Tag Archives: iphone

Is Creepy Dead?

I’ve had beacons on my brain lately.

Start Point Lighthouse, in the south of Devon,...

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I’ll explain what they are and why in a second but they raise a larger question in my mind, which is our topic today:  has the “creepy” factor left us?  Not long ago, the notion of someone, much less some business, tracking our every move and approximating what we’re thinking would be…creepy.  Have we become so immune to the fact that said tracking occurs almost constantly caused us not to even care any more?  Let’s see what you think.

First, why beacons and what are they?  Here is a good explanation:

Beacons are devices that communicate with a shopper’s smartphone in the hopes of improving the in-store shopping experience. When placed in a store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them media such as ads, coupons or supplementary product information. They can also be used as point-of-sale systems and to collect information on those consumers — particularly how consumers maneuver through stores.

Who you are, what you’re looking at, where you go and how frequently you shop there are all part of the equation.  Maybe not so awful.  A store with an attentive staff can generally say the same about any regular customer and the information delivered about a product should be more complete than any clerk can remember across hundreds of products.  Many stores use cameras to do just that.  Apple, of course, is in the forefront of this with their iBeacon.  It’s built into every device – iPhone or iPad – sold in the last few years.  They recently deployed the technology in all of their Apple stores:  what they set up uses the Bluetooth technology of the iBeacon to detect where a shopper is within a store so Apple can send location-specific product information to his or her Apple device.  Helpful or creepy?

That’s one example.  Combine the beacon with an app and it becomes simple to send targeted messages to devices.  For example, at a sporting event, you might get messages providing discounts on concessions and merchandise or maybe even seat upgrades if you’re a VIP.  Of course, in the process a lot of information about you is gathered.

So back to the question:  is it creepy or don’t we care?  If we use credit cards, our purchasing habits are known.  If we use an in-store scanner at the supermarket, how we wander the store is recorded along with what we buy even as we’re offered coupons and discounts.  Is the prospect of a better shopping experience worth giving up yet another remnant of our privacy?  Amazon and other retailers know how we wander their virtual stores via click-tracking.  Why should physical outlets be disadvantaged?  More importantly, when the online experience can be mirrored and continued by a retailer’s brick and mortar store, doesn’t the shopper benefit?

I don’t know how many iPhone users know they have this technology in their pockets already.  I don’t know how many people realize what they’re giving up when they opt-in to this technology.  Google has deployed something in newer versions of Android that will allow retailers to bid on serving ads to people conducting product searches and Google can then track the person via their phone to see if they visited the store.  I do feel that many wouldn’t be quite some comfortable if they knew all this.

Are you, or is creepy dead?

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Witch Doctor Technology

Like many of you who read the screed, I’m a fairly literate person when it comes to technology.

English: Witch doctor of the Shona people clos...

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I know – given what I do for a living one would hope that’s true.  That’s why my recent experience with some very common technology – a cell phone – is so frustrating.  Over the weekend my family all upgraded their devices.  The girls all moved to iPhone 4S and I moved to a Samsung Galaxy S3.  Both are great devices.  However, they both illustrate a point that’s all too common and what I want to discuss today.

My phone came with the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android.  I knew that there was a Jellybean update available – an upgrade to the latest version of Android.  While the ability to update the OS via an over the air download exists, because the manufacturers and the carriers can’t get on the same page, one needs to install the upgrade via a piece of software that lives on a computer.  I installed it on a windows PC, connected the phone and waited.  And waited.  Apparently, it’s a known issue to connect the device to the PC – a software issue.  I tried it on a Mac.  Same issue.  A few minutes of searching the web told me that there were a number of potential fixes that involved editing the Windows registry (not for the faint of heart), modifying phone settings, uninstalling and reinstalling device drivers, etc.  Nothing worked.

I used Samsung’s live chat customer support.  They had me try a few things I had also found on the web.  Nothing.  They said to uninstall the software which, of course, involves a reboot of the computer, which means you lose the person with whom you’re chatting and can’t get back to the same person again so you start over.  After many hours of this, I’ve given up.  Before the Apple fanboys and girls chime in, let me say that upgrading an iPhone to a new version of iOS ended up bricking my wife’s phone for a while and the number of issues I’ve had with Mountain Lion on my Mac is frightening.

Here is the business point.  No other industry with which I’m familiar releases products with known issues, and when the issues become public doesn’t seem to be in any particular rush to fix.  The G3 is a best-selling phone and to get to the latest operating system shouldn’t take the technologic equivalent of tossing chicken bones and burning incense.  Thousands of people are frustrated by this – I’m sure Samsung and the carriers (it’s not just a one carrier issue) are well aware.  If we want tech to be integral – more integral – in customers’ everyday lives we can’t behave this way.  Imagine if airplanes or cars were released with the kind of stability we see in most technology.

I don’t know what anyone can do other than to vent as I’m doing.  For me not buying the product is not an option.  Maybe that’s why these companies don’t seem to care.  But witch doctor solutions to these issues has to stop.  Do you agree?

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Making Snacks

Another thought-provoking report from the folks at eMarketer last week.  This one is called “The Smartphone Class: Connected Consumers Transform US Commerce and Culture.”  When you think about it, are you aware of anyone who has purchased a new phone in the last year that hasn’t bought a smartphone of some sort?  I don’t want to sound like a techno-snob and I’m well aware that the installed base of “feature phones” – those that some things such as text beyond just voice but aren’t really smart phones (Android, iPhones, etc.) is still pretty large (as in almost half), but giving them a ton of thought is akin to filming TV showsin black and white when color became the norm.

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any event:

eMarketer estimates nearly 116 million Americans will use a smartphone at least monthly by the end of this year, up from 93.1 million in 2011. By 2013, they will represent over half of all mobile phone users, and by 2016, nearly three in five consumers will have a smartphone.

Turns out, eMarketer underestimated how quickly they’d be the majority:

50.4% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones in March 2012, up from 47.8% in December 2011, according to Q1 2012 data from Nielsen Mobile Insights. Broken down by operating system: Android was first with a 48.5% share, followed by Apple’s iOS (32%), RIM‘s BlackBerry (11.6%), Windows Mobile (4.1%), Windows Phone (1.7%), and other (2.1%).

What’s interesting is how this has changed user behavior.  People with these devices are “always on.”  They are constantly consuming content, generally in small increments.  A few minutes of news, a funny video, 10 minutes of a game while commuting.  The issue becomes how are the old guard of content producers adapting?  It’s great that TV shows are available across platforms, but the study tells us that a 20 minute TV episode is unlikely to hit the sweet spot of consumption.  Could it be that the nature of TV itself changes?  What made the 30 or 60 minute episode king other than an ability to tell people when to tune in?

So while “consuming content in frequent, small portions means more touch points for marketers,” it seems to me that users want to be touched differently from how they’ve been in the past.  If we’re producing content, we need to keep that in mind.  And I’ll just leave it there before we head into weirdness.

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10 Years After

I was thinking over the weekend about what a very different place the world is going to be from a technical and media perspective in just a few years.  Of course, if you take a few minutes to think back and recall how the world was in 2002, just a decade ago, you’d be missing YouTube, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, and hybrid cars.  Every one of those things is a daily part of my life and probably yours as well.

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

What got me thinking about this was this:

New research from Leichtman Research Group finds that 38% of all U.S. households have at least one television set connected to the internet via a video game system, a Blu-ray player, an Apple TV, a Roku set-top box and/or the TV set itself. This number is up from 30% last year, and 24% from two years ago. Game consoles are the key devices within this category, as 28% of all households have a video game system connected to the web.

I spend some time each week watching Hulu+, Netflix, YouTube, and other services through my Xbox.  That time spent is not incremental to normal TV viewing – it’s content I find more interesting than what’s available.  That behavior ties in with the research:

  • 13% of Netflix subscribers would consider reducing spending on their multichannel video service because of Netflix, down from 21% last year.
  • 16% of all U.S. adults watch full-length TV shows online at least weekly, up from 12% last year.
  • 19% of mobile phone owners watch video on their phones on a weekly basis; while 9% of all U.S. adults watch video on an iPad/tablet.

So I sort of had this flash forward.  If traditional cable boxes become anachronisms, what else goes with them?  I think desktop computers will be history soon, as tablets and other mobile devices access cloud-based services and data.  Even though I have many computers in my home, I spend nearly all my time on a laptop and could very easily transition to a tablet with a keyboard.  Skype and Google Voice could replace my landline and just may shortly.  I’m sure you can add a few legacy technologies/services that need either to pivot or die.

In only 10 years, a lot of our behavior has been changed by a few services and technologies.  In another 10, it will all be different again.  Are you ready?  Is your business?

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All Fed Up

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

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It’s impossible to work in digital and not to write a bit about Steve Jobs this morning. I have a bit of a different take, as usual, and I want to put Steve in the middle of what’s going on with the demonstrations on Wall Street and elsewhere. You see, I think one of the big lessons Steve taught us is exactly at the root of what has pushed thousands of people into the streets and I’d love to know if you feel the same way.
This isn’t going to be a political diatribe since we don’t do that here. This is about business.  I apologize in advance if it comes across that way.  Then again, maybe you’ve got a guilty conscience? Continue reading

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Changing The Game

Bobby Jones famously said about Jack Nicklaus that “he plays a game with which I am not familiar.” Now obviously Jones knew quite a bit about golf as a winner of multiple major tournaments himself and that was on the surface, what Nicklaus was playing. But the manner in which Jack attacked courses, the distance he hit the ball and his fantastic short game was very different from anything that preceded him.

Eric Clapton is one of the greatest guitar players of all time and yet he was stunned when he heard Jimi Hendrix play for the first time.  Listening to Jimi’s music now one can’t fully appreciate how different it was at the time  – it was a musical game with which no one had been familiar.  Think it’s just music and sports? Continue reading

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Yes, But Why?

Mobile phone evolution

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There’s a study out from Mojiva, a mobile ad network which says, unsurprisingly, that consumers click on mobile ads. I know – shocking coming from a company that has a vested interest in having marketers use the mobile ad environment. However, I can tell you from first hand experience with my clients that the click-through rates on mobile are pretty high. I’m not sure if it’s a function of presentation or exploration, but it’s less important than what happens (or doesn’t) next and that’s what I’d like to chat about. Continue reading

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