The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in iPhone (13)

Saturday
Jun252011

From Ubergizmo: How Far Can You Leverage A Brand?

[Excerpted from a guest post on Ubergizmo the past week.]

With the launch of an Android-based Sidekick and the close of the Danger service, can the brand recover its status as a cultural icon?

The inevitable shuttering of the Danger service earlier this month came and went without a lot of hoopla, providing an inauspicious end for the original T-Mobile Sidekick, the first truly consumer-focused smartphone. The Sidekick name was cleaved from the Danger intellectual property after the acquisition of the company byMicrosoft and the subsequent dissolution of the exclusive distribution agreement that Danger had with T-Mobile.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile, which maintained the rights to only the Sidekick name and the subscriber base, transferred the moniker to an Android-based device produced by Samsung (previous generations were made mostly by Sharp,). Built over eight major releases and six Limited Edition co-branded versions, the Sidekick name lives on as the moniker for a new mobile phone experience, and raises the question – how far can you leverage a brand?

For the rest of the post, click here.

Tuesday
May112010

Getting Comfortable With My iPhone XXL

Part Two in My Technorati Series - First Published May 11, 2010

The current iPhone 3G and 3Gs are just on the edge of being too large to be comfortable devices to use with just one hand. Of course, it is impossible to hold the iPad and use it with just a single set of digits.

The iPad has some challenging ergonomics, defined by the freedictionary.com as "the applied science of equipment design,intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort." It's also not always as intuitive as you might think.

dock keyboardCan I Just Lean Here For A Minute?
If the soft touch and grip-ability were the only reasons you needed a case, then a silicon rubber condom would be enough. But the fact is, the little angle that the Apple case provides makes a huge ergonomic difference when the device is set on any flat surface.

To view videos, or use two hands to type, you have to lean it against something, and the darn thing just slips and slides constantly when propped up. I have a case that converts to a stand for my iPod Touch, and there is no way around it - you need the same thing for an iPad. It's simply not a one handed device, and holding and poking at the keypad is just no fun.

That's An Accelerometer Lock, Not A Mute Button

It seems iPads have a tendency to be confused when it comes to recognizing their orientation. Maybe it is a commitment thing. Apple added a new lock button where the ring mute was on the iPhone. I had not realized mine was engaged, and that resulted in some strange behavior.

I purchased Apple's Pages software, but had not realized the accelerometer lock was there, or that it was engaged. (It was easy to toggle it accidentally because of its proximity to the volume control, and my fingers inadvertently must have engaged it).

When I opened Pages the device launched the program with no application menus visible. The keypad was the only thing besides the Getting Started page I saw. For the life of me, I had no clue how to open or create a new document. Later, a friend showed me the purpose of the lock button, which I had thought was a mute key similar to my iPhone.

Even after the lock was dis-engaged, I found I was opening Pages in landscape mode wanting the largest keypad to type on. Unfortunately, Pages never displays the application menu when the iPad is in landscape mode, whether the accelerometer is locked or not. It never occurred to me that there'd be no way to invoke the menu, only the keypad, when the device was most comfortably positioned in the horizontal layout for typing. It takes a sharp move from horizontal to vertical in order to reveal the difference in the UI.

Skip The Apple DockiLounge ipad dock
This bias towards resting the device in the portrait, or vertical, mode is a flaw in the iPad's design thinking that continues with the dock.

The dock only allows the iPad to rest in the groove in portrait mode, because it must use the connector at the smaller end of the tablet. If you want to keep your iPad on your nightstand sitting in a dock to charge it while falling asleep to movies you will have to watch them play in the wrong aspect ratio.

And don't think you can leave it in landscape mode as a picture frame while giving it the juice, either. It makes for a compelling reason to get the Apple case, which biases towards landscape mode, making it great for typing and watching movies. It also lets you use the charging connector with the USB cable and power adapter.

Monday
May102010

Bonding With My 3G iPad

Part One of My Two Part Series, First Published on Technorati, May 10, 2010

So many reviews have been written about the iPad, it is hard to believe there'd be any unexpected surprises left to discover. But, one of the most delightful things about a new gadget is how you integrate it into your own real life. It is like dating someone new - early on, you don't know how much you're willing to change to discover your soul mate.

It has been a week since I bought my 3G iPad, and most of that time I was on the road, attending the Digital Hollywood conference. I challenged myself to see how much I could rely on just a touchscreen tablet, a real test being the laptop-lugging road warrior that I am, and I left anything resembling a keyboard at home.

Here's what I discovered during some quality time together getting to know each other:

The iPad Increases Your iPhone Battery Life
Yes, you read that correctly. Your iPhone battery life will extend remarkably if you buy an IPad. It is true what you have read that the iPad battery life is amazing. It blows away the iPhone, even with 3G. My iPad lets me do everything I did with my iPhone, and now that I don't do those things any more on the iPhone, my iPhone battery lasts so much longer! It is an unexpected and amazingly cool benefit. I can now make it more than a day on an iPhone charge. And I am using it so much less for web browsing and email and videos and games that I am thinking maybe I should just go back to a great feature phone with a decent camera and a low voice and messaging rate plan.

3G Is Useful, If Everyone Around You Doesn't Have An IPhone
AT&T has provided me with a sluggish and unpredictably unavailable service experience to my iPhone and it is no better with an iPad. I could feel when I was at the airport standing in the security line holding my iPad and waiting to place it in the X-ray tray that I was competing for precious bandwidth with other bored travelers tapping away on their iPhones.

The conference hotel didn't have free wifi, and so having 3G connectivity was good, when it worked. I often saw full bars when web pages were loading and then would time out. I do like that the 3G and Wifi combo keep the device always connected, so if you don't know whether a wifi location has a log in page to join the local network, you can remain continuously connected to receive push notifications and email as you traverse free, paid, and secure wifi networks. That's something my MacBook Air laptop doesn't provide me when I am mobile. Continuous coverage is nirvana.

If You Only Buy One Accessory, Make It This OneiPad case
Throwing the iPad into my carry on without a case was a non-starter for the trip, but the Apple iPad case was sold out in all local stores. Apple previously made a leather case for the iPod, and sold a few handfuls of them for the premium price of $99. It was a beautifully elegant, leather sleeve, but sleeves are not a popular iPod case style, unless you are a tween girl wanting a knit sock to cuddle your treasured Justin Bieber on an iPod Mini you got as a hand-me-down. Thankfully, the company brings their iPad case in at a more affordable price and in a cheaper faux suede that adds some much needed grip-ability to the slick back.

It is hard to believe that the Apple case is so critical to enjoying the iPad,but the fact is that without it, there is no way to balance the device and keep it from sliding off the round edges of your lap, as mine did several times in flight. The fact that the case is sold out everywhere, and has a 3-4 week wait when you order it online from the Apple Store, should tell you something: it's mandatory gear for any iPad user. 



Monday
Apr052010

Why I'm Waiting For A 3G iPad

A number of folks who read this blog or follow me on Twitter have commented that they expected I would already be cuddling my iPad, glowing in assurance I am a true early adopter of technology from having pre-ordered or waited in line at an Apple store. I actually did neither and each time I got close to placing a pre-order, I relented and abandoned my purchase.

So why don't I already have my iPad? The main reason is that I am waiting for the 3G version. When I have asked why other folks aren't waiting, I have often heard that people believe they will just use their iPad at home. These people maintain that wifi in their home is readily available without an additional monthly fee to access it. To them 3G, and a 3G data plan, is superfluous. I am just not convinced that's true. I want coverage, and 3G helps ensure coverage when i am mobile. On a long road trip, a larger screen and a connection that lets me surf the web could be just the ticket out of boredom. (And no, I won't be tricking out my SUV like the Sound Man has, but it illustrates my use case effectively.)

I also use my iPod Touch in addition to my iPhone 3Gs, and I find that when I travel the iPod Touch is the go-to entertainment device to ensure I can extend my iPhone battery life. And entertainment for me isn't just downloaded content I remembered to stock up on before leaving the house. Streamed content, online games on Facebook, and catching up on my friends feeds are all forms of entertainment that I enjoy when I am mobile, but which suck the life out of my iPhone when I may need to make or receive a call. 

Like most consumers, I tend to overbuy on hardware, hoping to extend the lifecycle of my purchase. That tends to be especially true for products i am not sure how I am going to use. Megapixels, memory, and now radios. More always feels better, giving me greater comfort that I won't outgrow the product, even if I never use all of what I buy. It's the movie popcorn theory, which maintains that consumers perceive there is a better value in the mega-bucket, even though they can't finish the contents of the bucket.

Waiting for 3G also has the added benefit of not being part of the first batch of hadrware assembly. If any parts or processes have created defects, I have the opportunity to let the real early adopters alert me.

Saturday
Apr032010

What Has To Happen For Microsoft to Win With Windows Phone 7 

Since the new millennium, Microsoft has developed a reputation of letting other companies innovate in new product markets and then playing catch up by throwing money at the problem  – some times for acquisition, some times for marketing – to gain back its lost share.  Zune and Bing are good recent examples of this phenomenon.  In the smartphone category, the company has struggled to stay relevant with Windows Mobile, and spent a pile of money to purchase Danger, the maker of the operating system which powers the T-Mobile Sidekick.  Earlier this month at MIX10, Microsoft released developer tools for Windows Phone 7, revealing a lot about the current state of the new operating system.   For devices to be ready in stores with enough time for holiday sales to be meaningful, there is still a lot that has to happen to give Microsoft a competitive entry, let alone market share gains, in the smartphone category.

High QoS

Since Microsoft has bet on an end to end that service architecture it controls, it will need to perform much better than the Danger network has. If there is anything the company has learned from operating that service, which is solely backed up in the cloud, it’s that customers don’t like to be cut off from their personal data.  When that service crashed in October, Microsoft saw T-Mobile suspend sales of the device during the important holiday shopping season.  Now, not only are Azure services critical on the cloud side to Windows Phone 7 Series success, but locally, the phone must provide a rich set of application services that are always available to apps.  As recently as this week, Microsoft struggled with Live connectivity when it released Modern Warfare’s “Stimulus Package” to Xbox gamers.

Size Matters

Since the purchase of Danger, the app market has exploded, and the competitive battle is being played out through app tonnage - consumers over-buy on the number of apps they need just like they over-buy megapixels and minutes.  Size matters.  Microsoft needs a compelling number of apps, and preferably a number greater than Palm, RIM, and close to the Android number.  Apps for the Windows Marketplace will need to reflect a balanced mix of both familiar consumer brands and garage developer innovation.  Their strategy to convert existing Xbox and Silverlight developers may come up short in absolute number by launch given the current state of the SDK, and the published APIs that will be available to test against.

A Killer Xbox Mobile Experience

Enabling continuation of play between console and mobile device may be the single biggest feature that could accelerate adoption, and Microsoft must be able to capitalize on existing customer loyalty to the Xbox platform in a way they have not yet done in mobile to own a defensible consumer position.  Games must also be designed cross platform, integrating the users mobility and hardware into the gaming experiences for both “home” and “away” play.  With no gaming console to bolster the iPhone,  Microsoft has a real opportunity to use Xbox as a Trojan horse to break into mobile consumers’ hearts.

Compelling Email

In order to appeal to their target – consumers in their30’s - while not alienating existing Windows Mobile loyalists, Microsoft must deliver a compelling email platform for document management and communication.  The heavy emphasis on collaboration – an easy extension of consumer social networking architecture – may come at the expense of personal productivity, conceding that space to RIM.   In particular, how the applications enable handling attachments – file formats the device doesn’t recognize, saving attachment files, editing and forwarding files – could impact it’s desirability. User generated content comes attached to email in many formats, some of which are not handled well by Mobile Outlook today.

Appealing Hardware

The Asus handset used as a reference device at MIX was pretty ordinary. Touch-screen devices render many of the hardware control buttons irrelevant , leaving just the screen and casing to attract on a store shelf, and making it harder to tell the difference between one touch screen handset and another.  It will be imperative that new Windows Phone 7 devices are built as objects of desire on the outside, not just the inside.  Microsoft leaves handset design to its hardware OEMs, but many of them have already pledged some pretty sleek and innovative designs to the Android operating system they have been driving while Windows slept.

Palm and RIM

In the same time that Microsoft is racing to make an impact on holiday shopping, Palm and RIM are no doubt brewing their own plans to stay relevant with consumers.  But more importantly, RIM may see Microsoft’s commitment to the consumer as an opportunity to strengthen its support Enterprise IT managers who may be reticent about supporting mobile employees on a platform with limited device and policy management tools.  A Palm sale to RIM might change the competitive landscape, but probably not before holiday 2010.  Microsoft needs both Palm and RIM to stay their current course, in order to make a move in the crowded field.

An Ecosystem Of Accessories

A robust selection of third party accessories can help reposition Windows as a consumer lifestyle brand.  Of course, in-car audio and navigation kits should easily leverage Microsoft’s existing Ford relationship with Sync.  While the Xbox extensions – stereo speaker dock, conductive gamer gloves – are no-brainers. Tilting the public’s perception that Windows isn’t your father’s iPhone will be hard, but physical goods like fashion-oriented cases can support the marketing message at point of sale.

A Good Phone

At the end of the day, the device needs to be a good phone.  The less time the OEM has with a stable build, the more likelihood the device may have challenges with battery life, call handling, and reliability. Since Microsoft is writing the device drivers – as Danger did with the Sidekick – they will have a bigger role in commercialization, and potentially more opportunity to impact performance of the carrier network interactions with the handset.  Network polling for an always-on device and call continuity in low bar coverage are two examples of things that negatively impacted earlier Windows Mobile and Danger implementations, and which typically don’t get rigorously tested until final test cycles within the last 12 weeks before launch.  With so much left for Microsoft to do to stabilize and commercialize the platform, this is the area of biggest risk. While almost all of the blame for the history of iPhone dropped calls falls squarely at AT&T’s feet, consumers who couldn’t stand the experience also switch from their iPhones when they leave the carrier because of unreliable call handling.

While some of the above may seem obvious, when you look at what the list represents as a whole, you realize it is not a small hill that Microsoft has to climb with Windows Phone 7 to make it a must-buy for consumers. Considering their Director of developer evangelism told the audience at MIX10 that the company has been only working on this plan for the last year, the Windows Phone 7 team surely has its work cut out for them.

Tuesday
Mar302010

BuildAnApp Makes it DIY Easy To Be On a Smartphone

If you are a small business owner or tech savvy soccer coach wondering how you can get in on the mobile app gold rush and aren’t sure if you have what it takes to launch and manage an app, BuildAnApp may be just the platform you need. Anders Davidson, president of MobileOn, the company behind BuildAnApp says his DIY mobile app solution will simplify the process of communicating with customers regardless of which smartphone they have, because his solution publishes apps to multiple mobile operating systems.

 

Buildanapp logo

Using standard templates and a simple six step wizard, anyone – and I do mean pretty much anyone – can create a mobile app. You simply pick the content pages you want for your app, upload images, pick styles, add links and feeds, and you are ready to publish. You can even preview the app in a nice window next to where you customize the page inputs. Davidson calls the app “morphable” because of the large variety of combinations and customizations businesses can use to merchandise themselves, and because the platform automatically configures the same content for iPhone, Android, RIM, and Windows Mobile devices. “Small businesses don’t have time to manage and support an application, even though a mobile app can strengthen their relationship with their customers.”screens

Davidson has some relevant experience supporting small business as a product manager for Microsoft’s small business portal, bCentral. BuildAnApp provides useful tips for creating your app, too, because Davidson knows Apple has been cracking down on what they call their “Minimal User Functionality.” To be a great app, Davidson says, “you need original, useful and dynamic content.”

To make it easy for any budget-conscious community group leader to see what’s required to have an app, BuildAnApp offers a 30 day free, no credit card trial. Calendars, photos, and social media feeds are simple to hook up. It’s easy to imagine how the local Little League could quickly connect and inform mothers about schedule changes this way. Team managers can create a separate app that also shows stats and standings. “Cross platform is essential to these audiences, because they are so diverse.”

Davidson wanted to remove not only technical hurdles to having a mobile app, but economic ones as well. In 30 days, your app will expire unless you convert to a subscription, and the fee is based on how often you update your app. (The definition of an app update appears to need a little refinement during the beta period, because any streamed content which is added to an app may itself get updated.)

Once your app is published, a link is generated quickly that can be emailed to your existing customer lists directly without worrying about marketplace certification for three of the mobile platforms; the iPhone application goes through a separate three to four week approval process and costs an additional $19.99 fee to publish to it.

On Android, RIM, and Windows phones, applications can be side-loaded directly by the user, making it quick and easy to create and download my own a sample app and watch it running live on my Nexus One in no time. You can also tweet the link and put it on your website or Facebook fan page to drive downloads.

The platform is in beta right now, but Davidson claims there have already been 500 apps built with his company's platform. While you’ll give up a little elegance on the graphics and UI side to get an app that can run on almost any smartphone, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can say, “there’s an app for that” about your business, too!

 

Get to know Anders Davidson, a small business owner himself, as a consumer (his company has 5 employees), by hearing him in his own words.

How would you describe yourself as a consumer? Anders Davidson
Very intentional. I am not an “impulse” consumer nor am I impulsive with what consumes my time. By the time I am ready to make a decision about how I spend my time or money, I know what I value and what it is worth to me.

Speaking as that consumer…

What is the first and last app you downloaded for your personal use? 
My first app was the NYTimes because it’s a news source I value and the app allows me to have better access to its content than through the Web browser. The most recent apps I’ve downloaded are: 1) an app I built using our service for my son’s school so I can keep track of their schedule and key phone numbers and contact. And 2) the NCAA March Madness app because I enjoy following the tournament results but won’t spend much time watching the games on TV.

What product is sitting in a “saved shopping cart” that you plan to buy soon? 
None. I rarely save items in online shopping carts.

Thinking of non-technology items as well, what product or service have you bought recently that most disappointed you and why? 
I can’t think of any real buyer’s remorse I’ve had recently.

What is the one true thing that exists in every product you love to use? 
Simplicity. There’s often a big trade-off of simplicity vs. features, but smarter designers are getting better at tackling both.

What one piece of technology innovation would you say changed your life the most? 
In 2000, I had a Compaq ipaq Pocket PC with a sleeve that held a Wi-Fi card and was able for the first time to have real-time data come to my handheld device without the need to sync at my PC. This was for me, the beginning of the real promise of mobile computing...

What product did your family or friends have before you did, but you eventually had to buy, too? 
Skype

Are you a Mac or PC? 
Mac laptop dual-booting Mac and Windows XP

What phone are you carrying now? 
In my line of work I carry four. :- ): a Samsung Ace (Windows Mobile), Nexus One, Blackberry Pearl and an iPhone. But I mostly use the Blackberry Pearl because it’s smaller.

Do you Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? 
I have accounts on each. For BuildAnApp we tweet with content relevant to BuildAnApp’s customers, I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and rarely mix business into it. And I use LinkedIn to map my professional network.

What was your most unusual job? 
In the early-mid 90s I worked on political campaigns in Oregon, California, Minnesota and Washington.

Where do you like to shop? 
REI.com

Read more: http://technorati.com/technology/it/article/ceo-interview-buildanapps-anders-davidson-says/page-3/#ixzz0jiDCMrEZ

Monday
Feb152010

The 'Tapas Trend' in Mobile Continues

Last year, at Mobile World Congress, I had the displeasure of eating a precious multi-course meal of nouvelle tapas at a pretentious restaurant referred by countless culinary experts. Sadly, I wish I had known you can get some of the best tapas in the city tucked away in passages only the locals can guide you to discover. Tapas, for those who don't know, are little snacks of - well, pretty much anything. They can be cold or warm, and be composed of fish, meat and vegetables.  These bite-sized little morsels of flavor are the currency of chefs in Spain, but these tasty bits may be best served by underset expectations.

On the night of the first day of announcements from this year's MWC, therefore, it may be easier to forgive me for making an analogy between tapas and apps, and butchering a metaphor far longer than I could at other times. Since, like tapas, apps can be anything - they can be games or utilities, feed readers or miniaturized applications, it seems a small leap of faith. Apps are often bite sized versions  (see how this will go?) of bigger web properties, kind of like snacking versions to keep a mobile consumer's appetite satisfied until a bigger serving is available.

Most of the headlines from today's show focused on apps, so it appears that the 'tapas trend' will continue to be on the menu for mobile consumers for the near future.  The creation of a new alliance, the Wholesale Applications Community, is intended to create a common approval process across multiple OEMs to facilitate access to the world of mobile consumers for application developers.  But should application developers be able to use one recipe to appear on any device  with any carrier?  And can all of the chefs in the WAC kitchen ever agree on a standard recipe? Imagine getting Wolfgang Puck, Tom Douglas and Ferran Adria all to agree on a single preparation for salmon tapas.

The combination of Maemo and Moblin to create MeeGo may not create enormous benefits or greatly enlarge the app world for consumers any time soon, but the news does provide another proof point that app stores likely won't just be a phone phenomenon since the combined OS is targeted at in-vehicle infotainment systems, connected televisions and consumer electronics. This Nokia-Intel platform, however, may simply be a mash-up of two lagging open source projects, with each ingredient still needing the proper plating on a killer piece of hardware to break through with consumers.

Adobe's announcement that it has joined the LiMo Foundation shows how badly it wants in on the mobile app business, having been absent in any meaningful way from smartphones till now.  In addition to that news, though, Adobe announced its Air for Android, which in conjunction with AIR on the desktop, gives web web developers familiar tools to build standalone applications that run on the devices using Google's Linux-based mobile operating system. With the exclusion of support for Flash on the iPad, iPhone and iPod, and the failure of Flash Lite to have a notable impact on mobile development to date, Adobe has been trying to get a seat at the app store table for a while.  As an ingredient brand in websites,  Adobe has not had as much leverage to date with device manufacturers and carriers as they may have anticipated with the popularity of the mobile browser.  Apple has preferred to think of Adobe as the "trans fat" ingredient in mobile applications and browsers, positioning it as the enemy of performance and an ally of viruses.

Tuesday
Feb092010

Did Google Use Apple's TV Ad Playbook?

For advertisers, the Super Bowl  is as much the “big game” as it is for sports enthusiasts. This year that was more true than ever before, because the televised broadcast brought a record 106.5 Million viewers.   In the post Internet bubble, fewer new technology companies are using the expensive, broad-reaching television broadcast to build brand awareness, opting instead to make their dollars work harder at measurable activities that convert to sales.   That leaves the door wide open for established brands like Budweiser, Coca Cola and Doritos - the ones that can afford the lofty ad rates - to use the time to create entertaining, “talked about” vignettes that enforce the meaning and positioning of their products.

Despite the Super Bowl being a mecca for established consumer brands, Sunday’s game was the first one to include an advertisement for Google’s dominant product, search. Many have commented on why the company chose now to run the ad, and whether the company’s virgin effort at broadcast advertising was meant to prove a bigger business agenda in the advertising community. For me,  the ad was most notable because of its use of the product to tell a brand story.  Among a sea of ads that used slapstick, animals, and underwear, the Google commercial seemed to take a strategy right from Apple’s advertising playbook for its initial foray into television.

Five plays I saw called:

1. Use the product to tell a story.  In the Apple spots, a friendly narrator tells the story of a customer journey, ending with the line “there’s an app for that.”   The Google ad tells the story of adventure, discovery, love and family through searches. Each step in the journey has a solution in the Google results set that advances the customer’s story.

2. The product is the hero.  People are a distraction in Apple ads, and while iPods used to feature silhouetted dancers, most Apple commercials now are about the apps. Except for the disembodied finger, for the iPhone, it’s all about the software.  Google’s spot starts with its iconic home page filling the screen, which is only replaced by its familiar results pages.  The television stands in for the PC, and the audience looks right over the shoulder of the searcher entering terms and phrases, just as I peek into the iPhone the finger points to and swipes.

3. Be gender neutral.  Although the Super Bowl tends to attract advertisers with a propensity for frat humor and belly scratching, Google, like Apple has, tried hard not to offend men or women.  The story in the ad is universal, and while it is clear a man is entering the searches, women in the audience can appreciate the romance of Paris, and the happy ending of beginning a family.

4. Lather, rinse, repeat.  The world believes all touch screens use the gestures that Apple’s iPhone does.  The constant repetition of the gestures within the commercials, played in frequent rotation during popular television programs, trained the audience even before they purchased the device.  Within the Google ad, the searcher performs the same activities several times over – enter search term, then click on results.  

5. Don’t go for the cheap joke. It was an ad about romance, and the cursor skated across - but never clicked on - the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Sure Apple has done its share of cheap jokes in the Mac versus PC story arc, but, in the categories Apple dominates, iPod & iPhone, Apple doesn’t disrespect their leadership position with skeezy parents or slapstick jokes.

Saturday
Feb062010

Should Apple Decide What's 'Beneficial' in an Ad?

First published on Technorati

The process of getting an application approved through the iPhone App Review team and into the App Store can be a mysterious one for application developers. Many complain the app review process takes too long, the rules for acceptance are vague, and the reasons for rejection are too subjective. Apple does produce guidelines for submissions, which highlight best iPhonepractices, tips, and rules to help developers successfully navigate the review process.

Earlier this week, Apple added a new tip about the use of location services for developers looking to get apps approved for the iPhone. According to the App Review team, the iPhone Core Location Framework, the programming interface that enables developers to “deliver information based on their location, such as local weather, nearby restaurants, ATMs, and other location-based information,” is not to be used primarily for targeted local advertising.

The wording in the Apple post continues to secure Apple’s position as content editor, and not just technical reviewer, in the App Store approval process. "If you build your application using Core Location, make sure your app first asks users for permission before you use their location to provide targeted information,” the tip suggests. “Once granted, the information you provide must be beneficial.”

What will qualify as “beneficial”? Apple goes on to clarify, “If your app uses this information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on user's location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.”

This comes as important news to the mobile marketing community, although the insight was buried in a series of notes aimed at helping developers. For many advertisers who wish to use mobile applications to engage with customers, mobile location data provides invaluable targeting information.

It’s a delicate balance of providing value versus being invasive, says Pat Binkley, VP of Engineering at mobile developer, Zumobi. Zumobi produces iPhone applications for partners and then monetizes the content with advertising. Binkley goes on, “I think in the case of applications that do not have a local component, you have to balance the perception of invasion of privacy and disrupting the user’s experience for the sole purpose of delivering local advertising to them.”

Apple’s recent purchase of Quattro Wireless, a leading advertising network and mobile marketing platform, has fueled industry pundits’ and software developers’ concerns about the intent and impact of this recent tip posted on the iPhone Dev Center. On Twitter, one software developer, @Oliverbo,  summed it up this way, “That spells trouble: Apple: Core Location Off-Limits for Serving Location-Targeted Ads http://bit.ly/dtNzcC /cc @feedly.” Some, like AppleInsider, believe that through the Quattro platform Apple intends to restrain others from using a feature it plans to keep wholly to itself. Industry analyst Greg Sterling, also known as @gsterling pondered, “Is Apple Hoarding LBS Advertising?”

A December 2009 report published by Quattro Wireless, in partnership with DM2Pro, highlighted the importance of targeting capability to advertisers. When advertisers were asked what they considered the most important criteria for choosing an ad network, the ability to target segments of consumers was listed first.

Advertisers and agencies have been trying to monetize the emerging mobile application marketplace but have yet to broadly embrace one particular revenue generation platform. One digital marketing executive, Holly Brown, SVP of IPG’s MRM Seattle office, expressed concern that Apple is attempting to micro-manage the mobile advertising eco-system. “At a time when it’s more important than ever to engage consumers with relevant value, and to build monetization strategies for application developers, Apple seems to be interfering with the natural evolution of the market created between consumers, developers and brands (advertisers).”
Research
Location targeting is not only a tool to help small regional businesses, like dry cleaners and cafes, promote services, but it also aids in the discovery of national products available locally. Location-based applications often enable national brands to target local promotions at a store level and can help customers find their favorite franchise or store nearby prompting them to visit with a coupon or in-store offer.

Because they add a layer of relevancy to the ad content, advertisements based on location can be more productive for advertisers. Brian Wilson, VP of Marketing at application developer Point Inside, which develops iPhone indoor interactive mobile mapping applications for navigating malls and airports, is supportive of the Apple position. “From our perspective, Apple’s notice only serves to reinforce the value that Point Inside is providing and the methods we’re using to provide it.”

Feel free to post a comment below and tell us what you think. Do you need Apple to decide for you which ads can be localized?

Monday
Jan112010

CES - Mark This Spot as Dead 

One of the main complaints at CES this year was the incredibly horrible performance of the AT&T network. Given the massive adoption of the iPhone, and the fact that technology trade shows tend to generate mobile data traffic, the demands for bandwidth should have been predictable , if not addressed by AT&T in advance.  Because they were not, the company took a big hit in the battle of map coverage with Verizon.

My experience, personally, was not around dropped calls but the ability to even connect a call under what appeared to be full bar coverage. My device would show access to wifi and the AT&T 3G network, but then when the call was placed, it would fail to connect.  Worse, text messages were timing out before they could leave the device, making communication nearly impossible for most of the show if you were using an AT&T 3G device.

AT&T has an app on the App Store called “Mark the Spot” to enable customers to provide feedback to the company about where they experience network problems. The app provides options for reporting issues - Dropped Call, Failed Call, No Coverage, Data Failure and Poor Voice Quality – but what happens when the device doesn’t enable connectivity at all to send a report, and you want to communicate you can’t call and you can’t text? As connectivity became a more valuable commodity than the H1N1 vaccine, it became more important to find a way to communicate than to see if the AT&T app would register the complaint about the data or voice failure using the same network that wouldn’t allow connectivity in the first place.



Thursday
Dec102009

Favorite Tweet(s) of the Day

one of the best Silicon Valley service companies http://bit.ly/4YzkEy (via @Scobleizer and feedly)

No wonder brands struggle RT @technorati: Only 23% of marketers think their traditional agency can handle digital http://bit.ly/7kvTmC

Used to it but don't love. my husband worries a lot if he hung up RT@triciad: Are iPhone users used to the lack of end call button? #mnbuzz

Sunday
Nov152009

The Trouble With Social Apps

I recently downloaded the new version of Bump for Android. It is billed as cross platform because you can bump an iPhone and myTouch and exchange files. On both phones, the app performs similarly, except for a few differences like the interaction with the menu being button driven on a myTouch. With the iPhone in my right hand and the myTouch in my left I could tap the two phones and make a photo move "magically" from the iPhone on which I took it to the Android powered device.via intomobile.com

It all works very much as merchandised, but the problem is without both phones having the app, there's no value. If my friend doesn't have the app downloaded, it's just as simple to attach the photo to an email and send it along. In that scenario, I don't have to wait for my friend to download the app and set up their profile so they can receive my file, which I would have to do if Bump wasn't on their phone already. And what if they don't have a phone with an app store? Couldn't I use Bluetooth to accomplish the same thing? Bump without ubiquitous "bump-ability" is like the sound of one hand clapping.

Which brings me to the problem with social apps.

Click here to read more

Sunday
Oct182009

Favorite Tweet of the Day

Now that's  advertising & iBranding!  RT @ekowus: iDon't know what it is but I want one  http://bit.ly/pEBbn #verizon #droiddoes #iphone