Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is Social Media Marketing Worth The Effort?

A lot of business owners I talk to have the misconception that social media marketing is the only thing they need to do, and that sets them up for unrealistic expectations leading to abandoning their online presence.  It is vital to understand that social media marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy and online presence.  It does not replace every marketing tool and it's not the Holy Grail!

Social media is most effective when it is incorporated into your entire online presence. Just setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and even Linkedin, don't magically drive traffic or business.  Setting up a Blog sitting independently in cyberspace also has little effect. You need to attach your Blog to your business site and use this mechanism as a P.R. tool to disseminate information about your company, products and customers on a regular basis not just now and then. And it doesn't stop there.  You need to make sure that your Blog postings are searchable via the social networks and bookmarks. It all needs to link and mesh. This has become the new SEO.

Many social networks enable you to consolidate your posts, so you can write and make one post on your Facebook page’s wall, and that post will then automatically be “tweeted” via your Twitter account, which will automatically post to your LinkedIn profile. These features save you time and money but not all postings are appropriate for each medium.  Twitter is great for alerting people to an event for example, or a special one day offer with a coupon code, but don't expect to engage in conversation with customers. Facebook is better suited for that.

You have to build your online presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Again, many business owners think this can happen in the space of a few weeks or a month.  It's a long term, ongoing function of your marketing department or outside consultant and requires commitment. Don't start this process unless you have the commitment for an annual budget.  Maintenance is required daily and maintenance means someone has to do it.  The biggest mistakenly held notion is that marketing is suddenly going to cost nothing because social networks are free compared to advertising space which costs money. Both cost money and both need to be incorporated into your marketing strategy, but use each medium and tool properly and you will see traffic go up, brand image improve and ultimately sales also increase. And along the way you will learn about your customer base, your competitors and the market.

For more on how to build a social media marketing campaign, you can purchase "Social Media Marketing For Small Business" by Audrey Peters in the iBookstore or Amazon Kindle.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Shoppers Are Going Mobile

The smartphone has now become a must have for Christmas shopping, helping consumers find where the best deals are. About a decade ago it was the Internet that changed how people shopped.  Now it is the smartphone that's enabling consumers to find the deals before leaving home and then comparing prices while in the malls.  A European survey by the Mobile Marketing Association claims 67 per cent of shoppers (in UK, France and Germany combined) will use their phones for shopping this Christmas, up 23 percent from last year.  Among the highest users are the French, at 82 percent. In fact, Europeans have already embraced payment by smartphone or the smartphone wallet.

Apps like BarCode scanner and ShopSavvy seem to be among the most popular and helped one shopper in Greensboro save $100 in one trip. But it's not just about looking for the best deals.  Shoppers are using their smartphones to find product information and reviews while they are in the store.  A Study by Accenture found that 73% of shoppers with a smartphone favor using it to handle small tasks and product information, rather than interact with an employee in the store. Getting information about a product is easier online where shoppers can also see customer opinions.  If you are a retailer, it has become vital to offer social media interaction with shoppers, whether they are browsing at home or, actually engaged in the shopping trip.  Larger retailers need to take this further with a specific mobile App to make the user experience easier. Overall, the Accenture survey suggests 56% of shoppers with smartphones believe smartphones will make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

There's no question that smartphones are replacing traditional mobile phones and this Christmas is seeing even more sales of actual smartphones.  BestBuy is using social media to offer special deals daily, especially via Facebook. So if you haven't yet purchased a smartphone, you might actually get one for free with a 2 year contract right now.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Live Dish TV And DVR on Your iPad

The iPad is certainly becoming the must have electronic product these days. Dish Network has launched a new App for the iPad bringing live TV and DVR access. Now your iPad turns from an ereader to your TV anywhere. If you have a SlingLoaded DVR, the ViP 922 as well as the new sling adaptor, you'll be able to watch live and recorded television programming. Users will also be able to browse and search through up to nine days of programming, schedule DVR recordings, manage conflicts, and delete content on multiple receivers.

And if that isn't enough, you can also use your iPad just like a large remote control right from your sofa. The application, called Remote App, is free from the iTunes store and also works with the iPhone unlike the App from Sling which costs $30. The Dish TV "Everywhere" service is the only pay-TV provider to offer a true TV everywhere solution that's now on the iPad. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Shopping On Your Smartphone

The holiday season is upon us again, but this time it looks like smartphones will be ringing up about 28 percent of holiday shopping sales or, $127 billion of the $447 billion the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that U.S. consumers will spend this season.  There are lots of Apps, ranging from those that provide direction and maps, to credits and coupons, and others that combine the social networking aspect.

As people are looking for more deals, they'll be using their iPhones, Android and Blackberry devices to not only search for deals online, but to also find deals in their local shopping malls, where comparison shopping can be done on the spot. There are various shopping Apps that will you help you do this, such as the Micello Indoor Map for malls. It does for malls what Google maps does for the world. Micello provides an interactive map that allows you to locate products inside a mall and get walking directions to the store.  It's available on Android, iPad, iPhone, but as yet it is only available for about 15 shopping centers.  Another App, Shopkick, combines rewards or "kickbucks'' (redeemable credits), the moment you walk past a sensor at the door of one of its partners. You can also earn kickbucks by scanning the product barcode with your iPhone camera at participating retailers.  Some of the deals are as high as $75 kicbucks at BestBuy for example.

MyShopanion combines social networking with shopping.  You can bring your closest friends with you by snapping a shot of the product or the barcode, broadcast it on Facebook or Twitter, or even email your community of friends.  Since two-thirds of the largest purchases in a household are influenced by family and friends, you really are bringing them along with you.  This App allows you to push the information right to all your social networks at once.

Check out the iTunes store to get these Apps.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Facebook Takes Top Spot For Online Ads

With so many choices and such limited budgets especially for small business, it seems like a bewildering task to decide where to advertise. But not anymore.  Facebook has taken the top slot when it comes to online advertising producing 297 billion online display ad impressions last quarter alone. According to Comscore, Facebook delivered almost 1.3 trillion display Ads during this period.

Yahoo took the second spot, with 140 billion impressions and 11% of the market, while Microsoft ranked third, with 64 billion hits and a 5% share. It seems everyone is chasing Facebook's success.  So if you haven't launched a Facebook Page, then you are missing some serious opportunities in the online space. And if you already have a Facebook Page, it's time to start experimenting with some Ads.  You don't need huge budgets.

A small business can experiment with just a few hundred dollars by being very selective and targeting relevant demographic groups.  For example, you can target by location, age, interests and various other target filters. When you consider that your audience is likely to have a smartphone, Facebook offers you mobile advertising that can really be effective for capturing potential customers in your neighborhood at precisely the moment they are seeking to buy a product or service. This is a much less crowded space for advertisers than traditional forms of advertising.

For more on how to create a social media campaign strategy, read "Social Media Marketing For Small Business", a step by step guide, by Audrey Peters.  Available on Amazon Kindle and iPad in the iBookstore. Post a comment or question here or, contact me directly.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slide-out Keyboard For Your iPhone?

Ever wished you could have a slide-out keyboard for your smartphone but were not attracted to the Android platform? Well now there is a solution for Apple iPhone fans who just don't like the virtual keyboard. To be really productive when typing text whether an email or accessing Twitter or Facebook, it can be really slow without a real keyboard. (As for women with nails, it's nearly impossible to type accurately on a virtual keyboard.)

The KeyBoard Buddy iPhone Case clips onto your iPhone and connects via Bluetooth. It sells for $69.99 The low-profile keyboard slides out smoothly allowing you to easily transition between the Apple iPhone 4’s touch screen and a physical keyboard.  It is conveniently designed to provide quick access to all of the iPhone 4's controls such as the camera at the back and the ports and it comes with a USB cable for charging.  

While other bluetooth solutions have existed for some time, like the foldable wireless keyboard, nothing is quite as portable and convenient as a slide-out keyboard attached to your iPhone.  All in all a great solution for an already super smartphone. Now if only Apple would take note and provide an iPhone with this option already built-in?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turn Your iPad Into Your Laptop

For those of you who have purchased an iPad and are loving it but miss the usability of your laptop, a great solution can turn your iPad into your laptop.  Well almost and at a cheaper price than a MacBook Air (no matter how beautiful that product is).  For around $60, you can get an iPad Bluetooth Keyboard and case that transforms your iPad into a much more productive mobile device, especially if you've been frustrated with touchscreen typing.

By using this case, the iPad rests on a built in stand (with various comfortable angles) in a horizontal position resembling a netbook. The keyboard has a silicone cover thus providing protection against occasional spills while you're working in a coffee shop.  The keyboard itself has a noticeable tactile feedback so it feels just like you are typing again instead of tapping, and it's a fully functional keyboard with home, volume and search buttons. The case is made of soft leather and closes with a magnetic clasp. Now you are truly mobile and the whole thing weighs just 2.75lbs, which is less than the new 13" MacBook Air.  The fully charged lithium battery will give you about 90 hours of continuous use and has a USB charger. It's easy to carry and great to work on. Who needs a netbook?

Monday, November 8, 2010

iPhone Challenging Blackberry In Corporate Sector

With consumer sales so strong for the iPhone, it's inevitable that business people are steering away from the ubiquitous corporate preferred mobile device, the Blackberry.  Blackberries have long been the preferred smartphone device for business people, politicians and even bankers, due to its secure mail server capabilities.  But the use of smartphones for personal (consumer use) and business use are merging, and no one wants to carry two devices.

For the iPhone to really compete against Blackberry, security needs to increase and in fact the banks are testing software designed to make the iPhone secure enough for corporates.  The other factor that is accelerating the use of iPhones is cost; Blackberries cost more to run due to their monthly service charges.  Dell has said it is dropping Blackberry smartphones and will replace it with its own new line of smartphones, citing the Company would save 25% on communications costs alone.

A recent survey by Bernstein Research found 83 percent of U.S. businesses allow employees to use non-BlackBerry alternatives to access corporate email. With Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, all saying they are considering allowing employees to use iPhones or other alternatives to the standard-issue BlackBerry, things are not looking too good for RIM's market share.  Of course, RIM has stated otherwise, that it is adding corporate subscribers. According to IDC, RIM's market share has fallen by 4 percent in the last third quarter compared to a year ago.

The surging popularity of consumer smartphones such as the iPhone allow corporate email access for business users, and if companies no longer need to supply the device, this could add up to a major I.T. cost saving. Bank of America has around 290,000 employees, while Citi employs some 258,000 and the British bank Standard Chartered already allows its employs the choice of using their iPhones.

Adding to this trend is the capability of wi-fi and FaceTime, and you can see how more productive the iPhone is for business users both at the office and while traveling.  With FaceTime soon to be available on the desktop and of course the iPad, it's really difficult for RIM to compete with this tight integration.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ski Resorts Launch iPhone, Android App

Going skiing this season?  There an App for that.  With 28 percent of the U.S. mobile market now using a smartphone,  it makes sense that ski resorts should be looking at mobile marketing and social media as the focus of their marketing strategy. And that is exactly what Colorado resorts are doing, from Facebook presence to geo-tagging on Twitter, all designed to inform and make the trip more engaging for the visitor.

Vail Resorts, Inc. for example, will launch EpicMix for iPhone and Android in December, an App that allows skiers and snowboarders to share their ski experience on Facebook as well as publish information on snowfall, slopes etc. If visitors link their Facebook account to EpicMix, they will be able to get alerts about when their friends are on the mountain too and send them messages.

Vail Resorts is also using Facebook for exclusive deals that won't be available anywhere else. They are even taking geo-tagging one step further by utilizing radio frequency identification tags (RFID) on lift tickets and season passes. The RFID tags and new scanners on lift towers let EpicMix track customers' ski days and vertical feet logged, both at resorts in Colorado and California.

RTP, the ski software company, is beefing up the Realski iPhone application that acts as an interactive trail map for dozens of North American resorts. Users hold up a newer iPhone to see a video image of whatever a skier is viewing on the mountain, and tags of nearby trails, restaurants and restrooms digitally pop up on the screen.

Even if you don't ski, it's still a useful App for the visitor who wants to connect with friends both at the resort and back home.  There's also a kid friendly version too.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mobile iPhone App For Public Libraries

Public libraries might seem to be very 20th century, but they still provide a service to many communities everywhere.  They have provided free wi-fi and computer access for sometime, but apart from that nothing much has changed to bring libraries into the 21st century, until now.  Vancouver public library (Canada), is probably one of the first to really embrace new technology, by launching a mobile App for the iPhone.

Now you can browse the library's catalog on your Apple mobile device in a very user friendly format and find the location of the book .  The App has a GPS functionality map to locate exactly where the nearest library is to you, with the book you selected. Basic website access to library catalogs has been available for a while, but it is hardly attractive nor user friendly.

What has also been a missed opportunity, are reader reviews.  Why not encourage your borrowers to write reviews on the books they have loaned?  Well now you can write and review books with this new App.  If we're going to pay for a public service, it makes sense to make it as functional, accessible and enjoyable as possible.  Maybe such an App might encourage other community interaction on a very local level, whether it's to announce children's reading events, or book review meet-ups or any other special events the Library could host.  Just by making such an App available, let social interaction naturally bring people together.

The next feature to add would be the ability to read electronic books, with a mechanism of expiration that automatically deleted the download from your device after the permitted loan period.  Now that would bring libraries into the mobile digital age.

The App is free in the iTunes store.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wi-Fi Access For London Commuters - Great for The iPad

Wi-fi access for commuters seems like a no brainer.  Britain is beginning a six month trial in London that is sure to please daily commuters, especially if you have an iPad.  The days of printed newspapers, as we already know,  is dwindling rapidly everywhere.  The iPad has however given new life to print media and as recently reported, the The Financial Times has turned a profit from advertising on its iPad format.  The next piece of the puzzle was accessibility on a train with a reliable wi-fi system. The London trial is funded by British Telecom but access will be available to other cell providers and customers.

Fast forward to 2012 and the Olympic Games in London and now it starts to get really interesting. We know from the Vancouver, Canada, Winter Olympics as to how successful the Internet was globally. (More than 1.25 million downloads recorded for the official mobile spectator guide.) But with so many people carrying wi-fi enabled smartphones these days and growing, the next Olympic Games is likely to break even more new ground in terms of online accessibility and social network interactivity - live.

Glasgow, Scotland, has actually launched wi-fi access on the rail network today, providing free travel information but also enabling free access to Skype for calls.  Now the business traveler can truly be more productive and utilize that previously wasted time (or was it catch up sleep time?).

Many cities throughout the UK will provide participating venues for the Olympics. It certainly looks like a gear up for wi-fi and mobile access to the games, which will open up massive opportunities for advertisers in 2012.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Paperless Office?

Are we becoming a paperless society now that we have such advanced digital technology?  No, in fact we are using more paper than ever before. There is no such thing as a paperless office since we must keep hard copies of important documents for legal purposes, but we are also obsessed with that hard copy.

What is most fascinating are the figures reported in The Independent (UK), that mobile devices will generate 12 billion printed pages!  Eighty five percent of smartphone users want to print from their device. Now we begin to comprehend why HP acquired Palm Inc. for WebOS and why it plans to use this operating system throughout its printer range of products, to connect seamlessly to the Palm Pre and other devices.

Maybe the iPad and cloud computing will make us a little less dependent on printing hard copies, especially when it comes to those photos, which are so vivid on an iPad or iPhone screen? If we are trying to be green, perhaps we should just stop and think about World Paper Free Day.  Watch the video.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mobile Marketing Expenditure Set To Double in 2011

According to a recent study by e-marketer, mobile Ad spending is set for record growth in 2011 to $1.1 billion.  Of course the economic recovery has something to do with this but, it is more likely attributable to the surge in smartphone sales from Apple and Google. Over 55 million people in the U.S. now own a smartphone and sales are continuing to grow.

Each business sector will need to evaluate how it can take advantage of getting in front of the mobile user, whether it's merely making your website more accessible for the smartphone, iPad or, a specifically designed App.  For example, Amazon announced just today, a new App called Windowshop for the iPad, optimized for the touchscreen. It's a much quicker and easier way to browse the products in their store, by reducing the number of clicks to get to relevant information.

Other sectors like real estate, are way behind the curve and are only just beginning to look at the mobile sector and the mobile consumer.  While geo-location Apps provide rich marketing opportunities, just applying a text number to the 'For Sale' sign of a home is the simplest way to engage in mobile marketing and connect with home buyers.  Mobile marketing is direct response oriented and  doesn't have to cost a lot. When combined with social media campaigns, your business can start to see results pretty quickly.

For more on how to develop a social media marketing campaign for your business, read Social Media Marketing for Small Business, available on Kindle and iPad.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apps Do Matter

Now that we've reached a critical mass in the smartphone market, the next big growth area are the Apps.  When you include all the iPad users in the mix, the opportunity for App sales is clearly bright.  In fact, one-third of iPad users still haven't downloaded an App according to a study by Neilsen.  Consider also, the Apple announcement this week of putting the App store on the Apple Mac desktop -  and now you have something quite interesting.

Apple has increased its presence by being available on several consumer devices unlike the Android platform which is confined to smartphones (at present anyway), or Microsoft, which is trying to get a piece of the mobile space having missed the smartphone market completely.  But it's not all about the smartphone or the hardware. Competitors have to figure out how to catch up with 300,000 Apps (and growing daily). Where are the Apps for the Microsoft mobile platform other than Office?  Developers have shifted focus to the Apple environment and since it costs so little to develop an iPhone App, compared to desktop software, a whole industry has quietly emerged of small independent developers who don't need millions of dollars in VC money anymore.  And imagine all this has happened in a terrible economy.

According to a recent Nielsen study, the 63 percent of iPad users that did download an App, actually paid for it.

The desktop has always had software, but at a premium price.  Microsoft owned that business model, setting the price of the desktop software to almost the price of the hardware (by these days standards).  With Apple now such a dominant player in the tech market, even that traditional business model is about to be decimated.  We don't need to be forced into buying expensive software on a disk anymore.

The App store will allow consumers more choice within a cohesive platform and at significantly lower prices than traditional desktop software. All of Apple's products, from the iPhone, iPod, iPad and even the new Macbook Air will all take advantage of mobile consumers who are also business users.  And we are only at the beginning of this revolution!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finally - webOS 2.0, Palm Pre 2

Nothing much has been heard regarding the Palm Pre phone since HP acquired Palm earlier this year.  Finally, HP has announced an upgrade to webOS and an upgrade to the Pre. Although these upgrades appear low key (because we've come to expect so much these days), it means that HP is still in the game. In fact it's the first major upgrade for webOS for 16 months and it has some nifty features such as "Stacks" which groups together your applications logically. The new “Just Type” feature will allow you to start an email, send a message, search a website, or update your status without ever opening an App. Developers  will be able to create shortcuts called “Quick Actions” to take advantage of the Just Type feature.  On the hardware side, the Palm Pre will have a 1GHz processor, a new 5 megapixel camera and 16 GB of storage.

Is there a need for another smartphone in the market in what is already becoming a crowded space?

Yes there is.  Some people still prefer to have an onboard keypad and there are a lot of loyal Palm users out there.  Palm has always been in the business market, which puts it head to head with Blackberry and now Microsoft with its' Windows Phone 7 platform. Both Blackberry and Microsoft have been too slow to move into the true smartphone space and it's no comparison to webOS, which is a true multitasking operating system. In any case, webOS 2.0 includes Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, which will allow users to view Microsoft Office files, as well as the Skype application that users have been waiting a long time for.

What's interesting is that the French and Canadian markets will be getting the phone first, in fact this Friday it will be available in France, followed by Verizon in the coming months.

Overall, it's good to see HP is getting serious about this great smartphone and operating system.  HP has also attracted some executives from Nokia and Samsung, so expect more great things from HP Palm in the future.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mobile Apps Are Transforming Consumer Behavior

According to a survey from Deloitte, Revolutions 2010, smartphone Apps and ereaders are indeed transforming consumer behavior. More consumers are turning to their smartphone for entertainment, news and information than previous traditional sources.

Deloitte surveyed nearly 2,000 U.S. consumers between the ages of 14 to 75 and discovered a trend it says is leading to a “cannibalization” of consumer electronics, thanks to the increasing availability and functionality of apps. The survey finds that 42 percent of app users have reduced or completely eliminated their use of MP3 players in favor of smartphones or tablets.  As the iPhone progresses with more and more functionality, I can't see why you need an iPod anymore or have to carry both products.  As consumers, we want one product that does it all, the one that you can't leave the house without.

So will the iPad have the same effect on laptops? 
This survey certainly suggests it might well encroach upon the laptop sector; 41 percent use their smartphone as a replacement for their laptop or mobile device while away from home and 15 percent do so while at home.  That's a significant shift and one you can bet Apple is watching closely with regard to future product development of the iPad.  

Another 62 percent in the survey said the availability or presence of mobile Apps causes them to carry their smartphones when they otherwise would not.  That means as consumers, we cannot leave home without our smartphone.  

Similar interesting trends are happening with ereaders.  According to the Deloitte survey, 10 percent of U.S. consumers have purchased an e-book, 56% of this group are reading more books in digital format than previously in hardcopy, and 61% are purchasing more e-books than they did in the traditional print versions. But is it the convenience factor or the cost of buying books that is fueling this trend?  There's no question that ereaders have slashed the cost of buying a book, so perhaps we can now afford to buy more.  But convenience is a serious factor.  The iPad alone is bringing new life to old world publications' (newspapers) dwindling print sales.  Just this week, the Financial Times reported the iPad has generated $1.5 million in Ad revenues in only five months.  That's not subscription but Ads!

This is all great news for content publishers and writers especially, who for too long now have been giving away their content for free as the digital world finds a new business model.  Thanks to the iPad and smartphones, this too is about to change.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Small Business Needs Social Media Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes (and hence disappoints) that small business makes when it enters into the social media arena, is the compulsion to just post anything and everything everywhere.  It's a time-consuming task and without a strategic approach you are likely to find this activity come to very little and eventually lose interest and perhaps abandon it altogether, with the notion that "it doesn't work".  There's a right way and a wrong way, just as with all your marketing initiatives.  Why any business would enter into social media marketing without a strategy is frankly naive.

Your social media campaign is your marketing campaign.  Therefore it needs to have a defined purpose, campaign length, targeted demographics, an offer, informational or desired response, etc.

1. Define your goal: What are you trying to achieve - sales, awareness, brand image building, loyalty etc.

2. Define your marketing strategy and pick the social media that is right for the job.  You don't have to post in every medium there is.  Twitter and Facebook have distinct differences and therefore work best in different scenarios.

3. Don't try and do it all yourself as a business owner, as it will distract you from the daily management of your business.  Delegate this task to an expert, not your secretary.  Hire a professional, a marketing and social media consultant who knows what they are doing, for a few hours a week.  You can't afford this kind of expertise in-house full-time, so don't cut corners with an intern.

4. Do stay in touch with your social media expert and know what consumers are saying about your brand, and if a trend emerges, either use it positively or fix the negative but don't just do nothing.

5. Be aware that people are accessing your information from mobile devices - smartphones, so think how best to present it.

There are so many ways to use social media that it is important to really be disciplined about your campaigns, whether you are trying to build sales through offers or, provide information that makes your business be perceived as an expert in its field.  Done well and combined with mobile marketing (including geo-location specific campaigns), it will be a positive influence on your business.

For more about how to design a campaign, read Social Media Marketing For Small Business - a step-by-step guide by Audrey Peters - available on Kindle and iPad formats. Or if you have specific questions, post your comments below.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taking Your GPS Smartphone For A Jog

Nike has released a cool location based GPS App for your iPhone or iPod. There are a lot of devices out there that will log your pace and distance only, but for those of you walking or jogging with an iPod or iPhone,  why not combine it all in just one device? And the one thing we all never leave home without, is our phone. The Nike App doesn't require a sensor since it is using the GPS function in your smartphone. So you can now track all your indoor and outdoor workout or daily steps.

There's another nifty aspect to this App. It can record your route as well as distance so if you need to challenge yourself or set goals, it's now easy to track on your iPhone. And if that wasn't enough, the App also has voice feedback to tell you how you are doing and where you are, so you don't need to take your eyes off the road or path ahead. Should you start to get really bored or less motivated, Nike has a website community, Nike+ where you can send your run, set goals, join challenges or even brag to friends.  If your pace starts to wane, you can activate your own personalized PowerSong for an extra boost. It really is like having your own personal trainer with you. 

The App is available from the iTunes store and costs just $1.99.  It's well worth it for those who like to keep fit and keep a track of their workout.  Maybe it might even motivate those who don't exercise regularly?  The reasons to own an iPhone just keep on getting better as it becomes the one utility that serves our business, social and leisure needs. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Mobile Apps Can Help Sell Homes

In an economy filled with bad news, it is refreshing to see a Mobile App that is actually helping to sell new homes. The Real Estate industry has been so far behind the curve in using technology in the sales cycle in general, indeed this App has existed for about a year now.  So why the sudden interest?  Perhaps the tight market conditions have actually forced the industry to look to new ways and new tools. 

Sales Simplicity's CRM and e-marketing mobile application for the builder and developer, was released about a year ago. In particular, it helps facilitate the closing of a deal especially on weekends when the sales manager is not around and yet it is the prime time for buyers who are looking at homes with their sales agents.

Here's how it works.
When the contract is drawn up at the office, it is sent to the home builder's sales manager and usually that's it until Monday morning.  With the Sales Simplicity smartphone App, this sales contract can now be sent immediately to the sales manager's smartphone - no matter what he is using, iPhone, Android or Blackberry. The data includes the notes on the back-and-forth negotiations and the builder's sales manager can see the margins, so that he can make an informed decision on whether to accept or counteroffer without having to be at the office.  Of course the system has built in confidentiality so only the sales manager can see the margins, but the agent and buyer cannot.  The App tracks all this back and forth negotiations, essentially keeping track of workflow for records management, until a deal is reached.  

So when homebuilders aren't around at weekends (prime house shopping time), Sales Simplicity permits the selling and deal closing to continue.  In a difficult market such as we are in, this App can make all the difference to sales.  Perhaps the down market has forced real estate companies to look at new ways to increase sales.  What we now need to see is more real estate brokers adopt mobile Apps to help push sales of existing homes. The consumer has been ready for some time.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Could Smartphones Mean The Death Of The Wallet?

MobilePay Video from Randy Smith on Vimeo.

MobilePay USA has launched an iPhone App that could mean you can now leave your wallet at home and never have to worry about theft of several credit cards at once.  With this App you can now store your credit card(s) number digitally in the cloud not on the phone itself, so no worries if the phone is stolen or lost.  Your number is stored at a secured payment provider.  You still need a PIN to activate use each time but since it's stored in the cloud, you can easily deactivate it from any other device should you lose your phone.

So how does this actually work when you are ready to pay?

You simply let the merchant know you wish to pay by phone enter the Pin on the iPhone App, get a receipt by email.  Those of you worried about credit card fraud can rest easier knowing you are not actually handing your card to the waiter to walk off with to complete the transaction.  From that perspective, it never leavers your hand and the waiter never sees your card.  The PIN directs the payment provider to send cryptographic token to the merchant and the transaction is completed.  You get a receipt by email.  There's no special equipment needed by the merchant but he will pay a 1% transaction fee.  MobilePay is also coming to loyalty cards and other smartphones soon, so now you can leave all those cards at home.

MobilePay is geo-location activated, letting you know which merchants use the system in the area you are located.  Think how useful this could be in a city and how fast it would be to get a train or subway ticket.

Convenience, speed and security will make this an inevitable must have App that will change the way consumers shop in the physical world.  Could MobilePay mean the death of the wallet?   I think it will appeal to many.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mobile Check-in With Smartphones

The smartphone hotel room key has started rolling out at two locations at the Holiday Inn Hotels in Chicago and the Houston Convention Centre.  It's called the MobileKey and customers can sign up when making online reservations.  This makes check-in a breeze.  In fact, you can just by pass the front desk which is a great time saver when the business traveler has had a long journey and a long day.

Upon enrolling online, you receive a link to download the application on your smarphone.  This is followed by a text message along with a room number.  Upon arriving at the hotel room, you would call up the confirmation code and hold up the smartphone to the sensor on the door lock and voila!  It's that simple and convenient and most business travelers already have a smartphone these days.

The Holiday Inn is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group which is the biggest hotel chain in the world, in terms of number of rooms.  When this group standardizes on keyless entry, you can expect the rest of the industry to likely follow.  This application currently works on iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones.

The only downside - don't let your phone run out of juice and risk being locked out.  But there's always the good old fashioned hotel desk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

iPad Gets Google Docs

The lines between a laptop and the iPad are beginning to merge as more business productivity comes to the iPad.  Google announced it will roll out new updates to Google Docs enabling compatibility with an iPad.  Apple iWorks is a great productivity tool, far better than Microsoft Office by leaps and bounds, but without the capability of local storage of data (a local file system), iWorks is useless for the iPad.  To achieve that kind of business productivity requires Apps in the Cloud.  Enter Google Docs.

Google's suite of products are used by 3 million businesses globally and 30 million users.  In fact, about 1,000 companies a day are switching to Google Docs (clearly driven by cost cutting and the economic pressures), but also because the Cloud offers easier sharing of docs and mobility.

With Google Docs, the iPad is no longer a mere consumer product, but a serious business tool enabling professionals to continue working while on the move, irrespective of whether they last worked on that document from their office computer. Will Apple respond by making iWorks perhaps available in the Cloud?  For under $100  for the entire suite of products included in iWorks (wordprocessing, spreadsheet and presentation), i's a joy to use and is still several generations ahead of its rival (including Google Docs which is of course Microsoft).

Google Docs mobile will also be available for the iPhone and other Android devices soon, but will roll out initially for the  iPad.  That indeed tells you how significant the iPad sales have been and continue despite the economy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BMW Brings in-Car Apple Connectivity

BMW will be showing its Apple integration through its iDrive connectivity at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.  iDrive brings a familiar interface to Apple users whether iPad, iPhone or iPod owners because it essentially reverts to your existing iPhone interface. BMW is not making its drivers learn another interface.  It's as easy as plug and go. You'll be able to access all of your stored music - Play lists, as well as features such as text-to-speech memos, messages and emails.

For iPad owners, there's something a little bit special; it's an iPad holder which affixes to the back of a headrest, is pivotal and will have wi-fi connectivity.

And if you have older iPhones, BMW has not left those users behind.  What's special about the in-car connectivity is that iDrive is the central dashboard control centre for all sorts of functions including navigation systems, and now a specific Apple interface.  It's neat and it's simple.  Just plug in your iPhone, iPad or iPod and your are good to go.

It's just one more reason to be an Apple rather than Android user.  The "ultimate driving machine" just added another notch!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Medical Imaging App Becomes Reality For Smartphones

Calgary Scientific: Resolution MD Mobile

When we think of smartphone apps, we tend to think of the consumer. However, the technology and processing power is now so advanced on most smartphones, that it is not surprising we are now seeing some serious Apps coming on stream.  Sprint has partnered with Calgary Scientific and released the first of its kind medical imaging solution - ResolutionMD Mobile.

The App is powered by PureWeb®, which delivers advanced visualization of medical images directly to the physician's HTC EVO™ 4G (will also be available for the iPhone).  For patients, this means better and faster decisions as their physician can easily access patient records and medical images. This type of medical App enables doctors in remote places to have real time access to other specialists and medical records, thus saving lives and saving costs.  Doctors can now deliver bedside care from remote locations using the high quality video for clinical consultations. 

The ResolutionMD App is HIPPA compliant and Calgary Scientific is approved by the FDA for diagnostics in the hand-held device category.  (It's also approved for use in Canada.)  The App works over Sprints 4G (and 3G) wireless network and Pureweb's underlying advanced technology working in the "cloud".  This means that patients records are never really removed from their source.  If an HTC Evo is stolen - no worries - the data remains safe because it does not reside on the handset.  

Finally, telemedicine has become a reality. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

60% More Apps Downloaded On iPhone Than Android

Apple seems to be winning the Apps war while Android as an operating system is winning in terms of shipments (but that's apple and oranges - excuse the pun).  There are so many Android phones now available but only ONE iPhone.  Users of iPhones seem to be downloading about 60 percent more Apps than their counterparts on Android, according to a recent survey by Nielsen among 4000 users.

On average, iPhone users have 40 Apps installed.  They can range from organizing tools, social media, games and many shopping type Apps too.  Look up "groceries" and you'll see many Apps available.  It is this type of practical App that appeals to non-techies and everyday consumers who are finding they can organize their lives better. Rather than writing a grocery list on paper, you can do it via an iPhone App.  (However, I was using SplashShopper on myPalm Treo years ago and it did the job just fine.)

Android users are downloading on average, 25 Apps, while on Blackberry it's about 14 Apps.  The breakdown of iPhone Apps by category was found to be:
- 61% games
- 55% weather
- 50% mapping, search
- 49% social networking
- 42% music
(Source: Nielsen) 

Since there are around a 1/4 million iPhone Apps now available, it is not surprising that iPhone users have downloaded 60% more Apps than other smartphone users.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

iPad Demand Just Keeps On Going

Apple is reported to be building 2 million iPad's a month due to strong consumer demand. While other hardware manufacturers are scrambling to produce clones for the holiday season, Apple has truly left them in the dust and plans to ramp up to 3 million a month for the holidays.  It seems the consumer has fallen in love with this first generation device.  Apple broke new ground and literally owned the smartphone sector when it launched the first iPhone; the same thing is happening with the iPad.  

Already adopted in the education and healthcare sectors, the iPad is still working its way into new markets.  Perhaps it won't be too long before we see the iPad in law enforcement, where access to criminal databases at the scene of the crime makes sense. Or, perhaps at a construction site where an engineer, architect or even designer need to access plans, make changes or check on delivery of supplies etc.  Apple is also targeting the business sector with features designed to make it attractive to the enterprise market. 

Expect new features for the iPad in the next 2011 release to include a camera and FaceTime.  For now, there is a new OS release (4.2) expected in November, which will bring around 100 new features including a game center, AirPlay and wireless printing, just to mention a few. 

This should be a very good holiday season for Apple products.  For 2011, analysts predict iPad sales to reach an astounding 28 million units.  Now that's probably going to kill the Netbook sector!  Beyond that, who knows if the iPad will eventually replace the laptop?  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

City Councils Save Millions Using Smartphone Apps

It's hard to believe that governments can actually save money but city councils in the UK have apparently saved taxpayers about $354 million. How? By using smartphone applications and location based services instead of more expensive alternatives. Smartphone Apps are being used to identify when the next bus will arrive and where road construction is going on. The consumer benefits enormously by avoiding congested areas and wasting time waiting for transport. Other applications include paying for your parking meter via your smarphone, reporting vandalism as it is happening, finding schools and libraries and even restaurants and pub hygiene ratings. 

Cities with public transport systems all over the world can benefit from smartphone Apps. Washington DC for example, uses the Next Bus App developed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  The App uses the GPS units in the system's buses to approximate arrival times at every bus stop on every route.  Because it is in real-time, the consumer knows about delays due to traffic congestion as it's all factored into the scheduled arrival times. The App also has a drop down list of every stop to pick from, in case you are not at your destination yet. With 12,000 stops in a busy city, commuters are sure to  appreciate this App.

Canada is also implementing this technology. The Société de transport de Laval’s public-transit authority is the first in Quebec to use GPS technology to let commuters know whether buses are running on time.  Laval has also implemented this App in Toronto's public transport system.  

If you're a commuter without a smartphone, these Apps alone should convince you to finally take the plunge.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iPhone To Be Used In Upcoming U.S. Elections

The general election of 2008 saw the use of social networks and the Internet play an important part in political campaigning for the first time.  Now in 2010, with geo-location and GPS being a standard smartphone feature, we are about to see yet a new revolution in our elections take place -  on the mobile platform, with the Apple iPhone taking the lead.

The iPhone App will assist fieldworkers canvassing their neighborhoods.  Volunteers can quickly pull up data on voters combined with maps and voter contact lists.  Gone is the clipboard and paper map!

The iPhone App will also include breaking news alerts, talking points and interactive literature to share with voters right there on the their doorstep.  And it's not just one-way communication.  The volunteer can also send real-time feedback and door counts to political headquarters. This iPhone App has certainly eliminated the need to input data overnight after field workers return to base.  Now it will be live and thus permit campaign analysts to view the picture as it unfolds, back at base.  

In just two years, this is a revolution in technology that will change the political campaigning landscape in ways we could not have imagined back in the 2004 elections.  In the 2008 elections, it was all about YouTube and Twitter most notably utilized by the Obama campaign, and then came Facebook.  In 2010, we now have sophisticated smartphones that bring the technology on the road with all the possibilities of live, geo-specific analysis.  With Facebook and Twitter now incorporating geo-location targeting technology, this brings yet more social media features for local campaigners.

The Democrats are rolling out this App shortly.  It will be interesting to see how much technology the Republicans  will embrace this time around.  But you can be sure, it will be an interesting election.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reward Cards On Your iPhone

Carrying all those membership store reward cards has always been inconvenient. With CardStar's iPhone App, you can now access all your scannable cards, deals and retailer information from your smartphone. No more searching for the right card at check out or finding you left it at home. The App gives you realtime access to coupons and special offers.

It works by entering one membership number into CardStar's website which creates a digital card. The App basically consolidates all your cards in a mobile App eliminating the need to search for special deals every time you are in a store.

Retailers participating in this program include, CVS, BestBuy, PetCo and about 2,000 more merchants. When you are in a store, all you do is access the App to see what's on offer. Clearly geo-targeting is an intrinsic part of the application. From the retailer's perspective, this kind of App helps foster customer loyalty and engagement in the shopping experience, and a ton of analytical data too.

The App is also available on the Android and Blackberry platforms and Verizon recently invested $400,000 in Cardstar. We can expect to see more developments in the mobile wallet and mobile payments space too. Verizon is in fact teaming up with AT&T and T-Mobile to test a mobile payment service that will allow customers to pay directly via their smartphone. That certainly suggests that cellphone companies know mobile marketing and mobile Apps are the future.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

iPad Going To Law School

The adoption of the Apple iPad as an educational tool was inevitable, based on its price, size and mobile ease of use. We've already seen a few educational institutions such as, Stanford School of Medicine include a free iPad in its welcome kit, so why not Law schools? The Monterey College of Law in California is the first law school in the U.S. to adopt the iPad as part of its curriculum. The College is running a pilot program developed in association with BAR BRI, the country’s largest bar exam review company, that will provide every law student with an iPad.

It's interesting that both medicine and law have been sectors of industry that have really lagged when it comes to adoption of computer technology.  Now suddenly, they are using the most leading edge devices bringing real productivity.  

With so many students now combining full time-work with part-time education, especially online courses, the iPad becomes a useful productivity tool that helps balance work, study and home life. It's far easier to carry around an iPad and use break times during the day to continue education online. 

Apple was always popular in the education sector and targeted specific programs for students in terms of price.  The strategy of acquiring young users who would transition to further Apple products as they grew older has worked well for Apple.  (Once you use a Mac - you're usually smitten and no going back to Microsoft.) Now, the younger demographic are also smartphone users, so if the iPad is a new introduction to Apple, expect more iPhone sales.  

Educational institutions are also offered a volume purchase discount on most Apple products, including the iPad.  As for netbooks - why bother?  All the netbook manufacturers are scrambling to launch their own version of an iPad.  But this train has already left the station!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Hidden Details In Skype IPO

Today, Google announced a GMail App enabling voice calls for free in the US and Canada - from computer to phone connections.  This is a direct aim at Skype's market. However, the big opportunity is in the enterprise sector which is where Skype is headed. Skype is hooking up with corporate networks and connecting with companies like ShoreTel.  

Here’s the key passage from Skype’s IPO filing:

We believe the business communications market represents a large opportunity for Skype. Approximately 37% of over 40,000 of our connected users surveyed in the first quarter of 2010 told us that they use our product platform occasionally or often for business-related purposes. We believe there is a significant opportunity to better serve the communications needs of the small and medium enterprise segment, as well as larger enterprise customers, by focusing on user needs in this market and developing additional products specifically tailored to business users. We plan to address this opportunity through the following initiatives:
  • Introduce new business-focused products. We have released two products to better serve and grow revenue in the enterprise market: Skype Manager, which allows businesses to create Skype accounts, purchase our paid products and manage and pay for the use of Skype products by their employees, and Skype Connect, which allows businesses to connect their private telephone branch exchange (PBX) over the Internet to Skype’s peer-to-peer user network to achieve low-cost calling. Skype Connect already has over 2,400 active global customers, and has already been certified by Avaya, Cisco, SIPfoundry and ShoreTel, among others, as interoperable with their products.
  • Build a new sales force, support team and management tools. We are investing to develop our business features and functionality and are exploring options such as adding more robust technical support, video and data conferencing, and collaboration solutions. We are also growing our business sales team to be able to focus on selling these products in the business market.
The traditional phone companies should be worried with competition from both Skype and Google.  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mobile Banking Coming To Your Smartphone

While customers seem to want more flexibility and control over their money, security has been a big issue on smartphones. Nevertheless, there are Apps being created for iPhones, Android and other mobile devices, that allow customers to check balances and transactions by sending a text message request. Bank of America for example has signed up 5 million of its customers since its mobile service debuted in 2007.  

Wells Fargo on the other hand has launched a multiple platform strategy allowing customers to access their accounts by:
- sending an SMS to a short code;
- going on the Bank's mobile website;
- or by using mobile Apps (iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Palm). 

Wells Fargo credit card customers can sign up for a text alert every time their Visa card is involved in a transaction.  So depending on how the customer feels like engaging Wells Fargo has produced a number of options, which is a clever strategy that allows the market to evolve as per the customer needs and wants.  Even if you are not comfortable with mobile banking per se, at least the text message alerts are a way to stay on top of any fraudulent activity almost immediately.  

True mobile banking with the ability to swipe your phone and complete a credit card transaction is also coming. Bank of America is currently testing such a system. It is a sophisticated technology requiring the installation of a chip in your smartphone and a software application. The chip emits a radio signal that is received by a device at the retailer. Customers either tap the device or wave their phone nearby.  This pilot program starts in New York City in September 2010. 

I still have to wonder what happens when you lose your smartphone?  You not only lose your personal data but it seems like you lose all your credit cards too - in one fell swoop.  This seems like a perfect opportunity for the bad guys to snatch your phone. Having some sort of Pin number to complete the transaction makes sense to me.  And while you can remotely call your phone to wipe out the data, a thief can still do a lot of damage with that mobile credit card before you are able to activate a 'destroy sequence'.  What are your thoughts?  Convenience or sheer madness? 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook Goes Geolocation

Facebook has released a new feature called  "Places", which allows you to directly "check in" at any location, without the use of a third-party App to do so.  It basically allows you to broadcast your location to friends in your network.  Retail marketers clearly will love the ability to know where you are shopping and direct relevant promotions however, individuals may find this just a little intrusive and possibly even 'creepy'.

Has technology actually gone too far?
If you are concerned about your privacy you will need to go into your account to deactivate this feature.  Once again, Facebook takes the stance of limited privacy by default until you go in and say otherwise.  To use the App on your iPhone or Android phone, you need to go to

Frankly, this may be geo-location gone too far.  One has to wonder about all sorts of legal implications such as the use of evidence in a bad situation or even stalking.  Geolocation has its place in mobile marketing where you decide to opt-in promotions in a safe environment or private relationship between you and the company. Broadcasting your location in an open way is not likely to take off, even among the younger demographic who are concerned about their privacy, according to several industry surveys.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Of The Best iPhone Apps For Busy Moms

The smartphone is coming of age and becoming an integral part of our lives, whether you're a business executives or a busy mother trying to juggle your family's grocery shopping and planning healthy meals.  One of the most practical Apps around has just been launched by Rachael Ray (Food Network personality) for the iPhone, called "Tasty Bytes".  It includes a 200 recipe database and combines a shopping list feature, that basically takes the ingredients from the recipes you select and converts it into a shopping list.  Getting your food shopping this organized makes it a breeze to eat healthy.  And who takes a recipe book with you when shopping or forgets the list at home? 

The App is only $1.99 in the iTunes store.  Other nice features are the ability to email a recipe, search the database by meal type, holidays, cooking style and even ingredients.  This is just one simple way that the smartphone, in particular the iPhone with over 200,000 Apps, is able to bring organization into our lives and transform daily tasks into something a little bit more creative and exciting.  I'm sure there will be other celebrities that follow suit with their own App,  but the key is to provide something a consumer really needs and that enhances their daily life.  

With a food/recipe and shopping list App, marketers and retailers can find ways to add mobile marketing, location based coupons, and even combine social networks into the mix, so you can also tell your friends about your recipe or even share a menu.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mobile Marketing Budgets Set To Explode In 2011

A recent survey by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) predicts that mobile marketing budgets will double in 2011. Mobile marketing spend is still a small piece of total advertising expenditure, at $2.3 B but those surveyed indicate expenditure is likely to top $5.5 B next year. This is hardly surprising since smartphone sales are already beginning to replace older basic cell phones as contracts expire. The consumer sees a value in spending $199 (price point for the best smartphones) today, as opposed to two years ago.
  • Mobile websites and apps are expected to become more popular as well, with anticipated adoption rates of 83 percent and 71 percent, respectively. 
  • The MMA also anticipates marketers will invest more in location-based features - in fact this is the area of biggest growth. 
  • SMS appears to be in for an increase of 141 percent in spending. 
  • Spending on mobile video is expected to increase by 137 percent. 
The drivers in the marketplace are the continued release of Android phones and the Apple 'effect' - the iPad and iPhone 4.  The drivers in the retail sector is the desire to capture 'first mover advantage' and increase the engagement with customers, according to a Forbes Insight Study in July 2010.  Even a small business can utilize mobile marketing with a minimal expenditure using Google Mobile AdWords.  

For more on Social Media Marketing for Small Business, check out the iBookstore. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

iPad Becoming Standard Equipment At Med Schools

The Apple iPad, initially perceived as a beautiful consumer gadget must have, has transitioned into a serious business and education tool.  Stanford School of Medicine has just announced that incoming students in the Class of  2014 will get an  iPad as part of their welcome kit.  The School cited that:  “iPad allows students to view and annotate course content electronically, facilitating advance preparation as well as in-class note-taking in a highly portable, sharable and searchable format.”

Even though the school has admitted that they don't really know how the students will be using the iPad, there's no question that the device will offer flexibility in accessing so much information for students, from class to lab to viewing multi-media and evidence based data.  Once students get used to working in a certain way with technology, it's  likely to be a part of their working life in a medical institution or private clinic.  The sheer mobility offered by the iPad allows the physician to be more efficient, offer a personalized service to patients and even, more interactive using the multimedia capabilities of an iPad in a friendlier environment.  

UC Irvine School of Medicine is also following suit with free iPads for students but providing additional content including: course outlines and handouts, slide presentations and first-year textbooks in a digital format that allows highlighting and notation,  access to audio and video libraries as well as podcasts. And technological advances such as digital stethoscopes and handheld ultrasound units are currently being configured.

At last, perhaps the medical industry might be catching up with technology, efficiencies and ultimately, better patient care.  As for Apple, the iPad is a real game changer in so many ways.  And this is only the beginning of a new computing revolution that will see other hardware manufacturers follow rather than lead. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Business Is Not Using Social Media Wisely

A recent study by Wildfire (a research company) in the UK, looking at the social media activities of the 50 fastest growing tech companies, found that while over 90% of the companies had a presence on two or more social networks, only a small minority were actually using social media to be 'social'.  About 74% of the companies in this survey had an official Twitter account, but less than half actually ever responded to a single tweet.  These companies appear to be using Twitter to distribute press releases, or one-way marketing.  A major opportunity is being missed.  The power of the social media platform enables a company to engage in socializing to build brands, awareness, develop customer relations, conduct valuable research and generally market their products.  

Companies are embarking on acknowledging social media such as Twitter, but essentially they are ill-equipped in the method of socializing or using the media as a conversation tool.  Until they do, the results of their efforts will be minimal.  You can learn  more about how to use this tool by reading: Social Media Marketing For Small Business which is available for iPad or Kindle or,  click here for a consultation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Smartphone In-Car Usage to Increase Significantly

A recent Survey by Frost and Sullivan predicts that the number of cars connected to the internet via the smartphone will exceed 5 million by 2015, in just North America alone. There is a gradual shift to this hybrid model of connecting a smartphone from inside a car (or hybrid connected telematics).  In fact Ford Synch has played a big part in this consumer shift, especially in the 'Gen Y' demographic who are driving the use of mobile Internet on smartphones.   Downloading apps from sites like Apple is becoming increasingly popular in North America and Europe.

Gen Y will continue to account for at least a quarter of the total population until 2030, but in South Asia, Gen Y will likely represent over 40 per cent of the population by 2030.  This is clearly a huge opportunity for vehicle manufacturers and for Internet radio which is the most popular App in cars at present.  

Should the satellite radio companies be worried?  Yes, if they continue to price monthly subscriptions at $13 a month.  That price level  can no longer be justified by many and in fact Sirius has been declining for about 2 years.  Internet radio is essentially free and customizable.  There are many good services to choose from such as Pandora or Slacker which are essentially free, but offer true customization for a small subscription.  However, you will have to watch the data consumption rates if you are on an AT&T plan.  The sensible option is the subscription service for Slacker Radio which gives you offline listening by caching and storing the music. Slacker Plus is $3.99 a month which is considerably lower than satellite radio subscription.  The App is free and works with iPhone, Android and Palm.  Alternatively, listening to previously downloaded podcasts is truly free and you can connect your iPhone with an accessory, enabling you to listen through a free FM station.  

There's no question that your smartphone is going to be your in-car device for navigation and now for music and podcasts too.
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