Monday, July 27, 2009

Centrl iPhone LBS App to feature Push Notification

I have been reviewing several apps on the iTunes store over the last few days to see what is the current state of location-aware apps with a social networking element.

I came across New York based Centrl even before I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Murat Atkithanoglu, Centrl's founder, and found the app to be one of the best in its class, both in terms of feature range as well as simplicity of use.

Centrl gives users the power to search for people and places but also special offers within their immediate vicinity. All this may sound familiar, but make no mistake. Centrl comes packed with a whole series of nifty, practical features in what is clearly a thoroughly thought out application.

You can save not only your favourite places but also special deals of interest (such as money off coupons), with the option to share that information with people in your buddy list. Centrl also remembers your last location, so that even if you are relying on the Wi-Fi you can still get relevant information around you.

Needless to say, both Facebook and Twitter accounts can be connected to Centrl making importing contacts easy. Plus, Centrl comes with a public chat function, allowing members to talk in real time to their buddies nearby.

And when it comes to content, the user has a choice from a number of providers, from Yelp to to Oodle.

The real innovation will be the upgrading of the app to include Push Notification (available within iPhone OS 3.0) , alerting users to messages when the application is not actively running in the foreground. This is a key feature for social networking apps and is increasingly seen to be indispensable to maintain activity levels of the community.

If you have an iPhone, I encourage you to check Centrl out-it is a free app and is available on the iTunes store.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Marketing to the right audience on iPhone and iTouch

As the market for smartphones in general increases (they account for over 10% of mobile phone sales, up 12.7% in Q1 2009 compared to growth of 9.4% for standard phones, according to Gartner), and the segment captured by iPhone in particular increases (now accounting for close to 11% of overall smartphone sales as opposed to close to 6% a year earlier), it is useful to take a closer look at the new demographics of an iPhone user.

According to statistics for the US released by AdMob for the first 5 months of 2009, only 26% of iPhone owners are below the age of 24 (see chart pictured courtesy of AdMob).

That means that if you are targeting the youth segment (or 'Digital Natives') the iPhone may not be the best option for you. In contrast, iTouch users have a considerably younger age profile, with over 70% being under 24. While the device itself carries its limitations (you need a Wi-Fi network to do pretty much anything apart from listen to music), the spread of (free) Wi-Fi means that there are untapped opportunities to exploit the iTouch in order to address the youth segment.

I haven't seen a marketing insight report on the iPhone (in the sense of an in-depth qualitative study of a group of iPhone users conducted through one-on-one or group interviews over an extended period) but this could shed some light on whether the reality is that kids are getting their hands on their parents' iPhone and effectively sharing the within the same household.

The appeal of the iPhone and its exquisite aesthetics certainly represent a pull for kids and if cross-sharing is indeed taking place, this would mean that the 'real' proportion of the youth segment using the iPhone is much greater than the quantitively measured 26% being reported.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Layar Augmented Reality-Now Open for Developers

I first came across Layar at Mobile 2.0 Europe when I met Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald (aka DutchCowboy to Twitterers) and he demo'd the latest version of his augmented reality software on a G1 Android device.

I had previously taken a look at all the companies entered into the Mobile 2.0 start-up competition and, out of all of them, it was Layar that had really captured my imagination.

Why? Firstly, because it was something new (though not the first of its concept, it is certainly the best marketed augmented reality mobile software to date) that immediately brought to mind the famous Terminator movie, where Arnold Schwarzenegger, as The Terminator, scans the street and an overlay of information about the height and weight of people ahead of him is projected onto his vision.

Secondly, because I believe that the future of mobile is all about interacting intelligently with the surrounding environment (or location) and information overlays on street-view maps point in the right direction of this.

Today, Layar announced that it is opening up for business with developers, allowing access to its platform to a new wave of digital map layer pioneers. 50 developer keys are to be provided to interested companies from around the world.

You can see the full press release about this here: