Bill Gates, where are you?

The search is on to find the next Bill Gates according to a poll carried out by 463 and pollsters Zogby. People polled believe the next Bill Gates has been born so I guess all that remains is to find them. That search is more likely to bear fruit if people look in China or Japan than it will if they look in the US according to the poll.

The poll also asks Americans if they are ready to switch to citizen journalism for their news and while the result was a negative on that, it did reveal that 25% of 18-49 year olds would pick Citizen video for their daily news. Given how new this space is, that’s pretty amazing and should worry the major TV news networks.

The full poll can be found on 463’s blog at:

In 2006

1. Google stock went to $500 much to the delight of realtors in Santa Clara County
2. Dick Cheney accidentally shoots a friend in the face and moves into the background politically
3. Google buys YouTube for $1.65Bn
4. Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced his retirement from Microsoft an the stock goes up
5. Al Gore became a movie star and may have finally shifted American sentiment on environmental issues
6. Toyota starts to sell more cars than Ford (see number 5)
7. Donald Rumsfeld steps down after months of pressure
8. The DJIA reached a record high
9. Blog and wikis became mainstream and old media continued to decline
10. WSJ announced major redesign as readership drops (see number 9)
11. HP gives a lesson in how not to handle a boardroom crisis
12. Oil prices start and end the year roughly unchanged but in between boy did they go on a roller coaster ride

What’s reality?

Lord Bell, Chairman of Chime is credited with the saying: “perception is reality.” I’m wondering if we now need to shift that to: “Google is reality.” I’m being a touch facetious here but I just had a call from someone who is trying to get a reference on a person who works for one of the large technology businesses (a very large one in fact). They had tried to look them up on Google and found nothing. What was interesting was their view was that if this person didn’t show up on Google they can’t be that important. It is worth noting they were doing the research for a friend so it could be they had their name spelled wrongly. I actually found myself feeling sorry for this person and have reached out to several other people to see if they know of anyone with a name like this that works at the unnamed company. I wonder at what point will people start to add Google search links routinely to their CVs/resumes? For the record this person probably isn’t that important.

Customers and color

It seems that if you want customers to like your latest piece of consumer technology then you should paint it white. At least that seems to be the case with customers shopping at Circuit City for the new Microsoft Zune. I just did a search on this new product because I was curious to see how easy it was to get one. I own several iPods so I’m not likely to buy one. What stood out when the availability results came back on the Circuit City site was the customer ratings for this product varied by color. Highest was white with a rating of 4.8 out of 5, while brown scored only 4 out of 5. Black, meanwhile, did slightly better at 4.4. To reiterate the point, these are the SAME products in different colors, yet the rating varies quite considerably. For the record, I looked on the same site at iPod ratings, regardless of color the Nano scored 4.4. Am I the only one that thinks this is odd?


The emotional side of PR

I found myself being a PR person’s nightmare this week. To put it another way, I found myself refusing to believe (or at least not wanting to believe) a news story even though it was being covered by a number of pretty credible news outlets such as the FT, WSJ and Economist. The story was about the US dollar’s rather precipitous drop against other leading currencies. Now I didn’t want to believe it for a few reasons. First, because I run a business that reports in sterling and a fall in the dollar is just downright annoying. That said we use various currency products from banks to mitigate that problem. The second reason, is that I live in the US and I didn’t like the assertion that the US economy was actually weaker than the European economies. In truth I’m still not sure I follow the logic used by the Economist on this story but that’s not really the point of the entry.

My point here is that if someone has both a rational (runs a business that can be technically affected by a change) and an emotional (lives in the country that is said to be doing poorly) reason not to want to believe a story, it can be awfully hard to change their opinion. The emotional reason is the toughest to shift just because it’s so… emotional. In this instance I want to believe in the American economy for a host of reasons, not least that I have kids and I want them to grow up somewhere where they’ll get a good education and rewarding career. If the US economy has the kind of cancer that the Economist argues, then I should move my kids to France tomorrow where they will at least get great schooling. See my point? It’s awfully easy to get drawn away from the story and in to your own world. This reminded me that for PR people trying to fight issues on behalf of their clients that a good consideration of the emotional impact of a story may well go a long way towards finding a solution.

To put this thought in to perspective, if I were the US government right now and I wanted to counter the arguments being made, I’d focus on the great talent this country is producing in all sorts of areas AND the talent this country still attracts. It is after all people that make up economies and with great people you can have great economies. And who are these great people that I refer to? Well my kids of course!