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.  

Sociable

 
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