I am a freak when it comes to cases for smartphones.
If I see a family member or a friend running around with an unprotected device, my first instinct, after recovering from a panic attack, is to fit that person’s device with a case.
I usually have a few models sitting in my “case box,” and if the case fits, it’s going on the phone if you show up at my house without one.
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I used to say that any case on a smartphone is better than no case at all. The main thing you really need to be concerned with is bezel elevation to prevent the phone from falling flat on the screen and taking a direct impact.
Secondary to that concern, you want edge rigidity and shock absorption to buffer against hits on the side and corners.
Prior to the introduction of edge screen designs first seen in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, followed by last year’s iPhone X and this year’s XS and XS Max, I would have maintained that yes, put on a case, any case.
But given how fragile the design is of this particular phone, and how much this thing dents your wallet when you buy it, and god forbid have to repair it after drop damage, I’m going to have to change my mind on that one.
You want the most protective design money can buy.
There are a few companies that specialize in extreme device protection. One is UAG, and it is an excellent company with great case products. The Monarch is an excellent choice for protecting your new $1,000+ device.
Otter Products is the other major player in this market, and I am a huge fan of its offerings. When I am asked by friends and family which case to get, an Otter case is always my first answer.
My colleague, Matt Miller, has written a nice overview of OtterBox’s offerings for XS and XS Max.
Otter traditionally had one ultra-protective design, which is the Defender. And, for years, I only used Defenders no matter which device I had. I still only use Defender on the iPad Pro, because it’s the only case I trust on that device right now.
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You could just go get a Defender Series Pro (or the original Defender) for your iPhone XS. You would be very safe with that decision and my work would be done. It’s a rugged, proven design, so it’s practically a no-brainer.
But over the past few years, Otter has really expanded its line of case designs not just in its own branded offerings but also with its acquisition of LifeProof, which was once a fierce competitor.
LifeProof cases once distinguished themselves from OtterBox cases in that they were targeting sporty lifestyle customers, with an emphasis on waterproofing. So, their cases were always a little bit more expensive than the OtterBox designs. The FRE, in particular, is the LifeProof flagship.
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For iPhone X, XS, and XS Max, LifeProof introduced two new case designs: the SLAM and NEXT. Based on closer examination, these seem to be very similar two-piece clamshell designs, although, from the samples I received, I noticed that the NEXT had considerably more bumper material on it.
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Both are very tight fitting designs and provide ample bezel elevation and side/corner impact protection. However, neither are waterproof or provide additional screen protection for scratches or front impacts.
I used both cases for about a day, and I would say that the NEXT felt thicker, but it’s not enough of a difference for me to sacrifice shock absorption with the SLAM — although the SLAM can accommodate Alpha Glass, like the OtterBox Defender and the Pursuit, which we will get to momentarily.
Personally, if I was inclined to get one of these two cases, I would get NEXT.
The iPhone XS and XS Max are already IP68 water resistant and can survive 30 minutes of immersion at depths of two meters, so if the primary concern is being dropped with occasionally being rained on, NEXT is what I would go with.
However, nothing is so simple when it comes to making case recommendations for iPhone XS and XS Max.
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I have not yet received the iPhone XS Max version of FRE, as the company didn’t have a production sample ready yet, but I do have FRE installed on my Pixel 2, and I had one on my Samsung Galaxy S8+. So, we can infer that the overall design is going to be similar.
FRE is LifeProof’s tried and true waterproof case design, which also incorporates a permanent scratch protector that is a flexible film. This is the case that traditionally provided brand differentiation from OtterBox and the Defender.
Now, with iPhone XS and XS Max already being fairly water resistant to begin with, it would seem that FRE is overkill.
Perhaps, I would tend to agree with this — if we weren’t talking about a $1,000+ device that costs $275 to $400 to replace the screen regardless of whether you bought the thing outright or you are making lease payments on the Upgrade Program.
On iPhone XS and XS Max, FRE has a watertight lightning charge connector door latch in addition to a permanent screen/scratch protector. I’m not sure how necessary this is, but if you spend time near the water or on the beach, it might be a good idea to have this feature.
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Additionally, given the fact that you are now constantly rubbing your finger with nails on the screen itself instead of pushing a physical home button, I am inclined to say that a screen protector on an iPhone XS or XS Max is a requirement.
You just spent $1,000 or more on a phone, get the $80 case.
Done, right? Forget SLAM and NEXT. Get the FRE.
Not so fast.
With the iPhone X, and now the XS and XS Max, Otter has introduced a new high-end case, the Pursuit.
It appears that the company has created something of a fusion design between Defender and FRE. It essentially merged the DNA between the two companies with this product.
According to the company, the Pursuit is a stronger case than Defender without the additional bulk.
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It’s really more LifeProof than an Otter in terms of overall looks, but it isn’t inherently waterproof. The FRE still offers additional waterproofing. Pursuit doesn’t have a waterproof lightning latch; it has a rubber tab like the Defender instead.
So, is the FRE still better for the money? Well, no.
Scratch resistant cases
All the new OtterBox cases (and the LifeProof SLAM) for iPhone XS and XS Max can accommodate the Alpha Glass accessory, which provides additional scratch and impact protection for $39 more.
Can you buy a third-party scratch resistant film to put on a Pursuit? Sure. But then you should get a FRE. It’s cheaper.
Would you rather have additional glass instead? In terms of aesthetic it definitely looks better and is easier to clean, and I think the few extra microns of glass gives me more peace of mind.
I see no point in using either Defender or Pursuit (or SLAM) without Alpha Glass. So, really, in terms of overall decision matrix of which case to buy, in my opinion, it comes down to:
- You want a holster and full rubberization and the tried and true Otter design (Defender/Pro + Alpha Glass)
- You want it to be thin but still highly protective (Pursuit + Alpha Glass, SLAM + Alpha Glass, or NEXT)
- You want it to be more waterproof than what the device provides out of the box, and you want scratch protection but not additional screen impact protection (FRE)
I spoke with Otter reps and asked them why the company simply did not consolidate the product lines or replace the existing Defender with Pursuit and a Pursuit holster.
Otter and Lifeproof have already consolidated their e-commerce sites as well as the type of packaging used in order to satisfy carrier shelf space display requirements and in-store marketing needs.
This is very much like a Ferrari/Maserati or a Cadillac/Buick thing. Same company, same engineering principles, and likely the same production lines. Different brands appealing to similar but different legacy customers.
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I think the company could have easily made an FRE that can use Alpha Glass as opposed to the integrated film, and then it could just put different branding on it for the OtterBox version along with a holster. This is what I would have done, personally.
I have to assume Otter has done its market research and determined that not everyone wants a true glass protector and that a certain amount of customers, particularly in the vertical market space (construction, military, etc.), want the additional psychological protection of full rubberization with the traditional Defender design.
With any of these three case designs, you’re in good hands. Which one are you planning to use? Talk Back and Let Me Know.
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Snapchat adds Spotlight – TechCrunch
Snapchat introduces a TikTok-style feed, Amazon Echo Buds add fitness tracking and Vettery acquires Hired. This is your Daily Crunch for November 23, 2020.
The big story: Snapchat adds Spotlight
Snapchat has introduced a dedicated feed where users can watch short, entertaining videos — pretty similar to TikTok. This comes after the app also added TikTok-like music features last month.
Starting today, users will be able to send their Snaps to the new Spotlight feed. Viewers will be able to send direct messages to creators with public profiles (Spotlight will also include anonymous content from private accounts), but there will be no public commentary on these videos.
To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day who create the top videos on Spotlight.
The tech giants
Amazon’s Echo Buds get new fitness tracking features — Say “Alexa, start my workout” with the buds in, and they’ll begin logging steps, calories, distance, pace and duration of runs.
Uber refused permission to dismiss 11 staff at its EMEA HQ —The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency has refused to give Uber permission to dismiss 11 people at the company’s EMEA headquarters.
Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a US-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need — The feature is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub.
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Relativity Space raises $500M as it sets sights on the industrialization of Mars — LA-based rocket startup Relativity had a big 2020, completing work on a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach.
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The downfall of ad tech means the trust economy is here – TechCrunch
2020 has brought about much-needed social movements. In June, activists launched the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a call to hold social media companies like Facebook accountable for the hate happening on their platforms.
The idea was to pull advertising spending to wake these social platforms up. More than 1,200 businesses and nonprofits joined the movement, including brands such as The North Face, Patagonia and Verizon. I led my company, Cheetah Digital, to join alongside some of our clients like Starbucks and VF Corp.
Stop Hate for Profit highlighted social media hitting its tipping point. Twitter and Snapchat chose to stand up against hate speech, banning political ads and taking action to flag misinformation. Facebook, unfortunately, has not yet been as proactive, or at best it’s been sporadic in its response.
While many thought the movement would come and go, the reality is it has only just begun. With America conducting arguably its most divisive election in history, these problems won’t just go away. For marketers, Stop Hate for Profit is more than a social movement — it is pointing to an issue with ad tech as a whole.
I believe we are seeing the downfall of ad tech as we know it with social media boycotts and data privacy leading the charge.
The social media quagmire
In May, Forrester released a report titled “It’s OK to Break Up with Social Media” that contained statistics indicating that consumers are fed up with social media: 70% of respondents said they don’t trust social media platforms with their data. Only 14% of consumers believe the information they read on social media is trustworthy. 37% of online adults in the U.S. believe social media does more harm than good.
Here is the reality we need to get back to: Social media isn’t built for marketers to reach consumers. In the beginning of the social media craze, brands rushed to get on board and join the conversations. What many brands discovered is these channels became a platform for customer complaints not for building positive brand perception. Furthermore, the social platforms marketers flocked to as an avenue to reach customers began charging marketers just to get to the customers.
The algorithms that define what content you see unfortunately make it harder for people to see opposing views, and this more than anything else polarizes society further. If you start looking at QAnon content, very soon that’s all the algorithms feed you. You might spend more time on social platforms fueling their ad dollars, but you have also lost a grip on reality. Marketers must admit things have gone too far on social media and it is okay to move on.
Imagine you are in need of a minor surgery. Perhaps you take an Uber ride to the specialist for a consultation. Next, you go get the surgery and it is successful. Soon you find yourself at home recovering and all is well. That is, until you start scrolling Facebook. Suddenly advertisements pop up for medical malpractice lawyers, but you haven’t told anyone about the surgery and you certainly didn’t post about it on social media.
Here you are, just wanting to rest and recover at home, but instead you are being bombarded by advertisements. So how did those ads get there? You left a digital footprint, your data was sold and now you’re being hit with intrusive ads. To me, this story crystallizes the abuse ad tech has been fostering in the world around us. There’s an utter invasion of privacy and consumers aren’t blind to it.
Data privacy has been a focus of conversation for marketers for several years now. Just this year, America saw the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) go into effect and become enforceable. This legislation gives back control of data to the consumer. In June, Apple announced updates to make it harder for apps and publishers to track location data and use it for ad targeting. At the beginning of August, Meredith and Kroger announced a partnership to provide first-party sales data for advertising efforts in an attempt to move off of cookies. It is clear data privacy is not a fad going away anytime soon.
Where do marketers go from here?
I believe the future of marketing is the trust economy. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, the invasion of privacy and shifting attitudes and behaviors of consumers point to the end of an era where marketers relied upon third-party data. Trust is now the most impactful economic power, not data. We conducted research earlier this year with eConsultancy, and our findings revealed that 39% of U.S. consumers don’t like personal ads driven from cookie data. People don’t want to be tracked and targeted as they click around the web. Ad tech’s roof is caving in and marketers must adjust.
The old methods of marketing won’t carry you through into the era of the trust economy. It is time to look to new channels and revisit old channels. We have to shift back to the channels where we own what is being said. Advertising on social platforms should be focused on driving consumers to owned channels where you can capture their permissions and data to connect with them directly. Consider email as a channel to focus on.
Don’t worry — it works. That same eConsultancy report found nearly three out of four consumers made a purchase in the last 12 months from an email sent by a brand or retailer and massively outperformed social ads when it came to driving sales. Similarly nine times as many U.S. consumers want to increase their participation in loyalty programs in 2020 than those that want to reduce their involvement. You have to ensure you are owning your data and loyalty programs are a treasure trove of consumer data you own. Emily Collins from Forrester does a good job of explaining why you can achieve this with a true loyalty strategy, not just a rewards program.
Your goal should be to build direct connections to consumers. Building trust means offering a value exchange for data and engagement, not going and buying it from a third-party. Fatemah Khatibloo, a principal analyst for Forrester wrote, “Zero-party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.” This zero-party data is foundational for the trust economy and you should check out her advice on how it helps you navigate privacy and personalization.
The trust economy is really about asking yourself, as a marketer, what you stand for. How do you view your relationship with consumers? Do you care? What kind of relationship do you want? Privacy has to be part of this. Accountability is crucial. We must be accountable to where we are putting our money. It’s time to stop supporting hate, propping up the worst of society and fueling division. Start taking responsibility, caring about social issues and building meaningful relationships with consumers built on trust.
Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a U.S.-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need – TechCrunch
Facebook today is introducing a new feature that will allow users in the U.S. to collect food, clothing, and other necessities for people in need. The feature, called “Drives,” is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub, which is the place where Facebook centralizes requests and offers for help within a local community.
The Community Help hub was first launched in 2017 as a way for Facebook users to centralize their resources in the wake of a crisis, like a man-made, accidental or natural disaster, ranging from weather events to terrorist attacks, and more. In 2020, however, the feature has been put to broader use as a part of Facebook’s COVID-19 efforts, which even saw a version of Community Help feature scaled globally to help those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, with the economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., millions are out of work and 12 million may lose their unemployment benefits in December when CARES Act provisions lapse. Food insecurity and an inability to pay bills, including rent and mortgage payments, as well as manage other household expenses, are impacting millions as well.
With Drives, Facebook will allow users to create and share their own efforts in collecting items for those in need, like a Canned Food Drive that’s looking to gather items for local shelters, a Clothing Drive, or any other event where someone is working to collect items to help others.
To create a Drive, type “Community Help” into Facebook Search to find the shortcut that takes you to the Community Help hub. From there, click the “Request or Offer Help” button, and on the bottom sheet that appears, click “Create Drive.” You can then fill out the form, setting a goal for the number of items you want to collect. When you post the Drive, others will be able to see what’s still needed with this goal tracker. Once created, the Drive will appear in your News Feed and Timeline like a regular post, in addition to appearing in Community Help.
The feature is rolling out starting today, but it may not be widely available to all for “weeks,” Facebook says. That’s unfortunate, given that many people likely want to run holiday-related Drives within the hub to help get food for holiday meals or toys for families in need, for example.
Facebook notes that all posts in Community Help, including Drives, are reviewed to ensure they don’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards or its Community Help Product Policies. These policies prohibit insensitive and promotional content, spam, inauthentic posts, and posts from users under 18, among other things. If posts are found to be in violation, they’re taken down, the company says.
Drives is one of several efforts around holiday giving that Facebook announced today. The company also says it will match up to $7 million in eligible donations to U.S. nonprofits on GivingTuesday (Dec. 1), and is running its own fundraiser, “Peace Through Music: A Global Event For Social Justice” exclusively on Facebook Live. The event, on Dec. 1 at 12 PM ET, will feature Aloe Blacc, Billie Eilish, Becky G, Carlos Santana & Cindy Blackman Santana, Killer Mike, Ringo Starr, Skip Markey, and others. The event will support the Playing for Change Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, Sankofa, Silkroad and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Meanwhile, Instagram will soon gain new fundraising tools. Today, Instagram users can fundraise with stickers on Stories and on Instagram Live. A new feature will allow Instagram users to post fundraisers to their Instagram Feed, too, but Facebook didn’t offer a timeframe as to when that feature would launch.
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