Go to blog home page

Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

By

August 7th, 2013

Astroturfing: What it is and why tech vendors need to stay far, far away

Astroturfing: What it is and why tech vendors need to stay far, far away

Astroturfing is about a different type of fake grass — when vendors or any organization or body tries to deceptively engage with users at a ‘grass roots’ level and influence public opinion.

Astroturfing is about a different type of fake grass — when vendors or any organization or body tries to deceptively engage with users at a ‘grass roots’ level and influence public opinion.

Ah, the last week has seen news about ‘astroturfing’.

Not familiar with astroturfing? Well you’ve probably seen it in action. Though the term was coined way back in 1985 by US Senator Lloyd Bentsen, the practice is still very much with us today.

It’s got nothing to do with synthetic indoor soccer playing surfaces. Astroturfing is about a different type of fake grass — when vendors or any organization or body tries to deceptively engage with users at a ‘grass roots’ level and influence public opinion.

For example, writing and posting your own reviews online would be considered a type of astroturfing. Considering it’s such a potentially, well, to use a British phrase — dodgy — thing to do, it seems to occur with wearying frequency.

While it may be at the forefront in technology circles, astroturfing is certainly not new nor something dreamt up by the tech industry. For example, take the creation of the National Smokers’ Alliance in 1995 — which was purported to be funded by Philip Morris and launched by its well-oiled (and I’m guessing well-paid) PR machine. There’s an amazing(ly shocking) array of examples of astroturfing across geographies, industries and company types.

In the digital world, accusations of astroturfing include a marketing agency working for Apple that was posting fake reviews and a letter-writing initiative from a seemingly grass roots organization that was linked back to Microsoft, trying to wrestle out of its 2010 anti-trust woes.

The most recent case that has everyone blogging and commenting and shouting is the unfortunate case of Samsung, with the Samsung Smart App Challenge 2013 being tarred and feathered with astroturfing allegations. Allegedly it offered developers $500 to ask the developer community four “casual” and “organic” questions on Stackoverflow, a friendly and  accessible developer community for professional and amateur programmers.

A developer that was approached flagged the activity to Stackexhange, the organization behind Stackoverflow, which alerted Samsung and the activity has halted. But the damage has been done. Whatever happens next, we’re at the juncture where this:

-        Smacks of desperation

-        Got the hackles up in open communities like Stackoverflow and made members weary about vendors / marketers / us PR folks

-        Made Samsung look like it doesn’t understand its own target community — developers — and how they want to be approached. The original blogger who called it out, Delyan Kratunov, even stated: “Had they approached me to ask that I promote the competition legitimately, I would’ve been happy to do it out of goodwill.” To me, that says it all.

Samsung said it didn’t know about the activity. In my experience, vendors that say: “Here’s a sack of money, go and do whatever you think is right with it,” are rare. Albino unicorn-rare. [Sidenote: Any tech vendors that are unsure of what their marketing budget is being spent on, come and work with us. We’ll even let you know what we’re doing before we do it. It’s under the cunning codename “plan”].

Furthermore, as a consultancy, you are compensated for your ideas, creativity — and ability to execute programs that are in line with the company’s objectives, and their values. I’m pretty sure that “being known for astroturfing” isn’t on any company’s PR objectives.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Communications consultancy opinion, Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices, Technology PR, Technology PR Blog | Comments Off

 

By

December 17th, 2012

Who searched what? A Google-based year in review

Who searched what? A Google-based year in review

Happy new year from PromptWith 2012 winding down and the New Year quickly approaching us, the search engine masterminds at Google have published the company’s annual Zeitgeist list for the past year. The list highlights the top ten trending and most popular searches each year, dating back to 2001, when we were more concerned with old-time favorites like Harry Potter and Windows XP.

Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t make into this year’s list. Here’s what did make it in, ranked by Google as the three most popular search topics of 2012 in the US:

  1. Whitney Houston – Due to her unexpected death back in February, the much-loved recording artist, actress and producer was a frequent search term throughout the year
  2. Hurricane Sandy – The natural disaster hit the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the US in late October, with New York and New Jersey affected the most. The super storm flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and power was lost in across many areas, including New York
  3. Election 2012 – It was the Obama vs Romney battle heard around the world (or so it seems). This year’s presidential election was seemingly everywhere. During debates and campaigning, ‘Big Bird’ became more than just a Sesame Street character and ‘binders full of women’ quickly caught on with critics, comedians and the overall general public. Though a close race, President Obama secured four more years in the Oval Office, beating out opponent and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney

Other topics to round out the top ten list included (in order of most searched to least): The Hunger Games, Jeremy Lin, Olympics 2012 (thinking of you, Prompt London), Amanda Todd, Gangnam Style, Michael Clark Duncan and KONY 2012.

Of course, as a public relations firm with a strong interest in technology, we had to ask ourselves – where are the big tech names, like Apple, Microsoft or Samsung, on this list?

Technology products were dissected in a separate list by Zeitgeist, that revealed the top five tech gadgets: in first place ranked the iPad 3, followed by iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy S3, Kindle Fire, and last but not least, Nexus 7.

To view the complete list of trending technology and gadgets, including a neat list of most liked Google Doodles (I personally like the Olympic sports Doodles run during the summer months), please click here.

Whatever your preferred choice is in tech products, presidents and even Google Doodles, the Prompt team hoped you had a joyous and happy 2012 filled with many unforgettable memories. Here’s to the New Year, and to the new opportunities (and Google searches) it will bring!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Google, Holidays, Technology | Comments Off

 

By

December 6th, 2012

Which tablets do you take? And is the mouse a squeak away from extinction?

Which tablets do you take? And is the mouse a squeak away from extinction?

Prompt Communications Tech SurveyRegular market research is essential to ensure that you are still tapping the correct markets for your products and services. At Prompt, we undertake all aspects of research, data collection and statistical analysis. Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to take a rapid snapshot of market opinions, is to conduct a survey.

One recent survey we conducted across US and UK tech consumers proved to be a great example of rapid opinion gathering. The survey was conducted online and in-person. It revealed that Apple is still far more sought after than its competitors in the tablet world, and remains better thought of than its competitors in terms of innovation, design, usability, retail and marketing effort.

Perhaps most tellingly, despite significant launches from Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Amazon in 2012, more survey respondents are hoping for iPads, iPad minis and iPhones in their stockings this year, over other tablet-like devices!

In the tablet and smartphone market, companies are constantly looking for ways to become more innovative and to aggressively increase their market share. A responsibility lies with these vendors to be clearer about specs, features and benefits, and to help consumers to navigate the maze of new mobile devices. Clarity, common English and transparency are crucial. Meanwhile consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what products are available and the features they are looking for, while gaining a deeper understanding of comparable benefits.

In the same survey, we also found that although losing popularity with the rise of tablets, the computer mouse isn’t headed for extinction just yet.  That finding probably surprised me the most – personally I work at a touchscreen computer, a laptop with a touchpad, a tablet and a smartphone – all without a mouse in sight. I still carry one around in my handbag though, so perhaps I’m just sentimental…

Would you like to weigh in with your own opinions? Perhaps you’d like to add your own support for Apple, provide some vocal backing for other tablet brands, or just stick up for the mouse? We’d love to hear from you. The survey is still open. Please just click here to share views on tablets, mice and your holiday wish-list.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Apple, Media, Microsoft, Prompt locations, Survey, Technology | Comments Off

 

By

December 5th, 2012

Prompt survey: Why do consumers favor Apple over Microsoft? And is the computer mouse heading for extinction?

Prompt survey: Why do consumers favor Apple over Microsoft? And is the computer mouse heading for extinction?

Mobile device survey finds Apple iPad 2, iPad mini and iPhone 5 rank above competing devices from Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, while the mouse is alive and well

5 December 2012 – Prompt Communications, a transatlantic copywriting, PR and social digital communications agency, has conducted a survey of consumers to unveil opinions of mobile devices, brands, computer mice and Windows 8.

The survey, conducted online and in-person, asked consumers which brands they preferred, which brands they considered to be the most ‘innovative’, and which products they thought were the most exciting launches of 2012. Respondents were given the opportunity to provide opinions on product features, their personal tablet wish-list, and the future of the mouse.

Apple was named as the most popular and innovative technology company, beating industry rivals Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, with 40% of respondents naming Apple’s iPad 2, iPad mini or the iPhone 5 as the most exciting launch of 2012. Apple was followed by Samsung, with almost a fifth of respondents (18%) voting for its Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note, followed by 14% in favor of Microsoft’s new Surface tablets.

When told they could “ask Santa for one tablet-like device for Christmas”, 40% said they would put an Apple iPad on their list, 18% opted for a Microsoft Surface; 15% chose an Apple iPad mini, and just 6% said they’d ask Santa for a Google Nexus. On the topic of the computer mouse and whether it is heading for extinction, a surprising 69% said that they didn’t think it was, although a third of respondents (29%) did believe the mouse was living on borrowed time.

The survey also asked consumers to score Apple and Microsoft in a range of categories spanning products, services and reputation, and found:

  • In retail Apple ranked highest against Microsoft thanks to its App Store with 96% of consumers choosing Apple, compared to just 4% of users selecting Microsoft
  • In marketing Apple scored 93% against Microsoft’s 7%
  • For hardware design 78% chose Apple compared to just over a fifth (22%) opting for Microsoft
  • For operating systems, 62% of consumers said Apple’s OS was best, with 38% voting for Microsoft
  • In usability 60% of consumers preferred the Apple, compared to Microsoft’s 40%
  • However, Microsoft was favored over Apple when it came to corporate compatibility with 77% of respondents preferring Microsoft devices for ‘business use’.   

When asked about Microsoft’s new Windows 8 launch, around two-thirds (61%) said it was “just another ordinary Windows update”, while almost a quarter of respondents said it was “a big fuss about nothing”. However, 15% did say they thought the launch was “revolutionary”.

The device market looks set to swell further through fresh partnerships, such as that recently forged by Google and Samsung. Apple may have 100 million tablets on the market today, but it’s estimated that by the end of 2014 Android shipments will exceed that of iOS devices. With further market complexity, any resulting buyer confusion could mean a black mark not only for one vendor, but for an OS, or the market itself.

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt, said: “In the tablet and smartphone market, companies are constantly looking for ways to become more innovative and to aggressively increase their market share. Meanwhile consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what products are available and the features they are looking for, while gaining a deeper understanding of comparable benefits. A responsibility lies with vendors to be clearer about specs, features and benefits, and to help consumers to navigate the maze of new mobile devices. Clarity, common English and transparency are crucial.”

Hazel concluded: “The one thing that surprises me is that more people didn’t say that the mouse is headed for extinction. Perhaps computer users have an emotional attachment – personally I work at a touchscreen computer, a laptop with a touchpad, a tablet and a smartphone – all without a mouse in sight. But I still carry one around in my handbag – perhaps I’m just sentimental.”

Would you like to weigh in with your own opinions? We’d love to hear them, and the survey is still open. Please click here to share views on tablets, mice and your holiday wish-list.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News, Prompt news | Comments Off

 

By

November 6th, 2012

Microsoft vs Apple: Prompt Survey Smackdown!

Microsoft vs Apple: Prompt Survey Smackdown!

If you’ve read our blog or our newsletter, you’ll know that we love technology launches. We’re also kind of nosey, and like to hear other people’s opinions. So with the launch of Microsoft Surface, Windows 8 and Apple’s iPad Mini, we’d like to know what you think.

* Can Windows 8 really live up to Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer’s hype and “shatter perceptions of what a PC truly is”, or is it just another upgrade?

* Is Surface a “compromised, confusing product”, as claimed by Apple CEO Tim Cook,  or genuine competition for his iPad?

* Will techies continue camping outside Apple Stores every time an ‘iSomething’ is launched?

* When will they ever get that excited about launches from Redmond?

* Is a new era for Microsoft dawning?

We have so many questions that we’ve put them all into our Microsoft vs. Apple: Prompt Survey Smackdown, and it’s already well underway. The PromptBoston team has been out asking folks their thoughts in the Boston and Cambridge area. We’ve also been quizzing fellow tech aficionados at Prompt’s Boston offices in the Cambridge Innovation Center, while our UK counterparts @PromptLondon are surveying Londoners to get their take.

Microsoft or Apple? Have your say today. There are only six questions, so please take a few minutes, click here and let us know which side of the Apple / Microsoft fence you stand on.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Polls, Survey, Technology | Comments Off

 

By

November 6th, 2012

Apple: We want to see the iPad mini ‘in the flesh’. Can you help?

Apple: We want to see the iPad mini ‘in the flesh’. Can you help?

Last week we thought it would be fun and interesting to go and check out the new Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad mini, camera in hand (check out the video here). We wanted to get to grips with some of the new hardware that our clients and colleagues are busy discussing, and we also hoped to find out, in a Prompt Survey Smackdown, what everyone is saying about the latest goodies from MS and Apple.

At the Microsoft Store in Boston’s Prudential Center, we were welcomed in, offered a spokesperson, told to film at our hearts’ content (which we took full advantage of), and given a full demo by a very helpful store manager called Ty Happworth. The product tour helped us get the most from the Surface experience, and really understand what Microsoft is aiming for. We found the Surface to be fun, a really innovative product, and enjoyed seeing it in action. We also got a first-hand look at the Windows 8 touchscreen interface in preparation for own office PC upgrades (watch this space for more about that!)

Over at the Apple Store, just around the corner on Boston’s Boylston Street, our experience was entirely different. We were told not to come close to the store at all. This is somewhat understandable – and we would never infringe on anyone’s privacy against their wishes – but we’re also fans of balanced comparison and we’d really liked to have made a short film showing an Apple iPad mini demo. So far this morning, I have called the Apple Store, been placed on hold, and have been deflected with numbers for Apple’s PR department, with the result of a simple recording asking for a detailed message after the beep. We’re still really hoping that Apple will eventually allow us to film a demo.

Yes, we’re just a PR, copywriting and comms firm, and not a major independent publishing house or broadcaster. But we only want to showcase Apple’s own demonstration messages to provide a balanced picture, not a savage critique. We like Apple products. In fact I don’t think there’s one person working for Prompt that doesn’t own an iSomething. Unfortunately no-one as of yet has an Apple iPad mini (although it now looks like we’ll have to invest in one in order to film our own demo, rather than allow Apple to work with us on this).

So if you’re reading this, and you work with Apple or one of its commercial partners, perhaps you could come to our aid and help us showcase the Apple iPad mini? We wouldn’t take up much of your time, and we’d really appreciate the opportunity. Please get in touch with us: whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, by phone, or by email.



Update: Unfortunately, Prompt’s request to Apple’s corporate office for an in-person demonstration of the iPad mini was declined. Apple explained that it applies a comprehensive policy of not allowing cameras in any of its retail stores. We fully understand and respect Apple’s position, but apologize for not being able to bring you a demo at this time. As always, any further feedback or comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Apple, Boston, Microsoft, Prompt locations, Technology | Comments Off

 

By

October 10th, 2012

Prompt appointed by Crimson Hexagon to drive UK public relations

Prompt appointed by Crimson Hexagon to drive UK public relations

As a transatlantic copywriting and public relations agency with offices in London, Boston and San Francisco, Prompt works with an array of clients in the technology industry – an innovative sector that is both thriving and constantly evolving.

Our latest appointment by software company Crimson Hexagon proves no different. Headquartered in Boston, MA with offices in London, Crimson Hexagon provides big data analysis software focusing on social media posts and other data sources to global organizations, including well-known companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, for insight into social sentiment and improved  business intelligence.

What is most exciting about this new client is its state-of-the-art ForSight™ platform, which was originally developed at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. The platform breaks the traditional social media monitoring mold by relying on both human judgment and computer scalability. The platform currently holds an estimated 175 billion social media posts in its database, and adds an additional 1 billion posts to its database every two days.

Prompt will work on Crimson Hexagon’s UK public relations campaigns, which includes targeted media relations, opinion placement and securing editorial opportunities to support the company’s sales to B2C and B2B marketers, data specialists and business strategists.  Prompt will work on campaigns targeting marketing, business, retail, and consumer publications.

The Prompt team is looking forward to working alongside one of Fast Company’s ‘Top Ten Most Innovative Web Companies’, and has already begun working with top-name press on coverage and editorial opportunities.

For more information on Prompt’s appointment by Crimson Hexagon, read the press release here. To learn how Prompt Communications can produce the most effective communications for your sales and stakeholder value, email info@prompt-communications.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Boston, Copywriting, Innovation, London, PR Practices, Prompt locations, Technology, Twitter, UK press | Comments Off

 

By

September 19th, 2012

Prompt Blog: Germany says ‘verboten’ to IE?

Prompt Blog: Germany says ‘verboten’ to IE?

Microsoft continues to be dealt blows just days after the weekend technology snafu that left several security holes in versions of its Internet Explorer web browser. The latest insult to injury came when the German government announced that its citizens should seek the use of other web browsers and boycott Internet Explorer (IE).

This development is very unusual since governments tend not to decree flat advisories against the use of a web browser or any other popular tech product (well, some have, but that’s another story and a larger conversation about human rights). The route of the concern was IE’s apparent ability to harm computers if users browsed through to a malicious website, ultimately leading to a German government official admitting that he feared the code would spread if German citizens continued to use IE prior to a security update.

 Microsoft continues to try to get the situation put in order. Last Monday, the company released a security patch called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, which is intended to placate users until a full security update can be prepared and released. That security release is expected to be released within the next few days, according to Microsoft’s director of Trustworthy Computing, Yunsun Wee, who remarked that even in the face of international concerns over the consequences of the security brief, in reality there have not been many attacks and the majority of IE users remain unaffected.

As the team at our Prompt Boston office look over to the Kendall Square Microsoft R&D building, am sure they wonder what flurried scurrying of coding must be going on – Godspeed you, Microsoft!

Hot off the press update (20 Sept): On the evening of 19 September, Microsoft rolled out a download addressing this issue and has scheduled a security update for Friday 21 September. 

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Boston, Microsoft, Prompt locations, Technology | 1 Comment »

 

By

October 10th, 2011

Mangos in a pub…

Mangos in a pub…

CNET Crave picks the latest Mango news...

Regardless of whether I’m ‘talking tech‘ in the City of London with IT executives or discussing the recent harvest with farmers in my local, the sticky bar-top remains cluttered with the same bunch of smartphone handsets: iPhones old and new, a couple of generations of Blackberry, some HTC Androids perhaps, maybe a Samsung or two…

So just who the heck is using Windows Phones, eh? Is it you and your friends in a suburban social scene I trundle through on an InterCity, unaware of your superior GUI and slick app environment? If you are a fan of Microsoft’s platform please let us know, but I suspect the population of Windows Phone users is actually pretty rarefied – somewhere out there with all the Zune subscribers…

Back in May I remember reading on Crave about the imminent Windows Phone 7.5 – codenamed Mango - which Microsoft had unleashed in hot pursuit of the Apple and Android handsets already disappearing over the horizon. To be honest, it felt a bit ‘Zuney‘ at the time, but I still assumed a brave but loyal following would support the platform and encourage further development.

But today the same news channel is reporting that Dell has pulled the plug on a planned Windows Phone Mango handset. Sure, Dell seems to be cutting back on support for Android too, but it’s still a pretty gloomy outlook for the Microsoft smartphone. The Dell Wrigley has allegedly been cancelled, and Dell won’t be producing any Mango handsets to take its place.

On the bright side, CNET has also found out that Nokia will announce its first Windows Phone devices at Nokia World at the end of the month. But who is waiting for these phones with even a scrap of the fervour a disappointing iPhone launch can muster at the drop of some leaked hardware?

What do you think about the likely future of the Windows Phone platform? And what do you feel the future focus of Dell’s product portfolio will be if smartphones are being pushed to one side for the time being? Please let us know.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

 

By

April 2nd, 2010

Datacentre coal out of control, warns Greenpeace

Datacentre coal out of control, warns Greenpeace


Cloud computing and ubiquitous internet access are driving data centre demand and accelerating climate change, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental pressure group gave notice this week that it would release a major report later in the year attacking the excessive fossil fuel consumption of major IT brands including Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. An initial paper, ‘Make IT Green: Cloud computing and its contribution to climate change’, already makes the argument pretty clear.

Greenpeace is calling on businesses to begin transferring their data centre power sources away from coal to renewable energy. The group told BBC News this week that by 2020 it estimated global data centres will use 1,963 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year – more than the total power currently consumed by France, Germany, Canada and Brazil put together.

Greenpeace believes that too many firms pride themselves on developing green technology initiatives to cope with ubiquitous computing, when all they are really doing is producing energy from dirty sources more efficiently. “Growth in the IT industry is leading to a fast growing carbon footprint,” Tom Dowdall, greener electronics campaign coordinator at Greenpeace, told the BBC.

Despite Facebook and Microsoft both receiving recent praise for installing fresh air cooling rather than air-conditioning in new datacentres, even those facilities are still powered by coal-fired electricity production. Microsoft does however have one data centre in Quincy, Washington which it claims is run on “100% hydropower” drawn from the Columbia River Basin. Yahoo too has claimed it is tapping hydro power for its latest datacentre in Buffalo New York, as well as a succession of forthcoming new sites.

“We would like to see more examples of companies using purchasing power to drive an increase in renewable capacity,” said Dowdall.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

 

By

October 28th, 2009

All of the dominoes are falling into place for Windows 7

All of the dominoes are falling into place for Windows 7

Windows 7, fresh off many positive reviews, is looking like it will be the smash hit for Microsoft that Vista was supposed to be.

What better way to celebrate than with 7,000 dominoes?

Tags: , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

 

By

September 23rd, 2009

Microsoft's takes tablets to the next level

Microsoft's takes tablets to the next level

Microsoft recently announced an innovative dual-screen laptop called the Courier, which will create whole new ways of interacting with a computer. It’s currently in a “late prototype” stage but Gizmodo posted a sneak preview:

It looks absolutely breathtaking and seems to be expanding on the multi-touch concept it introduced with Surface.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off