Trends are often a manifestation of new enablers unlocking existing human needs. Whenever you witness a revolutionary technology, changing societal values, or a rise in prosperity, expect an emerging consumer trend to be around the corner.
Point in case: collecting! Human beings (fueled by a need for self-worth, validation, control, vanity, even immortality) love to collect and store possessions, memories, experiences, in order to create personal histories, mementoes of their lives, or just to keep track for practical reasons. And with the experience economy still gaining ground -- with consumers more often favoring the intangible over the tangible -- collecting, storing and displaying experiences is ready for its big moment.
Why? Well, thanks to the onslaught of new technologies and tools, from blogging software to memory sticks to high definition camera phones with lots of storage space and other 'life capturing and storing devices', an almost biblical flood of 'personal content' is being collected, and waiting to be stored to allow for ongoing trips down memory lane (see also our GENERATION C trend).
TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this emerging mega trend 'LIFE CACHING': collecting, storing and displaying one's entire life, for private use, or for friends, family, even the entire world to peruse. The LIFE CACHING trend owes much to bloggers: ever since writing and publishing one's diary has become as easy as typing in www.blogger.com, millions of people have taken to digitally indexing their thoughts, rants and God knows what else; all online, disclosing the virtual caches of their daily lives, exciting or boring. Next came moblogging, connecting camera phones to online diaries, allowing not only for more visuals to be added to blogs, but also for real-time, on the go postings of experiences and events. And that's still just the beginning.
Why do we think this trend is ready to take off? Well, the necessary enablers are now all in place: required hardware and software are ubiquitious, there's ample availability of affordable storage space, blogging mentality is hitting the masses, and some of the major 'new economy' brands are getting in on the game, promising mass LIFE CACHING products at mass prices. We're talking Nokia, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Samsung and many more. All of this is putting in place an infrastructure for LIFE CACHING that will soon have GENERATION C and 'Generation Digital' caching every second of their existence.
A brief, random selection of some of the latest LIFE CACHING initiatives, to get you going:
• Nokia just launched its Lifeblog service: software that automatically arranges all messages, images, notes, videos and sound clips that consumers capture with their mobile phones, starting with the Nokia 6620 Imaging Phone, which comes with a 1.1 megapixel camera.*
Nokia's Lifeblog software runs on a PC: when a phone is connected to the machine, it will download all the content stored on the handset. It then populates a timeline with the information, arranging it chronologically, (with tags annotating when and where something was done, with help from codes that uniquely identify cell phone base stations). A full version of the software package costs approximately EUR 30/USD 37. (Source: BBC).
Note: as you know from our previous editions, 3.1 megapixel phones are now being sold in Japan. It also doesn't hurt that some hard disks have shrunk to smaller than an inch, yet are still capable of storing many gigabytes: the phone is rapidly becoming a mature storage and capturing device!
• In true LIFE CACHING fashion, Samsung's current "Show Your World" US ad campaign urges camera phone users to record their daily lives and turn them into movies. In one of the first commercials, a perky actress shoots her way through a love story, a rain storm, flambéed meals, a fashion show, a boardwalk game arcade, a hip night spot and a hotel balcony overlooking the Empire State Building. In Samsung's own words: "the most vibrant way to capture and share life experiences with family and friends." (Source: AdRants.) Expect the camera phone to become the centerpiece of LIFE CACHING around the globe.
• Microsoft's SenseCam (prototype shown right) is a badge-sized wearable camera that captures up to 2000 VGA images per day onto 128Mbyte FLASH memory.
In addition, sensor data such as movement, light level and temperature is recorded every second. This is similar to an aircraft "Black Box" accident recorder but miniaturised for the human body. The SenseCam is part of Microsoft's LifeBits program, an experiment in lifetime storage.
• With Google's Gmail setting new standards for massive free storage of email messages, files and everything else, expect free online storage to become the new craze for millions of consumers engaging in LIFE CACHING. In Google's own words: "Don't throw anything away: 1,000 megabytes of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message." Other email services like Hotmail, Yahoo and Rediff are already following suit, piling up the extra hundreds of megabytes. TRENDWATCHING.COM expects services like Gmail to morph into the digital equivalent of self storage spaces now found in most big cities.
• Even more on storage. One of the lifelines of LIFE CACHING: from Malaysia to Hong Kong, key cord memory sticks and mini-MP3 players are the new Asian fashion accessory: with sticks storing up to 1 GB of content, consumers can (and do!) wear their entire 'digital life files' around their neck, from music to movies to documents to photos to presentations. It's LIFE CACHING going mobile: with sticks, MP3 players and camera phones boasting increased storage capacities, functionality, and quality, consumers will soon be able to show, play and share their entire LIFE with whomever, wherever.
• And last but not least, let's not forget Apple's mega-popular iPod: a new version in the works may contain up to 50 Gigabyte of storage space, which means even the biggest music fanatics will be able to forever build, store and carry their entire life collection of music (and soon video and data?), in a device the size of a pack of cigarettes. Next? Europe, where Apple's iTunes music store recently launched in the UK, France and Germany. Now what if the iPod would turn into a camera phone with some help from, let's say, Sony? Further integration with iLife, Apple's ever expanding software suite for GENERATION C, also makes sense. Let the LIFE CACHING battle begin!
This LIFE CACHING introduction is just the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, providing consumers with the software, hardware and storage space to start building, unlocking and showcasing their 'lifelogs' should be high on your priority list if your business is in any way related to the world of photography, publishing, video, music, SMS, instant messaging, search, blogging, cell phones, email, memory sticks, PDAs etc etc etc. (And don't forget the vast amounts of non-digital, non-organised LIFE CACHING artifacts waiting to be digitized: think millions of shoeboxes, photo albums & framed photos, home movies/videos, old bundles of letters, CDs, DVDs, bookshelves and filing cabinets!)
But there's much more: understanding consumers' gradual move towards collecting and storing experiences instead of goods (especially in mature economies), is crucial, whether you sell luxury handbags or manufacture cars. Basically, LIFE CACHING is what happens after you've figured out how to provide your customers with an experience. So how are you enabling your customers to make the experience last? Yes, TRENDWATCHING.COM knows that this could be an entire business book in itself, so stay tuned ;-)
It doesn't stop there: think about the implications of LIFE CACHING for 1:1 marketing (we feel an update of our COUNTER-GOOGLING trend coming on!), because gaining permission to access a customer's lifelog could be marketing's holy grail. Or consider LIFE CACHING's myriad B2B uses (medical tracking, administrative applications etc.).
So, as always, stay tuned for updates on LIFE CACHING in upcoming editions of this newsletter. In the mean time, DO get started with a bit of caching yourself: sign up for a Gmail account, get Nokia's Lifeblog software, build and share your digital music collection: it's all in the experience, one that your customers may already be experimenting with. Happy Caching! >> Email this trend to a friend.
Note: if you're
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please refer to our press
APRIL 2005 | It's been about six months since we first introduced our LIFE CACHING trend, and ever since, new spottings and insights have poured in: it certainly didn't hurt that a lot of newspapers and magazines around the world featured LIFE CACHING in their lifestyle and tech sections, adding their own spin to the phenomenon.
So time for an update: first of all, even though LIFE CACHING seems very much about technology and virtual lifestyles (we apologize upfront for the number of tech gadgets in this update!), its behavioral drivers are nothing new. At LIFE CACHING's core is the need to collect experiences, which ideally convert into stories, which in return enable human beings to engage others: whether it's to please or to convince or to gain status. Oh, and let's not forget that in our individualized, 'everyone counts' society, ALL consumers have a story. This in addition to the more prosaic usefulness of easy access to one's digital assets.
With that in mind, our new LIFE CACHING spottings can be divided into two categories: those that help capture and store experiences, and those that help to manage and mold the various stored elements into collections, and to create a subsequent story.
LIFE CACHING and storage & capturing
Buzz of the moment? Storage, and the abundance of it. To quote Microsoft Research's Rick Rashid: "you can store every conversation you've ever had in a terabyte. You can store every picture you've ever taken in another terabyte. And the Net Present Value of a terabyte is USD 200."
* Case in point: Samsung's latest camera/music phone, the SGH-I300, comes with a 3-gigabyte (!) hard disk drive that can store as many as 2,000 photos or hundreds of MP3s. Wow.
* IBM is working on a device that uses almost no power, "is about the size of a single Advil," but has enough data storage capacity to "record everything that happens to you all day long". The technology is called MRAM, or magnetic random access memory, and understanding how it works probably requires a degree in quantum physics. Bottom line is, "over the next five to seven years, MRAM is supposed to make it possible to store 400 times more data in the same space as today's hardest, densest hard drives." (Source: Reveries.com.) Another wow.
* Toshiba has announced it will ship an 80GB version of the 1.8 inch hard drive found in the iPod by Q3 of 2005, while at the bottom of the storage market, 128 MB SD cards now sell for a mere USD 1.95 after rebate, which works out to about 1.5 cents per megabyte. Soon they'll be giving them away with a Big 'N' Tasty?
For the millions of Asian LIFE CACHERS who prefer to store their entire life collections of music, pics and texts on a USB stick, worn dangling from their necks, Pretec's iDisk II is a must-have: it's the world's smallest 8GB(!) USB flash drive. (Source: Engadget.)
* Make way for Family File Servers: the Iomega NAS 100d provides 160 gigabytes of storage space, selling for USD 499, and includes software to automatically back up family pictures and other important documents to the network drive.
* The email storage wars are far from over: after Gmail set the new standard with its 1GB free space, Lycos Europe (lycos.co.uk, lycos.it, lycos.fr, lycos.nl, etc) increased its free email space to 300 MB, while its premium users can get up to 10 GB. Yahoo recently announced that its users will get 1 GB storage capacity for free by the end of this month. Ensuring it's lead in the storage-race, Gmail then celebrated it's first birthday by giving every user an additional gigabyte, claiming that it will continue to increase storage as much as it is able to.
All of this is rapidly turning email into the new LIFE CACHING database of choice, for business professionals and consumers alike: consumers increasingly email data to themselves, as their email accounts are always online and email search is getting more efficient and labeling of messages is becoming more sophisticated.
* Prepare for USB personal servers: phone-sized devices with a USB interface that actually house computing power, and that use host PCs as 'dumb' terminals — screen, keyboard, and network connection — with users running applications on the device itself. This obviously makes for a very mobile form of LIFE CACHING. As TRENDWATCHING.COM doesn't want to turn this edition into a total geekfest, check out www.realmsys.com for more info. But the overall story is obvious: storage will be dirt-cheap, and more ubiquitous than ever before, fuelling LIFE CACHING like there's no tomorrow!
And last but not least, since most LIFE CACHING data is worth far more than the device it is stored on, TRENDWATCHING.COM applauds iTech's MobileWIZZ device, which offers users a simple way to back up phone numbers stored on their mobile phones. In the short-term future, expect the word invaluable to accompany LIFE CACHING more often than not, and prepare for data recovery and back-up wizards to become seriously rich.
• • • •
LIFE CACHING & capturing
So if consumers will have all this storage space, what will they use to capture their lives? It may not come as a surprise to you by now that here too, South Koreans rule: Samsung recently unveiled a 7(!) megapixel cameraphone (with interchangeable lenses, see above), while LG Electronics plans to release a 6 megapixel camera phone equipped with a Canon camera module somewhere in the next few months.
As the world of digital photography may move entirely from still digital cameras to phone cameras (re-read this and marvel, whatever industry you're in), a new mobile LIFE CACHING revolution is in the making. And as if 7MP still photography is not enough, check out this VIDEO camera phone (right) from Pantech, South Korea's third largest cell phone manufacturer. The future is mobile, and The Korean Wave is for real!
• • • •
LIFE CACHING and story telling
* After capturing and storing, it's time to turn text, images and sound into something coherent and enticing. In comes French Ipernity, who helps its customers to 'tell, store and transmit' their memories. Turning their customers' lives into stories, the company offers three services: (1) Vitae récit de vie; for EUR 990, Ipernity helps consumers write their own biography through interviews and illustrations taken from personal archives (photos, films, letters, documents, music). The end result is a book, a CD ROM and a website. (2) Vitae évènements; same approach, but dedicated to a special event. (3) Vitae familles; a family history that includes all family members. Corporate services are also available. (Source: Frédéric-Gérard Leveque, Springspotters.)
Also check out biowriters.NET, a US-based, interactive biography writing service. Members take part in an online questionnaire with more than 300 questions that frame their life stories, and upload photos, songs, and video files to include in their biography. The output? A leather or buckram bound book, containing a professionally written biography, complete with full-color photo montages and a CD of favorite songs, photos and other mementos. The entire process can take as little as two months.
Last, but not least, The Center for Digital Storytelling is a non-profit project development, training, and research organization "dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives". Or explore the burgeoning world of digital scrapbooking; start with www.digitalscrapbookplace.com. From their website: "Digital Scrapbooking, or computer scrapping, is the hottest new way to capture moments, create layouts, and ART that transforms your moments in memories, and gives you the scrapbooks to captivate your family and loved ones for generations to come."
Yet another service sector ready to spawn a global, online eco-system of FEEDER BUSINESSES. Story-tellers, artists, and LIFE CACHING coaches: get ready!
• • • •
LIFE CACHING and its major players
And what are the usual LIFE CACHING suspects up to? Well, Google is pushing its new photo management service Picasa, although first prize in this arena currently goes to Canadian photo sharing and social software site Flickr, recently acquired by Yahoo. Apple introduced the 60 GB iPod Photo, and Nokia signed a deal with Six Apart's TypePad weblogging service, so that Nokia LifeBlog users are now not only able to capture and store their life using Nokia's phones and LifeBlogging software, but can also share bits or all of it with the rest of the world. For a good example of a Nokia LifeBlog, take a look at the software creator's own LifeBlog / website at www.christianlindholm.com.
With virtually everything being digitized, and with affordable yet professional storage, capturing, management and story telling tools in the hands of millions, the opportunities from a marketing or service-creation angle are endless. TRENDWATCHING.COM believes consumers will come to expect that they can relive every experience they've ever had, and have instant access to any life collection they've ever built, giving them a bit of grip on their lives, which are filled with more content, experiences and data than ever before. And that spells Big Bucks for any marketer or company smart enough to provide consumers with the means to CACHE THEIR LIVES. >> Email this trend to a friend.
"Human beings (fueled by vanity, by a need to raise their self-worth, by their desire for validation, for control, for immortality) love to collect and store possessions, memories, experiences, in order to create and share personal histories, or just to keep track for practical reasons. And now, thanks to an onslaught of new technologies and tools, from blogging software to memory sticks to high definition camera phones, they can."
EMMA, LIFE CACHING for pregnant women
The LIFE CACHING trend is approaching mainstream appeal: every day brings consumers even more powerful cameraphones, even bigger memory cards, and even more streamlined do-it-yourself or serviced story-telling tools.
Some of our latest learnings? LIFE CACHING is enabling GENERATION C to become a generation of true storytellers, helping them to visually and compellingly share their experiences with friends and family, which makes them stand out and feel special. In fact, sharing an experience may become as valuable if not more valuable than the actual experience itself.
OK, back to earth. Here are our latest LIFE CACHING spottings, from statistics to new hardware to innovative B2C experiences.
• Worldwide, cameraphones now outsell digital cameras and film cameras combined, and 90% of all digital consumer pics this year will be snapped with cameraphones (source: Engadget).
There's no stopping this 'always-on-you' trend as Samsung, LG and Xcute now all sell cameraphones in Asia that can do 5-7 megapixels, which is more than most traditional digital cameras. (Xcute's DV2 is shown to the right.) One of the new Samsung camphones even sports a 3x optical zoom lens auto focus, a flash, manual white balance, 13 different scene modes, and a widescreen 16:9 picture mode. Wow.
• What's better than still images? Video! Now that vlogging is becoming the new blogging (check out sites like www.tropisms.org, www.vidblogs.com and www.vlogdir.com), may we once more point out that South Korean Pantech & Curitel have introduced a video-camphone, ideal for recording megapixel "camcorder-quality" video clips on the go, while Nokia touts its new 2 megapixel N90 phone as capable of recording VHS resolution video.
• How and where to accommodate the digital assets that come from living an accumulative terabyte lifestyle? Hitachi and Seagate expect to introduce a 1 TERABYTE (that's 1024 gigabyte, yum) disk drive early next year, using 'perpendicular recording'. Even if you don't care about what that means, understanding that consumers will be able to LIFE CACHE forever may expand your imagination when you start brainstorming how to capitalize on this trend.
• And talking about sharing one's experiences: a slew of so called photo vaults are doing their best to render obsolete the printing and paper-based photo album business. From Kodak's EasyShare Handheld Picture Viewer to the Nikon CoolWalker, it's LIFE CACHING and LIFE SHARING on the go.
Feel the above is too techy for you? Check out these LIFE CACHING services, which open up a plethora of new business ventures, advertising campaign ideas and partnering opportunities. After all, LIFE CACHING is all about storytelling:
Nokia's Lifeblog software, version 1.7
• Nokia has introduced a new version (1.7) of its Lifeblog software, which will work with 10 of its phones, in 15 languages. Lifeblog software lets users automatically arranges all messages, images, notes, videos and sound clips that they capture with their mobile phones into a PC based 'diary'.
• Another 800 pound gorilla, HP, is getting into LIFE CACHING as well, having recently developed its StoryCast software. The service enables users of smartphones to create stories that consist of a narrated photo-slide show, accompanied by the storyteller's voice. Using the mobile phone handset as a microphone, users speak into the phone while clicking on thumbnails of photos they want to describe or that illustrate a story. Once the handset has recorded both the audio track and the corresponding sequence of pictures, it can send the whole message to one's online account via email, HTTP or MMS.
And the above is just the beginning: a crop of new LIFE CACHING service companies is joining the fray, helping LIFE CACHERS to not only capture and share, but even re-sell their experiences and stories:
• MyFoodPhone and Nutrax are LIFE CACHING based diet services: users take pictures of everything they eat with their cameraphone, and send them to their own Registered Dietician. Once a week, on a personalized web page where customers keep track of their weight and other biometric information, they'll get video feedback from their dietician (who analyzes their nutritional intake) on how to modify their eating habits. Costs: MyFoodPhone charges about USD 99 a month for the service, while Nutrax offers a few cheaper options. In their own words: "Much more fun - and motivating - than pen and paper food journaling!"
• What better time to start LIFE CACHING then when you're spawning? ;-) Check out the EMMA cellphone, a conceptual service for blogging one's pregnancy (source: Hyoung Won). The user (preferably a pregnant woman) captures foetus videos, pictures, heartbeat sounds and tangible movements with Emma's hand-held 'ultrasound transducer'. The user can build a blog and upload captured multi-media data onto the website to share her pregnancy and foetus information with other family members and friends.
• Just launched: Record My Call, which allows customers to dial in and record any conversation to any phone line in the UK. Callers wishing to record their conversations dial a set number, followed by the number of the person they want to speak to. The call is recorded and a PIN is issued to allow a replay of the recording which is stored for 30 days. Think calls from relatives who live far away or a client call about an important project. As a FREE LOVE alternative, some SKYPE users already record their conversations and convert them into podcasts. Let's not forget there's more to capture, cache and share than just pics and vids.
• eDv, a personal motion picture company, produces 'works of art about your family, for your family'. Most interesting from a LIFE CACHING point of view: eDV's Biography service, a bespoke film that tells the tale of one's family history. From a combination of interviews, family media, and BBC archive footage, eDV will document those stories, at a cost of GBP 2,000 to GBP 5,000 for montage documentaries of archive material, to GBP 5,000 to GBP 40,000 for full biographical films. Where LIFE CACHING meets MASSCLUSIVITY if not UBER PREMIUM.
Next? STORYSELLING instead of STORYTELLING!
LIFE CACHING is one of the many ways for GENERATION C to collect and create content. Original content. Which gets us to our CUSTOMER MADE trend. Trying to turn LIFE CACHING into mass-appeal content, aforementioned Nokia Lifeblog is broadening its reach:
It's partnering with supermodel Anina for a project dubbed Fashion 360 Lifeblog, which is basically a 360 degree overview of what's happening in the world of fashion, as observed by a group of fashion industry professionals equipped with a weblog (Typepad) and a Nokia telephone outfitted with Lifeblog software. In Nokia's own words: "Thanks to the Fashion 360 project, each spoke in the wheel of fashion (model, agency, designer, journalist, photographer, etc.) is accessible from your PC or mobile phone!" They'll be covering Paris Fashion Week this fall.
Another Lifeblog project is MTV : starzine, billed as Europe's first magazine to be created entirely by its readers (strapline: 'Snap, Send, Shine - Fame is just a click away'). MTV viewers are invited to contribute to the online magazine by sending in their mobile phone photographs with accompanying copy.
And how about breaking news content? If a LIFE CACHER finds him/herself in the middle of a breaking news story, his pictures, recordings, and videos may be of interest (and value) to many. Quite a few media companies, from the BBC to OhMyNews, are now actively buying this content from citizen journalists, and we've spoken about this in previous newsletters. Next? Consumer-agents who represent GENERATION C, making sure active LIFE CACHERS get the best price for their 'work'. Case in point:
• Brand new UK based Scoopt, a 'civic media press agency' helps members of the public sell photographs and videos of newsworthy events to the press. In their own words: "we bridge the gap between amateur photographer and picture desk - and by 'amateur', we mean anybody with a digital camera or a cameraphone who just happens to be in the right place at the right time. When you send Scoopt a photo, you automatically grant us an exclusive worldwide license to market that photo for a period of six months. During this six-month period, you agree not to publish the photo anywhere else. When the six months are up, the license becomes non-exclusive. Scoopt also accepts video footage for distribution. All licensing and assignment fees will be split equally between you and Scoopt."
Obviously this will work best if there's a real scoop: with so many citizen journalists now crowding major events, a lot of footage will be duplicated many times over. To bring in the real money, think secretive scandals, sunbathing celebrities, and happenings in remote areas.
Asking yourself why YOU didn't come up with this? There is still plenty of room for new citizen agents... Re-read GENERATION C and CUSTOMER MADE and get going!
With virtually everything being digitized, and with affordable yet professional storage, capturing, management and story telling tools in the hands of millions, the opportunities from a marketing or service-creation angle are endless. TRENDWATCHING.COM believes consumers will come to expect that they can relive and share every experience they've ever had, and have instant access to any life collection they've ever built, giving them a bit of grip on lives that are filled with more content, experiences and data than ever before. And that spells Big Bucks for any marketer or company smart enough to provide consumers with the means to CACHE, if not resell THEIR LIVES. >> Email this trend to a friend.