Ok it's definitely the 11th hour for the hardcore Xmas shoppers. You should be sweating right now if haven't finished up all your gift purchases. Hmm, there are always some loose ends to tie up though...you know, stocking stuffer kind of stuff. I'm officially calling it the Xmas Swag Bag. Here are some 11th hour can't miss ideas for your techie friend(s). Thoughts for this year's Xmas Swag Bag is chocked full of Apps & Subscriptions that are sure to please.
Spotify Subscription (www.spotify.com) - This music service wins my product of the year award. Imagine having an unlimited supply of music mixed with your social networks. That's Spotify in a nutshell; the service is awesome. I would recommend gifting a (1) month premium subscription which cost basically $9.99/mo. The premium subscription allows you to use the service on your desktop, laptop or mobile phone (supports iOS, Android and RIM) Unfortunately, you can't purchase a Spotify gift card in the US and a Facebook account is required to use the service. Ugh! But don't let that be a deterrent. In the past, I have solved this by creating a temporary account and paying for the first few months. I'm not sure how easy that is with the new Facebook wrinkle, but Spotify has suggestions of what to do on there site. In any case, the service is definitely worth jumping a few small login hurdles.
Audible Subscription (www.audible.com) - For most book lovers, there is generally a sizable stack of books they want read but just don't have the time to get to them. For me, I often find it difficult to dedicate a chunk of time each day or week to sit down and read a book. I do, however have time during my commute or when I'm running errands or even working on projects/chores to listen to a book. Audible to the rescue. Audible has a collection of over 100000 titles, including most of the top sellers available in audio format. They offer several gifts subscription options that allow you to download up to 2 titles per month (any book in their catalog). Most of the narrators are excellent and some books are dramatized (multiple narrators reading different roles) which helps bring the story to life. Yeah I know that listening to books is not for everyone but if you don't know whether or not it's the thing for tech friend why not give it a try. I'm betting they will like it.
Apps make great digital stocking stuffers. Undoubtedly games are always good but I would rather take a step off that beaten path and go with something a little more unexpected and innovative:
Notability (iPad) - Admittedly, the first wave of iPad use is mainly about consumption. I definitely expect the second wave will go beyond consumption and begin to expand into the area creation. Notability takes steps in this direction, this app excels at capturing plans, notes, ideas, etc. Remember all those great ideas captured on the back of a paper napkin...this is the new napkin.
ComiXology (iPhone and iPad) - 2011 is definitely the year that delivered by the promise of digital comic books. For that tech friend with an iPad. Take a trip off the beaten path and send him/her the free ComiXology App with a few digital comics ($3.99 per comic). Of course, all the superhero titles are available but there are a LOT of other graphic novels available too. I recommended gifting a complete story arc like - (1) The Phonix Saga, (2) The Secret Wars or the (3) Infinity Gauntlet. Classic stories that any comic book fan will enjoy.
Hipstamic Disposable (iPhone) - A social camera app. You share 24 frames with a set of frien5mn'ds. A very unique and innovative idea that I'm confident will *really* catch on. So share a roll of pictures with your tech friend on the holidays. This is good stuff!
Ok there isn't much time left...go get it done!