Tag Archives: mobile app

They call me Stephen. And five more reasons I love Uber.

uber

If you’ve ever been a Black man in New York, you know what I speak of.

But trying to catch a cab in the city can be a bitch!

If there aren’t long lines outside of the station, or club, then there’s some dude further up the block hailing them earlier.

Better yet, you think that you’ve spied an empty cab coming your way, only to see a slunked down passenger in the back as they pass you by.

Or you could be passed over all together by completely empty cabs just because you’re HWB.

Hailing while Black.

A minute ago, someone put me up on Uber.

You know, Uber, the whole ride sharing app.

I had been using other apps, like Curb (formerly Taxi Magic), with varying degrees of success and never really tried Uber out.

Until recently, that is.

Ya see a few weeks back, I found myself stuck in the city late night, trying to get back to Jersey.

I had just missed my train, and I was totally NOT trying to wait on NJ Transit for another hour for the next one.

As I stepped out of Penn Station to hail a cab, I was totally dismayed to see the long line of folks waiting for cabs.

Then it dawned on me – Uber!

A few minutes later, a shiny black SUV pulled up, with an “Uber” sign in the passenger window.

As I got in, the driver said, “Hello Stephen,” and I knew I had found my steady.

Thirty minutes later, I disembarked in front of my house, with a “Good night, Stephen.”

No scrambling to find cash or swiping my card, just a “good night” and off.

Lest you think this was a one-off, I’ve used Uber at least a half-dozen times since then.

And each trip was as pleasant as the first.

With the exception of the talkative “Marilyn” who got lost and arrived late, which in turn made me late to my appointment.

But speed bump aside, here are the top five reasons I love Uber (and why you should too).

1. They call you by your name.

The first time I got into an Uber car and the driver called me by my name, I felt like a bonafide celebrity. It’s not like I’ve never had a car service pick me up before. But it’s an entirely different thing to be greeted in such a friendly and familiar manner when you’re not rolling in duckets. I don’t know what Uber tells it’s drivers, but that calling me by my name thing works.

2. No fuss or fumbling with money or cards.

When you set up with Uber, you associate a billing method with your account, and your fare is automatically deducted when you arrive at your destination. There’s no haggling with the driver, pulling out cash, tapping or swiping required. Arrive. Disembark. Done.

3. You don’t have to fight with other commuters.

Unlike hailing a cab on the skreets or calling up a cab company to request a ride, with Uber, there’s no fighting with other commuters. Open up the app, see the available drivers around you, request a driver and voila! Now just sit back and wait.

4. WYSIWYG.

The acronym, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is totally apropos for Uber. The Uber app is totally transparent. You can see where your driver is, how long it will take to get to you, and the fare you can expect to pay. Now sometimes, there’s a glitch in the matrix and you’ve got to refresh your connection to actually see where your driver is (and the app doesn’t do a great job of recalculating the estimated time to get to you), but with Uber, there are no surprises. And if you ever have an issue, you can instantly contact the driver (via text or call) or even cancel your ride altogether. No muss, no fuss.

5. Super easy to use.

There is nothing – NOTHING – I hate more than a complicated app. All I want to do is get a ride. I shouldn’t have to solve a Rubik’s Cube to do so. Uber makes it über-simple to do so with their app.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Set pickup location.
  3. Request uberX.
  4. Wait.

That’s it!

Now, there is one thing that you do need to know about Uber.

Surge pricing.

What’s “surge pricing” you ask?

It’s the price you pay trying to catch a ride with Uber during peak traffic.

It’s usually quoted as a multiplier of the regular rate, say 1.5 or 2.0 of the regular rate.

If you get a ride at that time, expect to pay more than you regularly would.

Now they’ll tell you when the surge pricing period is over and there’s usually a brief window within which it expires – but it’s the one thing about Uber that I don’t love.

Anyway, the next time you find yourself jockeying for position on the curb to get a cab, take a chill pill, whip out your phone and hit Uber up.

Have an Uber experience you’d like to share? Leave me a comment!

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Magna Carta goes platinum? Yeah, I called that.

MCHG_cover

I have been vindicated – VINDICATED I tell you!

I know you’re like, “what’s this fool blabbing about now?”

Bear with me.

Yesterday, Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album, initially released on July 4 exclusively via mobile app, was officially certified platinum.

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “so effing what?”

Well I’ll tell you effing what.

Jay Z’s album being certified platinum in less than one week after it was released, and the same day it was available in stores, means the rules are being rewritten.

“What rules?” you ask.

THE rules.

Of music promotion.

Media promotion.

Brand promotion.

You might be thinking, “but Samsung paid $5 million, how is that re-writing the rules?”

And that’s a fair question.

The fact of the matter is that Samsung’s deal with Jay Z, to purchase 1 million copies of Magna Carta and give them away free, made his platinum certification a foregone conclusion.

Magna_Carta app

It also means that his actual sales are going to get a major boost.

It’s been forecast that Magna Carta’s first week sales will eclipse those of his previous best seller, The Blueprint 3.

But the bigger issue is that in embarking on this ambitious app-only pre-release, both Samsung and Jay Z, realized the massive impact (and value) of mobile and social media to their respective brands.

Their initiative effectively leveraged social media and mobile to make the Magna Carta album and the Samsung Galaxy line of phones, two of the most talked, blogged, tweeted and tagged subjects of the past three weeks.

At this point, you’re probably asking, “so why do you feel vindicated, Stephen?”

What does any of this have to do with me?

It’s quite simple really.

The mobile phone is the most ubiquitous personal device ever.

Social media has proven to be the most powerful marketing tool ever.

The music industry is a natural fit for both of these powerful tools.

For years, I’ve been pushing these strategies to folks in the music industry.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m talking to myself.

The responses were always the same.

“No.”

Few could see the utility of an app as a promotional vehicle.

And those who could either lacked the will, power, willpower (not to be confused with “will” or “power”) or money to pull the trigger.

There were no case studies to support it.

No established ROI.

Nuthin’.

And no one was trying to give shit away.

“We’re in business to make money,” they’d say.

To which I’d respond, “how’s that working out for ya?”

In my head.

You can’t say that kind of shit in a meeting when you’re trying to get money.

Well you can…

I digress.

But seriously, it was always an uphill battle, trying to convince the powers that be that I knew what the fuck I was talking about.

Although many of us have foreseen the demise of physical sales, the music industry has been slow to accept this fact.

And subsequently even slower to adopt strategies to bring them in line with the new digital age.

With Jay Z’s highly publicized deal with Samsung, and FunkMaster Flex’s earlier app-exclusive release of his Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself mixtape, you’ve got two powerhouses leading the charge.

And maybe folks will start thinking about how they can use mobile apps and social media to drive engagement and conversion.

I routinely drop jewels like this, but I guess I’m just ahead of my time.

Will my phone start ringing off the hook, with music executives begging me to help them craft their digital strategies?

Probably not.

But they should.

Even if they don’t, I’m cool.

Being right is satisfaction enough.

But any record executives out there within the sound of my blog…call me.

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Filed under advocacy, branding, digital advocacy, mobile, social media

Luck. HBOGo App. Well done.

I just saw a commercial for Luck, a new show on HBO featuring Dustin Hoffman, in some gangster-ish role.

The series premier is January 29th, and the commercial came on after some date movie with Tina Fey (love her!) and Steve Carell.

I didn’t really watch the commercial, but I gleaned from the flashing images that it involves race-track betting – betting on horses – gambling – or some combination of them all.

Luck, featuring Dustin Hoffman.

In one clip Dustin appears to hurt someone.

I did say he was gangster-ish right?

But at the end of the clip, the announcer says that the episode will be available on the HBOGo iPad App, immediately after it airs.

And then he said something that had my interest piqued…

Next week’s episode would be available…wait for it…only on the app!

An upcoming episode available a week before it’s broadcast?!!

Bravo HBO!

HBOGo is doing it!

I won’t go into any great detail explaining this one, and I may have misheard what they said – nope I just saw the commercial again.

I was only paying half-attention earlier.

It’s clear to me that the HBOGo app is an essential tool for extending the reach of HBO’s content.

So much so that they’re providing a loyal tribe of iPadions (or is it iPadders?) with exclusive content, albeit around a new show.

Who wouldn’t want to be able to watch the following episode of their favorite show immediately after the previous episode airs?

That’s way better than watching a teaser trailer or just catching tantalizing tidbits of an upcoming episode.

I don’t know if HBO offers this for all it’s content, or just the new programs, but I love this integrated approach for seeding and building audience simultaneously through their app.

I’ve got the app on my iPad, but I rarely actually use it.

So I don’t think I’ll be tuning into Luck (even though there’s a great cast) nor will I be taking advantage of that exclusive perk.

But if you’ve got an iPad app, have cable/Fios, watch HBO, and are interested in horse-racing, check it out and let me know what you think.

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Filed under apps, branding, mobile, technology

Why don’t you have a mobile site yet?

Here is the mobile version of my blog.

I met with a potential client today, and they were very excited to show me the site that they had recently released.

The site had a nice stylish design, but when viewed from my iPhone, I was looking at the exact same site – and NOT a mobile site.

Now, of course, I offered my unsolicited advice regarding the utility of a site, not optimized for mobile devices, and the growing trend of search from mobile devices.

This experience underscores what I have observed in most of the brands I interact with.

Many have failed to adopt a mobile web strategy.

I’m certain that this ‘oversight’ stems from the fact that mobile is still not perceived as a significant element in most brand’s marketing mix.

While apps may be all the rage, they really only apply to a small swath of devices, primarily iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.

Other internet capable devices, or users who haven’t downloaded your app (or aren’t aware of it’s existence among the hundreds of thousands of available apps), can’t take advantage of whatever utility your app was designed to provide.

But developing a mobile website gives you the ability to still reach those users, without having to develop an on-deck app.

More importantly, if your site comes up as a relevant result from a search conducted on a mobile device, when the user navigates to your site, they’ll encounter your mobile you (not your PC you).

If your site it built right, you’ll convert that visitor into a member of your tribe, and they’ll bookmark you, share you or engage in whatever behavior you want guests to your site to perform.

Anyway, if you’re interested in learning whether your recently developed site is mobile-compatible, simply pop your web URL into your mobile browser and check.

If you’re using a open source platform like WordPress, many of their templates contain the option to publish a mobile version too (like this blog).

If it’s not (or if you’re not sure) and you’re interested in learning how to convert, feel free to drop me a line.

Go mobile!

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The Mobile (R)evolution: 5 Reasons You Need An App

Apps, apps everywhere, but not a brand in sight!

I’m mobile obsessed. I’ll admit it.  It probably started with my first smart phone, a Palm Treo, but my obsession has grown exponentially from there.

With certain technology trends, I was very much ‘wait-and-see.’ But with mobile, I was definitely an early adopter.

As recently as a few years ago, mobile phones were still very much a luxury, the domain of corporate executives and titans of industry.  We all remember the phones in a bag. They were expensive, and therefore, exclusive.

Today virtually everyone has a mobile device. Some (like myself) have two.

With the elimination of two-year contracts, and the entrance of pay-as-you-go services, such as MetroPCS and Boost Mobile, getting a quality phone and inexpensive service, has eliminated any significant barrier to entry.

Where standard feature phones used to be the norm, smart phones are becoming commonplace. Wireless networks are prolific.  Texting has replaced calling as the primary means of communication between people.

What used to be the exclusive domain of PCs has been co-opted by mobile devices. The mobile device has become the first screen.

From my vantage point, educating, training, and generally evangelizing the adoption of technology to further one’s business objectives, brands have been caught off guard by these advances.

As the mobile revolution advances at breakneck speeds, I continually find myself justifying a given. We are beyond ‘proof-of-concept’ and very clearly at widespread adoption (if not completely mainstream).

If you’re asking yourself ‘why do I need an app?’ here are five reasons:

1.  Mobile is ubiquitous. About 78% of the world has a mobile device with a mobile subscription.  Everywhere you look, you’ll see someone on a mobile phone. They’re talking, texting, browsing, playing games, listening to music, watching videos or movies, reading emails or engaging in some other productive activity.

2.  HTML5 will not replace mobile apps. For web productivity, HTML5 will certainly enhance a user’s ability to get things done online from mobile devices. Salesforce is a great example of mobile web utility. But for rich media apps and games, having these processes take place on the device, rather than in the cloud, makes more practical sense.

3.  Apps are hyper targeted. When a person downloads an app to their device, they’ve already determined that they want it. And once it’s ‘on deck’ (and the appropriate preferences are selected by the users) your brand can continuously push targeted messages to the users.

4.  Apps are sexy. Let’s face it, Apple has made mobile sexy. And there is nothing sexier for your brand than having a iPhone or iPad app. Shoot, if you’re really trying to get your sexy on, a universal app (that works across multiple platforms and devices) is even sexier. An app is like wearing a red dress to a funeral – it may be inappropriate, but you’re gonna get noticed.

5.  Apps are unique to your brand. The great thing about apps is that they are all unique. Even when you’re simply re-skinning a templated app, the fact that it’s your brand over that functionality, makes it valuable to the end-user who selects and downloads it.  When a user downloads your app to their device, they do so because they want it. In doing so, they’ve allowed your brand to be a part of their inner circle.  Your brand has become a part of how they identify themselves.

Now there are certainly more reasons than these to justify getting an app, but I’m winded. If you think that there are more compelling reasons for having an app, I’d love to hear them!

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