Nothing Certain Except Death And (Online) Sales Tax (?) – Or is it?

Patti Freeman Evans

Freeman Evans, Pattiby Patti Freeman Evans

 

As we reported back in May, online retailers should prepare to charge sales tax in certain markets, even if they do not plan to do so across the country. Cash-strapped states are looking to tap any potential source of revenue (California, for example, has been working through an onerous $26 billion budget gap) and have in recent months been proposing legislation to require online retailers to submit tax in states in which they deliver.

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Do you have a touch-friendly web site?

Julie Ask

Met with an interesting company yesterday - Taptu. They offer a mobile search service/technology. They recently launched their iPhone application. They are in the process of indexing "touch-friendly" media. They estimate that there are about 40,000 touch-friendly web sites of which they have indexed more than 3 million pages with a goal much higher than this for the end of the year. They estimate that about 30% of the top 100 web sites as measured by traffic are touch-friendly. It is an interesting idea given the number of touch-screen mobile devices being sold today. Is your web site touch friendly? mobile friendly?

Pizza Hut iPhone Application

Julie Ask

I'm fascinated by this application on the iPhone. It is rich and entertaining. It makes ordering pizza fun. Includes a game. Includes coupons to motivate purchase - but they aren't pushed out via SMS to trigger the idea of pizza for lunch/dinner.

Is it more marketing or commerce?

The connected nature of the application allows for updates - to the menu (for the basic categories) and promotions. Look forward to seeing this evolve to the point where local restaurant managers can do their own local promotions even based on registered zip codes. I see location-based mobile advertising playing out along these lines nearer term than the auto-tagging of a user's location with an ad to quickly follow.

Would prefer not to have to sign up online. Mobile-only use cases with individuals are limited today, but I think they will grow in number. Cross-channel (Internet to mobile and vice versa) is an interesting idea, but it isn't clear that it is needed or wanted - especially on platforms as capable as the higher end devices like an iPhone or Blackberry, Symbian, Palm etc. devices.  -

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Fortune’s new Global 500 even more global

Zia Daniell Wigder

Zia_Wigder  By Zia Daniell Wigder

Fortune just published its Global 500 2009 list which
outlines the largest 500 corporations in the world.
A few observations on how the list is evolving, with a particular focus on the
top 15 countries (those with eight or more Fortune 500 companies listed this year):

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Why bother with mobile if the experience is going to be so bad?

Julie Ask

I was just looking at a receipt in an email update from B&H Photo in New York. They encouraged me to get an update of my order's status on my cell phone. So, I typed in a long order number and sent the message off to the short code 22634.

I received an SMS back with my order number and a tracking number. The order number was "live" so to speak - I clicked on it and it tried to iniative a phone call. Stupid. The order number wasn't a link to ANYTHING?!?!?!!? Not a quick link to FedEx or UPS. Simply a number. I guess when I can copy/paste on my iPhone in another few weeks, this could prove to be useful information.

In any case, "tracking number" DOES NOT EQUAL "status update." What a terrible user experience and a missed opportunity. Maybe they'll say that they are only part way through the integration into their back end systems, but really, this was lame.

Quick take on UK online retail from a US perspective

Zia Daniell Wigder

Zia_Wigder  By Zia Daniell Wigder

I just returned from a short trip to London where I had a chance to speak with a
series of different UK-based online retailers. Most conversations included at
least some discussion of how the economic climate was affecting the market, both
within the US and the UK. When it
comes to international expansion, the consensus seemed to be that the current
economic environment was driving globalization rather than slowing it down. A
few observations from my conversations:

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Is this your mobile strategy?

Julie Ask

DSC_0197

Many mobile strategies consist of a stand-alone iPhone application.  The iPhone platform is amazing, but with 35,000 applications it no longer offers the buzz or differentiation strategy many brands think it does. Mobile strategies must run deeper and go broader.

Stand-alone iPhone applications remind me of something sitting in a fishbowl for all to see, but with little connection to anything else. So, I took this photo of my cat peering into the fish bowl.

Climbing Out of Our Technology Silos - Good Acquires Intercasting

Julie Ask

Good Technology acquired Intercasting today. In the press release they state the goal of integrated messaging. I think they picked up great talent, too. Shawn has been one of the real thought leaders in mobile and especially around mobile social networking. Handset manufacturers have been trying - and mostly without success so far - to catch up with his vision of what social networking should be on phones.

Separately, I like the vision around messaging. Saw Palm's Pre implementation of integrated messaging yesterday - good stuff. Finally, as consumers we don't need to think about what silo'ed messaging application we want to use. Apple demo'ed similar technology to be released with 3.0 - it doesn't go as far as the Pre, but finally I can stop explaining SMS and MMS to my parents.

I look forward to seeing what they do with the technology.

Utilizing NFC - The Implementation Matters As Much If Not More Than The Technology

Julie Ask

First, I do not attempt to "break" each new implementation of a technology. It simply happens because the implementation has not been thought through. Companies rolling out new services on mobile phones need to think through the user experience. With payments this is even more important. If customers don't feel comfortable with a process they've tried, they will be hesitant to trust and return.

This experience described below is not mobile, but it involves NFC, and one can easily imagine a scenario involving cell phones which could go horribly wrong.

I drove myself to SFO (San Francisco airport) last week for a one-day business trip. I pulled up to the gate at the entrance of the parking garage to collect my ticket. Suddenly, my Speedpass "beeps." I think, "What?"

I roll down my window and there stands a parking garage attendant. She confirms that I want to use this prepaid SpeedPass to pay for my parking. (Please keep in mind that the cost of parking for one day will exceed the average balance that I carry on the card that I use to cross bridges in the Bay Area about once a month.) I tell her that I do NOT want to use SpeedPass to pay - I want to use my American Express card. (Ok, SpeedPass tied to my Amex card, but I don't want to use it this way.) She asks why as she undoes the recording of the time/date on my SpeedPass. I tell her that I am traveling for business and need a receipt. Duh?  She scowls and punches a bunch of buttons on the machine so that it spits out a ticket for me.

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Nokia ' s Ovi Store - Good News for Consumers

Julie Ask

Nokia announced this morning that their new Ovi store is "open for business" and that AT&T here in the States will join the growing list of carriers supporting Ovi. This is good news for consumers. Apple has done a wonderful job of educating American consumers about all the things a high end cell phone can do. They've shown us games, fun stuff, FedEx tracking, news, sports, - the list is long. They've grown our appetite for high end devices that can do just about anything.

The N97 will come into the market this summer on the heals of the Palm Pre and maybe a new iPhone (if the rumors are true). No word yet on the pricing though we haven't seen US carriers subsidize the Nseries devices from Nokia to the extent that they have for Apple, Blackberry, Samsung, HTC, etc.

The Nokia phones have high quality cameras and mapping solutions that are excellent. There is a lot of cool content and services available through Ovi. Consumers will appreciate what they offer if they get the chance to get ahold of these devices at prices the market will support.

Here's the release:

Ovi Store Opens for Business

 

AT&T joins growing list of operators supporting new content service

 

May 26

 

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