Posts from the ‘Location Based Services’ Category
December 27, 2011
2012 promises to be a very busy year in all things digital, but, as with any annum, there will be just a handful of big, memorable trends. Here, I’ve collected five such movements that are likely to make a big impact in our technologically-enhanced lives.
It’s now in games, location apps, business cards and coffee shops and could start showing up in cars and even eyeglasses. Augmented Reality, which puts a virtual view on top of your real world, is really just a cool way of saying, “Reality with Style.” Instead of simply viewing your apartment through your phone, you’re playing Star Wars Arcade Falcon Gunner on top of it. Instead looking up a restaurant in your neighborhood, you’re using Yelp to see its location and reviews for it and other restaurants right on top of your on-screen view of the street. 2012 will mark the beginning of exponential growth for Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR).
According to a report from Visiongain, 25% of all app downloads will feature some sort of augmented reality. Though adoption hinges on more powerful, high-speed and camera-ready mobile devices, it’s clear to me that the majority of smartphones and tablets in end-users’ hands next year will be 3G-to-4G-ready, high-def, large-screen devices with not one, but two multi-megapixel cameras. Trust me, by 2013, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t at least tried augmented reality.
The Micro-Payment Economy
App manufacturers are not the only ones who can make money selling tiny wares and incremental upgrades. The barrier to entry for starting your own small business has been effectively knocked down by a variety of online merchants who are willing to hawk your wares for next to nothing. In truth, the merchandise isn’t entirely yours. In fact, these companies are often just selling your idea on top of their wares and you get a tiny slice for each sale, or for when the numbers of sales reaches a certain threshold.
Sites like RedBubble do everything for the artist; all they need to do is upload the content. RedBubble will, for example, make the T-Shirt with your art, sell it for you, manage the distribution and, of course, collect payment. The site lets you set the price above their fixed price. Yes, you could add as much as you want onto a $16 T-shit, but most smart sellers know this means they won’t sell a single garment. Instead, you add 1%-to-5% (maybe 10% if you’re feeling strong) and then promote the dickens out of your product on the site and through various social networks.
RedBubble is just one of many destinations popping up to help the aspiring entrepreneur. They join established platforms like Lulu (self-publish books), and YouTube. YouTube has been inviting videographers into the commerce tent for years, letting them add AdSense accounts to popular videos and then sitting back and watching the pennies roll in.
As the economy sputters along, look for more and more of the sites helping you sell almost anything you can imagine and making you a “fortune”–one micro payment at a time.
The Rise of the UltraBook
Tablets dominate the tech conversation, but that doesn’t mean the PC is dead. No, it’s alive and well, but in a form that will closely mimic some of the best features of tablets. I don’t have numbers yet, but I’m betting Desktop PCs were not big sellers this holiday season. Laptops may have done a little better, but who among you was willing to give junior an end-of-life netbook instead of a sexy, touch-screen tablet? (I’m imagining no one raising their hands).
A term coined by Intel, Ultrabooks describe exquisitely thin and light, yet pleasingly powerful laptops. Think MacBook Air and you get the idea. No, they don’t have touch screens or apps (though that’s changing, too) and Ultrabooks usually have just one HD camera. Still, with just a little more heft and girth than your garden-variety iPad, an Ultrabook adds a full-sized keyboard and far more powerful components. In other words, they’re perfectly designed for getting real work done, but no one will be embarrassed to carry one around. 2012 will witness an explosion of these devices as manufacturers pin on them their last best hopes for regaining consumer computing interest.
Facebook will break the 1 billion user mark in 2012, but its numbers have flattened out in the U.S. Twitter is growing; it may have as many 450 million users, but no one knows how many people are really active users. Google+ is growing steadily, but is still well behind the two most established networks and much of the public is unaware of its existence. There is the now persistent, with good reason, backlash against mobile phone usage in cars and on streets.
In general, more and more people seem to be reevaluating their social and digital existence. Even the SOPA battle is revealing some unforeseen schisms. The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bad idea, not because piracy is good, but because of the plan for enforcement is wrong and dangerous. That said, no one who creates content can deny that the digital revolution hasn’t forced them to rethink how they create, sell and distribute content. There are no easy answers here and 2012 will be a year of introspection; one where we possibly rewrite the rules of content, copyrights and social interactions.
Mobile Chip Wars
The tech industry is gearing up for a rather intense battle—on a micro scale. With ARM-based CPUs in virtually all of today’s tablets and handsets, Intel, the dominant system CPU manufacturer, has no presence in the mobile space. It’s a situation the company promises to change in 2012 with Medfield—its rethinking of the Atom CPU (popular in netbooks). Meanwhile a consortium of Pacific Rim manufacturers have just banded together to produce new mobile CPUs for phones and tablets.
These efforts may not mean much, though, as Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Motorola, Marvell, Nvidia and others all license the ARM architecture and show (along with the hardware partners) little interest in switching to a new or once-established platform. Even Microsoft is developing Windows 8 to run on ARM-based CPUs in addition to traditional Wintel machines.
What do you think? Are these the right trends? Will there be other defining movements in 2012? Chose the biggest trend in our poll and then let’s talk about it in the comments.
April 17, 2011
Move over Sam Adams… you have some competition. Thousands of new “mayors” have been popping up all over Portland since the inception of Foursquare, a location based social network that enables its 7 million users to check in to venues through a mobile device to earn points, badges and special promotions all while connecting in real-time to fellow friends on the platform.
Become a Mayor, Earn Badges & Get Free Stuff
What’s a mayor you ask? If a user has checked-in to a venue on more days than anyone else in the past 60 days, they will be crowned “Mayor” of that venue, until someone else earns the title by checking in more times than the previous mayor. A Mayor is only one of the hundreds of “badges” a user can obtain.
Badges are earned by checking into various venues and remain on that user’s profile indefinitely. Some of the badges include the “Gym Rat” badge, which a user can get if they check in to a gym 10 times in one month or the “Fresh Brew” badge that requires 30 checkins at coffee shops like Dutch Bros or Stumptown.
You can also redeem special promotions from businesses in your area by checking in. For example here in Portland, you can get any food item on the menu from free at Davis Street Tavern in the Peal on your 3rd check in or a free coffee from Kettelman Bagel Company for checking in. There’s more great deals, check out the latest Foursquare specials in Portland below:
My Foursquare Journey:
About a year ago, I decided to see what all the buzz about Foursquare was, so I signed up. I didn’t have much experience with location based services, but after my first mayorship, badge and free appetizer I was hooked. Fifty two weeks, 24 badges, 60 friends, 12 Mayorships, and 875 check-ins later, it’s safe to say I’m a huge Foursquare advocate.
In fact, when it came time for me to pick my final project for my master’s degree, I decided to conduct my research on Foursquare and other location based social media sites, but that’s for another blog post… stay tuned. For now, I want to provide some practical insight and tips on how to use Foursquare. Whether it’s staying updated on where your friends are dining out, finding lucrative discounts at local venues or reading helpful reviews about the places you visit, Foursquare can be a lot of fun and a valuable tool for any socially minded and mobile empowered consumer.
Based on my experience, here are 10 things to consider when using Foursquare:
1.) It’s a Game: If you’re competitive like me, you’ll love Foursquare. Whether it is battling it out for a mayorship or trying to get that unique badge to add to your collection or moving ahead of your friends on the leader board, the gaming aspect of Foursquare can be a lot of fun. Best thing about Foursquare is that it takes little time and effort to use, check in, leave a tip, glance at specials and you’re on your way.
2. ) It’s Not Just a Game, It’s Social: Foursquare is just a game right? Wrong, it can be very social, you can comment on your friends check ins, (just like Facebook status updates or Tweets), see who else is currently at a venue, respond to user tips, and it has a real time Facebook-like newsfeed where you can see what friends are doing in real time.
4.) Integration with Other Social Networks: A user can automatically cross-post a check in with Twitter and Facebook. You can also attach a photo and a quick 140 character update, known as ‘Shout’ with your check in. This capability enables you to use Foursquare in much of the way as you would Twitter and Facebook, eliminating the need to update all three platforms separately.
6.) Find New Places: Feel adventurous? Use Foursquare to discover new places to go based your current location and what other users are saying about it. You can do this in your hometown or if you’re in new city trying to find a good lunch spot. I have found some great restaurants and stores this way.
7. ) Share Carefully: Obviously, checking in carries its security concerns, so be careful about when and where you check in. Foursquare has a great feature for those who want to be careful about a check in called “off the grid,” where other users can check in without sharing their geo-location.
8.) Tips Are Appreciated: If you’re like me, you value customer reviews and tips, so pass on the favor and leave tips about your experiences, good or bad for other users. You can leave tips at any venue you check in. Leave notes for your favorite food items, good customer service or daily specials.
9.) Don’t Cheat: Foursquare is getting better at making it more difficult to cheat with remote checkins or checking in multiple times with one visit, but it’s not fool proof quite yet. Don’t cheat, respect the game and play for fun with honesty and integrity. You don’t want to get tagged with a #4sqcheater hashtag on Twitter.
10.) Spread the Word: In 2010, Foursquare grew by 3400 %. Despite it’s hyper-growth, Foursquare is still in the early adopter stage with 7 million users and growing, so don’t be afraid to encourage your friends to sign up and start checking in. Let’s face it, Foursquare is more fun with more friends.
What do you think? Will you be joining Foursquare or another location based service? If you’re a Foursquare user, what tips do you have for new users? What did I miss?
Stay Tuned… Foursquare for Business
Next up, I will be writing a post about how business and organizations can utilize Foursquare and other location based services to promote their brand and better engage their target audiences. I will also share my research and breakdown the survey results from my grad school project on location based services.
Glossary of Foursquare Terms:
- Check-in: Where you tell Foursquare where you are. You can check-in from just about any kind of venue or even create a new one yourself by ‘adding a venue.’
- Shout: A tweet-like message (140 characters) tied to a check-in. This can also be cross-posted to Facebook and Twitter if you choose.
- Tip: User-generated reviews or advice that is pushed to you when you check in to a venue. This is what makes Foursquare useful for finding new places, so tip often!
- To-do: Like a tip, but more of a personal bookmark to oneself as reminder to check out a venue.
- Badges or Pins: Specific frequencies of check-ins and certain venues can lead to users earning these virtual rewards or badges.
- Mayorships: Earned by checking in to a venue more than anyone else over the last 60 days. Some businesses offer exclusive offers for the Mayor.
More resources on Foursquare: