Archive of ‘Mobile’ category

Amazon launches Kindle Fire

Everyone has been talking about the tablet market. Especially about the prices of tablets. Ever since HP decided to pull out of the market and dumped its discontinued tablet with its discontinued OS, it became clear that price is a much bigger hurdle for buyers than most expected. Enter Jeff Bezos and the new Amazon Kindle Fire. A $199 tablet that could be the biggest change to the tablet market since the introduction of the iPad.

The Kindle Fire has been based on the hardware of the RIM Playbook, but with Amazon’s own Android based operating system that seems more than enough to offer a good user experience. Obviously I have not had my hands on one the people who have, seem to be pleased with it. A good reason might be that Amazon firmly believes that everything you use on the tablet you should be able to use from the cloud. And that makes the 8Gb storage limit much more believable and practical.

Lets be honest, the biggest thing in the Kindle Fire launch is the new Silk browser. the Silk browser is a new angle that Amazon is taking with their Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2). They already offered the power and storage of their servers to startups and anyone who wanted to take an advantage of their speed. But now they are offering it to everyone through the Silk browser.

The Silk browser helps you access webpages smoother and quicker than other tablets. Why? Well, basically because you do not browse the web yourself, but Amazon’s EC2 does it for you. You send out the request and EC2 gets the page and repackages it into something a lot simpler and easier to load for your Kindle Fire. And as you will be browsing pages that others browse as well, those pages can be served faster than you would get them from a conventional browser.

However, there is a downside to Silk. And that is called EC2. That is, if you value your privacy. There is a reason why Amazon offers the Kindle Fire at $199. It is called sponsorship. Because Amazon is going to learn endlessly more from your tablet than any kind of customer research can teach them. They will go with you on your surfing trips, your trips to find the best deals, your trips to relate to your social networks and everywhere else. And it will do it in the nicest way possible. So, Google, where does your chromebook stand now?

In all honesty, the Kindle Fire is a nice tablet. It looks nice, seems to be fast enough and with Amazon’s appstore for Android you have all the possibilities you get on tablets twice the price. The Kindle Fire is going to have a pretty big impact on the tablet market. Here’s for hoping there will be EC2 privacy settings.

Microsoft releasing WP7.5 Mango now, plus the web market

Earlier tonight Microsoft has started to release the new Mango version of Windows Phone to its customers. If you are running a Windows Phone, it is probable that you will need to be patient as they hope to be releasing Mango to 10% of its customer base today. They will be taking weeks to update all of the handsets and carriers that are currently offering phones running WP7.

If you are wondering where your update is, you can check for yourself here.

The good thing about the slow release is that Microsoft is trying to fix possible bugs as the software is released, updating as they go. Smart move. Read more on the Microsoft blog.

Just a little while ago, Ben Rudolph also posted a run through the features of Mango and included the Web Market. An interesting step. Almost a year ago, I spent some time with Robert Scoble talking about how an app market for Windows Phone would be useless as the target audience for Windows Phone would not buy apps for their phone. Now, with what I have seen of Mango, that might be about to change.

I am looking forward to reading the first reports of updated phones. Got one? Let me know.

Can you tell us why you are leaving?

What could we have done to keep you as a customerA couple of weeks ago, I decided to say goodbye to Vodafone and switch to Dutch mobile provider Telfort. And with good reason. Or at least, that is my opinion. This week I got a questionnaire from Vodafone asking me why I was leaving them.

In essence that is a great move. Someone leaves you as a customer and you want to know why, so you ask them. However, what is my trigger to fill out the questionnaire? In this case, the only thing mentioned in the email announcing the questionnaire, was that all the answers will be kept confidential. As if that is of any concern to me. In fact, I am telling everyone who wants to know that I am leaving Vodafone and why. And the interesting part of this is that it is not even about the price. It is about my customer experience.

So, yes, my new Telfort subscription is cheaper and has the same network quality. But what triggered me to change providers is the way Vodafone treated me over the past months. In the past I have had my trouble with Vodafone, but usually their customer service solved the problems. Until now. A couple of months ago the Dutch providers have jumped the data train. Whatever was possible before isn’t anymore. Unlimited internet subscriptions are turned into limited versions while prices are multiplied. And if it remains unlimited, the speed drops down after a set amount of traffic. Annoying to say the least. So, I approached Vodafone Special Services (yes, a couple of years ago they told me I was a valued customer) to ask them whether they could give me my average data usage over the past couple of months. And then it went silent. I asked again and it stayed silent. I the end, I got an offer from another party to switch to their network. So, I called regular customer service and during our conversation on the length of my subscription, they told me that they could just give me the figure for the last three months. Apparently Special Services no longer thought I was a valued customer as nobody responded even though every customer service employee can see the answer to my question with a single click.

Was I unhappy with Vodafone in general? No. Over the past seven years I have been very happy about their services. However, if I spend around €1200 with you every year, I would at least expect the courtesy of answering a simple question. In the questionnaire they also asked me whether I was approached personally with an offer and whether that would have changed my choice. That is hardly a question. Of course it would have helped if someone would have contacted me and talked with me about my personal needs in mobile communications and how they could match that. And a good offer could have kept me with Vodafone. That call would at least have shown me that my relationship with Vodafone was a two way street. Now the feeling remained that my relationship with Vodafone depended on me. My money, my effort, my enthusiasm.

If a client leaves you, it is great to ask them why they are leaving. You can learn from it. However, it is much better to keep your customer from leaving you. Talk to them before they leave. Answer their questions. Show them that you value the relationship with them as well. That is not hard to do. Most people are quite happy with a call or a personal message. If you run a subscription service, make sure you contact your customers in time, to see whether there are better solutions you can offer. Your relationship with your customer is much more important to them than the actual price of the subscription. Because the perceived value is different.

Facebook Messenger for Android now available in Europe

Right before heading off to bed to leave for a conference early tomorrow morning, I decided to check the Android Market. I was sure Facebook was not going to be releasing its Messenger app so quickly in Europe, but I was proven wrong. I already had the iPhone app through my American iTunes account, but now the Android app is available for Europe in the Android market as well. A great step for what might just replace most of my other messaging apps.

Download Facebook Messenger from the Android Market.

Facebook launches Messenger App; the end for Blackberry?

Last night Facebook launched their new Messenger App. The app is a stand separate app that allows you to quickly exchange messages with your friends. It has notifications and it allows you to send out group messages. These features make it an instant competitor for SMS and other messaging apps that try to provide an alternative to SMS. However, it comes from Facebook, instantly taking along its 750 million active users. These users need to decide whether they want to keep all their communications in one place -Facebook- or whether they are going to spread it over several different services. And I bet you can guess what the answer will be.

Not only will Facebook’s Messenger app be annoying to the telecom providers that see yet more SMS income seep away through its data services, but it might also mean the end to Blackberry. Over the past years Blackberry has been building its userbase more and more on their Blackberry messaging app. And that has gone great so far. Well, except for the occasional London riot. Many people have taken the plunge and spent a good amount of cash on getting a blackberry, because you don’t need much money to have a data connection and sending your text messages is then free. So you are just as connected, only cheaper. The Facebook Messenger app is going to change the reasoning. Now you can grab a cheap Android phone, which are priced below the Blackberry. You can run a Facebook messaging app on, which will do the same as the Blackberry messenger app. But now you can continue your conversation on your computer. Or any other online device. And with the full Facebook app added, you have all the access to your friends online as well. Great for users on a tight budget. And great for Facebook as well, as you only need to connect to be able to message. That makes you want to be friends.

A great step by Facebook. And it leaves me to wonder what will be their next. Though I have a thought or two. For now the Facebook Messenger app will only be available in the US, but it will become more widely available in the future. You can check it out now at the American iTunes store and Android Market.

Je fans zijn jouw goud

Dit is nog ouder dan de weg naar Rome. Mensen verbinden zich graag aan iemand of aan iets. Deze mensen zijn je fans. Dat geldt voor producten net zo goed als voor mensen. Jouw fans geven om je. Ze zijn loyaal en volgen wat je doet op de voet. Ze houden van je en willen graag die relatie met je onderhouden. Soms schrijven ze je, mailen ze, vullen ze formulieren in, of klikken ze op je Like buttons. Maar bovenal relateren ze alles wat ze in dezelfde branche zien aan jou. Jij bent hun maatstaf. Jij vertegenwoordigt kwaliteit voor ze, je vertegenwoordigt waar voor je geld, je vertegenwoordigt het goede gevoel dat ze van je krijgen. Maar wat doe jij?

Social media verandert de maatschappij. Langzaam, maar zeker. Ik geloof dat voor iedereen het gebruik van social media net zo gewoon zal worden als de mobiele telefoon nu. In de komende tijd zal de manier waarop mensen communicatie ervaren ook gaan veranderen. Zeker als we het hebben over corporate communicatie waarbij het gaat om merken, producten en diensten. Langzamerhand raken mensen gewend aan de persoonlijke aanpak. De verantwoordelijkheid ligt hier dan ook bij de communicerende organisaties om hier op in te springen.

Gisteren kreeg ik mail. Een mail van een merk waar ik stiekem nog steeds fan van ben. Ik heb al een aardige berg Nokia’s versleten en tot de iPhone kwam, keek ik niet eens naar een andere telefoon. Toen werd ik verleid door iOS en heb inmiddels ook een Android toestel. Maar toch volg ik Nokia nog steeds. Toen ik een mailtje kreeg om de nieuwe C6-01 te testen, leek me dat dan ook wel leuk. Ik las door het onpersoonlijke mailtje heen en besloot toch het formuliertje maar in te vullen. Want mijn interesse voor het merk won het nipt. En daarna werd het stil. Heel stil. Nu, bijna drie weken later, ontvang ik een mailtje met een euforische titel. De testers zijn bekend. En ik ben het niet. Natuurlijk vind ik dat jammer. Ik heb er moeite in gestoken. Maar wat mij nog meer steekt, is dat Nokia het niet eens nodig vindt om mijn naam te gebruiken in het mailtje. Of iets anders persoonlijks. Het begint met ‘Beste,’ en daarna gaat het bergaf. Het ‘beste nieuws’ dat ze me in dit mailtje geven is dat ze mijn gegevens hebben bewaard. En dat ze me misschien ooit opnieuw zullen gaan vragen om zo’n zelfde formuliertje in te vullen. Om dan weer afgewezen te worden. Zonder naam. Ik twijfel of mijn gegevens bewaard zijn, of alleen mijn e-mail adres. Zodat ze me meer mailtjes kunnen sturen. Zonder naam en zonder gevoel.

Je fans zijn jouw goud. Zij zijn het die je merk, je product of je dienst haast op handen dragen. Zij zijn het die geld over hebben voor jouw inspanningen. Die interesse hebben in jouw hersenspinsels en die vaak bereid zijn om zelf ook tijd en moeite te steken in jouw succes. Waardeer dat, want er komt een dag waarop dat de reden van je succes zal zijn. Het zal je helpen om te groeien, om je omzet te verhogen en uit te breiden naar nieuwe doelgroepen. En het zal je helpen om hobbels glad te strijken. Hobbels die er zullen komen als er iets aan je product blijkt te schorten, de wachttijd te lang blijkt of de prijs te hoog. Maar je fans zijn je fans. Ze zijn jouw goud. Wordt fan van jouw fans. Luister naar ze, praat met ze. Zorg dat je weet wat ze beweegt en als je contact met ze zoekt, doe dat dan met hun doelen in jouw vizier. Dan blijven ze jouw fans en dragen ze je merk uit naar iedereen die ze kennen.

Starbucks Card mobile is nice, but could be fantastic

In January of this year, Starbucks launched its Starbucks card mobile app for the iPhone. An easy way to pay for your coffee by holding your iPhone in front of the scanner at your local Starbucks. Great thought. But why didn’t they take it a step further?

Back in 2008 I was approached by someone from Dun & Bradstreet to advice on an online strategy for a coffee company. I allowed my mind to run wild and mobile. Mobile is a great way forward for many organizations as it can connect their customer base to their products wherever they are. This can be especially valuable if you run a chain of stores. Starbucks currently only utilizes that one aspect of the mobile opportunity. But it should not stop at that.

If you are into highly customizable products such as coffee, there are endless opportunities to involve people in their process. Granted, this might be a bit too complicated for Starbucks as they run a range of standard products, but for any other coffee company this can be a key to beating Starbucks at their game. Imagine being able to choose your coffee on the way in to the store. You can choose one of the standard products, but you can also to select the exact blend for your coffee from selection of beans and additions at the store. You can then name that blend and save it to rate it as you drink your coffee. These new ‘custom’ coffee’s can be shared with your friends and you might decide that you want to have ‘one of what they are having’. That creates a whole new way of being involved with your store, your favorite drink and your friends. As a coffee company you might even be interested in promoting the top ten UGC’s (User Generated Coffee’s).

Regardless of whether you are offering the custom coffee creator (above), you could easily create an environment where people can share a coffee with someone else. If you use custom coffee’s, you can ‘give‘ someone a coffee of your latest and greatest blend through the app. Look at it as a very personal gift from your taste buds to your friends‘ morning experience. Just by the touch of a virtual button you pay for their warm wakeup. I am amazed that Starbucks has missed out on this opportunity. Or the opportunity to share your credits with others so that they can pick up a coffee for you on their way into the office. Something that could solve the small change problems at the office.

I see a great future for the chain who would be willing to implement an app which can do the things I mentioned above. And if you are the coffee company that dares, feel free to contact me so I can help you go mobile.

Twittercare, webcare of gewoon customer care

Foto door Dmitry Chertousov via Flickr

Klantenservice. Vaak de achterhoede van het klantcontact en als zodanig ook vaak de sluitpost in het sales traject. Op een gegeven moment gaat dat natuurlijk frustratie oproepen. Om die reden zien we een beweging om de klantenservice beter benaderbaar te maken. En waar kun je dat beter doen dan online? Dus hebben veel organisaties zich met nieuw enthousiasme op de webcare gestort. Een interessante ontwikkeling die zeker zijn vruchten afwerpt. Andere organisaties willen hun nek nog verder uitsteken en zijn actief geworden op Twitter.

Allemaal prima initiatieven zou je zo zeggen. Maar er schuilt een gevaar in de manier waarop de service uitgevoerd wordt. Zelf heb ik in de afgelopen maanden een aantal keer gebruik gemaakt van de klantenservice van Telfort en T-Mobile. Allereerst wil ik stellen dat ik zeer tevreden ben over de manier waarop mijn vragen opgelost zijn of in behandeling zijn genomen. Wat mij wel verbaasde is het verschil in de manier waarop gereageerd wordt. Het blijkt dat de telefonische klantenservice, de webcare en de twittercare eigenlijk drie verschillende groepen zijn binnen dezelfde organisatie. Tekenend voor beide organisaties is dat een vraag waar de telefonische klantenservice niets mee kon, door de twittercare van beide bedrijven binnen een half uur was beantwoord. Bij Telfort kon de telefoondienst de aansluiting van het internet niet versnellen, de twittercare haalde de datum binnen een kwartier twee weken naar voren. Bij T-Mobile kon zowel de winkel als de telefoondienst niets doen aan een te hoge data rekening van mijn dongle, twittercare stortte binnen een half uur het volledige bedrag terug op mijn account. Een ander mooi voorbeeld was een twittercare die mij iets beloofde dat uiteindelijk door een andere afdeling niet waargemaakt kon worden, omdat niet al mijn gegevens bij de twittercare bekend waren. Het resultaat was wel dat je je als klant bekocht voelt, omdat een betere oplossing wel geboden werd, maar niet wordt uitgevoerd.

Klantenservice is van groot belang. Klanten worden je vaker trouw door een goede afhandeling van hun problemen dan een probleemloos gebruik van je product. Wil je trouwe klanten kweken, zorg er dan voor dat je mensen actie kunnen ondernemen om je klant ook ècht te helpen. Zorg ervoor dat àl je mensen dat kunnen, ongeacht of ik dat publiek doe op Twitter, of via de anonieme telefoon. Laat de antwoorden altijd in dezelfde lijn liggen, want tegenstrijdigheid is dodelijk voor het gevoel goed geholpen te worden.

Voor een klant is het belangrijk dat er naar hem geluisterd wordt. Het is belangrijk dat het  probleem opgelost wordt. En het is belangrijk dat hem altijd dezelfde oplossing geboden wordt. Dan voelt de klant zich serieus genomen en goed geholpen. En dan wordt het een trouwe klant.

The Friday Five – Five iPad apps to stay in touch with what is happening

The coming weeks I have decided to have one day with a theme. The Friday Five. On the coming Fridays, I will be posting short lists of things. Things to do, things not to do. Things to change or things you should not be without. The Friday Five will reflect my personal view on many things. And as it is Friday, it is not always going to be very serious.

This week I want to share my five favorite apps on the iPad that I use to stay in touch with what is happening:

Boxcar

This has been on top of my list on both the iPad as well as the iPad ever since it was released. I never access the actual app, but its ability to give me push notifications on many services has helped me stay in touch realtime. One of my latest additions is a combination of a filter on my Google Apps account which forwards to Boxcar when mails with certain words or from certain people arrive. That enables me to quickly respond to current projects or special clients.

Twitter for iPad

One of the best Twitter clients around. The joy of browsing through tweets, hashtags, people’s conversations is huge. Twitter for Mac is getting close, but is not as much fun as Twitter for iPad is.

Zite

Just in and already on place three. Flipboard used to live here, but Zite is just so much nicer. Granted, it can do with some improvement, but the basis is great. It enables me to catch up with what has been happening in a comfortable manner. However, I would like it to be more clear in the way it uses my RSS feeds from Google Reader. Besides that, I would love an option to add my own Bit.ly account and a list of articles I want to save for later use, perhaps through Instapaper.

Friendly Facebook for iPad

Catching up with friends on Facebook is great to do, but I am not much of a fan of the Facebook site on the iPad. The official Facebook app is great on the iPhone, but doesn’t scale to the iPad, so I looked at Friendly. And I think it is pretty good. Does it enhance your life incredibly? No, but it is easy to use and nice to look at, so a definite must have if you want to do Facebook on the iPad.

Tweetradar

Just for the fun of it really. Tweetradar does what its name implies. It shows you a google maps background on which it projects the tweets for that area. Great to spot what is happening in your backyard, your city, another city or just for an event.

There you go, the Friday Five for this week. If you have an app you would want me to try, just let me know. If you have something that you would like to get my opinion on, let me know, I’ll do a Friday Five on it.

How many apps do you want?

At LeWeb I met a number of startups. They ranged from not very interesting to very interesting. However the thing that really struck me when talking to them is that they are still so focussed on being the one platform for their users. Most ask you to import your friends, or ask you to at least invite them to their service. A lot of them work only with the information in their own databases and rely on their users to fill them. Frankly, I was disappointed. As an example, I was approached by a startup which operated only on the iPhone and which could recommend places to go based on what others had said about it. The good part of this app was that it connected with Facebook. One less account to worry about. The bad part was that they gathered the information my friends had put on Facebook through their social checkins through other apps. The main problem with this was that I needed to use the app to find a place where I could go. Then I needed to open an app to tell me where to get there. After I had arrived, I then needed to close the app and check in through a number of other apps. I would then use other apps while I would be at the venue for whatever I would want to share with my friends. And at the end of the night I would have to open their app again to rate the venue, tell others what I had done and share that through their network. Honestly? For me, that makes it useless. If you are building an app, try to incorporate the most obvious things into your app so that it your user is not hassled by it, but gets the feeling that the app makes life easier for them.

In the case of this particular app, it would have been much easier if they would have chosen to include checking in on the most available sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook pages etc. And it is not that hard. Most offer an API which you can use, making it relatively easy to incorporate.

What it really comes down to is determining how your app can make your user’s life easier. Because that is the reason we use apps. We want them to add to our life instead of making it an extra something that we need to do. So yes, it is great if “there’s an app for that”, but it is even greater if there is a single app that follows through the whole process that the user is in. And better still if that is done regardless of whether the service the user wants to use is part of the developers’ stable. If that is something you can do for your customer, you might just be on to a winner.

Verontwaardigd over de huldiging? Tijd voor actie NOS!

Sinds bekend is geworden dat de KNVB de rechten voor het uitzenden van de huldiging heeft verkocht aan SBS, heerst er  verontwaardiging op de verschillende sociale media. En daar zijn natuurlijk ook wel redenen voor. Maar dit is tegelijk de mogelijkheid voor de NOS om de kracht van haar sociale netwerk te laten zien. Miljoenen genieten van haar uitzendingen via de televisie, maar ook via het internet en de mobiele applicaties trekt de NOS veel kijkers. Het zou dan toch ook prachtig zijn als de NOS er nu voor zou kiezen om de KNVB in haar oranje hemdje te zetten door alsnog een uitzending te maken op basis van beelden die door haar netwerk worden verzorgd. En het is niet onmogelijk. Misschien is de kwaliteit van de beelden niet altijd wat we van de NOS in HD gewend zijn, maar het gevoel van ‘aanwezig zijn’ en ‘saamhorigheid’ krijg je natuurlijk ultiem als je vanaf honderden mobiele telefoons een verslag voorgeschoteld krijgt gestuurd vanuit de NOS regie met commentaar van Jack van Gelder en de andere vaste commentatoren.

NOS, ga ervoor! Er zit meer in het oranjelegioen dan de onderhandelingen over een sublicentie jullie kunnen bieden.

(Wil je meedoen of vind je dat de NOS het gewoon moet doen, laat dat dan weten op twitter of hier in de comments.)

Vodafone Mobile Clicks and the augmented reality of tears of joy

The room was dark and the heat got to both the presenting startups as well as the audience. The setting was the Vodafone Mobile Clicks finals at the Picnic festival in Amsterdam. Up for grabs was 150.000 Euro’s. A big amount in anyone’s book, but for bootstrapping startups the three prices would mean a lot more. IT would mean a new window of opportunity and the possibility to take their company a step further. Finalists Audioboo, Layar, Woobius, My Name is E, Rummble and Mobypicture battled in front of a very critical jury, but never lost that comradery that comes from being a startups together. The emotions ran high with tears for both victorious startups and startups that missed the top three positions. To Audioboo, My Name is E and Rummble all I can say is, guys you’re all on my phone and I loved your presentations.

A great addition to the pack of startups was Woobius, the third place winner. As the only one aimed at an enterprise market, Woobius aims for an audience that is rarely represented at this kind of event. It was awesome to see the surprise of the group, who saw themselves as underdogs, when they heard they could come up to pick up their third price. Congratulations guys and lets stay in touch, I will have some leads for you.

Mobypicture hardly needs any introduction. Mathys has been a friend ever since I met him and I just love his service. During the finale Mobypicture launched no less than 6 new features. An awesome step and something to be proud of. Your second place was well deserved Mathys and I love your passion for shoot and share.

One of Layar’s demonstrations for their new 3D technology is a rocket taking off. It could not have been chosen more appropriately. Since its launch, Layar has swept the world of its feet with its augmented reality browser. The world has been at their feet ever since. Maarten did a presentation which harnessed so much passion that it was impossible to beat. And the rollercoaster continues. Taking first price, the Layar team has seen a great reward for following its dreams. And for Maarten, the last year has been the ride of his life.

Congratulations to you all and I will be seeing more of all of you, I am sure.