Sunday, April 27, 2014

Social: Starbucks Should Create Own Social Page (Maybe App) Locialized For Customers

Coffee drinkers are everywhere but coffee lovers and aficionados are a special breed. And there are lots of them at pretty much all the Starbucks stores I’ve visited. It’s why when I logged onto Starbucks free WiFi in the US and get taken to a start page that is filled with pretty easy-going and interesting information about news, weather, local events, etc., I found something missing on this day of social networks.  Yeah, a social network.


Granted Facebook has a presence on just about every social network out there (like Twitter)  and an old school mailing list, there is nothing that allows people to share about their experience in the store.  Something that allows the local customers to connect to get to know the baristas,  share tips and drinks, and even let the store know how much we appreciate them and, from time to time, offer tips.  Perhaps, localized deals can be advertised in this manner.

This would help drive sales and merchandising.  On top of that, it could create a small community

It would be a special level of social connection not seen before.  It’s likely what is being suggested here isn’t a totally new and novel concept but there is only so much reach that corporate so high up can do at the local level.  It’s likely many of us have Starbucks accounts and more and more of us are using our mobile devices to conduct our transactions with Starbucks.  This social feature would be perfect for mobile.

I see one possible reason why Starbucks or any other corporation might shy away from this:  control.  You want to make sure that localized social store networks don't get out of control.  I'm sure smarter folks than me will have an idea or two about this.  Right off the top of my head, it's possible for Starbucks corporate to create strict guidelines on this while providing regulations on how employees on the local level interact and update their store information.

With the way social is going and the growing noise out there, this is quite possibly the best way to foster interests and maintain the small community feel.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mobile: Amazon Disabled Convenient In-App Purchases For Nearly 100% of Mobile - Need To Find Alternative

Last month, Amazon became the proud owner of Comixology, a popular and likely the only source of mainstream comic books for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  Didn't think much of it until today when the convenience of in-app purchases was stripped away in an update.


Why?

It's easy to understand why as Amazon is looking out for its bottom-line.  What's also obvious is that Amazon doesn't care about its customers in this regard.  Personally, I get both sides of why Amazon did this and why this move is very bad for loyal customers.

As someone who makes purchases from Comixology, I have to say that I'm looking to alternative apps or sites to make my purchases.  If there is one out there, please share and let us know.

I know that DC and Marvel both have their separate apps.  However, they are both powered by Comixology.  It's likely that only some sort of contractual agreement has made it impossible for Amazon to remove in-app purchases from those two apps.  It's also quite likely that Amazon's Comixology team just have not gotten around to it.

Again, dick-ish move but I understand why Amazon did it.  After all, it's stock has been tanking while costs are up and investor patience are at the end of the rope. Still, I think Amazon is a company I can do business with (I am a Prime member and make much purchases through Amazon).  But I've begun to look elsewhere as I think some of their practices are anti-competitive.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mobile: Maybe Apple and Samsung Should Keep An Eye on HTC And Not Just Each Other

I have to admit that I've got a bit of envy when it came to the HTC One from a year ago when I saw a friend with it.  However, despite his bravado, I knew that the battery life on the One was no better (in fact, I think it's worse) than other flagship devices from competitors like LG and Samsung.  And sure, the bigger screen on the One did elicit some envy, I did not think it was enough to get me excited and trade in for one (One's camera just was not not as impressive as HTC claimed it to be).

However, it appears the new One M8, let's just call it the M8, is getting enough iPhone owners to trade up.  According to Macworld, 45% of those who bought the M8 were either Galaxy S 4 or iPhone users.  That is quite an impressive number.  I'm not sure even the iPhone has come close to getting Android defections with each new release.

This is worrying for Samsung because of the 21%+ Galaxy users who upgraded, many of those were Galaxy S 4 users, a device that is only a year old.  That means the M8 is moving in on the once seemingly untouchable Galaxy brand.

Trade-ins of iPhone involved a large number of iPhone 5 users, who likely were not impressed with the 5S with its Touch ID and 64-bit chip.  While it's still bad news for Apple, the iPhone 5 is more than 18 months old. 

So, it's possible that HTC has managed to, at least for now, insert itself back into the mobile war that was becoming more and more like a two-horse race.  For the woes that HTC has experienced in the last few years, being a viable distant third ain't bad. 

Personally, I'm waiting to see what Apple might have by way of the iPhone 6, what new features it'll sport, screen size, and battery life.  It comes down to the iPhone 6 and M8 for me.  At this junction, I'm not even looking at the Galaxy S 5.  I've got a Note 3 already so I don't see any major difference there.

And I wonder if this isn't just me. If folks are giving the M8 a harder look, by passing the S 5, or waiting for the iPhone 6, Samsung could be in a world of hurt.  And of course, Apple better really step up with the iPhone 6. 

Whether I ultimately decide on another iPhone or the M8, I'm truly rooting for HTC because I hate to see this come down to just Apple and Samsung.  Because let's face it, Microsoft and Blackberry ain't mounting any kind of comeback in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Know A Fake When I See One

Today, there are more than a few pics depicting what appears to be the front face of the next iPhone, presumably called the iPhone 6.  Well, I can tell you this.  It doesn't jive with the design direction that Apple is heading towards nor does it work with how best one will interact with a larger screen iPhone.

I'm calling it a fake or someone getting turned around by misinformation.  (Appleinsider).

It's possible that I just refuse to believe that Apple will go back to the iPhone 4 screen ratio and that the pic showed what is essentially a bigger size iPhone 4 or 4S.  Operationally, whatever size the screen that is bigger than the current 4" on the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple will have to compromise somewhat on the one-hand operation doctrine.

Why are we trafficking in rumors when we've consistently said in the past that we wouldn't?  Well, we've walked a fine line here but I believe we haven't.  Pointing out a bad rumor is a public service in my mind.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Samsung Right Up There With Battery Life - Apple, Google, Microsoft Far, Far Behind

Say what you will about Samsung (good or bad), it appears that Samsung has made battery life a priority, something that I have found lacking in the mobile market in general and, more specifically, lacking over with Apple and other major mobile hardware makers.  I specifically pointed out Apple because this is likely one area where Apple will be forced to copycat Samsung.

For years, Apple has accused Samsung as a copycat.  Apple is both right and wrong.  It's right because Samsung does copy Apple.  Let's be fair about this, folks.  Samsung does.  But it doesn't just copy Apple. 

At the same time, Apple isn't guilt free as far as being a copycat goes.  It has in the past taken the best features from other companies and made it its own.  Albeit, sometimes improve upon them. 

In the mobile where, having impressively long battery life is a feature.  As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most important feature a phone or tablet can have.  According to Phone Arena, Samsung's new Galaxy S 5 is in a class of its own with battery life that nears that of tablets like Apple's iPad Air with its impressively long battery life.

And I reiterate again, Apple will have to figure out a way catch up to Samsung with better battery life on its iOS devices, specifically the next generation iPhone.  And if I were Samsung, I'd use battery life to hammer Apple or anyone else in its marketing.

Galaxy S5 will sport 8 hours and 20 minutes of battery life while only behind the iPad Air by 18 minutes.  It's biggest phone competitor, the iPhone 5S is way behind at just 2 minutes over 5 hours.  As an iPhone user, I'm very disappointed with its battery life.  Sure, it'll last me a regular day's worth of mobile activity but it's very moderate by most standards.  If I use the camera or wireless features too much, I'd start worry about finding an outlet or making sure I've got my external battery pack handy.

So, this is absolutely a knock on Apple.  But at the same time, Google, LG, HTC, and Microsoft/Nokia are even worse. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Privacy: Messaging Scanning, If Google And Others Can, Why Not Facebook

I'm never one to defend Facebook.  I think it's privacy policies are horrible and a detriment to society as whole.  Cannot stand the company.  Having said that, I'm a bit perplexed by the class-action suit against Facebook (Electronista) for scraping messages to better target ads. 

I know that its policies says (or had said) otherwise but we cannot expect this not to happen.  All those personal details there just for the taking.  You know it.  I know it.  Every Facebook user should know this.  This is how Facebook works.

It says one thing and does another.  It'll withstand the fines or any public blow-back.  And as far as blow-backs go, there really has not been any in the media.  Some blogs like ours here but not much else.  I've given up trying to preach to others about the evils of Facebook. 

The thing is this.  If Google, Microsoft, and others scrape e-mails, timelines, and messages to better target ads, why is anyone else expecting anything different from Facebook despite what its privacy policy says.  And unless the fines are so big, companies will continue to push the envelope on this.

And whose fault will it be?  The users who are addicted to these social networks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Apple, American Express, Mobile Payment: Twenty Five Percentage Of a Market Isn't Bad If It's the High-End and Profitable

I have been thinking about mobile payment for a while and have been waiting for the day when I can just leave my wallet at home and just carry around with me my phone as far back as I can remember.  So far, that day is not even remotely close.  But that's the topic for another day. 

Mobile payment is what is on everyone's mind these days with dozens of efforts to try to get it off the ground including early and continuing attempts to make work with NFC.  However, without the support of a few major players like Apple, it's going nowhere.  See, Apple has its own vision for mobile payment and we've see a few pieces of this initiative in Passbook and TouchID.

Whatever and however the implementation Apple decides to proceed with mobile payment, here's the thing to consider.  The iPhone accounts for about 20 to 25% of the mobile market in terms of units sold each year and we don't know if the needle on that will move further up much.  Still, 25% of a market could be seen as a failure, right?

Not if this 25% consists mostly of the high-end portion of the market. And that is exactly what Apple has for the most part.  This is true in terms of iOS device sales as well as the PC market where Apple has only 10% of the overall computer market but seems to be the only computer company that is making any money these days.

What does this have to do with mobile payment.  Consider the four dominant cards available.  According to The Nilson Report, VISA and Mastercard dominates the credit market with American Express account for 12%.  In terms of transactions, American Express accounted for little more than 3.5%. 

However, CardHub showed that in terms of value (data from 2012, it's all I can find on the Internet), American Express accounted for 25% (probably 27%) of value of all credit card transactions - beating out even MasterCard.  Over all, American Express has more than three times the value of transaction per card over its rivals. 

Why is this at all important to Apple and mobile payment?

American Express, considered more exclusive and higher end, just like Apple's products, may not have the dominance in terms of cards issued but the level of spending is what matters most and that is where it has a bigger piece of the pie.

When Apple does enter the payment market with its 600 million iTunes accounts, Apple still will not dominate the handset market.  However, given that Apple users having a tendency to embrace new apps and features, a vast majority of iPhone users will embrace mobile payment if Apple does implement it correctly. 

The same assertion cannot be applied to Android users.  Furthermore, with iOS users more comfortable with shopping on their mobile devices than Android users and spend more per transaction (BGR), iPhone users may help Apple dominate the payment market even if it does dominate the over all handset market.

Like American Express who does not own the credit card market in terms of cards issued, Apple will not show up big in terms of number of mobile payment users compared to Android.  However, like American Express credit card users, iPhone users will rack a higher average total billing than non-iOS mobile payment users.  It's even possible that Apple could dominate the purchase and value market through mobile payment.

That is already happening.  Last Holidays season, iOS users accounted for 5X more sale and spent twice more per transaction than Android users. 

That said, the future isn't written in stone.  No one  knows exactly how Apple's mobile payment works.  Perhaps, an updated Google Wallet could be just what users want.  Key here is competition and the potential that mobile payment holds.  Personally, I'm cautiously expected by the prospects. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New iOS Features, Like AirDrop, Could Affect Your iPhone's Battery Life

Here is an excellent post from Buzzfeed about iPhone battery life - why it's shorter than you expect and what you should do about it.  For the most part, it's about turning off features you don't need.  It's that simple.  There, i just switched on airplane mode but enabled my WIFI. 

From time to time, we get these posts and they're most rehashing of things we already know about with our mobile devices, specifically here, the iPhone.  However, from time to time, Apple also release not only new hardware but also new features with each annual iOS upgrade. 

Case in point here is Airdrop.  It's a pretty neat feature especially if you've got a lot of folks around you with the newer iPhones like the 5S and you happen to share a lot of files with them.  Otherwise, if you're like me, who either doesn't share much or doesn't have a lot of folks around me with the newest and baddest from Apple, you can turn that feature off. 

And then there's the last reason why your iPhone battery life doesn't last as long as you want it to.  It's because you keep using it.  Let it chill in your pocket, purse, or wherever so you're not constantly updating your Twitter or Facebook feed and actually look up from the people across the table who you're having dinner with and talk to them directly.