Mobile Me

Each month publishes some great information about changing consumer habits around the globe as well as key trends that either have or will impact business.  We have incorporated some of their facts in our blog before and will do so again today.  Some interesting stuff.

  • A survey of US adult smartphone owners found that 63% of female respondents and 73% of male respondents don’t go an hour without checking their phone (Source: Harris Interactive, June 2012).
  • Cell phone users between 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on an average day, more than 3,200 per month (Source: Pew Research Centre, September 2012).
  • An academic study of Android users’ app-habits revealed that while users spend nearly one hour on their devices a day, the average app session lasted only just over a minute (Source: DFKI, November2011).

And some examples of companies that are changing the game through mobile.

  • Peapod – US-based online grocer announced in October 2012 that it was launching over 100 QR-code based ‘virtual stores’ at train stations in major cities including Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
  • Walmart-owned Mexican supermarket chain Superama has unveiled QR code-enabled kiosks in a selection of shopping centers in Mexico City.
  • Jana enables cell phone users in the developing world to participate in market research surveys via SMS. The service is able to reward participants with free airtime, and as a result of partnering with mobile operators, reaches nearly 3.5 billion people in over 100 countries.

Really cool ideas and people are engaged in more and more mobile “minutes”.   Thanks again to the folks at Trendwatching.


Looking for Feedback

Going out to have a drink with a friend or family member, always an enjoyable time.  Meeting friends at a pub for dinner, some music, a good laugh, awesome.  But how would you feel if you were being recorded without your knowledge and that advancing facial recognition software could identify you without your permission?

So here is the situation – You and a friend walk into a neighborhood bar, order a cocktail, and, unbeknownst to you both, a camera above is scanning your faces to determine your age and gender. Your details are then combined with data on other bar patrons and then made available via a mobile application for users trolling for a good-time venue with the right genetic make-up.

This is not science fiction.  It is real and it has just been rolled out in San Francisco.  The name of the company is SceneTap

SceneTap is a maker of cameras that pick up on facial characteristics to determine a person’s approximate age and gender. The company works with venues to install these cameras and track customers. It also makes web and mobile applications that allow random observers to find out, in real-time, the male-to-female ratio, crowd size, and average age of a bar’s patrons. And there is no way to avoid it if you are there.

Launched in Chicago last July, SceneTap is now live in seven markets, including San Francisco and Austin, and has tracked more than 8.5 million people at 400 partner venues. Bamboo Hut, Bar None, milk bar, The Abassador, Fluid Ultra Lounge and 20 other San Francisco locations now have the i-spy cameras in place.

SceneTap promises that all data is collected anonymously and that nothing is recorded or stored. For nightlife-lovers, it’s a fail-proof way to get a preview of a bar or club. Venues can offer specials, and are given tools to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Marketing measurement at its finest.

Is this over the line for you?  We all know that privacy went out the window a long time ago, but now this?

In the case of Foursquare, for example, the consumer is in charge.  You decide whether you want to share this information or not. With SceneTap, the consumer has no say in the matter. Walk into one of these bars and you’re being digitally sized up — and there’s nothing you can do about it. What happens when they start to capture additional personal information such as height, weight, ethnicity, or wealth?

Let me know what you think by posting below.


What, No Chocolate?

The Webman has done a lot of traveling over the years for business and for pleasure.  About 90% of that has been domestic travel so I am hoping to inverse that to 90% international travel in the years ahead.  Time to see the world!

Most of the places that I have stayed have been your very typical hotel chains such as the Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt and all the others where we could get points and hopefully cash them in for an upgraded family vacation at a later date.  For those that have done extensive business travel, you know what I am talking about.  Not much join in this but accumulating a few million points – priceless.  Unfortunately even these small benefits are now being taken away by companies.  The last company I worked for actually had their own account for the airline miles that I traveled so that they could benefit with lower fares.  I get it but geez, let the employees get some benefit on this.

I was a very naive traveler when I first took to the airways.  The definition of a family vacation growing up was driving to Orchard Beach in the Bronx.  Out in the morning and back in the late afternoon.  Not that I am complaining as I really enjoyed my times there, but I had no experience with planes, trains or beds that were not my own.  I took my first business trip when I was 22 years old to Chicago.  At the time I was working for  a first class, industry leading beverage company and all travel, even for a peon like me was first class.  So I was picked up in a limo, flew first class to Chicago, was picked up by a limo there and was given the Presidential Suite at the hotel where I was staying.  I had never seen a bathroom with a phone in it before 🙂

Well those days have passed but as a consumer our choices for finding incredible places to stay has improved immeasurably.  AIRNB has created a website whereby you can rent just about any room almost anywhere in the world.  Yes of course there is some risk to this, but why not live a little.

AIRNB connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Guests can build real connections with their hosts, gain access to distinctive spaces, and immerse themselves in the culture of their destinations. Whether it’s an urban apartment or countryside castle, AIRNB makes it effortless to showcase your space to an audience of millions, and to find the right space at any price point, anywhere.

And they are growing like a weed.  It booked 4 million nights of accommodation in users’ homes in 2011 — that’s four times the amount of business it had done in the previous four years.  Most of this growth (75% of it) came from outside the U.S. — from Europe, for the most part. London, Paris and Berlin are three of Airbnb’s five biggest hotbeds of listing activity.

Here is a link to a really cool infographic from our friends at Mashable about AIRNB –

I have not used AIRNB myself yet but will when I can.  Let me know what your experience has been by commenting below.

All the best.