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Comparing AI Virtual Assistants

23 Jan

Over the last year, artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistants have become BIG!! The leading ones are (alphabetically): Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Microsoft, Google Assistant, and Siri from Apple. These AI options can answer questions, play music, give directions, tell jokes, and even play games (try Jeopardy on Alexa).

How good are they? For this stage in their development, they are very good and relatively accurate for the simple tasks in which they specialize — and they can be fun to use. But they do each have limitations and their evolving software updates will continue to get better. In addition, there may be security issues that occur now. [Read this article for more on security.]

Recently, Jeff Dunn, writing for Business Insider, did an excellent comparison of these four virtual assistants:

“As the Web diminishes and the Amazon Echo [Alexa] continues to be a runaway hit, all the big players are convinced that talking to an AI will soon become the dominant way we interact with our computers. So they’ve started building. Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google has the new and refreshed Google Assistant. The tech has come a long way, but all of these companies openly admit that it’s very early days for this proposed future. As such, all of these assistants are far from polished. But they’re also things you can use today. So which one works best? I strapped in for eight hours of robot conversations to find out, testing each of the big four assistants across a variety of categories.”

“There is a ton of work to be done. The problems here are large and sweeping: Each assistant still feels like a fragile, thinly veiled web of loosely connected services — because that’s what they are. It’s almost impossible to tell when one of them won’t be able to do the thing you asked. You have to be OK giving up your location and loads of personal data to get the most out of them.  There are numerous instances where using a Web browser is simply faster for doing fundamental tasks. Each one is still wildly finicky when it comes to phrasing. They all think too much in black and white; one misplaced or forgotten word is often enough to discard an entire request.”

Here are some of Dunn’s comparative findings:

  • Best for travel — Google Assistant
  • Best for E-mailing — Google Assistant and Siri
  • Best for messaging — All four in different scenarios
  • Best for Music — Alexa
  • Best for weather — Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant
  • Best for social — Alexa, Cortana, Siri
  • Best for general knowledge — Alexa

 
Click the image to read a lot more from Dunn.

 

Ads on the Golden Globes Are Different!

12 Jan

The Golden Globe Awards were presented last Sunday. As more of a “party” show than others, the Golden Globe show attracts edgier ads. Here are two examples.
 
As reported by T. L. Stanley for Adweek:

“For fans who didn’t know that A-list movie star Drew Barrymore is shilling for a Weight Watchers-like program, surprise! And for those who didn’t know she’s playing a cannibal in her new Netflix show: double surprise!A new ad campaign that kicked off during Sunday night’s Golden Globes for the upcoming black comedy Santa Clarita Diet. The 10-episode show, launching Feb. 3 on the prolific streaming service, also stars Timothy Olyphant, who plays Barrymore’s real-estate broker (non-zombie) husband.”

“When she asks if you’re ‘ready to take your life to a whole new level of wow,’ with a crimson streak of blood dripping from her mouth, there’s no longer any question that this is a tongue-in-cheek (literally?) ad for a twisted piece of entertainment.”

 

 

And as Tanya Dua reports for Digiday:

“Just two months after Snapchat’s video-capturing Spectacles hit the market, they made their red carpet debut. L’Oréal Paris, the official makeup sponsor of the Golden Globe Awards, used Snapchat Spectacles to give viewers a sneak peek into the awards show.”

“The $130 devices were worn by its celebrity makeup artist Sir John as well as two other L’Oréal Paris brand ambassadors, who used them to stream behind-the-scenes content, from celebrities getting ready backstage to the walk down the red carpet.”

 

 

2017 Global Economics Interview with Hof Prof

5 Jan

Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business Distinguished Professor Joel Evans was recently interviewed by the award-winning Hofstra radio station WHRU about the upcoming 2017 global economy. Here is that EIGHT-minute interview. The views are those of Professor Evans and not Hofstra University.

[Please pardon all the sighs. Professor Evans is not in a state of distress, only in a state of bronchitis. 🙂 ]

 

 

What Are the Toughest Languages to Translate?

31 Dec

As we approach the end of 2016, we have presented some of the most popular of the nearly 1,500 posts that have appeared on Evans on Marketing. Today, to finish 2016, we discuss how difficult it is compete in multiple languages.

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When firms go global, language translation becomes more complex and time-consuming.

Dana Translation notes that:

“In today’s global environment and economy, interesting and important come in many languages. People and organizations often need to unlock the meaning within those documents with a perfect translation that conveys the intent of the document.”

“Many people don’t realize that languages don’t have a direct word-to-correlation, so a good translation requires an understanding of the nuances and shades of meaning in each language. Rules of grammar and the way people express themselves using figures of speech vary from culture to culture, and words with the same meaning may have different connotations that can slant the feeling that a translation conveys if chosen unwisely. That’s why machine translations so often go wrong, and why it pays to have a comprehensive translation service on your side.”

 

According to Dana, these are the hardest languages to translate.

 

Technology and Planned Obsolescence

27 Dec

As we approach the end of 2016, we are going to present some of the most popular of the nearly 1,500 posts that have appeared on Evans on Marketing. Today, we cover the topic of planned obsolescence.

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As defined in Evans Berman’s Marketing: “Planned obsolescence is a marketing practice that capitalizes on short-run material wearout, style changes, and functional product changes. In material planned obsolescence, firms choose materials and components that are subject to comparatively early breakage, wear, rot, or corrosion. In style planned obsolescence, a firm makes minor changes to differentiate the new year’s offering from the prior year’s. With functional planned obsolescence, a firm introduces new product features or improvements to generate consumer dissatisfaction with currently owned products.”

In recent years, NO company has applied planned obsolescence more than Apple. Yes, this practice has led to rapid advances in the technology of music players, tablets, and smartphones. But, does Apple’s philosophy also spur consumers to buy new product versions that they don’t need?

Apple has recently been criticized for its planned obsolescence strategy. Do YOU agree with this criticism?

Consider these observations by Catherine Rampell, writing for the New York Times:

“The new software and recent app updates from Apple offer fancy new features that existing users want; maybe the battery is sealed with tiny five-point screws for aesthetic considerations. Perhaps, but this isn’t the first time that tech analysts and random crazies on the Internet have noted that breakdowns in older Apple products can often coincide with when upgrades come onto the market. Many have taken this as evidence of ‘planned obsolescence,’ a term that dates to the Great Depression, when a real-estate broker suggested that the government should stimulate the economy by placing artificial expiration dates on consumer products so people would buy more.”

“There is, however, a simple way to effectively render an old product obsolete without fleecing your existing customers. Instead of degrading the old model, companies can offer innovations in the new model that make upgrading irresistible. Apple succeeded at doing this for a while, offering new iPhones that included major improvements. In the past, consumers were so excited about the cool new features, like Siri, the voice-activated interface, that they may not have minded (or even noticed) if their old phones started to deteriorate; they planned on upgrading anyway. This time around, that’s less true. The iPhone 5S and 5C offer fewer quantum improvements. Consumers are more likely to want their old phones to continue working at peak condition in perpetuity, and to feel cheated when they don’t.”

[Note from Evans on Marketing: Many consumers still believe that Apple practices planned obsolescence with its latest lines of phones, tablets, and computers. In 2016, for the first time in years, had a quarterly sales drop. Do YOU agree or disagree?]

 

 
Click the image to read more.

Illustration by Kelsey Dake

 

The Psychology of Color

21 Dec

As we approach the end of 2016, we are going to present some of the most popular of the nearly 1,500 posts that have appeared on Evans on Marketing. Today, we cover how colors affect consumers’ product perceptions.
 

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From a marketing perspective, we tend to believe “perception is reality” — which means that what shoppers believe about product features is more important than the reality of those features.

With this in mind, Rachel Griffith has written a fascinating article for Fast Company on the impact of color on consumer perceptions. As she notes:

“When it comes to identifying your brand, your logo is probably the first thing your customers will think of. While honing the narrative and message behind your logo should of course be your primary concern, research suggests that your logo’s design — and specifically its colors — have more bearing on your customers’ opinions than you might think. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway, who has focused his recent research almost entirely on the neural machinery behind color, believes the science behind color processing to be very powerful and completely underexploited.”

“According to research complied by web design and marketing company WebPageFX, people make a subconscious judgment about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on color alone. In fact, almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.”

To learn more about the perceptions of people with regard to red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple, click on the infographic from Fast Company.

 


 

Rogue One Is Finally Here!

13 Dec

Professor Evans recently did a radio interview following up on our prior post on Rogue One.

Click to listen to that interview.
 

 

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