Tag Archives: mobile devices

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.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under mobile

I just wanted a coffee but the Dunkin’ app stole my money. Update – Problem solved!

Fix your damn app - and site!

Fix your damn app – and site!

If you know me, you know that I’m mobile obsessed.

Yes. Obsessed.

For the past nine or ten years, I’ve been immersed in mobile.

Mobile marketing, mobile websites, mobile apps, mobile devices.

Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.

As a self-professed advocate, I’m constantly extolling the virtues of mobile.

Especially apps.

Apps, to me, are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

They’ve got all the utility of a mobile site, without the need (for the most part) for an internet connection.

Utility apps are my favorite.

If I can get something done faster, in fewer steps, or using my phone in lieu of pulling out my wallet, or keys or ID, then it’s worth it.

So when Dunkin’ Donuts came out with their Dunkin’ app, I was ecstatic.

I’m always going to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

I blame the wife – a coffee whore (and I mean that in the kindest possible way) and the kids.

I’m constantly making runs for egg and cheese croissants, donuts and coffee.

I was parting with my cash regularly with no other perk than a free donut if I filled out their survey online – very analog.

Dunkin’ Donuts perks were a big donut hole.

Unlike Starbucks, whose loyalty program gave me free coffee, iTunes music and app downloads, discounts, coupons, the works.

Starbucks treated me like they cared.

Dunkin’ not so much.

But then one day I discovered the Dunkin’ app, and immediately set out to add it to my collection.

Having previously used the Starbucks app, I figured the Dunkin’ app would be along the same lines.

Download the app. Charge it up. Present it at the point of sale. Earn rewards. Get perks.

Simple, right?

Wrong!

For one, there are like three or four different apps in the app store (albeit by different developers – but you get my drift).

So many choices!

So many choices!

Once you figure out which one you’re supposed to be using, it required an advanced degree in game theory to figure out exactly how to use it.

All I wanted to do was put some money on the damn thing!

Is that so hard?!!

Eventually, I was able to figure it all out, put money on my account and complete a transaction using their app.

The sense of accomplishment was short lived, though.

A few days after I got the app working, I upgraded my 64GB iPhone 6 Plus to the 128 GB version, and had to restore by new device from my iTunes backup, which essentially wiped all my stored passwords and forced me to log in to each one anew.

By itself, that wasn’t so bad, since all my passwords are stored in 1Password and I simply had to cut and paste to get back up and running.

That is, except for the Dunkin’ app.

For some reason, it wouldn’t take my password.

So I did what anyone faced with a similar scenario would do, I clicked “Forgot Password” fully expecting to walk through the fairly routine process of recovering or resetting my password.

But that would have been too much like right.

Instead of getting a confirmation screen telling me that my password (or instructions for resetting my password) had been sent to my email, I got a “We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request” message.

Dunkin' app technical difficulties

Wait. What?

Confused by this seemingly ill-timed error message, I tried again – and got the same message.

Technical difficulties processing a “forgot password” request?

A horrible user experience at a critical moment.

Oh, did I mention that I was standing at the register of Dunkin’ Donuts, with several frustrated customers behind me watching me fumble with the app?

My frustration was all the more palpable because (prior to swapping devices) I had loaded my account with $25, which I could not use.

Flustered, I pulled out my bank card and swiped – angrily – snatched my order from the counter (which I no longer wanted) and stomped away in a huff.

For the next few days, I repeatedly tried to log in – unsuccessfully, before relenting and visiting the Dunkin’ Donuts website.

And you know what happened when I got there?

The same damn thing that happened on the app!

We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.

Really? So you're planning on fixing this when?

Really? So you’re planning on fixing this when?

Sonofabitch!

On your site? Technical difficulties on your site?

Is sending an email with password recovery instructions a technically challenging activity?

This borders on lunacy.

So what am I left with?

What am I to make of this?

Well that’s easy.

Dunkin’ Donuts is stealing my money by preventing me from accessing my account and make purchases using the funds I’ve uploaded to the Dunkin’ app.

Their “technical difficulties” are subterfuge allowing them to hold my monies hostage and force me to use my bank card depriving me of precious points, perks or rewards.

Dunkin’ Donuts, get your act together.

Fix your technical difficulties.

Or give me back my money.

The Starbucks app still works and I need to reload.

Note: Prior to penning this post, I sent Dunkin’ Donuts an email on their site, an email from the app, and tweet asking for assistance. As of this posting they have been radio silent.

Update 2/12/15: Dunkin’ Donuts’ customer service send me a response giving me the steps to recover my password, which I had already done – and was still broken.

Update 2/27/15: Problem solved! After waiting on hold for an hour to speak to a customer service representative, we determined that I had registered with “.con” at the end of my email address, instead of “.com.” I told the rep who helped me that the more appropriate error message to keying in an incorrect email address should have been something like “The email address you have provided is not in our records. Please check the address and try again.” and not “Sorry, we are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.” With the error message DD provided, one would never realize that they may have made an error keying in their email address, as I did.

19 Comments

Filed under mobile

The Galaxy S IV is coming! Apple be very afraid.

Is Samsung the Apple-killer?

Is Samsung the Apple-killer?

Back in the day, I could have cared less about non-iOS device leaks.

If it wasn’t an iPhone or an iPad, it didn’t matter.

The only leaks that interested me were about Apple.

Period.

Whenever a new Apple product was announced – or rumored – I’d scour the interwebs, looking for photos or reviews.

I’d follow endless threads of speculation about which features would be included and which would not.

I would consume any article from any source like manna from heaven.

But if it wasn’t an Apple product, I could give two shits.

But yesterday, something unusual happened.

I saw a Techcrunch article with leaked pictures of a Samsung.

It was the new Samsung device, the Galaxy S IV.

And I found myself…

Wait for it…

Reading the article!

Who knew that there was this whole other world of leaks?

Who knew that non-iOS leaks were newsworthy?

Who knew the Chinese were as inept at keeping Samsung’s secrets as they were Apple’s?

I have to admit that I was intrigued with what this new Samsung has to offer.

Although I despise Android devices, they’re giving Apple a run for their money.

In fact, Samsung is outselling Apple in China.

Analysts predict that Samsung will completely overtake Apple when it comes to innovation with mobile devices.

So they must be doing something right.

But if leaked photos weren’t enough, now there’s a video too!

Notice the background iPad audio in the video.

Ironic, isn’t it.

If these leaked photos are any indication of the public’s interest and penchant for non-iOS devices, then I need to pay attention.

I must be ill.

2 Comments

Filed under iPhone, mobile, technology

The Digital Divide

A snapshot of the Moodle we developed to teach out digital curriculum.

When you think of the digital divide, the first thing that comes to mind is the standard issue of the gap in access and exposure to technology, between children of different economic circumstances.

This lack of access and exposure, leaves lower income and minority youth at a marked disadvantage, by depriving them of skills which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace and essential in various industries.

But there is a deeper issue.

Lack of adequate instruction.

Unlike us, children today are exposed to technology and digital content, regardless of economic background, to a far greater extent than any other period in history.

Internet capable mobile devices, social media, interactive gaming systems, and a torrent of digital content, are the norm, not the exception.

Youth today immerse themselves in completely virtual worlds, and engage in social interactions and activity, across a variety of devices and platforms.

iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, PS2s, Nintendo DS3s ( and the list goes on) enable youth to play games, surf the Internet, update their status, listen to music, watch videos, text, chat and share content with each other wirelessly.

We need to examine how this exposure is impacting our youth, and what implications the “mobilizing” of technology has on them.

I believe we should be creating curriculum, which addresses the responsible use and utilization of technology, and programming that harnesses the inherent familiarity with handheld technology that youth have, regardless of economic circumstances.

Ever since I began teaching at the PAL Digital U.N.I.Verse.City, I have been able to see what youth of today are doing with technology.

Most youth know how to surf the net.

Any kid knows how to get to YouTube, or send an email.

They know how to use Google, Bing, Ask.com and Yahoo to conduct searches, and find pretty much anything they’re looking for.

Their mobile phones are extensions of their hands, and their fingers were built for texting (I’ve even seen a few texting without even looking at the phone).

As such, their behavior, adoption and use of technology is distinctly different from ours, and requires a distinctly different approach for educating them on using technology responsibly and appropriately.

Most classroom instruction on technology teach kids the basics.

But kids today need real lessons which go beyond the basics.

They need instruction that helps them see technology as an extension of their inherent creative capabilities.

In our course, we’ve married the theoretical with the practical.

First off, our course lives online. We developed a Moodle, which each student can access, where each lesson, document, evaluation, reference, and assessment can be accessed.

When we teach about Canon EOS 60Ds cameras, the kids are shooting on those cameras.

If we talk about data transfer and tagging, the kids are transferring content from the cameras and putting descriptive tags and meta content within the files.

Our classroom instruction recognizes that these kids need a level of engagement that challenges them, and expands their horizons.

More importantly, academic institutions need to accept that technology is changing at an ever increasing pace, and we have to be prepared to meet the youth where they are (which is far more technologically savvy then we were at their age).

Leave a comment

Filed under digital advocacy

Go mobile or go the way of the dinosaur.

Ad & Marketing Industry News

Last night, I read an article in AdAge about how both Google and Facebook were staking their respective futures on mobile, and how mobile was increasingly becoming the foundation of their efforts.

The Marksmen are a production unit ahead of their time.

Since 2005, when I started working with The Marksmen, developing applications that could be accessed and utilized from mobile devices (it all started with the Treo), I knew that mobile represented the future of computing.

Notice I said “computing” as opposed to content consumption or the internet, because with the advent of the smartphone, there are fewer and fewer things that one can do exclusively on a PC that can’t be done on a mobile device.

It was while at DOT.TUNES that I cut my mobile teeth.

From there it was DOT.TUNES, the first mobile application developed for the iPhone BEFORE the release of the iPhone SDK, which allowed users to remotely access their entire iTunes library directly from their mobile devices (even if it wasn’t an iPhone – holla!).

I even did a stint at MX Telecom (now OpenMarket), one of the largest mobile aggregators in the world, to learn about the ins-and-outs of the mobile industry, from the perspective of the underlying technology behind SMS/MMS/PSMS/Wap, mobile billing, etc.

Ever since, I have been preaching about the importance of mobile to anyone who would listen.

I tell virtually all the clients I consult, that they need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Set up a basic SMS service.

Build a mobile version (or mobile optimized version) of your website.

Create a brand specific mobile app.

Do anything to incorporate some mobile elements to your brand identity or risk going the way of the dinosaur.

I’m saying, if Google and Facebook are banking so heavily on it, doesn’t it seem to make good business sense?

They’re only multi-billion dollar companies.

Clearly, there is some wisdom to their actions.

WeHarlem knows mobile. Do you WeHarlem?

Recently, I’ve been speaking with Sergio Lilavois, one of the founding partners of WeHarlem, an interactive e-community for those that live, work or socialize in Harlem.

WeHarlem has launched several innovative initiatives directed squarely at harnessing and applying the power of mobile devices.

They have a social media website, WeHarlem.com, which links residents and local businesses.

In addition, they developed device specific applications, for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, giving WeHarlem users the ability to access all of WeHarlem’s features on-the-go.

One of the most valuable features of WeHarlem’s mobile app, is the Wi-Fi locator, which enables users to find Harlem businesses offering free Wi-Fi in their establishments.

WeHarlem’s strategy involves providing Harlem residents and businesses with bi-directional utility, generating foot-traffic, loyalty and retention.

We’re in discussions right now to help bring businesses even deeper into the fold, by offering services to enable them to more closely connect with their target audiences using mobile and social media technology.

There have been other shining moments, when the strategies I propose actually gain a foothold.

Vincent Morgan, for example, knew immediately that he wanted it all, a mobile version of his primary website and an SMS alert service.

Although he failed in his efforts to dethrone Charles Rangel, he succeeded in rewriting the way candidates utilize the web, social media and mobile in their campaigns.

Anyway, the AdAge article renewed my passion for evangelizing mobile and I will continue to preach the value of mobile to all who will listen!

1 Comment

Filed under branding, technology