Nokia Asha RangeA few Indian Mobile facts to keep our thinking and perspective, honest.

90% of all mobile phones sold in India cost less than Rs. 5000 ($80 approx). 97.5% cost less than Rs.10000.

For perspective, there are a number of smartphones running Android Gingerbread, under Rs.5000, although Rs.6000 is a more effective starting point for 4.0 and above.

Less than 3% of smartphones sold cost over Rs.10000 or $160 approx.

A phone costing less than Rs. 5000 rupees ($91) is generally termed as low-cost and is also the last category as defined by CMRI, the company which is giving us these numbers. Unsurprisingly, 90.18% of the total shipments are in this (<5000) price range…

The next best selling category after 0-5000 range is the 5001-10000 range which accounts for 7.8% of the total sales. If we just look at phones costing less than Rs. 10000 ($183) then it would account to 97.44 %.

via India : 50 million phones shipped in Q1 2012; Smartphone’s drop though | Asian Correspondent.

So what do you get for Rs.5000 rupees? There are literally hundreds if not thousands of options. The most popular feature phones are still sold by Nokia (the Asha range) and today some of these will be WiFi enabled. Also consider that 2 out of 3 phones sold in India are dual SIM.

Or think Smart Phones where 75% of them are sold at under $160. So, despite the noise and the advertising on TV for the latest Samsung Galaxy Note III or equivalent (almost Rs. 50000 phone), it isn’t necessarily what people are buying, except in a niche. It’s effectively the halo effect of branding in this market, setting trends to big screens, and more features.

So yes, phones under Rs.5000 or approx $80 sell in the millions, while at the rarified top end, the market remains small and exclusive.



TileI have a new little want. I like my Phillips Hue light bulbs. They are LED low energy, WiFi connected, multi-color bulbs that are just really cool. They also do a neat thing of turning on when I return home at night. However, more fine-grained location control simply isn’t available.

The biggest pain with Hue is reaching for the smartphone to turn the bulbs on. It’s pretty quick although flicking a traditional switch is faster. What they lack is proper location control that could be invisible. Example if I walk into a room and it is dark and they are not on – then they should turn on to the last setting (or another if I set it that way). Similarly, if I leave the house and no-one else is there – then the lights should go into vacant house – security mode. Likewise when I enter and leave a room.

I actually presume that if the Hue bulbs supported BluetoothLE this could be a whole lot easier. Of course they don’t they use Zigbee and a Bluetooth LE solution could well challenge them in the future.

So here’s the experiment. I’ve got some Tiles on order. Tiles are a simple little BluetoothLE beacon that you attach to things. The app is supposed to let you find them. The example is keys, or your wallet etc. At first I thought they would just be cool. However, the more I read or understood what they were, the less useful they seemed to be. So I’m thinking. If  “TheTileApp” can find my keys then it could also send a notification to my IFTTT account when I am on one or the other side of the tile. I could then use the IFTTT account to turn on my Hue lights. Then I just put the Tiles where the natural switches are (which may or may not be where they actually are).

For music to biofeedback, this site is a pointer to many Hue apps.


Not so long ago, our Mumbai team was doing a lot of car watching at gas stations and noticing what was inside cars. We were studying design of auto interiors. Before I tell my car story, I must take you back a few years as the story and the insight is related.

In 2008  I was on a small ferry  boat and a group of kids started playing music. It was very loud and I could see it was coming from a mobile phone. I was intrigued and asked them about it. And wrote about it.  “China Phone” Beats Nokia N95 in Boombox Test, which became a number of blog posts referencing the China phone and the huge number of speakers they included. Including “From the “Mouths of Kids“, “Manish Market and the Mobile Ghetto Blasters” and “Prince A950 – My China Phone – Think Different“.  You can read them, yet, for this story, what mattered is an understanding of sound (dual sim too).

Not quality as we know it, rather loudness. Follow any festival, watch a marriage procession with drums beating and then go and talk to the NoiseWatch people. Its a high volume level society. With the honking in the streets, a simple meek ring tone would never cut it. And so, even years ago, the kids disparaged my best in class N95 at that time. It was something Nokia had clearly missed despite being the market leader. (Note for reference Nokia has been a client, although not on this subject and the observations shared here are my own then and now. As they say watching change, trying to interpret change never stops.)

IMG_5898In the intervening years I’ve had many rides in many different cars. Indian drivers more often than not had a simple Nokia. Cheaper cars didn’t even have a radio. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a driver pull out a map. The usual way to get somewhere is drive to a landmark and then start asking rickshawallas, cabbies, shopkeepers and passersby. In that same time period I’ve been the one in the car that keeps checking on how Google Maps is doing.  They really work now!  I’ve also heard from time to time, younger people starting to talk about maps.

Now they don’t talk about maps in that old fashioned way – no the first real maps they got their hands on were on mobile devices and it helped them find a restaurant or pub. In our western worldview many would expect that maps must have been working for years in a place like India. That’s just not true. Either there wasn’t the data, or the data connection to make them useful (outside main cities, on Edge things can still be painfully slow).

Then there are updates. On my last visit a friend was complaining about the Android update that had removed / integrated Google Navigate into Google Maps. Now she couldn’t figure how to follow the worm. I suspect the change was made from a western map reading perspective and it no longer worked the same for her. (See her Galaxy Note also mounted in portrait mode).

That was just part of what I term one of those learning moments. My hypothesis “Smartphones” usage in India and how they are used includes different roles/methods and even screen interpretation and usage that cannot be understood without context. I’m attaching a picture of what triggered my thoughts.

This picture shows an almost new Samsung Galaxy Note suction cupped to the windshield. The latest model  – a one year old car, did have a CD/radio installed. I’d describe the car as a very nice box. In the same car there was also a USB charger and cord dangling down. In this case the phone was positioned portrait mode for use as as a GPS navigation aid. The big screen really helped. The driver didn’t follow the map, the driver followed the arrow and line. Turns out the driver often uses the phone for music too. The mounts are becoming more popular and cost was cheap (I heard a few hundred rupees) and while walking the streets I bought a USB charger for 200 rupees ($3.50) which didn’t work in this case.

This is when it really hit me that smartphone behavior around cars in India is very different from the integration that the upscale western auto market is following. Yes upscale new cars in India will get bluetooth and more. Yet I know, in my own car and motorcycle in the US, I too mount my phone on a Ram Mount (suction cup holder to window / handlebars). I then plug it in or in other cases just use bluetooth. I don’t expect it to replace my stereo. I play it through my stereo. I use it for navigation all the time although a bigger screen would be so much better.  I watch a map rather than a line etc.

At that moment I came away with a suspicion that the Indian motorbike and car will enjoy their smartphone makeovers. Sound on speaker is again important particularly when the only speakers in the car are in the phone. Then they will also be used to manage tasks that we might not think about here. Example the owner wants to know where their driver is parked? (The owner pays for the phone). Or the rickshaw driver that can turn his phone into a better business? Uber like? For truck drivers, the smartphone could be a total journey makeover device. Yes, a revolution is going to come when smartphones go into all these vehicles, and that will drive smartphones lower down the market as location and maps (worms?) will give them real economic meaning.

Which all comes back to sound and screen size. Big screen sizes are here to stay. The car really puts the mobile at arms length – vs the traditional half-arms length distance. So the screen simply needs to be bigger. While like the sound, “mine is louder than yours” and “mine is bigger than yours” are real value statements in a country like India. Small is not generally better, and Chinaphones proved that, often shipping with two batteries and large not necessarily good quality screens. Add in the other obvious factors. She puts the phone in her handbag how important do you think pocket-ablity is? He’s on a rickshaw all day. What sort of charger should you sell him?  Should it even come with the phone?

Go down this track and you quickly realize that innovation in mobile is somewhat stagnant at this point. The $100 smartphone is near and yet still sold with a charger. What sort of battery should it have? Should the battery be a separate purchase (Tesla almost does that). Does it really need to ship with earphones? How tight (as innards with no wasted space)  or light does it have to be?

The pocket is a beautiful lens to look at your mobile strategy. However, in the context above, where it is a working tool, it’s seldom in the pocket and its helping people actively engage with the world around them.

I suspect Samsung’s big screen strategy was a little by accident and partially by design. As an Asian brand they will get the the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ advantage. I’m not sure that until now anyone has really provided the use cases for what happens when the “mobile computer” is out and available all the time. That’s not relevant to macbook carrying, ipad holding, iPhone pocketed, users with too much tech. No, that smartphone story is about moments in-between. And business, till now, has been managed by email and calls.

The new discourse and story must change. Low cost smartphones are purchased because the economics drive people to own one. The opportunities are around business, maps, logistics and payments.



A recent article was sharing how Lowe’s is helping customers find items on their smartphone app while in the store. Apparently 20% of Lowe’s online visits are from the mobile. The snip below was what set me thinking. On reading it, I had this feeling that this is very much last year’s solution and Lowe’s is positioned to move faster than you may think. In a moment I’ll tell you why.

“The company’s in-store product locator feature allows customers to find the location of in-stock items at Lowe’s stores using their mobile phones. When a consumer selects his “home” store on the Lowe’s app and searches for a specific item, the associated aisle number pops up alongside the item image and description. Users can then tap on the aisle number to view an interactive map of the specific store that shows where the product is located.”  Read Original Post.

Lowes App Selecting a Product

Selecting a Product In-Store

  1. Search for store (which is set with first log-in unless you want to change)
  2. Search for item
  3. Choose item that you want that is stock (is priced)
  4. Tap on aisle number
  5. Look at the tiny aisle map to find the product….. (can zoom with fingers)

All on a tiny screen, this type of thing doesn’t work as much of a time-saver. Yet it is an important piece in getting to the next stage.

So what’s wrong and why do I think this is dated. The problem:

  • I want the mobile to guide me to the right location. I don’t even need a map – just a direction pointer and a little encouragement. This could appear on the result of screen 3 shown. The whole UI thing could be simplified.
  • Lowe’s has all the information by store. It’s all planogrammed out, with maps on where stuff goes. The problem is the product doesn’t have any sort of signal saying to the buyer,  “I’m here, I’m here”. So we have these manual maps.
  • The product I’ve chosen  may well have some other related products to get the job done. Will I see them or forget them on the way to pick up the item I’m searching for.
Lowes Product Finder

Current Product Map Returned

The potential solution:

I’ve been following the iBeacon evolution. Last week in MLB and with AppleTV etc. So I’m assuming with a little maths the following is possible:

  • Put an iBeacon (actually a BluetoothLE transmitter) at the end of each aisle. (If the aisle is too long, put one in the middle too.) Think triangulation and it may be simpler than this.
  • Now we know the exact distance between two transmitters and then between aisles etc.
  • As we have the planogram we can actually point the user to within approx a foot  of where the item is.
  • With a level on the “arrow tracking finder” we can actually guide the direction of the persons eyesight up or down. There are various UI ways this could be done
  • There are probably some other things we could do too…  you get the drift 🙂
  • Now every product can “talk” or “message” (not that we will want them to)

The benefits of this are immediately obvious:

  • Every Product in the store can now direct someone to it. No electronic label required.
  • It means that the shelves are potentially alive with interest and reminders. As I walk by I may get offers. (This is a selling opportunity for retailers to suppliers – more profits)
  • Offers and discounts can be personalized to the individual shopper (repeat purchases, associated items etc.).
  • Obviously the market for smartphone holders on shopping carts / trolleys could be huge.
  • The mobile can become the product scanner.
  • Self-checkout is simplified as the trolley and goods are weighed on the way out
  • Lines and staffing requirements at retail counters disappear
  • The customer effectively has the cash register on their trolley/shopping cart.
  • The retailer can more effectively optimize in-store traffic and shopping paths.
  • “Savings” will likely encourage other customers to adopt the Lowes app.
  • Builders and Contractors never have to wait in-line again at checkout – saving time and thus money.
  • Staff can be re-deployed back into the store.
  • Payment Relationships can be renegotiated. Eg an auto direct debit rather than a Visa.

There are some issues we will address below. However the cost of this installation need not be large. Lowe’s are very large stores. I used the example of Bluetooth LE beacons on each aisle – 2 or more. However, in a highly planned store like this, “triangulation” may actually cover a much broader area reducing the number of beacons actually required. There will be interference too. There’s perhaps a reason Estimote is selling developers a pack of three. The cost of these beacons is low. The software development cost is also relatively low and certainly minuscule by comparison with installing self-checkouts, new registers or adding new staff. Lowes has already provided their staff with iPhones (42000!). So they already have a beta test task force in place.


The customer has a trade-off. Effectively privacy and cash, or a better more efficient relationship that may save them both money and time. There has already been some outrage over WiFi and Mac tracking by retailers. Retailers will have to be very smart about how they use or request location information. It’s one thing to share in the store, another to continue sharing once outside with an app running in the background. I think we will shortly see some interesting statements in plain english to address consumer fears.


The benefits simply outweigh anything else. In a year Lowe’s, Safeway, Tesco Ikea etc. should begin rolling out solutions like these.  It will also generate new apps that help stores set them up.


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ShoppingThe coming changes to mobile location services will be highly disruptive to  advertising and promotions,  payments and relationships. For two key reasons. Every product or brand is going to become a lot more invested at POS (think supermarkets and how they will change promotion practices when they know where you are in the aisle) and the relationship (and product loyalty details) they have with the customer’s pocket. While the mobile device in your pocket is already encouraging retailers to augment the in-store experience it is rapidly going to redefine profit centers. My theory is – it will have a radical impact on how supermarkets and consumer product companies work together and more broadly all suppliers to retailers.

The quotes referenced below all point to posts written by Brian Roemmele who captures many of the reasons I’m excited about this space. If you are interested in retail, payments and customer relationship building, they are worth reading in more detail.

As a researcher I have identified about 245 use cases for what is now known as iBeacons.  About 88 are in payment applications.  There are about 45 that center around micro location.  The remainder are quite useful and rather non obvious.  via (40) iBeacons (iOS SDK Feature): What are some interesting applications that are enabled by iBeacons technology featured in iOS 7? – Quora.

A company bought by Apple which will enable them to create iBeacon like iTags. Think about clothing, packaging where range is more limited.

The Passif technology is how Apple will power these nano devices known as iBeacons.  The iBeacon technology will allow for merchants to activate a number of new features that will be a part of future iOS releases and future iOS devices.  The new iBeacon devices will cost pennies to manufacture and will likely be given to larger merchants by Apple, for little to not cost. 

via (40) Apple + Nikola Tesla Inspired Technology May Ch… – Accepting Payment Cards – Quora.

I certainly know the following is true for large retailers and in fact for smaller retailers and services. I termed this the “social register” some time back although really it’s relationship and experience engagement by the seller for the buyer.  What’s true for big and small stores in Brian’s post is payments isn’t the way to optimize the experience.

Some of the reasons these retailers are doing this themselves:

  1. Retailer’s Agenda – They want “Mobile Payments” as a tool for enriching the customer marketing, shopping and purchasing experience. Not as a way to move a payment company’s agenda.
  2. Platform Agnostic – They want the ability to deliver a delightful experience to all customers, using all platforms. Not a bias to just one or two platforms.
  3. Retailer Access To Data – They want the same access to all data as they have had for over 100 years.
  4. Integration – They want understanding of and compatibility with backend systems, inventory management, along with connections to retailer credit, loyalty and marketing programs. They do not want to change merchant service providers.
  5. Flexibility – They want the need to be able to rapidly change the platform as changes in the market dictate.

via (40) Brian Roemmele’s answer to Why are Target and Walmart creating their own mobile payment solution? – Quora.

And then….  I love his examples that talk consumer anthropology and effectively how QR codes got Starbucks on their way. Starbucks, like the iStore is definitely one to watch, in rolling out the next wave of payment changes. With millions already having a Starbucks App, it will be the experience not the payment that comes first and it will start at the door or even outside.

The idea of using a barcode to enable a Payment Card transaction has been around since the 1980s.   Starbuck’s use of the 2D barcode was the creation of the mobile wallet and NFC genius, Benjamin Vigier.   Ignoring all of the debate I have seen in the Payments space, Benjamin choose a path for Starbucks that is a spectacular success.  This practical and pragmatic approach was not arrived at in an ivory tower.  Starbucks wisely choose to uses the  educated insights from their own internal experts and experts in merchant anthropology and consumer anthropology.  The results?  A simple to deploy mobile payments solution across all of the POS systems with a simple yet highly viral way for customers to adopt the system. It may not be disruptive, nor necessarily a technological marvel, but it just works.

via (40) Online and Mobile Payments: What retailer is the most successful in mobile payments? – Quora.

In the midst of many other announcements last week I’d miss that Intuit opened up their API and Square is now going to integrate Quickbooks/services into what it’s trying to do. Brian makes a great case of why and what it actually means. My interpretation is simple. Every store has a backend, and that’s the data. You don’t just throw it out and you do want progress. Intuit has the same problem. What they have to solve is augmenting the experience from the time the customer first comes in the door etc.

Today Quickbooks and Square declared a bit of a truce[2], perhaps even a “white flag” of surrender. The “disruptor” is working with the legacy “disrupted”. They announced an API partnership that allows Square merchants to easily integrate most of the data that Square collects on behalf of the merchant, directly into Quickbooks. This is really a monumental shift for Square.

via (40) Competitors: Square And Intuit Agree To Work To… – Accepting Payment Cards – Quora.



LocationThere will soon be a very nice business in installing Bluetooth LE networks in retail stores that are tightly planned (example supermarket planograms). The installation will involve making sure there are no dead zones, while the consultants tie in the backend product services with the product localization maps. Then the environment can become alive and personalized to you.

“In this paper, a low-cost Bluetooth based localization system has been proposed. We introduced a novel approach based on multiple neural networks. The most suitable one is automatically selected and loaded by the system depending on user orientation, estimated with a compass. In this way, the system copes with the power absorption of the human body, achieving higher accuracy. In fact, taking into account the user orientation during both training phase and use, we proved that the indoor user tracking improves significantly. Using a few basestations and common office devices such as a laptop and a PDA, we obtained results significantly better than the current state of the art, where Bluetooth systems are usually limited to room level localization [10, 11]. Our results show that the system could be employed in a navigation task, where high degree of confidence on the localization is necessary to reach the expected destination. 90% of precision and 0.5 meters of accuracy were achieved during a walk along the corridor. Moreover a recovery system able to improve system performance in case of base stations failure has been implemented. It increases the accuracy of the system from 48% to 74% even when only 60% of the original deployed nodes are active.” 

I started looking for information like this after thinking about triangulation and how just a few Bluetooth LE beacons could help you map out a detailed area and the route that a person was taking and what they might be passing/seeing along that route. What intrigued me about the above was that the compass, and no doubt other motion sensors, will assist in improving accuracy to 0.5 meters.

In a highly planned retail environment, the products won’t need complex tags for the environment to come alive. It will just require a customer motivated to use the retailer’s App.

Separately, I’m beginning to consider this as an IOTC or Internet of Things Cloud, where the things themselves have no real intelligence, rather exist in a localized cloud which is simply accessed by walking around, fueled by a database on what’s currently in-stock.



remember passwordWake up another technology shift is here!  Yesterday I read how you can “Tap to Setup” your AppleTV. Yes that’s right wave your iPhone with iOS7 within a few inches and most of the work is done for you. As usual the tech press doesn’t ask “so what?”, or “whats that really mean?”.  Where could this go? Some thoughts.

The iPhone and AppleTV share the data over Bluetooth and WiFi. The BluetoothLE on AppleTV for setup apparently set to 12 inches or less. Thus the tap to setup. Yet BluetoothLE works over a range which can be pre-determined up to about 160 ft. So what comes next with the AppleTV? Perhaps Netflix who just introduced profiles? Now it can identify who’s watching. Equally I could set it to start music at certain times of the day when my phone is in the vicinity or when I come home. Having an accurate “Stuart’s” home function is now way more interesting. I’d certainly like to test it with Philips Hue Lights. They could go on room by room as I walked around the house with subtle fade outs (of course I don’t have that many bulbs yet). The Hue app also need reworking.

So what do we have? The AppleTv becomes the iBeacon for everyone in the house, which means the apps in your pocket that control your house now have fine grained location control. For developers this will be huge. For example I no longer need to open Hue each time I want to turn on the lights. They just turn on because I am in the room or in a place in the house.  Or my iStrap/iWatch can communicate with my phone apps and AppleTV  beacon and do all the same things. Then eliminates the need to keep the phone in my pocket – just a low-powered BluetoothLE device on my arm.

Yes there are many problems with this little scenario. What about the kids, or the dog? Then there is the front door and more. Different locations may be defined by standing there asking apps for actions at those points. Then even the AppleTV may be upset if moved.

Having this degree of location accuracy in the home is both scary and welcoming. “Tap to setup” leaves the functionality in a more “magical” zone for the moment. Still if you want music to automatically turn on when you arrive then you will quickly expand the range (Once we get this control). What’s important to recognize is whether this “iBeacon” is just between the AppleTV and your apps locally or if they report to a central authority each time.

So there’s another play here. Right now all the smart home solutions are running the backends. Yes I can control my Nest thermostat (I don’t have one) using my smart phone. However, I must have the app open to do that and Nest is communicating with Nest Central letting them know how I manage my heat which may or may not be something everyone wants to share. Also if these apps are location aware / geo fenced they tend to eat up battery and aren’t all that accurate. So the heat or lights will probably (rather than guaranteed) go on when you return. An iBeacon notification makes this more efficient and accurate. Example the phone senses the Apple TV and then the apps know where you are and what to do.  Effectively  your phone is now the “hub for the smart home. Note, interestingly, this iBeacon doesn’t send to Apple or to Philips or Nest. It’s could be limited to just being part of a relationship between the App, you and your location.

There are many things this could activate. Communications, Health, Heat, Light, Doorbells, etc.

While I’m still trying to get my head around implications for the smart home there are real potential cost benefits. Most of the other smart home systems have some form of hub and these devices are expensive and generally incompatible with each other. The current Philips Hue system uses wifi and a hub and a backend. Yet if the bulbs were iBeacons and used BluetoothLE  then the app in my pocket can still manage them with new opportunities for the UI. For more speculation that same App could be in the AppleTV and respond to a simple remote control or personal iBeacon bands. If I wanted I could share these signals. Example daughter comes home after school. Her wrist band unlocks the door, activates the lights, sends a message to my phone.  I suspect that relationship and set of notifications would go via iCloud.

Interesting times…

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O.Co BaseballApple very smartly along with MLB announced another iBeacon initiative. Unlike the AppleTV discovery this one is all about entertainment. That’s a lot better than being introduced with too many tacky promotions or price off deals at retail. Perhaps the Disney App will be next?

“Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” Abramson said.

By loading the free app when you get off the subway and head towards the stadium, it immediately knows you are at Citi Field. It populates a ballpark guide with information specific to the stadium, so if you were to enter Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, the entire experience and data wouldn’t be the same.

As you near the gates, the app displays your ticket’s barcode on screen, as well as a map of where the seats are located. If tickets are loaded into Apple Passbook or purchased online through certain ticketing partners, the app will automatically pull them up. via Apple Feature to Turn MLB Stadiums Into Interactive Playgrounds.

There are many ways this can evolve in the stadiums and before long you will be paying for the popcorn or hot dog without sending your cash along the row. We may also need chargers if everyone is glued to the screens all the time.

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IMG_6336The new fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s is just a button. It may not be the first time you have used a fingerprint reader. It also isn’t the first one on a phone. The news reports are out demoing how to hack TouchID with copies of my prints and more. Frankly these are all over  done. All I know is I am thankful. It’s better than the four digit password I was using before (many times a day) and my phone now has a much more complicated password as an alternative. Is there some technique to using it? Yes, and I’m changing my hard button pressing ways. The following quote (read the article for common sense) sums up the hacking and points to the two factor authentication approaches to come.

Imagine a banking application where on startup you use a fingerprint for convenience – it’s nice and quick and only needs to ensure the right person has started it. However as soon as you want to do something sensitive like check a balance or transfer some funds we kick it up a notch by asking for a two factor authentication – the fingerprint and a 4 digit pin. This combination is strong enough to protect the user against most scenarios from physical theft through to phishing attacks.

Why I Hacked Apple’s TouchID, And Still Think It Is Awesome. | The Official Lookout Blog.

Was it worth buying an iPhone 5S for? (Certainly if registered for the developer program). Perhaps not as an upgrade from a iPhone 5, although after using TouchID you see other log-in and authentication systems differently. For example until now I alway preferred my Galaxy’s dots and swipe approach.  TouchID is faster. I  trust this will reduce the number of people (about half apparently) stupidly walking around without pass codes on their phones.

At the consumer end I suspect the demo’s will be fairly compelling after you understand this point (my bold).

Touch ID has nothing to do with clicking the button, and there should be almost no delay. Certainly not two seconds. You don’t need to press and hold the button to get it to scan your finger. You just rest your finger on the sensor — no click necessary — and it works. When the phone is asleep, you do need to wake it up, so you can do that with a click of the home button and then just keep your finger on the button, resting without pressing. There is no race condition with the press-and-hold action to activate Siri.

via Daring Fireball Linked List: Dustin Curtis on the iPhone 5S.

So… what happened… for good or bad. Millions of people became acquainted with a fingerprint reader and are now using it daily. They aren’t thinking about it too much. It became the new norm. In a year or two years that is likely to be 10’s (100’s?) of millions. Time for the discussion to move towards what developers can actually do with it.  I’d also like to see some identity experts chime in as this may introduce new options for managing personal clouds.

Last words:

TouchID was designed to counter the top two threats (acquaintances and common thieves), not sophisticated criminals. Those in the third threat class are not going to be stopped by either a passcode or a fingerprint because they have other ways of getting that data.

via Threat Modeling Against Apple’s TouchID | Daniel Miessler.



iBeaconHow will mobile really deal with payments? Who will wrestle control? The number of initiatives around mobile payments are growing. I’ll ignore the mPesa type of example here for now. The primary smartphone contrast today is between NFC (PayWave/Visa), Beacon (PayPal) and iBeacon (Apple) which isn’t even a payments system yet. Although Apple is hinting at their direction with the iPhone 5S a fingerprint reader and iTunes payments. Will iPhone 5S purchasers get a new Apple Store (physical and App) experience? Only time will tell.  This post is not a prediction that BluetoothLE will win, it merely means to help explore what it might mean. As a contrast see this: 

“I absolutely do not see BLE as a replacement for NFC,” he said. “I see them as complementary and not competitive. BLE is primarily a location positioning technology that can also deliver content within a confined geographic area. NFC is a physical object engagement technology. Both have distinct use-cases that do not conflict. I do think BLE has a future. Like NFC, tag management and cost will be a big issue connected with its deployment.”  via Taking stock of Apple’s iBeacon |

Behind the advances is Bluetooth LE for low energy. Compared to NFC it is significantly better at managing proximity and doesn’t require a “physical-touch” on the in-store payment device to complete a transaction. This may or may not be good. I tend to find it more appealing. Systems using this latest form of bluetooth can thus “wake” or “notify” a mobile device and shift messages and activity based on location over a larger area. This means a single node or beacon can provide different messaging. For example one on a register could also be providing promotional offers to passing shoppers 150ft away. Similarly, multiple beacons can be installed inside a large store creating a network of different experiences. (see Estimote).

There are two big challenges.

1. How do retailers bring this in to their stores and integrate it with their current POS and customer management systems?

2. How will it work on the mobile device from both user experience  and a more technical perspective?

I’d like to focus on point two for the rest of this this post.

For the User:

How will these interruptions, vibrations in your pocket, and localized content offers actually play out? Example given the proximity sensitivity you could be in an apartment store some 100ft from a display, and you could get a shopping recommendation – eg go and look. It can even give you a pointer as where to walk or head (how do we handle the floor above? 🙂 ). When you are at the display it may provide special pricing or it could offer other product matches in other parts of the store that you might like. This experience could be completely customized to you. There are many nuances in this transaction. Imagine it suggests that you buy it for a Facebook friend for their birthday, or some other form of gift reminder. Think about all the other reasons you may be in a store. Helping your partner shop. How could this technology help you surprise them with a special choice for finding something? The list will just grow. However the extensions are even greater. Having picked up the new sweater you could just pick up a bag and confirm you purchase and walk out of the store. The electronic check at the door matching you and your paid for items invisibly.

In a large department store users won’t want a proliferation of apps competing for their attention. Retailers also want to manage the experience from start to finish. A big context differentiator for any system is “time”. How long will a customer be in the store? Is it a quick in/out collection or payment? Do they know what they want and is it a fast transaction? If a question of speed is there an opportunity to “add” extras to this transaction? What if the customer just came in to browse? Or they had never shopped there before?  Could a customer actually be acting as a proxy for someone else? Context and time will play a big role in any solution.

The other interesting thing about iBeacon is it works both ways. Your smartphone can also be a beacon. So the small retailer, or the market stall, or street vendor could use their mobile device as a beacon to “bring extra business to them” and then ring up the sale on the same device or even on your device. Similarly, it can create new relationships and potentially bring that small entrepreneur a world full of data and new opportunities. Many smart phone carrying owners may hate this thought. So let’s refine it with a filter. Imagine now walking down the street in a market full of vendors and only getting relevant things from those that have a Yelp rating over 4.6 or some personalized filters. That may be more like shopping for treasure.

The Technology Challenge:

The issue is will Apple iBeacon (like technologies) be embedded into the operating system (Apple’s iBeacon, Google/Android Copy? Google is also following with a Bluetooth LE strategy.) to capture payments or will these features facilitate payments for more traditional payment solutions?  Will Apple promote more innovation in payment Apps so solutions are more OTT (over the top) like PayPal’s Beacon App or current banking apps?  My guess is Apple will facilitate OTT apps while perfecting their own and may roll this technology out in different ways.  There are t0o many variables and different experiences for innovation not to go broader. When studying this evolution both the large retail opportunity and the individual are important. I suspect the individual is underserved in this area (globally) and I could write a whole post on that.

The challenge and risk for everyone developing a payment system is how does it relate to the operating system? For example, consider the parallels with VoIP services. Mobile operators had SMS, then consumers came along and bought smartphones; added data and embraced everything from What’sApp to SnapChat. All these services are OTT meaning the carrier doesn’t benefit or participate in them. Then there is FaceTime or iMessage which is both effectively OTT but also embedded into the iOS operating system which adds convenience – easy to use and the sheer utility may be hard to copy (thus challenges the Apps). Carriers/Mobile operators hate OTT plays and have also plotted for years to get in on the payments bandwagon.  Banks too see the threat of mobile and like mobile operators they are already using regulations and other strong arm tactics to protect their position in many countries.

The larger question is can iOS or Android become our banking / payment transaction friend? That may rest on both economics and trust. Concurrently, do emerging solutions reduce or eliminate fraud while making payments easy? With large app stores, both Google and Apple are already in our pockets although the outcome won’t be decided very quickly.  Like iMessage it may come in a few years. In the meantime there will be a proliferation of apps and hardware. Those making “iBeacon” like hardware will also want to be reasonably universal unless they want a proprietary solution like Paypal is proposing. Today, we can’t even dream up all the use cases. We should keep looking at the world in many different ways considering how a multiplicity of Bluetooth LE nodes might change how we interact with an environment.

I originally started looking at this post reading how PayPal Beacon works as an add-on to traditional POS systems. It does indeed present a quicker more friction free payment case. This may make a real service difference in high volume outlets. Example a Starbucks or McDonalds. Yet chains that size can also create their own iBeacon apps and take additional control over the experience and I suspect that’s more likely.

The trillion dollar question over the next 2 to 3 years is which payment system is going to win? What new approaches will emerge? Will cash continue? Do Visa or American Express continue as plastic become Apps? Will PayPal be the new solution on mobile or will Apple or Google block their way?  As a point of reference the following snip points to why PayPal Beacon thinks they are better than other solutions (Estimote, Roximity Beacons, Adomaly, NFC, geolocation, etc.)

PayPal Beacon is better than… Because…

  • Geofencing Drains battery life, less accurate, requires pre-selecting a limited number of locations, relies on Wi-Fi or cellular network
  • iBeacon iOS only, privacy concerns (one way communication means the server tracks you)
  • General Phone can communicate to the cloud/PayPal without a signal (great for thick concrete walls, Victorian buildings)
  • NFC Requires you to pull out phone to pay (slower to tap a phone), requires NFC-enabled phone
  • Regular Bluetooth Drains battery
  • Credit Card Requires you to take out credit card to pay (slower to swipe card)

via Beacon – PayPal.



IMG_6333iOS 7 brought Facetime Audio to iPhone and a slew of little changes to contacts, favorites and a new “FaceTime” icon. In all the commentary no one has analyzed how Apple is actually encouraging the rapid adoption of FaceTime Audio. Remember when iMessage came along. We soon learned that the “blue” send was a free iMessage. With telephone numbers that trick is a little more subtle and may take another year depending on the response. Before iOS 7 came along the only way to access FaceTime was through your phone favorites, recent calls, and contact list.  Let’s look at the details.

FaceTime icon: iOS 7 now adds a FaceTime icon (like we’d seen on iOS 6 on iPad) to the iPhone, so if you hadn’t used FaceTime before here’s a little encouragement to try it out.  Frankly, my first response was to wonder why I needed it. Why is it there? First up it enables you to choose a contact and then choose audio or video in a simplified fashion. (I am surprised that it doesn’t eliminate “non-registered” FaceTime contacts from my list or provide it as a group sort option.) The other reason may be the “favorites”. The FaceTime App enables you to choose those favorites for FaceTime calls and they are then saved as audio or video. Simply click to connect.

Phone Favorites: Well this is either by plan or by error. I added my favorite FaceTime calls to the iPhone FaceTime App.  Example Family members. Later I went to Phone favorites and found they were doubled up. Well now I had a listing for my son twice, one for Facetime and once for his mobile phone number. That felt like total duplication and it’s forced. If you use the FaceTime App and add favorites they will end up in your Phone favorites. Which in my case doubled the number of entries in my Phone favorites. Sub-optimal as we will see.

Contacts: Note the subtle change in the contact layout and the positioning of FaceTime. It is no longer a tab at the bottom. It is easily seen that a contact for which you may only have an email is now available for both iMessage and FaceTime as long as that user has registered the email you are looking at for FaceTime. If that is the case the “FaceTime” line will appear above any other contact details.

So what to do? What change in behavior do we want? What makes sense?

1. Escalation Audio to Video. In the old model I could call someone on their mobile number and then if available we could start a FaceTime call after a delay. In the new model I can call them on FaceTime audio and then if appropriate escalate to FaceTime video. That escalation using FT Audio to Video will now no-longer delay the call “connecting” and can easily be declined and back to audio. BTW: It’s not always appropriate and in fact may not be desirable to initiate a FaceTime Video call without some sense of the other parties context.  For example if my car is traveling at 70mph and I get a FaceTime call will the speed and motion mean that it is limited to audio only even if Video is requested? (I’ve not tested this, or tested re making an outbound call – Note in the past I have both launched and held a FaceTime call with Siri while on the move.) I’m not sure how to answer a FaceTime Video call as Audio only. This suggests Apple would like you to adopt “audio” and escalate. Separately, some other reports say it is FT Audio is WiFi only. This wasn’t true in my tests on AT&T.

2. Revamping Phone Favorites: Seems there are a few choices. I did the obvious. I simply deleted my old mobile phone number favorites and replaced them with FaceTime Audio. All those FaceTime Video contacts I had in my phone favorites I changed to FaceTime Audio. Why? It’s simple. Sound quality is better. I’ll monitor usage over Cellular over time. (Note, under settings/cellular you can now see which apps are using how much bandwidth. I do know that FaceTime Video can eat into a data quota if you have one.)

3. Using Siri: It’s still a little clumsy. I have to say “FaceTime Audio – Contact Name” to launch a Siri started FaceTime Audio call. I’d prefer to have that as a default option rather than FaceTime being interpreted as Video.

In my case the net result is FaceTime Audio just became the default for many of my favorite calls. (I’m still waiting for some of my contacts to upgrade to iOS 7 to make it work. I also presume FaceTime Audio will come with the OSX Mavericks update.) I’m remain disappointed I can’t just find a setting that says “Default Calls to FaceTime Audio – where available). Then I wouldn’t have to worry about it. However, that is probably a carrier negotiation issue. Right now the FaceTime App simply does what many others have before, including, Skype, Viber, Tango, etc.

FaceTime Audio joins iMessage as another reason to sign on with the Apple camp and get an iPhone or iPad device, and then never to depart again. It’s a little odd to see it arrive so much later than FaceTime’s video calling feature, but the reversal of feature rollout makes a lot of sense ; audio-only calls are uncomfortably close to standard phone calls, which is still one of the sole remaining areas that carriers control.  via FaceTime Audio Is Apple’s Biggest Little Feature Addition In iOS 7 | TechCrunch.

Other Implications?
Enterprise: How secure is FaceTime Audio/Video? Will enterprises prefer to default to such a service for all calls? If so with the right support it is going to become a strong selling point. For example all calls between registered employee phones are “secure”. Perhaps there are other ways this feature can be used in the Enterprise. Yes I know about NSA concerns! Apple is also not transparent on security

Customer Service: What happens when a company can quickly read that the email you provided the purchase with is also your FaceTime contact? (This could also affect which emails we use for purchases) How could this be used for iMessage confirmations, or complaint handling? No company in their right mind would have used FaceTime Video to call a customer out of the blue. Will audio change any of this? Could it ch.ange call centers and how they are set up?

Giving Up The Phone: Maybe not quite yet. Still worldwide you can now buy an LTE/3G supported iPad with a data plan and start making both FaceTime Audio and Video Calls (3mb/min approx for video). Both Skype-In and GoogleVoice provide an example of where this could go. If Apple were to provide an inbound number for my AppleID then I’m one step closer to just needing only a data plan.  For travel that would be a lot more convenient than adding a funny foreign number. There remain many vested interests in SIM cards. Another way for some leverage to emerge is to provide a dual-sim iPhone (not that likely). Will my unlocked iPhone even run on a data only card?

For iOS users FaceTime Audio and Video will manage an increasing number of communications. The next utility/functionality step is a video/voice conference calling capability. Currently the only free  video conference calls that work well are Google Hangouts. Skype only provides this as a paid or premium option.

I’ve been following FaceTime for awhile:



I like stats however, these are telling us what we already know, and can guess at with a high degree of accuracy just by observation and extrapolation. When you consider the context of kids lives and access to technology obviously these results will favor tablets. (Not that this data which I presume is US centric must look at households with kids that own both tablets and smartphones. Kids as apparently presented (what age) are highly unlikely to have full time access to a smartphone.)

“The data from 15 billion mobile transactions a month shows that 77 percent of kids favor gaming on tablets compared to about 10 percent who favor smartphones. By comparison, 17 percent of adults play on tablets while 65 percent play on smartphones.”

“Another interesting fact is that games for kids have remarkably low retention rates. On average, only 12 percent of kids return to a game app after one month. By comparison, more than 41 percent of adults will return to a mobile game after one month. That means that developers should spend more time making their apps more engaging, rather than marketing the app to more and more kids.”

Read Original Post.

What matters is a broader contextual understanding. Why  do kids like certain games? What keeps their attention and makes them want to share with friends? We can look at broad brushstrokes or look more deeply at what is actually happening. I’m sure there are huge difference by age group and game type and even dependent on “parent type”.

What I really want to know is what big data sets can tell us when we start interrogating it for more contextual inquiry? Separately, I note that this data quotes 15 billion transactions a month. It doesn’t say anything about what % of that 15 billion is kids or anything about frequency or active time. I’d expect an average kid session to be longer than an adult and adults to have much higher frequency. So basically, top level data like this grabs headlines while it really doesn’t help change the broad brushstrokes story.

NOTE: MixPanel provides services that can help you track your app, signing up is free (expands their database) and it can help you right away track new accounts, services, and tie them to other marketing events. All app developers should be doing something along these lines.


Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 6.35.26 PMTotally agree with this POV that context around a multi-screen life rather than screen type may help you think through who sees what, when and why.

We also saw examples of small screens, such as smartphones, being used to watch ‘large screen’ content despite a TV being present in the room. “When I go to my boyfriend’s parents and they’re watching a film that I don’t really want to watch, I just get out my iPhone and put my earphones in so I can watch something else,” explained 31-year-old Hayley, of Yorkshire…

Categorising screen behaviours might help us take important planning decisions about what roles different screens can play throughout a campaign. However, our research highlights how important it is to remember that human behaviour does not adhere to neat categorisations and is, instead, often driven by pragmatic and emotional needs – such as the girlfriend who doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend’s side to catch up on her favourite TV series.

via Screen savour | Features | Research.


What’s right and wrong with America’s cup? Right – the racing, wrong perhaps the bias toward Oracle commentary at times! Let’s hope the wind allows racing to continue tomorrow.

“If you didn’t enjoy today’s racing you should probably watch another sport,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, competing in his fourth America’s Cup.

“I can honestly say this is the most fun and exciting sailing I’ve been involved with,” said ORACLE TEAM USA tactician Ben Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medalist.

via 34th America’s Cup delivers more heart-pounding action as teams split the day / America’s Cup.

America's Cup Marina GreenI’d agree not much wrong with the racing after watching Race 10 yesterday from Marina Green. Just stunning with an almost complete view of the race course. There are many nuances to America’s Cup from rules for boats and the regatta to new and emerging technology. The complaint this time round appears to be not enough challengers and budgets that are in the 100m dollar realm.

In the early going the Kiwi’s established themselves winning races 1 to 3. Each time clearly faster upwind. In race 4 they were beaten. Hard to know what exactly went wrong there. Then with Kiwi’s leading 6-1 (let’s not count the penalties right now) on Saturday race 8 looked good for the Kiwi’s until the boat almost capsized. Oracle was definitely close when the capsize happened at a cross. Oracle went on to win although the capsize effectively threw the race in their favor. The Kiwi’s regained their composure and went out to race again. However, wind was at the maximum and after a delayed start with the Kiwi boat in a tight lead the race was cancelled.

So Sunday with the announcers all over how great Oracle was the previous day and how improved, Race 9 was about to start. I know announcers have to make a match of it. That’s TV, and Jimmy Spithill does a great job of helping to promote their side of things. It’s fun, and yet to a real watcher it’s not really news it is entertainment. So let me reframe it.

Coming into yesterday and Race 9. We had Oracle winning two races. ETNZ coming from behind to win in other races and leading from the start in a number.  The previous race 8 was a gift or a loss driven by a big error. ETNZ almost lost the whole campaign in 10 shocking seconds. What we learned from Race 8 was Team Oracle USA was now a lot more competitive upwind in these conditions. As a watcher that appeared true. Although never spoken about is the Kiwi’s apparently higher speeds downwind. My guess is there has been a trade-off by both teams. NZ have dialed their boat for a little more speed downwind while Oracle has gone all out even cutting parts off to help improve upwind performance.

So Race 9. Team USA had a great start. What excited the announcers was the upwind portion where the two boats split. Oracle simply ran away with the race at that point particularly after NZ again got a little high in the water. It seemed like a great win. I’m more inclined to believe the tides and wind on different course sides made a difference. The win was still down to 47 seconds (from memory). With a lead of 6-3 now in races (6-1 really and for the scorers) the competition was looking up.

Race 10 began and it was the most exciting race ever. It’s the reason this formula of AC72’s shouldn’t be forgotten or quickly moved away from. This is where sailing needs to go. As a Hobie Cat and Tornado sailor in the 70’s I still remember first arriving in NZ and looking at the winged cats that were being experimented with. The boats we see today are very different and in the same way leading edge. America’s Cup has always been leading edge and the technology improves as the teams race. I can’t find the link although I still remember reading that Dennis Connor applied a film to Stars n Stripes in the 1987 Cup which enabled him to beat NZ and go on to beat Australia and regain the cup. The film via the aeronautical industry meant water traveling past the boat surface would go faster. Note KZ7 was the first “Fiberglass” 12m yacht – a huge innovation at that time.

Back to Race 10. The Kiwi’s got an ok start and held on to the first mark (apparently better than in earlier races – no announcer comment) and drew a penalty and rounded the mark first. The rest of the race was as close as anything that you will see. It came down to minor errors and better tactical calls. The announcers effectively suggest Oracle would have won but they made a bad tactical move on Leg 4. I’d conclude that in these wind conditions (at the max agreed for racing) the boats were fairly evenly matched. The Kiwis won race 10 leaving the score at 7 to 1 or 3.

From a NZ standpoint they lost the right to challenge when up 4 to 1 in 1992/93. It’s not won until it is over. Odds are that Oracle doesn’t get enough favorable conditions, or enough boat improvements to close the gap and win at this point. However, there is huge motivation in both these teams. ETNZ wants to win it for NZ and that provides the most security in terms of sailing team jobs going forward. Oracle – well these guys are fighting for their lives and the resources that are being applied between races are likely to be far greater than ETNZ has.

So Tuesday will show us something new. I’d of course like ETNZ to win both races so we can conclude they were emphatically better and the Cup is off back to New Zealand. If NZ wins the cup. I hope they tighten the rules and continue with the AC72’s. There will never be many many challengers. There does need to be a core group of challengers and one from America. I’m for including a rule that requires a team to set sail with the majority of their onboard team (60%+) from the country of challenger origin. That’s probably realistic for the next series. It also has the advantage of promoting sailing around the world. Auckland is easily San Francisco’s match as a venue.





Where is User Experience, Users Pocket

Where is User Experience, Users Pocket

UK data suggests that few companies are thinking effectively about Pocket Strategies. Fact is, less than a third of the UK’s largest companies even have a mobile optimized site. A few years ago, after the blog phase, everyone was promoting social media and then onto enterprise 2.0.  My answer for companies and brands was always “learn to listen”, “listen-first”. The other rule was always authenticity. Write the blogs or posts yourself. And yes indeed, all those CEO’s that had blogs written for them – they got found out. Their credibility lapsed. So with this backdrop and context, think about your mobile challenge and how you want to frame it.

Let’s assume you must move forward and update your current website to support mobile formats. Typically that means dumbing it down and I’m not suggesting an app at this stage. So things get stripped away, technical constraints exist and your customer is disappointed although perhaps less than they were before. This approach isn’t going to help you much although you will get learning.

Only a third of FTSE 100 companies have a mobile-optimised site and only 16 percent of marketers have a formalised mobile strategy (CMO Council 2013), despite the fact that 57 percent of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40 percent of consumers will go to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience (Compuware 2012).

via Getting mobile right 

These quick questions below may help you focus the discussion on mobile more effectively. Once you have answered them you will think more about the user, the experience, and how you can be part of your customers life.

  • Think about yourself. Now describe the relationship you have with your smartphone.
  • What’s the difference between Pocket Strategies and Mobile Strategy?
  • In what context(s) will our customers seek us out? (Times, places, devices)
  • How could we live inside our customers pocket? (relationship building)

Many companies can workshop Pocket Strategies quickly and efficiently to redefine how they do business in the future. Those that fulfill a role in my pocket will learn faster, be more attuned to my needs, and more cognizant of what’s right and wrong – particularly when it comes to advertising, media, and notifications. A great mobile solution has the power to make life easier for both parties.  That will only happen if you start now thinking about this as Pocket Strategies!

Note: The picture is just a quick Google image search on mobile strategy. Do the same an you will see how few of the “promoted” solutions are user and pocket centric. Many of these treat mobile like it is just another digital strategy, a channel for communication. Any quick pocket strategies quiz /test will highlight how big the strategic miss will be. The relationship of your customers to their mobile devices is going to disrupt your business. The question is. Will you do it, or will some upstart do it to you?