Mobile Twin Cities – Beyond Mobile

curtCurt gave one of his usually insightful presentations – thank you!!  His presentation took us  to the future – it is not clear how quickly this future will come, but most likely it will still catch up by surprise.

Curt’s main emphasis was on connected devices – not just mobile phone, but mobile device as a part of something else, more physical than virtual.  The presentation is available by texting ROMO to 75309.

I found a few points below particularly interesting.  Maybe it explains why that so much awaited “year of mobile” has not quite come yet…  Mobile is a part of something else, rather than a goal in itself.


One of the most interesting points from the Curt’s presentation is the fact that even if B-to-C devices are expected to popularize the concept, the B-to-B industries will benefit the most.  The ability to adjust lighting and heat remotely in somebody’s home does not have as much value as managing the same aspect of an office center or a shopping mall.


Another interesting point is the expectation of hardware-based revolution.  So far, most of the activities happened in the software engineering.  The next generation of the entrepreneurs could be engineers that create physical devices with the heart of mobile “computer” that is already available, understood, and can be added as a “command center” of the new tool or a toy.

Could it be the step in the direction of “pervasive sensing” and devices that take actions based on the sensor’s data?  Future is always interesting to watch.

A device allowing to evaluate content of the food with a sensor and a mobile phone


A device allowing to detect level of radiation with a sensor and a mobile phone


A “camera ball” – relatively simple device comparing to existing alternatives allowing to view situation in a dangerous or hazardous location


A variation on a “personal drone” with possible uses of photography and geographic explorations


An app for managing home appliances.  It is reasonably useful for individuals, but the industrial version of a piece of equipment (sensor) and an app is much more powerful application of the same idea.


Curt shared an interesting point: 3/4 of people on Black Friday made purchases from the mobile site rather than an app.   My guess, the main conclusion is the flexible state of current consumer/mobile/shopping evolution.

Curt also demonstrated a few interesting mobile approaches, which are fun, useful and innovative.

A useful application of augmented reality


A very interesting visual translation app


“Coin” an electronic container for many credit cards – actually, quite attractive…  when it will be widely used 😉

Mobile March Twin Cities 2010

Great conference!  Mobile March TC reminded me of earlier MIMA conferences and the beginning of Social Media Breakfast. Enthusiasm, willingness of attendees to show up for a “work-related” event on Saturday, and enough energy in the room to recharge an average geek. The difference was quite interesting: Mobile March attendees included seasoned corporate or agency marketers and presenters also sported experience working with established brands combined with cutting edge expertise.

Have we, the industry, finally learned? Hopefully. Change is constant and we better pull out notebooks (or Flip cameras) and start paying attention… even on Saturday 😉

What I found interesting (from the business/marketer track):

Great overview of mobile landscape (global perspective) – I took a short  video.

Best Buy has a very interesting approach: Walk Out Working. This is a goal to make sure that a customer knows how to use purchased device before leaving the store. This is not an expression of surprising altruism – customers are more likely to return a device if they don’t know how it works.  Best Buy is also trying to teach customers how to use their mobile phones.

Consumers are confused and find complexity of mobile devices difficult. We should not judge based on our own experience – we are mostly super-users.

What consumers know:

  1. There are iPhone and Blackerry
  2. iPhone is associated with apps, and Blackberry with email

App stores are confusing for consumers; they want simplification. We should “keep it simple.”

Five opportunities identified by best Buy:

  1. Single sign on (can a consumer log in with the Twitter/Facebook id?)
  2. Blur the lines between customer service and marketing (Best Buy offers very short videos how to perform certain tasks on devices it sell – useful “customer service” function that also promotes the brand)
  3. Online to offline (2D codes, etc., Best Buy allows customers to text to receive customer reviews).
  4. My phone is my wallet (is it possible to make/take payment with the phone? when it will be possible?)
  5. Small businesses need Apps too – prediction of development of easy solutions for small businesses.

Mobile apps: the delivery is not the issue (consumers can find and download when they want); discovery is the problem – too many apps available – how to find something useful?

How Best Buy presents mobile devises:

  • by network provider
  • by features (smart phones)
  • by “strength” (best devices to listen to the music, etc.)

Sometimes it results in duplicating presentation of the same device, but it is better for the consumer.

Consumer Segmentation: customer readiness.

I highly recommend to review the entire presentation.

We have demographic and psychographic characteristics of the consumer, can we have “mobile-graphics”?

General progression of the activities on the mobile phone: Talking > Messaging > Browsing > Downloading.

Mobile usage:

  • 16% – “Cord Hoards” – no mobile phone, uses landline only
  • 32% – “Strictly Speaking” – has a mobile phone, uses for phone calls only
  • 11% – “Utoolitarian” – occasionally uses SMS, rarely sends/reads email
  • 14% – “Life Liner” – address book is the most used function, regularly text/email, but rarely internet
  • 6%  – “Duty Callers” – heavy SMS/email, occasional browser; “away from office” use
  • 5%  – “Funccessorizers” – uses all of the features of the phone for fun
  • 5%  – “Mavericks” – heavy users of mobile internet, messaging; most likely to receive offers and promotions via mobile
  • 11% – “Mobile Moths” – trying to follow mavericks;  moderate use of browser and messaging – not likely to use all the features on their fully-loaded phone

Recommended approach is to evaluate target audience and select marketing approaches suitable for this audience.  For example, while 2D codes could be approapriate for  a Life Liner, Augmented Reality might be suitable for the maverick.  Targeting more sophisticated segments with less sophisticated channels are not successful. Sophisticated users are difficult to engage – they expect too much…

The segmentation will most likely stay the same, but distribution will change in the nearest future. However, in 3 – 5 – (10?) years the segmentation will be meaningless.

The panel of media representatives (newspaper, radio, and TV) agreed that even if mobile channel is not significant now from the revenue perspective, their companies have to “be there” or risk to be left behind. “If we don’t do it now, somebody will come and take this place.”

Media companies experienced significant mind-shift during transition to the internet; new channels should be easier to recognize and integrate.

Startribune: blogs on mobile devices are surprisingly popular.

Mobile strategy includes email and text as main taktics.

“What Apple does, we should do…” 😉

Mobile apps – interesting “project overview” demonstrating the same app functionality on iPhone and Android.

Seventh Sin presented some of their mobile work (JCPenney mobile app).

JCPenney is willing to test and see what works.

Important consideration for app development: what a consumer can do while driving… This approach makes sense – it emphasizes the ease of use which is needed everywhere. Though consumers should not drive and play with apps, consumers would appreciate easy to use tools.

I also discovered a very useful resource reviewing LaunchMedia site after the event.

Deep, well-written,  and understandable white paper describing 2D codes and their opportunities in retail environment.

The conference was interesting; I definitely learned something new and reaffirmed most of my views. This is the first attempt in the local community to bring together marketers and developers.  I am curious how it will work.

The food was absolutely excellent, particularly mini-cheese cake dessert (and chocolate snack kindly provided by one of the sponsors – Fusion Room).  😉