Category Archives: Mobile

There’s a seemingly never-ending sea of new apps to explore at SXSW. You find out about them from marketing tricks including pop-up demonstrations when people gather around, roving folks in bright shirts bribing people with free food and drink, kiosks with flashy animations, tons of flyers left lying around, posters taped to every blank spot on every pole in town, overhearing conversations, and of course, bumping into friends. There doesn’t seem to be a “breakout app” that has captured the conversation, but I’ve discovered a few that I’d like to mention:

LevelUp

LevelUp is (yet another) payment app — but with a twist: it’s really easy to install, configure and use. I was standing in line to buy an over-priced slice of pizza and a cup of $10 bad wine when I saw a poster inviting me to “LevelUp and save $5 on my next purchase”. So, as I stood in line, I downloaded the app. There were only 2 people in front of me, so the test was to see if could get the app downloaded and configured to buy my pizza in just a few minutes. The download went swiftly, the app asked me if it could “scan” my credit card and then requested that I confirm a few security details. I then connected it to Facebook for login, and I was ready to go. Right as I finished the configuration, it was my turn to order. LevelUp displays a QR code, which is scanned by a device connected to the market’s cash register (kinda like the Starbucks app). I scanned, and was ready to go in seconds. For using it, I got an instant $5 off my order, which resulted in free pizza for me (although I had to fork over a lot for bad wine). The app is available for iOS and Android right now.

 

Highlight

Highlight is not a new app for SXSW, but is getting a lot of buzz here right now. Highlight senses the area you’re in and alerts you if your friends are nearby. The idea is to take social networking to a hyper-local level. The app is simple to configure: it will search your Facebook friends and ask you to choose the ones you want it to scan for. It will also search your phone’s contacts. Highlight is available on iOS and Android.

 

GonnaBe

GonnaBe is an app that lets you make plans to hookup with friends. You can quickly create “events” and invite your friends to join you. Say you just grabbed a 4-seat table in a hot bar and you want to alert your friends who are nearby to join you, you no longer have to text them individually. Just create your plan, and then share it to your followers or social channels in seconds. Scan your feed to see the plans of the friends you follow or see the feed of the hgh helpful for low thyroid public plans around you if you’re feeling spontaneous. GonnaBe is available now for iOS and soon for Android.

 

Twist

The Twist app is a convenient way to let people know when you’re going to arrive at an event. Their thinking is that people are constantly late, and Twist will make life easier by eliminating the stress and headaches caused by uncertain wait times and travel delays. Twist monitors your calendar and email and will automatically let people know when you’re going to arrive based on your location. Twist can automatically send an update to the parties that are waiting on you to let them know when you’ll be there. So no more fumbling in the car, endangering your life (and others) trying to peck out a text explaining you’re stuck in traffic… while you’re in traffic! Twist is available for iOS.

 

Vendly

Tired of those sites that promise to sell your gadget for you and earn you tons of dough? They’re great, but they sure do take a fat percentage. Well, here comes Vendly — a free marketplace for you and your friends to sell and buy anything from each other. No middleman, sort of. Vendly is easy to use, simply snap a picture with your phone, add a description, share it via email, Twitter or Facebook and then wait for your networks to see and buy! Vendly is available on iOS and Android.

 

Foodzy

Foodzy promises to turn getting healthy into a game! Foodzy is yet another “personal food journal” but one with a twist. Instead of just entering everything you eat from a never-ending list of ridiculous food databases, with Foodzy you turn what you eat into an activity stream with a real-time dashboard giving you a picture of how your “food day” went. You can also connect your gadgets like a FitBit to let Foodzy know how much you’ve exercised. Foodzy translates your calories into its own “Bits” point scale and awards you badges and extra points for engaging in healthier activities. It’s available on iOS and Android.

 

Kismet

Kismet is another “social planning” app in what’s seemingly becoming a crowded field. Kismet promises to simplify your social life by connecting you to nearby friends and letting you make plans together. When you send out an invite to friends, they can RSVP (even without the app). Everyone you invite to the event you’re planning are placed into a closed “group” where you can message each other to work out the details. Kismet is available on iOS.

 

Yiftee

Yiftee lets you send small gifts (usually $20 or less) from your phone or the web for any reason: birthdays, thank-you’s, or get well wishes. Yiftee works with local businesses to fulfill the gifts. Giftees receive them on Facebook, email or text and stop by a local merchant to pick them up. Yiftee is available on iOS.

 

It’s been windy and rainy in the Texas capitol, but there’s still 24,000 people huddled together for SXSWi. Day One of Interactive (for me) was about mobile marketing. Tim Reis, the head of advertising for Google, kicked it off:

Mobile marketing/advertising is now about weaving into the consumer’s device. It’s about having a conversation with the consumer. The device is used for dialogue, and marketers now have to do more than just throw banner ads out there. The real opportunity is to learn how people use their devices and interact with them to build a relationship with them.

Mobile is the signature device of the 21st century. It will also interact with the device of the 20th century: the TV. The second screen experience is where your primary focus should be for mobile advertising.

What is mobility and context? New patterns are emerging as consumers integrate multiple screens into their day. Context used to mean placing an ad next to content. Now it means where the consumer is and what they’re doing, and what mood and mode they’re in. You need electronic cigarette usa to focus on how the consumer moves across multiple screens, and their ever-changing context is.

Consumers weave seamlessly through context, doing what they do at any given moment. Devices are blurry — phones are getting larger and acting like tablets, tablets are getting smaller. The device itself is no longer important. Context is what it’s all about. We used to think about intent. Intent is a powerful signal. Combine intent and context, and you see the direction we’re going in.

Five years ago marketers thought of social, local and mobile as buckets. As new tech emerges, we tend to box them into buckets we can understand. Consumers don’t see these buckets, however.

Contextual opportunities are the essence of mobile. Consumers take their digital life with them.

Friction is also key. Eliminating friction in the process empowers your connection to your consumer (stop asking someone for their city and state when you’re also asking them for their zip code). On a phone, that friction is big. Bigger than on a laptop. Think through the friction points. Erase friction.

Starting yesterday, if you have an Amex card, you can now tweet to buy products. Amex has teamed with Twitter to launch the first “pay by tweet” service. Amex cardholders simply send a short message with a hashtag to make a purchase. Out of the gate, Amex offered a $25 American Express gift card for only $15 if cardholders would register their card and then send a tweet with the #BuyAmexGiftCard25 hashtag. It took me just two minutes to register my card, and then seconds after sending the tweet, @AmexSync tweeted me to confirm with a follow-up tweet, and then no fax no direct deposit payday loans my gift card was purchased.

Coming next, synced cardholders will be able to accept offers from merchants by tweeting the hashtag in the offer. If I get an offer from Target that digital cameras are on sale, I could simply tweet the hashtag #BuyDigitalCameraTarget, for example.

The big question is — will consumers feel comfortable making purchases this way? Will they be more inclined to make “smaller” purchases using “pay by tweet”? What are the security issues? It’s good for Twitter to team with Amex first, since their trustworthiness is high with consumers, but are their cardholders early adopter types?

The tech community has been mostly unified in semi-harsh criticism of Microsoft’s Surface hardware. It’s like schoolyard bullies going after the geeky kid that stands by himself on the playground, thick glasses, and button-down shirt, twiddling his thumbs as everyone else plays sports (I know what it’s like — I was a geeky kid like that). Bloggers have been commenting about the seemingly deficient battery life, the weight, the size, and the cognitive dissonance of going back and forth from the Modern UI to the classic desktop. On top of that, many have been bloviating about how the “Surface is no iPad killer.”

Let me stand apart from the fray and discuss why I think the Surface devices are forging a completely new paradigm shift for computing.

When Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, they ushered in the “tablet era” and revolutionized mobile computing. Although people have been moving to laptops and away from desktop computers for quite some time, in one fell swoop the iPad sped up the move away from being tethered to a desktop. Combined with the App Store, Apple made mobile computing and the cloud real for the masses. In my opinion, the iPad represented the first real example of how mobile computing and cloud technology combine to provide an experience of how people really want to connect with devices and each other. I knew something big was afoot when I was in a mall watching an older gentleman swiping through screens on his iPad. In one device, Apple captured how most people want to interact with technology.

Humans are funny creatures, however. They will naturally try to evolve their own perceptions of what a device means to them and try to make it adapt to their environment, needs and desires. People love the “lean-back” experience of consuming content on the iPad. But many wanted it to do more — they want productivity apps. They want to work with it. They want to always BE with it and make it an integral part of their lives. Many already do this with their smartphones. Inevitably, developers starting building apps to unleash the power of productivity on the iPad.

The app world has moved fast. Developers are innovating at lightning speed. Much faster than Apple’s UI and OS developers can keep up. Supporting two devices that are selling faster than  Chinese kids can screw them together, combined with updating the OS and the built-in apps to keep up with how people are using them, has kept Apple on the edge of its capabilities. Compromises are made. The fragmentation of its operating systems are starting to show. The rough edges are exposed. The “old-school” textured backgrounds in iOS, the debacle of Maps, the bandwidth leaks, and so on show a company splitting at the seams with its strategy as it tries to stay the dominant player in the market.

Along comes Microsoft with a different perspective of how an operating system should support its users. Instead of two OS’s and a fragmentation between devices, Microsoft builds a new OS to blend the lean-back experience with the desktop experience and give the user control over how to interact with their device. They decide to build their own hardware to control the experience. They fundamentally provide a different perspective on what a “tablet” computing experience represents. Enabling the lean-back (what I call the “entertainment mode”) with the “productivity mode” in a form factor that supports both touch and input devices tells the world they’re not going to dictate how their users should interact with the device. In one operating system, Microsoft is saying, “you can traverse between your tablet, your laptop and the Xbox and determine how you want to interact with the device in a seamless fashion, picking up where you left off.” A completely different approach than Apple, which has a disturbingly complex and confusing cloud strategy, a stretched-to-the-max hardware strategy. It seems like Apple’s current strategy is to tack on a few “blingies” to the existing line and host a new launch party. (See the convoluted iPad product family as an example.)

The Surface Pro sold out at Microsoft's Palo Alto retail store today.

Then there is the contrast between the user interfaces. Microsoft’s Modern UI is nimble, flexible, and approachable. iOS is still trying to shake off the legacy of the Jobsian look-and-feel, which is to try and be cute and clever with “real-world” textures and metaphors to physical objects. Firing Forstall was necessary, but Apple is years away from where Microsoft is already. Windows 8 begs you to touch. It wants you to interact with it. I’m tired of fumbling around iOS, falling into holes where the way I use my device is just not well thought out.

Having said all this: The Surface devices, in my opinion, represent how I will interact with my mobile device. When I want to consume content, it provides me a quick, snappy way to engage. It supports an app store experience like any other device. When I need to be productive and “get things done” I have the perfect interface in which to focus on work. I don’t have to try and make the OS work for me and accept compromises (I mean, just try to get Pages to really WORK on iOS — and many features on iPad’s version of Pages are different than OS X’s version).

Bloggers are beating Microsoft up, but history will show it has the right strategy. The Surface devices are representative of how humans want to interact. Sure, battery life will get better, the devices will get thinner. This is version 1, folks. Right now, Apple is the schoolyard bully, throwing it’s punches — but I’d rather be Microsoft right now: the geeky kid with the pocket protector, holding the key to “getting the girl”.

 

 

Not many people think about football when they think mobile and digital technology. However, according to the WSJ (subscription needed), both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are using digital technology to improve their football operations. Primarily the teams are using them in the back office to gather deeper analytics and statistics and use those to analyze every aspect of their operations — even going so far as to look at fan tailgating habits. More importantly, the teams hope to harvest the data to help coaches perform analyses on plays, and to provide player data to the players themselves so they can conduct “deep reviews” of their on-the-field actions.

Additionally, as both teams prepare for Sunday’s Big Game, the Ravens players have ditched their old, heavy playbooks for shiny iPads loaded with a custom app called GamePlan. This app lets the players study plays, drill down into play specifics, and even quickly look at “all third-down plays designed to gain more than 10 yards,” for example. The app is fun and easy to use, and coaches report that players are spending 50% more time studying the plays than they did with the giant playbooks of yester-year. No word if the 49ers are handing out iPads to their players yet, but being so close to the Valley, you’d think they’d have a tech-edge over Baltimore… doesn’t seem to be… yet. We’ll see how all this tech-bling plays out on Sunday!

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