What I won’t be getting this Christmas, again — An Android!

I have constantly been waiting for a reason to switch from Apple’s iPhone over to the dark-side, and join the Androidosphere, but sadly, Google and it’s minions of hardware providers have still failed to meet my threshold, for this migration. I have constantly advocated strong competition, but whereas in the U.S the case may be different, for Australians, we continue to get shafted by Google and its services, merely because they simply don’t work over here!. So, what constitutes my threshold?

System Updates

Well, for starters, I want a phone that has a guaranteed 12-to-24 month worth of system updates from the convoluted chain of Google->Manufacturer->Telco. With non-Nexus (Google-branded) phones, it is still up in the air, but if you go for the most popular phone, such as the Galaxy III, you stand the best chance. Still, why should you gamble when you have a 24 month contract on a phone, to be stuck with that. Sadly, as we turn to 2013, we still haven’t resolved this, although Google has slightly separated some of their stock apps (Google Maps) away from being bundled in the operating system to being in the Play Store, to allow for separate updates, but this still doesn’t appease me.

But even if you want to buy a stock Nexus phone, it has been sold out for ages (still checking), and from what I have heard, the battery life is abhorrent, and no bloody LTE.


Jelly Bean Features are meaningless

Well, the latest version of Google’s Operating System touts features such as Google Now, which tells you when you leave the house to catch a bus or train etc, but this doesn’t work in Australia. You want a first-class way to manage your music the same way Apple has with iTunes Match, well Google Music is the answer, but only if you live in America. Decide to use Amazon MP3 instead, to handle your music? That isn’t available here either! Google Wallet ? Nope.

In fact, most of the features you want in Google Play, such as to buy (rather than rent) movies and shows isn’t available here, and the limited selection of magazines is also worrisome.

So, let’s see if this time next year, I will find my solace, otherwise it will be another year of Apple for me.


Quick Tip: How to remove the address history from Apple Mail when writing an email

OK, thought i’d share this with you guys. Have you ever had to type an email on your macbook and in the TO: address field, have old or irrelevant contacts come up, as a result of you having emailed that address a while back, and when you start typing a name or address, it predictively shows that one up as well? Then you’d want to remove your Address history…

It turns out its quite a simple fix. All you have to do is go to the Window menu item and then select Previous Recipients.

There you can look for any contacts you don’t want, or better just erase the entire list. That way, it won’t go by history and just look up your address book (unless you do need some people you don’t have on your contact list, to email).

Location-based Social Media: Why business can’t afford to ignore this

Over the last five-to-eight years we have no doubt seen the explosion of social media networks across the globe, but in the last two years, we have certainly also seen another micro-explosion, in mobile social media. It has become a more important medium for consumers, who not only like to check their Facebook feed post tweets on Twitter from their phones, but actively participate in location-based tagging and checking-in, using services like FourSquare and even Facebook with it’s location-based check-ins.

The exponentially increased availability of smartphones, especially lower-end ones that appear in the market, and the greater difficulty in obtaining non-internet capable phones these days, means there has never been a greater scope of consumers who have the capabilities to participate in GeoSocial Interactions.

Location-based sites like FourSquare have certainly seen growth on their side, of very high magnitudes, for the ability to attract customers to their stores, events or specific locations. Whilst Facebook does have the standard check-ins, which allow people to check in at a location, leveraging the high popularity of the Facebook network in notifying their friends and tracking their friends, FourSquare goes the extra step, in allowing companies to create interactive geo-promotions to attract people to their stores.

I have recently worked on a project with a Sydney-based coffee shop, to implement social media strategy, to attract customers to the coffee shop through a combination of Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare campaigns. For FourSquare, we looked at a two-pronged initiative:

For existing customers, and ensuring we maintain loyalty, we looked at rewarding customers who checked-in every ten times, with a 50% off their next coffee. We could have also gone with having the leading check-in-et (the mayor), get an extra 10% off their coffee.

For new customers, and enticing new people to the store, we implemented the initiative of Friends Special, come in with your friends and you all check-in and there will be a table discount of 20%.

There are many different variants of specials and promotions that could be initiated, and managed by the store, even for a particular period of time.

The result of creative and heavy campaigns such as the ones mentioned, allows the place to be a featured or dominant position, whilst allowing the store to be able to directly engage and publish news and alerts to their customers. FourSquare also provide strong metrics for tracking users who check-in and interact with the store:

Total daily check-ins over time

  • Your most recent visitors
  • Your most frequent visitors
  • Gender breakdown of your customers
  • What time of day people check in
  • Portion of your venue’s foursquare check-ins that are broadcast to Twitter and Facebook
  • If you’re a chain with multiple locations, see aggregated stats across all of them.[/box]

Scavenger Hunts

With my client being a bookstore as well as coffee shop, some businesses have employed creative scavenger hunting campaigns, such as checking-in to the store and following clues, posting the results on the FourSquare tips/notes section, and the correct combination would unlock certain prizes, whether it would be books or food/beverage rewards.

Social Swarm

Another type of special that can be employed, would be to invite a mass amount of people to check in at the same time (they don’t need to be friends) and when a certain threshold is reached, for the number of check-ins, within a specific period (such as 2 hours), a special is unlocked. This is what is called a Social Swarm.


So what will happen if businesses don’t look at emerging socio-trends?

People are always on their phones, and especially when you are waiting for your order to arrive, you would sit aimlessly on your phone, searching the web, Facebook and twitter trends. Why not point them your way, give them incentive, and build your brand in the process? People walking on your street would be able to use the explore feature of the FourSquare app to see if any specials exist. If your business doesn’t have any location-based presence, the person might just skip past your store and walk to the next place that has that reward…



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Data-driven publishing: How Hiptype hopes to be the Google Analytics for eBooks

A great article from NextWeb on the future of book-analytics, and how we will be able to better understand book-reader behaviours, and how to iterate books based on a deeper understanding of how books are read and analysed. Also raises the interesting topic of privacy as well as whether advertising and tracking will decrease the prices of books.

If an online business wants to know the behaviour of (potential) customers, there are a plethora of tools out there to help them know. There’s Google Analytics, for starters.

With such tools, they can glean crucial data, such as where customers decide to abandon the check-out process, or which sections receive the most page-views. This information can then be used to make changes – be it a complete website overhaul, or merely a few design tweaks to ease customers through a transaction.

But what about books? With eBooks really starting to thump their print-based counterparts, this offers a real opportunity for publishers to monitor readers’ behaviour. We’re not talking about when they buy a book at an online checkout – we mean as they’re actually reading a book.

This is where Hiptype comes into play, and it hopes to cement its place as the de facto ‘Google Analytics for eBooks’.

Here’s Hiptype

Hiptype was founded in early 2012 by James Levy and Sohail Prasad, before eventually joining as a member of the Y Combinator batch in May. Prior to founding Hiptype, Levy and Prasad were involved in building other data-driven products at young startups such as ChartboostTurntable.fm (see previous coverage) and, erm, Google.

The problem Hiptype is setting out to solve is this: How can publishers and authors delve deep into the DNA of a successful book? Why are books such as Fifty Shades of Grey so popular, and what subtle constructions of said books reallyappeal to readers?

What we’re talking about here is a marketing analytics platform to help publishers, authors and others with a vested interest in the eBook realm, understand who their readers are and how they engage with their books. Audience insights, in other words:

audience insights 520x416 Data driven publishing: How Hiptype hopes to be the Google Analytics for eBooks

“Data is going to completely transform the business of book publishing,” says Levy, who’s the company’s CEO. “It’s a very exciting time to be in the publishing business, where things are getting better for authors, readers, retailers, and the publishers that are able to adapt.”

It is true that eBook sales are trumping print sales in pretty much all trade categories, including novels. And it’s interesting to see analytic tools such as Hiptype come to the fore

How it works

Levy tells us that there are already books live with Hiptype collecting data. And for the record, Hiptype is attached to each book, rather than integrated with an e-reader device or app – it captures demographic information about engagement that’s designed to help authors and publishers make better books.

So, what kind of data could possibly be of use to publishers? “How readers are progressing through a book and where they tend to drop off, that’s one of the things publishers are particularly interested in,” says Levy. “Especially the education publishers we’re working with.”

Chapter-by-chapter, publishers and authors can see how readers engage with a book – how many pages they read in one go, how often they put it down, how long they spend on each page, and so on:

book performane 520x337 Data driven publishing: How Hiptype hopes to be the Google Analytics for eBooks

Hiptype is aiming big, focusing on the big retailers, and making itself available across multiple platform as opposed to focusing on one particular market. “We want to build a data-driven book publishing platform,” says Levy. “We want to make it as easy as possible for authors and publishers to get the insights that they need, to make better books and have more success.”

But wait a minute – won’t readers really hate having all that data collected about them? My instinct says yes – surely we must be able to sit alone in a room and read a book without having information collected about us?

“All the data we collect is totally anonymous, and only shown as an aggregate,” counters Levy. “Publishers aren’t really interested in what individual readers are doing, and we’re not going to show them that kind of data. We’re only going to show a high-level overview, and we also let readers opt-out of the data collection from the book itself.”

So how can you opt out? Well, it will depend on the book, but it seems there will be a section that says something like anonymous usage statistics enabled, which lets readers click for more information and, ultimately, opt out if they wish.

Hiptype is designed to work on all the popular e-reading platforms, such as Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, iBooks, but not Web-based incarnations such as Nook Web.

“We love books,” says Levy. “And we’re excited to revolutionize the industry with data-­driven publishing.”

I’ve a sneaking suspicion we’ll be hearing a lot more about these guys in the future.