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Yeah, “Cellphone” Isn’t Really the Right Word

Today’s New York Times has a thought-provoking piece on cellphones–That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker–that’s worth five minutes of your time.

The Take Away: Sometimes the name for a thing can cloak a lot of complexity. Not suggesting a conspiracy here–but cellphones do track your position, your spending, who you call and probably a hundred other things. And, be honest, we all don’t read the Terms of Service for all the apps we’ve downloaded.

So, what is my iPhone?

Best I can surmise is that it’s like those black boxes/flight recorders that are bolted in plane cockpits that record everything. The difference–and it’s a huge one–is that we don’t own the data like the airlines own the data. They own the planes–they deserve the data. But who owns all that data that’s being emitted from my phone every second if not millisecond? It’s most likely no single entity–it’s a bunch of disparate entities. It’s still disconcerting.

But, wait. Does it matter?

Don’t I like the convenience, the offers (savings?), the entertainment, the… dare I say it… distraction? Besides, isn’t our freedom locked in sufficiently to let me kind of ignore this stuff?

Hmm.

In the past, do you remember how some families chose not to be listed in the phone book?

That kind of anonymity seems almost antediluvian.

I actually wrote this post so I could use that word 🙂

 

Mobile + Social Has Got to Get Faster and More Meaningful

Mobile + Social Has Got to Get Faster and More Meaningful

Just took the girls out to breakfast at the Classic Diner in Malvern, PA and besides having great food and a zany time, I had a social media epiphany after seeing this:

Restaurant receipt and social media

Social media – a half start

 

Kudos for the Classic Diner for getting their social media Calls-to-Action (CTA) on their receipts–a great engagement point–but they should have gone a step further. But, really, it’s not all their fault–the industry has to step up a bit too. Let me explain:

The restaurant could have added short URLs–or better yet a QR code (although this would have precluded perhaps having two CTAs). But what would really create a tipping point is a one-step action that creates a better connection to the consumer. I think two things have to happen:

1. Mobile phones have to build QR tech right into the camera.

2. Businesses have to focus and decide what their engagement goal is.

If I had my way, Classic Diner clients would see a QR code on this receipt and by snapping a photo of it they would automatically ‘like’ the restaurant on Facebook. Or, better than that, they would sign up to receive direct–perhaps even custom–offers right from the restaurant.

Bottom line: businesses should make the connection experience radically simple and super meaningful.

 

If It’s A Pain In the Ass, People Won’t Do It And You’ll Lose Money

Great snippet from the NYTimes here–one that illustrates THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. PART. OF. PRODUCT. DESIGN.

Simplicity.

Flurry, a mobile-software analytics company, estimates that 65 percent of all revenue generated in the App Store — roughly $2 billion — has come from free games that charge for extra goods. Peter Farago, vice president for marketing at Flurry, said that was partly because Apple had made it easy for people to buy goods within apps and charge them to a credit card on file with Apple.In contrast, Google has said that its app store, the Android Market, has generated little revenue. Mr. Farago said that was because making payments in the Android Market was more difficult.

 

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

No. I don’t.

And this draws attention to a unique Facebook issue–on their mobile app.

Take a look:

In this circumstance, I would like to share this news–but it’s a bit creepy to “Like” it. You know, the other meanings of the word “Like”?

They’ve got it figured out on their web site–but when are they going to get to updating their mobile app?

Lesson: be on the look out for semantic snags or the linguistic impact of your UI elements.

I throw this in as a bonus (if Facebook happens to be reading this!): let me share with a subset of my friends not everybody. Google+ has got you here, FB.

Realtor.com App Lets You Draw Custom Geos

Realtor.com App Lets You Draw Custom Geos

Anybody who has grappled with building a local app has struggled with how to structure local searches and local information.

Is it by zip code? Area code? Town name? Mailing address? Miles from current location? Nearest largest city?

Well, Realtor.com has introduced a pretty sweet feature in their iPhone app that’s so intuitive an lightning fast–and downright HELPFUL that I have to show you:

Here’s how it works:

  • You hit the lass0-looking icon
  • You draw your on circle of interest
  • It populates your custom geo with the info you want
This has all the markings of greatness: it works the way you think, it’s easy and it’s fast.
Great UI and great UX Relator.com team!

 

Share the Meme Not the App

Share the Meme Not the App

I have Dictionary.com’s iPhone app, and I receive their Word of the Day. Today I actually looked at it and it was a gem:

Bandersnatch: An imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition.

There’s something about this words that seems so cool and useful that I’m definitely gonna use it. Ok, that makes me a little strange… My instinct, though, was to share it on Facebook–where my geeky linguaphile friends would surely drool over my discovery.

Alas, the only sharing on the Dictionary.com iPhone app was for the whole app!

Who wants to share a whole app!

People tend to share the smallest parts of our culture—song, photo, text, quote, link, video… Have you ever heard of an app going viral?

And so Dictionary.com could enable the sharing of words because that’s what people do. Marketing strategies might share apps, but people sure don’t.

It’s the meme that counts!

 

Someone Let Me Text A Personal Coupon To My Dad!

Here’s a radical mobile/coupon idea: let me text a coupon that I create to anyone.

Maybe call it MePon.

For example, I know my Dad never splurges for good coffee. I would occasionally get a kick out of texting him my own Starbuck’s coupon–basically a $2 voucher that he can redeem at Starbucks for some bold Cafe Americano (my favorite).

It would have to be a totally open platform–perhaps just a connection between me (my phone) and my bank account–and to a lesser degree, brands and establishments.

For example, perhaps I could text him this: “Dad, it’s raining today–a good day for some steamy espresso. No cookies though! STBCKS-173846”

That code would allocate $2 from my bank account to a specific vendor–in this case Starbucks. Upon redemption, the money would be withdrawn from my account and passed to Starbucks. Every user needs a unique code–and every establishment. Not too hard, right?

Here’s some icing for this cake: Every brand should look out for those VIPs who are couponing–or meponing–a lot and reward them with status (mayorship?) or redeemable points (my own free drinks?).

Ok, I’m on a roll: If you integrate check-in apps or perhaps NFC, you could theoretically buy a specific person a drink at a bar… without knowing their name or username–ripe for generation Y; or you could spot tip good service…

Does this exist already? It should!

 

Geo-Smart Reminders

Ok, I’m wearing my soothsayer hat and looking into my crystal ball:

I see a time when I can add a to-do item to my iPhone app that helps me organize my life (Things by the way) and I can define it so that it goes off when I enter a particular store or class of store.

For example: I always have a few to-dos related to the hardware store–but they’re never a priority. I’m forced to give them an arbitrary due date just to keep them in my mind. It never works that the arbitrary date is the day I walk into a hardware store!

Now, if there was some real smartness in my phone, it would know when I walked into a hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, local hardware) and then beep and vibrate like crazy.

That would work for the grocery store or music store or… it would be cool and helpful.