Throwback Wednesday: 2006 to 2011 – Tech Trends, Then and Now

This past year was a social and mobile whirlwind. From Facebook timelines and the mobile photo craze to the death of the great Steve Jobs, the social mobile landscape is changing the way tech is evolving. With 2012 predictions pouring in as quickly as 2011 went, I thought I would take a look back at some of tech’s biggest predictions from just 5 years ago, then recap the year in tech and some of the top predictions for 2012.

A Look Back: The Hottest Predictions in Tech 2006

  • WiFi Expansion: from mobile hot spots to city wide “hot zones” people will have wider access to the internet, but beware…you might have to pay a small fee.
  • Video Blogging: with blogging already  hitting the mainstream 2006 will introduce Vlogging. People will start incorporating video more and more into their daily posts.
  • Digital Living Rooms/Video on Demand: video will start to dominate not just bloggers lives, but your personal and business life as well. Not only will videos be accessible straight from your TV, but your TV will become fully customizable. Video will start to dominate your device with accessibility straight from your iPod and phone.
  • Internet Phone Service: with companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft getting into the internet phone service business, you’ll start to see discounted international and long distance rates and phone to phone internet calls available for free.
  • Office to the Web: companies will be able to store important documents and information for their business on the internet. This will introduce more mobility and ease of access for the employer and their employees.

Recap: WiFi has definitely seen a massive expansion from customized hot spots to free access at some of your local hangouts.

With 48 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute it’s safe to say that online video has shaped the way we view content online…and I don’t see it slowing down a second in 2012.

Improving technology give us easy access to the internet from our TVs, but with a massive surge in mobile and computer technology more and more people are using their devices to view videos and watch their favorite television shows online.

VoIP has exploded beyond a prediction to a worldwide commodity. Companies in every industry use internet phone services to conduct day to day business activities with clients all over the world. To throw in a quick example, VoIP technology is installed at every workstation at our NOC and TAC service centers here at WorldLink to help our employees communicate with our customers worldwide.

Advances in Cloud Computing and mobile technology enables employees to rely less and less on a daily office space. Companies are now allowing more employees to work remotely while utilizing apps like iCloud, Google Docs and Skype to communicate.

The Top Tech Trends of 2011

Technology and advances in mobility will continue to move at a lightning speed pace over the next few years. So for a recap of the year in tech, check out this lovely Infographic from the people at GPlus. Don’t forget to check out next year’s predictions below the Infographic from Mashable’s Pete Cashmore.

A Look Ahead – The Top 10 Tech Trends for 2012
Presented by CNN Tech

Pete Cashmore, the founder and CEO of Mashable.com, has put together the follow predictions for 2012.

  • Touch Computing
  • Social Gestures
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) & Mobile Payments
  • Beyond the iPad
  • TV Everywhere
  • Voice Control
  • Spatial Gestures
  • Second Screen Experiences
  • Flexible Screens
  • HTML 5
Read the entire interview with Pete Cashmore HERE.

What did you think the biggest trends in tech were in 2011, and what are your predictions for 2012? Let me know in the comment field below.

The Social Mobile Movement

Keeping your customers socially engaged with mobile apps!

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the sustainability of social media and mobile apps. Over the last decade the term “social media” has evolved into more than a place to connect with friends, but into a vehicle to connect with brands and businesses of every size on a deeper level. Social media is more than a fad, it’s a layer of communication between businesses and their customers that is now becoming an expectation.

So where does mobility fit into the equation? Not only are your customers online, they’re browsing the web more than ever via their mobile phones.


The Mobile Landscape

Mobile usage across the US has reached an all time high and even though Smartphones have yet to dominate the mobile market, usage is seeing a steady upward climb.

Let’s revisit some mobile stats previously presented in our post Mobility & the Way We Browse the Web:

  • global mobile usage has reached upwards of 4 billion
  • 27% of global mobile users have a Smartphone (up 60% from the previous year)
  • by 2014 the mobile internet is expected to exceed desktop usage
  • one half of all local searches occur on a mobile device
  • 29% of mobile users will scan a mobile tag for coupon offers
  • 86% of mobile users are on their mobile device while watching TV
  • 91% of mobile users access their device to socialize

The Social Landscape

It’s a fact that our world is more social than ever. Sharing, tweeting, searching…consumers have information right at their fingertips, and they’re using it. Brands that aren’t using social media are missing out on important conversations – conversations that could include negative or positive reviews about your products and services.

Let’s go to the numbers:

Social Media Users

  • Facebook: 750 million
  • Twitter: 200 million registered
  • LinkedIn: 115 million
  • Google+: 43 million
  • Foursquare: 10 million
  • Yelp: over 20 million reviews

The Connection

CONNECT –> LISTEN –> IMPLEMENT

Whether or not social media is your cup of tea the fact is your customers are talking about you today! So what are you doing about it?

Let’s take an example of a small pool store who isn’t engaged in social media.

[Insert name] local pool store hasn’t been very kind to some loyal neighborhood customers. Let’s call them John and Jane for this example. John and Jane have been loyal customers for years, supporting the local pool store instead of the nationwide chain up the street. This week John went in for his usual water inspection and the store employees didn’t feel like dealing with John’s small request today. They shrugged him off and treated John like a small fish in their big pond. John demanded to speak with the owner who then came out and expressed to John that they were busy today and he wasn’t a big enough customer.

Outraged, John went home and vented his frustrations to Jane. Jane, who had also been in the store many times (to purchase merchandise), angrily grabbed her Smartphone and started tweeting, posting, and reviewing. The local pool store wasn’t listed on a very popular review site, so Jane’s review was the very first one that showed up. Soon it started to spread that the local pool store wasn’t very neighborhood friendly, and that customers might be better off at the national chain down the street. A year later the local pool store saw the review and reached out to John to please remove it because it was effecting business in a negative way.

Not only was the owner of the pool store unaware of the bad review for more than a year, but his lack of engagement in social media was actually hurting his brand in return.

So now that the importance of social media has been hammered in, what does this have to do with mobile apps? Not only are customers using mobile technology to preach about your brand, when they want to engage with you they expect you to be mobile.

Establishing a mobile  presence, albeit a mobile site or mobile app, will keep not only your brand engaged with your customer base, but it will create additional opportunities to market and promote your brand.

Here are some examples of how social media and mobile apps interact:

  • E-Commerce – browse and purchase a product straight from the app
  • Side by side product comparison
  • Offers & coupons
  • Customer Service
  • In-store promotions – utilizing area based advertising to reward foot traffic

Not only is it crucial to stay socially engaged, but by providing a mobile presence to your customers you are keeping them engaged with your brand.

How has social media and mobility affected your business? Let us know in the comment section below.

Visit WorldLink Apps

Photo of social media icons: credit http://www.loyola.edu/
Photo of various smartphones by Phil Roeder: credit http://agentgenius.com/ 
Photo of customers tweeting: credit http://hackettsbistro.wordpress.com/

Mobile Learning in the Classroom

It’s the start of a new school year for thousands of students across the country, and 98% of returning high school students have access to a Smartphone. Instead of fighting mobility in schools it’s time to embrace it – and today’s technology leaders are doing just that. Educators from kindergarten to the collegiate level are integrating mobile technology into their every day curriculum.

Children as young as 2 years old can be seen playing educational games and increasing their motor skills on a mobile device. With the iGeneration being raised in a socially integrated, technological world, it’s a prime time for developers to seize the opportunities in mobile learning.


Here are some examples of the many ways you can use apps to educate kids, teens, and college age students alike:

Apps for Small Children

  • iWriteWords is a game used to help children develop their handwriting skills. The lite version is available for free and the full version can be downloaded for $2.99.
  • Peekaboo Barn is a game used to help children identity different types of farm animals. The lite version is available for free and the full version can be downloaded for $1.99.
  • TeachMe is a series of educational apps that teach young children different subjects based upon their education level. There are three separate applications available for 99 cents; toddler, kindergarten, and first grade.
  • Kids Math Ace is an app that teaches children how to count, add, and subtract, using visual guidance and tools. The lite version is available for free and the full version can be downloaded for 99 cents.
  • Story Builder is an interactive and creative application used to help children improve paragraph formation, integration of ideas, and improve higher level abstractions by inference. The app is available for download for $3.99.

Apps for Middle to High School Students

  • Flash Cards Deluxe is a flashcard app designed as a study tool for students. The lite version is available for free and the full version can be downloaded for $3.99.
  • Molecules is designed to view 3-dimensional renderings of molecules with the ability to manipulate them with your fingers. The app is available for free.
  • Blackboard Mobile Learn works with Blackboard’s web-based teaching and learning software. The app is free to download once your school has enabled the software.
  • Star Walk turns your device into a stargazing tool to view stars, constellations, and satellites in real time. The app is available to download for $2.99.
  • iHomework is a tool used to keep students organized and up-to-date with their daily homework, grades, to-do’s, and teacher information. The app is available to download for $1.99.

Colleges are also taking note of the exploding mobile market and using creative ways to interact with their students. In 2008 Abilene Christian University starting equipping their students with iPods and iPhones. Now, they are incorporating iPads into their mobile program. They have offered everything from interactive theater productions, to lecture podcasts as ways to stay in-tune with an increasingly connected student body.

According to a report created by onlineeducation.net, 38% of college students can’t go more then 10 minutes without connecting to an electronic device. Students will continue to expect mobile programs in their daily curriculum while veering further away from the old days of pen, paper, and textbooks.


6 Positive Results of Tablets in the Classroom*

  1. Tablets are an optimum way to show textbooks
  2. Students expect the technology (classrooms are ready)
  3. The devices fit students’ lifestyles
  4. Tablets have the software to remain competitive
  5. Tables have the ability to integrate with current education IT trends (i.e. cloud computing)
  6. Tablets are becoming more and more available (extending beyond the iPad)

90% of college students who own tablets feel like the devices are a more efficient way to study.

Technology is only moving forward. Educators who embrace the technology to enhance involvement and learning will benefit students and the younger generations entering their school age years.

*Resource – mashable.com

Visit WorldLink Apps

Medical Apps Mobilizing Smartphone Users to Better Health

Mobile apps aren’t just for check-ins and increasing revenue streams, they’re also monitoring your blood pressure and even mapping out a detailed view of your skeletal system.

The app industry has catered to everyone from gamers and music lovers, to the avid traveler and everybody in between since the inception of the app store in 2008. Over the last few years we’ve seen some amazing applications use some incredible technology, and the medical industry is no different.

According to Research2Guidance 2010, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a health care application by 2015.* According to those stats it should come as no surprise that nearly 72% of physicians have tossed their beloved beepers for a Smartphone. With the mobile health market expected to hit $9.6 billion by 2012 there’s no doubt we’ll continue to see an increase in mobility for physician and patient use.

Here are just a few examples of how the medical industry can utilize mobile technology to assist physicians in day-to-day tasks:

  • Epocrates is a drug reference resource for thousands of prescriptions. Features include clinical information, BMI & GFR calculators, drug interaction checker, and many more. The initial download is free with the option of a premium service upgrade.
  • Skyscape Medical Resources is a decision-support tool that includes drug information, medical calculators, and clinical information on more than 850 topics. The initial download is free with the option of a premium service upgrade and in-app purchases.
  • Mobile MIM provides wireless and portable access to medical images for those using SPECT, PET, CT, and MRI systems. Mobile MIM allows you to store, share, and view images using MIM specialized workstation software. The app is free.
  • iChart EMR is an electronic medical record system used to track and manage patients. Some of the features include the ability to write prescriptions, track labs and studies, and look up CPT4 and ICD9 codes. The app is $139.99.
  • 3D4Medical.Com’s suite of apps utilizes 3D technology to showcase some incredible imagery of the human body. 3D4 Medical has over 15 apps on the iPhone and iPad giving in-depth views of the Musculoskeletal, Nervous, Digestive, and Cardiovascular systems. Apps range from free up to $6.99.

Medical apps aren’t just for aiding patients. You don’t need a doctor to check your symptoms if you aren’t feeling well, or even to track and monitor your diabetes. Mobile apps are keeping patients informed while leading them down the path to better health.


Here are a few examples of how medical apps impact the lives of the everyday mobile user:

  • WebMD was released in 2008 and has been downloaded over 5 million times. Key features include symptom checker, drugs & treatments, pill identification tool, local health listings and many more. The app can be downloaded for free.
  • What to Expect is a series of apps geared towards pregnancy and parenthood. From fertility to birth What to Expect lets you log, track, and get informed on your unborn child or new addition to the family. There are 4 apps in the series; baby, fertility, pregnancy, and baby name. All of the apps can be downloaded individually, for free.
  • iTriage is a symptom checker, doctor finder, and medical reference tool. iTriage guides you throughout the entire process of pin-pointing the illness, finding a doctor, directing you to the location, and even showcasing the ER wait times for particular hospitals. The app can be downloaded for free.
  • Blood Pressure Monitor – Family for iPad is a health tracking app that monitors and tracks blood pressure, weight, and heart beat rate. The app also utilizes iTunes file sharing to import your existing medical information into the app. Blood Pressure Monitor has a free version as well as a Pro version available for $1.99.
  • Diabetes Buddy – Control Your Blood Sugar helps you manage your diabetes by tracking, monitoring, planning, and sharing your data with a health care professional. The food database houses over 200,000 food recommendations as well as a customized food feature, search, and recipe builder. There is a free and paid version for $4.99.

What are some of your favorite medical/health apps? Let us know in the comments field below.

Resources: FDA News Release, July 2011

Visit WorldLink Apps

Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt.3

WorldLink’s VP of Mobile Technology, Mike Hall, spoke at a recent Verizon Mobility conference on the topic of Mobilizing Your Business with Mobile Apps. Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at some key points from that discussion including market statistics, native mobile apps versus mobile web sites, business cases, and small business trends.

In the final installment of Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps I thought I would keep it light and offer up some good old fashion advice.


Mobile Apps

In this exploding mobile market there is a slew of useful and certainly non-useful mobile apps available for download. When it comes to your brand it’s crucial to develop an app that is beneficial to your consumers. So many businesses get caught up in the idea of an app that they forget to actually pay attention to the needs of their customers while creating it. The app represents your company, make it count!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when developing your mobile app:

  • Don’t just summarize your web site
  • Solve a problem, make something easier
  • Reward for use!
  • Use location-based discounts
  • Always provide guidance to your store
  • Payment screens catered to the device
  • Include access to your Facebook and Twitter
  • Tell your friends about your app!

Mobile Vendors

*Disclaimer: WorldLink Apps is a mobile app development company.

The app market is still considered a fairly new industry, and with that you have a lot of people trying to capitalize on the new, hot trend. One of the biggest mistakes we’ve heard from our customers is hiring the cheapest developer you can find. Do your research and make sure you are completely comfortable with the company’s capabilities before you sign that contract.

Here are some tips:

  • Find a mobile vendor who has proven multi-platform experience
  • Find a vendor who has their lead technical engineers here in the US
    • For close communication
    • For project risk reduction
  • Don’t just focus on price
    • Phase the quantity to keep costs down
    • You can always find a cheaper bid
    • BUT, you will get what you pay for!
  • Think long-term mobile strategy partnership!

Conclusion

The numbers don’t lie your customer base is mobile, and if they’re not, they will be very soon. It’s not too late to determine your mobile strategy with a proven vendor. There are no signs of the industry slowing down anytime soon, so don’t think you’re too late. Plan your mobile strategy today!


Recap:

Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt.1
Mobile Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt.2

Visit WorldLink Apps

Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt. 2

Last week we posed the question, “Does your business need a mobile app?” In part two of Mobile Your Business with Mobile Apps we continue the conversation with some solid facts and a look into how big brands are capitalizing on the recent app craze.

Mobile apps are not just for games and social networking. Consumers are surfing, shopping, and searching for your brand via the mobile web. If you’re not mobile ready then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach your customers where they are the most, their Smartphone device.

If you’re still asking yourself, “does my business need a mobile app” then take a look at some of these stats, trends, and examples of how utilizing mobile apps can increase revenue and branding initiatives for your organization.

Small Business & Consumer Stats

Businesses in every industry are realizing that mobile applications are not just a phase but a necessity when it comes to reaching your consumers. Smartphone users are spending 74 minutes a day surfing the mobile web, and 81 minutes a day using mobile apps. (1) If your business isn’t taking note of this upward mobile trend, you’ll be left behind.

Here are a few more stats on how small businesses are embracing apps:

  • 72% use some form of mobile apps for daily operations
  • 38% view mobile apps as an essential part of their business strategy
  • 49% use mapping and GPS tools
  • 24% use location-based services
  • 20% use mobile credit card payment services (2)

Consumer Trends

  • Globally, consumers are expected to spend $119 billion by 2015 through their mobile phones
  • Accounting for about 8% of all e-commerce activity
  • Steady trend upwards
  • Increasing smartphone penetration
  • Faster mobile broadband speeds
  • Increased user comfort (3)

Since the launch of the Apple App store in July 2008 the app market has continued to accelerate at a rapid pace. All of the business and consumer trends showcase a continued expansion of mobile business opportunities for small and large companies alike!


Maximizing Your App Potential

Larger brands are embracing mobile technology and are seeing huge results in return. You don’t have to be a mega brand to make an impact on your consumers while increasing your bottom line. Start with a vision and a goal for how you can reach your customers. Do you know what they want? Are you listening?

Check out a few examples of how the following brands are maximizing their mobile potential, and in the end, reaching their customers on a whole new level.


Pizza Hut

“It’s no longer going to be a cool thing to have a mobile app. It’s going to be a customer expectation.” – Baron Concors, Pizza Hut CIO

Pizza Hut’s mobile app makes building your dinner fun and interactive. The intuitive user interface lets you build a pizza from the crust up, order some wings, pasta, or whatever else your palate is craving, then submit your order for pickup or delivery.

The Results:

  • Over 2M downloads
  • Within 3 months, Pizza Hut app revenue was $1M
  • Within 12 months, app revenue was $7M (4)

Expedia TripAssist

Expedia’s goals for their TripAssist application was to provide a mobile marketing solution, implement real-time brand awareness, while maintaining their competitive advantage.

TripAssist is available on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile with the following features:

  • Research flights, hotels, destinations
  • Manage/update itineraries
  • Notifications, flight alerts
  • Handle travel while mobile
  • Make purchases

The results:

  • Over 55,000 trips booked in first year (2009)
  • More than doubled in 2010

Amazon

“Over time, tablet computers could become a meaningful additional driver for our business.” −Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Amazon has changed the way consumers shop online, so why wouldn’t they look to dominate the mobile space. With Amazon’s free mobile app you can browse products, compare multiple items, read customer reviews, and purchase directly from your phone.

The Results:

  • Substantial growth in purchasing while mobile
  • More than $1B sales per year from mobile
  • Kindle books now outsell hard cover books
    • 1.43 to 1.00 (5)

eBay

eBay was forced to re-evaluate their business model after Amazon took over the online shopping throne. But now, with investments in mobile and local technologies, eBay is beefing up their mobile presence and learning that adaptation is crucial in this fast growing tech market.

The Results:

  • Over 45 million downloads
  • Users can buy, sell, and check eBay prices via bar codes
  • $2B in mobile transactions in 2010
    • Continuous, significant mobile growth (6)

Businesses in every industry can take notes from the aforementioned companies and apply many of the same concepts and ideas to their own mobile strategy. The number one and most important fact is…your customers are mobile.

Many companies shy away from mobile technology because they are afraid of the unknown. The statistics are available and there are many companies out there that can assist in developing your mobile strategy. So do your research, make a plan, and take your company mobile!

 top image courtesy of Flickr, blakespot
 
Resources:
1) Mashable
2) Information Week, March 2011, 2246 small business owners
3) ABI Research
4) Dallas Business Journal, August 2010
5) Amazon Press Release
6) eBay 2010 earnings report

Continue Reading Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt. 3

Visit WorldLink Apps

Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt. 1

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years since Apple transformed the mobile industry with the release of the iPhone. Since then we’ve seen unbelievable changes in mobile technology, specifically in the area of mobile apps.

In response to the Smartphone craze businesses in every industry are asking themselves, does my business need a mobile app?

WorldLink’s VP of Mobile Technology, Mike Hall, recently spoke at a Verizon Mobility conference on this very topic. Here are some of the key takeaways from that discussion.


The App Option (Market Stats)

Mashable recently posed the same question and posted the following Infographic, created by BuySellAds, in response. I think this is the perfect statistical representation of “The App Option” for business owners and a great way to get the conversation started.


Advantages of a Mobile App

Once you’ve decided that your company needs a presence in the mobile space, you might be asking yourself another question? Mobile app or mobile website? Here are some key things to consider.

A native app running on your Smartphone is optimized specifically for the device’s operating system and firmware. Because of this the native application can take advantage of specific features that enhance the user experience. Here are some examples of those features:

Faster response times, animation, and similarities with other Smartphone functions are just a few reasons that make a native application the best choice for an optimum user experience.


Advantages of a Mobile Web Site

Native applications are typically more expensive to develop then a mobile web site. But before you make a decision based strictly on cost you should evaluate your internal goals for developing an application and the needs of your customers. You might come to the realization that a mobile website is all you need. Here are some advantages of a mobile site:

  • App runs on a web server
  • Typically used when Smartphone hardware is not really needed
  • Main advantage: reduced costs
  • Displays are optimized for mobile browsers

Probably the biggest advantage of a mobile site is the convenience of display across multiple different Smartphone platforms. Multi-platform development can be very costly but you omit the risk of missing customers with different devices if a multi-platform strategy is not in place.

The following factors can result in a better experience for the user:

  • Content fit to screen sizes
  • Uncluttered/filtered content
  • Organized navigation
  • Reduced pan & zoom
  • Reduced page load time

Things To Consider

When thinking about your mobile strategy keep these things in mind:

  • Are you losing revenue by not having a mobile presence?
  • Do your competitors have a mobile app and/or mobile website?
  • Is your target demographic going mobile?
  • Creating a mobile presence can open up a new marketing channel and help drive revenue
  • Is there an internal need in your company for efficiency/optimization?

Before you make the leap you must have a strategy and know your customers. It may not make sense to develop a mobile app, but your customers are definitely going mobile. The mobile web is growing at an impressive rate and you don’t want to find yourself in the dust of your competitors.

Continue Reading Mobilize Your Business with Mobile Apps! Pt. 2

Visit WorldLink Apps

%d bloggers like this: