Thursday, July 29, 2010

iPhone Trumps Blackberry With Doctors

A recent survey by the Spyglass Consulting Group shows that smartphone usage is finally coming to the medical sector. The report found that 94 percent of physicians are using smartphones, compared to 59 percent in 2006. Of this group, iPhone is the clear winner with 44 percent of doctors, while only 25 percent use Blackberry. 

While physicians are adopting mobile communications, frustration continues due to accessibility of information, communication and collaboration. The problems are based on smartphones not being integrated with the disparate enterprise systems - a problem that has plagued the healthcare sector for decades. Consequently, doctors have to use multiple devices for various tasks, including personal smartphones, business smartphones, push-to-talk units, pagers and VOIP phones.  Pagers in fact still remain the most reliable communications due to poor cellular reception in large hospitals.

Even within this environment, the Apple iPhone seems to be the preferred mobile device despite the fact that most hospital IT departments don't support it.  Doctors are therefore paying for it themselves.  When employees are willing to pay for a device over the choice given to them by their organization, that speaks volumes for the quality of the product.  

My suspicion is that the iPhone is either the more user friendly mobile device and doctors are not that techno literate or, that younger doctors are a demographic that want the latest and best technology/status symbol and, will pay for it.  The survey unfortunately did not go into the demographic details.  IT departments cite the security issues of an iPhone.  I would suggest this needs to be overcome if this is the device both physicians want to use for internal communications as well as externally with patients. (Just think how FaceTime could be utilized for communications between doctor and patient.)   

If our health systems are ever going to improve efficiencies and costs, IT departments need to overcome the hurdles and fix the issues.  The market is ready and waiting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Keeping Track Of Your Pets With A GPS Smartphone App

There's a growing interest with pet owners to track the family pet.  Now there's an iPhone App for that, making it easier to track your pooch without having to carry extra devices.      

SpotLight GPS Pet Locator was developed by Positioning Animals Worldwide, Inc. (PAW) in conjunction with the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR), the nation's largest not-for-profit pet ID and recovery service.  The GPS Pet Locator is just 2.5-ounces and can be easily attached to your dog's collar.  Should your pet start to drift from home, the App uses Google Maps to show its location and give you directions on how to get reunited with your pooch.  It costs $249 and then a monthly subscription fee, so it is not inexpensive but does give you a recovery service.  

There are other solutions on the market, such as the Apisphere Collar.   This is a dog collar with an embedded SIM using Apisphere's geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T's wireless network, directly to a pet owner's cell phone or personal computer. An owner sets up a virtual geo-fence around the home allowing the pet to roam within that boundary.  If the pet strays outside those parameters,  your set alerts will go off on your smartphone, text, email etc.  No pricing has yet been released as this product is expected to be launched later this year.  

There are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the U.S.  I am sure location based dog tracking Apps are going to a huge market.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Feds Ruling Makes Unlocking Your iPhone Legal

Finally, the Feds have ruled that it's legal to jail break your iPhone or any other mobile device. Jailbreaking is hacking the phone’s OS to allow consumers to run any app on the phone they choose. The US Copyright Office today changed the exemptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which means you can now unlock your smartphones. Apple can’t use copyright rules to block customers from installing and running unapproved third party apps. A letter that the company sent to the Copyright Office argued that allowing jailbreaking would result "in copyright infringement, potential damage to the device and other potential harmful physical effects, adverse effects on the functioning of the device, and breach of contract."

While consumers feel that they own their phone because they paid for it, well not really, since a two year service agreement does make the phone significantly cheaper than if you purchased it unlocked. And if you think you can now go ahead and jail break your phone safely, think again. While companies can't cite copyright regulations, it doesn’t prohibit companies from limiting those actions through terms of service agreements. 

Mario Ciabarra, chief technical officer of Rock Your Phone, which sells an application to turn an iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, said the the Copyright Office’s decision is a “big win for consumers and applications developers” and has given the jailbreak community “the legitimacy it deserves.” However, Apple responded by saying it won’t change its policy that voids iPhone warranties if a phone has been jailbroken, because the iPhone could become unstable.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is The GPS Smartphone Killing Navigation Companies?

There's no surprise that GPS navigation companies have gradually been losing out to GPS enabled smartphones that offer so much more location based functionality. Google Maps with voice guidance has really been the pivotal application in the navigation sector. 

As we see smartphone sales surge this summer and beyond, the future is looking bleak for Tom Tom, Garmin and other navigation only providers. Of course they will defend themselves by saying they offer more features, but that's at yet another subscription for the consumer who is tapped out already.  People want to carry only one their pocket or handbag so that whether they are driving or walking or taking the local transport in a big city, they have turn by turn navigation with them.  Also, we all know that keeping a separate device in the car is asking for it to be stolen unless it is a fixture built in to the dashboard.  High margin, value-added services for in-car navigation is probably the only market left for these navigation companies and that is far from mass market. 

Strategy Analytics reports that global smartphone shipments grew 43 percent year-over-year to reach 60 million units in Q2 2010.  And those figures don't yet account for the iPhone 4 effect or the Android EVO and other models that are sold out as soon as supplies come in.  While Tom Tom posted a rise in profits recently, its sales are falling and most significantly in the US, where its share of the navigation market dropped from 23% to 19% in this last 2nd quarter.  That correlates with the fact that the hottest smartphone devices are released in the US market first and then globally.  With location based social media and other apps, as well as mobile marketing adding to the value of owning a smartphone, I believe these navigation companies will eventually be squeezed out of the market.  Smartphones and the iPad may be replacing the laptop for most daily use, so why bother with a separate navigation device?   What's your opinion?  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

iPhone 4 - They Can't Make Them Fast Enough!

Smartphone sales are on a tear. It seems like everybody wants one and whether you are an iPhone or Android fan, it's hard to find these phones in stock anywhere. Manufacturers can't make them fast enough. Even with all the negative news surrounding the iPhone antenna issue (and I do think most of that is competitive bashing), there have been 3.2 million iPhone activations since it launched on June 24th. This is the highest quarterly activation ever and of course, these were all AT&T customers. In fact AT&T managed to pull in a whopping 27% new customers. So while much of the press was reporting that iPhone sales were largely upgrades (including PC World), the figures now show Apple is gaining ground with new users.

Apple too had a record-breaking quarter: $15.7 billion in revenue and $3.25 billion in profit with sales of 3.47 million Macs, 8.4 million iPhones, 9.41 million iPods and 3.27 million iPads.  I doubt a minor and overblown antenna issue is going to amount to any dent in iPhone sales, which are still on a three week wait time. With over 200,000 Apps, one submitted every 2.5 minutes and over 3 Billion downloaded, this is indeed a great smartphone choice from a great company.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How A Luxury Hotel Uses Social Media Marketing

The Joie de Vivre Hotel company has 33 luxury hotels in California.  With the economy hitting hard, such operations have seen their marketing budgets decimated.  Social media has plugged that gap by providing an inexpensive way to drive sales and brand loyalty.  The Joie de Vivre now has almost 10,000 followers on Twitter and over 5,000 Facebook fans.  It uses these social media platforms to push special offers and coupons on Tuesday's, for example a Twitter promotional code for $79 a room at the San Francisco Galleria Park Hotel, (one of the Groups hotels).  

Since the program started late in 2009, the Joie de Vivre has booked over 1000 room nights through these deals.  And now the hotel is extending coupons and promotions to restaurants nearby through select partners.  Another great idea is the use of YouTube videos and competitions, which I discuss in my book, Social Media Marketing For Small Business (also on iPad at iBook store).  Joie de Vivre ran a competition, The Road Trippin' California Contest, asking people to submit videos to YouTube on why they love California.  There were 270 videos and 3 winners received an all expense paid California road trip with stays at the group's various hotels.  

This is an example of how to create an inexpensive, engaging promotion that actually does increase sales and brand loyalty.  Imagine how much this program would have cost using conventional marketing advertising techniques.  It's time to start getting creative and launch your own program whether you are a local trader or a larger operation. For a step-by-step guide click here.  And then come back and tell us your story right here or email me.  (Or if you'd like specific help with a program, email me at 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All You Can Eat Music For Android And iPhone

MOG has just launched a streaming music service for Android and iPhones for just $10 a month. The subscription gives you access to 8 million songs over 3G or Wi-Fi and allows you to store as many songs as you like for offline playback. You can search by artist, song or playlist and even create your own custom channels like within Pandora. But unlike other services, you can see the queue ahead - not just a single song title ahead.  On an Android phone, you can listen to music from MOG while handling other tasks however, multitasking within the iPhone is coming in a few weeks (specifically for MOG). There's also a social network element: you can share lists with your friends or other MOG users.  

This is one of those must have apps for anyone who loves music. And you don't have to worry about the data limits on the AT&T network because you can simply download on a Wi-Fi network before you hit the road or the airport. The limit is only what your smartphone can handle. It will stay there until you decide to delete it. That's what makes this radio/music app so compelling. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is A PalmPad In The Works?

HP recently acquired Palm and its WebOS for $1.2 billion.  It turns out that HP filed a trademark for PalmPad on July 7th, about a week after the acquisition was completed. HP executives had indicated they were less interested in Palm's smartphones (a real shame), and primarily interested in WebOS.  Well, it all now makes sense that HP's vision to produce a tablet of some sort has been resurrected with WebOS, rather than a Windows version  on the rumored Slate, that didn't make it to market.  The Palm WebOS is ideal for such a device and would give HP credible competition against the Apple iPad.  However, by the time a PalmPad makes it to market (earliest is 2011 sometime), Apple is likely to be launching/announcing a second generation iPad in January 2011, which may well sport two cameras to deliver FaceTime functionality, and a whole host of improvements.  

The Palm OS was always a good stable business operating system but the company sadly was less than stellar at marketing.  We shall have to wait and see whether HP can deliver anything that will diminish the consumer's love affair with iPads and iPhones.  Unless HP significantly undercuts the price of an iPad, I can't see it taking any significant sales from Apple, not even in the corporate sector where iPad sales are already making inroads. 

3 Ways To Protect Your Android Smartphone

There are three simple ways to protect your Android smartphone from loss or just mislaying it around the house.
  1. The Android phone has a unique swipe, pattern to set up a security code, negating the need to remember yet another pass code.  You have to set this up via the menu, settings, location and security; then swipe your finger across the screen keys in a pattern.  This creates a unique code.  The more you vary your swipe, the more secure it is and it's certainly more difficult to crack than a mere digit passcode.  However, you need to remember that swipe pattern to unlock your phone.
  2. Where's My Droid is a free app that you're likely to use frequently around the house or office.  How many times have you wondered where you put the phone?  Where's My Droid allows you to set up a special passcode or phrase which you can text to your phone from any other device and it will set off a loud alarm.  The alarm will override any volume setting on the phone, even if you had previously set it to vibrate.  
  3. GPS Location Security is provided by an app called Mobile Defense, which is currently free to download.  It's a real-time tracking, remote locking app that will show you exactly where you left your smartphone.  If you've really lost your phone or left it in a public place, this app uses GPS to locate it and set off an alarm on the phone itself, lock it, unlock it or even wipe off the data remotely.  Once you've downloaded the app and registered online, you will need web access to activate your instructions.  
    With so much data and personal information on our smartphones these days, security is essential and with a few easy steps your Android phone can be kept secure at all times.  

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    How A Local Business Can Amass Followers On Twitter

    A local consumer business in San Francisco was able to very quickly amass 12,000 followers on Twitter, negating the need for a company website.  The Creme Brulee Cart has become a food favorite among San Franciscans, traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood, selling $3 creme brulee's, blow torched in front of your eyes.   The business owner has found Twitter as a great way to promote his business daily, by Tweeting where he is going to be that day and what the flavor of the day will be.  

    Twitter enables this business owner to promote his mobile business as well as interact with his loyal customers who often post their suggestions.  The Creme Brulee Man also asks where the best place is to park in the neighborhood, making it a two way communication with his fans.  Yeah, it might be a street cart business, but the Creme Brulee Man is doing nicely and all without a marketing budget.

    As a small business owner you should be thinking about building a Twitter presence and driving business by announcing frequent special offers.  Remember that even if you don't announce a new promotion daily, you still need to engage with your customers by just spending a few minutes a day answering questions or even asking and probing for new ideas.  For a step by step guide, read Social Media Marketing For Small Business, available to download, purchase from Amazon or the iBook store.  

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Top 3 Location Based Mobile Apps

    A new study by Harris Interactive shows that the younger demographic are more interested in receiving mobile offers on their smartphone.  In fact 42 percent of users between the ages of 18 and 34 express some level of interest in mobile offers. Among this group the most popular categories are:
    - 68 percent say they would like to receive discounts on groceries, 
    - 64 percent would like promotions and offers from restaurants, (while another 50 percent are interested in promotions related to fast food), 
    - 58 percent would like alerts on entertainment such as movie tickets.

    Between men and women, there's also an interesting difference.  Women are more interested in mobile offers to do with groceries and apparel, while men are more interested in electronics and sporting goods.  

    If you are a small business you would do well to implement inexpensive mobile marketing campaigns, especially since smartphones like the iPhone and Android become more prevalent from here on.  As CNN reports, there seems to be a shortage of smartphones with customers leaving stores empty handed, or having to wait three weeks for the iPhone 4.  Now is the time to start planning your online marketing campaign.  To get started with your social media campaign click here.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Google Android Helps You Find A Parking Spot

    No matter what city you are living in, finding a parking spot can be a real frustration and time waster.  Well, not anymore and not if you have a Google Android phone.  Google has released a nifty App that just about every driver is going to want and need.    It's called Open Spot and it basically works by letting people who are leaving a parking spot share their spots with people that are searching.  You mark the parking space you are leaving as vacant by tapping the Mark a Spot button. Google's servers then store and display this open spot to all Open Spot users for up to 20 minutes.  

    Open Spot uses the GPS positioning function present in most smartphones to track your location, displaying the surrounding area using Google Maps. But the usefulness of this App can only work if there are enough people participating, otherwise you could be staring at a blank screen.  It's currently available in the U.S. and Canada and it's free to download. 

    Great idea once it gains momentum.  Smartphones with geo-location capabilities have really become an integral part of our lives.  You can't leave home without one!

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Microsoft Late To Smartphone Market

    Apple (iPhone and iPad), Google (Android) and now HP (Palm WebOS) are all heavily invested in mobile computing with their various devices and operating systems.  But Microsoft seems to have missed the boat and Cisco is late to the table with Cius, which is just another corporate phone and hardly a threat to the iPad or the iPhone's FaceTime.  So why are Cisco and Microsoft scrambling now?  Because the future of computing is mobile!

    The Windows Mobile operating system is not a big hit with consumers and only captured about 10% of the smartphone market in first quarter this year, according to research firm NPD Group. In 2008, Microsoft had 30% of the smartphone market. So with an expected launch of Windows 7 Mobile in the fall, Microsoft is banking on its Office suite of programs and the Xbox 360 video game system to attract smartphone users. 

    When Apple entered the mobile computing arena, it built something completely different that resonated with consumers.  Somehow it's hard to imagine consumers getting very excited about using Office suite on their smartphones.  It sounds like Microsoft is applying its exact same business model to smartphones.   I don't believe that will translate into success, especially when the Company is late in the game.  With a slew of new Android smartphones expected over the next 6 months and the iPhone coming to Verizon, I see no real reason why consumers will even give Microsoft mobile a second look, unless it is for games.  The only chance Microsoft has is in the gaming sector with Xbox for cellphones, and we'll have to see how that plays out, literally ....with other participants.  

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Yahoo! Dialing Into Android Platform

    Yahoo has somewhat been late to the smartphone game (better late than never), and has just launched Messenger and Mail apps for Android. so that Yahoo! users can keep all their friends, messages and contacts easily to hand. When we think of mobile or smartphone apps, Yahoo! doesn't easily come to mind however, around 41 million users a month access Yahoo on mobile phones, which is a significant user base for the Android platform. 

    There are now a trio of new Yahoo! apps available in the Android Market: a Yahoo! Mail app, Yahoo! Messenger app and a Yahoo! Search widget. Each of these apps have been built specifically for the Android platform and therefore optimized for the Droid, Incredible and Google Nexus One. The mail app for example inlcudes the ability to send emails from the native address book, and upload photos and attachments directly from the camera or gallery. Other features include:  attachment viewing capabilities, emoticons, search by sender, recipient, subject and keywords, folder management and spam tools as well as multi-tasking support. The search widget brings search to the home-screen and makes searching quick with intelligent suggestions and recommendations, as well as voice search capabilities. 

    The new Messenger app connects you to friends in real-time and will run in the background. One of the useful aspects of this is that you can send text messages as part of you IM. But only countries that support SMS will get this feature such as US, Canada and parts of Asia.  Yahoo! Messenger incorporates the latest HTML5 features and boasts a more visual interface that takes advantage of Google's mobile operating system. 

    You can download all this for free on your Android phone and it provides users an alternative to the Google cloud.  

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Blackberry Feels The iPhone Competition

    Blackberry gained market share a few years ago because it really was the first portable and email device, before the term 'smartphones' really meant very much to the consumer.  And that's probably because it wasn't a consumer product offering lots of applications, nor was it really a multi-tasking OS to facilitate other business corporate functions, but it did bring simplicity to email access for the masses on the move.   Today, corporate users are demanding so much more, like access to customer order management, supply chain management or customer invoicing - Apps that perform business functions.

    Last quarter ending May 31st saw RIM sales down from $11.8 M to $11.2 M, not just in the U.S. but worldwide.  While that is not a big decline, it is against the current trend of smartphone sales.  

    With security features beefed up in the iPhone 4, the barriers to corporate use have vanished.  A recent survey by Forrester Research shows that around 29% of IT departments now support the iPhone, up from 17% in 2009.  On the Apps side, corporate Apps such as are now available and downloads for the iPhone have exceeded 500,000 thus outnumbering Blackbery users three to one.  This spells trouble for Blackberry.  

    Between Android, Web OS and iPhone, there really is a diminishing reason to consider Blackberry and it's weak touchscreen feature.  With iPhones coming to Verizon in early 2011, that could mean 8-9 M iPhone sales directly cutting into Blackberry sales on Verizon.   

    The iPhone 4 is just so far superior and there are many super Android smartphones still coming over the next few months.  

    Are you a Blackberry user and what smarphones are you considering as your next upgrade? 

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Domino's Pizza Canada Debuts on Palm And Android Smartphones

    Domino's Pizza mobile App for Palm and Android smartphones has been released by CellFlare Inc. in Canada.  It's a free download that is sure to become a regularly used App if you eat Pizza or if you lead a busy life.  

    You can find the nearest Domino's store by either a GPS button or by typing in an address.  It's that simple!  Almost instantly you will receive turn by turn directions.  Customers can choose to call the number if they wish to place their order - so that cuts down on waiting time.  

    Geo-location and custom developed Apps is Cellflare's business.  But it's more than just simple geo-location technology. Cellflare's technology is sophisticated, enabling business owners to push opt-in content to a Custom App to users within a pre-designated distance of the business location.  Push content includes coupons, rewards, menus or any other information, resulting in a more rewarding experience for the customer.  Being able to locate and pre-order for pick-up, and get turn by turn directions, is a real benefit to a customer trying to managing a busy daily schedule. Mother's juggling schedules and picking up their kids to and from games for example, are likely to see the immediate benefits of having this App on their Palm or Android Phone.  Those coming home from the office after a hectic day are also likely to appreciate the convenience of this App. For Domino's, this application helps build customer loyalty. 

    In the southern Ontario area, each mobile download application will also come with a coupon of $4 against your next purchase as part this exclusive launch.    

    Business Travelers' Top Three Mobile Apps

    A recent study by Omni Hotel and Resorts found that business travelers' top three 'must have' mobile applications is: adjusting travel plans while on the move,  making dinner reservations and checking into hotels.  Smartphones bring productivity tools for the business traveler that were unimaginable just a few years ago.  In addition to the obvious business needs, the survey also found that business travelers utilized social applications to take care of personal needs such as updating Facebook, checking the latest sports results, looking for the nearest coffee shop and generally being able to stay in touch with family and friends.  Indeed the new iPhone's FaceTime App is going to be an essential for staying in touch with family while away on business.  

    What this survey suggests for the hotel industry is that free Wi-Fi should be a part of their strategy, providing added value to the business traveler.  Opportunities therefore exist for targeted mobile Ads or special promotions, perhaps as a way to pay for free connectivity, but essentially to promote brand awareness and customer loyalty. Additionally, there are new technologies that actually allow your smartphone to become your key card, which is clearly very convenient.  There are many marketing opportunities for hotels who invest in  smartphone Apps, to gain competitive advantage.  
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