Tag Archives: Mobile Texting

Scanning your Life

It is not often that someone shows me something in tech that makes me go “WOW!, that’s cool”.  I had such a moment recently when I met Jonathan Bulkeley, CEO of ScanBuy.  Regular readers of this blog know that I rarely promote products and services, but rather just give my “guy on the street” views.

Unless you are George Bush Senior, you know that there are barcodes on everything.  There are the ubiquitous  1-D UPC codes that you see in the supermarket and a host of new 2-D barcodes.  With the inclusion of barcode readers in smartphones (my Android is very capable in this area) you can go to a store, scan the barcode and be linked to product information websites, Google shopper, Amazon, etc.  You can do instant online price comparison in a store, and if you like purchase the product.  It seems that stores are catching on and are starting to put there own barcodes on products that then links back to their own website, not a competitor’s.  This is not the “WOW” part.  I’ve been doing store scanning  for some time.  Its fun and seems to thoroughly annoy sales staff (and sometimes my wife!)

The company that Bulkeley runs is the one that produces the Android app that I use to scan barcodes.  You can think of a barcode as a web url that directs the application to go to some specific website or activate an application.  You can imagine that the directory service of linking codes to a website is an interesting business area.

Now for the “WOW” moment.

When I was talking to Bulkeley,  he showed me his business card that had a 2-D barcode on the back.  He said, “go ahead scan it”.  When I scanned it, the application opened up the contact manager on my phone and auto-populated all of his details and asked me to confirm.  That was WOW.

You see ScanBuy and its consumer facing ScanLife website gives you the opportunity to have your own personal 2-D barcodes that link to a website or launch a contact application.  There are codes you can make for websites, phone numbers, SMS, Twitter, and even a menu of items.

Here is my contact 2-D Barcode:

And here is another that links to my personal Website:

And yet another that I made to link to my favorite Youtube video. I bet you can’t guess which one?

You can even change the destination website of any barcode on the ScanLife website.  If you have a smartphone with a ScanLife application, you can scan these codes directly from your computer screen.

He told me his daughter has a barcode on her dorm door and changes the website with her mood and likes.

I could envision a whole new market in fraternities, sororities and dorms.  No need to put a piece of clothing on the door knob as the signal of an “overnight” guest.   Just make sure your roommate scans before he enters!

But as they say – Wait –there’s more to this story….

A day later I was taking the train back to New Jersey from New York.  The train was full and I was sitting alone in two facing seats.  Three others came to occupy the other spots.  There were two young women – maybe 22 – one with bright purple hair and lots of interesting body art and the other very blonde and pixie-like.  Their androgynous boyfriend rounded out the group.  Needless to say, I did not have much in common or much to say as the went on about their art exhibits and music performances.  This was not the “Hey! how about those Yankees?” crowd. And I was not up on the latest exhibit in the Village.

This all changed when Miss Pixie took out her Android phone.  Ah!, now something of a connection.  We had a long discussion on apps and her favorites. Her two interesting friends also had Androids, but older models (at least 6 months) and seemed behind the curve.   Pixie liked the same apps I did.  I am not sure what to conclude from that, so moving on…..

She had Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Skype and Google Navigation.  Her really favorite “cool” app was, you guessed it –  ScanLife.  She did not even know the name of the company, just that she could use it when she shopped.

At this point her rather purple,  pierced  and tattooed friend perked up and said , “I always wanted to get a barcode tatoo.”

Not wanting to waste a good promotion opportunity for Mr. Bulkeley’s company, I explained how she could have her own personal barcode that linked to something that she could pick, and even change.  She was delighted and copied down the info.

For this group of avant-garde artists, it was one more cool thing to adorn their body with , and something they could scan with their phones.

The train pulled into my stop and my new friends, who were brought together by our Droids and barcodes, parted ways.

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Filed under advertising, android, Apple, Droid Incredible, E-Commerce, facebook, Google, iphone, mobile, Mobile Application Stores, mobile commerce, mobile games, new media, New York, Rangers, sex, skype, smart phone, Smartphone, social networking, Twitter, wireless

A Special Thanksgiving Lesson – From Mobile Social Networking

Thanksgiving is a holiday that all Americans, regardless of culture, ethnicity, religion and politics seem to rally behind. I decided to put this notion to a test.

A couple of years ago, I decided to run a small social experiment during the Thanksgiving season. At the time I was CEO of UPOC. I invited members from several diverse groups into a special “What are you thankful for…?” – mobile chat group. The idea was to have everyone give a “shout out” of thanks. The experimental part of this mobile chat group was the source of the member groups that were invited.

These groups included: Christian Fundamentalists, Atheists, Communists, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, Anarchists, Right to Lifers, Republicans, Druids, Democrats, Red Sox Fans, Yankee Fans, Reform Jews, Blacks, Asians, Gays, Lesbians, Hispanics, Satanists, Israeli and Palestinian, Young and Old.

Yes! I even invited Red Sox fans!

I tried to get the most diverse group of individuals I could possibly imagine that had open chat profiles. In the end I invited about 5000 people and got about 500 to join.

In the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was careful to hide the sources of the groups of the members.

Different Cultures, Religions, Ethnicity, Sexual Preferences, and Sports Affiliations. None of the differences were obvious, just the similarity of giving thanks.

Leading up to the holiday, the expressions of thanks were heart warming. Many gave thanks for Family, Friends and God. Some expressions of thanks were deeply personal including being thankful for a second chance with a loved one, being paroled from jail, having recovered from an illness, having the opportunity to see a loved one for the holiday, etc. The expressions of introspective appreciations knew no boundaries of culture. If you hid the chat handles from the messages you would have had a very difficult time identifying the group that a specific message had originated. It seems that people are really just people.

Everyone has their share of joy and “meshugas”

The second unexpected part of this experiment happened after the long Thanksgiving weekend. The expressions of thankfulness stopped and biases and bigotry emerged.

By the end of the week the word had gotten out to the participants who some of the other members of this group really were. That’s another side of social networking, its tough to keep secrets.

Right and Left Wingers began to spar, Fundamentalists started to try to save the Satanists, Hassidic Jews were condescending of Reform Jews- And the Red Sox and Yankees fans – it was just too ugly to repeat…

Stripped of their diverse background identifiers, people of vastly different cultures have very similar things to be thankful about.

Once the identity veil was lifted I was thankful that everyone in the group was in cyberspace and not really in the same physical room. I removed the group a week after Thanksgiving to avoid potential bloodshed.

Maybe there is something we all can learn from this social experiment in this season of Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Isarel, lesbian, mobile, politics, sex, Social Media, social networking, Thanksgiving

Open Letter to Madison Avenue

iphonev5800This past week the New York Times had an article about the convergence of contextual advertising and Smart phones. The potential for highly targeted advertising including the use of GPS is a trend I have been discussing in this blog for over a year.

 

The interesting angle in the NY Times piece , “Is this an invasion of privacy?”

Regardless of ones wishes, all consumers will continue to be bombarded with advertising, much of which is the Madison Avenue equivalent of carpet bombing. As with the military version, this is a technique whose time has come and gone.

For the purposes of this article I will focus on video advertising because like many consumers, I can not tell you the last Internet banner ad I paid any attention to or clicked on.

I watch most of my video entertainment on the Internet. I frequent the websites of the major networks, as well as Hulu and YouTube. All of these sites have various forms of advertisements.

Most of these (I would say 99.999%) have zero interest for me.

These are a wasted investment with no opportunity to drive a sale of anything.

Would I prefer to see ads that were actually targeted to my interests? Of course I would. I would prefer no advertisements at all, but that is not realistic.

For me this equation becomes very simple. If I want advertisements that I would care about, the advertisers must have knowledge specific to my interests through some mechanism. The advertisers can either try to derive my interests through various contextual techniques (location, click analysis, websites frequented, purchases made, etc) or they can simply ask me.

Both of these techniques run into privacy concerns. There are fear mongers claiming that “big brother” is watching us and will do some unmentioned evils with all of this data. The questions are: What is private? What should remain private? and What forms of personal information can be revealed for mutual benefit?

I believe that information that is your medical history , your financial status, your sexual orientation, your marital status, your status as a veteran and your religion should remain private unless you explicitly release it. Basic consumer desires are fair game in my opinion.

Any person in 2009, however, who has any expectation that their Internet use, whether on a PC or a Smartphone, cannot be monitored for commercial gain is living in a fantasy world. Perhaps it is for this reason that 10’s of millions of Facebook subscribers readily reveal the most intimate details about their lives. They are just not concerned about their privacy.

If you have an expectation of privacy then never use a credit card, or make a phone call, or shop in a store, or use the Internet, or send a text message, or stay at a hotel, or use an airline, or subscribe to anything. You cannot live in modern society without leaving a digital trail of breadcrumbs that can be used for commercial purposes.

Now back to my video entertainment.

sgt_starWhen I watch any of my favorite shows I am subjected to commercials on trucks, beer, video games, grape juice (as a cure for everything!), tax services, an assortment of female oriented products, German cars, U.S. Army recruitment, fast food, etc. All of this investment is wasted on me.

To make my video watching more enjoyable and to help save advertisers millions of dollars, I offer the following open letter to those who want to advertise to me in the future:

Dear Advertisers

I will never buy a truck,a German car or an SUV. I am not interested in woman’s deodorant, and the last Budweiser Beer I drank was in High School. (Yes Mom, I did drink beer in high school) I don’t smoke, so telling me to stop is a waste of your breathe. I already have a subscription to the New York Times, so ads that try to get me to subscribe are also a waste, I only need one copy of your newspaper per day.

I am past the age of recruitment for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. My kids are not interested in the military. We do support you and suggest you save the money that you use to advertise to me and use it to pay your soldiers more.

To Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys, and Dominos, we get it. You are fast, unhealthy and fattening. Please save the advertisements on me and work on your quality instead.

I have no interest in household cleaning products. I don’t know which one is for what mess.

I do like action movies, ice hockey (particularly the New York Rangers),baseball (Yankees), football (Jets), politics, and technology. I like the latest electronic gadgets, high definition television, anything made by Apple, and Japanese cars that last 15 years.

For Verizon, I would gladly consider switching my cable and Internet provider to your Fios service, if and when you get the one HD channel that I really care about. If you paid attention to this open letter you would know that it is MSG. Any advertising to me that does not have the words “We now have MSG in HD” is a waste of money.

I also find that a mob of guys in glasses and Verizon uniforms following me around to be creepy.

I like good wine and hand crafted microbrews. I prefer the anti-oxidants of grapes in my Chianti, not Welchs grape juice.

If you want to sell me diamonds and gold jewerly, then only send these ads to me a month before my wife’s birthday. You’ll have to get that information from her. But then, it is in her interest to tell you, isn’t it?

Now you have it. It would have taken millions in investment dollars to build the algorithm to derive this same information about me. This is a win-win. I get ads that I would at least find entertaining and focused on my interests, and you get a chance that is greater than zero of influencing a purchase decision.

I expect that the next time I watch something on Hulu, or “The Office” on NBC.com that the ads will be focused on my interests.

Regards,

Steve Spencer

A good ad targeted to my interests

A good ad targeted to my interests

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Filed under advertising, Apple, Content, mobile, mobile advertising, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, subscription servcies, You Tube

America 2.0

In a historic sense, we have officially begun the era of America 2.0. Many political pundits and Presidential historians will make a living for the next generation with analysis of what the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama will mean for our collective futures.

obamaMy angle is simple and parallels the major technological force that is reshaping our society, Web2.0.

In Presidential terms, there have been a few major inflection points in our history. If you doubt this just ask a grade school student.

There was Washington and the creation of our nation, Lincoln and emancipation and the Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt for the New Deal, World War II, and the Great (first?) Depression, Lyndon Johnson for civil rights, and Reagan for the the fall of the Soviet Union.

In each case history can be starkly categorized in a before and after view.

In communication technological terms we had similar points of demarcation such as the invention of language, use of written alphabets, scrolls and books, the printing press, mail service, libraries, telegraph, radio, television, telephone, wireless communications, computers, the Internet and now Web2.0.

President Obama came to power in the midst of, and partly because of, the changing societal norms in the way we all communicate.

Franklin Roosevelt with his fireside chats,  mastered radio as a communications vehicle. John Kennedy mastered the medium of television and Ronald Reagan combined television with a mastery of the pulpit at Evangelical Churches to communicate his message. President Obama is the first Web2.0 President.

The real message here is that we have now passed the tipping point for Web2.0. This is no longer an election story, but one that will be commonplace in how we move forward as a society.
Web2.0 will be part of all future marketing campaigns as well as political movements. The 10’s of millions of “friends” in the various Obama social networking groups do not cease to exist on January 21, 2009. Social Networks live on. These lists will grow, will influence, will be influenced, and will become the number one asset in the inevitable re-election campaign of 2012.

With a new found appreciation for the power of Web2.0, marketing organizations, brands and other organizations are jumping into this medium.

Here are my Web2.0 examples from the inauguration:

CNN.com

facebook/obama

How compelling was it to watch the inauguration on CNN’s web page with all of your Facebook friends scrolling their comments, compared to “Katie Couric 1.0” on one-way, non-interactive broadcast television?

Facebook Postings:

During the Inauguration I got recommendations from a relative in Israel, in real time, to befriend someone who was posting their reactions and photos, live from the Washington Mall by way of Facebook.

Falcons 1976:

My high school class recently started a virtual reunion on Facebook. This class was very much shaped by the titanic forces of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. We had an integrated school district with busing in a community that was largely segregated. To share the joy and amazement of what we witnessed this week with some long lost schoolmates was fantastic.

Other:

Twitter, MySpace and Youtube were all a buzz with a constant flow of words, photos and videos.

We are all connected in a way that has tipped the political landscape.

During his speech, President Obama stated that the old rules no longer apply. There are many ways to interpret this statement. One way is that we are so connected with Web2.0 that the old rules of controlling mass public opinion are just that, old.

Social networks, whether formed for political purposes, commercial marketing or high school reunion’s organically exist, grow and feed amongst themselves. They are the new medium for mass communication.

The important lessons from history are that this change, this inflection point, is not inherently good or evil, it just is. Its power is in how it influences our real lives. In the case of President Obama, it has affected all of our lives and perhaps the future history of the world for the next generation.

It is up to us to determine the uses.

Will it continue to empower self expression and sharing of ideas or become an even more powerful mechanism for controlling public option?

We are now sitting at a point in history that will be written about for the next 100 years.

The choice is how we use this new communication medium is ours.

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Filed under America 2.0, facebook, inauguration, mobile, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, new media, politics, President Obama, Presidental History, Social Media, social networking, Twitter, You Tube

Miracle at the Meadowlands, Seen with my Eyes – Confirmed via Mobile

ny-jets-logo-2For me, Sunday at the Meadowlands usually means a Jets game. This past Sunday “Gang Green”, as they are affectionately known, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
With just two minutes left in the game, Buffalo was leading by 3 points.  At this point they inexplicitly called a pass play that resulted in a sack, and fumble, with an eventual lucky bounce into the cement-like hands of Jets Lineman Shaun Ellis.  To copy a quote from “Analyze This”, Sean Ellis is so large he creates his own gravitational field, which is the only explanation for the ball finding his hands and him rumbling 9 yards into the end zone. The Jets held on to win 31-27.

The fans started a cheer of “Holy Sh**, Holy Sh**”    We just could not believe that a miracle would happen for our team.   By now you might be asking yourself, “so, what’s the wireless angle on aimg00202ll this?”

My wireless football experience began with the tailgate ritual.  I cooked steak and shrimp and had to send an MMS of this delicacy to a friend of mine who is a Buffalo Bills fan.  In complete disclosure, this friend is also a Boston Red Sox fan, so being a Bills fan is the least of his offenses.  I exchanged several SMS messages with him while engaged in the macho tradition of cooking in a frozen, dusty parking lot with 75,000 other men and about 20 women.

Inside the stadium my wireless game experience continued with two shortcode invitations from the Jets.  The first is a shortcode to send a message if I feel there is a problem with my seat of my section.  Just text your section and seat to “NJSEA” and what the problem is and, in theory, something will happen other than getting sent an offer to subscribe to ringtones.  This service is provided by a company called Guestassist.  I did send a text during the game.  I mentioned that from my seat I had determined that the Jets defense was not pass rushing enough and should start to blitz more.  Maybe this text message got through to the Jets coaching staff and resulted in the sack and fumble that won the game?

Another texting offer was to subscribe to “Jets News“.  I send the keyword “Go Green” to the shortcode and got a response that included an advertisement for AllState insurance.  Besides the advertisement, I got no other alerts or news during the most exciting game in recent Jet memory.  This service gets flagged for “Why bother?”

I had previously subscribed to the ESPN sports alert service for the Jets (and the Rangers, btw).  This service sends me an alert every time there is a change of score in a game.   The alerts are timely, usually arriving a minute after the score.  I needed this service, because after Shaun Ellis scored I was still in disbelief until my ESPN SMS confirmed the event.

Uploaded to my Facebook

Uploaded to my Facebook

Arriving concurrently with my ESPN confirmation,, I got an email that my wife sent to me via her I-Touch.  She was at my son’s Lacrosse game and the facility has free Wi-Fi, and televisions that were tuned to the game.  This was my second confirmation that this play that I had witnessed with my eyes, had indeed occurred and that the Jets had taken the lead.  I now, thanks to mobile technology, could stop pinching myself.

Once the event was independently confirmed by mobile sources, I sent the Buffalo Bills fans another MMS picture with the fans going crazy, along with some gloating comment.  I would only have done this after dual independent confirmation, via mobile of the play.  After all, I am a Jets fan, and seeing the miracle happen in person is a necessary, but not sufficient criteria for actually believing that it happened!

Lastly, I have become a big fan of the Facebook application for my Blackberry.  I took several pictures during the game and with one click, posted them directly to my Facebook page via my Blackberry.  This capability opens up the realm of “Face-casting” a sporting event.

Seeing a miracle happen at a Jets Game is good, getting it really confirmed by wireless- Priceless!

Miracle at the Meadowlands

Miracle at the Meadowlands

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Filed under advertising, Apple, blackberry, Christmas, facebook, iphone, mobile, mobile advertising, Rangers, Santa Claus, social networking, wifi, wireless

Wireless, Politics, the Economy and Hockey

Sometimes if you just take a moment for deeper observation at an event you can get a sense of what pundits spend a lifetime interpreting. Last night I took my youngest daughter to a Ranger game. They lost in overtime, 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers, so I will not dwell too much on the fantastic comeback, the grit and determination and the ultimate let down.

Here are my other observations during those 4 hours:

Observation 1 – Wireless Gen
My daughter sent and received approximately 120 text messages. She communicated to classmates about the homework she would have to do when she got home, she chatted with her cousin about God knows what, She took three calls, and she cheered the loudest in are section. She does not have ADHD, she just multitasks at the rate of a cyborg!! This is the next generation.

Observation 2- Politics

obama buttonThroughout the game the roving camera guys put crazed fans on the big jumbotron. Twice last night, the fan was wearing a big Obama button on their Ranger jersey. When they saw themselves on the arena scoreboard instead of pointing to their Ranger emblem, they pointed to the Obama button! If seems the hockey Mom and Dad demographic in New York went for Obama.
Observation 3- More Wireless
The Rangers have several interactive mobile promotions during the game. The simplest is a text to screen application where your message is displayed on the scoreboard. What is “interesting” is that you text to one shortcode, get a thank you message from another shortcode and then are instructed to text a third shortcode for a free wallpaper. Also, the thank you shortcode responds with “Thank you for voting!” Opps? Did I vote? Time to check that campaign provisioning!

NOTE TO NEW YORK RANGERS MOBILE DEPARTMENT:

I herby offer – pro-bono (maybe you can pay me with an autographed stick) to fix your mobile applications to make them coherent and effective; to have them run on one shortcode, with proper messaging before, during and after the user interaction.

Observation 4- The Economy

rangersuites

I made a quick count on the number of empty luxury suites last night. I stopped counting after 23. Madison Square Garden has about 60 suites for the well-heeled New York corporate crowd. While I have seen empty suites in the past, the number of dark boxes is very large. As a proxy for the recession/depression on Wall Street, just counting the number of flipped light switched on luxury boxes is a leading indicator of the economy.

Observation 5- The Economy – Oh Canada! (Or is it just the Oil(ers))

Since the Rangers were playing a Canadian based team, the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S. are sung before the game. I like the Canadian Anthem, and can sing it with the best of them. I have to admit I was never quite sure who Canadians are “on Guard” from?

Anyway, I observed a very large number of Edmonton Oiler fans, from Canada. This is unusual. Usually the out of town fans come from New Jersey, Long Island and Philly. This got me thinking. Is there some other geopolitical trend that has caused these fans to be in New York?

I came to three possibilities – either they paid for a tour before the dollar increased in value, or they all work for oil companies in Edmonton and have more money than they know what to do with, or they are Canadian “snow birds” who escape the harsh Canadian winter to bask in the less harsh New York winter. You decide.

Amazing what you can observe if you just take a minute to look!

iamaranger800

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Filed under economy, hockey, media, mobile, New York, obama, politics, Rangers, wireless