Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Great QR Code Use

I haven't seen stunning execution of a QR code campaign so I like to point out good uses when I do see them. Here's one I recently encountered at Chicago Midway Airport. They use the QR code to solve the age old problem of forgetting where you parked.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dear Southwest Airlines....

Why did I have to print a paper boarding pass to checkin at the ticket counter? I use your app, just let me use a QR code from my app.

Why am I still carrying that paper boarding pass to the the gate? Let me scan a QR code from your app at the gate.

Thank you for the birthday drink coupons, it was so thoughtful. But don't give me more paper to keep track of. I have 2 kids that love mail & I just moved so maybe you don't have my new address. Why not just give me coupons in the app you know I downloaded & use? Better yet, give me drink passes in my passbook. My southwest card should be in passbook too.

How about sending me a push notification when it's nearing boarding time? I don't always find a seat at the gate, I'm usually looking for a plug for my iPhone.

Thanks for listening Southwest. Your competition are doing some of these things already so it's time to catch up. If you want more advice or need help building your mobile features, just call me. I know some great people.

Kelly Manthey

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The QR Code Mystery..... Solved!

I have finally encountered a really useful & practical placement for a QR code. Final results reported instantly! Where have you encountered serendipity with a QR code?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Let Android Fragmentation Get You Down

If you have decided to build an Android app the task of deciding which OS version to support and which devices to support can be daunting.  Here are some tips to help you sort through the sea of variables that exist and help you focus on what really matters.

Understand OS Adoption Rates:
First, check the stats for Android OS adoption. There is a great Android dashboard that gives the top OS version hitting the Google play store for that 14-day period.   At the time of this blog, the Gingerbread 2.3.3 version has a little over 60% of the Android market share.

Understand the Device Market:
A recent study done by OpenSignalMaps did a great job of visualizing the Android device market fragmentation.  This information can quickly help narrow the devices to tailor your development and testing efforts.
Samsung and HTC are big players but the market share division gets ugly quickly.

Unfortunately, knowing the device maker is only half the battle.  The models and features of each model can vary greatly.  Getting down to the model level will help further refine your efforts.

Get the Right Testing Tools:
Purchasing physical devices to physically test your app on is ideal. But it gets costly and can be difficult to scale. To get breadth of testing, consider enlisting the support of testing tools and services such as DeviceAnywhere or Perfecto Mobile.  These services offer enterprise scale access to thousands of devices and OS versions.  This affords the ability to quickly test out how a feature performs and trouble shoot specific user issues. 

Capture App User Feedback:
The app store ratings is not where you want to first surface any issues with your app. To keep negative user reviews at bay, consider adding an in-app feedback mechanism.  This provides your users the opportunity to give candid feedback during the in-app experience and keeps the negative reviews out of the public eye.  Tools like OpinonLab give the customer a voice and help feed your product backlog as well as identify trends across user experience. 

Reassess Everything Quarterly:
As with anything in the mobile space, things change quickly.  Use the tools and information out there to  reassess where the Android market is and where you should be focused.

What are the strategies your company is using to keep pace with the demands of the Android market?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile Website

While we anecdotally know that people are using smartphones more than ever these days there is real data that supports it. Studies have predicted that by 2014, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online.  If your business is just starting to develop a mobile strategy or if you are debating where to spend resources in your current strategy, here are some compelling reasons to continue to invest in the mobile web.

People search on mobile web, not in the app store.

We don't go to the app store looking for information.  We go there to find something specific- a game, a productivity tool, a mobile version of a service we are already using offline or in the desktop world.  We go to our browsers to do research and gather information. That coupled with our new behaviors means that people are more likely to be looking for your products and services on a mobile browser. 

If you have a mobile website, your site search feature should be considered one of the most if not THE most important feature.  It must be fast, contextual, and simple to use. Here are some interesting stats from a 2011mobile search study:
  • People used mobile search at home in the evening (81%) than any other time or places more frequently than anywhere else (81%), followed by at home on weekends (80%).
  • 66% use mobile search while while watching TV, something which should get advertisers thinking, while 61% said they use it at work.
  • 75% said mobile search makes their lives easier, 63% said access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information, and 32% said they use mobile search more than search engines on their computers. 
  • 84% use mobile search to look for information on local retailers, such as opening hours, address and contact details. 82% look for online retailers, 73% find a specific product or manufacturer website. 
  • Something which ties in with the crossover in TV viewing and mobile search is that 71% learn more about a product or service having seen an ad, 68% use it to find the best price for a product.

Consumer behaviorshave changed.
We are always on our phones.  When we have downtime, when we are in the middle of another activity, first thing in the morning, last thing before we fall asleep. With 66% of people using their smartphones while watching TV coupled with the results from an Internet Retailer study about what people are buying from their mobile devices (see below),  you could have some pretty compelling conversion rates between TV advertising and purchases.
A recent survey of 1,500 US adults at the 2011 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition revealed mobile shoppers’ most common purchases broken down by percentage:

   16% bought apparel
   15% bought food and beverages
   11% bought toys and games
   8% bought home goods
   4% bought sporting goods
   3% bought jewelry
   8% bought all other product

Our fancy phones have also made us lazy.  We are more likely to make a purchase using the device already in our pocket than taking the effort involved to go to and boot up our desktop computer.  I can honestly say that I've made more mobile purchases in the last 6 months than from my desktop computer.  My drivers for mobile purchases are time & convenience.  With a 3 yr. old, a newborn, and a full-time career, the best time for me to shop is whenever I can steal a few minutes during my busy day - waiting in line, my train commute, in bed...
If you don't have a mobile site, or if your site is less than desirable, you will probably loose a potential customer.

People are going to try to find you via a mobile browser whether or not you are ready to be found. If you haven't put a mobile web version of your site out there yet, your desktop site will be rendered.  While chances are the site will load (if your site is flash based, forget reaching the millions of worldwide iPhone users) the user experience will suffer.  The mobile screen dimensions will require a lot of pinching and zooming to make the basic functions of your site useable.  Statistics show that a potential customer is more likely to seek out competitor with a mobile site than suffer through a poor mobile experience.  

Similarly, if your existing mobile website is difficult to use and slow, people will abandon it. Don't forget the best practices of mobile design - keep it simple and task oriented, design navigation for the thumb, keep the code lightweight and fast, use all the available phone senses (i.e. GPS, the camera) to make search fast and rewarding.

What are some mobile websites that you frequently use?  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kindle Fire: The Gateway Tablet

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of my Apple products.  This holiday season I cheated on my iPad with my husband's new Kindle Fire.  To my surprise, I liked it.

There are several observations I made while using it.  First I'll start with opening the box:

1. The packaging - modeled after Apple's product packaging, there was very little else besides the tablet, a power cord, and a very small card with basic information.

2. It just worked - As soon as I took it out of the box I was able to power it on and immediately be productive. 

3. The user interface was intuitive - While not quite as slick as what I am used to on my iPad, the UI was surprisingly easy to navigate and it was easy to find what I was looking for.

4. Integration with my Amazon account - Being and Amazon product, the Fire makes it easy to make purchases via my existing Amazon account. Which had been dormant for a while but now that it's so easy to make purchases it's become my family's go to online retailer again.

This brings me to my point - the Kindle Fire isn't trying to be the next revelation in tablet technology.  It's a gateway to what Amazon does best - sells products.  Amazon isn't looking to make it's money on sales of the Fire, it's banking on the revenue it will rake in by making it even easier an more enjoyable to make purchases via the Amazon stores now accessible through the Fire. It's no surprise with it's sub $200 price tag that the Fire was the hottest selling item this holiday season.  It was the perfect gift - all the technical advancement of a tablet without the early adopter price tag.

In terms of market share, the Fire may have eaten into some of the iPad sales this season so much that speculation is that there is a $299 iPad on the horizon to help boost the dormancy in iPad sales.

So here are my predictions on what's next for the Kindle Fire:
1. The Fire will continue to dominate as a prime competitor to Apple's iPad in 2012.  Becoming the tablet of choice for those not willing to pay the Apple premium.
2. With it's size somewhere between that of a smartphone - not quite small enough to fit in your pocket -  and a tablet - not quite big enough for superior web browsing - Amazon will look to create a newer version that is larger and caters less to the Kindle loving reading crowd more to the tech savvy web browsing crowd.

You heard it here first folks - my predictions and analysis of the Kindle Fire tablet and how it's giving Apple a run for it's money.  What do you think?