Archive for May, 2009

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May 29th, 2009

Is this your mobile strategy?

DSC_0197

Many mobile strategies consist of a stand-alone iPhone application.  The iPhone platform is amazing, but with 35,000 applications it no longer offers the buzz or differentiation strategy many brands think it does. Mobile strategies must run deeper and go broader.

Stand-alone iPhone applications remind me of something sitting in a fishbowl for all to see, but with little connection to anything else. So, I took this photo of my cat peering into the fish bowl.

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May 27th, 2009

Climbing Out of Our Technology Silos – Good Acquires Intercasting

Good Technology acquired Intercasting today. In the press release they state the goal of integrated messaging. I think they picked up great talent, too. Shawn has been one of the real thought leaders in mobile and especially around mobile social networking. Handset manufacturers have been trying – and mostly without success so far – to catch up with his vision of what social networking should be on phones.

Separately, I like the vision around messaging. Saw Palm’s Pre implementation of integrated messaging yesterday – good stuff. Finally, as consumers we don’t need to think about what silo’ed messaging application we want to use. Apple demo’ed similar technology to be released with 3.0 – it doesn’t go as far as the Pre, but finally I can stop explaining SMS and MMS to my parents.

I look forward to seeing what they do with the technology.

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May 26th, 2009

Utilizing NFC – The Implementation Matters As Much If Not More Than The Technology

First, I do not attempt to “break” each new implementation of a technology. It simply happens because the implementation has not been thought through. Companies rolling out new services on mobile phones need to think through the user experience. With payments this is even more important. If customers don’t feel comfortable with a process they’ve tried, they will be hesitant to trust and return.

This experience described below is not mobile, but it involves NFC, and one can easily imagine a scenario involving cell phones which could go horribly wrong.

I drove myself to SFO (San Francisco airport) last week for a one-day business trip. I pulled up to the gate at the entrance of the parking garage to collect my ticket. Suddenly, my Speedpass “beeps.” I think, “What?”

I roll down my window and there stands a parking garage attendant. She confirms that I want to use this prepaid SpeedPass to pay for my parking. (Please keep in mind that the cost of parking for one day will exceed the average balance that I carry on the card that I use to cross bridges in the Bay Area about once a month.) I tell her that I do NOT want to use SpeedPass to pay – I want to use my American Express card. (Ok, SpeedPass tied to my Amex card, but I don’t want to use it this way.) She asks why as she undoes the recording of the time/date on my SpeedPass. I tell her that I am traveling for business and need a receipt. Duh?  She scowls and punches a bunch of buttons on the machine so that it spits out a ticket for me.

About 24 hours later, I am leaving the garage. I pull up to the exit and once again my SpeedPass beeps. Sigh.  I pull up to the unattended payment machine and try to insert my ticket. It doesn’t want to accept my ticket because the SpeedPass has already been triggered. Sigh. I press the “Attendant button” and a man starts barking at me over the intercom. He claims to reset the machine so that I can insert my ticket. I insert the ticket, and the balance appears.

Now, I try to insert my Amex card. Machine doesn’t want it because it still thinks I’ve paid. I finally get it in the machine, but the machine immediately spits it back out to me with such force that it flies out of the machine and under my car. Now, you have to imagine that I have pulled up close enough to the machine so that I can insert my parking ticket/credit card into the machine without leaning all the way out the window. This now means that I am too close to the machine to open my car door, get out, and retrieve my credit card from underneath my car.

Seriously, who thinks this stuff up? What was meant to be a convenient offering has now become completely INCONVENIENT. This is supposed to speed payment, but now there is a line of cars behind me. Besides, anyone who parks onsite at SFO knows there is seldom a line or wait of more than a minute or two. Have they checked the statistics on business vs. leisure travel? Business travelers need receipts – they need to know how much something costs. My company isn’t reimbursing me for lump-sum amounts on a prepaid storage card of any kind.

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May 26th, 2009

Mobile Boarding Passes – Second Attempt in May 2009

First, there are several people using the mobile boarding pass – all carrying around thick, smartphone-esque devices with large color screens. Walked up to the TSA agent checking ID’s. She had a machine. I just waved my cell phone in front of the scanner, and my information popped up on a single, monochrome text line. She cross-referenced with my ID, and I was on my way. Easy.

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May 26th, 2009

Mobile Boarding Passes – My First Attempt in December 2008

My first attempt at using a mobile boarding pass was back in December 2008 with Continental Airlines. I was flying from Cleveland, OH to San Francisco, CA. I used a PC to log in and opted to use a mobile boarding pass rather than print a boarding pass. I used a URL sent to my Gmail account to open up a web page with the boarding pass on my iPhone.

The boarding pass was easy to get on the cell phone, but hard to use in the airport because the right technology, processes and ground crew education were not in place. A mobile strategy can’t stop with the design of the mobile component only – there must also be consideration and design of the processes and education for the folks interacting with the cell phone technology in the physical location.

Here is an account of what happened at the airport:

I walked up to the counter to check first if the mobile boarding pass would work. I didn’t have confidence. The agent looked at me and in the most polite, kind manner said, “Honey, you need a printed boarding pass to get on that plane.” I smiled as she printed out a boarding pass for me, and I thanked her for her help.

I proceeded to the security line. My phone is timed to turn off every 60 seconds. Each time I it turns off, I need to enter a security code for it to turn on. So, as I moved through the security line juggling my bags, laptop, etc., I kept tapping my phone to keep the screen lit.

Finally, I reach the TSA agent. I extend my phone with its brightly lit screen with a bar code on it to her. She doesn’t want to hold the phone. Instead, she asks me to enlarge the bar code and information so that she can see it from a distance. I do so. She nods and hands me a piece of laminated paper. One is supposed to hold her boarding pass while walking through the metal detectors, but a cell phone must go through the scanner. Dilemma. Hence, I am holding a piece of laminated paper. I carry the paper through security and hand it to a TSA agent on the other end.

I repeat much of this process while I am boarding the plane – tapping my phone to ensure that the screen with the boarding pass information stays lit. I have the added stress of hoping the 3G connection persists throughout the airport so that I can show the web page without much difficulty.

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May 26th, 2009

Landline Disconnects – It’s Not Just Young Adults

We recently got our data back from our annual Benchmark survey of more than 60,000 adults in the US. The percentage who are disconnecting their home phone lines has grown tremendously. My hypothesis on most of these disconnects is that they are college students, kids just out of college sharing apartments, etc.

When my mother told me that she and her husband just disconnected, I was shocked. They have simply given up on the local fixed line company. They split their time between Ohio and Florida. The BSP’s are different in each location. The BSP’s (in Florida who “get this”) allowing them to turn services on for six months of the year and then off again still have their business. Those which are inflexible don’t. They have no home phone.

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May 26th, 2009

Nokia's Ovi Store – Good News for Consumers

Nokia announced this morning that their new Ovi store is “open for business” and that AT&T here in the States will join the growing list of carriers supporting Ovi. This is good news for consumers. Apple has done a wonderful job of educating American consumers about all the things a high end cell phone can do. They’ve shown us games, fun stuff, FedEx tracking, news, sports, – the list is long. They’ve grown our appetite for high end devices that can do just about anything.

The N97 will come into the market this summer on the heals of the Palm Pre and maybe a new iPhone (if the rumors are true). No word yet on the pricing though we haven’t seen US carriers subsidize the Nseries devices from Nokia to the extent that they have for Apple, Blackberry, Samsung, HTC, etc.

The Nokia phones have high quality cameras and mapping solutions that are excellent. There is a lot of cool content and services available through Ovi. Consumers will appreciate what they offer if they get the chance to get ahold of these devices at prices the market will support.

Here’s the release:

Ovi Store Opens for Business

 

AT&T joins growing list of operators supporting new content service

 

May 26

 

Espoo, Finland – Today, Ovi Store by Nokia is available globally to an estimated 50 million Nokia device owners across more than 50 Nokia devices including the forthcoming flagship device, the Nokia N97. Customers can visit store.ovi.com through their Nokia device browser to immediately begin downloading, personalizing and making their devices smarter and more fun with applications, games, videos, podcasts, productivity tools, web and location-based services and much more.

 

“Ovi Store is open for business and we’ve stocked the shelves with both local and global content for a broad range of Nokia devices,” said Tero Ojanperä, Executive Vice President, Nokia Services. “Ovi Store makes shopping for content and applications easy and fun for feature phone and smartphone owners alike.”

 

In available countries, customers can update their devices with the Ovi Store mobile application by selecting the Ovi Store icon in the Download! folder on their device. The mobile client is available in English, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish and supports operator billing in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Globally, credit card billing is available through the mobile application and the mobile website. Additional countries, languages, devices and features will be added throughout the year. AT&T plans to make Ovi Store available to its customers in the United States later this year. 

 

“AT&T looks forward to introducing Ovi Store for our customers later this year,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.  “AT&T has a reputation for providing the most customer choice of content and applications and offering Ovi Store is in line with that strategy.”

 

Ovi Store is an evolving media service that consolidates Nokia’s existing content services into a one-stop-shop for free and paid content. Thousands of the content industry’s biggest names along with independent application developers are distributing their media, applications and games through Ovi Store. Content providers and application developers can continue to sign up to distribute their content through Ovi Store by visiting publish.ovi.com.

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May 25th, 2009

My Uncle Short's Cell Phone

Uncle Short

Uncle Short

That’s my uncle Short. He lives on a farm near Colo, IA. His cell phone from Emporia is shown in the picture just below.  Font size on the phone must be a 36. It is monochrome.
Emporia Cell Phone

Emporia Cell Phone

I had my iPhone with me. We compared what his phone does with what my phone does. I asked him how he uses his cell phone. In our categorization, he would fall on the low end of our “Talker” segment. This translates to little opportunity for consumer products and services to reach him on his cell phone. Unlike my grandmother who wears a “lifeline” from the local telephone company (great service), he carries around a cell phone that he doesn’t use. For those of you out there who wonder who these “Talkers” are, here’s an interview with my uncle Short that provides a description.
Julie: “So, do you make a lot of calls on your cell phone.”
Short: “Nah, I just carry it around. Sometimes I call my daughter in Hawai’i at night when it’s free.”
Julie: “Don’t you pay for minutes each month?”
Short: “Don’t know. Had it six years.”
Julie: “Let’s see that thing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
(He hands over the phone, and I flip through the menus. There is a red emergency button on the back.)
Julie: “Your emergency button is turned off.”
Short: “Yep, otherwise, I might press it.”
Julie: “It isn’t programmed either. Want me to set it to call one of your kids?”
Short: “Sure. Good idea.”
Julie: “Sure you don’t want me to turn it on?”
Short: “Yeah, might press it.”
Julie: “Yeah, that’d be the idea. Why else are you carrying it around?”
Short: “In case of an emergency.”
Julie: “Right, so you might need that red button.”
Short: “I’ll just call my son.”
Julie: “I’m going to change your ring tone to a dog barking.”
Short: “Sure.” (Then he listens.) “Nah, change it back.”
Julie: “No.”
Short: “Yes, change it back.”
Julie: “No.”
Short: “Please?”
Julie: “Okay. Want me to show you how to send a text message?”
Short: “No.”
Julie: “But you’ll be able to communicate with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Short: “Nah, that’ll cost money.”
My grandmother is almost 89 years old and uses her cell phone more than he does. Short is her younger brother. She gets that she has “100 use-them-or-lose-them” long distance minutes. She said “no” to text messaging, too.
I showed him a little of what the iPhone can do. I suggested email might even be easier on a cell phone than his computer. Not interested -
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May 25th, 2009

Mobile Coupons – Advertised on TV, Seriously

I was watching TV with my grandmother in Colo, IA (population is under 1000 people) last weekend when a locally made TV commercial came on TV advertising mobile coupons at the local grocer – Dahl’s.  The channel was either ESPN or one of the local networks – I don’t remember, but my grandmother only watches the news, sports, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune so we weren’t too far down the cable long tail.  Most of you probably have Tivo (or DVR) and speed past these locally made commercials – or all commercials. The commercial was reminiscent of one from local car dealers.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe that they were advertising coupons on cell phones. I went to their web site, and there was a promotion to join Dahl’s Mobile Club. I clicked on the link and was taken to a local radio/TV station web site that read more like a news site sponsored by Dahl’s. A banner ad on that page took me to a page where I could enter my phone number and carrier. They advised me that I would receive about one text message per week with a special offer.

The coupons are being powered by Vesta Mobile Solutions.  They are based in Baltimore, MD so Dahl’s 12 locations in central Iowa are a bit far from home. I’m definitely curious to hear how mobile coupons are going for Dahl’s. With the adoption rate so low overall, one doesn’t typically imagine much uptake – if Dahl’s has numbers anywhere near the national average, their real numbers would be small. However, they are advertising on TV – first I’ve seen so hopefully this is driving higher adoption levels for them. That is a higher level of commitment than we see from most implementing mobile coupons -

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May 6th, 2009

Apple Targets Small Business Owners

I was watching TV last night when one of Apple’s iPhone commercials targeting a “persona” or segment came on TV. Love these commercials. Growing their user base requires them to move beyond early adopters.

This one was targeting small business owners. They showed credit card processing (cool!), label printing (ok, that seems hard) and FedEx shipment tracking (ok, very, very useful again and not just for small business owners).  I imagine these applications get a lot more interesting with 3.0.

Who will they target next? Doctors? Sales people? Dog owners? Zookeepers? Distributors? Restaurant managers? Ok, sounds far-fetched, but why not? The vast majority of cell phones in the workplace are brought to work by the individual. Let’s see more of these commercials – we all need more reasons why our employers should volunteer to pay our monthly data plans. Help us rationalize the purchase and monthly service plans with productivity applications.

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