FUTURE MARKET DOMINANCE

I just don’t get it… what is it with Microsoft these past few years? Microsoft and “monopoly” used to be one in the same in the days of Bill Gates. Sure, they still dominate the world market with some impressive financial numbers, but will they hold their position given their current philosophy and lackluster vision?

It seems to me that the giant in Redmond has become complacent. They have a whopping 88% of the world’s market share in desktop computers with their Windows operating system. Plus, the XBOX 360 has jumped ahead of Wii and PS3. Kinect was the hottest selling gaming gadget for Christmas 2010. But the end result is that Microsoft is resting on its laurels.

However, Apple surpassed Microsoft’s market capitalization in May of 2010 to become the world’s largest tech company. Sure, Apple’s current status as “king of the hill” is not guaranteed to last due to the fact that company value fluctuates wildly based purely upon stock price. But would anyone have imagined this to have happened just 10 years ago? No.

Once upon a time, everyone thought that Apple’s days were numbered before CEO Steve Jobs rejoined the company to bring them back into their glory. Apple was considered the yuppy alternative to computer systems and electronic devices when compared to the standard that Microsoft had set. Developers would never have guessed that their future would be in writing little apps for the revolutionary iPhone.

Now Microsoft has become a reactionary company under the somewhat “visionless” leadership of Steve Ballmer. They’ve handed over the title of “innovator” on a silver platter to Steve Jobs. Instead of keeping the lead role in breaking open new fertile markets and taking huge risks, they’ve sat on their laurels and rested on the security of their flagship products in known markets.

Let’s consider a few of the unproven markets that Apple took the extreme gamble on and led the way, with Microsoft responding late in the game:

The iPhone & iOS Smart Phone Platform

In 2007, Apple released the first generation iPhone. Where was Microsoft? Fooling around with Windows Mobile 6.5, a sad excuse for a mobile phone platform. 3 years passed by before they released the impressive and user-friendly Windows Phone 7 platform, which to me is more intuitive than the iOS operating system. But as great as Windows Phone 7 is, it’s entirely too late. They should have done this long before. The release did not make a big splash, and I don’t see it possible at this time for them to catch up and overtake Apple’s iOS. They missed the boat. Apple will dominate this market for years to come, no matter how good Windows Phone 7 gets, because iOS is in the “perfecting” stage while Phone 7 is in the elementary stages.

The iPod Touch

Yet again, Microsoft let Apple solidify their dominance with the groundbreaking iPod touch before they even thought about getting the Zune out to market to compete. How do you sit on your can and let the iPod touch snatch up the entire market when you created the standard with the Windows operating system? It’s too late for Zune, and the Zune HD will not be the device that wins back the hearts of consumers. They can forget it. The iPod touch is now the standard in portable gaming and music.

Internet Browsers

During the 90’s, Internet Explorer was the only choice when it came to browsers. Netscape was the old standard, but IE quickly erased their lead. Nowadays, Firefox has established the number one position. According to W3 Schools, they took the lead away from Microsoft during 2008. The trend continues for Firefox, and IE is still sliding losing market share and even has Chrome on its heels. I don’t know what the future holds for IE, but it’s not looking very good at this point in time.

The iPad & Tablet Market

Tablet computers aren’t really that new. The Apple Newton was one of the first, and it failed miserably. Microsoft had partnered with several hardware manufacturers to produce various tablets during the 2000’s that never took off. Apple took the huge gamble on releasing the iPad, and set the standard. They practically created the market, only to watch everyone else in the world scramble to make a late entry. Not a single tablet product threatens the iPad now. While there are noteworthy contenders in the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, the iPad is clearly ahead of the game. Most companies are pushing their inaugural tablet products while Apple crushes the competition with their 2nd generation iPad.

During the time that the iPad was originally released, rumors swirled about the fabled Microsoft Courier. It was an entirely new concept that was in no way similar to the iPad. If they were going to enter the market late, at least they were going to do so with something totally outside of the box. The Courier was supposed to be a brand new concept mimicking a book with two 7″ displays hinged in the middle. The operating system was to be based upon the Microsoft Surface concept (something else that has stayed stuck in the developmental stages, never to be released as a consumer product).

The Courier turned out to be vaporware. Microsoft ditched the project. But why? As large as a company that Microsoft is, wouldn’t you think they’d have the research and development budget to push the project and get it out to market in a reasonable time? Sadly, they did not make the effort. They’ve been talking about releasing tablets for 2 years now, and just can’t come up with a workable tablet interface.

Now Microsoft is talking about showcasing future Windows 8 tablet concepts in June of 2011. What the heck is that all about? iPad 2 is on sale right now, and they are still talking about showcasing future products this summer? This is so sad it is shameful. In my opinion, they may as well throw in the towel and stick to pushing the XBOX 360 and Kinect products. If I were a major stockholder, I’d be asking for the heads of leadership. Somebody with real vision and and a proven track record of being proactive needs to take control of this company. This is the biggest disappointment of all in my opinion.

I could take this farther, but these are the areas where I see Microsoft hurting the most in the future. I think a serious leadership change is in order for Microsoft. If they don’t initiate some kind of major change in their glass tower, they’re going to be looking like Apple during the late 80’s.

Carlton Flowers
Disappointed Microsoft Fanboy