Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

interactive_quickOrder_2Aren’t the constant glimpses of the future in our everyday lives awesome. I just downloaded the new Starbucks applications on my iPhone and caught one of those glimpses.  Note: I’m not sure why they split these apps into two, I was unhappy that this now takes up two spots on my iPhone deck and the two apps should have been one – just one of those dumb things smart marketers do. But I digress and don’t want to take away from the innovation here.

One of the apps is exactly what you would expect from Starbucks – you can find store locations, hours and features and you can build your regular drinks and share them with friends so they have your order for the next coffee run (for the record the Dunkin’ Run app offered that utility first). It’s clean, it’s intuitive, it’s a great app that we’d expect. The second app however is a mobile version of the popular Starbucks card, and this is where you can glimpse into the future with me. Close you eyes and join along (well, metaphorically. please don’t close your eyes or you can’t finish reading this post.)

In 16 test stores (8 in Silicon Valley and 8 in Seattle) mobile Starbucks card users will actually be able to pay for their orders at point of sale (POS) with their iPhones. Starbucks has installed special barcode scanners  that are capable of scanning semacodes, which would be created by the card holder for each order. Quite literally, your iPhone becomes a mobile Starbucks card. 


So – why is scanning a barcode innovative you say? Well, conceptually it’s not. But the challenge we have faced with mobile coupons and barcode scanning stem from the fact that the mobile handset emits light and the barcode displayed is an image that is being emitted as part of the light. Current barcode scanners at POS everywhere cannot scan a code on a handset! It is an issue that many smart technologists are working on solving, and present a market-level opportunity. JC Penny, as an example, is the first national retailer experimenting with the deployment of mobile coupon scanners. It’s big news, albeit only a test in 16 stores for now (not sure what’s up with these 16 store tests). The stores required new scanners – to be specific, the Motorola DS9808 digital imager scanner, which can read 1D, 2D and PDF-417 bar codes. I trust that we’ll all agree that once mobile coupons and barcodes can be scanned at (POS) at retail everywhere, we will see another boost in mobile participation from consumers and marketers alike. Call it coupon clipping 2.0. This aint your grandma’s couponing!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider adding a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks.




Augmented reality, recently in experimentation mode and mocked at by many in the advertising industry as a gimmick, just grew up.

Layar is the first official augmented reality app, and guess what – it’s not available for the iPhone…yet. So I downloaded it onto my wife’s Android phone (thanks baby), and I am proud to say that the future is now folks. Augmented reality in mobile apps mark the beginning of something HUGE.

For the uninitiated, augmented reality (AR) is conceptually any technology that ties the real and virtual world’s together. For the mobile device, AR will utilize the built in GPS, compass and video camera, creating an unlimited potential to layer content onto any physical location in the real world.

This promo video from Layar and the video from Yelp below are great examples of the potential. I’m excited!

Yelp is officially the first iPhone application that supports augmented reality, however, it seems to be a hidden  feature in the app since it’s technically not supposed to be ready for prime time yet. If you have an iPhone 3Gs, download the Yelp app, shake the hone three times and the AR icon will appear. I know it sounds silly, but it’s actually kind of a cool way to unlock the feature. Really, I’m not trying to make a fool of you shaking your iPhone all about. Now you can point your iPhone at a restaurant and the reviews come up – sans searching. Did I mention this was going to be HUGE! Kudos for Yelp for implementing the perfect complimentary feature for their app early. They are going to kick butt with this.

And I think this is the first full fledge AR iPhone app, which is a version of the New York City subway map – outstanding!

Some examples of the first generation of AR application in marketing are sort of snoresville (except the Star Trek one, check that out below). There is definitely a novelty factor to it, but I don’t see these AR ads going very far. It’s just more of the same, with a twist – but still feeble attempts by marketers at getting consumers to care more about their ads versus providing experiences that consumers truly value. Here’s how it worked — A print ad or computer print out, is held up to your webcam (yes all of the existing marketing applications of AR require the use of your webcam), and you can then see and interact with a three dimensional advertisement on your screen. “Hey buy my stuff (in 3D)”

Here is an example of one of the Best Buy circulars that incorporated AR (you can also see more on the Best Buy in 3D website)


The GE Smart Grid ad (one of the first US-based AR ads) was more of a brand campaign and included a neat interactive component.

Super cool Star Trek Trailer (I’m not a Trekie, but totally geeked out on this one)

My buddy Adam Broitman’s new firm recently launched an AR game as a marketing asset for A&E Television’s Chris Angel. I like the application of AR in a game format. People want to play games, they don’t necessarily want to interact with advertising as much.

So there you have it folks. With the new mobile operating systems’ ability to handle this type of technology, we are about to witness an explosion of innovation that will benefit consumers and marketers alike. Think about it…any physical location, anywhere in the world can be layered with content (information, reviews, photos, videos, commerce).

 The future of augmented reality is now!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider adding a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks.

Under-the-radar chatter and credible rumors have been floating around out there regarding T-Mobile launching the first Android smart phone by the end of the year. To top that off, they are doing so on an HTC smart phone, codename DREAM, finally giving them some position in the higher-end smart phone market. For those of you who do not know what Android is, that would be Google’s mobile OS. In other words – watch out Miscrosoft, here comes Google…again.  Thanks to for a link to the FCC filing for the new device – it’s official. Yet T-Mobile is not making any big announcements just yet.

T-Mobile HTC Dream

T-Mobile HTC Dream

Anybody who knows me well will have noticed that I have been a loyal fan of HTC mobiledevices for about 3 years now (my wife would actually say that I have a mistress named HTC – actually I believe she named it more specifically – “that damn thing”, who spends more time with me than she does). It seems at times that the onlyissue with the device has nothing to do with the device, but rather the potentially buggy Microsoft OS. That being said, I’ve been rather happy with the OS, all things considered (things being the gazillion programs and apps running on my device). It does crash from time to time, but hey, I work it hard. Of particular note areSPB Mobile Shell and SPB Insight, part of an “always-on” suite of software that makes the windows mobile OS look, feel and act more like the iPhone – scratch that – better than an iPhone, complete with my select RSS feeds streaming into my device and accessible via one tap.  All this with a changeable battery, a compact enough qwerty keyboard and the ability to type horizontally (Apple, seriously?).

So what’s the big deal about Android you ask? Android provides an open source platform which will allow for the interoperability of features and applications, and a fully customizable interface and experience. The OS does not differentiate between the phone’s installed and third-party applications, it . Developers will have access to API’s in order to create applications, and consumer demand will drive the best apps home. Google has set aside a VC fund of $10 millionto fuel some of the ideas that they deem most interesting and having the most traction. With Apples iPhone apps store selling $1 million of apps per since it’s debut about a month ago, Steve Jobs was recently quoted saying that maybe this will grow to be a $1 billion dollar business “at some point in time”, to which he added, “who knows”. Sounds like it’s definitely maybe happening to me!

Granted the Apple and the iPhone are brands that have become part of pop culture, and a current cultural phenomenon, but then again, so is Google…