Tag Archives: iPhone

From Desktop to Pocket: Why Americans Are Making the Switch to Mobile

Reaching a Breaking Point

In the years since Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way that people are accessing the Internet. The landscape has changed so swiftly, in fact, that many have been left in the dust. In 2014, an incredible milestone was reached: for the first time ever, users spent more time accessing the Internet via mobile devices than they did on their PCs. Here are just a few reasons to believe that a movement to mobile is more than just a passing trend.

A Short, Snackable Experience

Since the rise of the smartphone, we’ve seen an influx of content that’s designed for a quick visit and nothing more — what some are referring to as “snackable” content. This could be anything from a short video to an infographic to a concise, easily navigable list.

We already know that peak Internet usage happens during lunch breaks, commutes, and decompressing time at home. But in a U.S. market where more than a whopping 178 million consumers now carry smartphones, content is often consumed in even shorter increments. More and more, users are harnessing just a few seconds to tune into the Internet on their mobile devices — and content generators are taking notice, churning out shorter, more digestible tidbits.

Apps on the Rise

Much of the newest research and data on user behavior suggests that users prefer smartphone apps to traditional browsers, and why not? Apps are elegant, to-the-point, and mobile by definition. The best ones make comparable websites seem bloated or even obsolete. In 2014, mobile app usage grew by 76%, and smartphone owners now download almost 9 apps per month on average.

Mobile Can Do It All

Last but certainly not least, users are ditching their PCs for mobile devices because phones and tablets can, simply put, do everything. Look at the device in your own pocket: chances are it can get you in touch with loved ones, snap a high-quality video, help you make an important purchase, check a flight time — the list goes on and on. Once upon a time, consumers felt a need to balance mobile devices with the desktop experience in order to meet all their computing and Internet needs. But PC sales have been declining as more users find their demands met by a slim, lightweight device that’s always within reach.

Looking Toward a More Mobile Future

Make no mistake — the mobile Internet is here to stay, and its reach and popularity is growing daily. Facebook and Google are still the biggest playmakers, with dominant lineups that include YouTube and Instagram. If you’re looking to build a following online, those remain the best places to start.

But don’t discount emerging mobile platforms, including lifestyle and shopping apps, which grew more in 2014 than any other category. It’ll also be in your best interest to refresh and update your traditional website — users still need to visit them, but they’ll be looking for a streamlined, simplified, and responsive interface that more closely resembles the mobile experience.

Mobile App or Mobile Website?

Mobile devices demand more from developers and designers in terms of presenting content. The days of creating websites that operate solely on a desktop computer are over. Marketers now have to think about how content will look on a variety of devices, screens, and operating systems. As usual, there are multiple ways to accomplish this. Presently, the most popular include developing a mobile app, or a separate mobile website, or creating a responsive design website. Which one is right for you?

Native App

Although many are quick to jump at the idea of a mobile app, the first question should be if you need one at all. Think of any app you’ve downloaded. Most successful apps serve a purpose or solve an immediate need. If your app is to act solely as a replacement for your current website, it most likely will not be widely received.

A good measurement of apps that serve a purpose are those which require the smartphone to perform properly. A mobile app that uses a camera, GPS, scanning capabilities, storage, or user personalization will perform very well. Small purchase and commerce apps have also proved to be successful. On the other hand, native apps allow more customized design than is possible with either mobile apps or responsive websites.

A hefty advantage mobile apps have is that they work without Internet connection. Even those that require Internet for some functions, such as synchronizing to the cloud, are more than capable at operating on a device’s data and run faster than accessing a mobile website. This may explain why people spend more time and consume more information on mobile apps than on websites. Between being instantly available after initial download and much more welcoming to users to play within the mobile space, apps have earned their place in the market.

Mobile Website

A mobile website is a specialized satellite representing your main site. Conventional websites, when viewed on a smart device, are small, cramped, and hard to navigate. A dedicated, mobile website is redesigned for the smaller screen size and the different functions of a smart device. Information differing from that on the main website, and more appropriate for the mobile environment, can be displayed. The common practice of giving users a link to go to the full site allows any missed information to be received as needed.

Mobile websites are also a much more viable option for those with strong SEO strategies. Apps cannot be accessed by search engines and will not affect organic search results, where a mobile website is, at the end of the day, still a website and can be crawled by search engines.

Finally, regular websites are much easier to upload and edit than apps, because they do not have to go through the process of App Store approval. Each update or change must go through the approval process again, causing a cumbersome and lengthy wait for those who may need to update content on a regular basis.

Responsive Design

A responsive website has all of the characteristics of a mobile website, with one difference: your mobile and laptop websites are not separate. Responsive design allows your website to display the same content over any device, restructured to best fit the environment in which it’s displayed.

This often requires a website to be completely redesigned. However, the functions on your website must all translate well to a mobile environment. To fill out a form, it must be readable and editable on all screens, while an online shopping center must be easily navigable on any device. While this often costs more than a normal mobile website, it is still considerably cheaper than developing a complete app and more sustainable for the future.

So, which one?

To make the best decision, make sure you know how your customers are getting your content. Which devices and browsers they’re using, and how high conversions are from these connections are all aspects to be taken into consideration when embarking on this sort of project. After that, you can move on to what type of experience you want, be it an app, mobile website, or responsive website. You may opt for one, a blend of these options, or attempt all three. Ultimately, the choice rests on what makes the most sense for your goals. As with any business decision, be as educated as possible before the final decision. You’ll be grateful in the long run.

Author: Zack Smith

Dirt and iPhones Do Mix: One Vanguardian’s Perspective on Technology on the Farm

So you play FarmVille on Facebook, and as you build your “farm” from the comfort of your easy chair, you feel like you are accomplishing something, right? OK, man up already and face it––you have no clue what it’s like to run a farm. My experience is slightly different––my family had a chicken farm in Rockland County that we “city kids” would visit during the summer to “help out.” The farm also grew corn as a staple crop for feed and to sell. By the time we would get there in the summer, the real work was done––our biggest chore was shucking the corn for dinner.

Flash forward to spring 2012 and my reality. I consider myself a “gentleman farmer.” I live on nine acres of pristine property in the mountains of Sullivan County, NY, in the tiny town of Glen Spey (Google Map 12737). I have a barn with a hayloft, split wood for the fireplace, operate a tractor (lowlanders have riding mowers; we have nothing but tractors), drive a pick-up truck, and have a back brace with suspenders for the real work. My frost date is Memorial Day weekend, which means no planting till then––seeds are OK, but the real work begins on the holiday weekend.

My “field” is a 60′ x 40′ horn of plenty, filled with fruit trees and bushes, grape vines, 20 varieties of vegetables and cutting flowers, and surprisingly, no corn. Each year I fertilize with up to 300 lbs of cow manure, lime, and fireplace ash to keep the pH correct. My beds are raised, and I till each one until the soil is the consistency of butter. What self-respecting plant wouldn’t want to wiggle its roots in my bed? Call me crazy, but I commute three hours to work each way because I love where I work and love where I live, just not necessarily in that order.

Last weekend, I did the first cut of the season. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and as I made the turns on the tractor with my music playing from my iPhone, I stopped to take a photo of our family of tree swallows working on their new nest in the birdhouse. As I paused to take it all in, I realized how much technology I have come to rely on to make my life easier. Besides the joy and convenience of having music and photography attached to my belt, much of this process is technology-driven. Consider that I use my iPad to order everything from new tiller blades to seeds to chain saws to fertilizer. Weather is a big consideration on a farm, and I have not one but three weather apps to help me know when to plant and when to water. These apps also help to notify me of approaching storms or frost.

When the day is done and the stars come out, I have a great app on my iPad called Star Walk. This app is terrific if you have a clear view of the night sky and you can see all the stars and constellations overhead. This app also shows which satellites are drifting by. (Unfortunately, the shooting stars you may enjoy flash by too fast to be named.)

There are a plethora of other apps to help your green thumb, and it’s always best to read some of the reviews before you purchase. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention an oldie but goodie, the Farmers’ Almanac. Continuously published since 1818, this periodical is known for its long-range weather predictions and astronomical data mixed with humor, trivia, gardening, cooking, fishing, and human-interest content. While not yet an app, it is available as an e-book for your iPad, Nook, or Kindle. This is a must-have for even the “black thumb” gardener who can’t keep even a houseplant alive.

To finish on a positive note for my FarmVille friends, reviews of the new FarmVille Version 2.7 are high. Released on April 4, 2012, FarmVille has gone tropical. Grab your sandals and head to FarmVille’s new Hawaiian Paradise. Leave those clunky coins at home because the new currency is coconuts. Love the beach? Cultivate your favorite water crops and play with new aquatic creatures. While Zynga is excited with the reception the latest version has received, I am sure the lucky few who sample my harvested veggies will be glad there are “gentleman farmers” like me who like to play in the dirt.

Author: Tom Caska

Tablets, E-Readers, and iPhones Take Over the World!

Your content MUST be mobile-optimized or appified. A Pew Internet Research survey and Apple Q1 sales announcement paint a picture of a tablet, e-reader, and iPhone future filled with innovation, pain, or frustration––depending on how you proceed TODAY.

The numbers don’t lie––they suggest a trend and market preference for consumption. The tech world did not see the same game-changing flock of users adopt netbooks, and now this subcategory of laptop computers is essentially dead. The Kindles and iPads of the world have carved out a tablet niche for themselves because their form factor and technology allow for ideal consumption of much of the content available on the Internet. Get on board! Let’s clear up one small point––sorry to be a little nitpicky here, but the difference between an e-reader and a tablet is important. The title of the latest Pew report, “Tablet and E-book reader Ownership Nearly Double Over the Holiday Gift-Giving Period,” makes clear that there is a difference. “Tablet” and “E-book reader” are two distinct devices: a tablet is an e-reader with additional features, whereas an e-reader is primarily for reading content only, with fewer of the app- and Internet access-driven functions found on tablets.

By the way, in case you missed the news, Apple sold 37,000,000 iPhones in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. That is thirty-seven with six zeros. That is approximately 4.6 iPhones per New Yorker, but the thought of that many devices on the network in NYC is terrifying. One more time, iPhone sales accounted for 53% of Apple’s revenue for that quarter. Hello, iPhone––welcome to control of Apple sales and eventually everything. Fine, a little hyperbolic, but realize this: sales of iPhones mean users experiencing iOS. That experience will drive device use and preference in the future.

If your company’s primary offering can be consumed, purchased, or used online, make sure it is consumable via mobile device (tablet and smartphone) and offers an amazing user experience. Adequate, everyday, functional use of content on a mobile device will not differentiate your product in the marketplace.

If your company’s primary offering can be consumed via an app on iOS, for example, make it happen and spread the news as much as possible. Face it, the users who are buying iPhones, tablets, and e-readers now are not the early adopters––they are closer to the end of the early majority at this point. These are the users who can swing the adoption of the technology and push innovation in all aspects of the field further than we can even imagine at this point.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

So are you ready for a mobile, smartphone/tablet-driven world? Is your content ready?

Author: John Carew

Three Mobile and Social Apps That Should Be on Your Radar

Our online associations basically represent relationships that exist in real life, relationships that we document by adding people to particular social networks. In today’s world, the act of researching someone’s online presence before (or after) a meeting, date, or social interaction might be a requirement. LinkedIn can give you an idea of a person’s professional résumé, a Twitter profile might reveal his or her publicized interests or influence, and if a Facebook profile exists, well, you can learn possibly far too much about an individual depending on what he or she shares and how open the profile is to an outsider. Putting account settings and user preferences aside, apps that make connections to our physical social networks and marry those networks with our location via a mobile device are very interesting. These apps can show users how their social networks connect with strangers they pass on the street, but they can also teach users the value of real-life networks that are stored, structured, and validated online. Let’s look at three apps and how their features redefine our online social networks, showing the power that mobile, social, and location-based apps can have on our everyday life.

Sonar

Foursquare + Facebook + Twitter = invisible connections around you. Next time you check in on Foursquare to one of the busier spots in your area, an app like Sonar would display a screen indicating how you are linked to people in your immediate location. Sonar can tell you that you share three Twitter interests or two Facebook friends and enable you to see those specific connections and those users’ photos. You can then introduce yourself in person, if you want. Don’t fret about security, either––you opt in, so all Sonar users have chosen to associate their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts in order to see their relationships.

Path

As Path advertises, Path is “the smart journal that helps you share life with ones you love.” It’s Facebook boiled down your real friends and not the extended network of acquaintances and familiar faces that Facebook has become just to see the friend-count edge higher. The app has a fresh way of displaying important content with a beautiful user interface. Path has the same sharing and “journal” status-type features that are found on the other social networks, but the platform enables smaller circles to interact with pertinent content more easily.

Localmind

As its tagline reads, “Know. Now.” Localmind is seeking to build “a real-time, location-based Q&A platform that sits on top of existing check-in services.” Localmind uses location-based check-in services likes Foursquare to allow users to send a question about a physical location and receive answers from users who are currently checked in to that location. It lets users contact someone outside their network or circles to determine what is happening at a particular check-in spot.

All three apps provide very different services, but all are based on mobile technology and how it can augment our interaction with our traditional, terrestrial social networks and our location on terra firma.

Bottom line: Use these apps, learn what they do, and be aware that these features will be the next thing to come baked in to our mobile devices. Jumping on the edge of the wave can increase the position of your company or application earlier.

Author: John Carew

Can Apple Trump Hallmark With Cards?

John Carew wrote a few weeks ago about the release of the new iPhone 4s coupled with the updated software, iOS5. Along with this new operating system comes a new app called Cards. Cards, developed by Apple, is used to design, print, and mail out cards from your iOS device to anyone in the world. Those of you now thinking to yourselves, “Apple is getting into the printing business?” will be shocked to know that Apple has been offering printed materials since it launched iPhoto in 2002. Since then, Apple has offered printed photos, books, calendars, and other materials that you can generate with one click from iPhoto. But Cards is different––it’s simply Apple genius innovation to make our lives easier and more beautiful at the same time.

So what is Cards? Cards is an application on your iOS device that allows you to send out a tangible card to anyone in the world. But, it’s not just any card. These cards are beautiful, letterpress-printed shells made of 100% cotton. You can pick a photo from your photo library and place it on the front, personalize the message on the inside, place the address on the envelope, and Apple will pop it in the mail for you. You can go from taking the photo to submitting the order in less than a few minutes. I tried it out myself––sent a picture of my daughter to my mother––and the reaction was priceless. Needless to say, my mother will keep this card for the rest of her life, and will most likely start sending out her own!

The coolest part about this app is the thought that went into the process. One, Apple uses the best materials and printing processes known to man to create the product. Two, Apple allows you to personalize the card to your liking in a quick and easy way. Three, Apple integrates the IMB barcode on each piece so you get a notification of when the card will deliver. And best of all, a card costs less than the average Hallmark card! Apple cards will cost $2.99 domestic and $4.99 international. I don’t know if I will ever send another Hallmark card through the mail. You can practically send a card anywhere in the world for less than you can pick up a generic card from the Hallmark store.

So, only one question remains: When will you send out your first Card?

Author: John Mehl

Facebook to Die Under the Knife of Magazines and Newspapers? Your Crystal Ball Is Malfunctioning.

Who doesn’t want a piece of the multibillion dollar US advertising pie? No one! According to a Kantar Media report, 2010 US ad spending topped $130 billion. Outspoken marketing and publishing veteran Bob Sacks, aka BoSacks, is “prepared to predict the death of Facebook. It’s lost its way … Over-commercialism and abuse will kill it.” That is why Facebook is moving toward what some are calling “the dark side,” abandoning its user-centric methodology for one where it can cash out and exploit its relationship with users to sell the most advertising.

Newspapers and magazines have struggled for over a decade to determine which strategy will bring them some, if any, long-term success. Between pay wall construction and destruction and various implementations of paid content, which future strategy will win: the gated newsstand (e.g., Apple or Amazon) or the app model (The Daily) or, better yet, some other combination with social integration?

The first big-league tablet experiment was News Corp.’s The Daily, with daily news delivery to mobile technology, i.e., the iPad. The Daily is an experiment in applying a news model to mobile technology with a subscription-based service. Rupert Murdoch claims that The Daily, first launched on the iPad in early 2011, needs 500,000 subscribers paying $0.99 per week to be profitable. As of October 3, The Daily publisher Greg Clayman reported only 80,000 subscribers. Murdoch’s experiment was on one hand a massive win for tablet proponents, who see this path as the future, but on the other a strategic failure. Applying broad-reaching, mass media to what is essentially a hyper-local online ecosystem where the social level drives the most relevant content is a fundamentally flawed approach. Staci Kramer of paidContent.org covered the basic accounting associated with The Daily and figured that, based on the first year’s figures with the current circulation, it cost a whopping $375 per subscriber to produce. It is not uncommon for a magazine title to take several years to mature to profitability, yet this venture sets an intriguing (and cost-prohibitive) precedent. More recently Courtney Boyd Myers of TheNextWeb.com reported that the app has been downloaded 800,000 times but has brought a loss to News Corp. to the tune of $10,000,000. On a side note to be filed in the “DUH” record books, UK online trade pub MarketingWeek reports that a recent qualitative analysis by Ipsos Mori of UK’s biggest women’s weeklies suggests that titles that reply to readers via social media gain more long-term interaction. While studying the business model and its successes and failures is interesting on an academic level for understanding how the news is evolving, the indicators for the advertising world and its link to new technology should be of more interest.

John Mehl covered the strengths and weaknesses of digital editions earlier on Utterly Orange. The bottom line is this: As long as competitive forces––like print magazines and social networks––exist in the marketplace, the print-gone-digital model for news and magazines is going to be a hard sell. The market was splintered with the entry of the i-era: the iPad and iPhone, the mobile and smart devices.

In August 2011, Utterly Orange discussed the technical challenges that Condé Nast experienced in its ventures into digital publishing formats. Applying a traditional, editorial business model to an electronic workflow is fundamentally flawed. NYU Professor Scott Galloway sees magazines “on the verge of a massive double dip.” Galloway points out that brands like Burberry, Gucci, and Chanel have positioned themselves as “innovative” front-runners in the world of social media. Facebook competes for eyeballs and more importantly lets anyone introduce content that can trump the magazines any day. Which model will win? Not sure, but you can bet on this: Social media is critical to the future, and Facebook probably won’t be the long-term winner.

Author: John Carew