Continuity AppleTesting some scenarios for the future I used iWatch in a thought experiment and now wonder if continuity is the real hidden secret. On the Apple website we can see the pre-release claims for “Continuity” and “Handoff”. Features coming in iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite.  All these wonderful new ways that we can take phone calls, work on one device and then finish on another and more.

If you own multiple devices with FaceTime you also know how painful it is when they are ring at the same time.  Also pretty stupid when the child has the iPad in the other room that it is ringing with your call. Lets look at what Apple already says and then consider the implications for the iWatch.

Sometimes when your iPhone rings, it’s not where you are. Maybe it’s charging in another room. Or it’s buried in your backpack. But your Mac or iPad is sitting right there. Now you can make and receive phone calls on those devices as long as your iPhone running iOS 8 is on the same Wi-Fi network. Incoming calls show the caller’s name, number, and profile picture. Just click or swipe the notification to answer, ignore…. via Apple – iOS 8 – Continuity.

Proximity Awareness. With an iWatch or iBand there is no reason to ring all the devices. Whether it is ring your wrist, or send notifications there the only devices that will provide the continuity function (ringing in this case) are in the users immediate proximity (closest device). That provides some new and welcome improvements.

  1. Security. You left your iPad at home. Should notifications be active? What apps should the kids be able to use? (Parental controls?). OSX like Windows allows multiple accounts although that’s never been true on iOS devices. There’s a real opportunity to create a new “personalization” paradigm. It won’t all come this year. Still it makes sense. Why ring an iMac if I’m not anywhere near it.  With this pairing your iDevice with an iWatch may take on new meaning and functionality.
  2. Location. Why carry your phablet around when it’s uncomfortably big for most pockets. Pick it up when necessary and never be far away. Make it more secure too. If it is moved or picked up. Get a notification. Still there is more to location than this. Even if developers don’t get access to the iBeacon in the next Generation AppleTV the combination of an iWatch, AppleTV, your phone, laptop etc will create an incredibly accurate map of your home, office etc. Extend this same type of capability to HomeKit and devices like lights and iWatch can turn those on or off too. Even if the processing is done on the iPhone or back in the cloud.  Yes iWatch will learn its environment over time and the remote in our pocket may already be moving to our body and voice commands.

While there is plenty of speculation out about an iWatch and many of the health metrics it may capture we also may underestimate the value in de-coupling “always-on” from a large device in our pocket. My prediction is iWatch will encourage and accelerate Phablet adoption while making the cloud and a screen anywhere more possible. Potentially paired with any online Apple device it can personalize that experience for me or enable me to “chromecast” / airplay what I want. Imagine an Apple laptop in a Hotel lobby. No-one is using it. You effectively are Guest complements of your iWatch. As soon as you walk a few feet away your session is completely terminated (but you can get it back with “continuity”). In different ways this makes sense at retail too.

This also suggests a world where your device is much more focused on your privacy and control over information. That’s potentially Apple’s strength and Google’s weakness tracing to a difference in business models.

Finally this all identifies one other key feature. Imagine I enter a store. There is an Apple iPad as the cash register. My iWatch could pair as a guest to connect to this as a hotspot. The Apple payment system asks for confirmation. The TouchID feature is just under the sapphire glass. Approved! Makes my iWatch as secure as my phone. Yes the money really is on your wrist.

In this scenario, an iWatch augments any Apple device you own even if you are currently also an Android user. Consider…. combine all these features and also release FaceTime for Android and Windows concurrently although tied to iWatch! Could Music be next? The net result. Anyone that is currently a Mac user that has an Android phone and buys an iWatch gets what continuity could bring them they next time they buy a phone. In the meantime HealthBook works just fine with your Mac. There are many variations. Add in “Hey Siri” as iWatch functionality with an iDevice nearby and voice commands will become even easier.

Let’s hope we aren’t disappointed. The future is almost here.

 

 

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DSC_1352“Hey Siri” tell me about HomeKit. I’d like more details and this will make a big difference to using products like Philips Hue – “turn up the lights”. As long as there is no network delay in response. I suspect Siri will have to remember the Turn up the lights by keeping the action local.

iOS 8 also taught Siri some new tricks. Shazam integration will let Siri ID any song in earshot, and it can dim your lights or turn up your thermostat through the new smart home framework. There are backend changes too, like streaming voice recognition and improved language support, but the big news is that you’ll be able to call up the program without even touching your phone. Just say the words “Hey, Siri” and it’ll appear automatically, similar to “OK, Google” in Chrome. via The Verge.

HomeKit will allow iPhones to start controlling smart devices, such as garage-door openers, lights, and security cameras. It all can be controllable through Siri: say, “Get ready for bed,” and your home could automatically dim its lights and lock its doors. Apple will run a certification program for HomeKit; initial partners include August, which is known for its beautiful smart lock; Honeywell; iHome; TI; and about a dozen more. The Verge.

I don’t understand yet how it will all work. I presume there will be a geo-fenced capability and the Apple presentation suggested some form of pairing. I suspect that in a year we may see this evolve to look like the Healthbook they announced  today where Apple manages your network privacy and “away from home” you use one of the new “extensions” in your future HomeLink App – which is currently pure speculation.

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screen-shot-2014-06-02-at-12-27-37-pmSecond observation from this mornings #WWDC event. Developers are going to get to use TouchID. Yea! Every app can now use TouchID. There was also a developer announcement for connecting Apps and bringing those extensions into Safari.

Apple is adding one of the most-requested features to iOS 8: inter-app communication. App developers will be able to enable “extensions” in their software so that it can be used within other apps — examples demoed onstage at WWDC included VSCO Cam editing functionality accessible from within Apple’s stock Photo app, and Pinterest sharing inside Safari.  via iOS 8 apps can talk to each other | The Verge.

So what will a “Visa” or “Mastercard” extension look like? How will it show up in Safari? Do I need to keep entering my credit card details with each new online store I visit? Expect to see some changes in Banking Apps ready for launch with iOS 8.

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DSC_1127I have three observations from the Apple Keynote I saw this morning. Whether they come true or not remains to be seen. 1. iMessage, 2.TouchID, 3. Ok Siri. I’ll make them separate posts. First up iMessage and the new calling features that allow easy integration between iPhone and Mac. Some competitors won’t be happy. Apple just matched many feature found in WhatsApp, Snapchat and Skype. New group messaging features look to be well done and integration of iPhone (my phone number) with my MacBook will add convenience.  If Jan Koum is annoyed he should just be pleased he already sold to FaceBook.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum isn’t too happy about the new additions: via WhatsApp CEO Angry iMessage RipOffs – Business Insider.

What are the implications? What direction is suggested?  The smart thing for Apple would be to go cross-platform with messaging now or at least with the launch of iOS 8 in September. At least enable Android for iMessage (perhaps add FaceTime too). Apple users will drive Android users to the iMessage platform. The integration with contacts, notifications, mac and iPad means it is just easier.  For iOS users adding in group and calendar elements adds to this choice as well as the apparent ease that “families” and “favorite” and “recent calls” will provide.  And frankly this will take away a painpoint in scheduling meetings etc. for which many users currently use Google Calendar for.

Additional reasons to make this change. Any Android users that doesn’t have an AppleID will have to get one. That will also give them an iCloud account which will also work with the proposed upgrades to iPhoto; which I think they announced were coming to Windows PC next year??? Add an Apple Store account on Android etc. Isn’t Beats already there…. Makes sense to me.

 

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20140529-132730-48450857.jpgI’ve been experimenting with Apple iBeacon again. A simple method using “Launch Here” and “Locate iB”. Using these too together will demonstrate how to manage proximity to a single iBeacon and present a simple launcher. I’ll highlight some of the issues below and let’s hope that iOS 8 actually brings the changes. I’ll also list some areas when I’m looking to just run some additional tests.

Launch Here for iPhone provides the fastest way to launch an app tied to a spot at your home – A timer when you’re next to the coffee maker, a remote when you sit down on your sofa or a to do app at your desk.  As soon as you are nearby a placed iBeacon and you turn on your lock screen, the app of your choice will appear as notification – Launch it with a simple swipe. Convenient and efficient.  via Launch Here ◌ iBeacon based App Shortcuts.

Locate iB -Makes your device transmit as an iBeacon with configurable identifiers. Finds nearby iBeacons with real-time distance estimates and displays all identifiers of each one discovered. Provides alerts when iBeacons are around and allows you to calibrate iBeacons you own. This app requires a device with Bluetooth Low Energy. via Locate for iBeacon on the App Store on iTunes.

What isn’t quite right with iBeacon today? Apple’s iBeacon iOS remains clumsy in launching Apps or completing activities / background tasks for me when I’m in their proximity. I look at this as iBeacon for my world.

Launch Here provides an easy method to launch an app from the lock screen notification. However, consider the steps. I’m in location of an iBeacon. I get the notification. Slide to open, provide pass code…. and then see the Launch Here briefly and then opens my set app (Remote).  Frankly it is quicker to open the “Remote App” by just hitting the home button and then the Remote App. Yes would save time if a password requirement was not present. This is no fault of the App this is a limitation imposed by Apple. So there are two areas that need real improvement for the IoT world to take a step forward.

1. We need to be able to manipulate certain apps on the lock screen. Example. I return home. I want “Hue” on my lock screen so I can adjust my HUE lights instantly. I may also want the lights to automatically go on when I enter the room. Some of this could already be made to work better. Example the “Hue” app could have an iBeacon capability built into it. I’d then have to add some iBeacons into the house (would be better if next generation HUE bulbs actually had BluetoothLE and acted as ibeacons too). Right now there is too much friction in the launching the app stage from the home screen to make apps on demand really effective. This request is really a “remote for life” observation. The remote must be instantly available and not two clicks in.

Use of the Apple Remote for use with AppleTV or iTunes is a great example of where iBeacon and the Remote should come together. Note while I can set up my AppleTV using my phone and bridge by iBeacon the signal is not available for me to use the Launch Here app to manage my remote. We can expect that the next real upgrade of the Apple Remote App will enable this “proximity” feature.

This launch friction is less of an issue if I go into an Apple store and then it kicks open a notification to the Apple App. Similarly, in the Starbucks store where iBeacons and location are integrated into the APP. However, not everyone will want this functionality or want to turn it on. In fact perhaps iBeacon by app should be optional.

2. Set up Background Activities.  Like the HUE example above I’d just like things to go on. I already use IFTTT to complete certain actions. Let’s imagine I now buy a Radius Networks USB Beacon and plug it into a USB charger in my Car. Now when I get in my car and insert my phone in the dash mount Waze opens and Music starts streaming. Nothing to do. I could also get it to do other things. Example run Motion-X GPS in the background and I hope that one day… when I leave the car it can simply create a blogpost with map of my route taken. This is an example of where iBeacon starts working for me, capturing my information. Yet the barrier to this too is the lock screen.

I’m also looking at this with an eye on both mobile ethnography and also opportunities to “triangulate” location with an even greater level of accuracy. Example include asking people to participate when in certain locations although this could be done when near a beacon one might want to connect only with those that make a beeline for something. So movement will be important determinants of context and action.

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SkyLock will never fly out the door although it may cruise down the street. It is just too expensive at its $249 projected price and another one of those fund me ideas that may or may not come to fruition. Still there is something nice about the video and “keyless entry” for you bike. Its a great example of how BluetoothLE an app and your phone can change how you interact with an everyday activity. Add in the sharing capability and if the locks were not “gold” then they might work really well on a college campus. Then again why don’t bike manufacturers build this type of functionality into the bike itself?

Velo Labs‘ Skylock is a smart bike lock that unlocks with bluetooth and has sensors for theft detection..

Now I wish someone would just let me retro-fit “keyless” entry to my car using my phone in a nice easy to install package. In the meantime I’ll continue using my 30 year old bike lock which works fine.

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photo_tim_sInternet of Things and Humans! Good examples in this piece by Tim O’Reilly. Re-think the IOT interaction paradigm.

“Uber is a $3.5 billion lesson in building for how the world should work instead of optimizing for how the world does work.” That is precisely the lesson that Internet of Things designers need to learn: how does a smart thing make it possible to change the entire experience and workflow of a job we do in the real world?

via #IoTH: The Internet of Things and Humans – OReilly Radar.

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iPod Register I recently caught a short article in The Economist on how Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are using mobile in the shopping mix. It’s a good reminder and again points to a radical change coming in the way we see POS or point of sale terminals. Mobile solutions are replacing static registers while also making it easier to present the right product to the right person in a way that delights them (see iBeacon). In contrast to the Visa PayWave (see also this) I’ve written about , Nordstrom demonstrates how inventory, online and in-store can begin to empower their assistants to really begin to build a shopping relationship with me. From having a product/upc scanner in the pocket to knowing what other sizes are in stock, or taking my payment there and on the spot. Soon the customer will be able to do this all too and that will further improve the relationship. It may not be long before you sign-in to the store with Facebook and then it remembers.

In this change to moving service and payment to small personal devices, it is easy to miss other new benefits that may emerge. Customers are served where they shop. Registers aren’t left unattended. While customers don’t like to be stalked, assistants are now armed with a helpfulness device.  Now that connection is the new learning on how to get what you want or pay the money. Rather than just wanting to ring your sale up, they can find inventory and answer other questions. Assistants also clear up, or hang up stuff rather than having a traditional register place that is a mess. Choreography changes. Along with stock management, just another way to avoid more markdowns.

Nordstrom’s newest stores have more mobile devices for accepting payment than fixed ones. With them, salespeople can tell, for example, if a customer is close to an upgrade, which would entitle her to such goodies as free alterations to clothing. She can then be encouraged to claim the benefit by buying a little more. Nordstrom’s grasp of inventory is good enough that shoppers can check online whether an item is available at a specific store.

One of Macy’s tricks is to use its shops as distribution centres. This expands choice online and prevents stock going unsold. An unwanted coat in Boston can be shipped to a shivering shopper in Boise. That sounds expensive but “if you can prevent a markdown, that covers a lot of shipping costs and satisfies the customer,” says Karen Hoguet, Macy’s finance chief.

via Retail: Hard knocks | The Economist.

See more:

 

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I’ve heard many times over the last few weeks that Vodafone has a “good” network. That may trace to the ad below. The term ‘good’, in my western eyes, has a certain definition – but here, in India, it may not always work and may still roll back to 2G/Edge.  “Good”, is enough to change lives. Despite the shortcoming I may see, for users in India it is real progress.

In my view, India is just hitting the tipping point in large cities, where 3G seems to be the next step (desire) for every college bound student. Being connected is simply essential for their progress. Cool kids currently seem to be using Vodafone and if the ad is to be believed, Mum is still chasing them and they don’t ignore her!

When you catch up with friends or rush to a meeting, when you whisper to your sweetheart or call your mom to say you’re alright, our network’s always there to help you along. Made for uninterrupted conversations, for crystal clear voice, for superfast internet and for the widest reach – it’s the network that’s made for everything.  via Vodafone Network | India.

Vodafone is also the prepaid network I use when in India and so I’m always renewing and getting reacquainted with my plan options. This time my 1gb 3G dataplan valid for one month cost me Rs.251 or about USD4.00. I use this opportunity to visit both product retail and carrier stores working to piece together a broader picture of what’s changing and contrasting it with what I know back home. These are a few of the things I’ve observed from retail and advertising.

  • Android phones are now significantly cheaper. The sweet spot seems to be Rs.6000 to 8000. There are some cheaper, and many more expensive ones of course. The same price of a plain feature phone two years ago.
  • 3G data plans continue to drop in price although remain significantly more expensive than 2G/Edge plans. Example prepaid 2G Rs.125 (USD2) for 2GB valid for 30 days. That would buy your 300mb under a 3G plan. Rs.251 will get you 1GB for 30 days currently.
  • Big is generally seen as better. Screen sizes are getting bigger. And bigger.
  • All the stores are focussing on low-end Android phones, smartphones and less and less on feature phones. It is where the buzz seems to be, and many retailers say feature phone sales are dropping. “Good enough” means they might compromise a little on the screen size, as an Android is better than no Android.

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Croma SmartphoneI find it very hard to see value in expensive Android handsets today. Perhaps I should extend that to any handset and OS. The question for Android appears to be; does the brand matter?

Looking at the myriads of Android handsets (priced Rs.5000 to 8000) now available in India you see attempts to play down branding, unless you’re Samsung, LG or even a Nokia. Here’s an example. This Croma (a large electronics chain like Best Buy) Android phone has no branding on the front face. Most follow this trend. The plastic back has limited branding.  If the owner is even worried about being seen to carry the wrong brand they can easily cover it with a case (many cases just their hand). Then no-one can determine what Android anyone is carrying. Android has been an equaliser. What makes one Android phone different from another are a few hardware specs, the Android OS version and after purchase, only the owner will know, which brand it is. For much less than $150 I can have the latest Android jellybean, a good screen and 5mpx camera.

Android is now the brand of phone and tablet you buy in India today.

The same picture exists with Tablets. As perspective, Croma sells a tablet too (approx Rs.9000). Great spec, looks good. In fact you can even put it to your ear and use it as a phone. This tablet represents the possibility of an always on computer in a country where WiFi and broadband connections at home are high cost extras. The  expanding phablet, tablet, adds a new challenge to the desktop/laptop and perhaps how students access computing. This in a market where budgets are constrained and network connections and bandwidth help make choices. There is clearly a lot of choices in flux.

An observation: when Android becomes the brand, there is less scope for differentiation among handset manufacturers. A critical question to ask as a purchaser is will this software in my current purchase be upgraded, or am I better off buying a new hand-set in a year’s time? Which increasingly means, should I not bother with the high-end smartphones running on Android?

 

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BurberryApple has announced the hiring of Angela Ahrendts, soon to be ex-Burberry-CEO, as their SVP Retail & Online Stores. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on what the job spec should include. I listed five key areas that will determine success and drive the hiring choice. I had a big vision in my post and my conclusion is I expected more. Follow the link to the post, to see the challenges I laid out for this position.

What the new SVP Retail job specification should include:

  • Global Retail Vision with Emerging Market Understanding
  • Simplicity – Elegance – Experience – Brand Champion
  • StoryTelling Required
  • User Experience Design – Pocket Retail
  • Payments Innovation – Platform for 500 million Customer stores

The announcements recognize Ms Ahrendts’ emerging market success, and the branding story that Burberry has told over the last decade. When it comes to online strategy applicable to Apple I’m less certain.  I trust she will bring something new to Apple. In any case we aren’t going to know anytime soon whether the choice was brilliant or flawed. Look to Apple’s execution at retail over the next year to tell the story.  Biggest risk? Apple doesn’t progress and accelerate their Pocket Strategy.

In any case, congratulations today must go to Ms. Ahrendts, for landing the most interesting and challenging job in Retail.

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IMG_0208She doesn’t read or write. She carries an old very basic Nokia and “speed-dial” has been programmed by a friend to connect her with the key people in her life. Her family and her employers. At first, most of the calls just came to her although these days she is making many calls herself. She’s a maid in Mumbai, and has learned her life is easier if she makes a simple call to say I’ll be late, or not coming today.

She doesn’t really think much about a new phone in her future. Most likely, if she got a fancy one, one of her sons or someone in her extended joint family would take it, even though she is the primary bread winner in her family.

The family is unlikely to see many of her little advances, she has a wallet now and carries a purse. More recently she started traveling on the train in first class and despite taunts about how she doesn’t fit in from other first-class passengers, she is standing firm. Her life is not one of many comforts although she now has a TV and fridge at home. Her days are long, with 2 hours each way on a train just getting to work and back.

Ask her about what she might like in a new phone and she struggles. While it is essential to her today, she isn’t constantly thinking about trading up or what’s next. In that regard she’d probably prefer to buy some more gold jewellery, a new sari, or a cooking gadget.  Thinking about a new phone, she’d like to have music (FM radio) and you might expect a camera to take photos of her new grand child although this is not stated. Underlying the comments is a sense that the camera phones she knows are difficult and the magic they provide is perhaps scary. She doesn’t like being seen to be the fool or not knowing how something works. In this, her old Nokia gives her comfort. In her life she’s traditionally been handed down the spare or old phone. In similar cases she may be given the cheapest phone possible by an employer for the employer’s convenience.

With this context in mind and forgetting whether or not she can afford the Rs.6000 smartphone (vs 1200 for a dumb phone replacement), could a smartphone even change her life? I suspect it could although few have been given the opportunity to try it out and experiment. The key things to suspect they are interested in are…. Camera, Music, and key contacts. Video/TV will be attractive however, data plans aren’t assumed here and are beyond the budget. The whole SMS and Notification area is potentially very confusing. However, with time she might like voice messaging, and even a Snapchat. I won’t assume anything about games, or even learning tools. I suspect a smartphone astutely set up (meaning keep the home screen simple) could take her further although she won’t trust it for making payments anytime soon.

I’ve watched both young and very young babies ask for iPads, and  watched seniors adapt to smartphones even when they struggled with email and a PC in the past. The visuals and touch make it easier to adopt. It is easier to understand the layers and remember how you did it the last time. It may be a few years before the aging housekeeper gets her first hand me down smartphone. The young maid will be quicker to wish for one, likely driven more by intimacy and sharing than some of the other features. Then as WiFi expands in many of the places they venture into, even video calls may happen and take on new meaning and delight.

There is little point wondering whether or not the touchscreen SmartPhone UI needs dumbing down for someone that is illiterate. Keeping the stock iteration simple helps. The reality is the hand-me-down or used smartphone is most likely to be the one that falls into their hands. That day will be very interesting for them. Then they have a device that may help and entertain them in ways they never thought of before and connect them in new ways. Importantly it will expand their personal and private space as this more powerful device may remain the only thing that they personally really own.

It is humbling to believe that while the early mobile phones put new tools for life and economy in one’s pocket, the smartphone may actually do a better job of building stature, poise, worldliness. When a device becomes empowering in new ways, then people grow. It’s worth continuing to ask the question. How will the smartphone empower the maid? Also worth noting how could it change her relationships with the world around her?

 

 

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Mochi MumbaiI’d like you to meet the local cobbler or ‘mochi’. He will repair your shoes for a few US cents. His business is established (street side) and he has a couple of stools and the paper so his customers or his friends can just “drop-in”.  While watching him, he took a call, pulling his quite dirty old Nokia out of his pocket. A headset was attached very twisted and, as he fumbled with it, he answered the call.

I’m fairly certain the cobbler doesn’t desire a smartphone tomorrow. A music phone, yes. His business is good enough that he could probably afford one and may have already bought one for his son or daughter. For him, a call is enough and calls coming to him don’t cost him money although those calls and his availability may help him make money.

So is our Mochi the smart phone user of the future or not? I suspect traditional items (lights, a fan, TV, refrigerator) are higher on his list of purchases. And putting money into his children’s education. The smartphone likely remains both daunting technologically, and represents a luxury item. For entertainment (if he even finds the time after getting home around 10 pm) TV provides a better option. He might like games but has little experience so he remains quite happy with his Nokia with FM radio onboard.

He represents a real smartphone challenge. One I’ve not seen answered. The smartphone doesn’t appear to provide him with an economic advantage. Even as smartphones evolve towards payment device he will continue to prefer cash payments.  His little street-side business has no collection or delivery function. By contrast the ironing man or Dhobi finds his phone makes pickup requests easier. A larger store takes phone orders and sends them home. Even the rickshaw-walla will tell you his phone makes for better business.

Observing the Mochi and his behaviour made me think.  The sweet spot for creating value out of a smartphone is in it helping the small businessman or entrepreneur, the petty trader, or the skilled labourer, be in the right place at the right time. Being networked, where networked economies improve both service, efficiency and build relationships may create a value equation where the bottom of the pyramid begins to embrace the smartphone.

However, there are some pre-conditions to make this happen. The majority of customers must have a smartphone and the business must have some form of service / location dimension that puts our BOP (bottom of the pyramid) at the right place at the right time to make more money than they might have before. I feel an example like Uber (now testing in Bangalore) may well spread in time. To participate you must be part of a crowd-sourced economy, the transaction setup driven primarily by notifications and or relationships.

The local street Mochi isn’t ready for big data, doesn’t have digital information to share across devices. He’s still set up for a world in which business comes to him. It would be nice if the smartphone brought more although today it appears that it is still the phone call that is most useful to him.

Realistically, we are also many years away from the point and time where taking payments electronically becomes attractive or mandated for him.

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Pay with AmazonWhile the headline for the linked post below is “Amazon challenges PayPal with new ‘Login and Pay’ checkout service for online retailers”, the article understates where Amazon can take their new payment approach. Amazon’s proposition to users is simple. You trust us, when you buy and then pay us. When you buy elsewhere use Amazon to make the payment and we’ll save the details. Amazon will legitimize many small retailers with this move and remove the dreaded one-time account set-up or guest sale. From a customers POV if I do business with Amazon and now with Online Retailer X then the action (which I’m now used to) is like Facebook Connect although now uses my Amazon credentials to pay. That may also imply more legitimacy for the retailer than the PayPal payment system.

See the example and then see my list of why it can go further.

Amazon apparently thinks now is the time to make its most aggressive push yet in challenging PayPal and other online payment services. Using its widgets and APIs, Amazon says online vendors can now “replace guest checkouts with recognized customers,” which will help retailers track orders, purchase history, offer special discounts, and more.  via The Verge.

Amazon is making this move to assist other online retailers with account details, payments and shipping. In itself this can really evolve in many directions. What intrigues me more is the implications this may have for taking Amazon payment systems into the real world of physical stores.

  • As Amazon already has an app on millions of mobiles a simple iBeacon could wake the Amazon app in any store and present the physical retailers offers or when appropriate the “Pay with Amazon” button.
  • Amazon’s capability to extend and share profile data, may also make the new payment affiliate more money or increase sales.
  • Equally sold items could also build up an online store under the Amazon umbrella over time.
  • Similarly, when someone has an item in hand and a complementary item that is not stocked in the store may be appealing to the customer Amazon could offer that item there and then. The store gets a commission on the online sale from their location.
  • With the right payment structure Amazon could go further. There’s
  • There’s no reason why my Amazon account isn’t also used to pay for a restaurant meal or gas in the future.

There’s an API for developers and more details on the payment structure here. Ultimately, reducing friction in making payments and lowering the cost/commission on payments will determine how successful Amazon is.

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AlphaThe $100 price point was once a big deal for the PC (One Laptop Per Child). $100 was also the point of reference for the Smartphone. That’s the price (no-contracts) where people said they would start taking over the world. The facts don’t yet support this in countries like India. Feature phones outsell smartphones in India by almost 10 to 1.  There is certainly a blurring of functionality offered between feature phones and low-cost Smartphones. And the proliferation of feature phones below the $80 mark, with basic internet, wifi capabilities.

Yesterday found me in Vileparle and the famous Irla street in Mumbai. That’s where Alfa 2 is. This store has been known as the biggest retailer of phones in Mumbai for a long time. It is certainly still busy although the whole locale now is loaded with similar retailers and almost any model you could want.

Can you buy a $100 smartphone today? Yes. Here’s an example.

Samsung Galaxy Music Duos S6012.  Sold with Android 4.0 and listed with an upgrade to 4.1. It has a 3 inch display is 3G ready. Price seen Rs. 6499/- or a little over $100. A little limited with a small screen and low end camera, many would have loved this phone a few years ago. Today, it looks a little dated.

This low end Samsung Android phone is effectively challenging the Nokia Asha series of Feature Phones. While Nokia feature phones start at Rs.4500 the best were a similar price to this Galaxy, although the Nokia may have a better screen and camera but no 3G etc. There remain many trade-offs and compromises at this price point from a premium smartphone user’s POV. Still, many would love to have a smartphone at this price, although I suspect they want a bigger screen. Many of the Indian brands are also offering the latest Android and better specs for similar money. There is still a 3G 2G trade-off on some devices at this price point and 3G is not yet everywhere in India.

SonyEvery store you walk into also confirms visually the “Big is Better” impact. One of the hard things to work out is which one is actually better  as they look so much alike. From Rs.8000 to Rs.12000, there are many many handsets that fit this bigger better mold. There are likely many theories why. The emotional, the practical.  I have my theories.

There appears to be an innovation opportunity that these larger screens present. I’m not sure Apps or the specs really allow this opportunity to emerge.  As an example I’m not sure running four videos at once on the same screen is really useful although I got a great demo from the sales guy who seemed to believe it was a great selling point!

 

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