USA Today has made available its own application on the Apple App Store, for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed and developed in cooperation with Mercury Intermedia of Brentwood, Tenn., the USA Today app -- which is free -- allows users to browse and read stories from all the newspaper's print sections: News, Money, Sports, Life, Tech and Travel. Articles can be shared via e-mail, text message or Twitter, and are automatically saved for later reading.
As the digital and social opportunities risk morphing into that all-too-familiar blend of noise and clutter, the simple foundations and "boring basics" really matter. So while the brand "app" may at times feel like yet another one-off, it may in fact represent the most important cornerstone of digital strategy.
Even before selling its first T-shirt over the Internet, Zara has become an online phenomenon, with more Facebook fans and more application downloads on iTunes than any other fashion retailer. But the real test begins next Thursday, when the flagship brand of Inditex SA opens its first store online.
Imagine walking into your favorite cafe and instead of waiting in line to place your order for a large iced nonfat latte and handing over your debit card, you submitted your order and authorized payment from your bank account via an application on your phone. You can't do that now. But it's very possible that some day you will. It will be a big leap forward getting banks, credit card companies, retailers, and cell phone makers--not to mention consumers--on board with this idea. But a few companies are beginning to provide digital stepping stones to what someday could be a wallet-less future.
Today Qualcomm is formally announcing the launch of Qualcomm Services Labs (QSL), an incubation program that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm. QSL is meant to serve as a platform to fund, commercialize and launch innovative consumer-focused mobile services such as Neer, an application that cleverly interprets location-sharing for the more private types among us. Qilroy, Tapioca and Vive are three of the other mobile services and apps participating in the incubator program. Each has been selected for its potential to make an immediate impact on the market. As QSL services, each will also eventually become its own business entity or be integrated into an existing Qualcomm division.
Research2guidance, a Berlin-based research organization specialized in all things mobile, recently forecasted the worldwide smartphone application market to reach $15 billion by 2013. In an update, the firm says the global smartphone app market has in fact already reached $2.2 billion in the first six months of this year.
Whole Foods Market is launching an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch app designed to help people live healthier lifestyles. The retailer's "Mission App," available for free download on iTunes, offers 70 challenges/missions that involve users engaging in a series of steps to earn "badges and bragging rights." Badges are earned for exploring a range of "delicious, nutrient-dense foods" that can contribute to a healthier diet. Each user first creates a profile in order to track earned badges. Badges fall into areas such as organic foods ("Organic Avenger" badge) and locally sourced foods ("Local Yokel" badge).
Facebook has just announced Places, the long-awaited feature that brings location-based functionality to the most popular social network in the world. Whether you’re a developer with a great app idea, a business with an interesting location marketing plan or just a regular Facebook user who wants to get involved with Places, there are a few details to note before you start using Places. The feature is fascinating, but it still has its limitations. And our guide isn’t without caveats, especially for users. If you’re ready to start playing, here’s what you’ll need to know about Places.
Apple's iAd mobile advertising platform is getting favorable reviews from the companies whose advertisements were the first to run on the new system, including Dove soap-maker Unilever and Nissan. App makers like Dictionary.com and CBS Mobile have said iAd is allowing them to charge more for ad space in their applications. Though neither Apple nor the advertisers would share revenue or traffic numbers, they noted that their pilot iAds tended to pull in users and keep them interested for significantly longer than other kinds of digital ads.
It’s like the most persistent sales clerk you’ve ever encountered. Major retailers are working with a new smartphone application that tracks and offers promotions to shoppers as they move from outside the store, to counters, to cash registers — even inside the dressing room (now that’s persistence). The app, called Shopkick, will be available on Tuesday for the iPhone and in the fall for Android phones. And with five major companies supporting it — Macy’s, Best Buy, Sports Authority and American Eagle Outfitters, along with the Simon Property Group, the prominent mall operator — it is getting a big introduction.
Visa is the latest marketer to develop a digital product extension in an effort to tie consumers more closely to the brand. The San Francisco-based credit-card giant has launched Rightcliq, a free online shopping tool designed to make e-commerce more social. The app lets users create wish lists as they shop, obtain feedback from friends, view special offers, pay for transactions with stored information and track shipments. What it doesn't do is explicitly push Visa. In fact, Rightcliq gives users the choice of credit cards to use, including Visa competitors like MasterCard.
The New York Times is offering a platform that other publishers can use to produce their own apps for devices starting with the iPad and iPhone. The first publishers to sign up to use the platform, which The Times is calling Press Engine, are the Telegraph Media Group and three A.H. Belo newspapers: Dallas Morning News, Providence Journal and Press-Enterprise in Southern California. The publishers keep any advertising and circulation revenue the apps bring in; they pay the Times a one-time license fee for the platform and then a monthly maintenance fee.
Youngsters aren't the only ones going back to school -- college students are too. Sears is targeting these students where they seemingly live, online and on Facebook, for a new "Back to Campus" social media campaign.
While the raison d'être for the tablet computer isn't yet clear, interactive media and personal data management both need transformative apps.
Wildfire, makers of promotional tools for brands on Facebook, is releasing a new application that lets marketers and brands turn their Facebook Page or website in to a deal hub. The new application is called Group Deals, and it is designed to be like a do-it-yourself Groupon add-on to Facebook Pages and company websites via Facebook Connect. Wildfire users can create and define their own deal-a-day style promotions, which will allow interested brand fans to purchase the deals via their PayPal accounts.
The QR code, or quick response code, is simply a two-dimensional bar code that came into being in 1994 and found a large audience in Japan. Stateside, however, QR codes — while clever for tying real-world objects to online content — have always remained on the outskirts of public awareness. Nonetheless, we’ve seen QR codes employed for creative purposes. The Detroit Red Wings interactive programs and the giant QR codes in Times Square come to mind. Each of these serves as prime examples of how QR codes could be on the verge of their breakout moment. What the technology needs in order to finally make it to the mainstream are applications that take the nerd-factor out of the QR code scan, and drive home the potential rewards of seeing a code, scanning it, and then engaging with the served-up content. Stickybits and SCVNGR are startups that integrate the barcode scan in intelligent and fun ways. They’re poised to propel the movement of the next generation QR code, and here’s why.
“The leak in your home town” is an iPhone app that lets users see the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill whenever they see a BP logo. A user simply launches the app and aims their iPhone’s camera at the nearest BP logo. What the user sees is one of the broken BP pipes coming out of the BP logo, and out of the pipe comes the oil, pluming upward. “This work mixes computer generated 3D graphics with the iPhone’s video camera to create an augmented reality. The user is able to see the computer generated 3D objects at specific locations in the real world. The 3D graphics create the broken BP pipe which comes out of the BP logo. “An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.”
The push by retailers into social media continues, with some even bringing out Version 2.0 or 2.5 of their presences on Web sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Case in point, Target, which has introduced an application on its Facebook page for its Merona line of clothing. The app is called the Merona My Look Maker and is aimed at women ages 35 and up. The goal is to give them a chance to virtually try on, and try out, Merona fashions. A twist is that the merchandise that can be played with on the app is changed constantly to reflect the Merona merchandise that is in Target stores. The looks can be shared with Facebook friends and computer users can also be connected to the Target Web site (target.com) with a “shop it now” feature if they like the looks enough to consider buying the merchandise.
Apple has pulled the best-selling iPad RSS application, Pulse, from the app store at the request of the New York Times. Why? Because it downloads and displays the New York Times RSS feed, just like every other RSS reader on the planet. Pulse has been an app-store hit thanks to its slick design, which pulls news from various sources and aggregates them in an easy-to-read manner, perfectly suited to the flick-and-scroll interface of the iPad. The design was good enough to impress even Steve Jobs, who mentioned it in his WWDC keynote speech Monday. The application, which costs $4, has been downloaded 35,000 times. It was the top paid app for a while.
The Walt Disney Company has created what it believes is a first-of-its-kind application allowing Facebook users to buy tickets to “Toy Story 3” without leaving the social networking site and while, at the same time, prodding their friends to come along.
After learning how to market themselves through tweets and status updates, some small companies are taking the next step: selling directly to consumers via social-networking sites. Merchants on Facebook and MySpace are adding e-commerce stores to their fan pages, hoping users will scan lists of for-sale items and services—such as floral bouquets, hand-crafted jewelry and spa treatments—and click a button to add them to online shopping carts.
Facebook is preparing to launch location-based status updates for its users. But the social network is also planning to offer it to marketers, including McDonald's. As early as this month, the social-networking site will give users the ability to post their location within a status update. McDonald's, through digital agency Tribal DDB, Chicago, is building an app with Facebook would allow users to check in at one of its restaurants and have a featured product appear in the post, such as an Angus Quarter Pounder, say executives close to the deal.
The chief marketing officer of wines in the U.S. for the alcoholic beverage giant is too busy figuring out how to get more people to buy some of its 75 brands. It is a tough job. Americans have all but stopped buying wine that costs more than $30 a bottle. The action, what's left of it, is in the $7 to $15 range, and profits are elusive. (Dollar sales in the U.S. were off 3.3% last year on a 1.2% volume gain, says Beverage Information Group of Norwalk, Conn.)
Beginning on May 3rd, Volkswagen will launch an “App My Ride” contest where designers, programmers, developers and interested users can submit an idea for a new in-car infotainment application. Inspired by the innovative application development process and ‘app stores’ of Google and Apple, VW will become the first car manufacturer to use the idea of open innovation for the development of its products.
For all the talk about Foursquare, one of the coolest features that gets very little buzz is the Tips area. Here, you’ll find suggestions about venues from other users of the service. And if you’re friends with a user who has left a tip, you’ll get a notification with the tip on your iPhone when you check-in somewhere close by. The History Channel has decided to make use of this feature in an interesting way.
Thanks to Internet-equipped smartphones, shoppers are increasingly using software applications to check prices at other stores without leaving the mall. Now retailers are trying to use technology to fight back.
You know a concept is gaining traction when companies start springing up to enable it. Not long ago we saw the launch of B1G1 to enable the “buy one, give one” donation programs that have become so popular, for example; now, from the world of restaurants, there's Blue Shoe Mobile Solutions, a company that focuses exclusively on developing branded iPhone apps much like the one we just covered at Wagamama.
“Check-in” companies that were all but unheard of a year ago are making noise due to the simple game mechanics and competitive element they added to their start-ups, which took social networking into a new, location-based direction. Now, the youthful founders of this new breed of start-ups say that checking in – created as a solution to “social networking fatigue” – could in turn lead “check-in fatigue” if people do not find novel things to do with this location data.
Ask yourself for a moment, what is the operating system of a Google or Bing search? What is the operating system of a mobile phone call? What is the operating system of maps and directions on your phone? What is the operating system of a tweet? On a standalone computer, operating systems like Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux manage the machine's resources, making it possible for applications to focus on the job they do for the user. But many of the activities that are most important to us today take place in a mysterious space between individual machines. Most people take for granted that these things just work, and complain when the daily miracle of instantaneous communications and access to information breaks down for even a moment.
With location-based services as the latest fascination, and iPad orders increasing daily, many brands are tackling the question of whether launching a mobile app makes sense for their business and customer base. We looked to a couple of thought leaders in the digital and mobile marketing landscape to help provide some perspective and thought starters for what brands should consider while evaluating this opportunity.
As soon as I decided I wanted to explore the question of where search was going, I knew sooner or later I had to talk to John Battelle. John wrote what I still consider the definitive look at the industry, The Search, in 2005. Since then, in addition to running Federated Media, he has continued to be one of the more thoughtful, visionary, frank and opinionated voices in this space. Recently, his musings have taken on a decided tone of discontent. In a few recent blog posts, Battelle mused that search, while not necessarily “broken,” may indeed be increasingly falling short of our expectations. This lined up well with my own feelings that relevancy may no longer be an adequate proxy for usefulness.
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts about the iPad and the direction that Apple is taking computing along with it. It’s really an extension of the way they look at the iPhone, which I found unsettling at the time but with the iPad, we’re all finally coming around to the idea that they really, really mean it.
Twitter turned on its long-awaited Geolocation API today, meaning that users can opt-in to having their messages annotated with their exact locations. The significance of this is made clear by comparing it with last week's release of 500 million time-stamped Twitter messages for analysis. "You take this data, mash it up with any other very large corpus of data with timestamps," Flip Kroner of data marketplace Infochimps told us, "and you've got a web app." Today's announcement of the availability of location data means the same thing: you take this data, mash it up with any other data with location information and you've got an app. From Digg or StumbleUpon for your favorite coffee shop to political and disease tracking - there's a whole lot that's possible.
In a recent meeting at Facebook HQ, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Facebook is opening it’s doors to share roadmaps, data, and it’s experience. This strategy shifts attention towards Facebook.com as a sole destination, and towards a distributed network to the open web. Looking deeper, these impacts should shape your corporate web strategy as you re-allocate resources for application development, prepare for Social CRM, and prepare your corporate webpages to become “Facebook Fan Page” enabled.
You there, you who dressed as a sexy panther this Halloween, and are now clicking through the weekend’s photos on Facebook. (The ones of you clutching a vodka and snarling like a kittycat are particularly nice.) Your boss, your exes and your mother are probably looking at them this morning, too. What’s a hungover cat to do? There’s an app for that. Not an iPhone app, but a Facebook application from the detergent brand Wisk. Wisk-It, which will be formally introduced this week, promises to help get rid of objectionable photos.
Twitter has long promised to help new users figure out who they should follow and help avid users filter their overflowing streams of tweets. Its newest feature, Lists, accomplishes both of these things, said Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, on Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Lists are only available for a few thousand Twitter users now as Twitter makes sure everything is working properly. They will be available to everybody around the end of October, Mr. Williams said in a separate interview.
At first glance, Foursquare, the location-based mobile application capturing the fancy of hip, young urbanites, is a fun bar game that lets users compete for points and badges for going out at night. But dig a little deeper, and the service, which I just profiled in The Times, is also a handy, user-generated city guide. “The game elements are fun and people definitely like competing against their friends,” said Dennis Crowley, co-founder of the company. “But getting people to do something they haven’t done before — that’s where Foursquare gets really interesting.”
There’s been a huge reaction to our post earlier today about AMP’s new iPhone app – “before you score” – that aims to help guys land women. The responses have ranged from threats of boycotting Pepsi to comments about what politically correct sissies we’ve all become to adulation of AMP for humorously portraying modern chivalry (ok, that’s not exactly how supporters have put it). In any event, AMP and parent company PepsiCo have responded, using Twitter to explain the campaign and apologize to those that might be offended.
It's been said that everyone has a double somewhere in the world. Now Coca-Cola is testing that theory with a new promotion for Coke Zero inviting people to find their own doppleganger via Facebook. The Coke Zero Facial Profiler app on Facebook invites users to upload their photos to a database the beverage giant is compiling to match people's faces using "next gen facial recognition technology." The Profiler effort continues the ongoing campaign theme that no-calorie Coke Zero tastes just like the real thing.
Although a bit late to the party, CNN has made a decisive entry into the mobile news space with a well-designed iPhone app with that costs $2 to download, nothing to use and makes it easier for citizen journalists to file their own video news reports from the field. And in choosing a middle ground in the free/fee debate CNN is carving out a niche that extends their free online offerings to the fast-growing mobile platform while charging something for the work that goes in to developing for the iPhone platform — and there are ads too.
Starbucks is launching a store-finding and menu-information application for the iPhone, and is testing a second app that will let customers use the phone as their Starbucks card. The two apps are the coffee chain’s first for the iPhone and iPod touch. It has previously offered mobile services, such as the ability to send a text message to locate a nearby store, and has worked with Apple to make in-store songs available through iTunes.
There are plenty of Twitter tools out there designed to help you understand Twitter metrics. These tools come in handy for measuring change in tweet fluctuations, charting follower count numbers, finding out hashtag frequency, and quantifying Twitter activity. Most of us, however, will find ourselves wanting to know more about the tweets themselves, and to really understand the context and content of a tweet.
We recently described a lot of ways augmented reality (AR) is going to appear on a mobile device near you soon. But now it's here: The first "real" iPhone AR app has gone live in the iTunes App Store. It's specifically for Parisians. But it's arrived earlier than expected--weeks before Apple said it would be allowed. And by early, we mean it's arrived in the App Store by stealth, snuck in as an added-feature in an update to an existing app--Metro Paris Subway. It's unofficial because technically Apple's is not opening the doors to full AR until it releases the new 3.1 code for the iPhone, which is widely expected in September. This code will add in a few more hooks to make AR apps work in a fully-integrated way with the iPhone's video functions...but it seems that Metro Paris's developers PresseLite have found a way to get it all working pretty well with the existing iPhone 3.0 code.
You've heard a lot about Augmented Reality recently, but what is it--and why exactly should you care about the technology? We spoke with Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, one of the founders of Layar, an Amsterdam company that is leading the charge with their smartphone app, to gain insight.
Media brands are jumping onto the iPhone. USA Today? There’s an app for that. “The Rachel Maddow Show”? “Entertainment Tonight”? Public radio? Yes, yes and yes, there are apps for those. Now, if only there were an app that showed media companies how to make money on the iPhone.
I just love apps that are useful instead of pure marketing. Maybe this has happened to you: you announce to your office mates that you’re heading out for coffee, and you volunteer to pick them up something. Now, you’re the easiest order in there: ‘large black coffee,’ and so you presume they’ll be the same. Only not. They want a medium iced french vanilla with one splenda and two squirts of applesauce or whatever, and suddenly, you’re grinding your teeth for offering to go. Dunkin Donuts just built a site and an iPhone app to make it easier.
Retailers routinely post customers’ product reviews online, hoping that favorable comments will boost sales. But there’s a more powerful influence on shoppers that retailers have yet to harness: the advice of friends.
Mitchell Waite could think of only one reason that Apple’s legal department would leave a voice message last February asking him to call back: he was about to be sued. He called back and discovered that his life was about to change no less than if the lottery authority had told him he’d won the big prize: Apple had decided to feature iBird in a television commercial.
When the Facebook Platform was launched in 2006, it immediately became a hot property as thousands of eager developers rushed to launch the next great Facebook application. A few brands made the early leap as well, with some successes and a few total failures. It quickly became clear that if brands were to succeed on Platform, their applications would have to provide value, and not use Facebook as just another medium to push advertising messaging.
The latest edition of the New Yorker features a cover done by artist Jorge Colombo (who we first noticed back in March), Colombo made the entire piece using a simple $5 iPhone app called Brushes.
Madison Avenue is plowing more resources into a new marketing medium: Apple Inc.'s iPhone. In the past several months, companies such as Burger King Holdings Inc., Zippo Manufacturing Co. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. have experimented with promotional software applications that can be downloaded onto the iPhone, or they have created ads that are placed within other popular applications for the device.
Adidas is no stranger to the street culture scene, and their latest move seems right on target: the Adidas Urban Art Guide to Berlin is an iPhone travel guide listing Berlin’s best graffiti.
The Wall Street Journal, one of the few newspapers that charges for content online, released an app for the iPhone Wednesday which sets their content free, poking another hole in one of the internet's oldest pay walls.
"Our goal is to connect Charmin with innovative conversations and solutions as a brand that understands the importance of bringing the best bathroom experience to consumers, even when they're away from home," says Jacques Hagopian, brand manager for Charmin.
That was quick: A week after the Amazon Kindle 2 started shipping, Amazon's Kindle iPhone app is now available for free download. What is it? A very basic e-book reader app that syncs up to your Amazon account to access the Kindle books you've purchased. You can't buy books directly from the app, but you can via a computer or the iPhone's Safari browser (or a Kindle). Good enough.
Our breakdown of the 500 million apps populating the App Store was correcto: A study by Pinch Media shows only 20 percent of people use free apps again after the first day they download it.
All of the music in the Presidents' iPhone app is available in streamable playlist form, so you need to be connected via cell or Wi-Fi in order to hear it. Songs can be played in order or shuffled, while "Buy" links let you add any of the songs to your normal iTunes collection so that they can play offline. As for Apple, it's happy to collect 30 percent of the price of the app for distributing it -- the same share it takes when songs are sold through the more conventional iTunes music store.
Inside the GPS revolution it's more than maps and driving directions: location-aware phones and apps now deliver the hidden information that lets users make connections and interact with the world in ways they never imagined. The future is here and it's in your pocket.
One of the coolest apps on the iPhone isn't Pandora or Facebook: It's recipes and shopping lists for Kraft singles, Jell-O gelatin and Minute Rice.
A new iPhone application from Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle is taking mobile applications in a completely new direction, affording consumers and companies the ability to make their lives simpler. A mobile ordering application will allow you to place your order from wherever you are via your phone, even in advance of arriving at the store.