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Mobilized Health is coming to an iPhone near you. Is this the year of mHealth?

Posted by on 5:16 am in Blog | Comments Off on Mobilized Health is coming to an iPhone near you. Is this the year of mHealth?

All sources indicate that Apple’s next frontier is the Health sector. Tech prognosticators rely on endless public data, corporate espionage and outright rumormongering to predict Apple’s next innovations. Given that the impact of even a simple release of stomach gas from Tim Cook’s lips can wreak havoc on the stock market, its become an industry to guess what the Wizards of Cupertino are going to offer up next. It seems almost daily that prolific bloggers, tech tastemakers, financial sites, news organizations and mac addicts serve up daily doses of insight on Apple’s plans for domination. Because Apple’s new offerings impact so many different groups of people, its not surprising to find this level of obsessive focus. Despite Android’s vastly larger user base, and Samsung’s seemingly Big Brother-like presence over the last few years, Apple is still looked at as the driver of the mobilized marketplace. Consumers tend to adopt (or at least try) Apple’s innovations, and Apple’s connected ecosystem offers integration on all fronts: retail, home, workplace. A number of recent moves by Apple make it clear they are making a huge investment in health-related products and features in its next round of devices and software.   For many readers, this is old news. But for the average Apple /iOS/iPhone consumer, the details and implications of this will be far-reaching and can potentially coalesce a score of past efforts and techs that have been hammering on the mobile health door for the last 10 years. If adopted, Apple’s health, wellness and fitness innovations could open up a massive, long hoped for opportunity for consumers, doctors, health professionals, hospitals, insurance companies and the general “wellness” industry. This is no shock. Health Care on the whole represents a staggering 1.6 Trillion dollar industry. Despite their stated and likely genuine altruistic intentions, its not surprising that Apple wants to get a slice of that pie. These ambitions are clearly evident by a number of recent developments:   One recent move uncovered by Apple Insider, is an Apple Patent filing entitled “Wrist Pedometer Step Detection”.  This patent filing details a program where sensors placed inside of a fitness-tracking device (likely a watch or band – more on that later) would interpret motion and accurately record and represent the users activity. Device patents and info-leaks speak of Apple’s imminent “iWatch” (or whatever they plan to call it), which points to usage for medical, health and fitness related integrations (not to mention the usual fawning and drooling that comes with the prospect of Apple building ANY new gadget). Pundits report a planned wireless tether between the iPhone and the iWatch that will allow a host of intriguing possibilities for tracking, data gathering and interpretation. Recently, Apple showed its hand by revealing Healthbook, a new app that will be part of the standard OS apps in the new operating system, OS 8, which will be a dedicated Health application. The details of this new app show an incredible level of sophistication and scope – allowing users to measure not only weight loss, sleep and fitness tracking, but blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, respiratory and oxygen saturation. Apple is clearly looking to provide consumers with a virtual/mobilized health center – and the implications of this are unlimited from a physician/patient data sharing and hospital visit perspective...

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Brands without a Strategy – Google’s Mobile Wasteland

Posted by on 8:02 pm in Blog | Comments Off on Brands without a Strategy – Google’s Mobile Wasteland

Google is doing all it can to force brands over the mobile cliff.  It’s not working apparently. Nor is the obvious fact (glaringly obvious at this point) that the entire realm of online consumer media consumption is moving to mobile.  The charts included in this post are from a recent Business Insider article that speaks to how Top US brands still are not mobile-ready. In my experience from being on the other side of this syndrome,  the issue resides at the top of the food chain at the C level.  Most, if not all,  rank and file brand people are fully aware of this glaring omission.  Speaking to them and their exasperation is profound:   “I know. We are aware of this and we are on top of it.  Stay tuned” or “I know, I know. It’s a big missing right now, and from what I hear, Exec Mgmt. is working on a global mobile portfolio strategy” or some gobbled-y-gook like that.  More likely, the bureaucrats are still trying to figure it out, or are hiding under their desks waiting for IT to make sense of it or for some agency partner to tell them what to do.  The bottom line is that it’s not getting done. For those who view the absence of mobile-specific web content as an indicator of no mobile strategy, many large top brands, like Snuggle, for instance, still have no mobile strategy.  Now in all fairness to Snuggle, they may be in the process of building mobile content while I write this post, but putting up a simple mobile-friendly landing page should take a week at most.  And at this stage, it’s a week too late.  You know that I have been beating the drum about this issue a lot on these pages, but it defies understanding when billion dollar brands can’t get out of their way fast enough to move in step with the times. This is the reason that smaller start-up brands are able to appear more innovative and gain more traction from mobile users.  Fewer executive layers, less committee, less pontificating, leaner IT cycles.  It’s not that smaller brands are any smarter, or better marketers even.  They are not.  P&G and their ilk are brilliant folks – they just have created monstrous battle ships that are hard (or impossible) to turn around.  And making a billion dollars a year globally makes it easier to rest back on their laurels and “work on a cohesive strategy that takes into account all of our key stakeholders while maintaining our commitment to excellence for our loyal consumers” blah blah. The Business Insider study conducted by Pure Oxygen Labs, indicates that 44% of Fortune 100 brands have no mobile content strategy – and only 56% are currently serving mobile-optimized content.  Only 45% have built dedicated mobile sites, while only 11% deployed responsive websites. Google’s new requirements support a Responsive Design strategy – and this makes sense – as the development of a true Responsive Strategy would require a great deal more thinking and organizational alignment than just creating a simple mobile-friendly approach.  Responsive Design is not a development plan. It’s a Strategic approach that impacts all online and off-line digital content.  Developing a Responsive strategy would in fact FORCE all executive marketing layers to align and orchestrate across...

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Don’t wait for the money

Posted by on 4:39 am in Blog | 0 comments

Don’t wait for the money

It’s clear that the old school approach to media buying is behind the lack of commitment to mobile spending.  I am not a true believer in the idea that traditional media strategies (banners and rich media units) will ultimately work in mobile, but before the riddle is solved one thing is certain:  we need more data in the channel to figure it out.  Since no brands are offering free placements, there needs to be a much greater level of spending to definitively see what works and what doesn’t.  Until then, these drips and drabs of trickle-funds will not yield anything compelling enough to open the floodgates.   We are at a strange inflection point in mobile marketing, where virtually all brand marketers finally agree that mobile is real – hell, critical – but no one really knows the “formula” to unleash its power from a ROI perspective.  So, brands wait for the money to return and keep one toe in the water until it arrives.  What’s needed is something that won’t likely happen:  an industry consortium of brands across verticals who collectively agree to spend another 10-20% of their media and marketing dollars to mobile in 13 Q4 and 14Q2/2 to flood the channel with campaigns (as well planned and strategically sound as is possible of course) to generate some real data that can be evaluated by mid-year 2014.  Someone will make it through the glass ceiling.  This will never happen.  Brands will continue their Hamlet-like approach to mobile – pontificating, philosophizing, ruminating, doubting and waiting for their money to return....

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Welcome “Home” Facebook Phone: Updated

Posted by on 7:48 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Welcome “Home” Facebook Phone: Updated

Ok, so here’s a more accurate and current update to my earlier post about the so-called “Facebook phone”. Seems like what Zuck is doing is now allowing any Android phone user to essentially turn their device into a “Facebook phone” by simply downloading an app called “Home”.   This app places a new Facebook layer over the existing Android OS, which makes Facebook the primary interface for all basic phone functions.  I was accurate that there will be a new device from HTC called the HTC First – which will be the first phone to be sold with Home pre-loaded into the OS.  But, on April 12, any Android user can go to the Google Play store and download Home and turn their Android phone into a Facebook phone. According to TechCrunch:  Anyone who has the most recent version of the current Facebook App as well as Messenger will be able to download Home. If so, you will apparently get some kind of banner alert to download Home from the Google Play store. When you launch it the first time, you can decide to “try once”, or choose “always” to swap in Home for you home screen from then on. Facebook will try to make Home available on tablets within a few months, and it’s supposed to be a great experience there. Every month, Facebook will release a Home update to add new features and make it accessible to new devices.   The Newsfeed feature will be called “Cover Feed” and will display what are called “Chat Heads”, or little bubbles with the face/head of your friends when you receive a chat or message from them. These Chat Heads will appear at the top of the screen within any app or feature that you use on the phone and can be ignored or responded to via some swiping options.  Overall, the idea is to fully layer or integrate Facebook into the entire Android experience, which for all intents and purposes makes the Facebook experience a 24/7 always on environment for users.  This is could be a real boon for people who already rely heavily on Facebook for updates, chats, invites, groupings, etc. on Facebook – and weave these functions more ubiquitously into their daily use.  It could also drive people to WANT to integrate Facebook’s tools into their usage if they find that the new Home OS works well, and provides more speed and connectivity to their social network.  This is an interesting and very clever strategy.  By creating a universally accessible app for any Android user, Facebook has created a very robust distribution strategy.  You have to think that a lot of Android users are at the least going to download it and try it (the Home app allows for a “try it once” option- smart) and play with it for a little while.  Some will stick, some will not.  But this strategy exponentially increases the pool of potential users.  Amazingly, Google cooperated with this – which is shocking frankly, as Google’s entire Android strategy is going to get killed by this new app.  Here’s why:  One of Google’s primary objectives for the development of Android was to force users to rely on Google’s proprietary tools: Gmail, Search, Google Maps, Google Chat, etc. and hence continue to feed the beast with...

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The new Facebook phone. What’s the deal?

Posted by on 3:53 pm in Blog | 0 comments

The new Facebook phone.  What’s the deal?

Facebook is announcing the launch of their first “Facebook Phone” today at 1pm.  Alot of buzz on this new gadget is filling the net.  I thought I’d weigh in. What is it? First its important for folks to understand that Facebook is not “building” its own phone.  They do not have the desire nor muscle to get into the device manufacturing business.  Apparently, this will be a new customized version of Android that will offer a fully immersive Facebook integration – its an Application Layer to the existing Android OS that essentially makes Facebook ( and all of its components) the interface for the user that uses the phone.  They are partnering with HTC to create this new version – apparently called the HTC First, and bring it market in a very opportunistic way.  They are looking to target the midlevel mobile phone users that do not currently own the higher end smartphones like iPhone 5 or Galaxy III –  these folks are more inclined to “upgrade” to a more affordable phone that gets them into the more sophisticated device market without hitting their wallets on the higher end phones that are out of reach.  This is a good strategy as this integration and device may be the impetus for these users to make that switch.   Plus these people tend to rely a lot on Facebook as a core social connection platform.   Some background: As we have seen over the last few years, Facebook has been building and acquiring a suite of Facebook components that all work as a part of the larger Facebook ecosystem:  Messenger, Instagram, Voice Calling, etc, and all of these sub-apps can be independently placed on both iPhones and Android phones today.   So, over time, Facebook has essentially been creating their own “replacement” apps for all of the core OS apps of iOS and Android – in an attempt to gain more user integration on an adhoc basis.   The issue for them in this scenario, is that due to their landlord/tenant status on iPhones and current Android phones they are subject to the laws inherent to being inside of a controlled environment.  What this new concept does is free them from those shackles and allows Facebook to be the main if only choice for users to perform their basic functions.  The thinking here is that a vast chunk of Facebook users are on the Facebook app for a majority of the time each day anyway – looking at their feeds, sharing updates, texting their friends and sharing and viewing pictures, etc.  This new device will make those functions the core of the experience.  The main screen will apparently look like a Facebook welcome screen and all of the user interactions will be done through Facebook’s platform.    So, why are they really doing this?  At the end of the day its data.  Data is Facebook’s mother’s milk.  The more user data that they can cull, the more targeted their ads can be and more revenue they can drive.  So, getting those other pesky interfaces out of the way allows Facebook to essentially be the entire data gateway for this device and hence will be allow them to capture ALL of the user data that is captured on the phone.  International and...

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Groundhog Day: Where have the risk-takers gone?

Posted by on 3:01 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Groundhog Day:  Where have the risk-takers gone?

Over the last year, I’ve found myself having the same exact conversation with my colleagues over and over again – and it seems like it won’t stop. Basically the gist of it sounds something like this: “@#$$%$%@. Why won’t (input name of Brand or CMO, or Marketing Director here) actually try something risky and innovative for once? I’m tired of bringing ideas to the table, only to have them road-blocked by these bureaucrats. They demand fresh ideas, but they never have the onions to actually execute. Why am I wasting my $#$%*!@ time?” It seems that there’s some law, similar to Moore’s Law, which postulates that the more new marketing innovations are made available to brands, the more risk-averse brands become.  This “Inertia Curve” doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Too much choice sends marketers under a rock for some reason. I’m sure the economy and job security are a large part of this – but that can’t be all.  It just can’t.  We all know that down times like this are the BEST times for making waves. So where are the thinkers?  Where did they go? Marketing professionals (myself included) are pulling their hair out performing acrobatic Bo jangles in the conference room, while our clients pore over mindless ROI projections and assess “brand risk” scenarios.  It’s enough to make one throw in the towel.  Media buyers and planners will always get a seat at the table, but talk about something fresh like mobile, and brands become Hamlet. I read an excellent article about A.G. Alley’s new book ‘Playing to Win’ where the marketing titan discusses his assessment of today’s corporate brand culture.  He summed up exactly what me and my colleagues are feeling a lot of today. “They think they have a hot product or hot service, and these don’t last forever. They think that benchmarking, best practices and copying what the rest of the industry does is a strategy. They try to be all things to all people. “ So in essence, he points out how brands rest on their laurels and play it safe – kicking the proverbial budget down the road without thinking about the bigger picture.  And in this kind of environment, no ground-breaking marketing decisions can be made.  So for those of us who got into mobile marketing to cause a stir and do something exciting, the search for risk-taking clients is like hunting for the elusive Yeti. The Mobile channel is rife with this mentality. While we are certainly seeing a great deal more respect paid to mobile (there are some stellar standouts who are taking risks that are paying off) it’s still an afterthought for most mainstream brands.  Great ideas are brought to the table, but the scraps of shekels that remain after the standard TV and Media budgets are consumed are not enough to move the needle – but just enough to make the CMO feel like he checked the innovation box for the quarter.  The problem with this approach is that no significant mobile campaign will ever succeed unless the proper resources and focus is placed on it. So, they fail. And the cycle continues. Bean counters prevail, and it’s back to the basics. Here are a few things that CMOs who are stuck in the mud can...

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Mobile HTML5 and the Race to App Ubiquity

Posted by on 10:59 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Mobile HTML5 and the Race to App Ubiquity

Mobile HTML5, and the Race to App Ubiquity For the uninitiated, you may have heard rumblings over the last year or so about this thing called “HTML5” app development. This wonky discussion is getting even more heated up recently and while it seems like a topic best suited to Stack Overflow chat rooms or WebMonkey, the fact is that this development trend will likely have a direct impact on everyday app users. In fact, many pedestrian smartphone users are likely interacting with HTML5 apps and don’t even know it. HTML5 – What the hell is it? Ok, according to Wikipedia: “HTML5 is a markup language for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web and a core technology of the Internet. It is the fifth revision of the HTML standard (created in 1990 and standardized as HTML4 as of 1997)[2] and, as of December 2012, is a W3C Candidate Recommendation.[3] Its core aims have been to improve the language with support for the latest multimedia while keeping it easily readable by humans and consistently understood by computers and devices (web browsers, parsers, etc.).” For those of you who are still scratching your heads, here’s a more pedestrian definition from Mediascope’s blog page: “HTML stands for “Hyper Text Markup Language” which is geek-speak for “a set of rules that tell computers how to interpret code to display websites.”(seriously, there are literal sets of rules) HTML5 is the 5th version of these rules, and brings major upgrades to the capabilities of websites. To oversimplify the explanation, HTML5 is a convergence of several technologies currently used to make websites interactive.” So, what is the big deal here? you may be asking. Well, simply put, this new development standard allows mobile apps to be built essentially as websites instead of downloadable applications. Right now, if you are, say, an iPhone user, and wanted to check out a new app you just read about, you would as, per usual, go to the Apple App Store, perform a search, find the desired app, and then download it from the store to your phone. This process literally places a packet of code directly into brain of your phone –which, depending of the functionality of the app – is powered by the device itself and runs “natively” on your phone, in many cases whether you are on the internet or not (again, depending on the app – for example, many game apps run independent of the internet – which is why we see so many people playing mobile games on their phones when down in the subway). What HTML5 development standards offer is a “bypass” of this process, by allowing web-based “apps” to run over the internet via the mobile web browser (in the case of iPhone, this is the default Safari browser). This emerging platform makes for some very provocative implications for users, app developers and the big OS giants (namely Google and Apple – and also Microsoft and Blackberry). As the sophistication of HTML5 development matures, app developers will be able to build and deploy applications without having the deal with the toll booth and inspection process that Apple and Google (to a lesser degree) impose on apps before they are deemed consumer worthy. So, to provide some context for the reader, imagine a...

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The Mobile Platform Trap

Posted by on 10:21 pm in Blog | 0 comments

The Mobile Platform Trap

Caught in The Platform Trap: – Our humble contributor asks, “How did I get here? And how do I get out?” Somehow, as fate would have it, I became a Mac person. It was all-unintentional, but here I am. But that’s just a precursor to a real issue that I became more starkly aware of recently. So, just to get you up to speed: Induction Phase 1: Smartphone: It all started, like most, with my purchase of an iPhone 4 in 2010. I was a Blackberry holdout at this time – in love with my QWERTY and my BBM community. The iPhone 3G was a nice salvo to the tech industry, but the 4 really set the stage for Apple’s vision for how mobile communications would advance into a more ubiquitous ecosystem. The iPhone was the new cool phone to have, and being a mobile marketing professional it made practical sense for me to be using the very thing that provided the framework for what it was I was advocating at the time. I kept my Blackberry 9000 clutched in my hand for 2 years after this – walking around with two devices. Once this became too problematic (and BB failed to get itself up to par with Apple) I weepingly ditched my qwerty and officially became an iPhone user (Fade in violins). Induction Phase 2: Laptop: The iPhone’s compatibility with my Toshiba laptop was not an issue for me – and having used PCs for over a decade I was still very comfortable with the Windows OS feel and organizational logic. I was hard-wired for the Windows OS – and I was fine. Last year when I was in my initial discussions with WWD&S about coming aboard, one of the partners, snickered at me during one of our meetings, “so, you ready to be Mac guy?”. It didn’t strike me until that moment that they were a Mac-based office. “Uh, I guess so”. I saw her smiling at me – my expression looking like the host of a dinner party just asked me if I would like to try the fried liverwurst and gorgonzola rolls. Two months later when I officially came on board, we explored the option of letting me keep my Toshiba, but it soon became obvious that the workaround was not optimal for a whole host of reasons (interconnectivity, file-sharing, OS incompatibility, network issues, etc.). So I relented and they equipped me with a new MacBook Air. I’ll concede it’s a gorgeous machine. In the Apple tradition, their total control over the box and software makes for a lovely integration of form and function. I’m still getting used to the OS (I jumped in at Mountain Lion, so I didn’t have to work off any of the UX/UI paradigm shifts that some of my stalwart Mac users reported). In getting used the new OS environment, I would describe the re-mapping of my brain like going from working inside a structured grid made of silicate (Windows 7), to working inside of a room made of gelatin (OS ML). Every nuance now has this rounded-edge feel, and the navigational dynamics are more fluid and “gooey” than Windows. It’s been a strange experience and my brain still wants to find files, store documents, switch applications and move around...

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Branded App Show-off Contest – recap

Posted by on 10:51 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Branded App Show-off Contest – recap

MXM Events Mobile Mondays Branded-App Show-Off Event Back in October, I had the privilege of presenting at the MXM Branded App Show Off during Ad Week.  http://www.mediacrossmedia.com/mxm_series/nyc/oct_1_2012_branded_app/.  Matt Snyder has been doing a great job in establishing the Mobile Monday’s event – and seeding the mobile community here in NY. He worked with the different mobile associations of NYC and put together this event specifically for Advertising Week. According to his YouTube page, “the goal of this event is to create an opportunity for the community to learn about the best Apps for brand marketing build by developers, agencies and marketers in NYC”.  The event featured 7 different Branded Apps presented to the audience while being moderated by a panel of 8 judges. The event took place at Union Square Ball Room on Oct 1st 2012. Here’s a recap of the event: (you can also see some photos of the event on his Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.436505746386162.89136.151610504875689&type=1 There were roughly 600 people in attendance. The 7 app presenters were apparently selected from roughly 50 registrants.  The parameters for consideration were that the apps being showcased had to be designed for the purposes of promoting a specific brand – and for building the business of said brand.  The event kicked off with a standard opening networking reception and bar schmooze – followed by intros from the hosts. Next were the presentations/demos – in a “battle of the brand” type showcase – by the selected Branded App presenters – that were moderated by a panel of judges: David Berkowitz- 360i Scott Jensen – MTV Taynah Reis – GDI Andrew Reis  – SamStella Jake Ward – App Developers Alliance Timothy Ware  – WSJ Chad Mumm – The Verge Richard Ting – R/GA The 7 Branded App presenters were: Northface – Northface was the winner of this App –Off event. Duracell Powermat-  Powermaster app –  Provides a means by which consumers can not only monitor their current battery power, but also allows users to find Powermat HotSpot locations nearby AND also “nominate” places that they want to be HoptSpot enabled.  This is a Social Gaming feature that drives advocacy and recruits users as a part of a grid-building movement to spread the word of wireless power.  It features full social integrations and a badge winning program with leaderboard. Disney Parks – This app won the “Audience Award”. Trojan Girl Scouts Cadbury ESPN Each presenter walked the panel through the app and its features and were asked to focus on these points in the presentation: What were the core business goals for the app? What you did to build the Brand, and achieve those goals What was the effect of your efforts- brand value Any audience or ROI figures you could share Did your brand marketing effort lead to actual purchases or sales of the product and why. How did awareness get converted into ( for example)  intent, purchase, support, loyalty and advocacy for the Brand. Any lessons learnt Overall, it was a pretty diverse grouping of brands and approaches. Overall, what was clear is that mobile apps are still a tactic that demands innovation.  Just making an app is no longer enough.  I see 7 key things that are MUSTs for successful apps: Content  – App must either solve a real problem for...

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Mobile Brands still not “showing us the money”…..

Posted by on 3:57 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Mobile Brands still not “showing us the money”…..

Just posting a video from a panel discussion I was on at the App Nation Conference in San Fran last year that dealt with the lack of dollars dedicated to mobile marketing. Was watching this and marveling at how little progress has been made since then on this front. More mobile accounts are being activated than ever before – more mobile web traffic is being reported than ever before, and brands that are mobile savvy are seeing direct ROI from mobile marketing investments – but still, crickets out there from the majority of mainstream...

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