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Jun 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

Stage Two is Hiring a Business Development/Sales Representative

Stage Two, Inc. is an integrated communications agency obsessed with creating innovative marketing strategies and engaging PR campaigns for consumer technology companies. We have helped clients such as EA, SONOS, NETGEAR, Boxee, Clicker, VUDU, D-Link, PogoPlug, Waze, and Orbotix connect with tech press, traditional journalists, digital influencers and consumers.

Stage Two is currently seeking a full time Business Development/Sales Representative to join our fast growing San Francisco-based boutique firm.

The primary role of this position is to close new business by generating meetings with target accounts, developing leads into opportunities and establishing long-term relationships with prospective clients. Candidates will start in a lead generation role or a lead generation / sales role based on qualifications and level of experience.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Lead generation/outbound calling and warm lead follow up.
  • Perform new business introductory calls and presentations to articulate S2 services, philosophies and methodologies.
  • Manage deals from prospecting to close
  • Meet or exceed monthly, quarterly and annual revenue targets.
  • Work closely with prospective clients to understand their business objectives and create the most appropriate solution to meet their needs.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with prospects and clients over the long term.
  • Attend tech / networking events around the bay area as a representative of Stage Two

Qualifications:

  • 2-5 years proven B2B sales experience in a product or services environment.
  • Proven track record of opening new accounts.
  • Experience closing deals in the $25k-$100k range.
  • Proven track record of meeting/exceeding quotas and goals.
  • Experience selling services to marketing organizations within high-tech firms a plus.
  • Exceptional written and oral presentation skills
  • Ability to work independently on multiple tasks
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Experience negotiating legal contracts and/or agreements a plus

If you’re highly entrepreneurial, confident, passionate, eager to learn and have a proven track record of sales achievement, you might be just the person we’re looking for.

If you’re interested in this position, please email us some thoughts as to why you’d be a great addition to our rock star team (don’t do a cut/paste job, we’ll know) as well as your resume to jobs@stagetwo.com for immediate consideration.

Apr 01

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Clients, Gadgets, Marketing, Products, Stage Two

Orbotix Expands Product Line – Introduces Cubo

Orbotix has been a client for six months now and we are thrilled to be working with their talented product team. They debuted Sphero at CES and – more recently – took the little sphere on the road at SXSW. We are excited that Sphero will ship this fall and can’t wait to share its special sense of play with the world.

The Sphero team is really cranking on all cylinders these days, and it never ceases to amaze us the speed at which they innovate in this growing space. They started with Sphero and now, with the introduction of Cubo, will bring two solutions to the market this fall.

Congrats to the entire Orbotix team! They are really thinking outside the box with this one.

Mar 25

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Why Usability Matters: A Nokia Post Mortem

Andrew Orlowski has a detailed article in The Register that looks at why Nokia’s mobile ecosystem failed. It wasn’t because their Symbian software was faulty (the article states that Symbian devices actually performed better than others in terms of signal strength and battery life). According to the article, Symbian died because it lacked usability. Quoting from the page:

Nokia’s phones were considered uncompetitive in the marketplace, because new products from Apple and Android had raised the bar for ease of use, particularly for new data applications, and Nokia’s user experience was awful.

The UX matters: it’s the first thing potential customers see when a friend passes them their new phone in the pub. A well-designed UX is consistent, forgiving and rewarding; Nokia’s user experience was inconsistent, unforgiving and hostile.

This last point is especially salient. Apple’s focus on usability and user experience is one of the reasons they have been so successful with devices like the iPad 2. In order to succeed, device makers must deliver well designed products with great UX.

GigaOm delivered their own Symbian autopsy in which ex-Nokia designer Adam Greenfield stated that the cause of death was lack of taste. “There’s nobody with any taste in the decision-making echelons at Nokia,” he writes. Steve Jobs has made similar comments about a lack of taste in the tech sector in the past. Tasteful design and desirable user experiences matter more to consumers than hardware specs and processing power.

While UX is certainly a critical component of successful product development, we see another key factor that led to Nokia abandoning their mobile ecosystem – the rise of 3G and constantly connected devices. In our opinion, Nokia (and Palm, for that matter) got into trouble early in the 3G adoption curve. The company built a bevy of brilliant feature phones up until the 3G paradigm shift, but once technologies like email and mobile web arrived, Nokia failed to adapt in the ways consumers wanted. Its operating system could not handle these newer features and the entire platform stagnated. Eventually, the OS fell too far behind the rest of the market to save it. When people examine the end of the Symbian ecosystem, usability issues will certainly come up.

Great usability must work in concert with a nimble, adaptive corporation that can respond to (and hopefully initiate) tech trends. And this – by the way – is how Apple could one day fail. If a paradigm shift occurs outside Cupertino and Apple fails to pay attention to it, they could move quickly from market leader to tech laggard. As a final aside, placing widgets on homescreens is not something we consider a paradigm shift (hint, hint, Android). When a real computing sea change happens, the winners will be the companies that recognize it and react swiftly.

Mar 25

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, UI/UX

Why the HP TouchPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and Motorola Xoom are DOA

I was recently asked to do a Xoom review and I have to say that I am pained just picking up the device. And apparently I am not the only one who feels this way. The Motorola Xoom recently launched to tepid reviews and slow sales. Engadget said “there isn’t much here for consumers right now,” and there are already rumors that Motorola is cutting production of their Android tablet.

When the HP TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook are released, there is no doubt in my mind that they will suffer the same fate as the Xoom: lackluster sales, middling reviews and generally regarded as also-rans in the tablet kingdom.

Since the iPad 2 came out (and sold a million units over a single weekend), the writing is officially on the wall. The tablet space is Apple’s game to lose.

So here is the message for HP, RIM and every other company developing a tablet computer right now: stop the presses. There is nothing to be gained by releasing these devices as they are now. Unless these firms have extremely small unit goals for their devices (which they don’t), they need to reevaluate how they can compete in the tablet space. And they won’t compete by launching tablets that look kind of like the iPad that are aimed at current iPad owners. Apple competitors need to innovate and differentiate themselves if they want to win.

Let’s be clear. There are markets for these products – I outlined a few of them in this earlier tablet post:

Here are a few sectors that present real opportunities for non-Apple tablets.

Medicine

We are quickly approaching a world where medical records and information will be displayed on tablets. Windows and Android devices could thrive in this vertical.

The Military

Someone is going to sell the Pentagon a lot of secure, battle ready tablets. Smart manufacturers should keep an eye on this space.

Kids

A “cheap,” sturdy tablet for kids is a no-brainer. Part coloring book, part media player, part game center- think LeapPad on steroids.

It’s time that the consumer electronics industry takes a hard look at the iPad’s strengths and comes up with a few interesting alternatives for these specific market segments.

Instapaper founder Marco Arment has a post that talks about the iPad abandoning office productivity apps and moving more toward “casual media creation.” Since the iPad’s role “doesn’t include office productivity for most of us,” there is an opportunity for an enterprise tablet built for business needs. If someone other than Apple made an amazing office tablet, people would love it- they would just love it differently than they love the iPad. HP could own this enterprise tablet market. It isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where people absolutely adore their HP work tablet. In order to thrive, though, these devices must be inspiring, not merely functional. There is an opportunity here to connect with people and improve their working lives (and maybe surprise and delight them in the process). HP (and others) just need to seize it.

RIM, HP, Motorola and others can’t deliver products that are a little better than the iPad. Their offerings need to be far superior or far different to the iPad in order to succeed. They need to create a user experience that people love. The fact is that the PlayBook and TouchPad – as they are designed and marketed now – won’t capture people’s emotions the way the iPad has. Which is why they should not be brought to market.

Mar 24

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

The End of The Internet

Oliver Burkeman’s recent Guardian article traces his journey through this year’s SXSW festival and explores the rapidly eroding line that defines what happens “online” and what takes place in the “real world.” More than mere mobile computing, the next internet epoch is ubiquitous and self aware. The end of the internet as we know it occurs:

When the GPS system in your phone or iPad can relay your location to any site or device you like, when Facebook uses facial recognition on photographs posted there, when your financial transactions are tracked, and when the location of your car can influence a constantly changing, sensor-driven congestion-charging scheme, all in real time.

The article details some fascinating tech trends such as gamification, biomimicry and augmented reality. Exactly how all of these ideas will impact our lives still remains to be seen, but the time when the internet was thing that you “logged on to” from a desktop is long gone. Burkeman quotes the writing of Tim O’Reilly (the man who coined the phrase Web 2.0) to declare that – now – “the web is the world.”

Mar 22

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Apps, Gadgets, Smart TV, Stage Two, UI/UX

10 Rules for Connected TV App Development

We recently ran across the following presentation that covers “10 Rules for Connected TV App Development.

Javier Lasa’s deck inspired us to post our own 10 rules for building Smart TV Apps (we will get it done by the end of next week). For more good reading, check out Stage Two’s ten essential tips for making a great Google TV site, and ten commandments for building an amazing Boxee Box App.

Mar 16

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

The Ultimate Xoom Ad

After seeing this commercial for the Motorola Xoom (in which a man picks up a tablet and literally takes off in a space ship), I was struck by a number of thoughts.

The first was, “Man, I love spaceships.”

The second thought was, “They seem to be targeting young men.”

The third thought was, “And they are doing a rather poor job.”

My last thought was more of a daydream that I will share with you all here – to the best of my ability. It was something along the lines of “How could Motorola make the ultimate Xoom ad? What other cool things could they put in a Xoom commercial to attract the coveted 18 – 34 year old male demographic? ” Here is what I came up with.

- Beer

Cold, refreshing Motorola Xoom.

- These Shoes

Those are shoes. That's right, shoes.

- A Fairy Princess Wedding

Err . . . no.

- Explosions (The Bigger The Better)

KAPOW!

- Bacon Wrapped Bacon

It's BACON!

- Robocop on a Unicorn

Nothing screams "buy a tablet" like the robotic energy of this image.

- Dinosaurs with Lasers

Armored, laser-fighting dinos would be ultimate.

The above Xoom video focuses too much attention on the tablet’s technical specifications. Motorola should be telling people less about spaceships and more about the benefits of the device. Outside of the tech world (where most tablet customers live) users don’t really care about the Xoom’s dual-core “gyroscope” or one-point-twenty-one gigawatts of processing power. They want to know what the device does that helps them in real world situations. Look at Apple’s iPad commercial. There isn’t a single spec in it- not one. The entire video shows different applications for the tablet that people can imagine themselves doing. So, Motorola – either deliver a Xoom ad that shows people all the interesting and fun things your tablet does, or make with the Dino-lasers.

If you have any ideas for Ultimate Xoom ads, let us know in the comments.

Mar 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products

iPad 2 Sells 1 Million Units – Over the Weekend

It took the first iPad 28 days to sell a million units. It took the Verizon iPhone two weeks. The iPad 2 sold around one million units in a single weekend.

Reuters is reporting that some stores ran out of Apple tablets in 10 minutes. Quoting from the piece:

Wedbush Securities analyst Scott Sutherland said: “We would not be surprised to see Apple sell closer to 1 million iPad 2’s in the opening weekend.”

The article also mentions the impending tablet bubble that we blogged about recently. “The iPad 2’s early success is a warning sign of a global tablet bubble, where supply could outpace demand for tablets,” says Wall Street analyst Mark Moscowitz.

PC makers need to innovate – and quickly – if they want to compete in the tablet space.

Mar 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

RIP Microsoft Zune

It seems that Microsoft is finally taking our advice and killing off its Zune media player. Dan Frommer is reporting that the “Zune is finally dead.” Quoting from his article:

Microsoft will continue to sell existing versions of the Zune, Bloomberg reports, but will not introduce new ones.

Building hardware is hard. Hopefully Redmond will continue to take our advice and build an innovative tablet that competes with the iPad 2.

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Only Apple Could Make The iPad 2

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Apple iPad 2Country, Spock recalls an old Vulcan proverb that says, “Only Nixon could go to China.

I firmly believe that only Apple could deliver a device like the iPad 2. Their focus on usability and user experiences ushered in a post-PC paradigm in computing. The Cupertino company defined the tablet space and is expected to ship 30 million tablets in 2011. There is a reason other tablet makers don’t have Apple’s market share- their tablets just don’t measure up at this time.

I recently reviewed the Motorola Xoom, and in the first few seconds of interacting with it, it became clear that it was not an iPad. From the moment I picked it up, it just felt wrong. The first time use feels cumbersome and even languid. Motorola’s tablet asks me for account information – user names and passwords – before I can do anything with the device. When I pick up the iPad, it works – quickly and effortlessly. There are other differences, as well. Stability, for one. As the venerable Walt Mossberg puts it in his iPad 2 review: “[The iPad] never crashed in my tests, unlike every Android tablet I’ve tested.” Then, of course, there is the price point ($800? Really?). And finally, the news that Xoom owners will have to send their devices back to the manufacturer for a 4G upgrade. Quoting Dvice:

Poor Motorola Xoom. We all wanted to love you, but you may have popped out of the oven a bit too soon. If you want 4G LTE on your shiny new Xoom (goes on sale today), you’ll have to return it back to Motorola for the upgrade.

This debacle is more Motorola’s fault than Android’s. Someone at Motorola said that this tablet was ready to ship when it clearly wasn’t. Who is that guy? What motivated his decision making? At what point did making customers return their product for an upgrade seem like a good idea?

Hardware makers must innovate tablet technology while delivering fun, functional user experiences. The reviewers and consumers have weighed in and at this point only Apple can deliver a tablet worth waiting in line for.

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