I'm a partner in the advanced analytics group at Bain & Company, the global management consulting firm. My primary focus is on marketing analytics (bio). I've been writing here (views my own) about marketing, technology, e-business, and analytics since 2003 (blog name explained).

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22 posts categorized "Mobile"

March 28, 2007

Twying out Twitter

With encouragement from my friend Perry Hewitt, I've been fooling around with Twitter to get a better sense for what all the fuss is about.  Conclusion:  it's a service that provides an asynchronous chat room for group interaction via SMS, and this has its place and time.

Continue reading "Twying out Twitter" »

March 10, 2007

SMS: Simplicity Makes Sense

Last week I attended a MITX panel discussion, "What's Now in Mobile: The Capability of Today's Wireless World".

It's the best of times and worst of times in mobile marketing.  We're at the front end of an "amazing" new age of capabilities, with video, location-based services, and so much more.  At the same time, the ecosystem's development is hindered, as Nellymoser founder John Puterbaugh put it (referring specifically to mobile video), by "dozens of content formats, hundreds of [differently-configured] networks, and thousands of phone types."

Before the presentations I had a chance to talk with Toshi Uchida, a director at Fidelity's e-business Wireless Group.  Toshi's comments before and during the talk, emphasizing simplicity as crucial to application development in this medium, provided a useful counterpoint to the  hype about mobile.  Among the insights: 

  • "aftermarket" application installations on pc's are hard enough for most people; on mobile devices they're well-nigh impossible today, even on a relatively powerful device like my BlackBerry 8700.  (I've added Google Maps and the Gmail client, but browsing web pages is so slow and visually painful that I don't readily experiment as much in this medium as I'd like to.)
  • unless they are highly-motivated power users, like traders, most people just will not deal with complexity in mobile application interfaces. The mobile context is just too crowded with other stimuli, time-constrained, size-constrained, and "semi-conscious" to accomodate anything higher than a brain-stem -level assumption about user focus.

This has left me wondering a lot lately about SMS and how to take better advantage of it, since everyone has the capability these days on their phones, unlimited-use plans are now cheap and getting cheaper, and it's really easy to use.  Although Pew reported last year that more than a third of US cell phone users use SMS, very few people I know seem to take advantage of SMS as a service interface, such as Google's (46645), or this impressive array offered by Bankinter in Spain

Looking at Bankinter's services, it occurred to me -- when was the last time I saw an SMS cheat sheet posted by a vendor in a public place?  Maybe the answer is to introduce user guides into print advertising, or billboards?  Where's the laminated, business-card-sized, double-sided helper for my wallet?  And, for vendors with whom I have an account, perhaps a refund or partial subsidy (in the spirit of pre-paid postage on business-reply envelopes) of any SMS charges I do incur in using those services?

Related:  this excellent article by Sim Simeonov on the mobile tech stack.