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Q&A: Tomi Ahonen on why mobile marketers shouldn’t obsess over apps

Wearing a fedora, bespoke Hong Kong suit, and shirts with “007” embroidered on the breast pocket, Tomi Ahonen stands out in a crowd.

A former Nokia executive, and almost certainly the most prolific business writer to fixate on monetizing mobile technology, Tomi has been writing about mobile marketing since 2002.

He has written the first business book on 3G: m-Profits: Making Money from 3G Services, and more recently The Insiders Guide to Mobile.

Tomi explains why mobile marketers shouldn’t obsess over apps, but start with the basics…

What are the biggest challenges for mobile marketers in the US?

American smartphone sales have just passed the point where more than half of all new phone sales are smartphones.

The installed population of smartphones is only 31%, meaning that if you do anything that works on every smartphone, every BlackBerry, every iPhone, every Android, every Windows, you are still abandoning 69% of the U.S. population.

It’s wonderful that Apple has awakened the advertising industry and marketing industry in the United States to a love of apps. But recognize, for anything that you can reach with that smartphone, you can reach a ten-times larger audience on SMS.

And then of course you do MMS, and then of course you do mobile web. It doesn’t mean that an app is bad. Just understand that the reach can be far, far bigger with SMS, with MMS, with mobile web. It is starting to be realistic to do it on QR codes. In many markets, you can do excellent mobile advertising with voice.

The problem is much bigger on the client side. They just want an iPhone app. Very often, the mobile campaign is sold, in the United States, in North America, even in Latin America, the campaign is often sold as, “Oh, by the way, if you give me 10% more money, we can also do a mobile web version of this.” And the mobile web version is the one that gets all the business, but the chief marketing officer has this cool app for his iPhone that he can show his CEO.

That’s why Kraft says, “Leave no phone behind.” The Kraft philosophy is that all mobile advertising starts with the basics; you do SMS, you do mobile web, you do MMS. And then you add other functions, premium. If you want to do it on QR codes, if you want to do AR, if you want to do an app, et cetera.

Coca-Cola has a guideline saying for their mobile advertising, 70-20-10. 70% is SMS; 20% is mobile web; 10% is apps.

For mobile advertising and mobile marketing, Japan is the undisputed leader.

Why is that?

Americans see the iconic pictures of Dr. Cooper with the Motorola phone, and they think that because Motorola in America invented the handheld cellular phone, the industry launched in America. It didn’t.

By the time the first phone was sold in Chicago, Japan had had cellular phones for four years. Finland had had them for two years. The first digital service was not launched in America; it was launched in Finland.

The first paid content onto a mobile phone was Finland. The first mobile messaging, Finland. The first mobile Internet,  Japan. The first 3G service,  Japan. The first camera phone, Japan. QR codes, near field communication, mobile wallets, all of this from Japan.

The world’s first national advertising agency specializing in mobile advertising was launched in Japan. The largest Japanese carrier, NTT DoCoMo came together with the largest Japanese advertising agency, Dentsu, to start D2 Communications. It is the largest mobile advertising agency.

Their rivals immediately copied them. The next year, KDDI, the number two carrier, launched with the second-biggest advertising agency in Japan, and the number three carrier, which was then called JPhone – it’s now called SoftBank – got together with Yahoo Japan, part of the local advertising.

They saw that mobile was becoming a medium. They saw some rudimentary advertising already coming from little independent companies – early messaging advertising and early web banner ads and so forth – and that this is going to be a media platform.

Someone is going to sell advertising professionally, and we’re going to do it. And they’re just like any other ad agency. When you go to D2C, they don’t only support their own carrier. You can put ads on television; you can put ads in print – they’re an ad agency. But they specialize in mobile.

Now, there are some very smart people in New York who know a lot about mobile marketing. But they happened to get into mobile early. They have good competence in that. Some of the big advertising agencies – Ogilvy, Saatchi, those kind of guys – they’ve also got good mobile teams. But very many of the people in this industry are still struggling.

The competence is the problem. You have to understand to do something different.

That competence is still rare in the US.

(Tomi uses his Samsung phone’s built-in projector to play a little Men in Black)

Very little mobile marketing in America has been what’s called engagement marketing, which becomes interactive when consumers co-create the marketing experience. But even that, here, we’ve had wonderful examples.

Borders bookstore experienced 16% redemption rates on their mobile coupons. Rite-Aid allows you to register your loyalty card as your cell phone number. You don’t have to carry the plastic card. And now they can send you an update reminder: “Your prescription’s running out. Please go to your doctor and get a signature.”

If you look at any of the award-winning campaigns, from Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, you go over to Scandinavia, Nordic countries, Britain, Spain, Italy, Israel, even Brazil, South Africa – they’re far, far more conceptually advanced than what we see here. And working on simpler technologies.

For example, in Hong Kong, Guinness beer sponsors the big rugby tournament called the Sevens. Imagine the Super Bowl. The teams come in from around the world to play, and of course all the fans come, for one week. Guinness sponsors a free mobile phone app. Not for smartphones. Java. It works on 75% of all phones on the planet.

It gives you everything about the tournament: Which venues, who’s playing who, what is the latest score, what are the high statistics, all the biographies, who is injured, et cetera. It is also a tourist guide for Hong Kong, so it shows the subway map; it shows where the airport is, where the embassy is, where your hotel is. It shows you which bars sell Guinness, of course. All of this is normal.

Now the clever part: In Hong Kong, the taxi drivers don’t speak English. They speak Cantonese.

So, in addition to all the normal sports stuff, the touristy stuff, and the drinking stuff, it has a push-to-talk button on a list of simple tourist phrases that you might want to speak. It’s not an intelligent real-time translation machine. It’s just very simple. Someone has recorded the saying, in very clear voice, in Cantonese. The text on your link is in English. So you’re an Australian who wants to tell the taxi driver, “Please drive me to my hotel.” You click on the button; you show it to the guy, the taxi driver, and it speaks Chinese to the taxi driver.

Also, it has all the flirty stuff, you know: “What is a pretty lady like you doing in a sexy bar like this?” or whatever.

Another example, from Japan, is CoCo Presso, which is an ice coffee brand. You can buy anything in Japan in a vending machine. CoCo Presso put up giant man-sized posters in the subway, offering you a free coffee. Scan with your cell phone, and you get the coupon. Your phone shows an arrow: the nearest vending machine is here. Usually, like, six feet away.

You walk to the vending machine. Every vending machine in Japan is, of course, cell phone-enabled, so you can pay directly. Half of Japanese have their bank accounts on their cell phones. Normally you’d just charge it to your phone bill. But in this case, you get a free drink, because it’s a free coupon.

Tomorrow, you’re thinking, “Oh, great, I know where I get the free coffee.” You get the coupon. You bring it to this vending machine. The vending machine says, “Sorry, you have already redeemed the coupon at this vending machine, but this coupon is valid if you can find another one of my vending machines.”

Because of course they wanted you, the consumer, to learn where their vending machines are. And over every one of them, of course, there’s a big poster saying, “Here is the next one! Come here!”

If the Japanese are so advanced, why is California the envy of the global tech world?

The Japanese were much too successful domestically. They didn’t care about the world.

The Japanese domestic market is big enough,  the population is a third the size of the United States, that you can sustain very big companies. Sharp and Panasonic and Toshiba and Fujitsu and Sony and the big carriers of Japan don’t need to look at the rest of the world – they have a huge domestic market.

Their networks were very high capacity. They stopped selling 2G phones when the iPhone – a 2G phone – was launched. The original iPhone 2G was, on its launch date was already obsolete in Japan. They’re all 3G phones now. For four years, all phones sold in Japan have been 3G phones. Because the technology, the infrastructure, the market was so advanced, the local vendors found it easier to sell to the Japanese market and not bother about the rest, which seemed to be old-fashioned to them.

So, Japanese consumer got very advanced devices and advanced services, and the ecosystem grew. But they had a very hard time crossing the seas to bring this to other networks on older technologies, on lesser phones, on less friendly ecosystems, and so forth.

I’ve seen analyses that with hindsight, everyone was reading the wrong analysts. One of the particularly popular beliefs in Japan was that the cell phone industry was at saturation around the year 2002, 2003, 2004. So, there was no point for Toshiba or Sharp or Panasonic or Sony to try to fight for the cell phones with Nokia at the time, because the world had reached saturation.

In reality, the world doubled total penetration of phones, and doubled again. Strategic decisions that were made on what seemed like good information at the time ended up being faulty.

This has resulted in what’s called the Galapagos Island syndrome, which is the phenomenon where the Japanese market developed ever more Japan-unique kinds of experiences. Part of it is all kinds of Japanese things; but it’s very strong specifically in mobile.

That’s the difference from the US, where they had an eye on global products from the beginning?

Yes, yes, and same for Europe. European countries are so small –Finland has five million people; you can fit two Finnish populations in New York City. Norway, five million people. Denmark, five million people. Sweden, seven million people. These are tiny countries in terms of populations. Immediately, they want to collaborate, and create bigger markets.

The iPhone awakened the Americans to mobile opportunity. The West Coast was kind of seeing the end of the internet opportunity, the PC opportunity. It was getting ever more difficult to make money there. You get a couple big companies that make it – the Googles, the Amazons, the eBays, the Yahoos – and everyone else is kind of struggling: “Where’s my place?” But on mobile, there’s a huge opportunity, thanks to the iPhone.

Everyone now believes, “Okay, the next internet will be in my pocket. Let’s make money out of this next wave.”

Source: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8171-q-a-tomi-ahonen-on-why-mobile-marketers-shouldn-t-obsess-over-apps?utm_medium=email&utm_source=topic


1955 – 2011 Thanks Steve


Why the Pipes Are Broken in Mobile Advertising

There are some really interesting views here, especially given we are now seeing the emergence of the Demand Side Platform (DSP) providers coming into the market making ‘ad buys’ easier for media buyers.

Embarking on a mobile ad buy is diving into a dark, deep sea crammed full of startups you’ve likely never heard of: Celtra, Mojiva, Medialets, inMobi, just to name a few. It’s brimming with a lot of little companies — and a couple of big stakeholders like Apple and Google — scrambling to build the infrastructure to make advertising work in a medium that some have said will be bigger than TV.

Mobile Marketing

Ad Age’s latest report digs into how marketers can use mobile tools to get promotions into consumers’ hands at the point of purchase.

Someday maybe, but right now mobile is behind — about $59 billion behind TV, in fact. Despite all the excitement around smartphones, there still aren’t the standard tools mobile advertising will need to even hope to reach the $60 billion in ad spending TV pulled in last year, according to Kantar Media. This year, mobile ad spending in messaging, display ads, video and search is expected to top $1 billion in the U.S. for the very first time, according eMarketer.

“There are challenges at scale,” said Brandon Berger, chief digital officer for Ogilvy Worldwide. “Buying $30 million worth of mobile media is going to be daunting.”

There are 234 million Americans older than 13 using mobile devices at ComScore’s last count. Those consumers, of course, are all using different devices: some carry tablets, others iPhones, Android phones and non-internet feature phones. Add in that advertisers and their agencies don’t have standard means to create or measure mobile ads across a number of apps, sites or devices, it sure will be tough for the category to go from $1 billion to even $10 billion.

“The real pain point [in mobile advertising] is removing the friction in spending the way that brands want to spend,” said Eric Litman, chairman-CEO for Medialets, a mobile rich-media company. Marketers report that device fragmentation and lack of standardized metrics and ad formats are among mobile advertising’s biggest challenges, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recent survey of 300 U.S. marketers that use mobile advertising.

To date, pervasive systems in serving, measuring and creating mobile displays ads, especially souped up rich media-ads, are largely missing. There are companies offering these services, which have helped online display and rich-media advertising scale up to $8 billion in U.S. spending in recent years, but there are still too many. While Medialets provides the technology and tracking for rich mobile ads with lots of bells and whistles, but so does Crisp, Celtra, Apple’s iAd and Google’s Admob. The problem: too many isolated solutions that work for specific ad networks, apps or devices, not enough connective tissue to make it possible to make one ad, with one means for measurement, that can run in multiple places.

“Consolidation hasn’t yet happened yet,” said Martin Lange, global head of mobile for OgilvyOne. “With mobile, it’s a lot of startups knocking on our door and whether they have 150 or 10 people they’ve all got something valid.”

“I’ve probably had four or five meetings today with vendors and startups that are trying to address all of the scaling and operational challenges that we have,” said Paul Gelb, Razorfish mobile practice lead.

There’s also no go-to third-party source to find the big audiences in apps or mobile websites, like a ComScore or Nielsen for mobile. (Both companies are in the process of building products to measure mobile.) And there are no all-encompassing ad-servers that work on all mobile properties or ad networks so agencies can keep track of campaigns in one standard way.

Google, which owns DoubleClick for advertisers (a standard online for tags that let agencies know whether all ads contracted actually ran and if consumers clicked on them), is extending that service to measure mobile campaigns. But that’s still different from tracking with Apple’s iAd. Apple does accept third-party tracking, but only to count ads served, not for the clicks or interaction rates, which are both widespread metrics online.

Add in the fact that ad creative can’t always port from the major mobile ad networks to publishers’ individual mobile sites and apps. Apple’s super-slick iAds can’t be used on other networks or in publishers’ apps, even though the advertiser sometimes has to pay to have those ads produced. If advertisers want to build rich media ads on the three biggest networks Google, Apple and Millennial — the best places to buy mobile ads at scale today — they have to build different ads for each.

“If you’re an advertiser and you’re looking to run a rich-media campaign like iAd on just [Apple] devices, you’re already cutting out half the market,” said Tom Limongello, VP-marketing for yet another mobile rich-media company, Crisp Wireless.

“With these creative challenges, advertisers with smaller budgets are forced to pick only one network or publisher. Conversely, big mobile ad buys spread across many apps or networks are tough to measure in one holistic picture, said Razorfish’s Mr. Gelb.

These challenges are, to some degree, history repeating itself. Just years ago, the infrastructure that now powers online banner ads sprung up from a fragmented field. From a wide pool, some companies were purchased, others perished and a manageable stable of providers now remain to run the pipes that make online ads an increasingly bigger business. In following that formula, however, mobile may suffer.

“We’re a little bit held prisoner; a lot of people saw what happened online and are trying to race to the winner’s circle and are making claims that they have the right solutions for mobile,” said David Gwozdz, CEO of mobile ad-server and network Mojiva. That’s because entrepreneurs are very aware of the potential for extremely lucrative sales of ad tech companies — in 2007, for example, Google bought DoubleClick for $3 billion in cash.

With increasingly more attention, mobile advertising’s infrastructural challenges will likely be worked out in time. Trade groups like the IAB and Mobile Marketing Association are circling the wagons to set standards in ad sizes, placement and functionality with the help of major mobile ad networks and publishers such as The Weather Channel and CNN. However, Apple, which owned nearly 19% of the U.S. mobile display market last year, according to research firm IDC, is not active in setting industry standards, said Michael Becker, MMA’s managing director for North America.

All that said, the explosive growth in smart phonesales and lessons learned from internet ads will likely hasten things along. “What took 10 years to really refine on desktop, mobile is pulling together in a year,” Mahi de Silva, CEO of another mobile-ad company, Admarvel.

Source: http://adage.com/article/digital/pipes-broken-mobile-advertising/228954/


McDonald’s firms up mobile strategy to drive in-store traffic

Fast food giant McDonald’s is making a bigger play in the mobile space with the launch of a new application that drives consumers to the nearest location and illustrates the company’s commitment to offer improved nutritional choices.

The mobile app is part of a national marketing initiative that includes a long-term plan, which features ongoing menu evolution and nutrition awareness communication. The app is available for free download in Apple’s App Store.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest burger chain, serving nearly 47 million customers daily.

Food for thought
The McDonald’s app features a restaurant locator and nutrition information.

Hungry consumers can search for the nearest McDonald’s location by entering their ZIP code.

Customers can also search restaurants by state.

After finding the closest location, consumers can browse a map and find directions on how to get there, view employment opportunities, send comments, view a calendar of events and email the manager.

Customers can also see the location’s hours.

Additionally, the app lets consumers view nutrition information.

Customers can browse nutritional information by category such as sandwiches, french fries, breakfast or any of the McDonald’s McCafe drinks.

There, consumers can browse calorie, protein, total fat and carbohydrate information, amongst others.

The McDonalds iPhone app

Consumers can find the nearest location

Mobile jobs
The app also features a careers tab for consumers interested in applying for a job at the company.

Interested applicants can view a video that highlights McDonald’s employees and how potential employees can grow with the company.

Consumers can also search available positions via the app.

Source: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/10545.html


Research In Motion: Deep in the ‘doo-doo’…and even the employees think so

There’s no question Research In Motion is in the midst of a major transitional period. The company is planning to launch a brand new product line based on a brand new operating system within the next 12 months, and even though the first device born out of RIM’s new QNX OS was impressive in some ways, it was incomplete. There still is a chance for RIM to deliver some really interesting competitive products, but time is quickly running out, as we have written time and time again. The thing is, RIM has always been a company controlled by two people — Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. For all the things that have worked, they have missed the boat countless times and we’re now seeing the results.

We have received an open letter to Mike and Jim from a high-level RIM employee (whose identity we have verified), and in an amazingly honest and passionate plea, this letter gives fascinating insights into what RIM must fix, and fast. RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the open letter in its entirety after the break.

P.S. If you’re an employee of RIM and want to send us your thoughts and feelings on the company, you can send them to us via email or leave a comment below.

UPDATE: Following this post, RIM issued an official response to the letter below. The company’s full response can be viewed here.

To the RIM Senior Management Team:

I have lost confidence.

While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone — the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.

Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base. You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.

Before I get into the meat of the matter, I will say I am not part of a large group of bitter employees wishing to embarrass us. Rather, I believe these points need to be heard and I desperately want RIM to regain its position as a successful industry leader. Our carriers, distributors, alliance partners, enterprise customers, and our loyal end users all want the same thing… for BlackBerry to once again be leading the pack.

We are in the middle of major “transition” and things have never been more chaotic. Almost every project is falling further and further behind schedule at a time when we absolutely must deliver great, solid products on time. We urge you to make bold decisions about our organisational structure, about our culture and most importantly our products.

While we anxiously wait to see the details of the streamlining plan, here are some suggestions:

1) Focus on the End User experience

Let’s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness — it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and “uniquely BlackBerry” with the QNX platform.

Let’s start an internal innovation revival with teams focused on what users will love instead of chasing “feature parity” and feature differentiation for no good reason (Adobe Flash being a major example). When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn’t already on other platforms?

Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time — yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It’s incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren’t using or deeply familiar with our competitor’s products.

2) Recruit Senior SW Leaders & enable decision-making

I’m going to say what everyone is thinking… We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management. Teams still aren’t talking together properly, no one is making or can make critical decisions, all the while everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind. We are demotivated. Just look at who our major competitors are: Apple, Google & Microsoft. These are three of the biggest and most talented software companies on the planet. Then take a look at our software leadership teams in terms of what they have delivered and their past experience prior to RIM… It says everything.

3) Cut projects to the bone.

There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.

We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.

Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that aren’t ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term.

Look at Apple in 1997 for tips here. I really want you to watch this video because it has never been more relevant. It is our friend Steve Jobs in 97 and it may as well be you speaking to RIM employees and partners today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEXae1j6EY

4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us

We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it’s true — BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.

Developing for BlackBerry is painful, and despite what you’ve been told, things haven’t really changed that much since Jamie Murai’s letter. Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer. Then there’s Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3… just such a pleasure to drive. Developers want and need quality tools.

If we create great tools, we will see great work. Offer shit tools and we shouldn’t be surprised when we see shit apps.

The truth is, no one in RIM dares to tell management how bad our tools still are. Even our closest dev partners do their best to say it politely, but they will never bite the hand that feeds them. The solution? Recruit serious talent, buy SDK/API specialist companies, throw a truckload of money at it… Let’s do whatever it takes, and quickly!

5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire

25 million iPad users don’t care that it doesn’t have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? I’ll answer that for you: it’s because that’s all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing. I’ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn’t have. People buy product B because they want and lust after product B.

Also an important note regarding our marketing: a product’s technical superiority does not equal desire, and therefore sales… How many Linux laptops are getting sold? How did Betamax go? My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn’t.

BlackBerry Messenger has been our standout, yet we wasted our marketing on strange stories from a barber shop to a horse wrangler. I promise you, this did nothing to help us in the mind of the average consumer.

We need an inventive and engaging campaign that focuses on what we are about. People buy into a brand / product not just because of features, but because of what it stands for and what it delivers to them. People don’t buy “what you do,” people buy “why you do it.” Take 3 minutes to watch the this video starting from the 2min mark: http://youtu.be/qp0HIF3SfI4

6) No Accountability – Canadians are too nice

RIM has a lot of people who underperform but still stay in their roles. No one is accountable. Where is the guy responsible for the 9530 software? Still with us, still running some important software initiative. We will never achieve excellence with this culture. Just because someone may have been a loyal RIM employee for 7 years, it doesn’t mean they are the best Manager / Director / VP for that role. It’s time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out. We have far too many people in critical roles that fit this description. I can hear the cheers of my fellow employees now.

7) The press and analysts are pissing you off. Don’t snap. Now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia.

The public’s questions about dual-CEOs are warranted. The partnership is not broken, but on the ground level, it is not efficient. Maybe we need our Eric Schmidt reign period.

Yes, four years ago we beat Microsoft when everyone said Windows Mobile with Direct Push in Exchange would kill us. It didn’t… in fact we grew stronger.

However, overconfidence clouds good decision-making. We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won’t work. We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth… it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible.

Jim, in referring to our current transition recently said: “No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It’s almost never done, and it’s way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die.”

To avoid this death, perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers… They are our lifeblood.

8) Democratise. Engage and interact with your employees — please!

Reach out to all employees asking them on how we can make RIM better. Encourage input from ground-level teams—without repercussions—to seek out honest feedback and really absorb it.

Lastly, we’re all reading the news and many are extremely nervous, especially when we see people get fired. We need an injection of confidence: share your strategy and ask us for support. The headhunters have already started circling and we are at risk of losing our best people.

Now would be a great time to internally re-brand and re-energize the workplace. For example, rename the company to just “BlackBerry” to signify our new focus on one QNX product line. We should also address issues surrounding making RIM an enjoyable workplace. Some of our offices feel like Soviet-era government workplaces.

The timing is perfect to seriously evaluate at our position and make these major changes. We can do it!

Sincerely,

A RIM Employee

Source: http://www.bgr.com/2011/06/30/open-letter-to-blackberry-bosses-senior-rim-exec-tells-all-as-company-crumbles-around-him/


M-commerce – coming soon to a location near you

Coming to a shop, restaurant, cinema, carwash, hair salon….the rise and rise of hyper local, m-commerce consumer offerings….

New York – A Carrabba’s Italian Grill executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2011 conference said that offering a mobile incentive via an SMS or location-based services campaign is key to engage new and exisiting consumers.

The Italian concept restaurant chain is using mobile Web sites, SMS messaging and location-based social media to help drive acquisition, engagement and activation. During the “Carrabba’s Italian Grill: How mobile enhances the restaurant retail experience” keynote, the executive discussed how the company is exploring mobile display and search, as well as customer relationship management.

The conference was organized by Mobile Commerce Daily.

“For me to ask someone to give me their email address requires a certain amount of trust,” said Jamie Miller, brand marketing manager of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Tampa, FL.”

“To turn around ask someone for their telephone number requires a heck of a lot more trust,” he said.

Leveraging that trust to communicate with customers in a meaningful way is a central focus of the chain’s mobile strategy.

In addition to the personal nature of mobile, other reasons for its attractiveness to Carrabba’s is the number of tools mobile offers as well as its immediate, hyperlocal and addictive nature.

Loyalty tie-in
“If our Staten Island location wants to address peak hours, we can deploy mobile tactics to specifically drive this,” Mr. Miller said. “That hyperlocal nature is very important to us.”

To drive customer acquisition, Carrabba’s uses any real estate it has, including check presenter inserts and banners in restaurants to communicate about its mobile program.

It is also leveraging its loyalty program, which has more than one million members, to send emails inviting members to experience Carrabba’s mobile Web site.

The company polled its loyalty program members about what components of a mobile Web site are most important to them.

Location information was the number one response, followed by menu information and mobile ordering.

The mobile Web site serves as the hub of Carrabba’s mobile activity.

The chain focuses on ways to provide users a reason to visit the site and then provide content that will motivate them to visit a restaurant.

“I wanted to enhance our user experience with our mobile Web site, making it quick and easy for customers to get the information they want,” Mr. Miller said.

Since the launch of the mobile Web site, Carrabba’s has seen a 22 percent increase in overall Web site traffic, including 76.3 percent new visitors to mobile site.

The chain’s SMS program started with 12 restaurants.

The company sent a text message with an offer once a week to those in its mobile database.

This was done to engage with these customers and learn from them.

“I really wanted to learn things like what offers drove them and what time to end out messages,” Mr. Miller said.

There was a 68 percent redemption rate of deployed offers.

Carrabba’s built a mobile database for each of its locations.

This enabled the company to create offers that address the needs of specific locations, whether it is to drive Sunday sales, bar sales, off-peak sales or catering.

The program was then expanded to include engagement messaging in addition to offer messages, with offers going out once a week.

The offers are sent to recipients weekly messages and asks them what their favorite dishes are.

One of the goals of these efforts was gain insight into whether it was discounting people who are already coming into a location or bringing in incremental visits.

Respondents to a poll asking customers about this indicated 73 percent a mobile offer drove an incremental visit.

“This shows we’re providing value to customers as well as to each one of our locations,” Mr. Miller said.

Foursquare builds relationships
Carrabba’s mobile efforts also include a partnership with Foursquare, which was introduced last year.

According to Mr. Miller, the goal with Foursquare is to reward silent, but regular customers.

The company introduced an offer providing a complimentary dessert offer to each Carrabba’s “Mayor.”

This resulted in 22,401 check-ins.

The offer was later changed to a loyalty special offer, giving customers a complimentary appetizer on every fifth check-in with the purchase of an entrée. There were 28,956 check-ins with the new offer.

“Foursquare is a conversation starter and relationship builder,” Mr. Miller said.

Source: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/9940.html


Three Ways Google Could Push Adoption of Android Market’s In-App Billing

Charles Hudson is a co-author on our Inside Virtual Goods series of industry reports, a co-founder of Android game developer Bionic Panda Games and a partner at SoftTech VC. Bionic Panda recently began using Google in-app billing, which finally came out to consumers at the end of March after several months of anticipation from the Android developer community. Hudson also used to work at Google on new business development.

We recently decided to launch Google In-App Billing in our first game, Aqua Pets. As a matter of background, we had been using PayPal to monetize our original game and were beginning to get user requests for support for credit cards. About one week ago, we released Google In-App Billing for Aqua Pets and decided to see how it would perform.

Our one major reservation with moving forward with Google in-app billing was the relationship between the 30 percent commission and what we anticipated the payment-enabled customer audience to be. While we don’t develop for the iOS platform, there are two compelling reasons why we think the 30 percent that Apple takes makes sense:

  • Apple has over 200 million credit cards on file already, so they’re bringing a large payment-enabled audience to application developers and they have every right to charge for access to that audience.
  • Apple kept alternative options off the platform from the very early days, which meant that just about everyone had to live with the same constraints around what they could and could not used to monetize. This is markedly different from other platforms, such as Facebook

After a week of using Google In-App Billing, we decided to dive into some of the data for our first week of paying users. Google does pass a field called “Account Age” that allows you to determine how long a given user who successfully transacts has had a payment-enabled Google Checkout account. We ran the data on our first batch of paying customers to determine the distribution of account age and charted the data below:

This is an admittedly small sample size of transactions and Google In-App Billing has only been publicly available for less than a month. However, what was of particular interest to us was the dark blue slice — nearly 25 percent of the users who transacted have had Google Checkout payment capabilities for less than a week and a meaningful number of them had account ages of 0 or 1, which means they essentially enrolled in Checkout to purchase in our application. Another 21 percent had only had payment capabilities in Checkout for less than a month, still relatively new to the world of spending money on applications through Google.

We really do want to see Google In-App Billing succeed and succeed quickly — it would be good for anyone building paid or free applications on the Android platform. If I were trying to drive broad adoption, there are three things Google could do and they are not mutually exclusive:

1. Compensate application developers who are enrolling net new Google Checkout customers: One way in which Google could make In-App Billing more attractive to developers would be to pay developers who enroll net-new Google Checkout customers. A small bounty of $5 to 10 per activated account would be interesting for most developers and would give the community a stronger incentive to push it more aggressively to users. A bounty of that size would be inline with what other payment options, namely PayPal, have paid historically to activate new users. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for Google to consider compensating developers who are helping to acquire customers.

2. Make Google In-App Billing mandatory for all application developers and enforce it: One other way to drive more broad adoption of In-App Billing is to strictly enforce usage of Google’s In-App Billing as a required and perhaps exclusive way to pay for in-app purchases across the network of applications in the Google Android Market. I do think that having end-users consistently see the Google Checkout experience across applications will make it feel more familiar and help hopefully grow the base of payment-enabled users. Having a standardized, simple, consistent way to checkout and buy things in apps that feels familiar to all users would be a net benefit for the platform.

3. Waive all of the fees for the rest of the year: One objection that developers have to rolling out Google In-App Billing is the 30 percent commission that Google is charging. There’s a simple solution to that — just remove it for the remainder of 2011. Yes, it will cost Google money. But zero-cost transaction processing is attractive to every developer out there and would likely spur some of the folks sitting on the fence to integrate in-app billing into their apps and encourage users to use it. They can reinstate fees in 2012 with a larger base of installed users and a happier set of developers who’ve seen the benefits of using in-app billing in their own applications.

At the end of the day, it’s Google’s platform and they’re free to do what they choose. But enabling platform-level in-app payments should be a priority and everyone will benefit when the solution is more widely used.

Source: http://www.insidemobileapps.com/