Showing posts with label mobile apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mobile apps. Show all posts

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

google chief game designer ingress

Ingress, Google and the cheif game designer

So Google has hired a Chief Game Designer called Noah Falstein; as of starting to draft this post there was no reason why, which has now been updated courtesy of the Tech and Coffee group, so I thought it apt (no pun intended) to post on the Google labs Ingress app, which I have been meaning to do for a while as I think Google are onto something, something very big indeed, in fact its mobile marketing and mobile gaming gold...

Its still in closed beta, so you will need an invite to play, but from some of the screens you start to get a view of why its not only marketing gold, but also a very interesting trend in mobile gaming (anyone mentions "gamification" now; please leave).

Ingress mobile marketing gold

Ingress subliminal mobile marketing

Every so often you see a trend in marketing that verges on subliminal marketing, but is, and should remain perfectly legal, but just as effective. Ingress is one of them. On the ingress game you see a series of dots, these are XM (see the Ingress wikipedia entry for explanation) which we believe, are lead to believe or hope is mobile phone activity... android or chrome activity? The concept that android, the chrome browser, Google maps, apps, etc is everywhere is quite a powerful one - much more powerful, visual and direct than the assumption that Google's traffic data for example, requires a solid base of android devices. The first perception is that Google is everywhere, and it is now mobile everywhere.
The dots are XM; chrome, apps and android users?

Ingress local marketing gold

The second level of marketing gold is the fact that people like Zipcar have entered all of their car locations. This now makes me not only aware of how close all my local Zipcars are, but it also asks me to enter the car's details... if the car is available: I now know not only where all my local Zipcars are, but what model and when they tend to be available... unfortunately I am no longer a member of Zipcar as they tried to bill me when my card was stopped, and after 2 years of loyal service decided that sending me a court order was the logical way to inform me of this, and still continued to pursue this despite paying the amount settled... there are some things no amount of marketing can overcome in the social networking age... but were this not the case; it would be good marketing for thee right target audience. Convenience stores, restaurants, bars, cycle hire schemes (please Google add the London Barclays bicycle hire scheme) and more can be interactive in a way that Foursquare never really managed to get a grip.
Google ingress is mobile marketing gold for localised businesses
Personally I think Zipcar have missed another trick here, as each location's car should have an image of the car or van in question... doh!

Ingress experiential marketing gold

One of the types of Ops (PC way of saying weapons or arsenal) is media, which at the moment is just marketing the game but could easily provide a key experiential marketing tool to more points via an experiential video... where you want it, when you want it; do I need to go on???
Ingress delivering an experiential video where, when and to whom you want...

Ingress tribal marketing gold

This is my last post on marketing, and yes I did put lots of marketing points first to wind up the certain kind of geek who has been marketed to by Google so well they do not know it and still think they hate marketing, when in fact they have just never bothered to take the time to understand it... at the moment
Why stop at two factions, why just ingress, the next app could be whatever brand  you subscribe to
However, where Google has truly triumphed, is how it has managed to keep something special scarce in mobile, and as such desired. Its an often forgotten fact of mobile marketing, that what put these little devices firmly in our hands as the must have device in the first place, was its very scarcity, exclusivity and desirability... if I have to hear, read or see another dreadful mobile marketing plan that plans to "distribute", "free", or "unlimited" ... Mobile is not unlimited; it is scarce, a valuable, limited resource; and products, services and people that use this angle to market mobile wisely have very successful products. Fact. Ingress will be one of them. Oh and by the way, did I say I have an ingress account :)

So what is ingress like as a game?

Again, its a game changer (seriously, this pun was not intended either...) for a few reasons:

Ingress is a properly social game

On my first outing with my college Keith to show me the ropes (trust me, you need help getting your head round the game) I was in the centre of Reading (yes, I know) and we were approached by some members of the opposite faction who came up and started talking in a very friendly manner. I was quite literally astounded, however this may change.... At this point I should point out that there are (to date) two factions: enlightened and resistance. I remember I am the blue one, as that's what the person who gave me an invite told me to do, and  luckily for me I would have done anyway (see the descriptions on wikipedia) if I had to make a choice based on the very serious descriptions of the two factions.
There are two factions, to date; all very sociable
At this point I should also point out that Reading is actually quite civilised (by day at least) and in a chavvier part of the country recently; I resisted taking over someone's portal, well, you know, just in case: don't blame me if you find the game not to be as social as I did, and bear in mind that this could change very quickly when Ingress goes out of closed beta. The principal however is the same; apply the theory with a different skin to a sociable group and you will have a highly social game.  The real social nature however is that it gets people to work together, introduces you to names locally that maybe on other social networks (instagam, twitter??) although I have not personally used my ingress pseudonym elsewhere... 

Ingress is a healthy game

...Ingress seems to get people out an about together, which is a good thing for people, and is a good thing for gaming: while the nintendo wii and its clones may have got us off the lazyboy and waving our arms a bit; in general games have just added to most developed nations' obesity problem - not ingress. People extend their walk from the tube, go out for a walk in evenings and lunch, and even organise trips to claim portals. even in the coldest winter we have had in the UK in 20 years... a look at ingress.com/intell will show you how far you can go even in a town centre.
Nothing can get a geek round a park as well as ingress...
Even as a triathlete (we are nuts and need no excuse to go for a run instead of going for a beer...) Ingress got me doing an extra run to get to level 3. This is an amazing achievement for a game, for a tech company, for a mobile OS provider, and its all still in closed beta!

Ingress strategy game

I never got strategy games. I love pixel art, and so wanted to like what we know today as a strategy game on a visual level. I love great strategic moves and use of guile in the face of adversity, like the scuppering of the armada... so I should like strategy games; but I do not. I work every day on corporate strategy in technology marketing, product design and contract negotiations and so should love strategy games... but I actually cannot stand them. That is because, compared to ingress, what we know today as strategy games are just glorified Sodutu or whatever those overcomplicated crosswords are called... 
Ingress is the first strategy game that appeals to me as someone who is paid to put strategies together...
Ingress has me planning when and where to attack, military style, but with a positive outcome, no camo or ammo or over zealous testosterone alpha males needed... you also need help, and dare I say it, teamwork (sorry) would achieve better results, which is nice...

Ingress will destroy your life and eat hours

As all good games should... you start changing your route to work, your meetings, and I even found myself stopping the car to do a hack... the questions of "what are you doing" are as inevitable as the answer "you don't want to know". This gets more questioning... and then you tell them, and you get the added pleasure of being right - yep; they didn't want to know! Told you... Thankfully I have triathlon training to occupy the obsessive part of my personality... my colleague Keith... he's not so lucky and is a self confessed Ingress junkie...

Ingress is not all that it should be yet

Ok, so if you do not have an ingress account and are left wanting, here are a few things it is not:
  1. accurate: the GPS is all over the place and will drive you up the wall
  2. data connectivity is needed, otherwise the app looses the plot entirely and spins the globe eternally of you are lucky, does not get past the welcome screen if not
  3. every so often you forget to mute and people think you are a trekkie, or worse, if that is possible?
  4. the UI is woeful, even by Google standards
... so its just as well Google have hired a chief game whip then isn't it...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Updated iPhone killer apps list

I have just updated the iPhone Killer apps list with a why-so for Pinterest, and why, like Path and Pulse (all beginning with "p"???) is not only important, but may replace Facebook as a benchmark app for an app store. Pinterest has the editorially defined quality of new, post-digital publications, like wired, wonderland and wallpaper (all beginning with "w"???) except its crowd sourced and allows instant interaction, its now not hard to see why pinterest already the top social network on global page impressions behind stalwarts Facebook and LinkedIn.

read more

Friday, 3 February 2012

HTML5 vs. Native app development

The HTML 5 vs Native debate was raging yesterday in the Mobile Monday London event (see my digest on this blog) and will continue to for a long time, just as the java vs. native did and the widget vs. native did, and just as much as the "which OS choice/debate" I discuss here in my blog as well

The reality is blurring with recent announcements of high profile games on HTML5 like cut the rope however the issues that I found when heading up the iPhone porting for Voda 360, the first major W3C HTML with APIs if not HTML5 still remain even with these successes.

Then I go out into the market and hear some game developers doing cross platform, some adopting HTML and other focusing on the multiple approach of iOS and Android, looking at HTML5 to cover the rest. That is with games at least, and will be the case of many apps with access to low level functions and APIs (beyond GPS, audio, video, etc).

With certain apps it is much clearer:  I spoke to a developer of a major social network that was launched recently who said they would never have gone native if they did it over again: the user experience is just two fragmented between the web, tablets and the main app OSs and then mobile web. I also know users who have ditched native apps for social networks in favour of the HTML5 experience: quicker, closer to the web, the same on tablet as smartphone and the closet to their web experience... and as a result I specified a social network for a client recently in html5 with native in potential roadmap...

Then there are the mobile operator clients considering portals and app store, more relevant to my portal blog, but still very interesting for the case in hand: Its important to maintain flexibility in these situations, and fix your roadmap (in scope) only for one or at most two quarters ahead. Just recently, for example, a mobile operator client was faced with a situation where their development on an app store/portal was lead natively on two platforms with another two following and another two in roadmap... when Microsoft announced that W7 was going to be a closed environment, symbian split, meego was sidelined and RIM became evidently more fragmented (bb5 vs bb6 vs bb7, etc) then the option was very clearly android plus... native or java or HTML5. It was still a little early then, but the answer would be much clearer today.

So, with so much depending on what you are doing where and with whom... and so much social, regional and international fragmentation, however there are some key considerations to take into account:
  1. what device is it running on? which will affect many things, but in short, running in  a sandbox without native extensions will be slower on things like
  2. refresh rate: while low end Java devices and even proprietary runtimes like Offscreen Media's were running 50-100 frames per second, the first web runtimes were at 3-5, with the best developers on best devices eeking out 10-15. Even if you get this much higher, its still a limiting factor over native, and those pushing the boundaries will always prefer native
  3. how many platforms are you going to distribute on. Its all very very well having a cross platform app and cross platform intentions, but do you have the time and resources to update APIs across 20 stores, check 100's devices, upload across many platforms, have the project management and roadmap skills to manage the process, etc, etc.
  4. What is your target audience now and later. if you are going after advanced users and then mass market then native first, html5 later maybe an option, if revered, then reversed, obviously. if you have a product like Sonos, why go to the extra effort of making the platform universal when all your customers will have at least one android or iOS phone or tablet at their disposal?
  5. What regions are you looking at? HTML5 will play better to strong growths in ever cheaper smartphones, like Africa, vs those with a solid smartphone base (Nokia in parts of Asia and Latam, others varied in US, Europe and ROW)
  6. Do the stores you are planning to roll-out on have the features and APIs you want? There is no point creating your freemium app that requires in-app upgrades or subscriptions in HTML5 for flexibility if it would have been quicker to do it natively in the two stores that support what you want to do, and the ad serving and other APIs are completely different in each deployment
  7. Do you want to be off-line?
  8. Do you want to obfuscate and/or only have certain functionality using server based algorithms for extra security.
Its interesting times, I shall be updating this article as more interactions with clients and colleagues provide more scenarios, and will announce those changes here at my Google+ and my company, Virtuser's Google+


Monday, 23 January 2012

... main page archive ...

Not a lot has changed since my first posts of 2006 from the original blog below, so here is a small update as I bring it over to Blogger; when we were doing some of the first mass-distribution apps (nokia festival guides pushed to 100,000 of festival goers on over 1,000 different devices) or 2008 when we saw the iphone taking grip. Back then, everybody who went to the festival wanted the app, just not everybody could have it.

Now, everybody wants the apps, and thanks to iPhone and then android quite a few people can have them. What has changed, I hear you cry, is that its not just the odd app, there is an app for everything. To which I will answer: yes, however, even with 500,000 apps on the app store, and 100 apps on my phone, I only use a few of them on a daily basis, and they have not changed that much:
  • News and magazines have been revolutionised by the iPad, obviously, but even on smartphones, with apps like Pulse
  • PIM is generally managed by social apps these days, but also on OS
  • Entertainment has skyrocketed: doodlebug, cut the rope, angry birds, etc need no introduction, neither do ebook apps
  • Travel evolved from apps like tripit to more social environments like PIM did: foursqaure, facebook places and more... also specific apps like tubeexits and apps to check buses, trains and even Boris (BoJo) bikes are making travel that bit more civilised, unless you are travelling low-cost by air, and then you are stuffed :)
So what else? well to be honest the world is going social, and with that you have 90% of what most people use daily, and what is driving apps:
  • Smartphones
  • Mobile social networking
  • Mobile networks driving point 1, but not necessarily directly driving point 2! MNO app strategy has to diversify post Vodafone 360, Blackberry app store, Ovi and other carrier and handset manufacturer and OS providers attempts to mimic an iPhone down approach rather than focussing on their strengths and a multilateral approach to enagaging data users.
  • Interesting apps and games by interesting people, this first revolution happened when everybody embraced iOS and then Android, but will skyrocket with HTML5 giving access to everybody, not just coders, to build great (and crap!) content

Original post from 2006 on "So what is driving mobile applications":
  • Personal Information Management (PIM), as we move from a world of "this is my laptop and I cannot work until I have Outlook and Office premium edition installed" to a world of 1gb Gmail and MSN, basically our info has become centralised. trying to access this info via WAP will be, well challenging, and if you do not know your pop3 settings for your PC, why will you for your mobile: the Gmail ODP is clearly the way forward
  • News/RSS/etc. lets face it; news WAP site are terrible, and RSS is that terrible combination of boring and complicated... get with it, I would download an ODP for The Register, the FT and the BBC tomorrow, and in doing so a) visit their site more often, and b) forget their competition forever!
  • Magazines; We all have our favourite magazines, some have tried to become MVNOs, most have email newsletters to capture our imagination mid-print. However, our consumption is changing, we now forgive print for being up to 2 months out of date for a monthly magazine because of all the glossy pictures and the ability to relax on the sofa on a Sunday or on a flight thumbing the pages... but at the moment we go elsewhere for the mid-week fix, in the form of different web-sites, weekly magazines, etc. The sensible magazine would reward and keep our custom with up-to the second info on what of their mag most matters to me, you and the guy in the lounge with the same magazine as me who will be sitting in seat 2C, but needs to know about the latest gadget as or before it hits the press releases.
  • Entertainment: Calling a number and going through an IVR system is no way to order a gig or cinema ticket, and there is no graphical means of representing the purchase, or a map, or any other potentially useful information. a cinema application, lets you browse gigs and events and even bars, see where they are, read reviews and, most importantly allows people to browse and make a purchase in their own time, as well as receive info and even original media (you only get this ringtone if you order via mobile) as well as the other keepsakes like the tickets, which can be sent in the post as usual. A mobile app also allows people to browse events after hours and on the weekends, when these kind of purchase decisions are made. If you have done your research on Channels to market by personality types, MBTI, etc. you will also know that IVR/telephone only appeals to extroverts in nature, which is OK-ish in the US, where 50% of your client base will make impulse purchases via an outgoing means, but in the UK and most of Europe that is as low as 30% of your market.
  • Travel. My problem with Lastminute.com in the late nineties, is the same problem I have with Lastminute.com, and every other travel provider over ten years later; who wants to browse holidays on their computer? Well quite a lot it seems, however, as with entertainment above, a lot of impulse purchases would be done via mobile. Moreover, more peripheral orders would be done via mobile, such as hire car, hotels, restaurants, tours, guides, etc. As the application already knows you are going to Rome on the 12th September. However, the other day I woke up particularly early on a Saturday and decided to see if I could get a ticket to Santander, which places you in the death grip of Ryanair only if you live in London... their website could not even sell me a ticket on the same, day. Instead there was a message to ring reservations... Reservations had another message that it was out of hours and to ring a premium number... I had to ring three times to get the number down (buying golden numbers to help your customers would just be a waste of money wouldn't it!). I finally rang an extremely expensive number 3 times to be told "the other party has hung up". You may argue that if Ryanair cannot even get their web and phone channel in order, what would they do with a mobile app? That is the glass half empty approach, the glass half full is: what is Ryanair, Easyjet and even the flag carriers like British Airways, doing without a way to browse, and buy tickets via mobile in order to gain a competitive advantage, or in the case of Ryanair, to actually have a same-day channel at all!
originally posted by Christian Borrman 22:19pm 20/12/06, updated 12:56pm 15/05/08