Premature Technology Arousal (PTA) in Barcelona

To sum up Mobile World Congress 2013, I will borrow from Peter Marx, head of business development at Qualcomm Labs. Peter talks about a tendency for PTA or (for those in the know) Premature Technology Arousal in the mobile industry.

Much of the MWC 2013 floor area at the new Fira Gran Via venue exhibited PTA or Premature Technology Arousal. Solutions that are excited about being solutions. Solutions that are too early. Solutions that are missing reach and frequency. Things that are just not simple enough to drive adoption.

Even before 70 thousand executives hit the show floor, there were signs of “PTA”. From the Near Field Communications (NFC) show name tags that tried to emulated plastic (but that few used because you still needed to show the plastic) to tapping on Coke dispensers with cloud-base wallets that are many quarters away for mainstream adoption.

Booth after booth in this 1.01 million square feet techno-playground displayed incredible solutions and screens.  But the real story to follow was how each solution quietly added value to a given business ecosystem. There was an invisible hand playing connect the dots. Here are a few examples:

The Invisible Google Hand

Google was almost absent – unlike the MWC of 2011 and 2012 where Google groupies ran from partner booth to partner booth in search of cute Android pins. But Google was most definitely on the floor. This year the company is wisely playing “powered by Google”. They are the dark silent type. Turn left or right in every hall, Android is the fuel this industry is consuming.

The same holds for Qualcomm. They are the chip manufacture that is quietly taking the lion’s share of the revenue on each global handset. (Intel just cannot seem to create a competitive landscape.) Qualcomm Labs is building in consumer identity and credentials onto its “platform” hoping to not only power the connected device but also own the big data behind the user. When Qualcomm demos a vision of a home of the near future, they power many of the moving pieces.

The Samsung Show

While Qualcomm’s chip and Google’s OS were the main stories in Barcelona, another key and not so silent player is Samsung. (So much so that my hotel concierge asked me if I was attending that “Samsung” show that was in town.)  The word that floated above the white new-age Samsung booth was “innovation” but the innovation is not just the 3D camera or the ubiquity of the new S-Pen. The innovation was in their business model connecting their screen across the consumer journey. The 3D camera sells their tablet and television. The S-Pen and its SDK allows for ergonomic continuity across their new tablets and fablets.

Mozilla is other important story in Barcelona. Using the Firefox browser on lower-end ZTE devices to run the camera, map and  . . . oh ya the browser was a definite tech-turn on. Moving the developer and more importantly the consumer out of the (Apple-invented and dominated) app store into the real world super-app is an inevitable step and fundamental to our mobile evolution. The quicker the industry can move away for relying exclusively on industrial design and the app storefront as the sales tool, the faster we will grow.

2014 Screen Wars

The most important leitmotif was the screen. Not only the proliferation of devices with new form factor and appliance, but the realization that it is in the connecting of these screen that the we can accelerate business models. Samsung, ZTE, Motorola, Nokia all address the consumer journey across all screens and throughout their day. Nearly all marketing VPs had spent their last few months and budget trying to tell this consumer story.

Again while many products had indecent “PTA”, the most important insight was not what was happening on the screen but what companies were doing to connect them seamlessly. The new battle ground this year moving into MWC 2014 will be centered around who can best manage big data, wallet credentials and identity between the screens.

Why Apple’s New Patents are Commerce Game Changers?

This week Apple added a new patent (US 8,321,294) to its war chest.  The EasyPay patent is worth a closer look. The commerce patent allows mobile shoppers to activate and buy items from physical stores via the Internet connection on their device.

While this seems pretty clear and reflects Apple’s EasyPay trials:  it is far more profound. Combined with Apple’s earlier patent (US 8,290,513) in October using magnetic fields (as a substitute to NFC) this is clearly is Apple’s showrooming and mobile commerce positioning statement.

Why are these two patents so interesting? One, while the EasyPay trail used QR codes, the new patent definition of shopper is far broader:

“Techniques for improved interaction between online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers that provide patron-accessible networks are disclosed. The location and/or the fact that any given purchase was made from a particular retailer’s patron-accessible network can be tracked for a variety of purposes. The invention can facilitate partnering between online retailers (i.e. online stores) and traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ business establishments. As an example, the invention can be used to track and give credit for online purchases at an online retailer that are facilitated by a brick-and-mortar retailer.”

Now combine the two patents. The earlier Apple patent in October was for a Method and Apparatus for Triggering Network Device Discovery. This was Apple way of side stepping NFC and using the phones’ compass output patterns (magnetic field signatures).

EasyPay can be expanded to leverage any network device discovery.  This allows any store shelf or walk-by media to be activated via a magnetic field tap and jump into an EasyPay checkout process. Path-to-purchase becomes “PURCHASE”.

Impulse infograph: print + mobile = new proximity media buy

combining mobile with print to drive engagement

Here is a quick infograph based on statistics on AD spend verses TIME spend on media. If you flip mobile on its head, it neatly makes the print imbalance even out. This is not just graphic magic: it makes perfect industry sense.

The print budget is not going away. By using proximity marketing (NFC, QR, TXT) to activate this media, you create a new retail experience that lives between the physical store media and the internet cloud.

How to Drive 10x Conversion Leveraging MOBILE

By Gary Schwartz

Mobile commerce is not only about payment but the ability to optimize the path to this payment. Farhan Ahmad, Director of Emerging Payments at Discover Financial Services, the issuer of the Discover Card, the third largest credit card brand in the United States, explains, “Mobile payment is a small subset of mobile commerce. Mobile commerce is primarily about shopper engagement and marketing”.

What are the mobile marketing mechanisms to engage with the mobile shopper? Twitter’s micro blogging, Facebook’s community building, FourSquare’s crowd sourcing and Google Deals all are valuable tools but any brand or retailer that is committed to a digital strategy across all their customers’ screens, needs to establish a direct relationship with the shopper.

The only two-way targeted channel to move the shopper across the retail touch points is via the shopper’s mobile phone number. Why? Because once a permission-based relationship is established between the shopper and the retailer, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, or Apple should not disintermediate this relationship. In order to improve brand recall and conversion rates, mobile messaging needs to be targeted and personalized.

Like other D2C (direct-to-consumer) channels, mobile messaging should deliver concrete results.  A good mobile marketing service provider will be able to show the brand a projected Return-On-Investment (ROI) calculator. Key to building a loyalty channel strategy is to articulate how you intend to effectively opt-in the shopper, what are your key-performance indicators including which retail touch points you need the loyalty channel to connect to in order to drive your sales.

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RFID & Mobile Retail: Moving From Efficiency To Engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Gary Schwartz

National Retail Federation Show, New York City: This week the old Javits Center in the New York hosted retail folk from across the U.S. and shed some light on a technology play that may define a new industry I call Retail 2.0.

Indeed, the reality of a connected shopping experience with smartphones at the center may not be far off. However, this show was proof to me that we have to get past our focus on technology (and B2B) and walk in the shoes of our customers (understanding that it’s B2C that is really at the core). And, since it is about the shopper experience, it’s clear that winning Retail 2.0 strategies will be the ones that bring CIOs and CMOs to the table.

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