Promising a big splash

According to CNET, AT&T has big plans for the Nokia Lumia 900 launch, set to start on April 8.

They’re promising a “massive television marketing campaign” and “massive signs and posters” in AT&T stores. I wonder if they’re planning to light up a few big buildings as well?


Mobile in the mall

I was at a mall in metro Boston recently, and was amazed by the amount of mobile and social outreach from the mall developers.

In addition to offering you a chance to make friends with your mall on Facebook, this mall has also engaged with the Shopkick app to offer even more fun and diversion while you browse the stores. I couldn’t resist, and downloaded Shopkick to see what the poster promised.

Shopkick looks to be another application of “gamification,” a terrible-sounding word which means using game-like techniques and concepts in a non-game context. In the Shopkick case, you earn points and badges for walking around the mall and into stores, which presumably increase your incentive to do more of that. From a technical perspective, Shopkick is interesting because they came up with a way to use audio signals, instead of GPS, to enable local positioning inside a building.

Back to the app. I started it up, and discovered that I had earned a “badge” for just walking into the mall:

OK, I know I’m probably the wrong demographic for this app, but really? Do shoppers really need this simplistic level of reinforcement to encourage them to go to the mall?  I thought shopping was supposed to be enjoyable on its own, and enough of a draw to get customers to the mall, without having to add additional layers of liking, following, friending, and badging.

Of course, there’s much more to gamification than this example, and many sources of more serious discussion of the subject.

I’m curious to hear from people in the mobile marketing biz about this. Am I missing some important value here?

Web apps are growing up

Every week, there are new articles in the tech press describing how another company is turning to the web to deliver its content and brand across multiple platforms. The latest one I read, from the Guardian, describes how Bloomberg is devoting equal resources to web and native apps, looking to their mobile web site to deliver “content across every device.” The folks at CCS heard this same story from many developers at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

The technical advantages of web on mobile are clear, and the tools to deliver the tech keep getting better, as the latest news from Adobe and Sencha demonstrate. For app developers and even enterprises, there’s still a gap in the web application ecosystem when it comes to distribution, discovery, and payment. If you’re a consumer with a smart (or not-so-smart) phone, it’s still easier to download an app from an app store than to find and install a pure web application. It’s these “commercial” parts of the value chain that turn a development technology into an application ecosystem.

That’s why the recent announcements from Mozilla and Facebook at MWC, and AT&T earlier at CES, are exciting. Here is evidence that major mobile players are putting at least some effort into building out the business side of web on mobile, and starting to roll out solutions for app distribution (AT&T) and in-app payment (Facebook) for web apps.

I don’t think any of these will provide much competition for the App Store or Android Market (oops, I mean Google Play), but it’s a start. I’d like to hear what you think; are web apps really growing up into a “real” ecosystem? Does the web on mobile really need these app-like distribution and payment channels in order to succeed (whatever that means)?

Photo by mozillaeu from flickr

Mobile Monday DC March event: Mobile in Education

Please join Mobile Monday DC on March 19th for our next event, this time focusing on mobile solutions for education. We’re meeting at the Microsoft offices in Friendship Heights (right next to the Metro) for a discussion of how the mobile channel engages lifelong learners. Our panelists will share their experiences and their predictions on how tools and technologies will evolve.

As a plus, the team from Profiles will be on hand before the panel to talk with you about opportunities in the local mobile job market.

The event is free and open to the public. Please register and tell your friends (space is limited)!