Wondering if many of you, like I, have a love/hate relationship with a couple of brands? You know:love the product, hate the customer service; hate the website, like the store; like the experience or the prestige, but the product is so so…and so, so on.
It’s the disconnection that grates on me.My secret annoyance is with Apple; for which I’ve been a fan ever since my first IIci, bought at great expense two decades ago (gads!and I admit it).However, getting product hics and melted mother boards repaired have been real trials. Their customer service is certainly not as intuitive or as easy to use as their products.My Apple ‘fandom’ is a bit…bittersweet.
Lots happened in 2009 but it wasn’t a vintage year for digital music (in fact it was the year it well and truly lost the digital buzz to eReaders). All in all I’d give 2009 a 6 out of 10, with the launch of Spotify accounting for at least couple of those points and the following as the 5 key disappointments:
Comes With Music under-whelmed (as did Play Now plus)
ISP services didn’t get off the ground (including unlimited MP3’s nearly but not quite moment)
Apple’s new killer music format was….oh iTunes albums
imeem gave a master class in how not to make money out of social music
The big boys (MySpace, Apple) snapped up the innovative competition (Lala, iLike, imeem)
So will be 2010 be any different?Though I don’t think it will be the year digital music will really come of age (that’s at least a couple more years away) I do expect it on balance to be a stronger one than its predecessor.Leaving aside the few specific developments I’m not able to talk about here are a few of my predictions:
In the past year I've spend quite some time looking into innovative research methodologies. One methodology that really has won over my heart is mobile research1 (see my report The challenges and opportunities of mobile research for full details). The anytime anywhere aspect of the mobile phone, combined with people's emotional attachment to it, makes it an ideal device for people to share their thoughts and opinions in a research context.
I recently returned from a trip to the UAE (Dubai mostly) and Oman. While there I did a bit of research on my own - just talking to folks about how they use their cell phones and so forth. I also had the chance to interview the head of mobile banking services in EMEA for a large, global bank. More on how global banks are avoiding building new branches by offering mobile banking services in another post.
First, I took the public bus from Dubai to Oman. The average income per family in Oman is far below that in the States - probably less than half. Gas and other utilities are cheap as is education and healthcare. That said, we know that cell phone usage has little to do with income. One of the first things I noticed is how many of the men had at least two cell phones. My initial hypothesis was a work phone and a personal phone. I was soon corrected by my guide who drove me up to Jebel Shams. In a country where men can have more than one wife, apparently more than one cell phone is necessary. My guide's father has five current wives, but has had nine all together. My guide had two cell phones and a lot more SIM cards.
My guide was 37 years of age. He had four children and seemed to have an about average income. He worked in sales when he wasn't serving as a guide. He's probably easily one of the most sophisticated cell phone users I've ever met. His cell phone was his portable media player for both music and video. I was astonished by the number of videos he had sideloaded from YouTube. The ringtones were pretty much driving me crazy after about 15 hours in a car with him road tripping. He only had a couple of different ring tones and his phone rang a lot.
I give my colleague Charles Golvin credit for finding this article on the official Google blog. I'll be working on a report on the intersection of social and mobile in early 2010 so please send me more examples if you have some. I'm especially interested in the role of social/mobile in the Retail environment.
Google is mailing out storefront window stickers to 100,000 local businesses in the US. (see their blog post for complete information). If you have the right type of phone and supporting software, you can take a photo of the code on the sticker (see below) and you'll be taken to that business' PlacePage on the Web. The service will show available coupons, allow for ratings, get reviews, etc.
Here is their post on the applications that work with the service:
There were a number of sites that reported that Ovi is reaching nearly one million downloads a day. Here's one post with quite a few stats on the store. Congratulations to Nokia.
I'm writing a piece of research before the end of the year on important trends in wireless. Both increasing and improved direct access to consumers through application stores on cell phones is one of the top trends. The success this past year of Android, Apple, Blackberry and Nokia provides supporting data points. The percentage of smartphones in the market grew at least by 50% from 2008 to 2009. I expect to see more of the same in 2010. Putting an application on your customer's phone is only getting easier.
HitFix launched their iPhone application at the beginning of last week. They basic service provides entertainment - movie, TV, performing arts - listings near where you are or where you live.
I judge the quality of mobile services within the context of the Convenience Quotient. (See report). I define the benefits of mobile services as immediacy (value of having the information or service now), simplicity and context. This service does all three fairly well though I'd like to see it do more.
Immediacy - let's me see what is playing nearby and soon. Would love to see the application go beyond pure forms of entertainment like films and TV, but this is a starting place. I would have liked to see local festivals and street fairs ... or "Christmas Tree Lighting in GG Park," but I know this is hard.
Simplicity - Let's me link to an area to purchase movie tickets from within the application. That seems basic, but it is not a no-brainer to get all of these partnerships lined up. If it could link to my DirectTV DVR service so I could record TV shows I find within the application, that would be cool.
Context - uses my location/shows me what is nearby.
They also do well to help with discovery by promoting the iPhone application with two banner ads on their home screen. The link falls short though by simply connecting me to the Apple web site where I can download iTunes - it doesn't give me directions for finding the application within the App store or give me much of a description.
I spend much of my day viewing, using and evaluating financial service Web sites. Often I am underwhelmed (especially by the big guys) on what is done online, but every once in a while I run across something that is truly innovative. That happened for me a few weeks ago when getting a rate quote on Progressive Insurance's Web site.
The quote process starts off as most financial service applications do by asking for some basic information - in my case name, address and date of birth. But the similarities with other processes ends right there...
As a Forrester analyst I get to work with a fantastic team of researchers – including Tom Cummings, who contributes some great work to our research on social media marketing and a wide range of other topics. Below, Tom discusses a piece of research we collaborated on, covering how marketers are using Twitter: