Technology: is it different for girls?

Mon 09 Nov 2009






Speaker guest post by Belinda Parmar.

Women play more games than men and buy just as many gadgets. So why are they consistently patronised by technology companies?

I am frustrated. I am bored. I feel patronised. PC World is telling me my world is pink (it has not been pink since I was 7) and I need a new laptop to match my outfit (it would never even occur to me to match my outfit with my technology). Samsung is asking me, “What Colour is my Life?” (hello?) and Dell is telling me that technology is like candy (do me a favour).

I am a 35-year-old professional woman with my own home. I am educated, fairly tech literate and, most importantly, I have cash to spend. Plenty of cash to spend, on technology that will make my life easier, more creative and fun.

Out of every ten gadgets bought in the UK, four are now bought by women. And, before you ask, we are not talking about fridges and washing machines. No, these are high-end items such as HD TVs, games consoles and smart phones. And there are more games being played by women than men between the ages of 25-34.

I am not alone in feeling patronised or alienated by technology and consumer electronic brands.

I recently conducted some research for Forrester. This highlighted that one third of all British women do not feel connected to a single technology brand. Over half of all women walk out of shops because they cannot find what they are looking for.

This missed opportunity is calculated to be worth £0.6 billion per year. The technology industry is where the automotive industry was 20 years ago – nervous boys at the school dance who do not quite know what to do or say to women. They end up leading with two left feet.

So why do technology companies think that pinking up and dumbing down their marketing is the way to get professional, well educated women to part with their cash? Why do they treat young girls and women alike – as an afterthought? Why are companies not researching “what women really want” and getting advice from expert consultants?

How can we help technology companies understand what women want?

Many technology brands believe that the way to a woman’s purse is to make her feel “special”, and have aimed to achieve this by giving women their “own” space, site or product. Dell’s disastrous Della website, which handed out technological advice alongside recipe tips and fashion articles, was shut down within weeks. Carphone Warehouse, Dixons and Comet (Comet Angels) have all had their share of “initiatives” and women’s only days, all with the aim of helping women turn the telly on. All, one assumes, with a glass of Prosecco held in their manicured, nail-varnished hands.

No woman wants to be a target with an overt “female friendly” message. Being singled out as different is as off-putting today as it was when you were singled out at school. Nor do women want to be stereotyped or bamboozled by obscure jargon.

It is ironic, given its widespread reputation for untarnished machismo, but the BBC’s Top Gear has democratised cars. It might be a legacy to make Jeremy Clarkson flinch, but he has helped to make cars accessible to women.

Once purely the domain of men, the programme now has nearly as many female viewers as male, thanks largely to being both playful and light-hearted. It stands for unadulterated honesty and entertainment, looking at how people in the real world think and relate to their cars.

In September this year, the Harvard Business Review stated that women now represent a bigger market opportunity than India and China combined. Technology brands must put an end to these clumsy marketing strategies and put money and time behind understanding how real women in the real world engage with technology.

Women are no longer the second sex. We are the more profitable sex.

Belinda Parmar is the founder of Lady Geek, which helps technology companies understand and sell to women. Belinda would love you to have your say on how technology companies are talking to women by filling out a short survey on the Lady Geek site. Follow Belinda Parmar on Twitter: @belindaparmar


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Brave new world…Unwired: The Future of Mobile

Mon 09 Nov 2009

Doug Richard










Speaker guest post by Doug Richard.

When I was a boy, the first PCs crawled out of the darkness, stupid step children of sluggish giants that rumbled away in the caves of the US military industrial complex. Those little boxes, which people had to assemble themselves from mimeographed instructions looked like grey boxes of tangled wire.

Then came a raft of improvements, the machines came assembled, they ran DOS not CP/M, Xerox thought of windows, and someone came up a mouse.

My first business sold state of the art computer aided design systems, across platforms. Unix workstations from Sun Microsystems quickly became a best seller for us because they could cost-effectively deliver a robust multi-user design solution. I found myself implementing X-Terminals in my office because putting a PC on everyone’s desk was becoming a maintenance nightmare. Those cheap little “thin-clients” ran slow some afternoons, but when the servers were up, the terminals were up, and everyone could always print. One X-terminal could drive applications on multiple terminals, I remember being quite impressed by that.

Then the Internet escaped DARPA and the universities, almost replacing clunky proprietary networks like AOL and Compuserve. Suddenly computers everywhere hosted very brightly colored pages that frequently blinked like Christmas lights. Through internet browsers and web-based mail applications, one computer could start processes on millions. The rise of the Internet rivaled the fall of the Berlin wall for me. I knew, from the start, we stood on the edge of a brand new world.

The web made it to the phone, and now millions of people worldwide, from the jungles of South America to the mountains of the Himilayas, are on the Internet and interconnected almost 24/7.

I’m fairly sure these new “thin clients” will become just slightly larger than the pack of cards they try to be now, and that the gap between cell phone and laptop will disappear. I expect the telecoms will eventually drop charging people per minute for voice communications, since they no longer do it for most data applications, and they’ve stop doing it for most land line communications. I think word “roaming” will stop appearing on cell phone bills because everyone will be never be outside their calling zone.

Augmented reality, the ability to project meta-data on maps and images of the real world in real time and to display that data on your cell phone and other mobile internet devices, will be a technology everyone uses. It will be a way to stand in a mall and surf for bargains, to stand in a parking lot and find your car, to locate wayward children and find gas stations in real time. There will be video games based on this technology so gamers can finally get outdoors. There’s a whole new level of web design and architecture currently being developed that will address how to display multiple realities in real time. I look forward to watching that evolve.

Voice applications are getting much smarter, so you’ll be able to talk to your apps and they’ll be able to talk back in a sensible fashion. Protecting data, ranging from credit card numbers and home address to who your kids are, will become a true challenge because information that is anywhere online will keep seeping out of the boxes we put it in. Criminals will continue to drill holes in data containers and the data protected will be of greater and greater value.

I was an enthusiast, long before it was popular, of William Gibson and that peculiar backwater of science fiction called Cyber Punk. There’s no way to tell those who aren’t my peers in age as well as personal experience, what its like to see that universe unpack itself into a world I and my family will live in. I’m both terrified and enchanted.

But ultimately, I’ve decided I’m hopeful. We are better off connected, human to human, in a way that was unimaginable the day I was born. This is now a very small planet. I think we can get some great things done. My personal experience has always been that closely connected groups of people find a way to do remarkable things. Given time, proximity breeds community breeds prosperity. With a bow to both Aldus Huxley and Shakespeare, I think this truly can be described as a “brave new world”, and maybe not one we need to fear. I must confess I’m rather looking forward to to the future.

Doug Richard is a serial entrepreneur that Dragons Den fans will remember from the first two series.
He is the founder of School for Startups.
Follow Doug on twitter: @douglasrichard

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Heroes of the Mobile Screen – 7 Dec 09 at the BFI Southbank, London

Hello. Helen Keegan here from the Heroes team. Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been up to of late. Well, if you have, then I can reveal to you that I’ve been working on a new conference, Heroes of the Mobile Screen, which is on next month on 7 December at the rather wonderful BFI on London’s Southbank. And I’d love for you to spread the word (like our wonderful media partners), buy tickets and join the conversation. And I’m afraid this has taken our attention for the last few weeks which means we’ve had to cancel November’s Mobile Monday London event. Hopefully, this will all make up for it.

The team behind the conference, Isabel Fox, Neil Robertson, Carlo Longino, Dominic Travers and yours truly are also involved in running Mobile Monday London, Swedish Beers Mobile Networking, Future of Mobile, Over The Air, Mobile 2.0 and Tech Media Invest events amongst other things.

The day-long event at BFI Southbank will differ from anything else around (at least that’s what we’re aiming for) and get the stakeholders of mobile involved in discussing the issues affecting them and their customers. Uniquely the event also has teenagers on stage to tell the industry what they want from their mobile, what they expect from their network operators and what’s most important to them in terms of their mobile life.

20051204                                  onEdition Copyright image 2005©

Doug Richard, David Whitewood of Hotxt.
For further info please contact:
Isabel Fox
020 7062 1192
This image is copyright the photographer 2005©.
This image has been supplied by onEdition and must be credited onEdition. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. All rights reserved. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact onEdition on +44(0)20 7978 1459 or email: <> InmaMartinezPic1 - Copy jp keishimada jpg belinda parmar Heroes of the Mobile Screen is already attracting a number of high calibre ‘heroes’ with speakers and panellists answering the call from around the world, including Kei Shimada, JP Rangaswami and Kevin Banks, Belinda Parmar, Julia Shalet, Doug Richard and Harald Neidhardt are all confirmed. The speakers are listed here and the agenda can be found here.

Heroes of the Mobile Screen opens with a keynote from Kei Shimada sharing his experience of what’s happening in Japan and what we can learn from that here in the West. And continues with four core pillars supporting discussion throughout the day.

The money
What’s making money, who’s making money and what’s being invested in and where the money’s going to be in the future? The answers to all the questions we want to ask of successful mobile service providers and VCs.

The impact of social/location
What is the impact of social media and location technology? What do customers want, what are the business models, what are the solutions to privacy issues. Carriers are placing their bets in this area, but will they pay off?

julia shalet bw lge Teenage heroes
Led by digital youth marketing expert Julia Shalet (pictured left), this is a new format where we invite four companies to pitch their product, service or device live on stage to six teenagers and they tell us what they really think.

Real customers, real applications, real marketing
A double session with the first half covering customers and what they really want on mobile with a focus on women in particular with some new research and insight into what women want from Belinda Parmar of Lady Geek. The second half will cover mobile marketing and advertising, what’s working, what’s not and what’s coming next.

I came up with idea around the event because we realised that most of the events I attend throughout the year all talk around the same subjects, with the same people and bring up the same issues, without resolution. It’s time for us to stop talking to ourselves, look out beyond our industry and make some changes for the better. I believe it’s important to engage our colleagues in marketing, web 2.0 and media as well as more of our mobile colleagues from throughout the value chain. The exciting stuff is going to happen when industries cross over – that’s where the innovation is. In putting the agenda together, we believe we have something that will appeal to a wide audience – whether you’re a director of marketing for an FMCG brand or a web developer toying with the idea of developing apps for android or iphone.  And to do that, we need to share real customer insight that we can use to make ours and others mobile lives better.

Tickets are now available online now for £99 (ex VAT and booking fee) at . We’ve kept the price deliberately low and it’s subsidised by sponsors who we’ll be able to announce shortly.

If you’re interested in sponsoring the event in some way, please get in touch with me via email.

If you’re interested in pitching your gadget, application or service to our teenagers, please email Dominic Travers to put your name forward.

We are keeping a waiting list for potential speakers and panellists. If you’d like to be considered, please contact me.

So get your tickets now and become a fan on Facebook or follow us on twitter too.

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About us

Heroes of the Mobile Screen logoHeroes of the Mobile Screen is the premier event for 450 of the mobile industry’s top thought-leaders, innovators, investors, marketers, stakeholders and media/analysts. A one-day conference run by the same team that brings you Mobile Monday London, Swedish Beers, Over The Air, Mobile 2.0 and Tech Media Invest events taking an in-depth look at what’s really going on in the world of mobile. Who are our heroes and villains, which sectors are making the most of mobile and how, what’s coming next and who is the mobile consumer and what do they want?

We hope to answer some of these questions and more in a lively atmosphere with the movers and shakers from the mobile, media and marketing sectors globally. We will be bringing you international speakers, panelists and participants from big brands, media giants and the mobile industry and will give them a place to discuss, debate and thrash out the issues affecting us running or wanting to run mobile initiatives.

Follow our progress on twitter @hotms and on facebook too.


Helen Keegan, http://technokitten.comHelen Keegan –co-organiser at Mobile Monday London, founder of Swedish Beers, founder member of the Women in Mobile Data Association, aka technokitten, Helen blogs at Musings of a Mobile Marketer, and is a speaker and analyst on all things mobile.

Follow Helen on twitter: @technokitten

Isabel Fox, IF CommunicationsIsabel Fox –a specialist in financial and corporate communications, founder of IF Communications – specialist in PR for mobile companies, and the brains behind events like Tech Media Invest and arguably one of the best PRs in the world. IF Communications.

Follow Isabel on twitter: @izzyfox

carlo longino of mobhappyCarlo Longino–a mobile technology expert, journalist and industry veteran, former Executive Editor at and analyst at Techdirt, a marcomms professional and regular writer & analyst on all things mobile. Mob Happy

Follow Carlo on twitter: @Caaarlo

dominic traversDominic Travers –an experienced event producer and former producer of Carsonified’s Future of Mobile conference, a mobile technology enthusiast, passionate about user experience on mobile and digital. Not a regular blogger, and following him on twitter is definitely for the dauntless.

Follow Dominic on twitter: @DominicTravers

momoloMobile Monday London Founded in November 2005, MobileMondayLondon is a community of around 3,500 individuals, primarily in London, with a common interest in mobile communications in general and mobile data in particular. The team organises free monthly knowledge and networking events in London covering all aspects of the mobile industry from spectrum issues to mobile entertainment and has a large cross over into media, marketing and web 2.0. The organisation also benefits from an active email group, a lively blog and an events website. The Mobile Monday London team is Jo Rabin, Daniel Appelquist, Alex Craxton and Helen Keegan – all industry veterans from different areas of the mobile industry. They also get involved in running larger events and competitions such as Over The Air, Mobile 2.0 and the Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition as well as advising and supporting other conferences and events of interest to the community. Mobile Monday London is part of a grass roots network of Mobile Monday chapters globally, including Mobile Monday New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona and Belfast with whom there are good working relations. The organisation is uniquely well connected and respected within the global mobile community.



Follow on twitter @momolondon

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Welcome to Heroes of The Mobile Screen

This is a new one-day conference being held in London on 7th December 2009 at the BFI Southbank and brought to you in association with Mobile Monday London. We’re really excited about it and hope you will be too. Our website is now live and there you’ll find all about the conference and the team behind it, our media partners and what we have in store for you on the day. We’ll keep you up to date with what’s going on both in the industry as well as information and updates about the programme and speakers.

There are still sponsorship opportunities available so do get in touch if you’re interested to find out more and get a copy of our sponsorship pack.

Tickets cost £99 + VAT + booking fee. Please head over to the register page to book.

We’re very excited by the event and look forward to seeing you in December.

The Heroes of the Mobile Screen team

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