Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

The Revolution Will Not Be Printed

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
The Revolution Will Not Be Printed

It’s easy to believe that since print survived radio and television it will survive the Internet. After listening to Barry Dawson, I’m not so sure. Or to take a more nuanced approach, I’m not sure it will continue to influence the culture and the economy to the extent it has since Gutenberg invented movable type more than 500 years ago.

Certainly print works better for some content and some eyes, but not news. Its immediacy seeks out the fastest and most flexible medium, and digital tools deliver. Combine original content, new distribution channels and innovative marketing and you have a potentially profitable business, as well as an alternative to ink.

Barry DawsonThat brings us to Dawson, a resident of the West End of Monroe County, a rural area of the Pocono Mountains in Northeast Pennsylvania. Long inhabited by the descendants of German and Dutch settlers, the area best known for woodlands and resorts continues to transition to a bedroom community for metropolitan New York and New Jersey. Several papers, radio and television stations cover the region but shifts in the economy and the culture have gutted their newsrooms.

Enter the digital entrepreneur. Dawson grew up in the West End, moved to North Carolina and returned to take a job in radio promotion with a pair of stations in the nearby Lehigh Valley. He has local knowledge, knows how to bypass channel surfers by embedding commercial messages in programs and lives on his mobile phone. Combining those assets, he bought a police scanner, became a reluctant reporter and launched westendsupporter.com and westendradio101.com. He also integrated his site with accounts at Facebook and other networks as a way to drive traffic and measure results.

Dawson believes that with its speed to market, digital news will eventually replace printed news. It’s a natural fit. Blending content and commerce creates a viable business model. Only time and his bank account will prove him right. Meanwhile, here are five conclusions I’ve drawn from his venture:

  1. Digital trumps print for speed and relevance
  2. Mobile devices trump PCs for optimum news delivery
  3. Micro content beats state, national and international news for gaining followers
  4. In our attention-deficit culture, product integration trumps advertising
  5. For marketers, digital offers the precise measurement of the effectiveness of the ad spend.

Where do you find your news? And do you think print and the people who produce it will dwindle in importance?

The Pause that Refreshes

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
The Pause that Refreshes

My uncle and I were visiting the restroom during a showing at the old Eric Theater in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I didn’t want to miss the good parts of the movie but Uncle Max had other priorities. Leaning into the urinal, he heaved a huge sigh and exclaimed, “Ah, the pause that refreshes.”

As a kid I didn’t get the reference to the Coca-Cola slogan but I could tell he felt relieved. His point has become all the more poignant as age has inflated everything in our lives, from prices to prostates. Sometimes it makes liquids and films incompatible.

That’s why I was intrigued to discover RunPee.com, a website and app that suggest the optimum time to pause for a bio break during a movie. Take the most recent James Bond film, “Skyfall.” At minute 63 Bond raises his drink in a salute to the bodyguards. Here’s what RunPee advises: “You will have five minutes to pee while . . . cut to Bond and the three bodyguards fighting. It’s a really poor fight scene. Bond and one of the bodyguards end up in the Komodo Dragon pit.”

There’s more plot summary so you don’t feel left out of Monday morning water cooler conversation, after visiting the pit, slit trench, latrine or (if you’re Canadian) kaibo of your choice.

Here’s how it works. Download the app to your smartphone. Select the movie you are about to watch. After the credits end, start the timer. Your phone will vibrate before each suggested break in the movie. You can then run to the bathroom while reading what’s happening back in the theater.

The app is available for Android, Apple and Windows 7 operating systems. Or you can see runtimes and read reviews on the website.

Here’s why the app was invented. Dan Florio was watching the remake of “King Kong” around Christmas of 2005. The movie was about 3 hours long. “By the end of the movie I desperately needed to pee,” he said. “Like so badly I couldn’t enjoy the movie. But I wasn’t about to leave the theater before it was over.”

Those of you who’ve seen the movie know Dan could have sneaked out for dinner and another film and not missed much. But diligent movie buff that he is, he devised a cutting-edge solution with low-tech research. His family views each “wide release” movie on opening day. They watch for 3-5-minute spans where “nothing really exciting, or funny, or important happens” and leak the plot results.

You’re now free to roam about the water closet. Just don’t drop the phone.

As Technology Booms so Does Need for Simplicity

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
As Technology Booms so Does Need for Simplicity

What’s cool to one person can leave others cold. Technology is like that. Some get excited by it. Others get tangled in it.

As homes incorporate more sophisticated technology, builders and designers have to question whether customers will be wowed by all of the gadgets or struggle to operate them. The question goes well beyond the old cliché of whether older eyes can read the buttons on a remote.

Some thought-leaders are addressing the issue.

“Boomers are a very diverse group,” said Anne Postle, AIA, owner of osmosis art and architecture in Colorado. “Many are quite tech savvy, but others don’t want technology that complicates their lives. Examples of this are controls that require that you get out the instruction manual whenever you want to adjust a light, AV controls that require that you adopt a teenager (who understands the remote) if you want to watch a movie, or any system that loses all of its pre-programmed settings when the power fails.

“Too often, the technology that is ‘old hat’ to the Millennials can be very frustrating to the boomer. Consider things like night path lights through the house on a motion sensor, charging stations for phones and tablets and outlets that include a USB port for electronics. Smart builders will take a cue from Steve Jobs and offer technology that is intuitive, solves problems and truly simplifies the Boomers’ life.”

Emergency? Who You Gonna Call?

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Emergency? Who You Gonna Call?

Payphones have gone the way of steam engines and spats. Concern about security has not. Colleges have responded by installing emergency call stations known for their blue lights. Adults old enough to remember rotary phones can use their landlines and lifelines.

Leave it to the Internet generation to develop an alternative.

Security apps for smartphones have become a booming business. They provide a wide range of functions, from receiving emergency notifications to connecting you with commercial monitoring teams through a subscription service. Apple’s App Store alone lists 98 apps in the emergency-alert category.

What’s your best bet if you want to use your smartphone as a mobile substitute for blue-light boxes? Here’s a short list of apps, some free, some not, starting with passive software and advancing toward interactive systems.

  • CodeRED Mobile Alert. Designed to keep you informed, this app taps into the national CodeRED Emergency Notification System to alter subscribers of public safety issues.
  • Emergency. The utility allows the direct dialing to four main emergency services (general, fire, police, medical).
  • SOS Panic Button. This app features a large panic button that, when pressed, will use the phone’s GPS tracking feature to notify friends and family of your location by telephone and email.
  • Bluelight. The app notifies your friends and family when you don’t arrive at your destination as planned.
  • SOS Response. This is for users who want their smartphones to act more like hardwired home alarm and blue-light systems. The app sends photos and GPS information to a monitoring team, who then alert responders.
  • MyForce. Another subscription-based service, this app sends reports to alarm monitors who, the developer says, will connect to 911 dispatchers “after an emergency is validated.”

A word of caution about the technology. Anyone can use a blue-light emergency call button or home-alarm system. Only those who can afford a smartphone and the monthly fee can access some of these subscription services. And what happens if your phone can’t find a signal?

 

Taking the temperature of weather apps

Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Taking the temperature of weather apps

With much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern seaboard in the grip of hurricane season, residents might want to update their iPads with the latest weather apps. (The iPad doesn’t come with a basic weather app, unlike its smaller sibling, the iPhone.) Mashable’s Elizabeth Woodard has a few suggestions.

For basic information in an uncluttered display, Magical Weather presents a week’s worth of temperatures in a transparent pane over an animated background. Users can swipe to retrieve an hourly forecast.

For all the bells and whistles, Intellicast HD displays a full 10-day forecast with charts, graphs, sunrise and sunset times, moon phases, a radar picture, storm cell tracking, wind direction and a weather blog.

For customizable graphs, Seasonality Go shows users a series of screens they populate with weather data. Users can move and resize the panes with forecasts and maps until they find the one they want.

Some apps, like WeatherBug and The Weather Channel, are also available for iPhone and Android devices.

Now if they’d only keep the roof from leaking.

 

 

Hands across the ether

Friday, August 10th, 2012
Hands across the ether

I had a problem. The friend who had created and hosted my website for the past dozen years was closing his business. The server would go dark Friday. He let me know Monday. I felt more concerned about whether he would find a job than whether I could find a company to host the site. But since I make a living as a PR and social media strategist I thought I’d better not let all of those work and writing samples vanish into the ether.

So I called a national web hosting company whose name sounds like granddaddy and discovered that while it could host a site, it couldn’t migrate my pages to a new server. Nor would it offer much in the way of help, should I decide to go it alone.

So I did something I’ve only read about: I signed into LinkedIn and reached out to members of several groups to which I belong. Within a day I counted half a dozen recommendations, from big players to small local shops, all from people who have used the services. One person who has since become a connection, Diane Walz of Good Life Care in Sarasota, Florida recommended someone with whom she’d worked. The person was local. She specialized in WordPress projects. And, as Diane said, she’s nice.

Local, competent, nice. As Rick Hunter used to say, works for me.

So I emailed Robyn Dombrowski of Creative Heads on a Wednesday afternoon and got a quote. It seemed reasonable. So did she. After receiving the logon credentials she started work late Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon she had the site up and running. I’m testing it now and everything seems to work. She’s tweaking what doesn’t, including the email system, which now runs on both computer and smartphone.

This is the way social networks should work. They’re much more than a collection of pictures, posters and opinions. They’re a conduit to people with real world experience, the kind that keeps your business and your life running as smoothly as possible.

Someone once said the mission of all of us in public relations is to “be useful.” Social media is no different. We’re here to help. In a world complicated by devices and deadlines, it’s nice to see that philosophy in action.

The age of distracted viewing

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
The age of distracted viewing

Half of all cell phone owners use their devices while watching TV, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. Owners use their phones to engage with content, avoid advertising or interact with others. The report is based on a survey of 2,254 adults via landline and mobile phones.

The numbers drop dramatically with the increase in an owner’s age.

First the general stats. Of the 88% of American adults who own cell phones:

  • 38% use their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they are watching
  • 22% check whether something they’ve heard on television is true or not
  • 6% use their phones to vote for reality show contestants.

“Taken together, that works out to 52% of all adult cell owners who are ‘connected viewers’—meaning they took part in at least one of these activities in the 30 days preceding our survey,” the center reports.

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that as you age, you are less likely to use a mobile phone while watching TV:

  • While 81% of mobile phone owners in the 18-24 age bracket use their phone while watching TV, only 29% of those aged 55-64 and 16% of adults over age 65 multitask.
  • 73% of the 18-24 crowd uses phones to distract themselves during commercials while the numbers for the two older groups drop to 16% and 9%, respectively.
  • 45% of the 18-24 cohort uses the phone to fact check TV content while, in the two older groups, those numbers plummet to 8% and 4%, respectively.
  • Only 1% of adults over age 65 see what others are saying online about the program they’re watching. The figure rises to 28% for the youngest age group.

The numbers are similar for owners who use their mobile devices to interact with friends or contribute thoughts about televised content. In the 18-24 group, 28% post comments, 43% exchange test messages with others watching the same program and 7% vote for a reality show contestant. Compare that with adults over age 65, who rarely post comments (1%), seldom exchange text messages with other viewers (4%) and don’t vote for contestants (3%).

What does that say about engagement among older viewers? Are they too old fashioned to use new devices or do they have longer attention spans? Are they less inquisitive or more patient? What do you think?

Jeff Widmer

Access all areas

Friday, June 29th, 2012
Access all areas

Smartphones are replacing computers as our primary Internet devices.

More than half of American cell phone owners use their devices to access the Internet, according to a report issued this week by the Pew Research Center. That’s a big jump from the 31 percent of cell owners who said they used their phones to go online in April of 2009.

Nearly a fifth of cell phone users said they do most of their online browsing on their phone. The rapid adoption of the smartphone as a primary research and entertainment tool comes at the expense of other less-mobile devices such as desktop and notebook computers.

Why are people shifting their Internet portal to cell phones? The phones are convenient and always available. They fill access gaps and better fit people’s usage habits, the center reports.

The center conducted the national telephone survey this March and April. It included 2,254 adults age 18 and over, with 903 interviews conducted on the respondent’s cell phone.

Jeff Widmer

Measuring your brand’s health

Monday, June 11th, 2012
Measuring your brand's health

On Mashable this morning strategist Jacqueline Zenn lists nine ways to measure your brand’s social media health. Yet metrics aren’t the salvation for every social media program or campaign. “Even with all these metrics,” she cautions, “it is important to remember that there is no magic formula that will simply turn your social media marketing efforts into dollars.”

For those who want to get more measurement bang for their buck, here are three metrics that should top the list:

  • Interactions. The number of replies or comments you receive on a given post, tweet or update.
  • Influencers. The number of mentions by users you’ve designated as key influencers because of their social media following.
  • Mobile. The number of mentions of a brand on mobile social sites.

You can read about the other metrics at Mashable.

– Jeff Widmer

Older adults embrace technology

Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Older adults embrace technology

They may not spend most of their time sending text messages but older Americans are embracing digital technology. They use the internet, join social networks and own mobile phones, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The center reports that as of April 2012, 53% of American adults age 65 and older use the internet or email. This is the first time that half of seniors are going online.

A third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% report that they do so on a typical day. Most adults in this age group still rely on email to communicate, with 86% of internet users age 65 and older preferring that medium.

As for devices, the center found a growing share of seniors–69% of adults ages 65 and older–own a mobile phone. That’s up from 57% in May 2010.

– Jeff Widmer