Tag Archives: mobile device

The utility company of the future is mobile – today.

electric meter

Virtually everyone in the world is mobile.

That’s a fact.

We spend more time with our mobile devices, than we do our spouses and children.

Sad, but true.

But since we are inextricably tied to these devices, and use them obsessively, it only makes sense that brands should cater to this behavior.

I’m not saying that brands should make us more drone-like, such that we never put our devices down.

What I am saying is that since we seem to draw greater and greater utility from them, brands that understand user behavior, can benefit themselves significantly by paying attention to this trend.

Think about it.

Before you used to have to go to the bank to make a deposit.

And you could only do it during banking hours.

Then came ATMs and you could deposit funds even when the bank was closed.

Today, you don’t even have to leave your house to make a deposit.

You can simply snap a photo of your check with the banking app on your mobile phone and you’re done.

The banking industry paid attention to it’s users and came up with solutions that met them and technology where they were.

A similar opportunity exists for utility companies.

Back in the day, if you had a problem with your service, you’d have to go down to the utility company, take a number, and wait in line to actually speak to someone.

Because lord knows that calling them was a massive waste of time.

A year ago, the best you could do was log into your utility company’s website from your desktop computer to check your bill, input a meter reading or schedule an appointment.

But today, you can pay your bill, connect or disconnect service and input a meter reading all from your mobile phone.

No longer are you tethered to a computer to accomplish basic (and sometimes fairly sophisticated) tasks, you can perform these things on the go.

You’re probably wondering, “why is this fool blathering on about the utility company?

I’ll tell you why.

I just paid my PSE&G bill, sitting in my boxers on my phone.

No. I was not sitting on my phone.

I was on my phone, while I was sitting in my boxers.

Whatever.

My point is that we’re seeing a wave where more and more businesses, especially businesses which offer utilitarian value (banking, utilities, cable) streamlining their offerings for mobile.

And consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about who they patronize, and making these decisions based on how well they meet their mobile needs.

I can tell you that I’m automatically turned off by any brand that doesn’t have a mobile website.

And I don’t just mean doesn’t have a mobile website, but one that auto-detects that I’m using a mobile device and renders the appropriate screen.

So you can imagine my glee in discovering the PSE&G had made the leap to mobile.

I wonder how many more utility companies are following suit.

If your’s isn’t – shame on them.

But I’d imagine that it isn’t far off.

 

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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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10 Billion App Downloads and You DON’T Need One?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard the recent announcement by Apple that they’ve just eclipsed 10 billion app downloads in the Apple App Store.

Starting from the release of the iPhone in 2007, the Apple App Store passed the 1 billion download mark in April of 2009, after opening in July of 2008. That’s a ridiculous pace by any standard.

Tap Tap Revenge is one of the more popular iTunes Apps

Even though much of this traffic was driven by highly popular titles like Tap Tap Revenge and Angry Birds, the reality is that apps have captivated much of the public’s attention, and are as common as the devices upon which they are deployed.

If you’re not an Apple-o-phile, you’ll still be impressed by the estimated 2.8 billion Android apps that have been downloaded to date.

Android is making a strong showing in the app space as well.

What does this all mean?

It means that people find great utility in their mobile devices and much of that utility has been driven by apps.

It also means that apps are a useful tool for brands interested in providing utility to their audiences, in what is becoming an increasingly traditional methodology.

Own a brick-and-mortar establishment? You should have an app that at a minimum, provides turn-by-turn directions to your door. Sure, they can go to GoogleMaps and find you, but why give Google those metrics? Why force your potential customer to take that extra step?

Are you an artist? Your app should stream your music (or at least snippets), provide access to your music video, pictures, show dates and special event, like listening parties or release dates. If you’re interested in making money, your app should direct users to your mobile-based store front allowing purchases downloaded directly to their device.

Maybe you’ve got a service-based business. Your app can simply be an abridged version of your website, providing one-click access to your phone, email or full mobile site. You can also use push notifications to send out blog posts, where you showcase your service-specific knowledge and expertise.

Five years ago, when I was working with The Marksmen and we were introducing DOT.TUNES, the first iPhone app which allowed users to remote access their entire iTunes library from any device capable of an internet connections, we realized that we had an uphill battle, as smart phones (and the concept of ‘apps’) were still very niche.

I acknowledge that we were ahead of our time (DT was released prior to the availability of Apple’s software developer’s kit) and were definitely on the leading edge of the entire app movement, but even then we realized that apps were how mobile users would access and consume content.

Mobile phones, including smart phones, would invariably have memory and processing constraints, and apps offered a simple way of providing one-click access to great utility, without compromising memory or processing speeds.

Fast forward five years, and Google, Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry, Palm, Windows all have their own apps, and are all seeking to replicate Apple’s success.

Big brands like Hyundai, Pepsi, Old Navy, Walmart, all have apps. And smaller brands are starting to embrace apps as well. WeHarlem’s app, provides a social media app developed specifically for Harlemites. There’s even a Dutch municipality which allows users to file complaints via an iPhone app.

IMO, if you’re a brand looking to forge deeper connections with your core audience, penetrate the market, provide greater utility to your current customers, or simply take advantage of the numerous opportunities that mobile applications provide, developing an app for your brand is a wise investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about mobile applications, and how they can help your brand, feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call.

I’d love to hear from you!

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