Monthly Archives: January 2011

Startbucks and McDonalds have launched contactless payment apps

A few days ago I wrote about the coming of the mobile phone credit card!   Well it’s here.  Many people across the industry have been excited about the prospects for mobile and contact-less payments for some time now – myself included.

To catch the public’s imagination, awareness and indeed a widespread frenzy similar to that experienced at the launch of iphone 4 or the ipad,  it has a lot of impact when well known merchants and locations that people see in the high street or mall and buy from every day start to offer and promote new ways of paying.

This is what has happened in the last few days.

First we had Starbucks. The Starbucks Card Mobile App is now available at its 6,800 U.S. company-operated Starbucks, and all U.S. Target stores. Extensive rollout here. Just scan your phone and go with your coffee – it’s promoted as the fastest way to pay. Excellent move and my guess is that in future assuming it goes well we’ll see apps for other smartphones to add to BlackBerry and iPhone.

Next comes McDonalds, who have announced that contact-less card payments will be offered in all of its 1,200 UK restaurants by this summer, working with Visa. Oh, and, wait for it – the company is emphasising speed  – McDonalds prefaces “contact-less” by labelling it “lightning fast”. McDonalds explains that “Contact-less payment saves time and effort, allowing customers to quickly pay for items which cost £15 or under without having to search around for cash.”

Whilst customer convenience is one of the key benefits, there are more benefits too. Reduced queues or lines for example. How many times have we walked up to a fast food or drink outlet, seen eight people waiting, and moved on? So moves like this reduce customer loss and increase customer throughput. They also mean less cash is handled by the merchants – with attendant risks of errors in counting, theft, mistakes in giving change and slower transaction speeds.

this is why several research organisations are forecasting a big future for mobile payments with nearly 1 in 2 of us having made a mobile payment of one sort or another by 2014. With iconic fast food and drink brands like Starbucks and McDonalds leading the way, we’re sure to see more launches in the future. After all, 2011 has only just begun….  But what about the small retailers, what can they do to get a slice of this market?  Well perhaps one of the first things to consider is getting your own business mobile apps in place and then look to belong to a partner offering a wider service and mobile access to consumers passing outside your shop front.

Launching marketing apps can backfire for retailers

by Diane Shawe

more than just a phone

For a growing number of UK shoppers, the difference between off-line and on-line shopping will be no line at all.

What does this mean for retailers and marketing companies?

With an inundation of new smart phone apps these hand-held shopping tools are redefining the shopping experience and blurring the distinction between the in-store experience and the virtual world of information now available in the palm of your hand.

Advances in location-based technology, price-comparison apps, bar-code scanning apps and social-networking tools have turned the mobile device into a real-time third channel of commerce, empowering consumers while challenging retailers to rethink the way they do business.

The appetite for new apps seems voracious. A recent survey by comparison-shopping site Price Grabber revealed that 36 percent of consumers plan to use their mobile phones for shopping-related activities this holiday season.

Around 4.2m of us in the UK are already using our mobiles to access the internet and browse retailer’s e Commerce sites

Recession-wary consumers are embracing new tools that can instantly call up product specs, reviews, price comparisons and input from Facebook friends and Twitter followers, all while they’re standing in the aisle.

David Dorf the Director of Technology Strategy states ” The United Nations estimates about 60 percent of the world’s population has access to a mobile communications device. More Americans have a mobile phone than own a credit card, and an increasing number of those are smart phones capable of Internet access. This proliferation is so unlike that of any other modern-day consumer technology that it is difficult to fully measure the impact on consumers and the industries that serve them.

With what is effectively a computer in the palm of their hands, consumers are finding new ways to do everything from banking to managing healthcare and household services. Shopping is a natural fit, and the retail industry has emerged as a front line for innovation in mobile applications. The mobile commerce revolution has changed almost every aspect of the retail business, from the way that we think about customer relationships to the way that we manage inventory and complete transactions”

So where are the retailers in all this? Playing catch-up with their customers as fast as possible in most cases, often looking for the quick wins.

Shopping is changing, and while the urge to please customers, capture sales and compete with competitors is very hard to resist, as the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) pointed out in a recent survey of 57 retailers, only four had fully mobile-optimised websites.

Chris Brassington is CEO ofStarfish360 stated in a recent article “It ’s true that many retailers are launching apps and/or a mobile site in an effort to capture the mobile customer, but the survey showed that a tactical approach to mobile marketing is likely to backfire, as 82 per cent of consumers said that if a retailer’s website performed badly, it would dissuade them from buying goods from that organisation, on the web or even in store.

And in today’s social media-driven society, a poor, fragmented customer experience could turn off not only the customer who experiences it, but many more too, if that customer chooses to share their experience on the web. So getting the customer experience wrong on mobile carries a big risk”

Many retailers, instead of providing a joined up mobile experience that will enhance customer service and reduce costs, have instead bolted on a piece of technology that does not provide an integrated shopping experience. These are often bespoke builds from marketing agencies, with one eye on what the competition is doing and increasing revenue for themselves, rather than a clear focus on how their clients customers’ behaviour is changing.

We have all used the phrase ‘blind leading the blind’. In this case we often see no integration, no alignment to the business’ challenges; no strategy in terms ownership; and no cyber psychology lead program to customers needs. So instead of mobile potentially being a progressive channel, it has, in most cases, provided only frustration for the shopper.

Mobile marketing roadmap

Diane Shawe the Project Director for i-send proximity is passionate about helping not only retailers benefit from proximity based mobile commerce and marketing, but how to address the retail sector’s operational challenges when implementing a mobile commerce strategy which can be measured in real time and assist a wide cross section of mobile phone users.

I-send proximity is leading the way towards helping different Boroughs to build a private Bluetooth wide area broadcasting network within a geographical area that will benefit consumers and visitors. By using this low energy, green, permission based and wireless controlled broadcasting network , retail town centre management teams and local authority regeneration departments can implement a cost effective and cost neutral solution. Click to read more

Because we believe that playing catch-up will be significantly more expensive than taking the strategic approach. Adopting the strategic approach will provide the blueprint and the roadmap to ensure the successful implementation of mobile marketing as a consumer channel, from both a business and a strategic viewpoint.

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Tablets Force Developers to Refocus Strategies on Apps

I-send most recently came across several articles which have highlighted changes about to take place in the Apps market due to the growth of the tablet such as the Ipad and others fast in pursuits.

Appcelerator, maker of tools for building mobile, desktop and tablet applications, and IDC have announced results of a joint survey showing that the onslaught of tablet systems has caused some developers to refocus their development efforts.

Indeed, the joint Appcelerator-IDC survey of more than 2,200 developers around the world, indicated that tablet interest spikes across the board: Android Tablet interest jumped 12 points in three months to 74 of respondents saying they are “very interested” in developing for these devices. Interest in Blackberry Play book nearly doubled from 16 percent to 28 percent. iPad rose three points to 87 percent, while web-OS Tablet interest remained flat at 16 percent, the study showed.

With 85 new, primarily Android tablets announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January, developers are pushing these devices to the top of their priority list, Appcelerator officials said.

Overall, the survey reveals how new entrants to the tablet market are changing application development priorities and how businesses large and small are accelerating their efforts to build a mobile application strategy to deal with an explosion in apps, mobile devices, operating systems, and capabilities, Appcelerator officials said.

Moreover, Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, said, taken January 10-12, the Appcelerator-IDC Q1 2011 Mobile Developer Report shows that Google has nearly caught up to Apple in smart phone popularity and is closing the gap in tablets. Microsoft and RIM made solid gains through their product line update, while interest in Google TV and Apple TV dropped off.

And as these trends unfold, it is also becoming clear that the days of mobile app experimentation are over, Schwarzhoff said. This year, developers expect to triple their app development and the average developer is now building for four different devices, the survey showed. Meanwhile, a dramatic increase in the integration of geo-location, social, and cloud-connectivity services underscores new focus on sustaining user engagement, while increased plans to integrate advertising and in-app purchase business models points to a new focus on longer-term financial viability over free brand affinity apps.

With the Android Tablet market set to explode this year, 57 percent of developers said price will be the most important factor for success, followed by minimized fragmentation (49%) and then Android Honeycomb OS capabilities (33%).

“The tablets, unlike smart phones will have wildly different pricing,” Schwarzhoff told eWEEK. “Smartphones are about $199, but tablets will be different. There will be some sub-$100 tablets and developers see this as a big opportunity

Android phone interest, at 87 percent, rose 5 points to tie iPad and close to within 5 points of iPhone, which has 92 percent.  Yet Apple continues to be the number one priority with over 10 billion app sales to date.  Schwarzhoff said a common refrain from developers is: “after iPhone, do I go Android or iPad?”  For Apple, topping the iPad 2 wish list included: new camera capabilities, a USB connector, and an improved retina display, the survey showed.

As indicated, interest in building mobile apps for connected TVs decreased across the board as Google dialed down its launch plans, TV networks blocked access to their content and developers increasingly focused on tablets. Google TV interest slumped 11 points to 33 percent, while Apple iTV dropped 10 points to 30 percent.  Developer interest in other alternatives like Yahoo TV, Boxee, and Roku was also minimal, the survey showed.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone 7 rose 8 points to 36 percent of developers indicating they are ‘very interested’ due to a better-than-expected launch, Schwarzhoff said. Respondents said that Windows Phone’s improved UI was a critical factor for the increase.

“No one is ruling out Microsoft, at least in the enterprise,” Schwarzhoff said. He said Microsoft’s strategy of more stringent control over OEM implementations will limit fragmentation, which could become a concern for Android. Also, Microsoft’s tie-in to business apps is a plus for its platform, he said.

“As apps are becoming more social, more local and more cloud connected, it’s a long way to go [for Microsoft],” Schwarzhoff said. “Are they going to blow it open this year? It’s daunting, but they will improve it. They will be maniacally focused on iterative improvement. With Windows Phone 7 they made it through the toughest launch in their history.”

Regarding app stores, Schwarzhoff said Amazon’s newly announced Android Appstore shows early promise. While 82 percent of developers said they are interested in distributing their apps through the Android Market, 37 percent said they are interested in the Amazon Appstore, 13 percent for Verizon VCAST, and 9 percent for GetJar. Interestingly, developers are about equally as interested in the Mac App Store, at 39 percent, as they are in Amazon’s new Android Appstore.

Appcelerator said the proliferation of apps, devices, platforms, and capabilities has triggered a race among businesses large and small to define a sustainable mobile strategy. This quarter, Appcelerator and IDC introduce a new “Mobile Maturity Model” to identify three phases of mobility adoption shaping up in the enterprise and consumer markets: ‘exploration’, ‘acceleration’, and ‘innovation’. Last year, most respondents (43 percent) said they were in the ‘exploring’ phase of their mobile strategy. A simple app or two – typically on iPhone – and a focus on free or $0.99 branded apps was standard practice. This year, 55 percent of respondents said they are now shifting into the ‘acceleration’ phase.  This phase is defined by the following trends and mobile strategies.

For instance, on average, each respondent said they plan to develop 6.5 apps this year, up 183 percent over last year. And businesses are increasingly taking a multi-platform approach. On average, respondents said they plan to deploy apps on at least four different devices — such as iPhone, iPad, Android Phone, Android Tablet this year, up two-fold over 2010.

Moreover, 87 percent of developers said their apps will connect to the cloud this year, up from 64 percent last year. Interest in commerce apps is also on the rise, with PayPal beating Apple and Google as the number one preferred method for payments. And business models are evolving to stay in lockstep with these more engaging mobile app experiences. Developers are shifting away from free brand affinity apps and becoming less reliant on $0.99 app sales.  Increasingly, the focus is on user engagement models such as in-app purchasing and advertising, with mobile commerce on the horizon. And 81 percent of respondents said they “insource” their development, with the majority saying they have an integrated in-house web and mobile team.

For a complete summary of the findings, visit: http://bit.ly/appcelerator_idc_q1_2011_mobile_developer_report.

At this point it is becoming even more important for town centres and Cities to explore how they can build a private WAN on the platform for Bluetooth Proximity Broadcasting.  This will provide a controlled and direct way to communicate with consumers on a wide range of topics and encourage them to look for specific offers once they have downloaded the cities own integrated apps. Just take a look at what it did for one town centre.

Source



Mobile Phones soon to become credit cards!

Not so very long ago, you may recall, mobile phones were used exclusively for, well, ‘phoning.  Then the launch of texting on the mobile phone became a phenomena, you could text someone you didn’t really want to speak to.. and then to compete with the camera industry the mobile became our camera and photo album rolled into one. Then it became our music player. And our games device.  And our personal organiser. And – the crème de la crème – our means of accessing the Internet, allowing us to send emails, watch TV, tweet, update face book and buy items from our phones.

Oh, and by the way it’s going to be a credit card.

Well, it’s already a means of accessing your bank balance, isn’t it? So why not take things that one step further: forget that little plastic oblong tucked inside your wallet, simply swipe your handset over a bar code reader, the money comes out of your account and the new sofa is yours.

We have just seen Tesco’s advertising the iphone reading bar codes and dropping the item into your smart phone shopping basket!

I know that m-commerce is more simply brimming over with developments for the future but the simple question of whether or not mobiles can replace credit cards is an interesting proposition especially when the theft of mobile phones is on the increase. Because the mobile has become much more than the a simple talk and text communication tool therein lies the problem.

As the handset becomes the point of access to, and indeed default storage locker for, the myriad minutiae of our existence, the potential loss of that handset becomes a far more traumatising then moving home! I think the stress list needs to be rearranged to read a) loss of mobile phone, b) moving c) getting divorced etc.

Speaking personally, I love this new technology, I love the fact that you can do so much from a little handset which simplifies one life and even though the concept sounds great! (less for me to carry in my handbag) how is this method of payment from your mobile phone going to be guaranteed secure?

Because phones are relatively cheap to come by now (especially if you take out a contract) most teenagers are carrying the latest models.  I don’t want to be negative, but I don’t fancy getting mugged for my phone because they can swipe it for a packet of cigarettes.

This is part of the wider problem that we face: managing the transition to a mobile-centric world. It ain’t easy, it won’t be easy, but we have to do it, because – whether we like it or not – that transition is happening. I can’t pretend to have the solution to the credit card conundrum, but I suspect that is a conundrum that will be taxing a lot more of us in the medium term as new organisation raise up to help solve and charge us for the privilege.

With this in mind, more and more retailers need to look at how they can communicate with smart phones.

Another step forward for Bluetooth retailing

Cellebrite, which specializes in point-of-sale (POS) mobile content transfer and back up, has added to its Universal Memory Exchanger (UME) line-up with the launch of the Cellebrite Touch.

It’s a touch screen tablet device for mobile phone operators, retailers and service centres, which facilitates the instant transfer of a customer’s mobile content to a new phone, with the added option of increasing sales value with the installation of additional mobile apps or content at the point of purchase. The device has already been implemented at multiple Tier 1 operators in Western Europe.

The device sports a 7-inch touch screen for ease of operation, and is equipped with wi-fi and Bluetooth. It enables the phone-to-phone-transfer of all content, including contacts, messages, photos, videos and audio files, and supports more than 3,000 phone makes and models. Content can be backed up or restored to a USB device, SD card, remote server or third party application. It is also capable of firmware flashing, which can fix many faults on site, eliminating the need to return the handset to the vendor or network operator. Cellebrite says its own experience has shown that introducing on-site flashing can reduce returns to vendors by as much as 30 per cent.

Want to find out more about the pro’s and cons of bluetooth v SMS

450,000 Mobile Apps Published in 2010

Around 450,000 smart-phone apps were published to the main app stores worldwide in 2010, according to new research from Research2guidance.

Click to Download i-send proximity apps

The company notes that while the IT service market is normally well covered by the analyst community, the smart-phone app development market is not yet analysed in detail. With this in mind, the company is conducting a global app development market study to find answers to some questions around the market.

The study aims to establish the size of the market, and the main drivers and barriers. It will also look at how you become a successful player in this market, and at how app development companies are organized, and the services they offer. It will also examine whether major IT firms are participating in the market, and if not, whether they are planning to.

The findings of the research will be used to produce a business guide to app development, which will be available from March 2011. Everyone who takes part in the study will receive a copy of the guide for free. You can access the survey here.