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Calling All Social Media Nerds: Welcome Home

We are the Facebook generation'the ones who obsessively refresh our News Feeds, discreetly thumb through photo albums during morning meetings, plow through group chats, and communicate in likes, comments, shares, and statuses. We're fueled by social, inspired by visual, and entirely transfixed by real-time, real-life, right-now communication. Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement of Facebook Home'the free app for Android that transforms the mobile experience into an all-encompassing News Feed'has teenagers squealing, social enthusiasts buzzing, and marketing nerds dreaming of the exciting possibilities. Facebook Home isn't a 'Facebook Phone,'? as early buzz had suggested; it's an app that integrates with your current device to make social the key component of your day-to-day activity. So, whether you're reading today's headlines from the New York Times, working out with a Pandora playlist, or responding to work emails, you'll see a constant stream of Facebook chats, statuses, photo albums, birthday messages, and more. What's in it for me? Facebook Home is loaded with exciting social capabilities. Coverfeed'a mobile-friendly, highly visual iteration of the News Feed you know and love'is one click away (seriously, you don't even have to unlock your phone). Coverfeed gives you instant access to status updates, photos, and relevant links'it allows for easy scrolling (or stalking, if that's your thing), and it updates constantly so you're always in the loop. For the social animal, Coverfeed is like your best friend, love-to-hate enemy, and creepy uncle rolled into one: you'll never miss a beat'but you may be a bit too informed'and having instant, 24/7 access to Facebook may be hazardous to your health (and productivity). Another exciting feature of Facebook Home is Chat Heads, a function that allows you to chat with friends from anywhere on your phone. No more clicking on the Facebook Chat app to load recent conversations'now, your coworker may pop up on the side of that Buzzfeed article you're thumbing through, or your mom may check in while you're scrolling through AMP's blog. This may be dangerous'no more hiding in your copy of 50 Shades of Gray on the Kindle app, or taking a break to edit that big presentation for work. You'll constantly be in the social loop. custom essay writing services What's in it for Marketers? Facebook Home is the new baby of the Android world, and marketers are itching to understand what's in it for them. Though there is no ad space on Coverfeed (yet), Zuckerberg is excited about the possibilities as he strives to make Facebook a 'mobile-first company.'? More Data Right now, we can be excited about the access to more data. With Home, Facebook has access to a wealth of information on consumers'GPS tracking, phone usage habits, text information, and more'which should be able to greatly inform mobile marketing strategies. Still in its early stages, mobile marketing has yet to truly benefit from informed, targeted ad placements.  Facebook Home should be a game-changer in this arena, and Zuckerberg could champion the effort to bring smart marketing to mobile. More Visibility Facebook Home will also allow brands to increase their social visibility. Home will allow for your brand's message to reach consumers quickly, efficiently, and frequently. Engagement with fans will also be sleeker'Coverfeed places a large emphasis on the visual'so there's an incentive for marketers to develop content that's bright, engaging, and stimulating. More Integration With Home, integration is the name of the game: chats are seamlessly woven into apps, and your home screen is a constant flow of photos, updates, and messages. Bottom line: social comes first'and apps and hardware are secondary' but they all exist harmoniously in a world that's intuitively driven by interaction. Marketers should take heed and join the conversation accordingly. When posting on behalf of your brand, don't be spammy. Start a conversation that deserves a 'like'? or comment'one that creates conversation, not clutter. For brands to thrive in this mobile world, we need to adapt. Android users can start playing with Facebook Home today. For the iPhone devotees, Zuck has said that Home should eventually make its way to Apple territory. Either way, it's an exciting time for mobile marketing. We're on the brink of something big.

BlackBerry and the Death of the Business Device

Last week, BlackBerry reported a dreadful fourth quarter, showing a net loss of $125 million. This prompted RIM, among other moves, to release a statement promising to focus more fully on the business consumer. If this was 2005, it would be an absolute no brainer. Enterprise solutions are what made BlackBerry a household name before they unsuccessfully tried their hand at the consumer market, so why wouldn't refocusing on enterprise save them now? The trouble is that since BlackBerry put smartphones on the map with their business-friendly offerings, they've been consistently leapfrogged by other manufacturers and operating platforms. And because both iOS, Android and even Windows phones have become ubiquitous in the business world, it's going to be extremely hard to regain that market. Redefining "The Business Consumer" BlackBerry's new focus on the "business consumer" may fall on deaf ears because, let's face it, when it comes to smartphone users, there's really no such thing as a strictly "business consumer" anymore. We have our devices on us at all times, and the typical user is looking for something that addresses both business needs and the need to smash pigs with disgruntled birds or Draw Something. So even though BlackBerry's ads want us to believe that anything outside of the BlackBerry operating system is a "toy," it's simply not true. There is a feeling that BlackBerry does have a leg up on the competition when it comes to network security, but since the other platforms have become more adopted in the corporate world, it won't be long before it's an equal playing field, and some may argue iOS is already there. And it's unfortunate that one of BlackBerry's so-called brand differentiators at the moment is the physical keyboard. While they hands down have the best physical keyboards, we've become very accustomed to writing emails with a touchscreen, and those who haven't have a handful of Android and Windows phones to choose from that feature more than capable physical keyboards. Creating handsets specifically for "The Business Consumer" also assumes that BlackBerry is going to be able to create devices that are going to be so superior at "business" solutions, that people will carry one of them for work, and then go back to using their "plaything" Androids and iPhones when they leave the office. Raise your hand if that sounds ideal to you. No one? Okay, moving on. The App Playground I have both an Android handset and an iPad. I like both of them for different reasons and think they both excel at different things. The truth is, and this might cause a bit of an uproar among Apple and Android fanboys, iOS and Android devices aren't all that different. Sure, there are differences in connection speeds, processor speeds, battery life, screen resolution, other surface level things but the overall form and functionality are similar enough. They're sleek, slim, glossy, utilize touch-screens, are great for surfing the web and are more than sufficient for answering work emails or viewing documents on the go. This is mainly the reason that everyone's suing each other over patent infringements. When smartphones came out, it was the features that set handsets apart. Now, the base features that are shipped with the device are only the beginning and are pretty standard. It's the apps that truly run the show. You buy a handset and the apps that you put on it define whether your device is business-focused, consumer-focused, or a bit of a mixture of both. Just because you have an iOS or Android device doesn't pin you as a "consumer" anymore as there are a number of solutions on both the iOS and Android platforms which make it easy for any of their devices to cater to the business user. And the fact that the number of apps on both Android and iOS outnumber BlackBerry by about 700,000, the chances are that the business user is probably better catered by the two former. What's Next for BlackBerry In short, the outlook is bleak. BlackBerry's lack of innovation over the past 5+ years compared to their competition shouldn't give anyone a good feeling that they know how to right the ship. But all is not lost. What's that saying about the first step to getting help being able to admit you have a problem? They know they have to do something radical to improve things, and it looks like they're making moves in the right direction. They're also close to launching their new operating system, BlackBerry 10 and some leaked photos of the new system are getting some people excited. However, by the time it reaches the market, iPhone 5 will be out and it may be too late. If BlackBerry 10 fails to turn things around, will they be out of options? A colleague of mine suggested that if that happens, the only remaining option might be to kill the operating platform, use their skills at creating business-focused devices, and focus solely on making the hardware for another platform. Would love to hear any thoughts on how you feel BlackBerry will be able to get back on their feet in our comments section below.

I'm Uber Excited about Uber

It's the quintessential night out in downtown Boston. You and all your friends meet up at [fill in the blank] bar for drinks and good times. Shortly before 2am the lights come on, coats are gathered and everyone - at every bar in the area - heads outside to hail a cab... simultaneously. What usually follows is 10-90 minutes of arm-extended frustration as I curse the anonymous backseat riders who drive by in unlit taxis. Well, not anymore. This weekend I finally tried out the relatively-new "on-demand private driver" service, Uber. For the past few months I've read articles about Uber's burgeoning growth and observed a growing number of complimentary tweets fill my news feed. Partially inspired by these positive reviews, but mainly motivated by the out-of-order ATM and the crowd of other bar patrons lining Tremont Street, I decided to give Uber a shot this past Saturday night. Let me say, it was a life changing experience. In less than 5 minutes, I downloaded Uber's iPhone app, set-up a personal profile, requested a car and got picked up. That's right. 5 minutes from searching the App store to being in the backseat of Ameur's (my driver) sedan. Here's a quick overview of how the service works: Request a ride from anywhere at any time via SMS or by using Uber's iPhone or Android apps (GPS pinpoints your specific location and provides to Uber) Uber dispatches the nearest driver to pick you up and immediately provides an estimated arrival time. Via the app, you can actually watch your black car en route to your location Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride... cash free. Uber automatically charges the cost of the ride - including tip - to the credit card you have on file. Pricing is based on a flat base fare ($7 in Boston) and then incremental charges based on distance/time The overall experience was terrific. After arriving at my destination, I immediately received a receipt via email and was encouraged to rate my driver on a 1-5 star scale. The cost of the ride was relatively comparable to a taxi (perhaps a few dollars more), but the overall experience was head and shoulders above taking a cab home. Available in Boston, Chicago, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C. and soon in LA and Toronto - Uber marries the best of technology and convenience to provide a stellar consumer experience. I highly recommend downloading the app and giving Uber a try. And with promises that this is a totally unsolicited endorsement, I will also share that they have a great referral program to motivate trial. Sign up with this link and get $10 off your first ride! https://clients.uber.com/#!/invite/jv4kz. Any other Uber fans out there? Let me know about your experiences so far in the comments section below!

  • 2 min read
  • March 5, 2012

I'm Uber Excited about Uber

It's the quintessential night out in downtown Boston. You and all your friends meet up at [fill in the blank] bar for drinks and good times. Shortly before 2am the lights come on, coats are gathered and everyone - at every bar in the area - heads outside to hail a cab... simultaneously. What usually follows is 10-90 minutes of arm-extended frustration as I curse the anonymous backseat riders who drive by in unlit taxis. Well, not anymore. This weekend I finally tried out the relatively-new "on-demand private driver" service, Uber. For the past few months I've read articles about Uber's burgeoning growth and observed a growing number of complimentary tweets fill my news feed. Partially inspired by these positive reviews, but mainly motivated by the out-of-order ATM and the crowd of other bar patrons lining Tremont Street, I decided to give Uber a shot this past Saturday night. Let me say, it was a life changing experience. In less than 5 minutes, I downloaded Uber's iPhone app, set-up a personal profile, requested a car and got picked up. That's right. 5 minutes from searching the App store to being in the backseat of Ameur's (my driver) sedan. Here's a quick overview of how the service works: Request a ride from anywhere at any time via SMS or by using Uber's iPhone or Android apps (GPS pinpoints your specific location and provides to Uber) Uber dispatches the nearest driver to pick you up and immediately provides an estimated arrival time. Via the app, you can actually watch your black car en route to your location Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride... cash free. Uber automatically charges the cost of the ride - including tip - to the credit card you have on file. Pricing is based on a flat base fare ($7 in Boston) and then incremental charges based on distance/time The overall experience was terrific. After arriving at my destination, I immediately received a receipt via email and was encouraged to rate my driver on a 1-5 star scale. The cost of the ride was relatively comparable to a taxi (perhaps a few dollars more), but the overall experience was head and shoulders above taking a cab home. Available in Boston, Chicago, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C. and soon in LA and Toronto - Uber marries the best of technology and convenience to provide a stellar consumer experience. I highly recommend downloading the app and giving Uber a try. And with promises that this is a totally unsolicited endorsement, I will also share that they have a great referral program to motivate trial. Sign up with this link and get $10 off your first ride! https://clients.uber.com/#!/invite/jv4kz. Any other Uber fans out there? Let me know about your experiences so far in the comments section below!

So You Want An App?

On the business development front, we've noticed a handful of clients and prospects that have expressed interest in developing a downloadable application for their brands. Who can blame them? I personally get giddy every time I fire up the Urbanspoon app on my iPhone. "Where should I eat tonight?? The possibilities are ENDLESS!" And we've all killed an hour or 70 playing Angry Birds. But is this the right solution for your brand / product / service / Russian mob scam? Let's examine a few questions that you should ask yourself to see if it makes sense. Will it drive sales? First you need to be honest with yourself and ask, 'Is this critical to my business?'? For a brand like REI to develop a mobile app with e-commerce capability that allows users to purchase a new camping tent with a few swipes, a mobile app can be an incredibly powerful way to connect to users. The app delivers a new, convenient purchase channel to drive sales thereby justifying the ROI for building an app in the first place. However, if your brand is Yoplait, you may need to think twice since the same e-commerce opportunity is not there. Instead, you'll likely explore content centered around brand positioning and identity, perhaps exploring more health-specific / promotional content. Which brings us to our next point'?¦ Will it be good? Sounds easy, right? Let's continue to use the Yoplait example. So we can't purchase online (cause that'd be gross) but maybe instead we build an app tied to healthy dieting and exercise. That is a very competitive space and you'll be competing with best-in-class applications that will often be so much more robust with content, support, maintenance and updates. Think about the competition among health (Lose It!, Weight Watchers Mobile, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker) and fitness (Nike+GPS, FitnessBuilder, RunKeeper). Building a mobile app on the cheap to compete against these is like trying to build a bike in your garage on the weekend, then racing it in the Tour de France in July. Although this space is expected to experience tremendous growth (2010: 10.9 billion downloads; 2014 (projected): 76.9 billion downloads!), maintaining user engagement will continue to be a challenge as one in four apps that are downloaded are only used once. Will it be costly? It could be. Very quickly. Alarmingly so. Let's say you wanted to develop an app for iPhones, which only account for a quarter of the total smartphone market. Don

Mobile Browser vs. the App and Me ' A Love Triangle

v:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} --> A recent Adweek article, 'Do Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps?'? piqued my interest about the pros and cons of viewing different media on mobile browsers vs. viewing the same media on specific apps on their mobile phones. I began evaluating my own mobile phone behavior - do I prefer a mobile browser to an app? When do I decide to download an app instead of view the website on a mobile browser? Are there sites that I view on both my mobile browser and in an app format? My personal app library includes only a handful of my most trusted and useful applications: Gmail, Facebook, Weather, Pandora & Skype Mobile ' The newest music, connecting with family & friends, and knowing if I should pack an umbrella for my morning commute are important to me, thus I downloaded the apps. Some tech savvy people have a wider array of apps for variety of different mobile needs ' social media, games, and local apps. However, it's clear that the quantity and specific type of application downloaded varies by each individual person's needs and interests.  There are many websites and services that consumers find more useful in mobile app format, versus a mobile browser ' for example social media sites, music & games. This is illustrated by the Adobe Mobile Experience survey. However, today's mobile browsers (whether you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone) are often better suited for consumers' needs. While I commonly use the Facebook application, I sometimes switch to my mobile browser when the app leaves something to be desired. For example, when using the Android Facebook app, users can't see who 'likes'? their status (only how many people 'like'? them), notifications are downloaded only every 30 minutes, and users must go to the mobile site to read/respond to a notification. Although these are minor drawbacks, they are reasons that an Android user such as myself would have to switch to their mobile browser to view their Facebook page, in addition to using the app. Although the Android Facebook app is not perfect ' I always view my Facebook profile through the app first, and if I crave something more, I move on to my mobile browser. This proves that the mobile application provides more advantages than disadvantages for me. However, I prefer to use my mobile browser for the majority of my online web surfing needs, such as shopping and the news. With the various advantages & disadvantages of every unique app, brands should evaluate their target market's mobile phone behavior before investing in app development, since it is easy and sometimes more convenient for consumers to view content via their mobile browser. Title: Mobile Browser vs. the App and Me ' A Love Triangle   A recent Adweek article, 'Do Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps?'? piqued my interest about the pros and cons of viewing different media on mobile browsers vs. viewing the same media on specific apps on their mobile phones.I began evaluating my own mobile phone behavior-do I prefer a mobile browser to an app?When do I decide to download an app instead of view the website on a mobile browser? Are there sites that I view on both my mobile browser and in an app format? My personal app library includes only a handful of my most trusted and useful applications: Gmail, Facebook, Weather, Pandora & Skype Mobile ' The newest music, connecting with family & friends, and knowing if I should pack an umbrella for my morning commute are important to me, thus I downloaded the apps.Some tech savvy people have a wide array of apps for variety of different mobile needs' social media, games, and local apps. However, it's clear that the quantity and specific type of application downloaded varies by each individual person's needs and interests.There are many websites and services that consumers find more useful in mobile app format, versus a mobile browser ' for example social media sites, music & games. This is illustrated by the Adobe Mobile Experience survey. However, today's mobile browsers (whether you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone) are often better suited for the consumers' needs.While I commonly use the Facebook application, I sometimes switch to my mobile browser when the app leaves something to be desired. For example, when using the Android Facebook app, users can't see who 'likes'? their status (only how many people 'like'? them), notifications are downloaded onlyevery 30 minutes, and users must go to the mobile site to read/respond to a notification.Although these are minor drawbacks, they are reasons that an Android user such as myself would have to switch to their mobile browser to view their Facebook page, in addition to using the app. Although the Android Facebook app is not perfect ' I always view my Facebook profile through the app first, and if I crave something more, I move on to my mobile browser. This proves that the mobile application provides more advantages than disadvantages for me. However, I prefer to use my mobile browser for the majority of my online web surfing needs, such as shopping and the news. With the various advantages & disadvantages of every unique app, brands should evaluate their target market's mobile phone behavior before investing in app development, since it is easy and sometimes more convenient for consumers to view content via their mobile browser. Tag: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3i5094e406e415c280a20521b39297a826

This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 17-23)

 Undoubtedly, the buzz this week radiated from Google's third annual I/O (or 'Innovation in the Open'?) Conference. Techies indulged themselves on a two day binge of Google innovations. Here are a few highlights: The company (finally) unveiled Google TV. They reminded us that, despite industry-wide focus on the Internet and mobile communications, television is still king. Four billion users spend an average of five hours a day watching TV, while advertisers spend $70M annually trying to advertise to them. Several companies ' Sony, Intel, Adobe, and others'have collaborated with Google to build this technology which searches and delivers content seamlessly from both your tv and the Web. This 'smart tv'? seems intuitive, natural; why continue watching television on our laptop screens if we don't have to? As consumers, I believe making the jump to a 'lean-forward'?, engaging technology in our living-room won't be easy (but you'll have your chance to become an early-adopter Fall 2010). As advertisers though, it's hard not to be hopeful that Google TV catches on. There's an opportunity here to make traditional television content interactive. The new Android OS 2.2, Froyo, was revealed. Reasons why this improvement matters: it's super fast (Google claims its 5x faster than their previous OS version, making it the fastest mobile browser available), it has 'over the air'? capabilities (which allows you to download apps without syncing), and it also supports Flash. And Google didn't forget to remind it's audience of the impressive growth this product has seen - in fact, they're now activating 100,000 Androids a day! Google continues to differentiate itself from Apple. It goes without saying that Google TV is a direct response to Apple's, not-yet-so-successful, Apple TV. And the implementation of Flash into both of these new platforms positions Google in a much different, more-adapting light then their Adobe-cursing competitors. One of the keynote speakers made the competitive spirit obvious: 'If you believe in openness and choice, welcome to Android'?. Google helps Pac-Man turn 30. To celebrate our favorite pellet eating persona's 30th anniversary, Google transformed it's logo into an online version of the popular arcade game. Paralyzing productivity nationwide, the game was so popular that Google has decided to offer it forever. Check it out at www.google.com/pacman on your lunch break.

  • 3 min read
  • May 24, 2010

This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 17-23)

 Undoubtedly, the buzz this week radiated from Google's third annual I/O (or 'Innovation in the Open'?) Conference. Techies indulged themselves on a two day binge of Google innovations. Here are a few highlights: The company (finally) unveiled Google TV. They reminded us that, despite industry-wide focus on the Internet and mobile communications, television is still king. Four billion users spend an average of five hours a day watching TV, while advertisers spend $70M annually trying to advertise to them. Several companies ' Sony, Intel, Adobe, and others'have collaborated with Google to build this technology which searches and delivers content seamlessly from both your tv and the Web. This 'smart tv'? seems intuitive, natural; why continue watching television on our laptop screens if we don't have to? As consumers, I believe making the jump to a 'lean-forward'?, engaging technology in our living-room won't be easy (but you'll have your chance to become an early-adopter Fall 2010). As advertisers though, it's hard not to be hopeful that Google TV catches on. There's an opportunity here to make traditional television content interactive. The new Android OS 2.2, Froyo, was revealed. Reasons why this improvement matters: it's super fast (Google claims its 5x faster than their previous OS version, making it the fastest mobile browser available), it has 'over the air'? capabilities (which allows you to download apps without syncing), and it also supports Flash. And Google didn't forget to remind it's audience of the impressive growth this product has seen - in fact, they're now activating 100,000 Androids a day! Google continues to differentiate itself from Apple. It goes without saying that Google TV is a direct response to Apple's, not-yet-so-successful, Apple TV. And the implementation of Flash into both of these new platforms positions Google in a much different, more-adapting light then their Adobe-cursing competitors. One of the keynote speakers made the competitive spirit obvious: 'If you believe in openness and choice, welcome to Android'?. Google helps Pac-Man turn 30. To celebrate our favorite pellet eating persona's 30th anniversary, Google transformed it's logo into an online version of the popular arcade game. Paralyzing productivity nationwide, the game was so popular that Google has decided to offer it forever. Check it out at www.google.com/pacman on your lunch break.

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