Archive for the ‘Mobile Applications’ category

Augmented Reality

October 28, 2010
Tokyo N Building

Tokyo N Building

I attended a University of Chicago Consulting Round Table event last night and heard Tim Frick from Mightybytes speak on Social Media Optimization.  As part of his speech, he showed an example of what is new in mobile technology.  I thought this example was really cool and wanted to share it with you.

This is the Tokyo N Building.  The street-facing side of Tokyo’s N Building is covered in QR codes that can be read by a smart phone or mobile device that can read QR codes.  This includes shop information, tweets of the people in the building (located by GPS tagging), coupons, and reservations that can be seen through a dedicated iPhone app that’s available only by request.

The building’s developers explained their vision this way: “N Building is a commercial structure located near Tachikawa station amidst a shopping district. Being a commercial building signs or billboards are typically attached to its facade which we feel undermines the structures’ identity. As a solution we thought to use a QR Code as the facade itself. By reading the QR Code with your mobile device you will be taken to a site which includes up to date shop information. In this manner we envision a cityscape unhindered by ubiquitous signage and also an improvement to the quality and accuracy of the information itself…Our goal is to provide an incentive to visit the space and a virtual connection to space without necessarily being present.”

I love both the visual appeal of the concept as well as the marketing opportunities.  This is geo location marketing and permission marketing at its best.  The consumer can find the information they want and receive any special deals available.

The only thing I wish these applications / systems had (and it may already be coded in there and it is just not included in any of the news releases) is a way to know who the consumer is and make sure that the marketer knows if this is a potential new customer or one that has already shopped with you.  My biggest concern with the group buying sites that offer huge discounts (Groupon, BuyWithMe, Tippr)  is that the retailer takes the risk of giving a huge discount to an already loyal buyer.  Thus giving away margin they didn’t need to.  I would want these building specific applications to be able to recognize the consumer so the discounts and promotions could be appropriately targeted.

See something new and cool in the mobile world?  Please share it with us.  Thanks!


Mobile Cause Marketing

August 12, 2010

My friends at Davidoff Communications asked me to help them with a newsletter article on how not for profits can use mobile apps to connect with their target market.  I am copying the article written by Jay Nash for you to view below.

“Evolutions in technology spur revolutions in the way people communicate information, relate to one another and the world, and perceive and relate to brands in the marketplace. For a brand to stay relevant and stay in the conversation with customers and supporters, it must continually invest in emerging technology platforms.

Nowhere can this concept be demonstrated more clearly than in the explosion of the mobile marketing industry. A recent study by Morgan Stanley found that one out of every three cell phone owners in the United States has a subscription to a 3G network. This increase in online mobile connectivity and the sale of smart phones has correspondingly resulted in an increase in the development and popularity of a variety of mobile marketing strategies including texting campaigns and, more recently, mobile applications. A study by the internet market researcher Emarketer says that mobile advertising within the United States will grow to $539 million, a 43% increase over 2009. While for-profit companies have definitely taken the lead in leveraging the mobile medium, nonprofits are increasingly finding ways to utilize mobile apps in their own marketing strategies to drive membership, increase donations and raise cause awareness.

One example of an effective mobile marketing campaign is the Note to Haiti application that was developed to support the efforts of the Red Cross after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti . Capitalizing on global response and the desire to help, the Note to Haiti application acted as a platform where people could unite to express their feelings, share prayers and make donations. In collaboration with the text message donation campaign, the Note to Haiti campaign helped the Red Cross to raise over $10 million in relief support.

Another example of smart usage of smart phone applications can be seen in the BNB (Be Nice to Bunnies) mobile application that was launched last year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)*. The BNB application allows PETA supporters to search brands, manufacturers and products to determine whether they have animal-friendly policies. PETA benefits by receiving 15% of sales on the $1.99 application, in addition to extending its brand and providing consumers with an easy, convenient way to support its mission.

Mobile application developer Marci Chapman, of Davidoff partner Fig1, attests to the benefits of mobile applications: “The use of mobile applications is beneficial to cause marketers because it enables them to cement their relationship with interested consumers.” Having a mobile application icon also strengthens brand recognition and supporter allegiance. Chapman underlined this, saying, “The application icon serves as a constant reminder for consumers that they are dedicated to the organization. They always see the icon on their phone which acts as a constant reminder that they are part of something.”

As mobile applications continue to grow in popularity, cause marketers should recognize the potential benefits of implementing mobile applications. Marci Chapman gives the three core aspects of mobile application strategy:

1. Work with an established mobile application development organization.

2. Thoroughly plan your strategy before any design takes place.

3. Make sure the design is user-friendly. If it is not, no one will want to use it.

“Mobile applications are a necessity because people are spending more of their time on their mobile phones. As more and more consumers convert to smart phones, that’s where you have to be,” Marci says.

Written by Jay Nash

(*PETA is a client of Davidoff Communications.)

Useful Mobile Facts

July 13, 2010

One of the things I promised to do with this blog was review other articles and bring you the bottom line conclusions or big ideas I found.

I read a long and very thorough blog by Tomi T. Ahone called “Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile, but were afraid to ask.”  He presented some great mobile facts that I thought you would be interested in knowing:

• At the start of 2010, 4.6 Billion mobile phone subscriptions on the planet, for a population of 6.8 Billion people.

• 49% of all banking accounts in Kenya are mobile phone banking accounts.

• More than half of the South Korean population already use credit cards or mobile payments on their phones.

• For the majority of mobile phone owners, their primary use of the phone is no longer voice calls, it is SMS text messaging. Lightspeed Research reported that in 2009 already 13% of global mobile phone owners have stopped placing any outbound calls on their phones (in India its already at 30%).

• We glance at our phone at least 100 times daily –  that is 10 times more interaction and attention from us, than any other technology or media.

Ahone also presented a compelling list of the 8 unique benefits of mobile:

1st – mobile is the only personal mass medium

2nd – mobile is permanently carried

3rd – mobile is always connected

4th – only mobile has a built-in payment channel

5th – mobile is available at the creative point of inspiration

6th – mobile has the best audience information

7th – only mobile captures the social context of consumption

8th – mobile enables Augmented Reality to mass markets

My favorite fun fact from the articles was this:  farmers in Iceland and Canada connect with their cows with an old Nokia phone hanging where the cowbell used to hang, and when the farmer wants to milk the cows, he sends an SMS text message to the lead cow, who hears the beep-beep, and knows its time to come home to be milked. I am not kidding. Farmers call the cows.

Ahone also predicts that MMS will be the next big thing.  MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging System.  Multimedia includes text, sounds, pictures and video.  You could send short clips of stories via MMS. Or a series of pictures (like a cartoon) via MMS. And sounds and longer text based messages than in SMS.

Do you agree?  Let me know what you think the next big thing is.

Don’t forget the numbers

July 8, 2010

Whenever I work with Fig1 clients who want us to help them figure out their mobile strategy, the first words out of their mouths usually are “We need you to develop an iPhone app.”  And my first question to them is “why?”.  What benefits are they going to offer customers with a mobile app?  Then we drill down further with the question as to whether they have looked at their website traffic to see whether the largest percentage of mobile surfers on the regular website are iPhone users?  Or is it some other device?

Comscore’s US market share statistics came out today to remind us that Apple’s operating system is not the dominant device software for smart phones.  While the stock market loved that Google’s Android software increased their market share 4 points to 13 % share in the last 3 months, the news item that struck me is that RIM’s Blackberry devices still own 42% of the market.  And that Apple’s share (24%) actually fell slightly in this time period (though analysts predict the share will rise again next quarter due to sales of the iPhone 4).   Apple’s share is just slightly over 1/2 of RIM’s software and Android is half of Apple’s.

There have been rumblings for some time now that the iPhone is not the entire world you need to worry about when thinking about mobile.   That Android is an up and coming factor and that RIM can’t be ignored.  This news release clearly demonstrates those facts.

Before you start building a mobile app, you really need to step back and understand your customers.  What are their needs and what devices do they use.  Then you can start making tactical decisions about which apps to build and what devices to target.

Mobile University

May 3, 2010

On 4/28/2010, I attended a conference called Mobile University.  The Heartland Mobile Council did an excellent job of bringing together a variety of viewpoints on best practices and the future of mobile marketing.

There were a couple of key insights that I gained from the day that I wanted to share with you.

Mobile vs. Portable. This was an interesting topic of discussion – what devices should we categorize as mobile.  The majority seemed to say that while most cell and smart phones are mobile (because we can use them when we are moving around), the iPad is a portable device.  You can carry it with you, but you must be sitting to use it.  So the way we present content and applications to users is truly different from other phone devices.

SMS / Text Message. Only 32% of phones have access to the mobile web.  While that number continues to increase, we still need to consider how we will market to or connect with our consumers who have  non-web accessible phones.  As marketers evaluate how mobile fits into their overall plans, they need to remember that many of their customers are  accessible only by text message and that there are many creative ways to take advantage of that.

Phone Shopping Mentality.  Gary Schwartz, from Impact Mobile, gave us a great metaphor for thinking about mobile e-commerce (or m-commerce) shoppers.  He likened it to having a snack, whereas shopping at home on a PC is more like eating a meal.  The phone shopper is most likely making an impulse buy, a last minute purchase or seeking information to use at a bricks and mortar store.  Given the smaller screen size and the difficulty of doing in-depth product research, this makes a lot of intuitive sense.  As marketers and merchants work with their mobile developers to build applications, they should keep this in mind as they choose what information to present to the user at different points in the application.

Marketing Your App. When marketers set up their budget for an app, they have to remember that they must let potential users know the app is available.  It is really hard to get attention in the app stores – they are overcrowded with apps now.  One of the speakers recommended allocating 1/3 of your budget to the app development and 2/3’s to paying for the marketing of the app.

Think Programs, Not Campaigns. This is the same story we saw 2 years ago with Facebook.  Brands would run an advertising campaign that included a Facebook Fan Page and they would get tons of people to follow them on Facebook. When the campaign was over, they would stop updating the page and lose all those connections they had made.  Mobile tactics need to avoid this same mistake.  So don’t think of a mobile solution as a short term campaign, but more of a long term program.

If you are struggling with how mobile tactics fit into your overall business and marketing strategy, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance.  There are many frameworks I learned at this conference as well as many I have developed over the last few months that I would be happy to share with you.

Mobile WAP vs Mobile App

March 31, 2010

As some of you know, I have recently started doing some consulting with a mobile applications developer, Fig1 (  In this work, we talk to clients every day who come to us and ask us to make iPhone / iPad apps for them.  They come to us with an idea for an app; but rarely with a clear idea of why they are doing it, who they are doing it for, and what the benefit is to that potential user.

As you can probably tell from the last sentence, I would encourage you to ask yourself 4 questions before you start your mobile application development: why, who, what’s in it for the user and how does your mobile strategy fit into your overall marketing plan?  Once you have resolved those questions, you can ponder which way to deliver the content or entertainment you think your audience will want.

WAP or wireless application protocols are basically websites designed to function on a mobile phone.  Apps are typically downloaded to the phone from an app store (like Apple, Android and Blackberry).

So what are the main differences in experience?

Mobile Web / WAP

  • Faster and less expensive to develop.
  • Less device specific configurations.
  • Need Wifi or 3G connection to access the sites.


  • Tend to have stickier interfaces, higher engagement and repeat usage.
  • Some features can be accessed when not connected to Wifi or 3G
  • Connected to advanced phone features – GPS, Contact List, etc.

For many companies, an effective mobile  strategy will have good engagement apps with an efficient WAP site as well.  It really depends on what you are offering to the consumer and how they want to engage with you.  Is what you are offering something they want to have with them all the time?  Is your content something they want to have access to when they don’t have a Wifi or 3G connection?

For most e-commerce (now m-commerce) companies, unless someone is a regular shopper with you, they will most likely just want to go to a WAP site when they are ready to buy.  But if you do it right, you can create a WAP site that nicely mimics the features of an app and make that shopping experience smooth and efficient (my old friends at did a nice job with their mobile site for iPhones).  On the other hand, if you have content or functionality that provides a benefit or fun entertainment for the users that they will want to interact with on a daily basis, then an app will most likely make sense.

I have seen quite a bit written on this topic and the programming and technology seem to be changing daily (especially as the picture of what iPad’s can do becomes more clear and developers explore the boundaries there).  So in a few weeks, this blog will most likely be out of date.  I will do my best to keep you posted on the changes as they come and invite you to participate in the conversation.