Blog

In this episode of the WCG ThoughtLeaders podcast, NextWorks Group Director Matthew Snodgrass talks with Stephan Merkens, Group Director for WCG and Patrick Donnelly, Manager of Corporate Development, about the release of the new iPhone 5 from Apple.

This latest phone iteration from Apple brought about a few significant changes for both consumers and for those companies who create software or hardware for i-devices. We discuss those updates and what they mean to you, your company, and your consumers.

Recently, Flipboard and Levi’s partnered to release a social shopping experience just in Time for New York fashion week. the newly launched experience comes as part of a new brand push form Levis and has turned Flipboard from one of the best magazine readers, into a social shopping platform.

When Flipboard popped onto the app store a few years ago, It instantly became recognized as one of the most progressive takes on readers. With its wealth of content and social connectivity ( most notably Twitter favorites) it became a huge hit on iPad, but over the last year, things have changed for the upstart digital mag. Traditional print publishers have begun to see the toll that Flipboard’s free content has taken on readership, and many are beginning to restrict content to shorter articles or teasers. This coupled with the arrival of Instapaper and applications like Google Currents, have made it harder for Flipboard to maintain a top spot.

The partnership with Levis aims to change all of that.

By leveraging the popular platform and adding to it a digital magazine/lookbook/shopping experience. Flipboard now has a new chip to throw into the game. People can now browse through the interesting style visuals that Flipboard is known for and also have a chance to purchase the latest designs from Levis, in a format that they already know and love.

Flipboard is not the first application that has done this. Both Marie Claire and Elle magazines tried sell through their digital apps, but the  biggest difference is that Flipboard offers all of its content free of charge and is completely customizable by the user – something that traditional digital magazine apps have struggled with. Add to that, the fact that Flipboard, originally only available for iOS is now available for Android, and you’re looking at some serious competition for digital magazines.

This new partnership will undoubtedly give other magazine apps like Google Currents something to consider as they look for ways to monetize their offerings beyond media. Many brands will also be watching closely to see how this venture fares as more consumers abandon traditional shopping destinations in favor of social and mobile shopping experiences.

#MDigitalLife is a WCG program designed to learn from and to showcase physicians who are blazing new trails in the digital world – changing the way that medicine is practiced and better health is realized.  You can find previous posts here.

“The use of mobile and social technology have come into prominence at a wonderful point in time.  They’re allowing us as physicians to connect with minority populations who have already adopted those technologies at a significantly higher rate than the average American.  It’s my hope that we can leverage the confluence of those trends to leapfrog minority families – for the first time – into a position of empowerment relative to their health.”

Ivor Horn, MD – Children’s National Medical Center

Ivor Horn is a pediatrician at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.  That institution, for those who aren’t familiar with it, serves kids and families in our nation’s capitol, many of whom are members of traditionally underserved populations such as black americans and latino americans.

Children’s National cares for patients through more than 360,000 visits each year and is the regional referral center for pediatric emergency, trauma, cancer, cardiac, and critical care as well as neonatology, orthopaedic surgery, neurology, and neurosurgery.  Children’s National is ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and The Leapfrog Group.

It also serves as a research center of note for doctors and other scientists who are working to address the health needs of these populations. While Dr. Horn started her career as a full-time practitioner, her role has now evolved to about 90% research.

“I love seeing patients, and I’d never give that up. I know that I can make a difference through that interaction with a kid and their parents, but I wanted to see how I could multiply that influence beyond the 1×1 interaction.”

Ivor Horn, MD

Dr. Horn believes that the exam room is the right place to help families work through solving their specific health issues.  But there are also system health issues that can’t really be addressed from the exam room – and that’s where a lot of her research is focused.  Over the last several years there has been a significant push in the US to ensure that physicians are regularly applying “evidence-based medicine” – in other words, that they’re diagnosing and treating patients based primarily on proven methods. Dr. Horn is a strong advocate for the consistent application of those clinical guidelines, but she’s also identified that they rarely go far enough  She sees that the communication that wraps around that evidence-based medicine is significantly more important for minority populations – both for doctors and patients.

Many doctors have a hard time translating clinical messaging into lay terms that are easily understood and actionable by their patients (some studies have shown that the average patient understands less than 50% of what their doctor tells them).  For a physician to learn to communicate with minority populations is particularly difficult – and its not just because of language or education issues.  There are cultural norms around health in minority populations that most doctors are unfamiliar with, which can further complicate the communication process.

A significant amount of Dr. Horn’s work is focused on finding ways to increase the impactfulness of physicians’ communication with their patients.  Dr. Horn wants give physicians and patients the tools and techniques they need in order to “use the 15 minutes they have together to EMPOWER and ENABLE patients in the greatest way possible – to increase the odds that patients will be willing and able to follow treatment protocols, and ultimately to improve their health outcomes.”

A good example of that work is in progress now, in the form of a protocol designed to help kids with asthma – and their families – to keep that asthma under control, and avoid acute attacks that put a child’s health at risk and force an emergency room visit.  The program was developed as an exam-room process that enables patients’ families to actively question their doctor about the kind of care their child needs in order to avoid asthma attacks.

One of the common problems in minority populations is that they don’t necessarily think that they have the right to have all of their questions answered by their treating physician.  Dr. Horn’s program tells them – and teaches them how – to effectively do so.  She always tells her patients – explicitly – no matter where I am, PLEASE ASK ME!!  She is their primary care doctor and therefore their advocate.  When she refers patients to specialists she tells them the same, and lets them know that it is their right and their obligation to ensure that they fully understand their doctors diagnosis and treatment.

It turns out that asthma serves as a great example of how this scenario plays out in real life.  In the hospital they have a clinic in the ER for kids who are at risk for asthma issues.  Those kids are admitted because their asthma frequently gets out of control.  At the clinic they get intensive education about how to manage asthma (environmental, social, and medical).  And a big part of that program is helping patients’ families to work with their primary care providers (PCPs) to continually manage their asthma so that they STAY out of the ER.  The problem was that their PCPs weren’t necessarily equipped to work with them on that kind of proactive management.  The PCP would say “your asthma is under control – why are you here?” And they’d say “because I’m am supposed to be!”  Basically, Dr. Horn’s patients weren’t always getting what they needed from the PCP.  So her program is about treating asthma – but mostly about arming parents to communicate effectively with PCPs.  Her patients learn things like:

  • What are the components of a healthcare visit?
  • What do they need to tell their doctors?
  • What do they need to ask?
  • What do they need to walk out the door with?

After completing the asthma intervention, she and her research partners surveyed the group of families who’d participated.  When the families were asked what had been the most valuable aspects of the program, they got responses like,  “It gave me the ability to ask questions – I didn’t know I could.”  “I knew I couldn’t give my child that medicine because of my work schedule.”  “I didn’t know that I could let Grandma pick up the medicine.”  All of those are things that, once identified, can easily be worked around.

The problem was that the program was successful in the short term, but that it was hard to sustain.  People were tending to drift back into their old habits.  Now, their challenge is to take the program and make it both evidence-based AND sustainable.  Dr. Horn believes that the answer may lie with a mobile intervention – perhaps leveraging SMS text messaging.  A mobile intervention would allow patients to access the information they need at the right time (i.e., when they’re about to visit their primary care doctor) – but also allow them to call it up whenever they need it, easily.  They’ll get refresher reminders over a period of time – and it guides them towards the next visit.

Hopefully the mobile solution will prove to be effective enough in sustaining successful treatment that it will stick around – and have a side benefit as well.  If it works, it’ll be able to take Dr. Horn’s research and techniques and allow them to scale to the point that they’re available for pediatric asthma patients all over the country.

There is tremendous momentum building around eactly this kind of mobile health innovation.  Dr. Horn wants to be sure that the companies and organizations involved don’t forget underserved populations as they’re designing and testing their inventions – and encourages such companies to partner with those underserved populations and the doctors who serve them.  That’s not necessarily easy to do directly today, but Dr. Horn suggested that interested companies should start with the “safety net” organizations to see how they could engage to determine how their solution could be applied to a specific population.

Organizations like the  National Medical Association, the Association of Black Cardiologists and the Hispanic Medical Association are focused on black and latino populations, and can often provide great resources and insights in terms of taking things forward. Medical schools are also great partners for that kind of innovation; Childrens National frequently partners with Howard Medical School and works on child health disparities funded through NIH.

I came to know Dr. Horn through twitter, while she was visiting Austin for the SxSW interactive festival last year.  Just as we saw recenty from Wendy Sue Swanson, the way Dr. Horn uses social media to communicate with a broader population came through traditional media.  Dr. Horn found that she was doing interviews in local media on a relatively recent basis, but wanted to find a way to access that same broad population on a more regular and controlled basis.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

She thought about starting her own blog, but decided that it’d make more sense to start leveraging a social property that already had a foothold in her desired audience group – and would be regularly maintained in the event that she wasn’t able to keep a frequent enough publication schedule.  As it happens, she had a friend who already had a blog for parents of color – Denene Millner’s My Brown Baby.

As is fitting for a scientific researcher, Dr. Horn decided to attack blogging systematically, and conduct it as a kind of experiment.  She and Ms. Millner agreed that she would blog monthly for six months.  Before, during and after the experiment, they measured the conversation on and around the blog.  Ms. Millner had already provided a forum that had proved to be effective in engaging families in healthcare and childhood development, and was interested in adding more detailed medical information – effectively raising the level of conversation from a purely “lifestyle” conversation to a true health conversation.  Dr. Horn presented the results of that study at last month’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media (Use of Social Media for Engaging Communities of Color In Child Health Dialogue). Dr. Horn feels confident that they measurably achieved their goal – in fact, the blog was nominated as a Best Health and Wellness blog in 2011.   She’ll be presenting it again this month at the Medicine 2.0 Conference in Boston.

The key learning from that experience for Dr. Horn was that when a physician comes into the right conversations online, it can make a measurable difference in parenting.  That positive experience proved to be a launchpad for Dr. Horn to expand more deeply into social media, and Twitter was the next logical step for her.  Blogging can take a LOT of effort and time (which as an academic she doesn’t have in abundance). Dr. Horn joined Twitter looking for the same target population she’d accessed through Ms. Millner’s blog (minority parents). She’s been successful in doing so, but also managed to find another community that she wasn’t necessarily expecting: There is a small (but active and growing) group of folks on Twitter who are focused on finding new ways to address the needs of underserved populations.  Not surprisingly, she mentioned how much she appreciates the work and approach of Andre Blackman (Pulse + Signal; creator of the Fast Forward film festival for health innovation) and  Alisa Hughley of enBloomMedia, who’s focused on transplants/organ donorship in minority populations.

Dr. Horn’s vision for the power of digital and social media to help reduce some of the health disparities in underserved communities is an inspiring and powerful one – and one well worth following.  You can keep up with them through Dr. Horn’s twitter account – and also by following these hashtags: #meded #hcsm #minorityhealth #disparities

As I read through my home feed on Google+ – that’s right, I’m one of ‘those people’ currently enjoying Google+ – I noticed a post on the Scobleizer regarding ‘Mobile 3.0.’ I paused just long enough to mutter something to myself along the lines of, “What? Did we really need another digital marketing buzzword?” But before I could move on, I noticed that something about the topic had gotten Robert Scoble pretty fired up. It made me curious. And, as marketers, we all know what this type of curiosity leads to… a click-through. And what a click-through it turned out to be.

I’m hoping you’ll go back and read the post. But before I summarize, and in the interest of full disclosure, Qualcomm Life, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, is a client. On July 10th, Qualcomm shipped the developer SDK called Gimbal. What’s special about this SDK is that it will allow developers to talk to all of the sensors and radios in your phone, the compass, GPS, accelerometer, temperature sensor, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. and use the data to create a contextual awareness platform. This is vastly important because it will allow apps and messaging on your phone to be hyper-relevant to you at any given moment in any given context. Scoble’s post does a much better job of describing this and giving examples.

Needless to say, at this point, Scoble’s post had me excited too. It immediately made me think of Amber Case. She is a pioneer in the relatively new field of Cyborg Anthropology. And to hear her tell it, which you can in the video below, we have all become cyborgs.

For those of you that don’t have time to watch the entire video, although you should bookmark it and come back when you do, I will give you the highlights. Case is studying how the human condition, rituals, lifestyle, etc. has changed due to the technology that has become inextricably linked to our lives; the best example being mobile devices like smartphones. The smartphone is a device that many people feel they can’t live without. Essentially, the device allows them to compress space and time to connect with anyone in the world at any time. And this is making our world a much smaller and more connected place. All in all, technology has the potential at this point and time in history to enhance our humanity. We have the ability to engage and help one another like never before. And through social media, you can see direct examples of people engaging and helping other people every day. Case calls this ‘calm’ technology, and says that we can achieve “better connections when tech gets out of the way and helps us live our lives.”

Of course, calm technology is also going to make many of us cyborgs look ridiculous for a while. But the real question becomes, what is the potential for marketing in this vast new world of cyborgs and hyper-relevant, contextual awareness?

Cyborg Marketing = Experiential Marketing
With the heightened state of human interaction brought on by technology, it is imperative to concentrate our marketing on two things – 1) being human and 2) interactions and experiences with our brands.

Let’s start with being human since it is, hopefully, the easier of the two. Brands no longer have the luxury of simply selling their products. Thanks to companies like Dell, Apple, Kraft, Whole Foods and more, brands are now selling an experience. That experience spans the quality of your product throughout your organization to the quality of your people and your ability to act responsibly regardless of your hard and fast policies. At the end of the day, people buy products from people, and people create the experience of your brand. The trick to being human is that it is no longer a private situation between a customer and a company. The playing field is completely level and every experience an individual customer has with a brand should be treated as if it is public. Essentially, this makes every company only as good as its worst customer service rep. So, instilling a quality experience across an organization should be an absolute priority.

Number two is a bit stickier because we all know that hundreds of exceptional experiences can easily be undone with one bad experience. So, it only makes sense that if the audience for your brand is using a certain technology, you should understand and be using that technology as well. If you know your customers are using mobile devices to access information about your product by looking at your website analytics, then you should have a mobile experience, be it site, app, email or SMS messaging. And if they are using apps developed with Qualcomm’s Gimbal SDK, you’ll need to deliver a hyper-relevant experience.

And, I would even take it a step further. If your audience is using a particular technology, everyone at your company should understand and be using that technology. It’s just like using word processing or presentation software, it’s a job requirement. Otherwise, can your organization truly make informed decisions that impact brand experience and your customers?

This is never more evident than with social media. We’ve all heard that customers are talking about our brands and it is up to us to join the conversation or be left with the customer communities defining our brands for us. If this is true, shouldn’t brands be requiring their employees to utilize social media in their everyday work? If for nothing else, employees could see the conversations and stories about their brand and know exactly how the customers feel. My bet is that just knowing how customers feel would have a positive impact on how people do their jobs.

So, as we cyborg marketers try to create exceptional experiences for our customers, let’s take advantage of the hyper-relevant and super-connected technology that has expanded our potential to be more human.

The Mobile Imperative

iPhones, iPad, tablets and readers – it’s easy to define mobile by the devices we use in the places we go.  But, the real revolution in mobile is happening semantically.  For a culture on the go, mobile is silently moving from noun to verb.  From what we use to how, where, when and why we use it.  Fueled by expanding mobile networks, carrier hand-offs, faster processors and more features and form factors, we’re no longer confined by the wall sockets that tether us, but are unbound to move around our world and through the lives we live – mobily.  It’s because of the places we go, the people we see and the lives that we live wherever we live them that defining a long-term mobile strategy must first acknowledge the semantic shift from noun to verb. Having a dedicated roadmap to reach mobile consumers is no longer a feature or addendum to an effective program, but central to it and integrated within it.

An Integration Approach

Watch behavior of people in public, and you’ll see a common thread – the dim glow of a blue light on their face posting to Facebook, sending or receiving a text  or checking email.  Ninety-one percent of American cell phone customers have their phones within arm’s reach 24 hours a day. During that day, depending on their age group, they check email between six and 20 times.  They text between 5 and 110 times.  Understanding how people navigate their lives through their phone provides insight to a sustainable mobile strategy. For any brand, this considers how a Facebook post can be received on a desktop computer, commented on with a mobile phone and shared through a tablet or within an offline conversation. With consumption and behavior habits blurring across platforms, mobile features and devices, it’s important to find integration points that connect or at least span technologies, geographies and programs.  Organizations that can find a cohesive way to align purpose, platform and audience while delivering the experiences that enhance consumers’ daily travels.

Context is King

When assessing the mobile opportunities for your organization, it’s important to understand the mobile context of your customers, constituent, users.

1)     Behaviors: Create an archetype for the personalities of your customer base.  Where does this person go during the day – the dry cleaner, school, drive-in, restaurant, hiking?  Think about how the use of devices (noun) impacts the use habits (verb) of the demographics that make up your customer base.  And, don’t fall into the traps of assumption and stereotypes.  Seek out knowledge – both anecdotal and concrete – about how your target moves around, through and into the experiences that connect their world.

2)     Content: It’s important to assess not only what type of content is most compelling and consumed within the context of the customer’s daily excursion. It’s equally important to understand how your specific content/experience will be accessed and consumed. Assume much of your content will increasingly be consumed on a mobile device of some kind – whether on a cell phone or a tablet.  This impacts form, format and other characteristics of your content.  Make content consumable for mobile devices to maximize the experience for the consumer.  Shorter videos, visually compelling photos, succinct audio clips.

3)     Experiences: Understanding the pathways your consumer follows throughout the day can provide insight into how to enhance their experience.  Much like how marketers need to understand that it’s not about them in social channels, this concept becomes more relevant when connecting in a mobile context.  Are you just repurposing content to be available on mobile devices, or are you looking for ways to enhance the mobile experience?  I receive brief text messages from Redbox for a free rental each month.  It’s short, plain text and in a format that makes it easy for me to take action at the kiosk.  No need for html codes or flash widgets.  Just me, my phone and my Redbox text.

4)     Measurement: Do you know how often your site, channel, content is accessed through a mobile device?  What is the termination rate?  Bounce rate? Can you tell which information is accessed the longest through mobile?  All of these are indications of when, how and why your information is accessed.  And, it’s valuable to know these baseline metrics to understand what content and experiences are more compelling.  It also reveals some of the situational context (time of day, length of time on content, etc) that can be used to dial up or modify content pathways.

5)     Evolution: There are any number of reports that show estimates on mobile penetration and adoption – from operating systems to devices to downloads.  Some marketers make decisions based on those metrics, which are sometimes months old.  One of my favorite stories is from a time I was working with a major mobile chip manufacturer.  I was in a room with smart marketers and engineers who had helped revolutionize the mobile technology of the time.  They were debating whether or not to account for a new feature that some consumers were starting to ask for on their mobile phone.  The new feature was music.  All of the data pointed to the fact that consumers would never really want to do anything more than talk on their phones. If they wanted music, they could use their Walkman for that.  We know how the rest of the story ends.  With few exceptions, most would agree that this mobile thing is going to be big.  Basing program decisions and mobile investments on the degree of adoption today doesn’t account for the speed of overall adoption.  Chances are it takes longer for your company to agree on and launch programs than it does for mobile use patterns to evolve.  Look at where your audience will be in six to twelve months, rather than were they’ve been for the previous six or are today.  This will help ensure you’re meeting the evolutionary needs of your constituents and customers.

The mobile revolution began years ago.  The evolution will continue as networks expand, the tools and toys we use get smarter and there’s more of us connecting in more ways in more places.  Viewing mobile as a verb, instead of noun puts our head in a place that our actions can follow.

Photo: ACL Fest Bike Rack Photo by AdamJ1555

 

As anyone connected to an information source knows, parts of London burned over the last few days. Scenes of looting and overwhelmed riot police have dominated the endless news loop.  The talking heads on television don’t seem to know what to make of the chaos.  There’s no consensus as to what the source of the problem is. People viewing the problem with a socioeconomic lens blame the austerity measures, some see racial undertones, while other misguided individuals blame social media. There are many ways to view the current state of unrest, but blaming social media is a bit far fetched. It’s the equivalent of baseball bat for breaking a window. A bat alone will not break anything. In the same sense, social networks are merely tools that we use to communicate in real time. What people choose to communicate is up to them. Social media as a channel is neutral and can be used for good, evil or annoyance in some cases.

The Internet and social networks are guilty of enhancing the ability and speed of one of the most fundamental human traits, the desire to socialize. Since the beginning of civilization, people have come together to discuss anything and everything. A word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source is still one of the most effective drivers of commerce today.  The main difference between now and 2000 years ago is that a physical presence is no longer required to share information or to gather around an idea. Before media, the fastest way to spread information to a large group was to unite them into a single location and to provide them with information that they can pass on to others. You can imagine how some messages may have lost momentum or become warped beyond recognition. Today messages are repeated more frequently across vast distances, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune from the issues of the past.

Welcome to the hyper-connected world. A world where people and ideas can all be interconnected at lightning speed. You don’t even need to be digitally connected to be a part of zeitgeist. There’s a good chance that relevant information will find you through someone nearby who ‘s linked in. People gather for and against ideas, but thanks to social media, they can unite in real time using nothing more than a connected device or knowing someone with one. Living in hyper-connected times means that we must rethink the concept of community to include flash unions that form and break up dozens of times per day. The police in London describe their policing style as community policing, but physical communities are only part of the equation. There is a clear line between gaining a better understanding of what’s happening in the digital space and imposing a full big brother crackdown on social media as has been suggested. We can’t expect Blackberry to shut its messenger service because you don’t like what’s being said.

There is some good news for the battered city. Police are learning from how these events materialize. They are starting to understand the language of flash unions and they are able to track what’s being said publicly. Blackberry’s BBM, a private communication channel for users of their devices, is more difficult to track. Blackberry is cooperating with police to track and trace crime related messages. There are two sides to every coin. So if you want to blame social media, you can. Just be sure to give it credit when something positive happens as well.  People used social networks to unite in the name of anger and chaos, but today others used social channels to aid the cleanup effort. Time will tell which of these movements last longer. Both the rioters with balaclavas and the anti-rioters with brooms have gathered around polarizing ideas. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a select few rallied around anarchy in private and order in public. In our dynamic hyper-connect world you can use social media to be a part of any community, social, anti-social, or both.

 

 

 

 

Here are a few lessons learned from a few days of madness:

1.  Social Media is a communications tool that makes it easier and faster to communicate (anything).

2.  Don’t blame the tool for the actions of the user. We must be careful and cautious when using social media professionally because there’s always an element of unpredictability when communicating through a shared medium.

3.  Communities are dynamic unions of people that are only as strong the idea that they are centered around. Strong communities can be real, virtual or any combination of both. Nurtured communities thrive on and offline.

4. Don’t overreact. We’re all still learning and getting better at communicating and listening online. Take the time to learn more about what’s really happening before making rushed decisions.

5. With great power comes great responsibility. A tool for one is a weapon for another.

These days it seems that everyone has an app. Apple currently boasts north of 400,000 apps in it’s popular app store. Android has over 200,000. Yet I’m willing to bet that 98% of those apps get used a few times by people and then thrown away. To prove my point, I surveyed a few of my social friends via Twitter and Facebook. I specifically asked, “What is the ONE app on your phone that you can’t live without (beyond basic e-mail, web, phone, text).” My question resulted in about 75 responses with a net result of 99 different app recommendations.

 

I’ll start by caveating that this is not a large enough sample to be statistically valid. You’ve also likely deduced that this crowd is more social than average so usage of things like Twitter clients and other geeky apps are greater than they would be by the general populous. However, my point is that outside of a few anomalies, most of the apps that people shared were what I expected. In the graph to the left, I’ve shared a general rollup of the types of apps that people cited as their “must haves.”

What does this mean for you? My purpose is to caution that if you or your company is thinking about creating an app, you may want to hold your horses. That’s not to say that the proliferation of apps in the world isn’t great, but rather that many apps probably weren’t worth becoming apps in the first place. One thing you’ll notice in the chart to the left is that the first three categories, utility/productivity, Twitter and dining/entertainment, account for nearly 60% of all the apps. If I were to have asked a less social crowd, I’m guessing that Facebook would have replaced Twitter and that there may have been a slight uptick in things like news and maps (which I could have easily added to the productivity/utility bucket).

For me, the apps I use the most (you can see based on how I’ve organized my main screen below) are ones I use all the time. Note that since I just finished writing the book, Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, I over index by a lot on location based apps. But you probably won’t see anything out of the ordinary other than I am completely game-free (I’ll save that conversation for another day). I have more apps on my second page and of those, there are two others that I use ALL the time including American Airlines app and my MLB.com app. Other than that, my other pages of apps get used about 1/100 of those on my main screen. And of those on the main screen, it’s probably the same 12-15 apps that get used 100x more than the rest.

So if you are thinking about creating an app, maybe you should consider a mobile-optimized site instead. There are a few main benefits to doing this over an app:

  • For the most part, you can be accessed by any smart or feature phone with a web browser
  • You don’t need to worry about developing for four to five different platforms (Android, iOS, RIM, Symbian (going away) and Windows Phone)
  • There is no need to go through the app store vetting process which can be long and dangerous
  • No need to worry about version control — people accessing your site always have the latest and greatest version of your application.

Again, that doesn’t mean that apps are a bad idea, just that you should take a long hard look at what the goals are. High transaction, productivity or utilitarian applications make a lot of sense. Those that are peripheral in value at best probably don’t.

  • Beluga
  • Chatter
  • Pandora
  • Yelp
  • Open Table
  • Shazam
  • Flixster
  • Poynt
  • rdio
  • RedBox
  • Angry Birds
  • Words with Friends
  • Sudoku
  • foursquare
  • Google Maps
  • Pulse
  • Instagram
  • Brand Your Photo
  • Camera+
  • DoAT
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • E. Sports
  • Milog
  • MLB.com
  • Nike +
  • Watch ESPN
  • Yahoo Sportacular
  • Twitter
  • Hootsuite
  • Tweetdeck
  • Plume
  • Twidroyd
  • Tripit
  • Evernote
  • Drop Box
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Docs
  • Google Translator
  • Keyring
  • Scanbizcards
  • SetCPU
  • Tabbed Out
  • USAA
  • Weatherbug
  • Yap Voicemail

In case you are wondering, here is the full list of apps I collected during my informal survey. If you have others you’d like to add, feel free to put ’em in the comments.

Tags:

Attending the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is always a daunting experience, particularly navigating noise generated by announcements hailing the latest “breakthrough” products. This year’s star is the Tablet computer and the revolution it’s purportedly bringing. Mashable has a real good summary of the trends to look for at CES and, in a not-shocking development, Tablets rate number one. Seemingly, every company on earth is releasing their version (trying to make a dent into Apple’s iPad market dominance) and the show hasn’t even officially kicked off yet.

But through all the hype of Tablet-thon it’s important keep a larger perspective on what Tablets exactly mean if this revolution truly takes hold. A series of announcements (originating from the show and elsewhere) highlight how the evolution of “mobile” is the true story here. And while that might not come as a shock to technophiles, its ramifications certainly could for folks in other sectors.

To wit, cable provider Comcast today announced they’re releasing an app that will allow subscribers using iPads and Tablets running the Android to stream live television to those devices. Though streaming will initially be confined the subscriber’s home, a new means for consumers to consume live broadcast content has been opened. Until now, it’s been the domain of streaming content, such as Netflix.

Also today came news of eBay generating nearly $2B in mobile sales, nearly tripling the total amount from the previous year. Additionally, mobile ad platform firm Millennial Media raised nearly $30M in funding from several top-tier venture funds, confirming (along with Google and Apple’s acquisition of other players in the space last year) advertising on mobile platforms as a very real market. Mobile is now a premier place to sell content and consumables.

Lastly, Mashable reported on the trend of schools dipping their toe into using iPads in the classroom, ordering thousands of the devices for their students to use. Alas, a new means to educate students is taking hold, via mobile devices.

So what does all these seemingly disparate news stories mean? The Tablet noise generated out of CES and the announcements I discussed underline how mobile devices and content are becoming must-haves. This means marketers (and those of us who help them) should start thinking “mobile first” when creating and distributing content, and educating core audiences.

Are you ahead of the curve by already thinking mobile first for your company or clients?

If so, how? If not, what are the barriers keeping it from happening?

Tags: