by John Moe // Posted: 09/17/10 12:02 PM
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal as the holiday shopping season approaches. People are leaning toward buying smaller stuff. They’re less likely to replace a TV and more likely to try something they don’t already have like a smart phone or an iPad.
Best Buy (CEO Brian Dunn) said smartphone sales continued to rise compared with a year ago, as did portable computer totals, buoyed by the iPad.
However, television sales fell despite the rollout of new 3D models, with both average prices and total volumes notching “low-double digit” declines compared with last year. Mr. Dunn also said internal estimates showed that the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50%.
50%! So the combination of a slowly recovering (?) economy and lots of innovation in the small device market explain why Best Buy is pushing iPads and started selling the Kindle. Staples says they plan to start selling Kindles in time for holiday as well.
by John Moe // Posted: 09/17/10 11:16 AM
McDonald’s increased foot traffic in its stores by 33% in one day by using FourSquare. This according to the company’s head of social media Rick Wion, talking at a conference yesterday. It was a pretty simple trick, really. They placed 100 gift cards for $5 or $10 on FourSquare as check in bait. So if you checked in at McDonald’s, you have a chance to eat for free. And if you don’t win the gift card, hey, might as well grab something to eat. Check in McNuggets! You were also eligible for the cards if you followed/fanned the company on social media sites, which 600,000 people did. Total cost of the operation? $1000. Wion said that several people in the company’s marketing department had never heard of FourSquare. They have now.
Update: Read Write Web says that, contrary to the Mashable report linked to above, it was a 33% increase in FourSquare check ins, not in feet at the restaurants.
But then there’s the case of Posie’s Café in Portland, Oregon. The proprietor, Jessie Burke, wanted to drive a little traffic to her place by using a Groupon discount. She offered a $13 credit for $6, intending to keep the $6. But Groupon wanted a big cut, 50%, so she was left with the $3, which didn’t allow her to break even. The Groupon was a hit but that just made things worse as she would lose money on each sale until she was $8000 in the hole, unable to make payroll or rent, and dipping into personal savings.
Over the six months that the Groupon is valid, we met many, many wonderful new customers, and were so happy to have them join the Posies family. At the same time we met many, many terrible Groupon customers… customers that didn’t follow the Groupon rules and used multiple Groupons for single transactions, and argued with you about it with disgusted looks on their faces or who tipped based on what they owed.
Most of the customers never came back once they had their discount.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that the success of the McDonald’s campaign is good for society. I’m merely saying that in terms of people accomplishing a goal in a given area, in this case marketing, they were very successful.
by John Moe // Posted: 09/14/10 05:34 PM
Walmart will begin offering their own branded wireless service (partnered through T-Mobile) starting next Monday. The retailer already offers cell plans through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. This will add a service option for a plan under its own name.
You’ll have to pay for the phone, but they’re relatively cheaper - you can get a Nokia for $35. And it’ll cost $45 each month for unlimited calling and texting. But data is insanely expensive. $40 for 1gb, which compares to AT&T’s $25 for 2gb or T-Mobile’s own $30 for unlimited. The data can be shared among multiple phones in the same family but still that’s a ton of cash.
by John Moe // Posted: 09/14/10 12:12 PM
Angry Birds is probably the most popular mobile phone game of the last year (read comedian Paul F. Tompkins’ take on it). In the game you launch a variety of birds at a variety of buildings in order to destroy these green pigs and reclaim your eggs. Or something. It’s strange but it’s a lot of fun, in part because it’s so challenging. But now players can get an extra advantage in the game by purchasing a new character, the ultra-powerful Mighty Eagle, for an additional fee. We’ve seen this in games before: the game is cheap or free (Angry Birds costs $3) but upgrades cost extra. They hook you, then they reel you in.
Here’s the video that previews Mighty Eagle:
by John Moe // Posted: 09/14/10 06:00 AM
The U.S. Department of Transportation will hold a Distracted Driving Summit next week. Tomorrow, OnStar is expected to announce new connectivity features for its service. And today, Representatives from Ford and a tech company called Nuance are in DC urging congress to be cautious in crafting new distracted driving laws. They say narrow legislation could stifle new technology that could make cars safer.
But while congress debates law, technology marches on and the car of tomorrow will be able to do things the car of today can only dream of. As connectivity becomes easier and more ubiquitous, our cars will be able to talk to each other and avoid accidents. That’s according to Raja Sengupta, a professor at UC Berkeley, with whom we speak today. We also check in with Marketplace reporter Alissa Roth who fills us in on the lack of legislation presently covering this issue.
by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 12:02 PM
The FCC is set to approve use of unlicensed bandwidth for wireless use. Turns out there’s all this room on the spectrum and it can be used to make super powerful wi-fi networks that can cover entire university campuses. Or entire hotels.
The unused bands of spectrum were generated by the conversion of television signals from analog to digital. Because digital transmission uses a smaller slice of spectrum, more “white space” was freed up around each broadcast signal. It is those white spaces that the F.C.C. is now seeking to put to use. The new airwaves are particularly attractive because television signals are low-frequency waves, meaning they can travel farther, go more easily through walls, trees and other obstructions, and provide more reliable connections.
Testing is already under way in Wilmington, NC and Claudville, VA.
But, some people aren’t happy about this. Like Dolly Parton and the National Association of Broadcasters. They want the FCC to make special rules that would prevent TV interference and keep some spectrum reserved for wireless microphones.
by John Moe // Posted: 09/10/10 12:14 PM
This is an under-the-radar story that seems to matter quite a bit. Hugo Barra, director of products for mobile at Google says that the Android operating system as it currently stands is built more for phones than the robust needs of a tablet computer. Essentially, any tablet running Froyo (the latest Android version) would display and run like a huge phone. While newer versions of Android are in the works, there is also a slew of Android tablets being rushed to market to compete with the iPad. So when they get here will they all be as ugly as the director of mobile at Google says they will be?
Posted: 09/02/10 11:40 AM
By Steve Henn
Microsoft is released its latest mobile phone software to cell phone manufactures today.
Windows 7 is Microsofts’ latest crack at getting back into the mobile game. And the Redmond Washington company is desperate. Its market-share in smart phones is almost non-existent – while its rivals Google and Apple both claim to be adding more than 200,000 new mobile users every day.
Posted: 05/18/10 06:00 AM
So last week we ran across this report about how the market for mobile transactions is about to explode, increasing from about 68 billion dollars in 2009 to about 633 billion by 2014. Entrepreneurs are salivating about this possibility and we recently saw the launch of Square . Then there are online services like Venmo and Zong , which were not named by grabbing Scrabble tiles out of a bag, contrary to appearances.
But the idea of a bustling mobile phone based economy is nothing new if you’ve paid attention to how day to day transactions are handled in Africa. In several developing nations there, people who don’t have access to checks or credit cards have evolved a robust and versatile economy built around simple cell phones.
Ethan Zuckerman is a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and he’s lived and traveled extensively throughout Africa. He’s closely followed technology in that continent. We talk to Ethan about what the cell phone economy means.