Friday, December 10, 2010

Location Trends 2011 & Why Contextual Search is one step closer

I was due to present at Mobile Monday Oslo last week, when a Spanish air traffic controllers strike prevented me from catching my flight. I was going to present ideas from my book on Location Aware Apps (with co-author Murat Aktihanoglu, published by Manning-USA) as well as take a look at the current and future trends for location on mobile.

While my talk may have been postponed, I've decided to share the presentation deck I prepared here so that those who were looking forward to hearing it can at least get a flavour for it (see below).

My key conclusion: location today is everwhere. We can now archive the term Location Based Services (LBS) and think more of location-aware apps. I was listening to Marissa Mayer speak at the LeWeb conference in Paris a couple of days ago (via Ustream) and she made a point of stating that Google is working hard to make contextual awareness (or contextual search in Google-speak) a reality. 

This is great news, as I have been stating for the last couple of years that contextual awareness is the holy grail for mobile apps. I also mention this at the start of my book and explain why this is so. We are now a (big) step closer to achieving it...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Augmented Reality ads on Mobile World Congress to feature in TIME magazine

It may seem early for some, but the Mobile World Congress 2011 edition is round the corner. As preparations build up, you can expect attention-grabbing initiatives to pop up around the place. 

First off the block seems to have been SF-based Augmented Reality (AR) developer Junaio, who recently announced that they have developed an AR ad for the GSMA to help them promote the Mobile World Congress.

To advertise App Planet and the Mobile World Congress, the GSMA will place AR enhanced ads in key publications like TIME Magazine, Fortune, WSJ, The International Herald Tribune, Telecom2.0, Vanilla Plus, Wireless Week and others. When viewed through the junaio AR app the ad will trigger a 3D App Planet circled by satellites, which can be clicked to display further information about the conference`s scope and themes.

The ads are worth checking out and also represent a signal of AR becoming increasingly popular as a catchy, mass-market advertisement tool.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monetizing Mobile Apps- A Value-based approach

Apart from deciding whether to charge on a one-off or a subscription basis, mobile app developers need also to consider whether their application has mass market appeal as well as perceived value. This can help determine which strategy to follow when deciding how to price the application (free or not). It can also help to determine whether to include advertising or not.

In my book, Building Location Aware Apps (2010 Manning Publications, R Ferraro and M Aktihanoglu-AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON.COM) I present a model of how the perceived value of the app and target market can be combined to decide on the charging strategy for the app itself:

'Freebie' applications are shown in the lower left-hand quadrant of the matrix. When it comes to monetizing an application, there is clearly no interest in giving it away for free, especially if it is not supported by ads. However, in the case of low value/low market potential applications this is often the only choice available.

'Long Tail Kings' are those applications that address a small, but definable niche within the market with a high-value proposition. They can charge for their application a premium price, and don’t need to include advertising as a result.Long Tail Kings can try over time to extend their appeal to other market segments.

'Killer Apps' rule over the mobile landscape. By offering great value to the consumer within a mass market, they can use their dominant position to not only charge for their application but also generate regular advertising revenue. Other applications continually aspire to become killer apps, though most never make it.

'Boot Campers' are those applications that hold great promise, because they have a large market potential, but that do not hold a great deal of perceived value in the eyes of the consumer. Boot Campers have to work extremely hard (hence the name) to work their way out of their quadrant by convincing consumers of the value they can offer.    

There is a lot more on this and other approaches to determine how best to monetize your mobile app (including a full range of mobile advertising options) in my book. I also explore the freemium model in more detail, as it remains one of the key ways of successfully commercialising digital products.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Short Guide to Mobile Commerce-from Mobile Money to M-banking

I frequently get asked about mobile commerce, mobile money, mobile payments and mobile banking and often find there is some confusion over this new development in mobile.

I first posted an entry on this blog on mobile money in January 2008, when things were beginning to take shape, at least on paper. Now, with smartphone penetration approaching 30% in mature markets, interest in mobile money is picking up.

First, let's clarify some terminology.

Mobile Commerce, also known as M-commerce, means carrying out a wide range of commercial transactions on mobile, whether it is purchasing digital goods or physical goods (like train tickets) or carrying out mobile banking.

Mobile money refers to either transfers of cash through mobile payments systems, like Mobile Money Transfer service M-PESA (a popular money transfer method in countries with limited banking infrastructure like in certain countries in Africa) or to actual Mobile Payments to purchase items. This means using the mobile device as a kind of mobile wallet.Some operators, under the umbrella of the GSMA, refer to this as Pay-Buy-Mobile.

Pay-Buy-Mobile is now being trialled by 52 mobile operators worldwide and works by effectively using the mobile device's SIM card as a 'credit card within the phone'. It combines the secure encryption of the SIM card with an embedded NFC chip in the device to act as a touchless payment system. In reality, each payment has to be authorised by inserting a PIN code (though this may change in future). 

The advantage is that the mobile device can hold several credit and debit cards at the same time.

While this is all relatively new, acceptance of the technology is pretty high. Studies by the GSMA show that over 70% of interviewees would use the mobile to pay for their weekly supermarket shop. In countries like Japan, NFC-enabled mobile payments are already a standard way for travellers to purchase train tickets amongst other things.

To be continued...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

MoMo Malta -Video of the session on Location Awareness in Mobile

I had the real pleasure of being invited by Rene' at MomoMalta to give a presentation on Location Awareness Apps and share the ideas from my recently published book on the subject (see link on right side bar).

Malta is set to see growth in its mobile sector, with increasing competition amongst operators set to drive data tariffs down and greater demand for smartphones. Location based services are relatively new (apparently I was the first to present on the subject in Malta in its history!) but the use cases are growing. One of the examples of location apps which was experiencing phenomenal growth was the Groupon app (I will share the entire presentation shortly).

They made an excellent video of the event, which I am sharing here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

RIP Dot Mobi -and why four letter domain names don't work

I first wrote about the battle between the dot mobi (mTLD) standard and the standard back in January 2008, suggesting that:

" is struggling to communicate its added value, namely that it has defined (and offers as a framework) a set of development standards to improve the user experience of web on mobile"

Well, today I think we can safely conclude that has failed in its mission to create value from its proposition as most of the mobile sector brushes aside any notion it may have had about creating a site and opts for the safe option (such as

Numbers coming through from the dot mobi consortium, suggest they made of loss of €3.5m in the last full financial year (2010) and the situation is likely to get worse.

As The Register reported in June this year:

The problem is that not many companies bother (with dot mobi) these days: even Google, which helped create the domain, now redirects “” to a page telling users to go to “” instead. That lack of interest leaves dotMobi with a lot of virtual real estate to shift. 

So, farewell dot mobi-may you rest in peace. To those who invested in the four letter dot mobi domain name, you had good intentions, but when you buy on the hype, be prepared for a sharp fall. And as URL shortening companies like have shown, every character counts. Frankly, a four character domain seeemed like an overkill from the start. The 'm' has won.


Vance Hedderel, from dotmobi, sent me a response to the blog post that I publish below:

"As a side note to dotMobi's recently recently report of mobile Web trends, which you can find at, we found that leading brands have taken dotMobi’s advice to use multiple entry points to label mobile-friendly content. That means leading brands currently use .mobi as well as and simultaneously. 

While .mobi remains the only ICANN-approved naming convention to identify mobile content as well as to offer unique search-engine optimization benefits, dotMobi is also aware that the most important aspect of the mobile Web is to offer end users a good experience, no matter how they get to that content.

That said, the dotMobi company is closing in on one million .mobi domains registered with that number continuing to grow. We’re now at our highest-ever number in the name base and we’re poised to be only the sixth gTLD to reach one million domains under management. Further, many brands are promoting their use of the .mobi domain, including AT&T, Blackberry, Five Guys restaurants, JCPenney, Simon and Schuster, even the city of London with its special initiative.

Vance P. Hedderel
Director, PR and Communications


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Le Web'10 Paris-Last call for discounted tickets

LeWeb is the #1 European Internet event, where 2500 entrepreneurs, leaders, investors, bloggers, journalists gather together for 2 days in Paris.

LeWeb brings together the most influential audience in the Internet ecosystem. Top industry entrepreneurs, executives, investors, senior press & bloggers gather for 2 days in Paris to focus on the key issues and opportunities in the web marketplace.

Over the years, the LeWeb program has featured such industry luminaries as Jack Dorsey and Niklas Zennstrom, some of this year’s speakers include: Carlos Ghosn, Marissa Mayer, Sebastien de Halleux and Michael Arrington  to name a few.

I have attended the last two editions (last year as Official Blogger) and can honestly say that in terms of European tech events, LeWeb tops the charts in getting the 'creme de la creme'  together under one roof.

So, to ensure you get a place at this stellar event (and benefit from final early-bird prices) click on the title of this post or on the banner to the right.See you there! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Location, Mobile App Monetization and Mobile Entrepreneurship

I recently gave a video-interview to Rene' of Mobile Monday Malta ahead of my talk there in early October on the ideas from my book on Location Aware Applications.

The vidcast covers the areas of Location, monetization of the mobile channel, entrepreneurship and the specific opportunities and challenges in Malta.

You can take a look at the interview here:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Contextual Holy Grail of Location -WHERE Inc moves us one step closer

I have been presenting my ideas on Location-Aware services for some time now, and a key idea I originally presented is that of a 'Contextual Holy Grail'. This is the idea that location on its own is useful but that 'location+context' is the future for these services. If I am travelling to a ski resort and check my weather forecast app, I would like it to recognise where I am heading to automatically and (again automatically) provide latest snow condition reports.

Yesterday, WHERE Inc, one of the early location pioneers based in the US, obtained a patent that could take us one step closer to fulfilling at least part of this contextual requirement. Their Auto-Snap technology allows location relevancy and intent to be detected. While this patent is, admittedly, designed for delivering more targeted ads, it also opens up the possibility of other targeted services to be delivered.

You can read the full press release below:


Patent Improves the Relevancy of Place Recommendation to a User on a Mobile Phone

BOSTON, MA – October 12th, 2010 – Where, Inc., North America’s largest location-based media company, today announced that the Company has received approval from the U.S. Patent Trademark Office for their Auto-Snap™ patent. Where’s Auto-Snap technology creates an association between a person and a place, which enhances the ability to derive intent resulting in improved relevance of place recommendations. 

Auto-Snap uses distance tolerances, landmark patterns, temporal patterns, knowledge of business attributes, knowledge of event occurrences, season or weather knowledge, common place names, user saved places and other types of factors and techniques. 

“With Auto-Snap we are able to determine location relevancy and intent of a consumer,” said Walt Doyle, CEO of Where, Inc. “With this technology, we can better understand the context of a person’s location and improve the match rate for content and ads delivered on our network. Auto-Snap lets us know if a user is at home, in the office or at a favorite restaurant giving us the unique ability to improve the overall WHERE consumer experience and better align the relevance of the WHERE Ads we deliver.” 

Auto-Snap is also being used in WHERE Ads to improve the relevance of display advertisements and search results, including offers and discounts, creating a better experience for the consumer and optimized yield for publishers.  

“Enhancing the relevancy of advertisements is one of the top priorities in the mobile ecosystem. WHERE has proven their ability to deliver great results for a strong pool of advertisers, and we count them among the best ad networks in the space. We look forward to learning more about Auto-Snap—an exciting new technical innovation,” said Marc Theermann, Vice President Mobile, AdMeld.

Friday, October 8, 2010

MHealth-Mobile Health, Body Area Networks (BANs)-How to SMS from your vital organs

MHealth, or Mobile Health, is not a new area of mobile development but, since it first gained prominence five years ago, is making some significant strides in being adopted to improve health monitoring around the world.

Today, the New Scientist, reported how Dutch research company IMEC demonstrated a new type of Body Area Network (BAN) that allows a heart monitor to send ECG information wirelessly to a patients' mobile device (so that they can then be forwarded to doctors).

You can see a model of a BAN below (courtesy of Md.Asdaque Hussain and Kyung Sup Kwak):

The interesting development is that the software for the BAN runs on an Android operating system, proof of greater integration between medical sensors and machines and mobile devices.  Also interesting is the fact that IMEC ditched Bluetooth for a different communications standard (my personal view on Bluetooth remains that it can be great for tethering devices but not very useful for pretty much anything else).

As developments such as this move MHealth forward, there are great opportunities remaining for mobile developers to provide apps that can deliver medical data in a secure and standardised format to medical professionals. Key challenges to address will be power usage (to extend the time range of medical data transmissions) and convicing patients to adopt their mobile device as an everyday  tool for monitoring their health.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Articulated Naturality (AN) vs Augmented Reality (AR) -the new frontier of Mobile 2.0

QPC - Articulated Naturality Web from Justin Montgomery on Vimeo.

Special thanks to the great team at The Where Business who alerted me to this video about the fresh new notion of Articulated Naturality or AN. 

AN is set to take Augmented Reality (AR) to a whole new level. With an AN app, you could point at a hotel building, zoom in on a particular room, and find out whether it is available for that night or not. The company pitching AN widely is QPC, who particpated in the recent Summer Davos Conference.

Check out the video, where Matt Trubow, QPC CIO, explains why AN is set to give a 'flat' AR a much richer three dimensional element or a 'virtual universe'...inspriring stuff...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Keys to Great App Discoverability-App Store Tricks for Mobile 2.0 (PART II)

Getting your app to be discovered amongst a galaxy of options out there in the mobile 'appspace' is rapidly becoming the key to success or failure for new services (as well as for existing brands).

One of the key decisions developers, entrepreneurs and companies alike need to make is whether their app should be free or whether it should be premium.

There are good reasons to go down either path. Consumers love free apps, so if you are looking principally for volume of downloads, it is the way to go.However, there is no such thing as a free lunch -someone, somewhere down the line has to pay. Step in 'freemium models', allowing 'free-sounding' apps to actually generate revenues at some point.

App Store Discoverability rests on four cardinal points:

1. App Reviews
2. App Rankings
3. App Analytics
4. App Discoverability Services

You can find more detail as well as some great examples in Chapter 11 of my book.

The key message is that you can significantly increase the odds of becoming a popular app by understanding the dynamics of how App Stores work. To avoid getting lost in this murky world of App Stores, developers should never lose sight of their prime objective: to get the wider public to discover, examine and download your app. This means experimenting with different approaches, and tracking the impact of these different tactics on app downloads over a period of time. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Keys to Great App Discoverability-App Store Tricks for Mobile 2.0 (PART I)

I will be presenting some ideas from my book, Location Aware Applications, next week in Malta, which made me think about an issue that keeps popping up time and again in mobile development: how to get a great app downloaded by thousands of users.

With an 'app universe' of over 300,000 applications, over 8 mobile development platforms and over 50 app stores to choose from, it is has never been this tough to pick the right distribution option(s). And if you zoom into individual App Stores, the level of detail becomes even more  mind-boggling: the iTunes Store has over 200,000 apps available in more than 30 individual country stores, with over 20 different App Categories!

First, a disclaimer: there is no one method that guarantees a successful distribution and discovery of your app.

However, there are some tips and good practice that you can follow to boost your chances of succeeding. 

The first step to get you on the right track is to answer five fundamental questions:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The iPad Tablet Revolution-Three Reasons that Explain Why it is the Future

These days, it is very difficult to filter real news from the substantial amount of 'digital media noise' created on the web. This is even more the case, when it comes to new gadgets and technology. And no gadget caused  more noise and expectation than the iPad, when it was launched to a global fanfare in April this year.

I will not review the iPad's hardware and technical capabilities-enough has been said already and you can easily read this up elsewhere. I just want to make one point that is getting lost in the media hype -the iPad is the most revolutionary device type that has been rolled out this millenium.It is not a fad, it is not a toy and most definitely not merely a giant-sized iPhone.

It is the exquisite execution of the tablet computing concept that others before, including Microsoft, tried and failed.But let me say this again, the iPad is a revolutionary device. It is set to change mobile media forever. Here are three reasons why:

1. The iPad introduces a totally new way to consume mobile media, especially newspapers and magazines.Its screen size achieves a happy medium between readibility and portability. Again, something that is easily overlooked by reviewers is its landscape mode. Turn the iPad on its side from its vertical position and it automatically switches to landscape reading mode.This makes it ideal for newspaper and magazine browsing (Kindle take note).It also makes using those wonderful apps an even better experience.

2.The iPad is the first device of its size and weight to truly enable computing to be carried out. You can actually create and work on a Powerpoint presentation on an iPad. Yes, processing power needs to be upgraded, but then Apple is not perfect.

3. The iPad is designed to be a connected device. With 3G capability designed into the device (unlike a netbook which relies on a dongle or WiFi), data exchange and sharing comes as standard. Forget the WiFi-only version of the iPad, I am sure it will be phased out in due course.(Significantly, the iPad was conceived before the iPhone was, but put on hold to prioritise launching the smaller 3G iPhone device).

The iPad is an inspirational product, like many Apple creations before it. But don't take my word for it. You can check out many videos of how it was used as different musical instruments to create compositions. You'll find one in the title link. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning Yellow Pages into Gold: Making Money from Mobile Search.


That we are about to witness a sea of change in the traditionally tranquil waters of business directories was made patently clear at a recent meeting of key Yellow Page businesses at the EADP Conference in Mallorca. In mature European markets like the UK, printed directory revenues are declining by approximately 12% year on year.

Meantime, digital revenues (PC web and mobile) have been growing year after year, and on a global basis, account for more than 20% of total business directory revenues. But the web growth story is one that dates from the ‘noughties’, the decade spanning 2000-2009. Today in the ‘teenies’, the decade started this year; mobile is the key engine of growth.

In fact, already 30-40% of Europeans access web services more regularly from a mobile device than from a PC. This means that the ability for business directories to deliver a personalised experience on mobile is more important than ever before.


The big question is: how do you make money by letting business directory users access the service on mobile?
Firstly, a quick explanatory note on the mobile channel, as this can mean two things: the Mobile Web and Mobile Apps.

This can seem obvious, but the distinction is important. With a mobile website, a business directory can deliver an improved experience for those users browsing through the directory’s website on a mobile device. It is a good starting point. But to make the most out of the mobile device’s capabilities (especially those of smartphone devices) mobile apps are the key.

Here, the app can make full use of the positioning, touch screen and other Smartphone gizmos (like the accelerometer that detects handset motion). By doing so, a much more unique, interactive and engaging experience can be delivered to mobile users.

Business directories with a good set of mobile apps and a mobile website can not only deliver extra value to existing directory users. They can also open up the service accessible to new groups of users (for example, teenagers with iPhones, who may have never opened a printed Yellow Page book in their lives). Business directories have the possibility of charging their customers (advertisers who list in their directories, not the end user) for this new mobile channel.

Business listings on mobile are also the perfect route towards order fulfilment –as the mobile is also the most common way of getting in touch with the business that is listed. Take the example, if you will, of a stranded person in an unfamiliar part of town that needs a taxi to get home. A search for ‘taxis’ within the Yellow Page app is the quickest way to get the number of a taxi company. And by having a ‘click-to-call’ button next to the company name, the user can dial straight through and order a taxi. This can be through a premium number that can generate shared revenues for both the Yellow Page Company and the advertiser.


 Another exciting development is the up-and-coming RFQ, or Request-for-Quote model on mobile. Here, the realisation is that business directories can add most value by linking specific advertisers with specific user requests.

For example, a plumber participating in the scheme would receive real-time requests for his services obtained by users searching within the plumbing category of the business directory. Monetising the service is carried out by charging a commission for each fulfilled order. Quotify, based in San Francisco, have already rolled out this service using web platforms, but are seeing increasing demand for delivering the solution on mobile.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mobile OS Platforms-Which horse should you bet on?

Here is an extract from Golden Gekko's view of the mobile platform landscape today with an insight into likely losers and gainers going forwards:

The mobile ecosystem keeps on evolving faster than ever and it's often difficult to see the macro trends with all the day to day announcements and comments about winners and losers. One of the most exciting things is that nothing is certain.

Here's a short summary of the trends that we are seeing and longer term impact:

Handset Operating Systems and Development Platforms
  • iPhone - Continues to evolve with OS4 being a great leap forward and with the best UI and SDK for developers but overall market share is stablising at about 13.5% of smartphones globally and with only one new device release per year growth is likely to be tempered going forward
  • Android - Outsold iPhone in Q2 and increased their market share by 886% since last year with more handset manufacturers continuing to launch devices and competing against each other with vastly improved hardware including QWERTY keyboards, better cameras as well as very competitive prices and is expected by most to be the nr 1 smartphone OS in 2011
  • RIM continues to hold on to a big share of the smartphone market with 18% based on a wide range of communication and utility focused devices for business users as well as the youth market with an amazing usage adaption among teenagers in the UK thanks to Blackberry Messenger but market share is expected to decline unless Blackberry 6 delivers improved app support and user interface 
  • Nokia has gone from the undisputed leader to an underdog despite still being the global leader in overall market share (36% in Q2) and smartphones (43% in Q2) due to lack of great new devices and unclear strategy of Symbian and MeeGo but we would definitely not rule them out as they still have deep pockets and a very loyal base in emerging markets and a partnership with Intel with even deeper pockets and long term bets riding on the success of MeeGo
  • Palm WebOS went from being a dead horse to a joker when HP acquired Palm earlier this year thanks to having developed the 2nd best OS to iPhone in terms of user experience and based on open standards and as the largest PC manufacturer worldwide HP won't give up in the first place
  • Microsoft Mobile has constantly failed to deliver a really appealing user experience since they first launched the SPV in 2002 and although they undoubtedly provide the best PC - Mobile integration it hasn't been enough but with Windows Mobile 7, the biggest development community in the world and a track record of not giving up they might still have a chance to find a market and slowly grow over the next couple of years from 5% of the smartphone market in Q2
  • Samsung Bada Wave is another unexpected player in the smartphone OS space as they also deliver devices with Android and Windows Mobile but Bada has outperformed most people’s expectations in terms of user experience although it essentially is a Android copycat based on Linux and Java and won’t have much chance in the high-end smartphone segment
  • Webruntime Widgets are not really a OS or a platform but with the popularity of webkit based mobile browsers and the push for standardisation among carriers the widget standard (also referred to as JIL by Vodafone, webruntime by Nokia and WebOS by Palm) it's becoming an important platform and might actually have a good chance of establishing a standard for apps that don't require the latest and greatest from each of the individual platforms.
  • Java ME continues to be the leading platform in terms of installed base and handset sales supported by Symbian, Samsung Bada, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and most proprietary OS from Nokia (e.g. S40), Sony-Ericsson, LG and Samsung with well over 2 billion devices worldwide and over 0.4 billion downloads per month with majority of Java downloads now in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Brazil and China

In conclusion
The media and financial community seems to believe that there can only be two or maybe three winners in the smartphone space like in the PC world with Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX and various Linux versions. What if it’s possible with more? Maybe the market is so big, the technology development so fast and customer preferences so different that there is room for more than three? Google Android definitely looks like the favorite of the day but we don’t think the battle is close to being over. Like we said in a previous update. “In mobile fragmentation is forever. Deal with it.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Element Youth Mobile Marketing Campaign including Crowdharnessing

Element - Claim it! from Morten Halvorsen on Vimeo.

A friend and former colleague in the US shared this mobile marketing campaign with me several months ago and it provided such a perfect (and rare) example of how to bridge the gap between the real and virtual world, that I have been using it continuously since then.

The campaign for sporting goods/Sporting brand Elements manages to pull off creating a well-targeted app (just for urban skaters), with a strong viral element (competition for the best skating stunt allowing skaters to ‘claim their spot’), an integrated digital experience (a customised website linking to the mobile site) and rich mobile features (location plus video) as well as social media/crowd harnessing (the best skater videos were uploaded to the official Elements website).

The promotional side involved giveaways of branded gear at ‘on-the-spot’ competitions, the cherry on the cake for what was undoubtedly one of the most complete, well thought out mobile campaigns I’ve witnessed in the last couple of years.

You can see the explanatory video above which illustrates clearly how all the various elements of the campaign fit together. Special thanks to Ed o’Meara and Josh Dhaliwal.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Golden Gekko's expands Asian operations-adds app developers

PHNOM PEHN-Leading mobile application developer Golden Gekko has been at the forefront of mobile marketing since 2005 and, building on its success, is now planning further expansion.

Golden Gekko is currently expanding operations in Cambodia, Spain, Sweden and UK with an announcement on entry in new markets soon to be announced, says the company. With 65 employees and plans to reach 100 by the end of 2010, Asia already represents a key development hub for Golden Gekko.

Since 2009, Golden Gekko has been adding new solutions to its product portfolio, key amongst which is the Mobile Directory Solution, designed to put Yellow Page and other Business Directory sites onto mobile. Golden Gekko now delivers the full range of mobile apps and mobile websites to European Directories, Europe's biggest Yellow Page operator.

The company also says that it plans to launch its iAds for the iPhone platform within apps developed and so deliver more exciting and appealing ads while still remaining within the application environment. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Metaio, Augmented Reality and E-commerce - Retail Use Cases

San Francisco/Atlanta -The following is the press release from Metaio relating to their e-commerce Augmented Reality product that helps consumers see products in their own space (akin to the IKEA AR application in a previous blog post). It represents one more step towards AR becoming a mainstream technology.

The Internet changed how people shop. Now, YOUReality LLC and metaio Inc. are changing how people will shop online. With the introduction of its Online Retail Visualization 3D tool, YOUReality is making it possible for consumers to see products in their own space before they purchase them by integrating Augmented Reality into a suite of commerce applications. The new services allow shoppers to make more confident buying decisions, deliver retailers a higher sales conversion rate, and significantly lower product return costs.

Online shopping is attractive to an increasing number of consumers for its convenience, speed, product selection and other benefits. To make the shopping experience even more engaging and informative, many retailers are enhancing their websites with multimedia features such as video clips, virtual visualization or slide shows so that shoppers can better understand product features. With YOUReality, customers can even "bring it home" and try before they buy, allowing consumers to visualize context sensitive products with life-like 3D models in a photo of their own home environment. The resulting image provides a realistic view of what the object will look like in that space with the ability to move the item around (maintaining correct dimension and perspective) and change colors, styles, sizes and textures of the 3D object while viewing it in the photo.

By pioneering the concept of Retail Visualization using the metaio platform, YOUReality has harnessed the power of 3D for a practical purpose. "YOUReality gives a cool technology relevance in the world of commerce by driving retail sales through increased conversion rate," says YOUReality Founder, Michelle Fallon. "Retail Visualization takes the guesswork out of the visual aspects of shopping, such as selecting fabric choices, textures and colors, making the buying decision faster and easier because consumers can literally see furniture, electronics, appliances, even accessories, in their own space at the point of sale. Retail Visualization for e-commerce allows the user to visualize products in a web store and then add the selected items directly to the shopping cart to complete the transaction online," she says.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Geo-Fencing, Location Privacy & Other Animals

Privacy has been, is and will remain one of the most hotly debated issues within both the web and mobile domains for time to come. Only last week, a probe by German, French, Spanish and Italian authorities gathered steam as fears of Google's Streetview data-gathering exercise appeared to have breached several national privacy rules.

The debate has many dimensions: what should be in the 'public' domain? Where does the trade-off lie between the benefits of increased sharing of information and the risks of over-sharing?

Erick Schonfeld writing in TechCrunch today provides an interesting summary of what Google's, Foursquare's and Facebook's take on the location privacy issue is.

I completely agree with Facebook's VP of Product, Chris Cox, who described a future where phones are "contextually aware" so that they can "check into flights, find deals at gorcery stores and do other things for us at that right place, at the right time". Importantly “The phone should know what we want.”

In my book on Building Location-Aware Applications (with co-author Murat Aktihanoglu), I describe this as the 'Contextual Holy Grail', with context providing the 'intelligent' added element to Presence and Location.

As handsets get smarter, the whole area of 'sensory perception' will also allow predictive services to be delivered to the handset -for example, a handset that can detect your stress levels and location, will be able to recommend an Aromatherapy store nearby.

Geo-fencing allows users to draw virtual fences around neighbourhoods or locations that either you want to maintain as private or public. This helps give users control over the location service and set their desired privacy levels. As greater automation of location services come on stream (checking-in your location really is too cumbersome for most people), geo-fencing will provide a useful way to strike the right privacy balance in a smarter way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

App Store Rankings–Distribution Strategies for iPhone and Mobile Apps

The following is a short extract from chapter 11 on 'Distributing your Application' within Part III 'Creating Winning LBS Businesses' in my forthcoming book, Location Based Services (written with co-author Murat Atkihanoglu), available for pre-order here.

“There is a certain shroud of mystery surrounding exactly how App Stores work, with the various players involved guarding most of their cards close to their chest. And while there may have been 3 billion reported downloads from Apple's iTunes store, it is anyone's guess how many of the apps downloaded were later removed from the device.

First, the bad news: getting your consumer to discover or find your app within an App Store is difficult. The iTunes Store is a case in point: with over 140,000 apps available in over 30 individual country stores, finding an app you don't know the name of is extremely difficult.

Now, the good news! You can significantly increase the odds of becoming a popular app by understanding the dynamics of how App Stores work.

A good 'discoverability' strategy will consider the following:

  • App Rankings
  • App Reviews
  • App Analytics
  • App Discoverability Services

Let’s take the first item, App Rankings. What exactly do we mean by App Rankings and how are they measured? Rankings work by taking the most downloaded apps within a short space of time, typically 24 hours. As they are regularly updated, there is a lot of upwards and downwards movement within the list, but entering the list as a newbie app requires considerable effort.

Some App Stores, like iTunes and Android Market, publish rankings within the store itself and there are tools such as App Gems (pictured above) that allow you to monitor global rankings for Top 300 iPhone apps.

Why are rankings important? The simple answer is, the better the ranking, the greater the downloads your app will receive, as it gives your app greater exposure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mobile Web and Mobile Apps Monetization Strategies

Faced with a prevailing culture where consumers expect web services and digital content to be free, mobile app and mobile web developers need to adopt the right strategy in order to monetize their efforts.

The Freemium model is a classic marketing tool available to mobile app developers to maintain the perception of a free service, while attempting to lock-in customers into some type of charging mechanism. (And I recommend reading Chris Anderson's 'Free: The Future of a Radical Price' book for further insights into this).

But many of the decisions around charging will stem from a look at the value that the mobile consumer perceives he/she is getting from the app in question. Apps with a low perceived value will struggle to charge anything at all, no matter the charging mechanism.

I presented a basic introduction to monetization of mobile apps to the EAE Business School this week. This intro is based on a wider discussion included in the chapter of the same name in my new book on Location Based Services (for early access to the book, click here). In the same chapter, I include a toolkit for deciding how and what to charge for mobile apps and present some success examples of companies that cracked the key to generating recurring revenues.

I took a quick survey of the class (highly educated, international, 20-25 year olds) to see how many had smartphones and what type. About 25% had a smartphone, equally split between iphone and Blackberry. 0% had an Android device (which goes to show that Android still has some way to go in Europe...)

As part of the Q&A, one of the questions that struck me the most was along these lines:

"We hear a lot about mobile apps and the gold rush taking place, but is any app developer actually turning a profit from this activity?"

The answer is, of course, yes, though only those developers with the right combination of an attractive value proposition and the right charging mechanisms are able to succeed in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The potential, with 500+ million apps downloaded to date from the iTunes Store, remains huge. But it pays to have the right monetization strategy in place.

You can see the presentation below:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Start-up Funding in times of crisis

As a follow on to the previous post on 'V is for Vulture Capital', here is a short article I submitted to a local business magazine about funding start-ups in times of crisis, based on personal experience in Europe.

"Whether in a boom or bust part of the economic cycle, obtaining funding carries a health warning for innovative start-ups. It can involve an enormous amount of effort for little (or no) return. This is particularly the case when seeking Venture Capital.

The matching of VC funds to start-ups is an imperfect market. The money will not flow to innovative start-ups unless they have the potential of being ‘the next Netscape’ –no matter how world-changing their inventions are.

Plus, there is the funding paradox –it is easier to obtain €20 million of VC money than €1 million. Many VCs will not even look at making investments below €5 million.

In Europe, we still witness a ‘funding gap’ left by Business Angel investment and VC investment. Few investors feel confident enough to sit in between the two and pump in investment amounts of under €1 million. This forces many European start-ups to grow organically and limit international expansion –allowing competitors from outside Europe to catch up all too quickly.

In times of crisis, the funding gap is compounded by the banking sector tightening the screws on their lending procedures. Without the ability to fund working capital using bank overdrafts, loans and credit lines, a larger number of start-ups seek private investment to prop up their balance sheets. As cash is king, these private investors will in turn limit their investments to those start-ups which are themselves cash generating. This compounds the problem and creates a financing vicious circle that is difficult to break unless economic growth resumes."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Foursquare vs Gowalla -the battle of the check-in at SXSW ( a video comparison)

AUSTIN- SXSW has come and gone, but it has left an important mark on the social networking scene by making location-aware apps core to the participants' experience of the event.

It also raised the profile of the location 'check-in' feature, as popular Location Based Social Networks like Gowalla and Foursquare competed for the hearts and minds of those present at SXSW.Google's VP of Geo Products, John Hanke, said:

"the check-in had energized the conference."

Who was the winner of the ' mobile check-in' at SXSW, then? Apparently, there wasn't one, though this video produced by SimpleGeo gives you a good feel of how the different services were used (thanks to Troy for bringing this to my attention).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

HTML5 on iPhone and Offline Web Apps

Making iPhone Web Apps continue to run after they went offline used to be an uphill struggle. However, with the specification of up-and-coming HTML5, you can now load a web app just once and then let it run offline. All this, without a need for a continuous internet connection, giving it the feel of a locally installed native iPhone app.

In his recent post on Mobiforge, Wei-Meng Lee explains how to use Dashcode to write offline iPhone web apps. His article gives you a great step-by-step explanation, from the Configuration of Apache for Web Publishing to Session- and Client-side Storage.

If you are about to develop an app with offline mode, I recommend you read through Wei-Meng's article for further insights. You can find it by clicking here.