Mobile Trends Toward Futurism, Commerce, and Laziness

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Saturday's session at SXSW 2009 on Emerging Trends in Mobile gave audience members food for thought and panelists a run for their money.

The heavily international crowd (which included an estimated 25 percent non-American attendants) seemed to be, from a show of hands, a well-informed group with a good number of mobile developers in attendance.

Topics ranged from better device-charging solutions to developing for devices that come closer to standard Internet browsing every year. All in all, it was given that WAP technology is dead, fully Flash-enabled devices are the next step, image recognition capabilities and more detailed location-based information are crucial, and the idea that you'd have to actually plug a device into an outlet for any reason is becoming increasingly laughable.

What does this mean for marketers?

According to Rob Gonda, Director of Marketing Strategy and Analysis for interactive consultancy Sapient, "Mobile technology is about merging and converging the virtual world with the real world."

Through GPS and image recognition, consumers are able to drill deeper for product information and brands are able to engineer more impactful engagement experiences.

And as Juan-Carlos Morales, Sapient's Creative Director, pointed out, "None of this stuff is new. It's not how new is it that matters, but whether you are leveraging it in a more creative way."

And emerging opportunities for "rehashing and remashing" existing mobile technology are nothing if not creative.

Remember QR codes, which were supposed to change location-based mobile marketing? Yeah, they're ugly; and image recognition is the solution. Gonda gave an example of a shopper at a supermarket aiming a device at a product with image recognition to scan the logo and receiving more information about the brand, the product, online sales for the same product, etc. Any related data would be available for deeper, more qualified "drilling" from consumers, ensuring that marketing is no longer a distraction ripe for consumer tune-out but easily retrievable, relevant, and welcome information. (And from a design perspective, Gonda continued, packaging could become a lot simpler and more aesthetically pleasing, as well.)

In addition to allowing for deeper engagement with a campaign, image recognition and information retrieval could spell the end of assembly manuals for assembling furniture, toys, etc., as consumers are given access to step-by-step instructions and video tutorials on their mobile devices.

What about circumstances where images are not available for information retrieval? Welcome to the world of audio barcodes! Information is embedded in frequencies beyond the limits of human hearing, making radio, television, and even films targets for user-accessible data, from behind-the-scenes gossip to product info.

In the end, both Morales and Gonda concluded that consumers want easily accessible information everywhere they go, and they want it in small, digestible streams; smart brands will succeed by providing data in every possible circumstance.

Moreover, panelists and audience members agreed that the iPhone has changed the model for mobile monetization. The accessibility of users' credit card information, the perception of security, the trust in the brand, and the ease of purchase have paved the way for money-making apps and music sales. Best of all, mobile hasn't suffered from the Web's "all content is free" paradigm. One attendant hypothesized that the availability of product information and online alternatives (via mobile devices) combined with greater consumer comfort with mobile commerce would create a market of greater competition than ever before between brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

Also discussed in depth in this session was the trend toward Flash development for mobile devices. Although Flash Lite is already being used on mobile devices, manufacturers are still working toward fully Flash-enabled devices. It was rumored that Android devices are closer to Flash than the iPhone; having Flash-ready mobiles will mean that companies will no longer need to pay for two sites (one for computers, one for mobiles) as browsing capabilities become identical across all devices. And the design possibilities increase exponentially as mobiles evolve in their display capabilities (one hypothetical example: a Bond-like watch-shaped device with holographic display; totally futuristic).

Futurism aside, a one-brand, one-site world will mean that--until we build the Holodeck on a iPod--creatives and Web developers have to think about the current capabilities of mobile screens when designing full Web sites, as well.

The other big development to look out for is a better charging solution. Whether it comes in the form of MIT's 7-seconds-from-sero-to-charged battery or wireless chargers that operate on physics principles inexplicable to advertising/marketing types.

So, what formats are yet undeveloped on mobile's horizons?

"I'm not afraid to say it: I don't know," said Gonda.

"But it's all about mobile devices and human laziness."

And there you have it. Any fantastic, improbable way to prevent human beings from exerting energy in their day-to-day lives belongs to the future of mobile technology. And I say to myself, what a wonderful world. It'll be like Wall-E with less trash.

by Jolie O'Dell    Mar-15-09   Click to Comment   
Topic: Mobile/Wireless   

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Comments



Comments

Image recognition is a 'solution' looking for a 'problem' where this is none.

The only people i see running around suggesting this is a better method is Image Recognition Vendors and 'Artistic Directors' who think QR codes are ugly and wont deign to put them into their glossy magazine (someone needs to take that art director out to the woodshed and tell him that his role is to sell magazines and not make 'art').

QR codes (and other 2d codes) have a clearly defined and understood interaction process.

Image recognition requires an always on internet and third party servers being available (eg. you are caught in their trap forever).

Realistically there's no need for it, go solve world peace or something useful as Denso solved 2d bar code problem over 14 years ago.

Cheers,
Dean Collins
www.Cognation.net/qr

Posted by: dean collins on March 16, 2009 5:38 PM

Image recognition is a 'solution' looking for a 'problem' where this is none.

The only people i see running around suggesting this is a better method is Image Recognition Vendors and 'Artistic Directors' who think QR codes are ugly and wont deign to put them into their glossy magazine (someone needs to take that art director out to the woodshed and tell him that his role is to sell magazines and not make 'art').

QR codes (and other 2d codes) have a clearly defined and understood interaction process.

Image recognition requires an always on internet and third party servers being available (eg. you are caught in their trap forever).

Realistically there's no need for it, go solve world peace or something useful as Denso solved 2d bar code problem over 14 years ago.

Cheers,
Dean Collins
www.Cognation.net/qr

Posted by: dean collins on March 16, 2009 5:39 PM

Thanks for the comments, Dean.

Actually, I have to strongly disagree with you. You have to realize that for the end user, image recognition is infinitely more intuitive than QR codes. And I can't help but think that image recognition would be a useful tech in many more circumstances than print design and packaging; based on the assumption that the future will hold more possibilities for image recognition innovations than 2D barcode innovations, I think it's worth exploring and perfecting.

Also, you can't deny the value of good design. A technology's ability to be aesthetically pleasing is what makes it more accessible to users.

And really, mobile technology isn't for marketers or developers or even designers. It's for people. And people like pretty, shiny, well-designed devices with simple, well-designed features. Apple has hammered that point home ad nauseum, so I'll leave it there.

Posted by: Jolie O'Dell on March 16, 2009 6:34 PM

lol - oh wow you are one of those people who prefers Microsoft Tags because of the pretty colours..... even though you know that Microsoft are going to screw you on fees in the future and if microsoft decide to can the MS Tags project all your deployed codes will be dead (unlike QR codes which are decoded on the handset and dont require a 3rd party server).

As for your comment about image tags being more intuitive - oh really, do all image tags have the same look? are they all able to be read with the same software, can i create my own image tags without implementing your design rules - Nope, Nope and Nope.

Because Denso was smart enough to mak the QR standard available for free, for anyone (be you a code creator or a client software developer) there is a clearly defined interaction process users and encoders understand.

But enjoy your pretty pictures and looking all cool.

Cheers,
Dean Collins
www.Cognation.net

Posted by: dean collins on March 16, 2009 6:57 PM

Thanks, Dean.

I do enjoy looking cool, when I can. =)

You do raise completely valid points; I was just offering a counterpoint for consideration: That end users will almost always gravitate toward something that _looks_ simpler and more aesthetically pleasing.

I don't ordinarily throw myself on that bus; I tend to personally prefer function over form. But when thinking about design for a critical mass of users, I think about what my middle-aged mom, my teenage sister, my assorted non-techie friends, and even my grandparents would best be able to use and understand.

Posted by: Jolie O'Dell on March 16, 2009 7:12 PM

You dont get it do you, go and ask your grandparents if they refuse to buy items at the supermarket that have barcodes on them.....because they dont understand how the EAN-13 barcode system works.

Maybe its a little bit of a simplification but you get my point - Function always wins over form 'as long as it adds value'

QR codes are the right mouse click of anything physical, it enables more information to be provided through physical world hyperlinks.

...or click here grandma and you can find out more about the product.

So simple a set of instructions even a designer can understand it :)

No grandma that 'photo' isn't Imaged Recognition' enabled, it's only the ones with these logos - no sorry grandma, those logos are similar and yes it is another Image Recognition solution but it doesn't work with your reader...


I think we can leave it for others to jump in and comment from here.

Cheers,
Dean Collins
http://www.Cognation.net

Posted by: dean collins on March 16, 2009 7:25 PM

"OK mom, whenever you see a barcode, just open the Barcode app on your phone and then take a picture of it!"
"Will this bring Jack Benny back?"
"No mom, but it's much easier than typing out web addresses with your arthritis!"
"Wowee!"

Versus what? "Hi, I'm a Mac, and now you can take a photo of anything and search the web with it?" Sure it'd be cool, but the day it "just works" will be the day Google has excellent voice search on all the major mobile phones.

Oh wait...

Posted by: Will on March 16, 2009 7:45 PM

ha ha ha, keep smoking those Mac drugs in the mean time you might want to fix "cut and paste" before you try and solve the physical world hypelinks 'of everything'


Cheers,
Dean Collins
www.Cognation.net

Posted by: dean collins on March 16, 2009 9:39 PM

Loving your voice on Adrants - great work! :)

You did an excellent job summing up the panel. Mobile is the next frontier. It has already changed everything and we have not even scratched the surface.

The new iPhone 3.0 announcements today are a welcome upgrade too!

Chris

Posted by: Chris Saad on March 17, 2009 2:38 PM

Great article - best line: "it's all about mobile devices and human laziness". Laziness is indeed the mother of all invention (and it's nice that geeks are finally allowed to take their skills outside!)

To Will & Dean-o: I don't get the cynicism toward logo recognition. Sure, it'll take a few iterations to "just work", but why cling to QR codes? Their purpose is to provide unique brand/product recognition..y'know, like a LOGO. Why complain about the evolution of image-recognition technology? Are you really arguing in favor of this: http://bit.ly/Xbrho over taking a picture of any logo, anywhere?

Also, I'm not sure how this turned into a Mac-bashing session, but you're gonna have to retire the cut-and-paste joke: the iphone can do that now!

Posted by: Bretton MacLean on March 17, 2009 3:51 PM

lol yep i just posted in the Newtech-1 mailinglist that i was going to have to stop teasing fanboys about that now.
(dont worry my 3 year old htc can still run more than one program at a time so i still have a slight edge over the 3.0 iphone users).


You specify 'Logo' recognition - which is different to 'Image Recognition'.

Firstly what do i as a company have to do if i want to run more than one mobile campaign at a time.

Your example means that Coke can only run one camapaign globally......

Secondly getting back to "image recognition" specifically, the reason most people say it's better is you have an xenophobix issue with the shape/look of the code itself, my point i was trying to make is that 'you'll need some kind of 'physical world hypelink touchpoint identification' may as well make it one where the information is comtained 'within the code itself' rather than relying on 3rd party servers run by other people that can get turned off at anytime (or fees can be jacked up and you are held ransom).

Cheers,
Dean Collins
http://www.cognation.net

Posted by: dean collins on March 17, 2009 4:00 PM

When I say logo recognition, of course I'm talking about image recognition - every logo *is* an image, right?

There's nothing stopping Coca Cola from running multiple campaigns. Between location-based services and subtly tweaking logos for specific products (which they do anyway - Coca Cola Zero, etc), they'll be just fine.

Using a company's basic logo as a launching point, a person could theoretically take a picture of a year old can of Coke and visit a page with all of their new/upcoming campaigns. Every single one of your products can act as a portal to everything else in your lineup - no QR-rebranding needed (and people wouldn't even have to leave their homes to discover these new products).

I really don't understand this paranoia about 3rd party servers and "ransom fees". Who exactly would be doing that, and for what purpose? I'm imagining this to be an open-source kind of deal (no different than hyperlinking on the web), but apparently you believe that one company would somehow control everything...

Posted by: Bretton MacLean on March 17, 2009 4:32 PM

"I really don't understand this paranoia about 3rd party servers and "ransom fees". Who exactly would be doing that, and for what purpose?"


Argh does no one on this list know what theya re talking about - sorry but it doesnt work that way.

If you really want to understand feel free to contact me off list.


Dean


Posted by: dean collins on March 17, 2009 4:43 PM

Great article. As the iphone was really the tip of the iceberg in many ways for mobile it did pave the wave for a host of new and inventive ways to use the technology. I am still amazed at the new apps that are coming out all the time.
I've recently seen an amazing video from the TED conf. regarding new mobile techonology (beyond any device). Very exciting. The future might not just be about devices at all: http://ericreagan.posterous.com/pattie-maes-demos-the-sixth-sense-video-on-te-2

Cheers,
Eric

Posted by: Eric Reagan on March 17, 2009 8:39 PM







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