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What happened in Vegas at CTIA 2013 will not stay in Vegas

24 May

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jenI just came home from Vegas and can’t wait to share my observations from CTIA Wireless. This show is the largest event in the USA dedicated to mobile communications and in the past used to be a huge expo area where phone manufacturers (Nokia, Samsung) and network vendors (Cisco, NSN, Ericsson) used to demo their gear and latest handsets. That was back in 2010 where the whole mobile ecosystem was operator centric and very closed. With the arrival of app stores, social networks, tablets and more reliable network connections the landscape and focus of the show has evolved to include user experience personalization, analytics, mobility for retail as well as marketing strategies for hyper connected world.

Three key takeaways from CTIA 2013:

1. Users are spoiled, they demand more and will not settle for less.

keynote– The modern consumer expects personalized shopping experiences and rewards companies who can deliver them: customers using Walmart shopping app make up to 2 more trips a month to stores and spend up to 40% more a month. (Walmart keynote)

– Users are impatient, love multitasking and want to share new insights immediately with their networks; even at a great keynote that was followed by a long Q&A session, show attendees could not help themselves but play with their devices (check the picture above!!)

– “Mobile tech is the new cool” – even among celebrities – Jennifer Lopez just launched her Viva Movil mobile brand targeting users who want to purchase devices from her Facebook fan page or from a branded retail store. (CTIA keynote)

2. Apps are getting more complex.

casino– Retailers are adjusting apps based on user context. I almost want to start shopping at Walmart since I learned how smart their mobile app is: when you’re away from their store their mobile app allows you to order groceries  from home and get them ready for pickup on top of usual product browsing. The moment you enter the store, new functions pop up in the app interface like ability to scan barcodes of your shopping cart and self-check-out as well as get the navigation to the product you want in the gigantic labyrinth of Walmart aisles. (Walmart keynote)to deliver advanced user experiences

– Productivity apps are going strong – number 3 on the list of top paid apps after games and social networking. (AppAnnie stats)

– Analytics is an integral part of mobile apps. All for great user experience including context adaptation. (Forrester keynote)

3. Marketing best practices from the show:

rovio– The best way to build your product’s brand is through journalists because… Journalists are just after rock stars in terms of followers on social media channels. So: think like  a journalist, build relationships with journalists. (iPhone life magazine)

– Let the case studies / customer stories speak for effectiveness of your solution/product. During a Forrester when the speaker introduced their mobile marketing framework people were playing with their devices but the moment she switched to examples of how Chevy and Mint dentistry successfully applied the framework to drive customer loyalty and delight, all the audience eyes were on her.

– Deliver on your promise when presenting; as Angry Birds’ godfather, Harri Koponen stated on stage: “In Finland we start a presentation on time and we finish on time. Otherwise people get bored”. And how do you achieve that? Preparation and practice, as: “An outstanding 1h presentation can take up to 30h prep time”.

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AT&T vs. Verizon – The Battle of Giants in San Francisco

22 Nov

Thanksgiving weekend is about to start and so is retail sales time. Two years ago US consumers spent over $1bn on Cyber Monday – more than any other big sale day in 2010. If you live in San Francisco and have been procrastinating your 4G smartphone purchase till the holidays, be sure to analyze this AT&T vs. Verizon performance guide before you swipe your credit card on Monday!

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Looking at the top spots in the city featured in the performance chart above, you quickly notice there is not an ultimate winner in the Silicon Valley mobile Internet battle. If you like to hang out and stream Katy Perry’s videos around Union Sq, AT&T with half the theoretical top LTE speed is your preferred carrier. If you rather watch Giants’ game while indulging some fresh crabmeat at Fisherman’s Wharf, you should go for Verizon.

Interestingly enough, despite over 21 Mb/s download speed on AT&T network in the Financial District it can take around 34 seconds to load New York Times website on an iPhone 5. That’s almost 4 times slower than the average website load time on a mobile device.

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ATT vs. Verizon performance result prove that user experience with mobile Internet cannot be measured purely in Mb/s. How to make Internet websites load faster on mobile devices? Look for the answer in the next blog post.

Easy Search… because tapping is superior to typing

5 Feb

Do you think that Google search engine has not really innovated since its launch in 1997? Would you agree that the user experience while searching Internet from a mobile device can be improved? Good news is, somebody already did it!

In my first Tech Surprise, “Digital Sandwich“, I asked a question: how long did it take to research all the lunch options and which device(s)/app(s) were used? The answer is below:

Device(s): ___________________ iPad
App(s): _____________________ EasySearch 4 iPad
Time used: ___________________ 30 seconds

25% of the American smartphone owners go online mostly from their mobile devices. Some of them want to quickly find information on a specific topic, others are just looking for inspiration on what to do when they have some time to kill, for example when exploring an unknown city.

iPhones and iPads are more versatile than the devices we used to play with in the past: laptops, music players or game consoles. They are light and equipped with large touchscreens. A third of smartphone owners prefer using them for Web browsing or e-mail even when they are near their computers. Over the past two years, iPhone users have spent 45 percent more time e-mailing on their smartphones and 15 percent less time e-mailing on their laptops.

The touchscreens of iPhones and iPads make tapping the more natural way of interacting with the Web then typing we were accustomed to in the era of PCs and laptops. There is enough content out there, so the challenge is more on the side of synthesizing it quickly then adding to it. That’s why tapping is superior to typing.

The recent financial results of Apple confirm that consumers expect to do “more” stuff with “less” of a device. Sales of “tapping” mobile devices soar (iPhones: 142 percent unit growth; iPads: 183 percent unit increase), while fewer people choose traditional “typing” and bulky gear (Macs: 14 percent unit increase).

Easy Search

With Easy Search you take advantage of the touch screen of your iPad or iPhone, you type once, search everywhere:
– Images – how does it look?
– Wikipedia – what is it?
– Maps – where is it?
– Facebook – are my friends using it?
– Twitter– are my friends using it NOW?

Doing more with less is a necessity in modern nomads’ lives. Constantly on the road, they rely on their mobile devices to quickly synthesize a lot of information and decide on where they are heading next. The nomadic lifestyle is powered by apps that help them navigate the digital and real worlds with more fun and less stress.

iPod Fashionista… because sometimes you have to pick only one app

29 Jan


80% of the time you are wearing 20% of your clothes. Why do you still keep 4/5 of your closet? If you get the right classy pieces of clothing and accessories, you will be able to go on a 7 day business trip with carry on only and never wear the same combination of clothes. Oh, and you will need no more than 5min to pack for the trip.

If you’re living a nomadic lifestyle, you work out of coffee places, airports and hotels. You need one device that has it all. A device that “stands alone” like a Marc Jacobs bag. When you have to pick just one accessory, you’re looking for a simple form, neutral color that will match all your outfits. When you finally find it, it becomes your perfect travel companion. The petite bag with detachable strap and built-in credit card slots has a triple identity: a strapless clutch, handled purse and shoulder bag. You will not be able to live without it and you won’t need other bags. The price-per-wear will decrease with each wear and the initial cost of the bag will soon be forgotten.

Versatile handbag

Apple can charge the consumer the premium price because of its “awesome design and a relentless focus on users”. iPads and iPhones cost more than most smartphones and tablets. App store is not a non-profit organization either. Yet it has 25% smartphone market share in the US. iPhone owners download more apps and use them more frequently than any other smartphone users. Three-quarters of iPhone users now pay for one or more apps each month.

But how many apps can you actually handle? Switching between different apps seems less problematic than swapping handbags where you have to transfer all its content to the next one and it’s easy to forget the vitals, like the keys, the lipstick, the cards etc. When you have too many accessories, it is more likely than some of them you’ll never use and they’ll become dust collectors somewhere on the back of your closet. The same principle applies to apps, “too much choice actually makes it less likely [users] will take advantage of a feature.”

Why have many functions/features/apps in one app?
– To have a clean display. With the average 48 apps downloaded, the screens of iPhones and iPads quickly get crowded. It is difficult to find the app you want to use and you have no space for new downloads.
– To quickly switch between tasks without the need of closing and opening a new app, whether it’s running a simple search or looking for a first date inspiration.
– To save the memory and battery life. Fever apps running in the background equals less frequent charging of the device.

End-users want to do more with less. No wonder that AppZilla, 100 apps in one, hit 1,5 million downloads on July 1st 2011.

Transatlantic Journey… because who travels lives many lives

22 Jan


Did you know that the top selling app in Norway allows you to scan the beer prices in the bars around you? The Swiss are happy to pay for a collection of Grandma’s tips and tricks on house making? The Italians cannot live without stalking their friends on Facebook?

Housekeeping tips

It seldom happens that an app conquers the entire world. The number of total downloads of AngryBirds, 250 million, has surpassed the number of all iPhone, iPad and iPod devices worldwide, that is 200 milion. However, this is an exception to the general trend that people prefer local products. According to the Economist: “… the internet will continue to become more and more local: cultures are different, so the more people go online, the more the internet will resemble them”. One of the most downloaded paid app in Denmark, Danske Apps, serves solely one purpose: to find apps either made in Denmark or made specifically for the Danish market.

Simply beer

Norway is the most expensive country to live in Europe with ultra high prices of alcohol. You can save a lot of money on drinks if you only stick to the bars offering happy hour, hence the huge popularity in Norway of an app that lets you find them.

As much as the Norwegians like cheap beer, the Italians enjoy being the center of attention. Family and friendship mean a lot to them and they eagerly adopt social networks that helps them better connect with their dearest ones as well as lead in the never-ending popularity contest. “Who has deleted you on Facebook? Who is visiting your Facebook profile?” are good things to know and the apps that give an easy access to this information are selling well in Italy.

Facebook delete

Facebook stalker

Americans like to use the technology to be more efficient in their everyday lives. After the crisis, they adopted a more rational attitude to shopping and value a good deal even more than before. The shift in the American mindset to more conscious consumption combined with their passion for always increasing their productivity explains the success of AppZilla. This app combines a hundred of utility apps such as currency converter, calculator, weather forecast etc in one app for 1 USD which is value for money and simultaneously allows them to cram more apps on the small screen of the iPhone.

iSocialize

AppZilla

As the country that invented marketing, America perceives the technology not only as a way to optimize their daily activities but also as tools for individual promotion and visibility. If nobody knows about your existence, you won’t be offered a great job or invited to cool parties. No wonder the social networks thrive in this highly competitive society where the amount of publicity determines your social status. As Coco Chanel said, “the most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Americans tweet, post on Facebook and Google +. And if they are short of ideas of what thoughts to share with the world, they can always reach for the iSocialize app, the third best selling social networking app in the USA in July 2011.

Hungry Birds… because one million sales a day is not a coincidence!

15 Jan


What two words best describe a hi-tech company eager to win the consumers’ hearts in all categories: social network, mobile operating system, web browser and email? Angry Google!

Angry Birds has become a part of the modern culture and the brand is now part if the common knowledge just like Google, Facebook, Microsoft. One million downloads a day and 250 million downloads in total does not leave any doubt. Neither do pictures like the one below.

Angry Google

The major competitor of Angry Birds in the overall number of sales in the App Store is surprisingly not another game but WhatsApp Messanger, which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.

What does the mobile game have in common with the utility app? They are used on very different occasions but they have a few things in common.
• Simple elevator pitches:
– You will help cute birds defend nasty pigs that have stolen their eggs.
–  You will be able to do more than SMS allows you to at a lower cost.
• Very intuitive and simple user interfaces:
–  The key app features are easily accessible without cluttering the interface with the stuff most of the users would hardly ever access.
• Instant gratification to the end users.
–  There are five types of Angry Birds, each equipped with a unique skill to fight the pigs. That’s all you need to know to start playing.
• Deliver what they promise
–  Whether it is a way to decrease the phone bill or make the good win over the evil.

The most popular apps all guarantee a great end user experience from first encounter with the users.
• They do not overpromise, confuse or overwhelm. If first experience with a new app / device is bad, users will not return and are lost forever. Why do you think Google Wave died? Google Wave had a lot of nice things to offer to users, but Google didn’t build a compelling user experience nor did it define some use cases for the application.
• They deliver stable quality and great user experience. Customer surveys of mobile subscribers in Europe and North America confirm that 74% of respondents would be prepared to pay for a higher quality of experience and better download speeds. Users have higher expectations to paid apps as opposed to the free ones.

The algorithm for a killer app is simple, yet difficult to implement; the few apps that that live up to the end user expectations take a vast majority of the downloads. End users are prepared to pay for them. 75% of iPhone users purchase one or more apps each month.

Customized Drink… because the perfect app for you is out there

8 Jan


Sometimes you just have to leave the office in the middle of the day to take the car to the mechanic or see your orthodontist. By the time you’re ready to return to work, the rush hours hits.
Do you park your car on the back of a supermarket and pray for a decent cellular coverage? Or would you rather sit at a table and take the call while sipping your favorite coffee drink?

Many modern work tasks can be successfully accomplished outside of the office environment. Some, like working on a report a few hours before the deadline, require our undivided attention and deep, undisturbed thoughts of the creative process. These conditions are easiest to achieve at the home office. Other tasks, like passively listening to a conference call, can easily be done in between running errands on the go. The energy you save by efficiently getting the daily chores and mundane work duties out of your way can be put to the most demanding part of your job: producing equity for your company. It is hard though to be creative if you’re not having at least some fun in the middle of a busy day. Luckily, the modern technology is here to save your day.

We purchase mobile devices and apps in hope that they will to make our lives easier. A typical iPhone user has downloaded 48 apps. 68% of iPhone owners use their apps multiple times a dayApple store had 425.000 apps in July 2011. Finding the right app for you that you’ll find useful is a real challenge.

When do you consider downloading a new app? It typically happens on two occasions. Either when you are faced with a practical problem, such as finding the closest coffee shop with Internet connection to attend a videoconference while on the go. In this case, you are more concerned about the reliability of the WiFi than about finding a perfectly organic and artisan coffee blend, so you go for Starbucks. You download the Starbucks app and soon you know that the closest Starbucks is only half a block away and is open till 8pm.

Starbucks app

Once you’re there and realize you still have 10 minutes till the meeting begins, you may just as well dedicate the spare time to experiencing something new, like trying a new beverage at Starbucks, just for the fun of it. The Starbucks app has quickly transformed your daily staple, tall latte, into Short-Caramel-Brulee-Nonfat-Extra-Foam-Ginger-Topping-Caffe-Latte. Now with the fresh yet tasty intake of caffeine you’re ready to face the toughest part of the day: summarizing the earnings call of the competitor’s you just listened to at Starbucks and recommending actions for your company. It’s going to be a long evening.