Posts Tagged App

BOOM! Goes the dynamite.

It’s that time of year again, when warm weather is just around the corner. Everyone I know is putting a little extra effort into their workout routine to get ready for their sundresses and swimsuits, so I thought this was a great time to try out a few new fitness apps. This first of three fitness apps that I am going to review is Nike’s BOOM app, free to download on iOs.

The Boom app rates #27 in Apple’s free Health & Fitness apps. In that broad category, it is the 8th most popular app for working out (versus diet and nutrition), three of which are Nike apps. It is described as a motivational app that “syncs your music with your dynamic training workouts, with your sport’s most elite athletes and coaches motivating you along the way”. Upon downloading the app, there is no forced registration or Facebook connect. The first screen has a floating layer that prompts a download of motivational pep-talks from athletes and coaches. I think they could have skipped this part and automatically included the motivations, which is the primary reason behind downloading the app. Next, I was prompted to choose a sport: The options include football, basketball, hockey, rugby, soccer, baseball and cross training. This app is obviously geared to men because every visual is of a male athlete. I don’t think they should alienate women from the app, so I would suggest including a more gender neutral approach.  

Upon selecting cross training, I was given the option to watch a demo or go straight into my workout. The demo is really well done, explaining how to get the most out of the app and tailored to my sport selection. After that I was served with a footer navigation panel to scroll through, which included  working out, intervals, gameday, review my workout history, and setting. I moved forward by going into workout and chose a 45 minute cardio session. They floated another screen that suggested connecting to Facebook so that I could receive virtual cheers from my network. After selecting this option, it served an auto filled message to post to my wall, though I tailored with ease. Next, it integrated with my playlists and I was able to choose my “May Gym” playlist. While this seems like a lot of steps, it only took about two minutes.

I really enjoyed the user experience during my workout. It kept track of warm-up and cool down time and interjected motivational pep-talks from athletes about every five minutes. The part that really made me smile was every time one of my Facebook friends liked or commented on my wall I would hear a loud crowed cheer. It sounds cheesy, but it is actually really fun! After my workout, I could see the comments that my friends left in my workout history.

Overall, this was a really engaging app with an intuitive UX. I’m definitely looking forward to using it again. Great job, Nike!

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Research on regional magazines and their mobile approach

For the final project, my team is working with Tiger Oak Media to develop a mobile strategy. Tiger Oak publishes many local magazines, including Seattle Magazine. They currently do not have a mobile optimized site, although it does render onto the iPhone cleanly. They also do have an iPad app, which is a PDF of the most current issue. As part of my research, I have been actively searching out other regional magazine from across the country. My goal is to get a better feel for how many of the publications are providing mobile users with optimized mobile sites and/or mobile apps. I’ve been surprised to by my findings thus far. It seems as though this is an industry that hasn’t yet embraced the potential increased reach that a mobile strategy can provide if executed well.

The only major metropolitan magazine that automatically redirected me to a mobile optimized site was New York Magazine.  I searched for the magazine from my iPhone and was automatically redirected to m.nymag.com. The layout was clean, with the mobile user context clearly in mind during the design development. The interface provides access to five of the primary blogs – Daily Intel (news), Vulture, Grub Street, The Cut (fashion) and The Sports Section.  The videos played without any problems as well, which is a great feature for the phone. The one obvious function that was missing was a way to share/like articles on Facebook. Social media and mobile really go hand-in-hand, so hopefully that functionality will be built into the site in the future.

San Francisco Magazine offers a free iPhone application. I wasn’t able to find it in my initial search, because I searched for San Francisco Magazine. The iTunes store showed zero matching apps so I searched online and discovered there is no space in the apps name. After searching for SanFrancisco Magazine, I found the app and easily downloaded it to my phone. The app includes the four most current issues at no charge. One feature that I enjoyed was that it gives the option to view the issue you are going to read online or you can download it.  If you are going to have Internet access, it can be viewed online without using up data by downloading the whole issue. However, if you are going to be without connectivity, the download functionality is quite nice. The app is really just a reader and doesn’t provide special search functionality to the consumer. For example, a reader can’t search for recommended boutiques or restaurants, which would be a nice utilitarian feature.

This exercise was quite beneficial as I begin to think about the best approach for Tiger Oak Media. It makes me question why more local publications haven’t created a mobile optimized site or useful utilitarian app. Is the industry just slightly behind the curve or is there a fear that they wont see healthy return on their investment?

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A creepy, albeit entertaining, app.

I was browsing Tech Crunch today and came across an article featuring a new iPhone app called VideoMask. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not big on entertainment apps. Almost all of the apps on my phone are utilitarian. I am not a big gamer, and will shop via an app only on rare occasion. VideoMask, admittedly has no purpose but to entertain. It allows the user do the lip-dubbing trick that you often see on late-night shows. Basically, you pick a picture of whoever/whatever you want and turn into a “mask” that will be the backdrop for your video. You then record yourself saying something and loop it over the picture. This all sounded pretty ridiculous but fun, so I thought I would give it a try.

VideoMask was easy to find in the AppStore. It cost $.99 cents, an interesting price point because if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t have been too bent out of shape. It is very self-explanatory. It even explains how to search for and save a photo directly to their camera roll in case the user hasn’t done so in the past. I went into Google images and saved a picture of Kate Middleton given that she has been on the news non-stop lately. I then used the front-facing camera to videotape my voice loop. Prior to taping, the app guided my through positioning my eyes and mouth over the eyes and mouth in the picture that I had selected. It worked fairly well, however the holes were grouped together. It probably would have worked together if the eyes and mouth could be positioned individually. After finishing the recording, a quick 20 seconds later, there is a video ready to view, email, or post to Facebook or Twitter.

I emailed the video to myself and was pleased to see that it arrived in a matter of seconds. The video is embedded in the email and plays flawlessly. Also, there is a link the VideoMask website. I tried playing the video and going to the website from my iPhone as well and both worked flawlessly.

This was a fun (and creepy) app. Definitely worth $.99.

Note: I don not have the premium WordPress account that will allow me to upload a video. However, I am happy to email the video to anyone who is interested in seeing it.

Tech Crunch Article: http://bit.ly/ia8GRI

VideoMask Website: http://bit.ly/hWPtcl

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Breitling: A Luxury Brand Nails Mobile Marketing

Many luxury brands have been hesitant to include mobile in their marketing mix. Their business model is often centered upon the philosophy of selling few units to a highly targeted demographic in order to maintain an aspirational brand identity. However, iPhone and iPad users are increasingly viewed as the luxury brand’s “sweet spot”, so there are an increasing number of luxury bands entering the mobile space. One of the brands that made this transition is Breitling, the high-end watch originally designed for aviation use but is more commonly worn as a status symbol.

One of the most important factors for Luxury Brands to consider to ensure mobile marketing success is  the importance of properly identifying the target demographic. I found Brietling’s iPhone app advertised in this week’s Time Magazine. Advertising in Time is a logical fit for Breitling. The demographics of Time Magazine readers and iPhone owners are well aligned. According to research published by State of the Media in 2009, Time’s median reader is 46.2 years old and makes $70,260 a year (http://bit.ly/7Byr9x). By comparison, 78% of iPhone users make above $50,000. In addition, of the roughly 6.4 million active iPhone users in the U.S., the majority (53 percent) are over 35 years old. There are even more users over the age of 55 (17 percent) than in the 18-24 year-old age bracket (13 percent). (http://bit.ly/ShIsb).  There are not Breitling approved, published figures of their brand’s target demographic. However, it is safe to assume that they target mid to high-income, GenX males, which would align perfectly with Time readers.

In the app store, Breitling claims, “The app offers a precise description, technical data, a portfolio, a video and 360° views give an extremely clear idea of the exceptional nature of the new Chronomat B01” (http://bit.ly/8KbtNJ). The app met that description perfectly. It was easy to find, and offered up a simple content hierarchy, with three main categories: product description, view in 360 and a customization tool. The product description covers 9 features including movement, performance and technical data. The 360 view allows the viewer to see every angle of the watch up close. The customization tool allows you to select your ideal case, dial and bracelet. After customizing the watch you can email a picture of the final product to yourself (or someone else if you are hinting at a gift).

The one area of the app that could have been optimized was the location-based search. Upon downloading the app, it asks if it can access your current location. However, if you want to find a retailer it doesn’t utilize that information. Instead the user has to manually input their country, state and city to select a jeweler. This is a pretty easy fix, so I would suggest incorporating it to ensure a polished experience, which is important for a luxury brand.

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Redfin’s Real Estate App

Due to the rapid advancement of technology over the last decade, the real estate industry has experienced an unprecedented shift in power from the real estate professionals to the homebuyer. In the past, consumers had limited access to market information and relied on the resources and information provided to them by their Real Estate agent. However, now that homebuyers have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and can begin researching the housing market on their own, there has been an increase in public demand for services that assist in filtering through the overwhelming amount of market information available on the Internet.  Redfin, a Seattle based real estate company, has capitalized on the consumer demand for knowledge by developing a consumer-focused business model that offers online tools, which allow the consumer access to the necessary information to search for the perfect home, choose an agent, schedule tours and assemble offers. More recently, the surges in mobile Internet combined with the advancement in location-based tools have created the perfect scenario for real estate mobile sites and applications.

Redfin established a clear strategy and list of objectives prior to entering the mobile space. In speaking with Matt Goyer, Director of Online Marketing, I learned that the primary business objectives were to increase customer retention, increase loyalty, increase page views, improve branding and provide an exceptional user experience. According to the POST Method, developed by Julie Ask and Charles Golvin, it is evident that the strategy was to increase revenue as opposed to reducing costs. It is safe to assume that Redfin’s target consumers are users who are gathering data on home buying with intent to purchase and/or sell a home in the next year.

Taking the target consumer and business objectives into consideration, Redfin’s app was developed to provide the best possible user experience. The design is clean with clear call to actions. The navigation is laid out in a clear list that includes:

  1. Nearest Home for Sale (Location Based)
  2. Nearby Homes for Sale (Location Based)
  3. Nearby Open Houses (Location Based)
  4. Find Homes for Sale (Location Based)
  5. Find by Address or MLS#
  6. My Redfin
    1. Favorites
    2. Notes and Photos
    3. Home Tours
    4. Agents

In order to have an accurate understanding of the user experience, it was important that I use the app around town and not just at my desk. The seamless integration with iPhone’s version of Google Maps was impressive. The map interface includes icons that represent the type of dwelling including home, condo, and townhome. I was also able to easy access more detailed information like the number of bedrooms, the home price, and days the home has been on the market. The logical search functions, clear call to actions and clean user interface made for a positive and focused user experience. I preferred the app user experience to the website experience because the website can be somewhat convoluted with navigation choices. In addition, the comment and photo upload function was intuitive and synched with my profile as promised. In fact, I spoke with Matt Goyer about the functionality and he said that Redfin has been surprised that this functionality isn’t used more frequently by consumers. Redfin expected this to be the most popular functionality of the app. According to Goyer, it is used by only a very small percentage of users due to the misconception that the photos/comments will be viewable by other users. The only functionality that seems to be missing is push notifications. It may be beneficial to send users notifications if there has been a price change to their favorite homes.

Redfin’s user friendly website and mobile application make the home-search engaging and interactive by providing users with a wealth of organized information, location-based searches and providing a platform for users to customize the content on their profile with their own pictures and notes. While there is still improvements and advancements to be made, the organization understands the importance of mobile as a primary information source. CEO Glenn Kelman recently acknowledged the increasingly important role of mobile. In an interview with MyNorthwest.com he said, “If I started a real estate company today and I wanted to beat Redfin I would make the best real estate application on a mobile device that you could. I think that’s where the market is going”. Keller is correct in speculating that the mobile space is necessary for growth. Redfin is off to a phenomenal start with their iPhone application, but in order to maximize the potential of mobile marketing they will need to continue to develop a robust set of offerings to ensure the best experience for mobile users in search of their perfect home.

Note: This is an abbreviated post modified from an in depth analysis of Redfin’s overall Mobile Media Presence. For additional information on the app development, competitive analysis and broader mobile approach please reach out to me directly.

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Bing FTW.

Today I was playing Words With Friends, a scrabble app, with my friend in San Francisco. In between plays I was served a rich media ad from Bing. The message was an invitation to play Bing’s Memory game. I thought this would be a great opportunity to review Microsoft’s version of rich media in comparison with the iAd platform. In fact, it also allowed user engagement without leaving the app, just like the iAd. By clicking on the ad I was invited to play a Bing branded game of Memory. Microsoft choose the engagement well because I was in the midst of playing a game, so it was nice that the engagement was also a game.

The game worked just like the traditional Memory game. There was a series of tiles that were “upside down” so that I couldn’t see the picture. I would turn over two at a time to try to find a match. There were no time restrictions or points associated with the game; it was just for fun. When a match was found the picture on the tile would enlarge and include an interesting fact, at which point the user could decide whether they wanted to keep playing, download the Bing app, or return to their Scrabble game. After matching all the tiles, I downloaded the free app from iTunes.

The next part of my engagement with Bing was with the actual app that the ad had been promoting. I was pleased with the user experience. Upon starting the app, I opted in to allow location tracking. I was then given the option of typing in a search or using the voice activated search. I used the voice search and just simply said “flower shop”. It took the app about five seconds to process the information and then served me with flower shops in Bellingham, ordered according to proximity.

I noticed that I could also choose to share my search on Facebook or Twitter. I chose to share it on Twitter. I had to allow Bing access to my account, but after that it shared the search without any difficulties. My only suggestion would be to make the shared tweet more interactive. I tried to edit the verbage but I couldn’t do much. The tweet only read “Searched for “Flower Shop” using Bing.” I believe that a link to the search would have been much more interesting.

How does it compare to other mobile media campaigns I’ve experienced over the last few months? It worked, which is always a good start. Joking aside, I thought this was a great mobile media strategy. The ad didn’t pull me out of my game plus the game experience was relevant to what I was currently doing before the ad. I also thought the app was user friendly and enjoyed the logical incorporation of location services for my search as well as the voice search.

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