Right time. Right Place. Mobile and social integration in travel.

What’s the number 1 travel app in the world? Google Earth, says Rory Kenny, TripAdvisor’s Director of Mobile Partnerships, EMEA. With 22 million downloads globally, the travel website sits at a comfortable number 2 and Kenny shared some of his experiences delivering what he called ‘right time, right place’ content at an event in London recently.

Kenny started with some important stats on mobile usage: Continue reading

iPhone 5 Apple Event – Key Points

Yesterday Apple held their latest event unveiling the iPhone 5, a new iPod Touch, a new iPod Nano, iTunes 11 and… some new earphones. Below we have some of the key points for you but if you want to watch the event for yourself go here.

Key points:

  • 84 million iPads sold by the end of June
  • 68% share of the tablet market
  • 91% of tablet web traffic comes from iPads
  • 700,000 apps in the App Store
  • 90% of apps in the App Store are downloaded every month
  • 400m iOS devices sold by the end of June

iPhone 5:

  • 4G LTE (HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA)
  • A6 chip, 2x faster CPU and 2x faster graphics
  • Wideband audio
  • 8mp camera upgraded for faster and clearer pictues
  • Panoramic photos
  • FaceTime HD (front facing camera 720p)

iOS 6:

  • Available September 19th

For an outline on the other details about the new iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iTunes 11 check out this article from TheNextWeb.

The QR Code Witch Hunt

So there’s a huge QR code on the roof of Facebook HQ in an apparent attempt to rickroll online maps to draw attention to their QR code page. In the same moment that many members of the Headstream team groaned at the mere mention of QR codes, I was thinking about what a bad rap these curious beasts have gotten (QR codes that is, not my team) I still think that they’re yet to have their day.

But first, why is QR so derided and misunderstood? Well, like any idea, if it’s been executed badly it instantly becomes a bad idea. Here are a few QR don’ts:

- Don’t put your code on an ad that is going to be UNDER THE EARTH where my phone won’t work.

- Don’t put a QR code on a bus or a moving object. I’m not allowed to use my phone when I’m driving and when I’m on foot, the vehicle is generally moving too quickly for me to get to my phone/unlock my phone/trawl my apps/open the … oh you’ve gone and I’m here all tooled up with nothing to scan stood on the pavement like a muppet.

- Try and let me know what I’m letting myself in for. I’ve got no idea what you are. You could be anything. Why should I trust you?

- Don’t be rubbish. Whatever is at the other end, it had better not be rubbish. For what I’ve just done for you this had better be pretty special. Oh. It’s a website. Awesome. I should have guessed.

Even though they’re used in some pretty terrible marketing campaigns in some pretty awful ways, QR codes are being used in pretty cool ways too. Google experimented with them earlier in the year as a way for users to securely log into their Google accounts on public machines and developer Clik are using QR codes as a way of enabling your mobile device to take control of…well, pretty much any “complex device” according to Fred Wilson, one of Clik’s investors.

The ability to use QR codes to create a unique session between your device and anything, causes the flood gates of my mind to open to the possibilities of everythingness; from kids controlling giant mechanical dinosaurs, to a crowd of people operating the individual jets of water at the Bellagio, to interactive window displays, gaming tournaments on digital billboards in Trafalgar Square…all using phones and…well, to be honest it could literally be anything couldn’t it?

Using mobile devices to control hardware is nothing new (Apple and Sonos are doing some really cool stuff), and with ‘second-screen’ TV viewing so de rigueur (and slightly more antisocial than TV itself) right now, we’re seeing consumers using their devices to engage, interact and connect in many different ways, but importantly, in ways that are meaningful to the user. QR codes needn’t be any different, they have the potential to be exciting and meaningful; they just need good execution to stop being a gimmick and become a good idea.

Here’s a pretty (funny) comprehensive ongoing list of QR code fails: http://wtfqrcodes.com/

facebook HQ with QR code on the roof

Photo credit: Facebook’s Justin Schaeffer

Want To Create A Buzz In The Tech World?

So last night Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S; to many it was a disappointment (really? 64GB HD, 8mp camera, 1080p video recording, Siri technology, A5 duo-core chip and you are disappointed?) but to others it was just the excuse they were looking for to upgrade to the latest from the guys at Cupertino. This is not what I am here to write about however, this article is about a very clever event that occurred shortly after from the makers of another well known series of handsets.

Continue reading

Watch IAB Mobile Engage live today

The IAB’s Mobile Engage Conference is being live streamed today. Lots to watch and learn from the comfort of your desk. Watch the live stream and follow the chat on twitter using #iabmobile.

What have we learned so far?

- Almost 30% of mobile users in the UK have a smartphone.  Only 2-3% of marketing budgets are allocated towards mobile.

- The time between search & purchase using a desktop is 1 month, on mobile it’s 1 hour.

- Well done you, if you’ve got your mobile site up and running, but think about what information users on the go actually need.

Lots more to learn today…

giffgaff – showing us the future

When you invent a company on social brand principles from scratch, you end up with something like giffgaff.

For those who’ve not heard about giffgaff yet, it’s a mobile network run by its community. The idea is that members get rewarded for running parts of the business like answering customer care questions, getting new members, spreading the word about giffgaff and even developing new products.

Speaking at the packed Digital Surrey event last night, Heather Taylor, Social Media and PR Manager at giffgaff, gave some fascinating insights into the inner workings of a ‘social business’.

Heather’s insights:

  • Founder of giffgaff, Head of Brand Strategy at O2 Gav Thompson, came up with the idea to create ‘the Wikipedia of mobile’ after attending a conference on open source business models.
  • Before launching anything the team went out to the community, and asked them what they would want from a ‘mobile network run by you’. The business was then designed around the feedback.
  • Levels of engagement in the customer forums are much higher than for a traditional mobile model. Some ‘super-users’ in the forum are engaged six hours a day helping others.
  • giffgaff doesn’t focus solely on its owned forums. It views the giffgaff ‘community’ as anywhere online that interactions and comment about giffgaff take place. The company provides tools to allow community members to track these interactions in open networks e.g. its own URL shortening service, giff.ly
  • Every week the suggestions made by the community are reviewed by the CEO, CFO and exec team. The best ideas are implemented.
  • giffgaff has made its APIs available to the community, and all app development has been led, and completed, by the community.
  • After the community management team at giffgaff handled a network failure crisis in a timely and proactive way, customers turned down offers of compensation, and asked that the money be donated to charity instead.
  • giffgaff believe the model is scaleable. If giffgaff accounted for 25pct of O2’s total customer base, it would save £12.5 mln from annual  customer service costs.

That last point is the real eye-opener. Socially designed businesses can create fundamentally different models, and shift accepted thinking on financial ratios.

The proof of the pudding for giffgaff will be how loyal its customers are in the long term. In these early days the figures aren’t available. But if this business model can also create greater loyalty, leading to the mobile operator’s holy grail of lower churn, then it will be a game-changer.

Heather’s final insight was to wonder what is stopping other businesses adopting these models. She had one word, ‘legacy’.

By that she meant the legacy of existing business systems, and the behavioural legacy of how customers are used to being interacted with. As customers demand that these legacy systems and behaviours shift, we’ll see more giffgaffs, and more disruption to business models.

How would your business look if you re-invented it for social?

Facebook’’s New Announcement… Groups?

This was probably one of the last things people were predicting to come out of the South California Avenue Headquarters of the world’s most dominant social network. But it is the move that makes the most sense from a development point of view. Let’s break down the main announcement and take a look at what this could mean in the future.

Why groups?

Firstly these aren’t your normal Facebook groups. It has become increasingly apparent that self editing is now happening more and more and that is down purely to the fact that Facebook (and social networks in general) are now a mass medium. To put this in perspective Facebook is now at a scale that would make it the “third largest country in the world” – Mashable. More and more of our family, friends and colleagues are joining up to Facebook which poses a problem. As human beings we naturally behave differently depending on which part of our social make up is surrounding us. It is not a case of one size fits all so we may well decide not to share that video or make that statement simply because we don’t want certain friends, family members or colleagues to see it. Google have spoken about this and are clearly taking a lot of time in researching ways in which they can also help online behaviours replicate our offline world.

What are they?

Facebook’s new Groups are their initial response to this conundrum. It allows us to easily split up our social groups and begin to interact with them in the same way we would if we were in their actual company, but of course this will all be contained within Facebook’s walls. These groups will also allow for conversations to happen behind closed walls and be 100% private to that group of people. I am sure certain people will be asking how and if Facebook will be monitoring these closed conversations for security reasons and many companies and brands may be a little uneasy at the fact they will not be able to monitor these either.

What will change?

Groups (if widely adopted) will also completely change the flow of information in our news feeds. Now we will all become edited out of some conversations whilst being part of others. We no longer will get to see those random insights into people’s lives that previously we wouldn’t have seen, unless of course they aren’t privacy minded in which case the free-for-all will continue.

How this will play out with the mobile application is yet to be seen (unless I have missed something so feel free to correct me) although I would imagine a drop down from the status bar to give you an option of which social group to post to would make the most sense.

… and finally!

At this moment in time the integration of the new ‘groups’ doesn’t appear to be as smooth as Facebook is suggesting; it currently requires considerable effort for you to get to your group and share information. I would imagine this will change over time and become a much easier process allowing for more on-the-fly posting.

Groups is merely the first step in a replication of our offline lives and will not be the last development in this area by any means. It could potentially be the one though that makes or breaks a social network in the future. Would you choose the social network that isn’t flexible over the one that is?

Check out Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post outlining all the announcements from yesterday including details on the application dashboard and the new ability to download all your information from Facebook’s servers.

Can the iPhone make you beautiful?

If as a brand, you don’t have an iPhone app, then it would appear you are missing out on something big. At least that’s the impression we are getting from the beauty industry recently, as L’Oreal Paris becomes the latest beauty brand to join the club and get a mobile presence.

The app launched last month, and it’s free to download from the Apple iTunes Store. Not only that, but it has a heap of exciting features, sure to keep beauty lovers entertained as they peruse the shelves. The app allows its users to browse a gallery of make-up looks as inspiration, as well as watch tutorials from professionals to learn the art of application. To make it more exciting and current, it also allows shoppers to scan products on the shelves to bring up information on the product they are scanning. To develop this further, it would be even more exciting, and add to its functionality, if people were able to view real time reviews from the users of the product they are scanning, to help inform their purchasing decision. Even better, if users could see other shoppers’ tweets in the area, who may be talking about L-Oreal!

There are other iPhone apps to help you with your beauty woes, including the Hair Caster app, which uses your location, and analyses the local weather and humidity to enable you to style your hair accordingly. If you like a slightly more brutal app, then the Beauty app, computes the beauty factor of your face, based on how proportional and symmetrical your face is! It will then give you a figure between 1 and 100.

If you have an iPhone, then try them out and let us know how you get on!

The shelf life of iPhone apps

According to a recent survey, just two thirds of iPhone applications are used more than 90 days after they are first downloaded. With a relatively short shelf-life for the majority of apps, questions have been raised around the value of iPhone apps and how should they be best used.

The key to longevity is determining which apps offer long-term value to the user. These primarily include any news-based apps that are constantly updated and offer added value, whilst entertainment based apps tend to have shorter shelf lives due to their viral nature.

Whilst there will always be a place in the market for creative and entertaining apps, brands looking to extend the apps value over a longer period of time need to look at being useful and practical to today’s user in order to keep them coming back for more.  One example is a new app launched which lets you broadcast your London location to friends – turning your mobile into a city guide, loyalty store card and social connector.

So do you think this app has the staying power to hold its own for a long time? I say keep it fresh and relevant and you’ll keep the users coming back.