1. Microsoft Flash?
Rumors flew last fall about a secret meeting between Adobe and Microsoft, leading to speculation that Adobe was looking for some muscle against Steve Jobs’s very public anti-Flash campaign. Neither Microsoft or Adobe will confirm the subject matter of the meetings but speculations flew on news sites across the Web.
If a merger does take place and Adobe optimizes their products for the cheaper and more available Windows hardware market I can only image the impact on the creative community. Schools and corporations who have long paid premium prices for Apple’s hardware to run these Adobe products would suddenly have no reason to continue to do so.With recent revenue shifts from the professional creative community to consumer products Apple would have less and less reason to continue to produce the type professional grade hardware that kept them afloat during the mid 90′s. I can only hope that Apple and Adobe find a way to continue their long lasting relationship to avoid such a potential tragedy. Read more.
2. Info Graphics Evolve
Info graphics exploded in 2010 proving good design can provide simple explanations to complex ideas. That same concept can be seen with the free financial product Mint.com. It proved that making something complex into something simple could be a product onto itself, enough so that Intuit (Quicken) bought Mint vs. compete against it’s growing user base.
Now a startup is doing the same for healthcare services. Gobloomhealth.com is providing the same type of design thinking by turning the complex maze of choosing health benefits into a palatable online wizard. There is also a startup from the former lead designer of Firefox that is teasing with the promise of innovative new approaches to healthcare products. Go read Glimmer if you haven’t already and you can start to see why I am so excited about these two companies as well as a Mint.com fanatic.
3. QR, Not Quite:
Everyone has seen QR (quick response) tags, and a few of us have even played with them. Very few brands have figured out how to capitalize on their buzz to build a truly purposeful mobile brand experience. The main reason is the user barrier that currently exists to accessing the software that enables this type of interaction. Users have to download and install the software, then remember to activate it to access the content digitally when they see a physical QR tag on a printed surface. Not a seamless or intuitive interaction.
Enter Near Field Communication (NFC) which uses RFID type technology built into mobile devices (phones/slates) that can automatically operate when within a specific distance of a transmitter. This past week at CES a slew of hardware manufactures touted this new capability with rumors of Apple’s next generation of iOS devices also having this functionality.
The technology opens the door to alot of new user experience models such as instant digital payments, mobile ticketing for public transport or patient adherence alerts at a pharmacy. This is completely fertile ground when exploring new ways to make user experiences integrated with other media or completely new brand experiences.
4. Geolocation geolocation geolocation
FourSquare and Gowalla put the spotlight on how engaging mobile experiences can be with GPS location based services. Retailers such as Starbucks hopped on board and started rewarding customers for using these tools to catalog and share brand interactions socially. Facebook took notice and started promoting their places functionality by putting it front and center on their mobile interface and partnering with the Gap to give away 10,000 pairs of jeans.
With retail brands training the public to use these tools through discounts and couponing, healthcare will benefit from the removed user learning curve and privacy concerns. Look for an explosion of health related uses for location based services for patient adherence, diet and medical services.
5. A Second Life for Flash…
While Flash has become the red headed step child of the browser experience in favor of the more open and flexible HTML5, a slew of new tablets and the promise of revenue generating app markets are going to open up new possibilities for Flash content developers. Flash has 15 years under its belt which affords it an army of developers that blur the line between designer and developer, resulting in some of the most engaging and memorable digital brand experiences to date.
With an army of these creative developers out there with deep knowledge of the Flash/Flex/Air development environment it will be interesting to see how Flash forms its next life on the small screen. How the tablet/slate wars shake out in 2011 will help determine the future of Flash as an app development platform vs. just some dancing baloney on a Web page it’s critics claim it to be.
This list of 36 tablet/slate devices on display at CES this past week will all have the ability to run Flash content.