According to The Pew Research Center’s latest report on Location-Based Services, location is more important than ever to smartphone users. Mobile phone usage continues to evolve, and local advertisers, local search companies and others that send mobile alerts to consumers are changing course just as quickly.
A few interesting insights and stats from the report:
- About 74% of adult smartphone owners use their current location for directions, targeted recommendations and other local information. This is consistent with last year’s report, though the total number of users has increased due to the rising popularity of smartphones.
- More people than ever, about 30% of adult social media users, are linking their location to at least one of their social media accounts and including their location in their posts. In 2011, only 14% claimed that they had ever done this.
- In spite of the increase in location-based activity, the bloom seems to be off the rose when it comes to geosocial services. There’s been a 33% drop (from 18% to 12%) in smartphone owners who “check-in” to locations using these types of location-sharing services. Of those users that like geosocial services, the most popular is Facebook (39%), followed by Foursquare (18%) and Google Plus (14%).
- Lastly – though smartphone owners do rely on their devices for location-specific information, about 35% of users have turned off location-tracking features due to privacy concerns at some point.
Given the ups and downs of location-based usage, what will this mean for companies like Foursquare? Apparently, it means big changes. Foursquare recently announced that its app no longer requires a check-in. It will serve up restaurant and menu recommendations automatically.
And as of this week, Foursquare has rolled out a new menu search feature. So, if you have a hankering for a pastrami sandwich or are on the lookout for a restaurant that can accommodate your dietary restrictions, the new Foursquare can help you.
This signifies a shift in the approach that location-based search companies are taking in order to remain relevant. No longer can services like Foursquare exist simply to show who is where at a particular time. They must evolve to include more value-added features that make life easier for mobile users. They must also find ways to remind users that they are still there and relevant, especially if fewer users are now manually checking in.
And who knows, these new features just might be the sort of helpful services that everyone – not just the hungry and the perpetually lost – will appreciate.
- Katie Hanusik
Back in December, I listened to a talk at MoDev East by “Chief Doer” for Savvy Apps, Ken Yarmosh, who spoke to the crowd about the impending death of the home screen. His main prediction was that the home screen would soon be a thing of the past - being replaced by notifications, widgets and voice and that apps no longer need to be opened to be useful. He called this home screen 2.0, and it seems to be what Facebook and Android have tapped into with the latest announcement of Facebook Home for Android, which launched last Friday, and is finally available for download on some Android phones today. Also, the HTC First will be the first phone available with Home preloaded – which is available today.
The Android App store is marketing the new Facebook Home as a “mobile experience that puts your friends at the heart of your phone. From the moment you turn it on, you see a steady stream of friends' posts and photos on your home screen. Upfront notifications and quick access to your essentials mean you'll never miss a moment. And when you download Facebook Messenger, you can keep chatting with friends when you're using other apps.”
Essentially, Facebook is taking over your mobile life, if you have this on your phone. You will no longer need to use your home screen to open the app, it will just be there…alerting you…all the time. No matter what app you have open, when a friend messages you or posts to your wall you’re alerted and given the opportunity to interact in real time.
The feature mostly everyone is taking note of is the new messaging aspect of Facebook Home called Chat Heads, which allows users to send and receive Facebook messages and send and receive texts from the same location on your phone. And, apparently Chat Heads has also been integrating into the Facebook messaging app…so you don’t just have to be an Android user to have it.
I think this article from the Huffington Post gives the best account, in my opinion, of what Facebook Home is all about, addressing that tech industry analysts think that as soon as people start chatting through Facebook the sooner Facebook will bring brands into the mix to start monetizing it. According to the article, “more messaging will give Facebook more data it may use to provide advertisers with personal, personalized ways of interacting with its members.”
"They're just trying to make sure that you don’t use anyone else's messaging service," said Carl Howe, an analyst with the Yankee Group, of Home's messaging capabilities. "They make it so convenient that you would never think about using what are actually very popular other services ... Once you're really invested in their messaging, maybe you won't mind as much when they start showing you ads on your messaging as well.”
I completely agree, Carl. Not to mention, if it’s already coming preloaded on Android phones and set up to make all of this happen, I think people will go for it. The good new is that, according to reviews, you can in fact disable some of these Facebook Home settings if you prefer to not have everything you’re doing on your phone interrupted by Facebook alerts or messages. For me, I’m glad I’m still on the iPhone train and won’t even be tempted to try this, for at least a little while. Personally, I feel like all of the alerts would be a distraction and I also don’t have a problem clicking a few more buttons to get the app if I’m dying to know who’s trying to reach me via Facebook.
As for Ken’s prediction, I think the death of the home screen is just around the corner, as things like Google Now and Facebook Home start becoming the norm.
There seem to be two kinds of people in this world – Android users and iOS users. I suppose you could argue that there are really four kinds of people but let’s be honest, Blackberry hasn’t been relevant in years and Microsoft is still trying to make a significant dent with Windows Phone. In fact, per the infographic below, the Blackberry operating system is found on less than ten percent of smartphones these days.
Full disclosure: I’m pretty strongly a part of team Android. And while I’m typing this on a work issued MacBook, have a few iPods at home, and maybe even slightly covet the iPad, I just don’t see myself ever fully embracing Apple and buying an iPhone.
And I’m not alone.
Sometime in 2010 Android overtook iOS as the smartphone operating system of choice and continues to dominate Apple today, at least in terms of sheer numbers. Per research firm IDC, by the third quarter of 2012 Android had a 75 percent share of the global smartphone market.
However, one can make the argument that Apple still dominates in terms of brand awareness. After all, everyone knows what an iPhone is – you, your mother, your kids, your grandmother, probably even your dog or cat. And while it’s true that a lot of people know and adore Android, short of the Samsung Galaxy S series, can the average person name any other Android devices? Probably not, and that speaks to the sheer power of the Apple brand, one that has successfully built over decades. Clearly, Apple is still hanging in there and I’m pretty sure it currently holds a slight lead as the smartphone operating system of choice at SpeakerBox.
So, Blackberry and Microsoft aside, which are you – Android or iOS? Check out the infographic below and then sound off in the comments.
I came across the infographic below the other day and thought it was kind of interesting but also kind of told us what we already know - Facebook is the king of social media.
As the infographic, courtesy of the Socially Aware Blog shows, people spend almost 7 hours a month on Facebook with other social media sites falling far, far behind. I certainly don't question the validity of these numbers but to me that data is more than a bit misleading. It comes from a comScore study that was released in February and does not include mobile visitors, which is a little baffling. For me the exclusion of mobile visitors makes the biggest difference with regards to Twitter, which they say people only spend 21 minutes on a month. However, in June of this year Twitter reported that 60 percent of their users access the platform via a mobile device so clearly that number would be much much higher if mobile users were taken into account.
The infographic also shows that 65 percent of tablet owners in the U.S. surf the web while watching TV which to me begs the question - how can you conduct a study on the amount of time people spend on different social networks and not include mobile users? Anyone who watches TV these days can't help but see that every TV show includes a hashtag for their viewers to use if they are tweeting while watching the show.
The other key point to me is that more and more people are accessing the web from tablets and mobile devices. For marketers this means if you haven't yet optimized your website for viewing on a mobile device, or if you're not using responsive design to ensure your website reacts appropriately to the device it's being accessed from, then you are late to the game and this should be a priority in 2013.
Take a look at the infographic and sound off below with any thoughts or observations you have!
Last week, mobile developers joined forces at the Gannett Conference Center in McLean, VA for the conference portion of MoDevEast – a mobile conference for developers, managers, designers and marketers to gather and talk about everything mobile. The event consisted of pre-conference workshops on Thursday, Nov 29th, a full conference agenda on Friday, Nov 30th, and a hackathon on Dec 1st.
I was lucky enough to be in attendance for a great day of speakers on Friday, but before things kicked off, MoDev and Disruptathon Founder Pete Erickson, along with the backing of the mobile community, announced support for Movember – an initiative to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. A lot of the gentlemen in the audience were sporting mustaches to add an extra punch to raise funds for their cause, although many expressed how excited they were that in less than 24 hours November would be over and they could get rid of it! Either way, it was a nice way to kick off the holiday season and the event with the message to give back!
Matt de Ganon, VP of Mobile Products and Operations for Gannett, gave the morning keynote, focusing on how mobile has matured over the past year. He specifically pointed out Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it caused to the NY and NJ areas as proof of how valuable the mobile device has become, pointing to photos of folks who were affected by the aftermath hunting down places to charge their devices and even making homemade chargers powered by bicycles.
Along with this revelation of mobile vitality, he also noted that a huge challenge with the mobile industry has been finding a way to put the pieces together for both users and advertisers, stating that mobile has a beauty and complexity that he doesn’t think we’ve seen before in the technology arena. It’s an opportunity to address a user in multiple ways based on how they’re their own devices and what those users want to achieve. The new question in mobile shouldn’t be how to keep up with tech, but how to mature mobile products so we’re innovating rather than reacting, de Ganon prompted. He said that the mobile-first attitude has not penetrated many companies (Gannett excluded) and that more companies need to make this a priority so they aren’t left behind. How will we mature mobile products so we’re innovating? “Our job is to be smarter than we have been about how we publish and design apps and how we present mobile utility to a customer,” said de Ganon. “We need to understand the vision, what the user needs and wants and develop a strategy that executes on that.”
The day continued with four breakout rooms that included talks ranging from super technical to the basics. But, I stuck around the main stage to avoid getting lost in some of the more technical talks. One panel included developers from App47, BusyConf, Bear Eco, Gannett and Adobe, all of whom favored different development platforms: HTML5, iOs, Windows and Android. Despite their differences, they all agreed the most important advice they can give for app creation is to make sure you know what you want your app to do and why before you even get started.
“Chief Doer” for Savvy Apps, Ken Yarmosh, spoke to the crowd about the impending death of the home screen, saying it will soon be replaced by notifications, widgets and voice and that apps no longer need to be opened to be useful. He called this Home screen 2.0, and predicted it will include:
- Voice – Features like Siri Eyes Free (announced as part as iOS 6) will allow our devices to interact with voice while driving your car. You won’t have to touch the device to access contacts, email, etc.
- Sensors – Web cams will detect hand movements that allow you to access specific apps, while box screen widgets will allow you to access apps with a certain gesture
- Background – the home screen will be everywhere. We will no longer need to unlock our devices to get to a utility or open an app.
- Notifications - Soon things like Google Now will, with permission, crawl your email and send live notifications and info that it thinks you might be interested in (weather, movies, shopping, etc.).
- App interactions – Your primary device will soon become a second screen. For example, you will use the Netflix app on your phone to control your TV.
- Location-based ads – More apps such as Waze will be available, giving you advertisements and deals based on your exact location, i.e. sending an ad to your home screen for the Whole Foods you just drove past.
The next talk was another panel, with speakers from 3Pillar Global
, Gannett, MicroPact
, which focused on product modernization- shifting your product base to meet the needs of mobile customers. Panelists addressed how having a mobile offering can change your value proposition as a business and how often there is no one at a company that has the responsibility, authority and accountability for mobile – but there should be. Also, did you know there are 4.8 billion mobile devices and only 4.2 billion toothbrushes?
Amit Jotwani, Developer Evangelist with Mashery, presented a talk about APIs, outlining the ways you can make your platform a developer magnet. He noted APIs should be treated like a product, and gave some tips, including:
- Be prepared
- Know your developers
- Provide stellar documentation
- Solve the pain
Of course there were many other great sessions along with the ones outlined above, but unfortunately, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. If you’d like more details about who spoke and what the sessions discussed, you can always check out www.modeveast.com. The event’s closing keynote was given by John Schlegal, Founder and CEO of Optime Software, where he divulged his secrets to success, including that experimentation is the key to building a business and that ideas do not need to be original or defensible, only scalable. All in all, if you are a developer, designer, marketer or mobile enthusiast, this was a great event to attend.
Here are a few of the day’s presentations that are available online:
- "DevOps Best Practices for Cross-Platform Mobile Apps", Sanjeev Sharma, Executive IT Specialist at IBM
- "Rapid and Responsive: UX to Prototype with Bootstrap", Josh Jeffryes, Lead of UI Development at The College Board
- “So, You Think You Know App Management”, Chris Schroeder, CEO and Co-Founder, App47
- "Confessions of a Serial Developer: A Phonegap Case Study", Paul Murphy, Founder and Developer at 3Advance.com, Darren Gibney, 3Advance and Jeff Sonderman, Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute
- "Details of a Multi-Platform Notification Strategy", Mark D. Gerl, Director of Mobile Development at POLITICO and Scott Tury, System Architect at AOL
Want to hear about the MoDevEast Hackathon and who won the grand prize? Check out Amit Jotwani’s blog post recapping the action!. Also, MoDev will be hosting the CEA MoDev Hackathon Sponsored by Travel Channel this year at CES in Las Vegas, January 8-11, 2013. Be sure to check it out!
If you’re anything like us SpeakerBoxers, you love food. That's why last month, after we all felt sick from consuming 2 dozen Georgetown Cupcakes we won in HomeSnap’s Twitter contest, we started drawing up plans for an app called “Remorsel.” Our app was going to include user-based reviews of favorite dishes (or, in Georgetown Cupcake’s case, flavors) at local eateries in the DC area, including photos of said dishes.
Well, I guess we have a leak in the office, because somehow Yelp caught wind and announced some updates to their app today that clearly were stolen from our masterful plan that we never wrote down or really developed to any extent. According to Travis B. (a Yelp product manager) in his recent blog post entitled “Yelp Menus: Connecting People with Great Local Food Porn:”
“I hate to break it to you, but your little problem is about to get much more serious thanks to the brand new mouthwatering Menus feature Yelp is rolling out today. We’ve combed the site to compile visual menus incorporating Yelp reviews and user-uploaded food pictures. Now you can not only read about that decadent chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake swimming in a pool of hot fudge, you can see real users’ photos of said gut-busting dessert from every angle right alongside the menu item.”
Along with the graphics, they will also now have a “favorite dish” option that will show us the preferred dishes at specific restaurants. Since these new features accomplish everything we intended our new app to do, I guess we’ll have to go back to the drawing board on the app front. Or, we can simply hope that one of the flavors we submitted for the Lays “Next Great Potato Chip Flavor” competition is a winner.
But, the new app features aren’t the only announcement Yelp made today. Looks like they’re also putting their foot down on fake reviews. According to their official release, they’ve launched a pop-up consumer alert feature that will notify their users of businesses who are tooting their own horn, so to speak. To punish the offending businesses, violators’ names will remain on “the list” for 90 days, dissuading them from continuing to falsify their businesses reviews. Sounds good to me!
The golden age of mobile ads.
Ask any mobile advertiser what she wants more than anything, and she'll invariably tell you: "Clicks."
Millions of impressions? Worthless. Word of mouth? Pointless. Sure, these things might help your brand. But the new reality in advertising (sometimes referred to as the McNamara Fallacy) is this:
If it can't be measured, it doesn't exist.
Having said all that, I'd now like to address why this is terrible advice for mobile advertisers.
(Note: If I’m unable to finish this post, it’s because I’ve just been taken out by an AdMob sniper on the Westpark grassy knoll.)
Let me explain it this way:
Inside every ad campaign is an ongoing struggle between what’s good for the customer and what’s good for the marketer.
In the old days, you couldn’t “click” on ads. You just saw them, read them, or ignored them. They didn’t dance around provocatively, coaxing you into a reluctant click. They didn’t demand your interaction. They simply existed to tell you something as simply and directly as possible.
Obviously, those days are long gone. The prevailing ad technique today is not the "big message," but rather the "big tease" – the persuasion (by hook or by crook) to get customers to click.
So my question is: Who really benefits from the clickability of these ads? Are customers really clamoring for more in-depth, interactive ADVERTISEMENTS? (As if we were suffering from a dearth of non-promotional Web content.)
No, let’s not kid ourselves. What’s really driving the clickability of ads is the benefit to the marketers and the company CMOs. Clicks produce metrics, and boy do we marketers love metrics.
The only problem is, giving marketers metrics is like giving the Iranians centrifuges. They don’t really know how to use them, and sooner or later they’re probably going to blow themselves up.
So it is with clickable ads. Yes, they get clicks. (Anytime I have to click on something in order to stop a dancing clown from blocking my view of the ESPN scoreboard, I’m likely to do so). But they aren’t engendering good will among customers – which is sort of the whole point of advertising.
At least it used to be.
As most of you know, Apple’s new iOS 6 operating system was released just about a week ago. And, if any of you have read my previous posts, you know that I am very on the fence about whether or not I’ll be keeping my iPhone when it comes to upgrade time in December. If iOS 6 was Apple’s attempt to persuade me to stay on the iPhone train, it was not very successful.
Everyone has been talking about the switch from Google Maps to the new Apple Maps, and I agree that Apple Maps is horrible and can rarely even pinpoint my location. In fact, Apple CEO, Tim Cook has even apologized for it. But, my bigger issue is why it took so long for the iPhone to be able to provide turn-by-turn and voice guidance in the first place. All of my friends who use Android’s version of Google Maps have had these capabilities for quite some time.
Then there is the WiFi problem. Apparently not everyone is experiencing the bug, but I certainly am. For the time being I can’t connect to WiFi at all. And, for some reason, I can also not turn off my notifications. Even if I switch on the “Do Not Disturb” function, my phone still vibrates every time I get an email or Facebook message.
According to a TechCrunch article, I’m not the only one unhappy with the update. The article states that:
“Apple’s iOS 6 doesn’t appear to be doing the company any favors when it comes to user satisfaction, according to a new poll conducted by mobile customer research firm On Device. The survey of just under 16,000 iPhone owners in the U.S. found that compared to iOS 5, those with iOS 6 were slightly less satisfied with their devices. The drop is small, but still noteworthy because On Device says this is the first time it’s seeing a drop in satisfaction.”
That said, you can definitely count me in as one of the unsatisfied customers. Apple has about 2 months to convince me I should stick with them. Have a recommendation for a smartphone? I’d love to hear it…
I had the pleasure today to attend the Google Developer Group Dev Fest, which is a day-long dual-track conference on Startups, Mobile, Big Data and other emerging Google technologies. Here is a recap on a panel on mobile startups: what's involved, what are the challenges, and how to get started.
Thanks to Shiva Thirumazhusai of Nasotech, one of the organizers, for the opportunity to attend.
Moderator: Shashi Bellankonda, Social Media Swami @shashib
Alec Walker, mPortal @mportal
Munish Ghandi, Founder and CEO of Hy.ly @hy_ly @munishgandhi
Chris Schroeder, CEO and Co-Founder, App47 @chris_schroeder @app47
Barg Upender, Founder Mobomo @bargmarley @mobomoapps
Jonathan Altman, Founder Async.io @async_io
Shashi Bellamkonda began the discussion by asking each of the panelists questions around trends, execution, and requesting advice based on their experiences in consumer and enterprise environments. Some of the highlights (I am paraphrasing - so if i inaccurately report the gist of the message, that is all on me!):
Chris: Ideas are cheap, execution is expensive! Great ideas are plentiful, but turning it into a busines that generates revenue is tough. There is a big gap between developing an idea, getting a prototype, then bringing a product to market. Especially with mobile apps.
Chris: Biggest piece of advice is to "watch the patterns" in developing your business. With App47, it's a company focused on systems management for mobile apps. His previous business was a similar model, but for mainframes. He continued to make the point that the more things change, the more they stay the same...
Alec: It's important to consider the business reason for why you are developing your product, service, or app. mPortal sells into the enterprise, and works with very large cable companies, who aren't just looking to generate revenue. In some cases, they are looking to change the way that their customers watch TV, and that affects the work they do. It could be customer retention, it could be sales and conversions. But think carefully about the problem you are trying to solve - that is most likely 50% of the challenge.
Barg: There is no shortage of great ideas. His company Mobomo began as a crowdsourcing application for traffic patterns. They received a ton of publicity, but not a lot of revenue. Then Google announced an app that effectively did what they did, and they needed to pivot, and now they consider themselves a services company and they've seen success. His most recent company that he's launched, HitchRides, however, leverages the technology they developed for Mobomo, and leverages maps and locations to make it easy to find taxis. Need to be fluid and keep your eyes on what's happening and what people need.
Jonathan: It's critical to set the stage with your app / mobile product by making the final vision really clear, even to your family and friends and early adopters. Spend some money on UX design and graphics. If you have an idea for where the product will end up, set it up from the beginning that way. This is particularly important if you are in fundraising mode. Early adopters will put up with some warts, and will give you feedback. But don't take them for granted, and be sure to take care of them down the road.
Munish: On the topic of distribution, conversion and downloads are really hard to get. It's important to look at every customer as a marketer. It's really not a viable long term strategy to "buy" your way into distribution, or to try to cheat the system by naming your app something that comes up first in the App store. Instead, make sure you have a social hook: Instagram was a great example of that - every time someone shared a picture, it was marketing Instagram. Then, assuming you have a social hook - make sure the feed is your friend: Twitter's feed, Google+, Facebook, etc.
All: One of the keys to developing a successful app is in finding the feature hook - the one thing that people want to use in their daily lives. Native apps that do that and people use every day are the ones that are successful. Hook into Facebook and other platforms when designing and writing an app - don't be an island, connect into everyone else. You have to tap into preexisting places and apps that people use every day.
Barg: On a question on HTML5 versus developing native apps: listen to Mark Zuckerberg's talk at the recent TechCrunch DISRUPT that talked about how they were built on HTML5 and found it to be a mistake: it wasn't ready yet. Now they are focused on native.
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
After writing my recent blog post reminding everyone about the importance of getting out into the local tech community, I couldn’t resist filling everyone in on my latest outing. This past Wednesday night I headed into Clarendon to check out MoDevDC’s latest get together at the new Capital One Labs space. Not only did I get to tour their awesome spread, but I also got to view some product demos and listen to a panel of mobile commerce rock stars to learn more about the space and where it’s headed.
The event kicked-off with a couple of demos from white label payment solutions leaders Paydiant (presented by David Gray, technology innovation and strategic alliances, Capital One) and SeQRPay (presented by Bryan Colligan, founder, SEQRPay), who showed the crowd that wallets and credit cards may soon be a thing of the past. Their presentations gave way for the main event, the panelists for which included (from left to right in photo):
- Chris Clark, moderator and senior product manager, Capital One Labs
- Gill Haus, senior vice president of technology, RideCharge
- Sameer Saddiqui, director of product and social commerce, Gannet (DealChicken)
- Bryan Colligan, founder, SeQRPay
- Jeremy Rephlo, senior product, Capital One Labs
The major point the group wanted to make was that commerce is everywhere. While the technology for mobile commerce is here, it’s all about adoption. It is essential that companies focus on merchant adoption of mobile commerce solutions so consumers are able to use these solutions. Once this happens, smartphones are all we’ll need for a trip to the store. But they stressed that different use cases require different technologies and that companies must keep their unique audiences in mind at all times. For example, according to Saddiqui, when Gannet launched DealChicken, their social commerce daily deal site, they had to take into account that most of their audience still read newspapers, so their mobile payment approach had to make sense for that consumer – most of which are using email to purchase deals.
Another discussion topic included web vs. native mobile applications. Most panelists were on the native track, insisting that it increased user experience and addressed the critical ease of use required for inspiring in-moment purchasing and managing corporate customers.
After the short panel, things opened up for questions. You can check out the full panel and Q&A online to get answers to questions about security concerns, adoption and predictions for mobile commerce.
Pete Erickson, founder and president of MoDev, one of the largest developer groups in the country, and founder of Disrupthon, was the man in charge of putting this event together. MoDev has grown exponentially since 2008 and has resorted to wait lists for their events (they’re that awesome). Their next DC event, MoDev Tablet, will be held September 13-15. If you are interested in attending, I’d recommend signing up soon, as it looks like tickets are selling out quickly. Hope to see you there!