Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mobile March

The Mobile March conference was held at the Best Buy headquarters this weekend. Here is a brief recap of the sessions I attended:

Morning Sessions


Key points:
  • There is a low tolerance for mediocrity in mobile. Apps have a 50% abandon rate after the first 30 days.
  • Mobile trends: News via tablets, social media, location based apps, group messaging with apps like Beluga.
  • Mobile marketing, what's working: Incentives, deals, hot buys, and rebates.
  • 5 things to consider: Activate advertising with text or QR codes, activate sponsorships with mobile, launch mobile coupons, test a location based campaign, use mobile to drive app downloads.

Simple and low cost mobile technologies have proven to be very effective solutions. SMS, QR codes, and social media fall within this category. The goal is simple, get customers to engage and then extend the conversation.

Cracking the Code: QR Codes and Coupons

Key points:
  • QR code scanning is up 1000% in the last 6 months. Consumers love to scan QR barcodes.
  • QR codes link users to additional information. For example, Best Buy has QR codes next to each price tag. Launching the QR code provides the user with detailed information and user reviews. Additionally, if you scan another product you can see a side-by-side comparison of both products.
  • Looking for a QR reader? Try NeoReader.
  • Chino Latino is the first restaurant to put a QR code on a billboard.

Mobile March had QR codes at the entrance of each session. Scanning the code displayed the presenters bio. Again, this is a simple, low cost solution to interact with mobile customers.

The iPhone vs Android Showdown

Key points:
  • iPhone
    • Xcode 4, which was released a few weeks ago, has finally simplified the organization of their Interface Builder and code editor. Navigating between Interface Builder and code is much quicker via their new tab orientation instead of externalized windows found in Xcode 3.
    • Xcode is the superior IDE when compared to Android development on Eclipse. The Interface Builder is far superior and the iPhone emulator loads much faster.
  • Android
    • Android's distribution model is superior. It takes several hours to deploy to Android's Market. The Apple Store certification process may take up to 2 weeks.

Creating a mobile wireframe is easily 2-3 times faster in Xcode. While Android finally released a UI builder with their 3.0 SDK it is far from perfect. A major Android advantage is their time to market on app upgrades. If you have a production defect will you have the patience to wait for the Apple certification process?

Grill yourself

Key points:
  • Think about UX as soon as you have an idea.
  • Keep apps simple and moving parts to a minimum.
  • You can sell anything if you can do it simple, quick, and cheap.
  • Share the analytics about your mobile users with your organization.

Afternoon Sessions

The Current State of the Mobile Web

Key points:
  • Native advantages: performance, consistency, safety, convenience, functionality.
  • Native disadvantages: harder to build, approval process, hard to discover, fragmentation.
  • Mobile Web advantages: open, connected, ubiquitous, unregulated.
  • Mobile Web disadvantages: unregulated, performance is slower.
  • Mozilla and Google are coming out with web app stores soon.
  • Looking for a fixed header and footer for your scrollable window on iOS? Try iScroll.

There are clearly many advantages to Mobile Web. Its deployment model is instantaneous and it helps reduce fragmentation and development costs. If you are interested in jQuery Mobile, here is a good presentation.

Blackberry Playbook

Key points:
  • Cost of entry
    • BlackBerry: Free
    • Android: $25 (one time)
    • Apple: $99/yr
  • Distribution
    • Google: lass than hour
    • BlackBerry: 4-6 hours
    • Apple: up to 2 weeks
  • BlackBerry has a "try before you buy" program in their AppWorld store which is unique.

The Playbook tablet by BlackBerry will be released soon. While competition is good, they definitely have an uphill battle to climb.

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