“SEO is a marketing function for sure,
but it needs to be baked into a product,
not slapped on like icing
after the cake is baked.”

Duane Forrester

The Ultimate Debate: iPhone vs. Android

Among the age old debates, one stands supreme… Democrat or Republican? Psh no, they’re pretty much the same thing nowadays! Israel or Palestine? Come on, that’s never been a major historical issue!  Coke or Pepsi? Who gives a hoot?

Sarcasm aside, I’m talking about Apple vs. Android. More specifically the iPhone and iOS6 vs. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. In this blog, I will defend Apple while Waspit CMO and avid Android fanboy, Kasey Kaplan will defend Android.

Why Apple?
First I will dive in on why Apple’s mobile phone is far superior. As a physical specimen, the iPhone’s premium metal and glass build reign supreme over the competition. The home page and general interface on the iPhone, although lacking serious personalization options, use vibrant colors and demonstrate Apple’s devotion to minimalism and a simple user experience.

Sure, the iPhone doesn’t allow you to change your theme or add widgets, but you’ll also never end up with a home screen like this.

 

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Paid vs. Free: Productivity Apps

With more and more to do everyday, we tend to give a lot of work to our smartphones. Productivity apps are now nothing short of personal assistants in our pockets, ordering you coffee, scheduling your meeting, calling your mother. Not all of them are free, however. Below are comparisons between popular paid and free applications to help you determine what price is right for you.

Calendar

Google Calendar - FREE

  • Ability to view all of your calendars at once
  • Includes non-Google calendars
  • Quick settings to edit, create, delete events
  • Set customizable messages and quick send with gmail integration
  • Ability to sync calendars between devices
 

Pure Grid - $1.79

  • Ability to sync to Google Calendar
  • Wide ability compatibility with various third party apps
  • Multiple skins for full application and widget
  • Fully transparent included
  • Re-sizable widget and full application

Analysis: Pure Grid’s main handle over Google Calendar is the customizable color schemes and skins. On the side of functionality, Google Calendar offers more flexibility than Pure Grid by allowing users to compose schedules on any device and have them accessible on one’s mobile device. Pure Grid fails to answer; Google Calendar is used on tons of devices whereas Pure Grid stands alone, on mobile.

 

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God Bless the Apps of America

The Waspit Team’s Favorite All-American Apps

The Waspit Team has decided that we’ll have a monthly post listing our five favorite apps. The catch is that they will pertain to a specific theme that I, as author, will decide on. There are five of us, young-ins, who use apps (regularly, at least) so that’s why we’re just including us from the office. Since it is America’s birthday month we are celebrating by sharing our favorite apps that relate to America or the American culture (so basically anything – we are being easy on ourselves  because it’s the first go around).

1. Kimberly- I can’t complain about being the only girl in the office, but I’m assuming everyone is expecting me to name an app like Instagram or Pinterest. While I am a huge fan of both, I’ll admit that I can have a pretty nerdy side that most people don’t usually get to know. So with the topic of America and the Fourth of July in mind, I thought of one of my top, most used apps – “Drudge Report“. It’s the perfect read for morning train rides. Presidential campaign updates and celebrity gossip all in one, something I really can’t complain about! Get the iPhone and Android Apps.

 

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The Best 6 Sites to Listen to Free Music

Since the days of Napster, we have pretty much grown accustom to listening to our music online and for free. More so in the last decade, companies have found a way to give their audience free music while still operating legally and paying the recording artists. In this blog post, I’m going to examine some of the best places to find free music on the internet.

1. The Hype Machine- The Hype Machine aggregates MP3s from the music blogosphere into one organized website. Newer songs are listed on the front page along with popular songs that have gained likes. Similar to what Reddit does with popular articles, HypeM does with individual song tracks. HypeM is great because it gives power to the bloggers that are discovering and spreading the music while at the same time making it easy for me and you to locate the music on one uniform site.

 

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Airplane Apps, Games You Can Play Unconnected

During your journey back to school, there is a good chance you’ll be in some mode of transportation where you won’t have a phone connection or can’t access the internet. Whether it be a plane, an underground train or you have spotty service and you’re driving through Idaho, you may need some new games that don’t require a connection. Here are our favorites:

1. Nik- The Impossible Game is easily the most frustrating gaming app ever created. After purchasing what looked like a not-so-impossible game, I spent what felt like 3 days trying to get past the first level. The game consists of one control – tapping the screen to jump a square over spikes and blocks. It costs a dollar, but I actually deleted it off my phone because I played it and failed at it so much. The Impossible Game nearly ruined my life… Here are links to the iPhone and Androidapps so it can potentially ruin yours too.

Me losing for the seventeenth time in 47 seconds.

 

2. Eugene – “ALLLLWAYS I WANT TO BEEE WITH YOU, MAKE BELLIEEEVE WITH YOU, AND LIVE IN HARMONY HARMONY, OHH LOOVE.” Do you want all your wishes to come true?! Of course you do! You are a Robotic Unicorn with rainbows coming out of your anus! Oh my gosh, this is everything you’ve ever wanted. Why aren’t you playing this yet? (What Eugene didn’t say is that the game is called Robot Unicorn Attack, available on both Android andiPhone devices. You can also see what the hell he is talking about on the online game.)

3. Dan- If you’re ever stuck on the train or in an office that has no wifi connection, and you need something to help pass the time, Fruit Ninja might be the best option for you. It is a fun and quirky game where you slice flying fruit with the swipe of a finger while avoiding explosive bombs. It starts off simple enough, but as you get deeper into the game, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the explosive bombs. There have been times where I missed my stop while riding the train because I was so into this game. I have definitely received quite a few weird looks from onlookers as I frantically swiped my finger along my iPhone screen trying to slice fruit. Here are the iPhone and Android apps.

 

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Are we just the last to pick up on the mobile payments trend?

To make contactless payments the norm, we must make them a necessity. Contactless cities such as Tokyo and Seoul see consumers using contactless payments for transport  and other daily needs. Mobile payments in the western world are still a revolution waiting to happen – it just hasn’t quite hit the UK and USA as much as we all expected. It’s obvious that with everyone carrying around increasingly advanced smart phones , we’ll be able to use them to pay for everything from our groceries to our drinks to our haircuts. This revolution was supposed to hit us already, but the predictions of this mobile payments revolution is yet to see the light of day. Juniper Research estimated that worldwide mobile payment volume would reach an incredible $240 billion by 2011. By 2015, Juniper predicts, worldwide mobile and point-of-service (POS) terminal payments will reach an even more incredible $670 billion. For the average consumer in the UK and USA, this is somewhat confusing. After all, how often are people using their phones for m-commerce in the real world? Not as often as reports have led us to believe.

Sure, a few retailers offer this service. McDonalds sometimes has NFC terminals, allowing consumers to pay with capable smartphones and debit cards. We know the technology is there, but for some reason we’re just not catching onto it as quickly as we should. The slow adoption seen in this development certainly isn’t due to a lack of investment, with many companies – big and small -   pouring loads of money into this market, certain that their business will grow and prosper with this cutting-edge payment method. But, despite money and an inevitable move into mobile payments, no one is using this cutting-edge form of paying for everyday goods, right?

Wrong. As many know, Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea are well onto this trend. The African nation of Kenya has mobile technology years ahead of the UK and the US, not to mention a population eager to keep up to date with the latest innovations. The reason for Japan’s extreme success can be seen in the banding together of banks, transport authorities and councils. Public transport, public parking and other usual spending habits were joined onto the m-commerce bandwagon to cater to the entire ecosystem. This is a great example of product extension, which has seen Tokyo become the world-leading contactless city, and the people of Japan great adopters of the m-commerce technology. This is something the western world is yet to see. At the moment, consumers are left on their own to use the technology available, something that is not encouraging users to, well, use.

Now, even the Caribbean has one up on the US and Western Europe. News has hit of Haiti’s surprising adoption of these technologies in the past year. In reality, Haiti and cutting-edge technology is not necessarily a usual match. Due to ongoing economic woes and natural disasters in the past few years, Haiti is a struggling nation in many respects. According to Spanish website Movilian, mobile penetration is the lowest in the South American and Caribbean region, with only between 35 and 40% of a total population of 10 million inhabitants. Of these, between 85 and 90% aren’t banked. Granted, this is a small minority of people in Haiti able to make use of the technology, but the adoption rate of these users is exceptional. The speed with which the mobile wallet has reached the threshold of 10% penetration of the adult population is an indicator of high adoption of the service. The average age of the ecosystems that achieved this scale is four years, but in Haiti it happened in only one. The numbers are even more striking when considering the low penetration of mobile phones: mobile wallets reach 1 in 5 devices.

 

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Apple Surprise Market with NFC Position

Apple have yet again managed to surprise the market with last week’s launch of the new iPhone 4S. While I’m not focusing on the rather underwhelming advancements of the iPhone 4S, the real surprise is what wasn’t included in this model – NFC.

Some commentators are suggesting that this may be because Apple haven’t managed to secure enough components to build sufficient volume of the iPhone 5 which had been on the drawing board (which would include NFC); while others are saying that the omission of NFC for this model is because there isn’t any industry standard for NFC and, in particular, contactless mobile payments.

The past decade, together with the much talked about legacy of Steve Jobs, shows us that Apple does not produce evolutionary products, but rather revolutionary products. Apple were the ones who created an industry standard for music downloads; a standard which subsequently allowed Apple to dominate that industry.

It is likely that Apple, in line with their history of developing simple and intuitive solutions, is still in the machinations of identifying what the consumer really wants and how and when to deliver it. It would seem they are not going to be rushed by Google Wallet or the imminence of ISIS, but rather go to market with a sought after product when it makes sense to do so.

Perhaps this now means that phone manufacturers like RIM and Nokia have an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive in this space. Perhaps they too should be looking at what it is their target market wants rather than waiting to see what it is Apple is going to offer. Perhaps once the stakeholders in the emerging sector take stock and look at what solution the consumer wants, and one that doesn’t place added cost on the merchant, then we might see some real and meaningful traction in contactless mobile payments.

The blogging world has been full of recent comparisons regarding Google Wallet, ISIS and PayPal. But there has been no real commentary on what the consumer feedback has been; what the usage looks like; and, whether or not any of them cater to the consumer’s needs or a wants

 

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Google wallet : the facts you can’t Google

It’s official – Visa wants a piece of the Google Wallet pie. The mobile wallet payment method launched in the US last week, with already over 140,000 merchants across the country able to accept NFC payments. It is being touted as the new way of paying by many commentators, not to mention the big names backing it – CitiBank, MasterCard, Visa and the mothership of Google.

In true big business style, it appears Google Wallet could be yet another fine example of style over substance. Google Wallet is the sparkly product, offering users quick, easy and secure payments from their mobile phones. Then there are those potentially empty promises – apparently, every man and his dog will be able to use this in no time. But the truth can’t be denied – Google Wallet users will be scarce to begin with. It is a distinct possibility Google Wallet will follow in the footsteps of the ill-fated Google Plus social networking site. Touted as a major competitor to Facebook, the site grew at a rate comparable to Facebook. This initial growth was called a success, but when all is said and done, no one actually uses it.

The unusual marketing scheme is leaving much to be desired, which may stop banks joining up to the scheme. At the RAMP conference in Chicago earlier this month, senior vice president of CitiCards Andrea Chin said they would get their customers using Google Wallet by sending out direct mail to their 20 million customers.  This strategy lacks a serious dose of creativity. With the money backing this product, you would think there would be a marketing team coming up with an effective way to launch this product to existing customers that doesn’t involve spamming them with advertising material that will – nine times out of ten – be deleted in an instant.

 

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Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona

Waspit spent this week at the MWC hosted by GSMA, thanks to the assistance of the UKTI.  With nearly 1,400 leading companies in the mobile sector from over 200 countries we were in good company.

The event not only included several large expo halls with stands from mobile experts, it also had valuable speakers and panel discussions that allowed industry leaders to come together and discuss the future of this fast moving space.

Most notably of which was Eric Schmidt’s (from Google) keynote on the second day.  This gave us a very interesting insight into Google’s future plans, of which the most memorable are laid out in this article from The Guardian.

 

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Verizon says ‘no!’ to Google Wallet?

It must be said – a truly successful m-commerce solution will be agnostic to all banks and companies. Another potential conflict of interest has seen Verizon’s version of smart phone Galaxy Nexus not supporting Google Wallet. Both parties have released statements in the last few days around this matter in what is turning into a ‘he says, she says’ of why the phone does not support Google’s mobile payment system. This comes as a shock, as Verizon is one of the USA’s largest wireless service providers, and the Galaxy Nexus is being touted by many as an ultimate smart phone. Like clockwork, rumours have began circulating that the major reason for skipping the Google Wallet is because Verizon has teamed up with  AT&T and T-Mobile and have reportedly invested upwards of $100 million in their joint-venture mobile payments network Isis. Depending on how the traction goes with this, there will be a great deal more pumped into Isis.

In reality, this almost-confirmed-rumour makes complete sense – why support Google Wallet when a ‘Verizon wallet’ is on the horizon? By not letting users access technology allowing them to utilise Google Wallet, Verizon is putting itself in a position to bust out their own bigger and (hopefully) better product. But when all is said and done, it is just a rumour and both parties have been quick to mildly rebuff any suggestions there is tension between the companies and their objectives.

 

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