Google announced yesterday the initial roll out of a new “store visits” metric for AdWords. Essentially, it is an attempt to trace conversion from an ad click to an actual store visit. According to Google:

With the holiday season upon us, it’s clear that the majority of sales for many industries still happen in person – in fact, roughly 95% of retail sales take place in physical stores.1 And online activities are influencing offline transactions more than ever, bringing together the digital and physical worlds. Thirty-two percent of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the impact that search ads have in driving visits to your physical locations, whether that’s a store, hotel, auto dealership or restaurant.

The implementation, however, leaves something to be desired. Google will establish location by conventional means, e.g. geo-fencing and Wi-Fi, and which can have an error rate of over 500 meters!

This means the store visit metric will only work for certain kinds of retailers. It won’t work for stores in dense areas or in shopping malls. It’ll only work for a Costco-like mega store that’s in the middle of nowhere by itself.

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My strategy professor from business school once said that if you left your company’s strategic plan on the bus and a competitor discovered it…and you were then screwed, it was a bad strategic plan. I completely agree.

A great strategy is one that’s unique to your company. For Apple, it’s a commitment to simple designs that cater to the every-person, and to deliver integrated, vertical experiences even if that means basic feature sets. Everyone knows this, but only Apple can be Apple. Only Apple has a large, loyal fan base that absolutely trusts Apple’s product taste and are willing to always pay for it. Only Apple can attract the best talent without needing to pay top dollar for them. Apple’s war chest means they’re able to tightly control their supply chain so competitors have a hard time matching its product quality and profit margins.

Elements of Snapchat’s strategic plan were leaked in the recent hack of Sony Pictures, and so I was surprised to read a very emotional reply from the CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel.

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In a recent conference keynote, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said the following:

We’ve got to monetize [Windows] differently. And there are services involved. There are additional opportunities for us to bring additional services to the product and do it in a creative way. And through the course of the summer and spring we’ll be announcing what that business model looks like. At the same time it’s wonderful to see these nine-inch and below devices explode, because that was an area, candidly, I was blocked out and I had no share of what was getting built. So it’s a very fascinating transition for us. And finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer on those devices, again, I would tell you we’re learning, we’re growing, and we’re smarter and wiser every day.

The key language is “finding new ways to monetize the lifetime of that customer,” which is another way of saying that they’re shifting from a product-centric view to a customer-centric one. It doesn’t have to be Windows per se necessarily.

Many have interpreted that to mean the base OS might be free, and that Microsoft will earn via subscription or freemium. While the Redmond company will likely continue to charge enterprises and computer manufacturers, Windows and all its updates should absolutely be free to consumers. It probably will.

Although it may not look like it, Microsoft has actually been dealing with monetization questions for a long time. Back when Windows was a monopoly, it was difficult for Microsoft to add features to Windows without incurring anti-monopoly wrath. Security was one such example – the likes of Norton and McAfee lobbied hard behind the scenes to keep built-in security out of Windows.

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One of my biggest learning from writing this blog is the power Google wields. Building a following that is loyal and reads whatever you write is incredibly hard; much easier to appeal to the Google gods to send traffic your way.

I understand this, and I’m writing a rinky-dink blog.

The newspaper publishing industry in Spain doesn’t, so they lobbied the government to enact a law so newspapers can charge Google every time snippets appear on Google News. This wouldn’t just apply to Google News but to all other news aggregators too like feecha.

Google responded the way I would’ve and called their bluff — by pulling Google News out of Spain and excluding Spain-based newspapers from Google News.

Here’s the industry’s response:

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Chromebooks are finally getting serious about penetrating the mass market. No, it’s not better offline capabilities, though that would help greatly. And no, Minecraft is not making an appearance any time soon.

Chromebooks are getting serious because finally, Acer is releasing a 15.6-inch version of its Chromebook, supposedly on March 2015.

Months ago, I wrote about how the most popular computing device of the future will be a 15-inch tablet weighing less than 1.5 pounds with a keyboard accessory. While we are a good three to five years away from that getting there, the rationale is that the 15-inch display size is actually the most popular category of laptops.

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This weekend was all about Destiny and its expansion, The Dark Below. It’s all I’ve been doing in my free time since its release earlier this week. Yesterday delved into what makes Destiny so good, yet there’s plenty about the game that’s painful.

There are three types of gameplay in Destiny: story, end game and competitive multiplayer. The story is over quickly and there’s little reason to replay them. The story itself is terrible too. I don’t play competitive multiplayer because I’m out-gunned and out-skilled by those who have more time to invest in the game. The end game is where I’ve been spending all my time. That’s when you’re theoretically done with the game, but you keep playing anyway because you want to level up your character and get specific weapons and gear.

This is where Destiny is simultaneously special and frustrating. Special because it does the end game so well for a shooting game; frustrating because you have to play a lot to get the best gear and there’s simply not enough content to keep things fresh.

Have you seen Edge of Tomorrow? Awesome movie. The protagonist is in a war with aliens and he repeats each day over and over again, to the point where he knows exactly where the bad guys are going to be. That’s what Destiny feels like. Grunts coming out here so rocket launcher. Sniper appearing there so get ready.

You repeat each mission so often, you pretty much know what’s going to happen. Despite that, to Destiny’s credit, strike missions are somehow still fun.

Dear Bungie (developers of Destiny), please, more strikes. There should be at least 20 to play from instead of a paltry eight. Focus the $500 million budget there.

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You may have noticed that for this week, my daily posts have come a little late. Work is busy as usual but really it comes down to one distraction: Destiny and The Dark Below expansion. The add-on content arrived earlier this week and I’ve been playing it non-stop ever since.

In my review of the original game (see here), I thought it was fun but fell somewhat short. Imagine my surprise when weeks later, I realized I haven’t put so many hours into a single game since Virtua Fighter and Gears of War. Has there ever been a game as simultaneously frustrating and addictive?

The core shooting mechanic is peerless. I’ve never had so much fun shooting bad guys’ heads off, and I’d include Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty in that comparison. In fact, my copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is still relatively untouched.

Playing with people puts the game on another level. When you play with a good team, it feels like poetry. As if somehow, unspoken, three people instinctively know how to move in concert with one another.

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