"A phone is a phone. A phone stays at home. A phone doesn't go with me in the car or out on the town." Not quite the skill set of Dr. Seuss, but this is a direct quote from my 78-year-old friend from the pool. She just disconnected her home phone and now relies solely on a new iPhone 4.
Our clients have watched their traffic (and sales) from mobile devices explode in 2010. Much of this excitement stems from their observations of those customers with either iPads or what we call smartphones — all of the Apple, Android, BlackBerry, HP/Palm, Symbian, and Windows devices consumers own. Adoption of these devices has been growing rapidly. It is hard to name a media outlet, retailer, airline, hotel, bank, insurance provider, fast food company, beverage company, or consumer packaged goods company without an iPhone and/or Android application today. When these same consumer product and service companies look forward at smartphone sales forecasts for the next couple of years, the excitement around the potential opportunities is even greater. They are thinking, "... more smartphone owners will mean more downloads of my applications will mean more sales via the mobile device ...." Will it?
My colleagues Charles Golvin and Thomas Husson and I began to describe this phenomenon in our recent Mobile Technographics report. Will consumers move up the ladder? Or leap over steps? Will increased smartphone adoption translate directly into more usage and sales to companies with mobile services?
ScanLife reported that the amount of scanning traffic was 30x higher during Thanksgiving weekend than one year ago. Wow! Product purchases from the application were also up nearly threefold. Books were most purchased. Toys were most scanned. See this story on PR Newswire. This Forrester report offers our perspective on a developing technology.
I was really lucky this morning. I've been spotting the yellow eBay buses around town (San Francisco) recently. I love it when companies like eBay promote new services like their mobile application -- it does so much to raise awareness and eventually demand for new services. There was one stopped next to my car when I got out of Starbucks this morning. Yay! I quickly set down my tea and reached for my phone to get a photo. The ads are promoting eBay applications for mobile phones. What I hadn't noticed were the individual QR codes helping people find the applications and download them. Companies like Target, Best Buy, and eBay using QR codes will increase awareness first of 2D bar codes and QR codes and second of the ability/option to connect with online content through your phone.
More importantly, eBay was in the news today because it reported a 146 percent jump in mCommerce sales on Cyber Monday. (See press release.) It has been public with its expectations of generating more than $1.5 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2010 compared to $600 million in 2009. I think this qualifies it as one of the hottest names in mobile commerce at least.
I was in San Diego airport this past weekend on my way home to San Francisco. A nurse in the airport was offering vaccinations and flu shots. Not so interesting I know. What was interesting is that she was using an iPad with a "Square" (see product description or https://squareup.com) to collect payment with a credit card. I stopped, of course, to talk with her about her experience.
A year ago they accepted cash or check only. Now they accept credit cards. They used the software provided by Square to build out an application that allows one to choose the vaccinations. The application compiles an itemized bill. The card is read by the Square and processed. The customer signs with a finger on the iPad. And . . . the customer can get a receipt via email immediately. End result? More accurate records. Real-time bookkeeping. More revenue b/c more payment options.
Intuit and others offer payment mechanisms through mobile phones and other portable devices with connectivity. These innovations will continue to enable small businesses and entrepreneurs to pursue new ideas . . . and in this case simplify the payment process. Totally cool. I love seeing ideas like this. Please post comments to this blog if there are others I should see.
Target was just named the "2010 Mobile Retailer of the Year" by Mobile Commerce Daily (see article). Hard to believe eBay wasn't in the top three with their anticipated $1.5B revenue on the mobile channel this year, but they won last year. This speaks to the fact that it isn't just about revenue. In fact, among companies we've surveyed, offering convenient services to customers to engage them more, improve satisfaction and loyalty, etc. top the list of near-term objectives. If the services aren't convenient (see research), consumers will not adopt and use the services. If this doesn't happen, companies won't see the revenue growth or cost savings they are anticipating.
One of the top questions I get from clients is, "Who is best in class?" Any of these three retailers could take that honor. What really impresses me about Target is their breadth of innovative services, the quality of the experience, and to top it off . . . they sell to mainstream America. My favorite service: building a shopping list with the bar-code-scanning technology. Remember that example we've all heard about the smart refrigerator? You remove and throw the empty milk carton out, and "milk" is automatically added to your shopping list. This doesn't do that exactly, but it comes closer than any other application I know. There is also tremendous consistency in experience from online to mobile Web to the applications -- at times, it is so good that it's indistinguishable.
Apps dominate the mobile conversation these days for a lot of well-demonstrated reasons, but with much less fanfare, the mobile Internet — especially the frequency of its users — has taken off. I don’t mean just that ‘mobile Web use has grown’ or it’s continuing to grow at steady pace. No. The rate of growth has jumped dramatically.
In the six months between year-end 2008 and mid-2009, daily use of the mobile Internet grew from 7% to 10% for all mobile phone users. Once you narrow it down and look at smartphone owners, the growth is even more startling, as you can see in this report. Better handsets, better browsers, and faster networks have remade the mobile Internet from a novelty to a growing, and growing quickly, part of mobile users’ daily lives.
I attended the unveiling of shopkick's new location-based technology at the Best Buy around the corner from my office today. Here are the highlights:
Downloadable application for the iPhone at launch in several weeks; will roll out apps for additional phones.
If the application is open, it senses where the individual is and what retail partners or other commercial businesses, such as grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, etc. are nearby. Award points are given when the consumer walks through the door. shopkick installs technology inside the store that acts as a beacon communicating with mobile phones. If the application is open, it will recognize the signal, place the consumer within the store - either at the entrance or a specific department - and award points.
Once a consumer is inside the store, the service will award points for browsing and for using the built-in barcode scanner to get more product and pricing information.
The solution is integrated at the point of sale (POS) with the consumer's phone number. With purchases, consumers collect both store loyalty points as well as shopkick loyalty points. Loyalty points can be redeemed for special offers or cash - directly from the application. The value of the points in real retailer dollars will be set by the retailer.
About four or five months ago, I was on a United flight bound to the east coast from San Francisco. For reasons I don't remember, I had booked the ticket on Orbitz (I usually book directly so my records, receipts, etc. are all in my profile). Am boarded. Am sitting in a middle seat. Sigh. "Ping" goes my phone. I receive an alert that our flight has been delayed 20 minutes. I open my bag and pull out a salad. The two gentlemen in between whom I am squeezed look at me oddly and exchange glances as they expect the doors to close and the plane to back away from the gate. Salad finished. "Ping" goes my phone again. There is a maintenance issue with the plane. The "equipment" is being changed and we are being moved one gate over. I begin packing up my things, remove my seat belt and give the guy on the aisle my look that says, "are you moving or what?" He says to me, "where are you going?" I say, "equipment + gate change." He says, "how do you know?" I say, "SMS alert from Orbitz." He says, "What is an Orbitz?" More puzzled looks are exhanged. (Do I really want to explain a text alert in the year 2010 to someone who doesn't know what Orbitz is?) Several minutes later there is an announcement from the flight attendant with the same information, and everyone gets up to move. Now my fellow passengers are more intrigued. A third party is more efficiently delivering information to United's passengers than United is to their agents or customers directly.
I don't know how many times I've seen this poster in a United Airlines jetway and wondered, "Is this recent? or 20 years old? Do a lot of doctors fly? Is that why they advertise pagers?"
I was walking through DuPont Circle in Washinton DC last week. I stumbled upon Axis Salon. I was so intrigued by the glass storefront that I had to hang up the phone and stare. The salon front was COVERED in QR codes!!!
Close-up of shop name:
Instructions to download: (they recommend 3GVision's i-nigma)
They should be telling consumers more about what phones are compatible, probably. There should probably be more instructions, but at least they OFFER instructions.
Scan the code ... link to a Web site with a coupon.
It's pretty basic, but very effective. They must have a lot of people asking. It's certainly driving buzz - I mentioned it to a couple of people I met in DC, and they knew about it. Partial instructions available. Lack of compatibility with most phones ... maybe an issue, but those who don't know about 2D codes are probably also less likely to ask. Fun.
So, driving to work this morning, and I hear Chase advertising its remote check desposit service for the iPhone on the radio. This article has a good set of screen shots and description of the user's experience. Hard to imagine even 5 years ago a couple advertising a mobile service or application. How far we've come. Even three years ago, it was mostly Apple.
One of the top reasons companies give for building iPhone applications and mobile services is marketing -- the connection of innovation and technology to their brand. Chase was giving both instructions to existing iPhone owners to download as well as new customers. A very convenient mobile service being used to draw in new banking customers. It is using the availability of an interesting new feature -- and not simply "free checking" or "low interest rates on mortgages" -- to advertise Chase. It is using the availability of free services -- free mobile services.