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[Advice for Awesome Business Names]: Random Name Generators to Numerology

what to name my business ideas

Early in the history of any new business comes the naming decision.  You’ll need a name as soon as you create a website or blog.  Naming a new business is something many entrepreneurs obsess over.

They’re right–the business name is important.  You want to choose a name that will be good forever.  Changing names is a messy business that’s expensive and fraught with peril.

I remember the first time I named my business.  I was fresh out of college and needed to raise venture capital.  We needed a name before we could call on the investors.  I let my attorney suggest a name, and I didn’t know it at the time, but the name was terrible!

That company started out as “Interface Technologies Corporation”, which we quickly abbreviated to ITC.  I think we preferred the abbreviation to avoid explaining over and over again what it meant.

My next naming opportunity came when it was time to pick a name for the product.  Things went a lot better as we got everyone in the company together and went to a bar at about 4pm in the afternoon. The deal was we weren’t leaving until we had a name everyone agreed was good.  And we did come up with a name that was WAY better–that product was “Farsight.”

Infoworld Farsight review from 1986.  Yes, I’ve been an entrepreneur for quite a while, LOL!

It sounded very cutting edge at the time.  That was good enough, and we didn’t worry about people figuring out what it meant.  This was long before Google or even its predecessors existed.  This was a time when we marketed via advertising in the magazines of the day.  That ensured we had time to explain what it meant.

Over the years, things have only gotten better.  Names are important, and while choosing a name is not exactly a Science, it’s also not a total Black Art.  By the way, everything in the article about naming a business applies to naming a product.  That’s because in both cases, you’ll be investing in building up a brand.

You can pay a small fortune to have a professional firm come up with a name for your company or product.  Costs for good firms start at about $80,000.  From some perspectives, it’s darned well worth it, but you’d better be pretty flush with cash to go that route.  Think Silicon Valley Venture Capital kind of flush with cash.  When you’re spending millions, it probably is worth it.

But, your business name doesn’t have to do everything.  It doesn’t need superpowers.  If it is whispered in a crowd, don’t expect thousands to flock to  your website.  Don’t expect folks to buy whatever it is you are selling just on the name.

There are very few (if any) business names that evoke that kind of result.  At best, a great brand can do it, but there’s much more to a brand than a name.

The role of your business name can be much more modest and you’ll still be successful.

What is the Role of Your Business Name?

What must your business name accomplish?

Let’s stay high level for a moment.  I’m going to give you 4 different generic types of names you should consider.  I will also provide some important rules for separating the Awesome names from the Also-Rans.

Those things don’t tell us the role of your business name.  Here’s is a simple and very pragmatic description of what your business name is supposed to do for you:

great business name is easier to market
Hand drawing diagram isolated on white background

With enough marketing, any name will work. The goal of a Good Name is to require less marketing.

That’s it, that’s all, full stop.  The difference between a great business name and a poor business name is how hard you need to market it.

A great business name will save you money in the long run.  

It will save you money by making it easier for your audience to get interested based on the name and to successfully remember the name so they can refer to it later and tell friends about it.

What Kinds of Business Names Should You Consider?

business name types

There are four kinds of business names:

Type 1: Functional and Descriptive

These names explain what the company does.  They can be bland and boring, like “Cedar Rapids Paperclip Manufacturing”, but they don’t have to be.  We’ll talk shortly about some rules and guidelines to help you avoid boredom.

My CNCCookbook business is a good example of this type.  We help CNC’ers to improve their skills by offering information and software.  We are a “Cookbook” of great recipes for CNC’ers to borrow and use.

These names can be some of the cheapest to market, because they explain what you’re getting.  But the downside, is they don’t ignite much passion.  This is intellectual marketing not emotional marketing.

Type 2: Invented Names

These are made-up names.  They’re often created because it is so hard to find names that aren’t already taken.

Great examples include Oreo, Kleenex, and Google.  These succeed because they’re memorable and fun to say.

Another approach to invented names is to work with Gree and Latin roots.  This results in names like Acquient or Agilent.  These can sound very official, which can be helpful for big business.  But they often require a big budget to promote because they say nothing about what the brand does.  Too often they just come off as stodgy.  They don’t tickle the memorable + fun centers the way “Oreo” does.

Type 3:  Experiential Names

These are names that play off the experience of using a product or service in a way that makes sense to the customer.

My original “Farsight” name was in this category.  It’s a bit of a reach as you had to be not just a customer but a fairly intellectual and imaginative one to get it.  Better examples would be Infoseek and Magellan.

The trouble here is that a lot of “experiences” using a product cross over to many categories.  For example, “Explorer” and “Safari” are both web browsers, but they’re also the names of SUV’s.

Type 4: Evocative Names

Great examples include Yahoo and Apple.  They’re evocative of values and aspirations that resonate within the target audience.  The great thing about these names is many successful companies are associated with them.  After all, evoking passion is a wonderful thing to do with an audience if you can pull it off.

But here’s the rub–you have to pull it off.  There’s not much middle ground here.  If your name doesn’t immediately inspire that passion, there’s not much middle ground, it usually results in a dud that goes nowhere and may make no sense.

it’s a fine line with this kind of emotional marketing!

Which One For You?

Try them all.  Seriously–make sure that when you get to brainstorming, you make a sincere effort to come up with a few in each category.   Just be aware of the pitfalls.

Personally, I’m a Product Guy.  I like the Type 1 Functional Names the best.  I try to put my little cutesy spin on, for example using the word “Cookbook” instead of something totally generic for my business name.  But I am not confident in my ability to do emotional marketing, so I’m not pushing for evocative names too much.

Brainstorming (aka “Namestorming”)

Still with me?  Great!  It’s time for the fun part of choosing a name for your business–BRAINSTORMING!

Here’s the deal.  You’re going to gather a group of friends for a fun evening or afternoon.  You will create a positive environment for the exchange of ideas.  Then you and your friends are going to come up with a whole bunch of ideas in one sitting.

Here’s the best part–I’ve gotten a great name out of it every single time I held one of these “Namestorming” sessions.

It’s all about who you invite, what sort of environment you put them into, and how you go about moderating and nurturing the discussion.  But don’t fret–it’s not hard, you just need to understand how it works.

I like to do this kind of thing over a meal.  Invite your group over for a BBQ, perhaps.  Get them to have some fun and loosen up.  Then sit them around a table (your biggest table will determine the maximum size of your group) and start the Namestorming session.

Your first task is to lay down the ground rules for what you expect and how the participants are to conduct themselves.  Here are my guidelines:

  • The Brainstormers Aren’t There to Pick the Name or Narrow Your Choices Too Much.

This event is about maximizing choices.  Tell them there will be an opportunity to narrow later, but for now, no one is allowed to say anything negative about any suggestion.  No criticism at all is allowed, not even through body language.  If your friends are like mine, this will be very hard for them, LOL.  So, be sure to scold and threaten just a bit with time outs for those who won’t behave.  If you know in advance someone will be too negative, don’t invite them.

Don’t allow passionate selling either.  Get the name on the list.  Allow someone to ask, “Why?”, and make a note if they do (that’s a negative), but don’t allow the originator to give a sales pitch.  They are just there to answer other’s questions.

  • Make the Committee park their egos at the door.  Your Business Name is not their opportunity to shine, it’s yours.

Every now and again you’ll get a Rooster intent on strutting their stuff.  They out to convince the audience, your audience, that they are more clever, funny, or otherwise more deserving of attention than anyone or anything else in the room.  A little bit of competitiveness is okay, but don’t let it too far.  Be on the lookout for those who always have to be the biggest clown in the room or the center of attention.  If you’re too worried about someone, probably don’t invite them.

  • Get a mix of talents–right-brained and left-brained, male and female, plus any other cross-section you think might be beneficial or representative of your audience.

This can be hard sometimes, but it’s worth it.  Don’t go overboard getting literally just your audience in the room.  The goal is more creative diversity.

  • Don’t be afraid to stimulate your audience.

For example, remember the four types of names.  You might introduce them at the beginning, and classify each name on a different page of your yellow pad as they’re given.  If one list seems too short, ask the group to focus on that type for a bit.

Tell them a little about your intended audience.  Don’t let them focus too much on you (who they probably know a lot better than your audience or business).  Bring a laptop and open it to a thesaurus and some random name generators.

Use the thesaurus to help the group pick similar but less common or generic words for names that seem good otherwise.  Try a lot of variations.

Here’s a bunch of name generation tools you may find helpful to keep the discussion going:

Wordlab Name Generators

Or, how about business name numerology?   The point isn’t whether you or I believe in numerology (I don’t), it’s all about making the experience fun and interesting for your participants.  It’s about opening those random creative pathways that you can just use deductive logic to travel.

Here’s another trick I use–I don’t allow negatives, but I do allow positives.  You’ll get several names that click immediately with your crowd.  “Hey, that one’s pretty good,” will be overheard along with several in the audience shaking their heads, “Yes” in response.

Use that energy by doing an immediate name check.  Use your laptop to see if the domain is available.  I like a site called Namecheck.com because it checks whether the domain is available, social media availability, and even mobile app name availability.

Finding a name is taken is okay.  Get your synonym finder going and look for something similar that isn’t taken to add to your list.

I let my naming parties go on for a good two hours or more–enough so I have several legal pad pages of names and I know I’ve heard more than a few I kind of like.

Your next step is to narrow down that list.  Below are my Do’s, Don’ts, and Rules for Choosing your Names.

16 Do’s, Don’ts, and Rules for Choosing Awesome Business Names

Now you know the types of names you could choose for your business, let’s delve into some important rules and criteria for narrowing your list of potential names.

Here are my rules for choosing awesome business and product names:

Naming Do’s

#1 – Find the Words Your Audience Relates to and Understands

Wherever possible, when I survey or ask questions, I want to hear my audience answer in their own words.  I save that information and I pull it out when I’m writing ad copy or thinking about names.  Being able to speak to your audience in their own language elevates your chances of success getting them to listen.

Your name needs to appeal to the type of customer you’re trying to attract.  If you can conjure comforting, familiar, and pleasant memories from them, you’re on your way.  If you can tap into words that evoke actual passion in your audience, you’re really cooking with fire.

You need to Minimize the Effort needed to Explain a Name to your Audience.  Make it one or two sentences at most, and preferably no sentences.

#2 – Choose Names that are Easy to Spell, Pronounce, and Remember

You want two or three syllables.   Try to be sure the name is easy to repeat and remember.

Make sure not too many people ask how to spell your name.  Every now and again is fine, but if it happens at all often, it’s probably not a good choice.

You can use Sticky Consonants to improve name Memorability

The human mind is a fascinating thing.  I always love learning some new psychological insight.  It turns out that if your name uses k, q, x, z, or sharp c, these are “sticky” consonants that are easier to remember.

Alliteration can also helps a lot

Coca Cola, perhaps the biggest brand of all time.  It’s name has alliteration.  Alliteration makes names smoother–they roll off the tongue.  It also makes them more memorable.  Google your way around and learn what alliteration is and try to think about how it applies to your naming.

#3 – Choose a Name Unique Within Your Industry

Compare HotJobs, BAJobs, Careers, CareerJunction and names like that to Monster.com.  Is it any wonder that Monster got to be the, um, MONSTER in that business?

 

#4 – Choose a Name that’s Flexible and Expandable

You have no idea what your business will be doing down the road.  Nobody does.  Make sure your name is flexible and expandable, but not too flexible and expandable.

Suppose I’d name my business SpeedsAndFeedsCalculators.com.  It’s great for SEO, but other than that, a pretty lousy name based on these guidelines.  Worse, it has nothing to do with the second product I launched.  CNCCookbook is flexible and expandable to most anything that helps CNC’ers solve their problems.

#5 – Choose a Name That’s Linguistically Clean

Can Spanish speakers pronounce it?  What does it mean in Spanish?  What other languages may matter to you?

Remember how the Chevy Nova did poorly in Mexico where the name literally meant “no-go”?  Who wants a car that can’t go?

#6 – Try Crossover Words

These are words that have another usage that you repurpose in a way that makes sense for your brand, but also for the original usage if you think about it.

“Apple” might seem to be completely unrelated to computers, but it is a Crossover Word for the emotions the brand seeks to evoke and the original definition.

#7 – Choose a Name That’s Timeless

Anything that relies on industry jargon, slang, or is too hip will go out of fashion.  Sometimes it happens sooner than you think.  You want a business name that’s forever.

Naming Don’ts

#8 – Don’t Get Bogged Down Justifying Names

This is all about the crazy discussions about whether names make sense.  Guess what?  They don’t have to.  All they need to do is be memorable, spellable (I made that word up?), and perhaps will spark some desire of the reader to dig deeper and go beyond the name.  That’s all we’re asking for here.

#9 – Avoid Names Chosen Purely to Be Different Or Funny

These are too often based on inside jokes or they wind up having a short shelf life after which they get old.  Writing comedy is not for the faint of heart no matter how funny you or your friends think you are.  Writing comedy that stands the test of time in an endearing way is much harder.

Avoid cute puns at all cost.  Did I really need to remind you of that one?  Some people just get tremendous enjoyment out of PUNishing the rest of us.

DOH!  Sorry, it slipped out!

#10 – Don’t Use Generic Words that Won’t Stand Out In A Crowd

What if Yahoo had been called GeneralInternetDirectory.com?  Do you think they’d have made it as far?

Even with CNCCookbook, I tried to explain the function in a slightly interesting and offbeat way.

Your goal is not to be too literal and meaningful.  If you’re trying to convey some meaning, do so in a less common way.

#11 – Don’t Let a Map Decide Your Name

South Fork Machining Services.  Yes, it’s a machine shop in South Fork.  So what?  What if that business ever wants to reach outside those boundaries?  What if there are a lot of machine shops in South Fork–what makes this one special?

Most place names aren’t interesting to anyone but the residents, so they don’t add value.  This is why Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC and Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing became 3M.

Exception–sometimes geography can make your product more interesting.  Example: Tillamook Cheese or Seattle’s Best Coffee.

#12 – Don’t Make Your Name a Cheap Cliche By Slapping Some Superlative Alongside What You Do

Apex, ACME, Summit, Pinnacle, Peak, Top, America’s Best…

The list goes on.  Don’t take this easy way out.  It’s tired and brings little to the table.

#13 – Don’t Make Your Name So Obscure Nobody Knows What It Is

I was in a company called “Callidus Software” one time.  NOBODY knew what it meant.  I can’t even remember without looking it up.  It was some kind of Greek or Latin derivation that I’m sure seemed brainey at the time.  The company managed to go public, but that name sure didn’t do it any favors.

#14 – Don’t Use a Cute Mispelling To Make Your Name Unique

Yes, we’ve all seen those businesses that use a “K” in place of a “Q” or “C”.  Also a “Ph” in place of an “F”.  There’s no good reason to do this except the name is less likely to be taken.  But it’s also less likely to be found by search engines.

One of my all-time winning strategies for finding great deals on eBay is to search for people misspelled the name of what they’re selling.   Nobody bids against me much when I find those deals.

Why make your business overcome that challenge?  People will forget how to properly misspell your name and especially if you misspell common words, they’ll never find you in the search engines.

#16 – Prefer Real Words to Made-Up Words

We already talked misspellings, but completely made up words can be even harder to remember or find in a search engine.

Testing Your Names

Phew!

We are getting so close now!

You’ve narrowed your list using the rules above plus your own personal taste.  I sincerely hope you still have multiple choices.  10 or 12 would be really helpful.

First step is checking domain availability.  Again, I like Namecheck.com for this.  For a business you want to find your name as a “.com”.  Don’t settle for one of the other suffixes.  Be sure to look at the Social Media availability too.

Next step is a survey or other test of your actual audience.  Sometimes this is easy other times hard.  Let me describe two examples.

I have a rock and roll band I needed to name.  We play the local clubs and have a lot of fun.  I put together an online survey of our open names and I sent it to all my friends on Facebook.  These would be the most likely people to come to my gigs.  I gave them as little information as possible, and just told them:

“If you saw this list of bands playing in your area, wanted to go for some music, but didn’t know what kind of music any of the bands was playing, which one would you choose?”

Putting it that way put the focus on the name, not the type of music, though some of the names gave it away.

The winner was “Blue Ocean Rockers”, and that name along with our evocative mascot/logo has served us very well:

Here’s another approach where you’ll test against your audience with live ads and landing pages.

Here’s your step-by-step plan:

  1.  Sign up for a free landing page creator trial.  Leadpages and Unbounce are two good oncs.
  2. Make up landing pages that make some sort of simple offer, such as a pdf about how to do something (free eBook) you audience is interested in.  Make one page for each name and make the name prominent.  Do not change anything else on the page.
  3. Create a Facebook Ad for whatever you’re offering.  You need one Ad for each landing page, again with your name prominent in the ad.
  4. Run the ads making sure the ad targeting demographics match your audience.  There are lots of ways to do this, and I won’t go into detail here.  You just need to make sure the right people (your future audience) are seeing the ads.

In most cases, you’ll end up spending perhaps as much as $100, but you’ll be able to see the relative clickthrough from the ads and willingness to sign up for the free offer on the landing page.  Choose whichever name scored highest as your winner.

Securing the Winner

We’ve had a busy horse race up to now, but we also have what should be a pretty darned good name for our business or product.  It’s now time to secure it so you can start using it.

I always start by registering the domain, and I follow up by creating all the Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media accounts I will need.  My list of the latter includes:

  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

You may also want to consider others like Instagram or Snapchat based on where you think your audience hangs out.  It doesn’t matter so much if you expect to use them right away–your goal is to make sure they’re still there when you are ready to use them.

For me, that’s all I need to be off and running.  Some of you will be wondering about trademarks, corporate filings, and the like.  Remember, I strongly advise finding an audience before you worry about product.  That implies it’ll be a while before you’re generating much revenue.

It’s up to you how soon you want to incorporate, but that process will get you a little further down the road to securing a name.

Getting a trademark is an even bigger lock up for your name.  I tend to wait until the name is generating significant value that can offset the cost of the legal work.  Those legals aren’t terribly expensive if you use a service like LegalZoom, so you can choose whether to go ahead sooner or later.  Just be aware the process can take some time.

Now it’s your turn.  Get out there and find yourself a completely awesome name for your business or product!

 

(Cross-posted @ Bob Warfield)

Bitnami comes up from below decks

travel-cruise-us-on-deck

So Bitnami isn’t the kind of company you usually find sunning it on a deckchair. It’s more of an engine room kind of firm. It takes care of a lot of boring plumbing in creating and deploying open source software packages, underpinning image management for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform Launchpad, and VMware, covering over 140 open source packages including Jenkins, SugarCRM and WordPress.

I caught up with COO Erica Brescia and CTO Rick Spencer at Microsoft Build last week. When Microsoft points to its Linux images on Microsoft Azure, that’s Bitnami. The startup is is now broadening its portfolio, including work on a GUI based Enterprise Edition. It will be interesting to see how that works out – managing builds for platforms such as Jenkins can be a major enterprise pain point – and Bitnami is aiming to make the final mile of Continuous Deployment and Continuous Integration less painful with a continuous approach to Package management.

Bitnami also pulled showed me a new project it’s working on called Kubeless, a serverless framework native to Kubernetes, based on work by Sebastian Gougen, founder of a company it recently acquired called Skippbox. At first glance Kubeless looks simple and elegant – and takes Bitnami into an entirely new space, up on deck with the developers rather than the cloud operations people below decks.

Kubeless competes with tools like fission from Platform9, funktion from Fabric8, funcatron, and OpenWhisk. One point of technical interest for me given my recent post about serverless and messaging was the fact it uses Kafka for publish and subscribe. Functions are handled as custom resources, which are then deployed to Node.js or Python runtimes created on the fly and injected into containers. Future plans include persistence, support for other runtimes and Instrumentation with Prometheus.

It will be interesting to watch the project evolve. Bitnami has plenty to do in the engine room, but it now has the makings of a play at the app platform level.

 

 

Bitnami and Microsoft are both clients.

(Read this and other great posts  @ RedMonk)

Augmented reality: An enterprise business imperative

We hear terms like virtual reality and augmented reality without always understanding what they mean and the implications for business. Beyond cute stickers in Snapchat or Pokemon Go, augmented reality is going to have a profound impact on many parts of our lives including social relationships, professional activities, and culture.

In the coming years, domains as diverse as medicine, training and education, customer and field service, and transportation – to name but a few – will change as the technology companies, telecom suppliers, and governments build the infrastructure needed to support wide-scale adoption of augmented reality.

I believe there is no question that innovator technology organizations in the enterprise must start learning about augmented reality. Whether you sell to consumers or B2B, now is the time to plan your augmented reality strategy.

Focus first on the business strategy. Although augmented reality requires a significant technology infrastructure, the business case must drive how you deploy the technology. For example, if your company provides field service, the first step is figuring out how augmented reality can help your organization better serve its customers. If you run a hotel or resort, begin with the question, “How can augmented reality improve the guest experience?”.

As with any form of digital transformation, success with augmented reality demands collaboration across the entire organization. The CIO will probably build out the infrastructure; marketing and product development will formulate product offerings; customer service will determine how to incorporate augmented reality in post-sales support. And the CEO will ultimately be responsible for examining the business model implications.

In summary, augmented reality represents a frontier of innovation that will happen; it’s only a matter of time.

To explore this topic, I invited two of the world’s most prominent experts to participate on Episode 228 of the CXOTALK series of conversations with innovators. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are well-known technology authors, researchers, and consultants.

Their latest book, The Fourth Transformation, explores the implications of these technologies for both consumers and the enterprise.

Watch the video embedded above and read a complete transcript at the CXOTALK site. As always, you can download the podcast on iTunes. Here is an excerpt from the video with an edited transcript:

What’s the difference between AR, VR, and mixed reality?

Robert Scoble:

So VR, first of all, you’re in a black box and you’re only seeing virtual things. You’re not seeing the real world at all. With AR, or augmented reality, you can today use your phone like on Snapchat or on Facebook and aim it at things, and see virtual things on top of the world.

Soon, you’re going to be wearing glasses, and soon, being in the next three to four years, you’re going to see a range of glasses from companies like Apple, Facebook, Snap… There are ten under development that Shel and I know about, and we probably don’t know about all of them. That will lock the virtual image to the real world, and let you walk around it. And, that can interact, and that’s really mind-blowing.

I mean, with the HoloLens, you can have aliens coming out of your walls, and they’re putting holes in your real wall. You’re seeing the real wall, but it looks like there’s an alien coming through it. And it’s like, mind-blowing what this technology does for education, for retail, for all sorts of things.

Your book is called “The Fourth Transformation.” Give us an overview.

Shel Israel:

In the First Transformation, we started with putting words into PCs, on knowledge worker desktops, in the form of personal computers. Then, we went to point-and-click with the McIntosh, and that meant everyone could use these desktop things. Then, we went to touch and mobility, and that brought us into what is now this third transformation where anyone is using digital technology everywhere. Now, we’re going to go to a system which is much more intimate than what we have with phones. We’re going to have things in a few years that look like glasses I’m wearing. And, they are going to allow us to do all the things that I had just named: MR, AR, VR; and we’re not going to look freakish, and we’re not going to be tethered to anything.

This means that the customer experience in stores is going to change because they can do things in 3D. They will walk into stores, be at home, and have an immersive experience with the product. This means that surgeons can get assistance while wearing headsets. It means that anatomy students will be doing virtual surgeries in headsets, rather than with frozen cadavers. Every single place we look will be virtual teachers in China, at least; students will learn what looks like what the Civil War was like not be memorizing the name of a battle and by dates, but by actually getting to Gettysburg and getting the full impact of what a bloody war is like.

Wherever you look, whatever you do, it’s going to be enhanced with mixed reality technologies.

What kind of investment is needed to make this vision to fruition?

Robert Scoble:

Sensors that are seen around the world that is billions of dollars for R&D. IM-Sense was bought by Apple. Google Tango is doing the same kinds of research; Meta is doing the same kind of … Everybody who wants to build a mixed reality glass has to build sensors to see the world in 3D and bring it into the glass. Then, you talk about the connectivity that you’re going to need, right? Because with mixed reality glasses, you get as many TV screens around you as you want. So, imagine being able to watch CNN here; here, ESPN is playing; and over here, you can watch your security cameras from your business; and over here, you can watch Amazon servers; and over here, you can watch Facebook. You just look around, you have dozens of screens all around you, and you don’t have to buy more if you want more screens.

But, to serve all those screens with hi-res 4K or 8K video, or eventually even more in the future, you’re going to need a lot of bandwidth, and that’s 5G. 5G brings 35 gigabits per seconds down to the glasses, but we don’t yet have 5G yet. Verizon has to re-do the architecture on a city because the cell tower needs to be a kilometer and a half from you or closer, and that’s not true with today’s cell technology. You can be 15 kilometers away. So, they need to put a lot more cell towers into a city, and they put fiber into each one of those antennas, so it’s going to bring us 5G. That’s coming this year. Verizon is turning on the first 11 cities this year.

You go through the GPU; the GPU is needed to display the polygons. So, when you see virtual things in VR or AR, you’re seeing millions of little polygons or little triangles that are underneath what you’re seeing; and you’ll need a better GPU to process more of those. So, if you want to increase the resolution or increase the frame rates, or increase the experience of being immersed in the media, you need more GPU; or, you need to do a lot of trickery with […] rendering. And you look at the R&D budgets of NVidia, and AMD, Qualcomm, and other companies that are building these chips; they are spending billions of dollars per quarter in R&D.

Then you keep looking around; companies are building eye sensors. GoogleBot, Eyefluence that’s in our book, Facebook product company called Eye Tribe; there is lots of money spent on that, and particularly in the new user interfaces that you’re experiencing when you get a glass like this. They’re investing that.

You just keep moving down the stack. The whole thing is expensive, and there are ten companies building these glasses, and they’re all building their own infrastructure.

And the infrastructure; Apple’s building a CDN, so think about putting a server near you, so you have low-latency VR; you can play football with your friends over the internet. That requires a CDN that’s a massive new expenditure for Apple and other companies.

Let’s talk about one that you’re going to hear a lot more about: Facebook was the first one to use this term on stage in a big way; in a big, company way. And that’s “SLAM.”

Simultaneous Location And Mapping; which means we’re building a 3D map of the world, and it’s not a map like Google Maps, where there is just a line in the middle of the street, but it’s capturing the entire street in 3D. And, we’re not just going to capture the street, we’re going to capture every surface in the world with these glasses, and build a massive database. How big is that database going to be? Petabytes or Exabytes? How massive [an] amount of server space just to keep a 3D copy of the world at some resolution? You know, let’s say a millimeter per pixel or voxel resolution around you? That’s a huge amount of data, and that’s a billion dollars right there just in a data center to start with. It might be three or four billion, once you are done, and certainly, you are going to have to change those machines out like you do with cloud computing machines at Amazon, for instance. And so, that’s, right there, that’s a billion dollars, minimum.

And, Uber‘s building one of those copies, Mercedes is building one of those copies, Google already built one of those copies, Apple’s building one of those copies, Facebook is working on this, right? That’s what they were showing off when they said, “Oh, you can lock virtual things onto your tabletop. That’s using SLAM; the phone instantly builds a point-cloud and then a 3D model of the world, and then starts doing AI to figure out how to lock things properly to the surfaces in your room. And that’s going to be something that over the next 18 months, you’re going to see a lot more of; because right now, we haven’t seen any of the really good AI that recognizes the objects in your room, but that’s coming, and that’s coming big time according to Google because they’re going to use the data that they built off the self-driving cars to bring to our glasses. And how many objects in the street does the Google self-driving car or now Waymo, recognize the hundreds of thousands of things, right? Because it needs to see a stop sign or a stop light and know what to do! And, the glasses are going to do the same thing. When you walk around, it’s going to tell you stuff about the world that you’re looking at.

What’s the time frame for all this to happen?

Robert Scoble:

It’s now! This week, Facebook and Snap laid out expansive strategies for this. And if you’re not paying attention to that, you’re going to get slammed every month because, over the next 24 months, you’re going to see ten glasses come out; and big companies come out with major new strategies around this. Apple is the one that I’m looking at the most, and Tim Cook has been out there talking about AR for a year now. Now, we have a question. Does he ship this year, does he ship next year, does he ship in 2019, but certainly by 2019, everybody is in the game! If you’re running a business, you have to start thinking about how your customers in three years are going to experience your business as they walk in, or as they call you from this mixed reality world and what their experience expectation is going to be.

How can brands today prepare for this inevitable future?

Robert Scoble:

You need to start getting into VR or getting a HoloLens and start thinking through strategically how your business is going to be changed by these technologies.

Sephora, for instance, already is doing augmented reality signs in the stores, and they’re already building augmented reality into their Apple app to augment makeup onto your face so that you could try out pink lipstick, for instance, on the Sephora app on the iPhone or Android. And they’re already playing with this. So when the glasses come along, they’re already going to have their engineering teams geared up, and they’re already going to have a good idea of how they’re going to build things, and they’re going to be able to build it iteratively and nicely.

And now, a Unity developer is fairly cheap, and in a year, a Unity developer is going to cost three times more than it does today. So, if you convince a Unity developer to come and join your team today, you’re going to get them cheaper than you will in a year because Apple and Facebook and Google and Snap are going to wake everybody up. If that’s the lesson this week, companies need to wake up to the fact that this stuff is becoming real, and fast. And you need to get into it.

One deep change, your brand is going to be sprayed onto the world. You’re going to walk into a hotel in five years, and the hotel is going to be augmented. Disneyland is going to be augmented. They’re already working on it. So, their customers are going to walk in with Apple, or Facebook, or Google Glasses, or Snap Glasses, and things are going to be augmented in the park when you walk around.

So, you are going to have to build a new kind of team that hasn’t existed, and is a cultural review team, because you’re going to make mistakes in this new world that are cultural. You might piss off Trump supporters, for instance; well, that’s a lot of people to piss off. So, you’ve got to run a diverse team of people through your software the same way you run a diverse group of people through, to make sure you don’t have bugs and crashes; to make sure you don’t make cultural mistakes; make sure there are no Nazi symbols on the walls anywhere … That’s not through the design process. This stuff happens, but you need to have a team to work on this.

Shel Israel:

This is where the humans meet the sensors. This is all this Internet of Things; it has no value unless we interact with it and that’s how we’re going to be doing it.

In every aspect of learning. [For example] virtual teachers in China. They can’t produce teachers fast enough to keep up with students. So now, they’re experimenting with a game company in a classroom where kids wear glasses, and they customize their teachers. It can be an old teacher, a young teacher; a teacher watches the student and teachers as the pace where a student learns. The teacher gets bored, the teacher, the virtual teacher, creates a pop quiz right there.

This allows every pupil, for better or worse, to have a customized education at that pupil’s ability to learn; no faster, no slower. And you can’t do that in a classroom.

So, if you bet against what we’re betting on, then you’re betting against the best and brightest technology companies in the world, and the best and brightest new developers in the world.

CXOTALK brings you the world’s most innovative business leaders, authors, and analysts for in-depth discussion unavailable anywhere else. Enjoy all our episodes and download the podcast from iTunes.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure)

Build 2017: The Microsoft Story Remix

For as long as humans have huddled around campfires storytelling has defined us. Gazing absentmindedly into the flames, burning wood crackling, we tell stories about our ancestors, our kids growing up, and our fears and hopes. Yearning and memory hold families and friends together, experiences shared. In the modern era we created new tools to capture the past, new ways to tell stories. The daguerreotype, the camera, the movie camera.The Kodak moment defined an era. Sepia tones, the washed out colours of the 1960s and early 70s. That epiphany when Don Draper named the “Carousel”.

Cameras took images ever sharper, crisper, clearer, and then of course came digital. Everything changed, with the Web the flickering images changed even faster. Today Facebook is where we share the photographs and stories, it is the fire we look into as families have become dispersed.

Snap wants to be the camera, to be the place where stories are told, and shared, but Facebook with Instagram is not giving up lightly, and a $2bn loss is never a good look, first results or no.

Google Photos is an amazing app for Android people – it’s creating a timeline of my kids learning to ride bikes, laughing together on Greek islands, my wife and I in a rare moment of peace. Collages, animated GIFs, digital stories I share with my folks. Photos is a great piece of work, it’s making Google sticky. Which services would you give up?

Apple has iMovie and recently introduced “Clips” to make video editing easier, with Snap-like augmented reality options. We take the photos we share with our phones now, which left Microsoft with a potential problem. Now Microsoft gave a response – it demoed its new Story Remix app, a replacement for Movie Maker, which will ship with the Fall Creator’s Update of Windows 10 later this year.

Story Remix is a video editing app with some really nice features – you can choose which protagonist to focus on as it makes a movie on your behalf, you can set it to edit the movie on the beats of the soundtrack you choose, you can easily add augmented reality overlays. Story Remix uses machine learning to augment creativity and if the demo is anything to go by, the videos it creates will be very slick indeed.

Microsoft introduced a ton of new features today during its keynote for developers, and I will be covering much of that later, but for now I am just left thinking that Story Remix is a surprisingly significant aspect of the Windows Story Remix. It’s slick enough to nullify some of Apple’s advantages, and some of Google’s plays. The PC can still have a place, Windows still has a place. Whether it’s a companion or a center piece the PC can be about modern AI augmented storytelling, and sharing and making memories. Story Remix is a fine piece of work.

(Read this and other great posts  @ RedMonk)