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3FER: Strange Mobile Bedfellows

Beacons leading the blind

Our growing mobile habits have created strange bedfellows recently. They’re tracking our whereabouts. Hoping we kick our card swiping habits. And bringing dating to business. It’s been an odd few weeks.


#1: Beacons applied.

After three years of buzz, these Bluetooth low energy devices are starting to meet their promise. Big box and even small retailers have installed them for in-store engagement. Airports are using them to guide the visually impaired. And they’re even comping free sodas to moviegoers as they enter theaters. Here is a small taste of them in action:

Target Launches Beacon Test In 50 Stores, Will Expand Nationwide Later This Year (TechCrunch)

99 Ranch Market uncarts beacon-powered WeChat game for shoppers (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Indoor mapping lets the blind navigate airports (Smithsonian)

Coca-Cola has taken a step closer to using beacons to turn location-based marketing on its head (The Drum)

Imagining a beacon-filled world in Columbus, Georgia (Fast Company)

Apple, Google and the State of the Enterprise Beacon Market (Estimote)


#2: Apple Pay ain’t.

A year ago, banks raced to adopt Apple Pay. Many retailers were boasting their acceptance. And even the US Postal Service was trying to share in the Apple’s limelight. There’s one key group that isn’t all that excited about this mobile wallet: users. iPhone users aren’t making Apple Pay a habit:

Apple Pay Declining Use (Pymnts)


#3: Forbes does dating.

We’ve spent billions hoping to connect with others. The most recent dating darling is the app, Tinder, where users swipe left or right on the hunt for the next mate. America’s venerable business bible is hooking up with Tinder to target twenty-something professionals:

Forbes Taps Tinder To Launch ‘Under 30’ Network (MediaPost)

Forbes blends LinkedIn, Tinder formats in exclusive mobile networking community (Mobile Marketer)


(Photo Credit: SFO)

3FER: Moto Me!, Amazon smart buttons & killing a connected Chrysler

Chrysler can't get a brake.
Chrysler can’t get a brake.

As a newly minted Chicagoan, it’s great to see a local company gain some mobile street cred. I’m now tempted to finally become an Amazon Prime member. And I’m glad that I decided against purchasing that new Jeep.


#1: Moto Me! Motorola had a great week.

Glad to see positive media coverage coming from Chicago instead of Cupertino for once. A year after its breakup with Google, Motorola has shown it can still innovate:

  • The new Moto G proves that it understands the needs of emerging market consumers. (Doesn’t Apple still push the iPhone 4 in India?)
  • The Moto X will offer a better battery and camera than the iPhone 6 at half the price. And Motorola’s direct-to-consumer push eliminates carrier bloatware and draconian controls.
  • The new Moto Pulse and Moto Surround headphones offer battery life and range unmatched by others. And they even made dramatic improvements to the Moto Hint.

(Full disclosure: I’m a Motorola fan boy who owns a Moto X, 360 and Hint.)

Motorola Announces Moto X Style, Moto X Play, and Moto G (Droid Life)

We All Need Motorola’s Direct-To-Consumer Approach With the New Moto X to Succeed (Droid Life)

Motorola also outs Moto Pulse and Moto Surround wireless headphones (GSMArena)

Motorola quietly launches 2nd generation Moto Hint headset (GSMArea)


#2: Amazon releases a Dashing connected device.

Mastering context is critical when it comes to mobile engagement. Achieving it is also damn near impossible for consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers.

So when Amazon partnered with CPG brands to capture those mobile moments, magic happens. Starting this week, Amazon Prime customers can buy Dash Buttons at $5 a pop. (Why aren’t free?)

These handy, branded devices will place set orders for more Tide detergent, Huggies diapers and a range other products with a touch of a button. You confirm all orders online or with their mobile app. So your cute kids can’t order a surprised pallet of mac and cheese.

Now when will Amazon start stocking alcohol?

Amazon Dash Buttons Are Now Available to All Prime Members (LifeHacker)


#3: Chrysler confirms our connected car fears.

Auto companies want to supplant our smartphone addiction. (Bluetooth connectivity is so 2011.) Moms want to download directly from iTunes on the road to pacify those brats with Spongebob Squarepants.

Seems that innovation doesn’t come without consequences.  Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4M vehicles this week a dangerous security flaw appeared. Two hackers cracked their Uconnect system. They disabled the brakes as a journalist sped down the road at 70 MPH.

The journalist and Chrysler’s reputation ended up in a ditch.

Hackers remotely kill a Jeep on the highway–with me in it. (Wired)


(Photo Credit: Andy Greenberg/Wired)

3FER: Retail postmortem, emerging market adoption & smart socks

2015-01-15 3FER

For the mobile world, 2015 took off with a boom. Still glowing after a strong holiday showing, mobile is becoming firmly entrenched in retail. For emerging market consumers, 2015 will be the Year of Mobile. And, post-CES, we’ll look at what will likely appear on your 2015 holiday gift list.


#1: Retail Holiday Postmortem & New Year Forecast

Holiday sales were up 3.9% over last year, but sales tied to mobile were up 27.2% and, according to IBM, accounted for 22.6% of all online sales. Smartphones and tablets were not only hot gifts – they also drove nearly half of all web traffic. Likely buoyed by these numbers, in 2015 retailers will continue to invest heavily in mobile – especially beacons and mobile messaging – to catch up with consumer behavior.

Here are some deeper takes on these numbers, some tech tips, and a taste of what to expect in 2015:

Holiday Retail Benchmark Report (IBM)

How Usage Of Retailer Mobile Apps Evolved In Holiday 2014 (Marketing Land)

Here’s how iBeacons can fit into the mobile customer’s buying journey (Venture Beat)

Kohl’s exec says beacons are surefire bet for greater personalization (Mobile Marketer)

Beacons Coming to the Apple Watch for Grocery Shopping (MediaPost)


#2: 2015 is the Year of Mobile in Emerging Markets

We’ve all heard the claims, again and again: This is mobile’s year! But while marketers largely waited for that great year to arrive, consumers saw it come and go, and most brands are still scrambling to catch up. Meanwhile, the innovators have moved on to emerging markets.

Thanks to a bevy of affordable smartphones, billions of consumers in China, India and many parts of Africa are entering the online world at an exceptional pace. By early 2016, India will have more smartphone users than the U.S.

With the numbers below, it’s no surprise why brands like Facebook, Tesco and Uber are battling for emerging-market consumers:

Mobile is eating the world (Andreeson Horowitz)

Mobile Internet Soars In Developing World (MediaPost)

Mobile becomes medium of choice for consumers in emerging markets (PitchonNet)

Global Mobile Marketers Need To Hone Strategies, Localization Efforts (MediaPost)

In India, Mobile Phone Use is the Elephant in the Room (MMW)

What Traversing Africa by Road Can Teach us about Technology, Community, and Impact (Ushahidi)

Can Uber make it in India? (Financial Times)


#3: CES was all about wearable tech

Much of what’s hawked at the Consumer Electronics Show will never hit the store shelves or make a dent in your Amazon shopping card anytime soon (if ever). That said, wearables made a big splash this year. Here are some standouts in the category:

Impecca Alert Band Wants To Stop Drivers Falling Asleep At The Wheel (Wearable World News)

VivaLnk shows wearable NFC thermometer (NFC World)

Hyundai’s smartwatch app points to growth of wearables in autos (Mobile Marketer)

These washable smart socks can reduce injuries from running (GigaOm)

Montblanc smartens traditional timepiece with wearable add-on (Luxury Daily)


3FER: 18 April 2014



#1: Easter Egg Hunt a la Fabergé

The luxury brand Fabergé launched the largest Easter egg hunt with nearly 300 designer-created eggs tucked across Manhattan. The effort will raise funds for two local charities, highlight the designer talents and give hunters a chance to win exclusive Fabergé jewelry.

When users are within 20 feet of an egg, the app pushes a message to them with specific designer information, and an invitation to check-in to increase their odds of winning. This is a great example of how proximity mobile tools can drive engagement. For more info, check out:

Fashionista:Fabergé’s NYC Easter Egg Hunt Marks the Largest Beacon Deployment Ever in the U.S.


#2: The SMS to WhatsApp Migration

SMS still dominates the messaging world, but messaging apps use is exploding–especially with millennials. WhatsApp dominates the space with half a billion users, but not globally. WeChat owns the China, and Line owns Japan and Indonesia.

Here’s another example of how mobile use is evolving faster than companies can adapt. And both marketers and politicos need to pay attention to this emerging trend:

Ad Age:How Big Advertisers Are Using Next-Gen Messaging Apps Snapchat, Kik, Tango, Line, and WeChat”
India Times:Political parties prefer WhatsApp to reach out to voters
IGB Labs:Messaging Apps: The New Face of Social Media and What It Means For Brands


#3: App-Free Beauty

Marketers are app crazy, and it’s long been a frustration of mine. They believe consumers want an app to ‘engage with their brand’. (They don’t, but feel free to spend $250K to confirm it.) And app development shops are happily fostering this ignorance while cashing in on it.

Every now and then in my Quixotian anti-app quest I run across an example that floors me. One that proves you can create a beautiful and engaging mobile experience without building an app. Check out this gorgeous mobile web tour of Marseille from Google:

Google: Night Walk in Marseille

3FER: 11 April 2014


I’m in Chicago for the Heartland Mobile Council’s inaugural Mobile Marketing Certification program, and I’m craving mobile magic. Here are three examples of mobile innovation to inspire your morning:


#1: Transit Shelter Destruction

Pepsi flexed some augmented reality muscle to promote Pepsi Max on the streets of London. The platform blended live video with scenes of alien invasions, meteors and much more:

Mobile Marketer: “How Pepsi is elevating message delivery via augmented reality”


#2: Lyft a private pilot

Pilots want to fly, and you’d prefer to skirt the TSA queue. AirPooler aims to be the Lyft of the private aviation world. Imagine booking a flight to a remote cabin right from your mobile device–at a fraction of the cost of a commercial flight.

This idea has the potential revolutionizing business travel, if you don’t mind the risks of ending up like Buddy Holly:

TechCrunch: “AirPooler Is Lyft For Private Planes” 


#3: 80,000 Volts of Fun

Tomorrow I’ll be presenting at my 6th MinneBar–a day-long geekfest at the Best Buy HQ. Since connected devices are the next evolution of mobile, here’s a prototype of a drone armed with a taser aptly named Project C.U.P.I.D.: