Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Who are the top mobile agencies in the world?

The WorldLast year we published the Top 10 Mobile App Developers in the world based on more than a months research, benchmarking, talking to customers, competitors, investors and journalists. The criteria included
  • client list - well known global brands scored higher
  • referrals - recommendations by existing customers
  • brand recognition - mentions by journalists
  • competitor rankings - how their competitors ranked them
  • valuation - how investors valued the size of their mobile app development department
The top 10 list was published on our blog and republished by other blogs, Quora, Twitter, Linkedin and app development sites throughout the world. In fact the blog generated 10x more traffic in the first day than any other blog we've posted. Since then we've had lots of follow-up questions and comments by customers and media:
  • Why is it called top app developers when it's companies developing apps for others and not individual app developers?
  • Who are the top mobile agencies?
  • Who are the top mobile enterprise solution providers?
  • Who are the top mobile providers in a certain region?
  • Who are the top individual app developers?
We will do our best to answer all these questions but first we decided to have a closer look at the top mobile agencies in the world. So how do we define a mobile agency? The definition we used is a full service mobile agency including at least 70% of the following services even if they are not necessarily all performed in-house:
  • Mobile Strategy development
  • Creative / Service Concept Design
  • User Experience / User Interface Design
  • Mobile Web Development & Hosting
  • Mobile App Development
  • Messaging Campaigns (SMS/MMS)
  • Mobile Commerce / Transaction Services
  • Metrics, analytics & reporting
  • Quality Assurance
  • Media Planning incl app distribution
  • Media buying
This disqualifies most mobile ad networks, specialist media buying agencies and mobile design agencies but the purpose is to identify full agencies. In addition to this we only included agencies with more than 50% of their revenue from mobile which disqualified a lot of bigger interactive and digital agencies with mobile specialist teams. Based on this definition we identified the top 50 agencies and benchmarked each agency using the same criteria as for mobile app developers (see above). And after weeks of research and benchmarking here's the final top 10 list in no particular order of Mobile Agencies in the world:
  1. Velti (HQ: UK) - The biggest mobile marketing agency across US and Europe
  2. Somo Agency (HQ: UK) - One of the top ranked mobile agencies in the UK
  3. YOC Group (HQ: Germany) - The leading mobile marketing agency in the Germany with big focus on their own ad network
  4. The Hyperfactory (HQ: US) - One of the first mobile agencies with operations across the US and Asia
  5. Fetch Media (HQ: UK) - Fast growing UK agency with great reputation for strategy and planning
  6. Joule (HQ: US) - Founded out of WPP/GroupM working closely with brands and agencies throughout the group
  7. Phonevalley (HQ: France) - The nr 1 mobile marketing agency in France
  8. Mobiento (HQ: Sweden) - A pioneer in mobile marketing that have consistently continued to innovate
  9. Mobile Dreams Factory (HQ: Spain) - Leading full service agency in Spain next to Mobext with long history of award winning campaigns
  10. Golden Gekko (HQ: US) - Started as mobile app developer and now a full mobile solution provider helping to create new mobile companies and transform existing businesses into mobile
Just like last time we look forward to hearing your feedback. Good and bad. Here are some of the other agencies mentioned and recommended outside the top 10 list:
Hungama (HQ: India)
Grupo.Mobi (HQ: Brazil)
Mobext (HQ: Spain)
2Ergo (HQ: UK)
Ogilvy & Mather (HQ: US)
Buongiorno! Digital (HQ: Italy)
Punchkick Interactive (HQ: US)
Pure Agency (HQ: UK)
Welovemobile (HQ: UK)
M&C Saatchi Mobile (HQ: UK)
Plastic Mobile (HQ: US)
Incentivated (HQ: UK)
Cornerblue (HQ: US)
5th Finger (HQ: US)
Ansible Mobile (HQ: US)
01Tribe (HQ: Italy)
Hip Cricket (HQ: US)
Marvellous Mobile (HQ: UK)
Ping Mobile (HQ: US)
Zonica (HQ: US)
Motricity (HQ: US)
Puca Mobile (HQ: Ireland)
Mobilera (HQ: Turkey)
12Snap (HQ: Germany)
Icon Mobile (HQ: Icon Mobile)
3rd Vine (HQ: US)
Moblin (HQ: Israel)
Panacea (HQ: South Africa)
Addictive Mobile (HQ: US)
Movement (HQ: UK)
Madhouse (HQ: China)
Sponge Group (HQ: UK)
Must Mobile (HQ: Argentina)
Jumpfox (HQ: US)
Digital Jungle (HQ: China)
Initext (HQ: US)

Disclaimer: Golden Gekko developed this research and list for competitor benchmarking purposes. We've tried our best to be impartial but several of the companies listed are our direct competitors.

Monday, 3 December 2012

How to outsource mobile development


So you've decided to outsource your mobile development independently or after reading our blog on Pros and Cons of outsourcing mobile development.

Start by defining the scope and objectives of your project
The detail of your scope will depend on your skills, available time and resources and development partner. The scope can range from a one page description of the concept to 100 page specifications including use cases, wireframes, mockups and functional and non-functional requirements. It doesn't matter who does the work (you or your development partner) and it doesn't have to be super detailed but these are items you should always have:
  • Objectives / Success factors
  • Target devices (e.g. iPhone 4 and 5 and iOS5+), Smartphones only or include tablets?
  • Core use cases
  • Wireframes
  • Design Mock-ups
  • Non-functional requirements incl e.g. the number of users, expected response times, etc
In some cases you may also want to create a prototype of the app or site for a smartphone to be able to test the concept directly with users.
The level of detail will also depend a lot on your development partner. Offshoring companies usually require extremely detailed requirements whereas a mobile developer that knows the culture of your country and understands the service you're developing might prefer less detail as this allows them to help you shape the service based on their knowledge.

So how do you chose a development partner
We've previously written an extensive blog about this so rather than repeating ourselves read "What is the cost of developing a mobile app or site?"
Since we wrote this article we've noted a couple of things:
  • Mobile is becoming more and more business critical to most companies and therefore it's even more important to chose a long term partner.
  • Many businesses want the flexibility of bringing the development in-house which means higher demands on the developer in terms of system design and code quality and that businesses want to avoid proprietary platforms that tie them in.
  • The number of offshoring developers and small developers have continued to rapidly increase
  • HTML5 adoption continues to grow but faced a backlash when Facebook announced they are switching focus to native apps
  • With the increase in HTML5 adoption almost every web agency now believes they can do mobile development without realising the differences in technology, fragmentation and user experience
Agree on the best technology together with your development partner
Mobile website in XHTML, HTML5 web app, Native apps or hybrid apps? Backend requirements such as middleware, content management, eCommerce, customer databases, logging and reporting and more. There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the technology for your project. Every project benefits from an open discussion about the technology.
We've previously written about how every app needs a mobile website and HTML5 vs native. Forget about the technology as such and focus on delivering a solution that is available where you're customers are with a user experience that will make them come back. Discuss the pros and cons of different solutions with your development partner and hopefully you will agree.

How to do agile development with your outsourcing partner?
You will never know exactly what you need until you start developing your mobile solution and see the first results. Over time you will realise that some wireframes were wrong, use cases need to be updated and that the mockups are no longer aligned with the final service. Part of your success is therefore dependent on flexibility to changes throughout the project referred to as agility.
We have spent the past 6 years perfecting how to work with agile in fixed price outsourcing projects. See our previous article on this subject.

What to think about during the project?
You've defined the requirements for the project, chosen a mobile partner and agreed to a certain amount of agility in the project. So time for me to relax and wait for the final delivery? No. Most mobile services will never have a final delivery. Popular services such as Facebook, Foursquare, Youtube, Instagram, etc do updates of their service every month to enhance it, fix bugs and as response to user feedback.
Start testing of the service as soon as possible even if the design is not completed, all features have not been implemented or the developers don't want to share it with you yet.
Be prepared to launch a service that is great but not perfect from day one. Usually it's more important that you get it out there, start listening to the user feedback then that it's perfect. If your project is delayed try to launch with less features instead of delaying the launch.

Fragmentation, fragmentation, fragmentation...
Depending on the platform you're developing for there will be more or less fragmentation but be prepared. A mobile web user interface that works great on the iPhone 5 may be slow and unusable on the iPhone 4 and the differences are even more obvious on Android devices ranging from slow processing power on low resolution screens to super high specification phones. You will never know how you're mobile website or app performs until you test it on each of the target devices. and once you've done this plan for at least 2 weeks of additional optimisation and development for Android whereas iOS or Windows Phone could be just a few days. In some cases it could take a month. Make sure that your development partner has planned for this as part of the QA and Acceptance process.
That brings us nicely on to the next subject which is quality assurance and acceptance.

Quality Assurance (QA) and Acceptance
There will inevitably be some disputes during the acceptance of the project so make sure you've agreed on acceptance criteria before you start development. Ideally the acceptance criteria are described as use cases which are also used for development and QA. A couple of tips before you start final acceptance:
  • Make sure you get the complete test report for QA from the development partner. It's their responsibility and not yours to find all obvious bugs.
  • Dedicate sufficient time for the acceptance testing and plan for 3 rounds as there will be some feedback / mistakes even if you've got great developers
  • Don't just e-mail your feedback, make sure you have a call to go through your feedback
Appstore distribution
Finally, you've approved the app and it's time to upload it to the appstores. There are a couple of things to consider:
  • Start early to prepare to set up appstore accounts and get certificates
  • You cannot change the certificates later so make sure you get them right from the beginning. The certificates should be owned by your business and not the developer.
  • Plan for at least 10 working days for approval of the iPhone app
  • Consider distributing your Android app outside of Google Play and your iOS app virtually (links) outside of iTunes using appstores such as Getjar, Amazon, Samsung Apps, Mobango, etc.
Is that all?
No. This is just a very short overview. We've spent the past 7 years developing mobile services and we are still learning every day. Feel free to contact us for more information through our website at http://www.goldengekko.com

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Who are the top mobile app development companies in the world?

There’s a pizza restaurant in Stockholm which claims to have the second best pizzas in Sweden. To me this has credibility because it clearly shows that they’ve done their research if they acknowledge that there is one place that is better. We claim to be one of the top 10 mobile app developers in the world today although it’s for others to decide our position on the list.

When customers, investors and partners asked me who our main competitors are a few years ago my answer was that I honestly don’t know. We seldom compete with the same companies more than once or twice as there are so many small development companies and freelance developers.

Today it’s a different story with mobile becoming a business critical channel for most brands. Brands acknowledge that they need to invest in proportion to the expected returns and want to work with partners that have done it before. Therefore we believe that the leaders in the industry have begun to crystallise based on track record, experience and references.

We are of course completely biased but here’s our list of the top mobile app developers in the world 2012 in no particular order. The list is based on our own experience, what our customers and partners are saying, reports in media and other sites such as Quora with a short motivation.
1. AKQA – one of the leading digital agencies in the world with a long history of award winning apps for big brands
2. Y Media Labs – pure mobile app developers based in San Francisco with a great track record
3. Ustwo - London based mobile UX and app development agency specialised in banks and retail
4. Tigerspike – Originally founded in Australia but now has app development offices across the world’
5. MIG (now part of Velti) – London based mobile agency with a smaller team focused on creating high quality apps
6. LBi – Originally a web agency but today has a good portfolio of mobile app development as well
7. Kony Solutions – US and India based with a mix of bespoke mobile development and providing tools to partners
8. Razorfish – One of the pioneers in digital and more recently extending this into mobile for their clients
9. R/GA – Strong NY office with strategy, UX and development capabilities for major clients
10. and of course Golden Gekko

All of these companies have a great reputation of understanding mobile, making honest and fair recommendations based on the clients objectives, great UE/UI teams, quality and reliable solutions.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Why Google and Apple are not fully supporting HTML5


Facebook recently made several announcements on initiatives to support HTML5 as the future standard for mobile development. In conjunction with this their head of mobile developer relations also criticized Apple and Google for not doing more to support HTML5 in their browsers. This may be somewhat surprising since Steve Jobs was one of the first big proponents of HTML5 and Google has been an early supporter but the conflict of interest is quite obvious.

The reasons why they do not want HTML5 replacing native apps any time soon are:

  • With native apps Google and Apple can make a 30% revenue share on paid downloads and in-app purchases whereas with HTML5 they can easily be bypassed
  • Google and Android currently don’t need to compete with e.g. Opera and Firefox which both have better HTML5 support since almost everyone uses the preinstalled browser
  • Native SDKs and Apps allow Google and Apple to continue differentiate versus other operating systems thanks to their much larger catalogues of apps. With mobile web they cannot claim more services than e.g. Microsoft and Blackberry
  • Reliance on native apps will make it more difficult for a customer to change OS. I.e. if you rely on native apps only available for one or a few platforms then users are not as likely to switch to another OS. In addition to this switching is still difficult when it comes to syncing contacts and content
So why is Facebook so keen to make HTML5 work for them?

  • The Facebook platform was designed for web and not apps. The architecture struggles to cope with web services that have to support lots of different applications.
  • This leads on to the second point which is that Facebook’s native apps today are unstable and slow. Facebook probably has the worst average ratings and reviews of any major online brand.
  • Facebook currently struggles to monitise mobile as Apple doesn’t allow them to take a cut on mobile games and other apps delivered through the native iOS apps. Through HTML5 mobile web they can make a 30% cut on all games and apps.
  • The resources and expertise required to maintain native apps across multiple platforms are a challenge even for a big company like Facebook.


How does this impact you?
Despite Facebook’s criticism, Safari on iOS is still one of the best mobile HTML5 compatible browsers. Therefore most mobile websites will be well served on the Safari browser today and Google will most probably catch up with this in the near future with Chrome (if they have not already). However, if you are waiting for more native functionality such as photo upload, access to media, contacts and messaging services on the device and other native enablers such as push notifications, local notifications, etc then you may need to wait for a long time. Hybrids can be one alternative but to date most companies taking a hybrid approach have failed.

The story continues…
Read more about Facebook’s HTML5 initiatives at http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/20/facebook-google-apple-html5/

Update: Facebook later the same week clarified that the number one priority right is to grow the apps available for mobile with monitisation through ads rather than premium revenue in the short term. Read more at http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/24/facebook-revenue-share-apps/

Friday, 4 May 2012

Top Mobile Enterprise Apps for iPad and Android Tablets


As a world leading mobile app developer we always try to optimise our productivity with sales and business tools for our business. Here’s a list of those we find being the most useful mobile enterprise tools for iOS and Android (as of April 2012).

1. Linkedin (Free)
Every employee that is in contact with customers or other employers (e.g. for HR/Recruitment) should have Linkedin on their smartphone or tablet. With the latest iPad and Android updates it’s a truly beautiful app.

http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=mobile

2. Evernote (Free)
Easy to use.  One account.  Many devices.  Cool features such as clip web pages including text, links and images; Search for text within snapshots and images. We often write the notes for the blog using Evernote.

https://www.evernote.com/about/intl/en/download/

3. Omnifocus (79.99 USD)
Beautiful UI, powerful location-aware task display and sync’s with your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet device.

http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus-ipad

4. Salesforce (Free)
Not the greatest mobile app, but ensures you have your CRM info on hand at any time and allows you to update opportunity status on the road.

http://www.salesforce.com/mobile/apps/

5. GoodReader (4.99 USD)
Mashable describes it as “a Swiss Army knife of awesome!”  Read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, maps, pictures.

6. Pages (9.99 USD)
Pages lets you create beautiful letters, reports, flyers, and more on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. No matter which device you’re on, iCloud keeps your Pages documents up to date across them all — automatically.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pages/id361309726?mt=8&ls=1&v0=www-naus-ipad-appstore-apple-pages

7. Box.net (Free)
Access all your Box content directly from your device, keeping you connected while away from the office. Once you upload files and folders to your Box account, you can view, search and edit directly from your device for productivity on-the-go.

http://www.box.com/services/browse/official

8. Mindjet for Android (Free)
Previously Thinking Space, Mindjet allows users to easily enter ideas, tasks and meeting notes into intuitive visual maps that help you quickly organise concepts and prioritise action items.

http://www.mindjet.com/products/mindmanager#mmMobiApp

9. Locale (4.99 Euro)
Locale’s advanced artificial intelligence manges device settings automatically.  Imagine arriving at work and instantly your ringer silences, your wallpaper snaps to that scenic Caribbean photo, and Wi-Fi switches on.

http://www.twofortyfouram.com/product.html

10. Dragon Dictation (Free)
Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages.

http://itunes.apple.com/es/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8

Other great apps:
Other great apps that didn’t make the top 10 list include Google Docs, PDF Expert, Hourstracker, Slideshark and Bloom

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Guest Post from Magnus Jern, CEO Golden Gekko - What is the cost of mobile app development?

Our CEO Magnus Jern is well known in the mobile marketing space and this is a great article on the cost of mobile app development. Quora, blogs and forums are floodedA with questions and answers about mobile app development costs...

Read the full story on GoMo News

Thursday, 12 January 2012

News from CES and Mobile 2012

Without exception, CES generates a lot of exciting news for the mobile app space. Here’s a quick summary of the key announcements in mobile this year.


Thinnest tablet ever
The Toshiba Excite X10 tablet is the thinnest tablet ever made with a 10.1 inch screen, 0.3 inch thin and 1.2 ibs weight.

Our take:
The Toshiba Excite X10 tablet is an alternative for the iPad2 and this could be Apple’s real competition. However it is unlikely that it can compete with Apple’s iPad3 which is expected in the next couple of months


Intel in partnership with Motorola Mobility
Being in partnership with Intel allows Motorola to use Intel’s Atom processors on their mobile computing devices. This includes smartphones and tablets for consumers and businesses during the next couple of years.

Our take:
Currently, Qualcomm and ARM dominate the mobile processor market and more competition is needed. This should lead to more innovation in the mobile processing space including better battery life and increased processing power.

Smartphone news



LTE devices across all price points
Most of the major device manufacturers announced LTE devices together with the carriers in the US including LG, HTC, Nokia and Samsung but also Huawei, ZTE and Pantech.

Our take:
Although LTE is important from a network capacity perspective an transition to GSM technology in the US the technology will not have much impact on consumers right now as 3G speeds are adequate for most smartphone usage. Nevertheless, the speed of the transition is impressive.

Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone
AT&T is launching the Nokia Lumia 900 in the US with LTE and stands firmly behind Windows Phone.

Our take:
This will bring positive media echo for Nokia Luma and Windows Phone devices.  Uniqueness and differentiation is good news as it shows there is still room for innovation in the OS space. Thanks to this, Apple has not been able to steal the show like they did last year.

Sony Xperia S
Sony launches the first device without the Ericsson brand as a game focused device with Android.

Our take:
The device looks great with nice specs but we don’t believe it’s unique enough to compete against the top Android devices from Samsung and HTC.

Waterproof phones
Will waterproofing treatment make smartphones ruined by water damage history? The company HzO thinks so and announced a new technology for waterproofing that they want to license to phone manufacturers.

Our take:
This is probably one of the most exciting news for consumers coming out of CES. Many of us have dropped their  phone in water or gotten it ruined by rain or water splashes. If the waterproofing works without having to turn the phone into a piece of rubber like previous attempts then this could be a big trend in the future.

Apps, apps and more apps
With over 100 great apps submitted for Mobile App Showdown here are 3 of our favorites:

CIA: Operation Ajax Amazes!
An app delivering a graphic novel with interactive sounds and animations, which seems like a unique way of mobile story telling.

SkyQ
SkyQ is an easy to use astronomy application that locates and identifies virtually any celestial object visible in the night sky with portable convenience right from the palm of your hand.

Swakker
Swakker lets you personalize your mobile messaging. Communicate in creative ways, like drawing in a chat and writing messages in the sky.

Biggest news of all

No show would be worthwhile without an app by Golden Gekko of course and to avoid disappointment Qualcomm showed off Golden Gekko’s augmented reality app for the National Guard. More about this later…

Saturday, 24 December 2011

New Years wish for 2012 - take mobile seriously!

"There is more money wasted in advertising by underspending than by overspending. Years ago someone said that underspending in advertising is like buying a ticket halfway to Europe. You've spent your money but you never get there." - Morris Hite

According to a recent study by eMarketing (http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008728) brands are are underspending by 10x on mobile vs time spent by consumers on the mobile compared to other channels. People spend a little over an hour of their of time (10.1% of total media consumption) engaging with mobile every day compared a combined total of 44 minutes a day with newspapers and magazines, 4.34 hours watching television, and 2.47 hours on the Internet. Despite this only 0.9% of media budgets are spent on mobile vs 24.7% on newspapers and magazines. And this is only the beginning since mobile usage is still growing rapidly which means that brands should be investing a higher proportion now to build a platform for the future.

We understand that mobile is a complex and sensitive channel for advertising but Golden Gekko, our competitors and colleagues in the industry have thousands of case studies with proven ROI showing the effectiveness of mobile.

So happy holidays and happy new mobile year and show that you are serious about mobile in 2012!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mobile self-care platforms growing in importance

77% of the world’s population is mobile. More than three out of four people are already signed up with a mobile provider. This leaves little space for mobile operators to grow by acquiring new customers and the market is driven by price competition: The cheaper the better.

Without obvious customer satisfaction issues with low price suppliers, it’s very difficult for mobile operators to offer competing products or services at higher prices. Generally, competing on price alone leads to disloyal customers, low margins and many sleepless nights for business managers.

This being said, the Mobile Marketing Association believes that operators in developed countries could run out of profit in the next two to four years if they do not change their business models.

So, now what?

Operators in mature markets are trying to find ways of reducing costs reduce churn and open new revenue channels.

Operators in emerging markets want to improve customer care, up-sell new services and keep customers engaged.

Innovative operators are taking it one step further. For example, today O2 has more than 25% of their active customers engaging every month through My O2, their self care platform.

My O2 is a platform for O2 subscribers where they can login to check their bill, update personal details, explore special offers, browse other products/service and interact with a virtual agent. Along with enhancing an operator’s service offering, there are clear business opportunities encouraging operators to offer this type of customer care tool:

Create transparency for users on there voice and data plans
Reduce customer care costs
Increase adaptation of new services
Improve customer satisfaction by providing help anytime, anywhere
Increase revenues by enabling customers to easily reconfigure plans or purchases additional services
How do we see it?

Mere churn prevention is probably the worst option as it is passive. Operators are at a critical point and need to be proactive if they don’t want to disappear. It should be about delivering services that are satisfying, desirable and engaging. An offensive value-added services strategy that delivers a compelling customer experience, one that enables operators to boost individual loyalty and the lifetime value of their existing customer base.

Built on years of experience with 20+ operators across the globe, Golden Gekko’s ‘Self Care’ app is designed around this premise. An opt-in app that not only reduces customer care costs, increase adaptation and cross-promotes services, but also collects valuable business intelligence that helps operators deliver better products, services and support to their existing client base.

Operators can’t rely on monthly voice or data plans – the end game is customer loyalty because customer loyalty means engaged clients, added spending, more renewals, customer referrals and lower acquisition costs.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Major Trends in the Mobile Industry


The past year has been very thrilling for the mobile industry, in particular for everything mobile apps. Every moment there are new technologies, phones with new abilities, apps leveraging the new features, and much more.

Here are the most important trends: 

Mobile Advertising coming of age

Mobile Advertising is becoming serious business. Years ago telcos forecasted billions of dollars in revenue from mobile advertising. Now we finally see some results. O2 UK leads the way in Europe with O2 Media and their recently launched operator partnership. O2 Priority Moments is the first large-scale campaign leveraging permission based, hyper local targeted marketing.

Loyalty programs become hyper local

Loyalty programs are married to hyper local offers. One of the greatest differentiators for telco operators is the knowledge of profiles such as the whereabouts of their customers. This gives them the unique opportunity to combine this with personalised offers. Great examples of this include the loyalty clubs by Turkcell, O2 Priority Moments and AT&T Local Deals. Though those are already incredible services, these are still early days. Programs and content will become even more sophisticated.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Near Field Communication (NFC), whose initial focus was on mobile payments is now shifting towards other utilities. App builders make use of NFC to simplify check-ins, execute marketing campaigns and drive the use of loyalty cards. Which is great since it is driving customer adaptation to the technology and paves the way for new forms of employment.

Mobile Self Care

Mobile self-care is a growing business opportunity. Several service providers like telco operators already have a substantial customer base that is accessing their account information through mobile apps and sites every month. Still, hardly any of those are leveraging this opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell other services to millions of subscribers. We are now finally seeing some interesting collaborations between the customer care departments and marketing.

Operator Appstores

Operators and device manufacturers launch their own appstores. Despite the challenges that many operators have faced there are some great success stories. For example, LG App Advisor, a hybrid solution that recommends the most relevant local apps for each market. Or Verizon vCast appstore, which achieved similar success. This shows that there is a demand for secure and trusted appstore providers.

The most frequent questions we get from clients and partners are:

What is the cost of developing a mobile app or mobile website? Read more
How do I port my iPhone app to Android and other mobile platforms? Read more
Should I go for a mobile app, a mobile website or both? Read more
How do I get social networking into my mobile strategy? Read more
What are the most popular appstores? Read more

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How Operators tackle Customer Loyalty

77% of the world’s population is mobile. More than three out of four people are already signed up with a mobile provider. This leaves little space for mobile operators to grow by acquiring new customers and the market is driven by price competition: The cheaper the better.

Without obvious customer satisfaction issues with low price suppliers, it's very difficult for mobile operators to offer competing products or services at higher prices. Generally, competing on price alone leads to disloyal customers, low margins and many sleepless nights for business managers.

This being said, the Mobile Marketing Association believes that operators in developed countries could run out of profit in the next two to four years if they do not change their business models.

So, now what?

Operators in mature markets are trying to find ways of reducing costs reduce churn and open new revenue channels.

Operators in emerging markets want to improve customer care, up-sell new services and keep customers engaged.

Innovative operators are taking it one step further.  For example, today O2 has more than 25% of their active customers engaging every month through My O2, their self care platform. 

My O2 is a platform for O2 subscribers where they can login to check their bill, update personal details, explore special offers, browse other products/service and interact with a virtual agent.  Along with enhancing an operator’s service offering, there are clear business opportunities encouraging operators to offer this type of customer care tool:

       Create transparency for users on there voice and data plans
       Reduce customer care costs
       Increase adaptation of new services
       Improve customer satisfaction by providing help anytime, anywhere
       Increase revenues by enabling customers to easily reconfigure plans or purchases additional services

How do we see it? 

Mere churn prevention is probably the worst option as it is passive. Operators are at a critical point and need to be proactive if they don’t want to disappear.  It should be about delivering services that are satisfying, desirable and engaging.  An offensive value-added services strategy that delivers a compelling customer experience, one that enables operators to boost individual loyalty and the lifetime value of their existing customer base. 

Built on years of experience with 20+ operators across the globe, Golden Gekko’s ‘Self Care’ app is designed around this premise.  An opt-in app that not only reduces customer care costs, increase adaptation and cross-promotes services, but also collects valuable business intelligence that helps operators deliver better products, services and support to their existing client base.

Operators can’t rely on monthly voice or data plans - the end game is customer loyalty because customer loyalty means engaged clients, added spending, more renewals, customer referrals and lower acquisition costs.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Do you know your mobile users?

Men are from Android and women are from Apple? It’s not all that trivial, but when planning a mobile marketing strategy OS penetration is not the only parameter to consider.

iOS users do skew significantly different to Android users, let alone BlackBerry or Mobile Phone users. When focusing on the right target and how to approach the right audience, a mobile marketing strategy is more efficient to follow.

Though, truth be told, the difference in gender is actually one of the least significant discrepancies. iPhone users are 18% more likely to be female while Android users are 10% more likely to be male. So don’t be shocked if you see a hot chick pulling out an Android phone.

Here are some of the major points relevant for mobile marketers:

Money
To get right to the point: iPhone users have more money and like to spend it and not only on their mobiles. iPhone users are 67% more likely to have an annual income of $+200k , while 24% of Android users are likely to have an annual income between $+50k  - $+100k. Apple lovers have a 29% higher balance on their monthly credit card (Pageonce) than Android owners.

Android phones are normally cheaper than iPhones, for which it doesn’t surprise that the Droid crowd is more likely hold their dollars together while iPhoners are 26% more likely to be spenders.

Trend Setter
A surprising 71% of Android users see themselves as followers. Steve Jobs has done a better job as role model, as 27% of iPhone users see themselves as leaders and 50% consider themselves as early adopters.

Interests
iPhone users are  more travelers  as50% are more likely to have visited more than 5 countries, while 71% of Android users are likely to never have traveled outside their native country.

The study conducted by Hutch breaks down the profile of different OS users and even specifies their favourite ice cream flavour, as can be seen in the infographic in their blog.

The point is though that Marketing is all about knowing your target group, where to find them and how to speak to them. Having a clear idea which device they are likely to use can save a lot of money when planning a mobile marketing strategy.

Knowing the triggers of each device user can also help you to design a more customized approach for each platform. For example, an Android user’s attention can be caught with discounts or special offers, while iPhone users are suckers for sleek design and innovation.

After all, mobile is an interactive medium. This means it is not just about emitting a message, it’s about creating a conversation and the best way to start a conversation is getting to know the other person.

Visit Hutch for more information on the survey.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Why media agencies avoid mobile

Action speaks louder than words. Yet nothing but big words have been heard from the heads of WPP, Omnicom, Ogilvy and other leading media agencies extolling the potential of mobile.

Mobile marketing is experiencing healthy growth across Europe and North America. According to researches by IAB and MMA and many more, Ad- spending has increased by 60%- 70% in average.

However, we believe that the major part of these spends can be attributed to mobile and digital agencies that work directly with brands rather than to media planners who manage the majority of the media budget.

The main reasons are:
  • Lack of knowledge: Mobile is complex and hard to understand due to multiple OS platforms and channels (SMS/MMS, Apps, Mobile Web, QR codes, etc
  • Metrics: Metrics for mobile can be extremely detailed. It's possible to track results from display advertising or messaging to retail activation. Nonetheless, interpreting the data requires some understanding
  • Incentives: According to common conventions between brands and agencies, agency fees are based on media spending and not efficiency. This means TV, print and outdoor media are more profitable for agencies

When and how will this change?
Most media agencies have formed specialised teams for mobile. But those teams are small and often overstretched. We believe that it will take another 2-3 years before media agencies start taking mobile seriously. In the meantime they will lose business and the opportunity to learn from smaller more specialised agencies. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Airport Apps, A Win-Win for the Travel Industry



Unpredictable weather, long security lines and extremely time sensitive logistical planning makes it easy to imagine that your last trip to the airport could have involved overstressed airport staff rescheduling a flight for a bunch of cranky travelers that cannot understand why they have to spend the night in Frankfurt and pay 10 euros for a 4-pack of batteries.
It’s not the same at every airport, but I have a feeling we’ve all been there at some point in our travel history.  This being said, mobile apps provide airports with a huge opportunity to simplify the travel experience as well as provide travel services and tools to minimize stress.
  • Receive delay notifications on your mobile before leaving the house
  • Look for alternative flights when your flight is cancelled
  • Pre-purchase your ticket for the Heathrow Express on your tablet
  • Breeze through security with your digital boarding pass
  • Forward yourself your flight, hotel and car rental info an automatically create a travel itinerary
  • Snap a pic of your parking spot and tag on a map with GPS
  • Receive a discount coupon from Starbucks after checking-in at the airport via Facebook
What’s really exciting about this space is that all the features listed above already exist and would impact your travel experience in such a positive way. But if you took a second to think about what’s to come with NFC, QR codes and ERP solutions - mobile could literally revolutionize what we know today as ‘just another trip to the airport.’
Airport apps:  It’s win-win
While the ‘Time Killer App’ you played during your 2-hour delay in Amsterdam was a life-saver, the reality now-a-days is that we are always connected to our mobile devices. Airports can take advantage of this opportunity to positively impact their bottom line pre-during-and-post travel by:
  • Leveraging the unique power of mobile to increase revenue generation
  • Creating a richer channel for affiliate merchants to reach the consumer
  • Anticipating delay drivers, plan preventive actions and take recovery measures
  • Providing cutting edge customer service
 
http://www.amadeus.com/airlineIT/the-always-connected-traveller/docs/mobile_infographic.jpg


This means push notifications for final boarding calls, rich promotional splash pages for seasonal offers, coupon system for airport shops, integrating booking engines for flights, hotels and transportation as well as providing city guides, airport maps and weather information for all arrival and departure cities.
How to get it right
This is a business critical app that would differentiate any airport from its peers if it effectively aligned business priorities with the evolving needs of their customers.
  1. Accurate real-time data mixed with valuable content
  2. Entice travelers to purchase and pre-reserve products or services
  3. Ensure travelers get the most out of their airport visit
From there – the sky is the limit.

Friday, 7 October 2011

No NFC in the iPhone 4S

I am currently working on a blog about NFC* in mobile marketing. Then Apple announced the iPhone 4S without NFC capability, which puts everything into a new perspective. Now it seems way more important to talk about what this means for the industry. The blog on NFC in mobile marketing will be published next week instead.

Seldom has one company’s decision meant so much for an industry as Apple’s decision not to support NFC in the new iPhone. So far the biggest short-term supporters of NFC have been Google with various initiatives. Several Nokia, Samsung and RIM devices are already available in the market. Apple, however, is extremely important, as the iPhone is a mass-market device with a large proportion of early adopters eager to try new things.

I believe that the consequences of the decision are:
* Many retailers will delay decisions to upgrade PoS systems for NFC for at least a year
* PoS payment solution suppliers such as Verifone are less likely to invest in pilot programs
* Other device manufacturers such as HTC and LG may delay embedding NFC chips as they wait for Apple
* Marketers are less likely to support mobile marketing campaigns leveraging NFC as most of them have an iPhone

Another consequence we will see is a slower transition to NFC compared to what many analysts and industry supporters expected. As of now, no one to my knowledge has gone as far as pronouncing NFC a dead standard- yet but I bet we will see some industry comments soon.

Was it unexpected or shocking news from Apple? Not really but considering the relative low implementation cost for Apple many people thought they would include NFC despite previous comments but maybe with some kind of restrictive use through Apple.

What does it mean for mobile marketing and payments? It will primarily delay the implementation of loyalty cards and mobile payment systems using NFC for about a year but in the long term we are still confident that Apple and others will support and implement NFC.

Despite this we will update you on future exciting opportunities with NFC in next weeks blog. Because we are still very excited about the long-term prospects.

* Note: For more about NFC read our previous blog post on http://www.mobilemarketinguniverse.com/?p=326

Top topics 2011 – app development cost, top appstores and more

Looking back at the last couple of years of blogging on Mobile Marketing Universe we are always curious what people find the most interesting topics. And here is the top 5 of the most popular posts:

1. How much does it cost to develop a mobile app on iPhone, Android and other platforms?
Originally posted one year ago and updated earlier this year this blog has generated about 27% of our traffic which is quite impressive taking into account that we’ve published over 50 blog entries during this time.

How much does it cost to develop a mobile app on iPhone, Android and other platforms?

Update: What is the cost developing a mobile app?

2. Top 10 Appstores Worldwide
We thought this would be an interesting one considering that most the talk is about Apple Appstore and Android Market nowadays. In fact, there are other appstores that are performing quite well and we will continue to publish updates on these once a year so look out.

Top 10 Appstores Worldwide

3. How much does it cost to develop a mobile website in XHTML and/ or HTML5?
Although we mostly speak about mobile apps we also believe that every major brand must have a mobile web presence and clearly our readers seem to think the same.

How much does it cost to develop a mobile website in XHTML and/ or HTML5?

4. Mobile Web vs Mobile App
One of the most discussed topics among marketers is whether they should go for a mobile website or develop a mobile app. We talked about the pros and cons of both solutions in these two articles

Mobile App vs Mobile Web: Bysting Myths

Web vs. Apps? Mobile Web/ HTML5 vs. Mobile vs Mobile Apps Part 2

5. Cross platform mobile app development for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Java
We’ve been talking at conferences and workshops about cross-platform mobile app development for over 3 years and with new platforms being introduced this has always been a popular topic.

Cross platform mobile app development methods for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Java

and more recently with an update about porting available here

Porting iOS (iPhone) Apps to Android and Blackberry

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

What’s New What’s Next? Mobile News And Trends

As the name suggests, there is always a lot of movement going on in the mobile space. Mobile is said to be the fastest growing market in the world. Every moment there are new technologies, phones with new abilities, apps leveraging the new features, and much more.

Let’s have a look at what we believe to be the most important trends:

- Operators and device manufacturers launch their own appstores. Despite the challenges that many operators have faced there are some great success stories. For example, LG App Advisor, a hybrid solution that recommends the most relevant local apps for each market. Or Verizon vCast appstore, which achieved similar success. This shows that there is a demand for secure and trusted appstore providers.

- Mobile Advertising is becoming serious business. Years ago, telcos forecasted billions of dollars in revenue from mobile advertising. Now we finally see some results. O2 UK leads the way in Europe with O2 Media and their recently launched operator partnership. O2 Priority Moments is the first large-scale campaign leveraging permission based, hyper local targeted marketing.

- Near Field Communication (NFC), whose initial focus was on mobile payments is now shifting towards other utilities. App builders make use of NFC to simplify check-ins, execute marketing campaigns and drive the use of loyalty cards. Which is great since it is driving customer adaptation to the technology and paves the way for new forms of employment.

- Loyalty programs are married to hyper local offers. One of the greatest differentiators for telco operators is the knowledge of profiles such as the whereabouts of their customers. This gives them the unique opportunity to combine this with personalised offers. Great examples of this include the loyalty clubs by Turkcell, O2 Priority Moments and AT&T Local Deals. Though those are already incredible services, these are still early days. Programs and content will become even more sophisticated.

- Mobile self-care is a growing business opportunity. Several service providers like telco operators already have a substantial customer base that is accessing their account information through mobile apps and sites every month. Still, hardly any of those are leveraging this opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell other services to millions of subscribers. We are now finally seeing some interesting collaborations between the customer care departments and marketing.

For more insights and details on each of these trends please contact us to set up a call or workshop.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Porting iOS (iPhone) Apps To Android And Blackberry

Golden Gekko is often asked to extend an iPhone app to other platforms such as Android, Blackberry, Symbian, HTML5, etc.

So, why would they come to us if they’ve already developed an app with someone else? Usually, for one of the following reasons:

a) Current developer lacks skills and experience for other platforms than iOS
b) Unhappy with the existing developer
c) Concerned about the complexity of other platforms due to fragmentation
d) Want a long term development partner that covers all platforms

What is porting?

“Porting is the process of adapting software so that an executable program can be created for a computing environment that is different from the one for which it was originally designed…” and “Software is portable when the cost of porting it to a new platform is less than the cost of writing it from scratch. The lower the cost of porting software, relative to its implementation cost, the more portable it is said to be.” (source: Wikipedia)

In reality there is no such thing as porting from iOS to Android or Blackberry. The development environments are completely different, which means that unless you’ve planned for cross-platform development from the beginning you will have to start from scratch for additional platforms and the cost of pure development will be similar or sometimes higher than the first platform.

So what is the point of this blog?

Even though there is no easy solution to porting, there are lots of tips and tricks that make the process smoother, the cost lower and the app more successful:

1. Adapt existing Use Cases, Wireframes and Designs to the new platform

Even though the code cannot be reused, the overall concept of the app, user journeys, information architecture, designs, etc can. However, you need to make sure that the app is customized for the special attributes of each platform in terms of underlying OS concepts, navigation, screen sizes/resolution, limitations, additional features, etc. If you already have good documentation of the app, we recommend analyzing the deltas and describing the differences compared to the original app, keeping it trackable, so that future changes in the original app will also result in similar changes to the other platforms.

2. Sharing resources such as Copy, language files, graphical assets and media

This is where a lot of long term headaches and savings can be made. By sharing resource files where possible, you only have to update the content once and then automatically propagate to the builds for each of the platforms. Often this involves a scripted conversion step, but setting this up early is of great value for long term savings.

3. Backend communication and integration

If the app communicates with one or multiple backends then the API requests should be the same across platforms. In some cases you should consider developing a middleware that sits between the backends and the apps to avoid having to make changes to multiple apps if there is a change on the backend.

4. Code structure

To make it easier to maintain the code across multiple platforms make sure that you use the same or similar variables, classes, etc as this will save a lot of time for developers to make updates. You might also be able to reuse data structures and algorithms.

5. Preparing for tablets and other devices

Finally it is important to continue to plan for future platforms and devices becoming available. When specifying the new app for Android or Blackberry then also make sure that you consider support for Android Tablets, alternative screen sizes, new Blackberry’s launching, etc. Tablets especially require a modification of graphics, as well as user journeys, to make best use of the extra screen space.

 If you have to reduce cost because of budget constraints you can:
a) Complement the existing app with an HTML5 mobile website - this doesn't replace having an app on the other appstores but is a good way of building a mobile presence across all devices
b) Use a cross platform web runtime solution such as Phonegap for Write Once Run On Multiple (WOROM) - this is always going to be a compromise compared to native apps but can be acceptable in certain cases

In conclusion "porting" or developing for multiple mobile OS is not an easy task but the effort, costs and timelines can be reduced and the result can be very rewarding, if planned and executed properly.

For more about porting to Android also read Techcrunch article "Porting iOS to Android pitfalls and perks"

For more information about how to develop and maintain applications across multiple OS contact us for a call or meeting.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Success criteria for a great mobile health app

mHealth means health care via the mobile phone. A vague definition describing a big area, that, being still in its infancy, is believed to have great potential.  


mHealth includes specialised hardware for medical purposes such as diabetes, heart monitoring and blood pressure as well as services like reminders for doctor’s appointments via SMS, public health information/alerts, health surveys, apps for doctors, apps for in-field training used by pharmaceuticals, wellness self-checks, remote diagnosis decision support apps, hospital management/administration, apps used in the field in developing countries and much much more.

So, what makes a mobile health service successful? Based on our experience from delivering mobile apps and services for the health sector for almost 5 years and speaking to our partners we have come up with the following 5 key success factors:

1. The mobile service needs to solve a problem and have a clear strategy
Make sure that there is a clear need for the service/application that you are developing and that the service fulfills that need. Relevant market research and insights, participatory user experience design, pilots and quick response to user feedback once the service has been launched are all key to success.

2. The app or service needs to be extremely easy to use
Nice animations, flashy colors and a beautiful layout for sure inspires usage, but more important is that the service is easy for the target audience to use. This includes making sure that navigation flows are logic, buttons are big enough to click on for people with any finger sizes, text is readable for users that lack 20/20 vision and that you can easily start over or go back if you get lost in the service without having to resubmit several pages of forms again.

3. The service needs to be available to a majority of the target audience and not just e.g. iPhone or iPad users
This is usually were the biggest mistakes are done. Developers and tech people seem to think that everyone has an iPhone. This might be sort of true if the target group are medical students or doctors in a first world country, but not if you are targeting a wider audience. mHealth goes far beyond mobile apps and can also be delivered using SMS, MMS, mobile websites, bluetooth and NFC.

A good example of how apps are usually limited to one platform is available here.

4. The service must be secure and reliable
According to some reports as many as 80% of all iPhone apps crash after 5 min use. They are usually poorly developed and tested by developers with limited experience. For medical purposes reliability is a prerequisite. Make sure that the app or services has been properly tested across all devices that you expect the target audience to be using.

The service also needs to be absolutely secure in case it stores or communicates patient data. This includes encryption of data in communication between the device and the server, encryption of data stored locally on the device and that the servers are bullet proof in terms of external access to any data.

5. Legal, compliance and regulatory approvals
When you plan for the launch of a mobile health service make sure that you include the time for approval by all stakeholders. Worst case you might even require regulatory approval by e.g. the FCC.

Golden Gekko has been delivering mHealth services in partnership with specialised businesses in this area for the past 5 years including tools to help people quit smoking, educational apps, health surveys, training of physicians, self-care applications and more with clients including Novartis, Unicef and GSK.

There was an error in this gadget