We’re happy to present a guest article today from Lime5. Lime5 is an innovation agency in the areas of IT and communications from Italy. Co-founder Alan Taronna wrote this article.
IPhone, Android, Windows 7 Phone, and Blackberry: nowadays the world of mobile devices commands such a solid chunk of the market, that we are wondering how our life will evolve based on these new technological possibilities. The general tendency is to create devices able to support the users in actions that before were requiring many operations and the usage of many devices and platforms.
NFC – near field communications
The most glaring example is offered by the NFC technology (near field communication): in the city of Milan, the Milano ATM has developed the “Mobile Pass” which allows users to pay public transportation costs with their smart phones, via an NFC chip. An application such as this has big consequences for how we live our lives: people can spend less time waiting in queues and there is a very clear “green” benefit considering the amount of paper that is saved.
Mobile Payment (whether Remote or Proximity) is a trend on the increase and will be considered the norm in years to come. In Japan, the technology has made huge strides in the past few years with interesting results and the phenomenon has been researched intensively by giants such as VISA, NewsCorp, Google, Nokia and Apple.
The next step to mobile payment is the creation of virtual currency and this concept has been under the magnifying scope in many countries for a number of years now. The possibility of conducting and tracing all of our payments online, would guarantee a strong reduction in tax evasion which in countries such as Italy is a major economic concern. In this macro scene, a lot of the players on the web market (for example Facebook) are introducing the concept of a virtual currency; a concept that some people could say has already been in practice in such virtual communities as Opodo and Second Life.
Another trend that has exploded in popularity in recent years is the world of AR (augmented reality). An early example of AR was simple and showed funny characters next to the people engaging in a Skype conference call. Nowadays, the idea has been taken forward and thanks to the installation of a specific plug in, it is now possible to wear a hut, glasses, a shirt or even carry a sword, all completely virtual!
However this technology has always been attractive to those in marketing who saw its potential to be applied for new possibilities. Its’ ideal niche has now been discovered and marketers use AR to visualize shop fittings, new haircuts and even new surroundings.
Ikea took this technology to a whole new level by introducing an iPhone application that makes our life easier in choosing furniture for our home. All we have to do is to use the camera to frame the parts of the room we want to furnish and through the use of AR we can now visualize pieces of furniture in each room by selecting the different pieces from a menu. It is now so easy to undertake some interior design for your house and allows us to display some creativity and flair. In the past, the only method that was available to us in this regard was to use now-obsolete software on a PC and slowly render an underwhelming image of how we wanted our room to look!
In this area we find several more examples which utilize the main concept of AR: for example, Mini Cooper has been one of the first companies to make an advertising campaign (Above the line) using a QRcode. Today many companies are using AR to exploit the Smartphone and explore new opportunities.
Another growing trend in the last months is web couponing, sometimes better known as mobile couponing. Here, it is necessary to have a general thought about the phenomenon of how services get transported from the offline to online world. A key part of this phenomenon can be demonstrated by the power of word of mouth and receiving advice from friends when choosing a product. This method of sharing content with friends or “followers” is crucial to the development of such a phenomenon as we trust the advice our friends give” or what they recommend.
Web couponing (Groupon, Google offers), blogs, forums and other vertical websites represent the opinion leaders that we follow to gain better awareness when buying a new product. Improved economical opportunities which these concepts bring and the downturn in the global economy helped to accelerate the growth in this phenomenon. Groupon which is the market leader, has seen its’ number of competitors and websites offering services similar to its’core business double in the last two months alone,
Nowadays the strong innovative impulse which surrounds the mobile world offers several clues as to the growth of these trends. The possibilities for developers and for companies are numerous and for a profitable niche to be carved out within this highly contested field, ingenuity, creativity and a strong product are key.
For a case in point, every iPhone or iPad user knows the case of Angry Birds, which is a game from Rovio Mobile that enjoyed incredible amounts of success and has been downloaded 100 million times since 2009. This unique and popular feature has been quoted in more the 30 TV series (including 30 Rock and the Big Bang Theory) and provided the inspiration for the new Disney cartoon Rio.
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