Industrious entrepreneurs are developing fun, ingenious, and supremely useful mobile applications. Here are three ideas from the author's wish list.
I'm inspired by some of the brilliant mobile applications, technologies, and brand marketing I see launching every day. Fun, ingenious, and supremely useful ideas brought to life by industrious entrepreneurs, who are breaking rules, making new ones, and resetting expectations for what can be done with mobile devices and the consumers who love to use them.
There are also things in the mobile industry that I'd like to see die fast, such as one-off advertising buys, $10,000 test budgets, and mobile apps with the sole objective of driving brand awareness (according to the sheepish media planner).
Despite the remarkable progress, I'll always want a few things more when it comes to mobile applications and functionality, and here's my current wish list.
An Exact Location Taxi Tool
I regularly rent a car when I travel because, as a control freak, I prefer to navigate strange cities without having to deal with taxi arrangement shenanigans. Drivers that don't know directions to locations and 30 minute waits at remote office parks while your plane is boarding, are a just a couple of the usual frustrations.
There are some clever apps out there that use GPS to locate the taxi company nearest to where you're located, but most of them just provide a click-to-call function and call it a day. I want to be able to indicate my current location and have the cab come there. I don't always have the address and other details about the building handy, but my device knows enough about my whereabouts to generate the relevant coordinates. And how about being able to schedule a cab from my device for 30 minutes in the future, while I'm in the meeting, so it's there when I'm ready to leave. It could even have a +5 or +10 minute feature to let the cab know your exit status.
Remote Cable DVR Functionality
Sure, DVRs are wreaking havoc for networks with ad skipping and commercial ratings, but what would we do without them? I haven't sat down to watch a live show since the Clinton administration.
I want to set my DVR, replay shows, send a recorded show to another DVR in my household, post clips on social media, and send to friends. I know DirecTV offers an iPhone app to set your DVR, but this is for cable and all the other manipulations of the content.
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Shazam-Style Recognition for Movies
Shazam Entertainment's music recognition app is one of the most useful and ingenious inventions in mobile. Just hold your iPhone in the air so the app can recognize the music through the external microphone, and it searches its vast database to tell you the name, album, genre, and label of the song. It even links to lyrics and tags the location where you made the inquiry. It connects to iTunes, YouTube, Twitter, and other resources.
But that same "gotta know what that is!" craving is not limited to music. Watching a movie on TV inevitably prompts the same curiosities, and the listings on the cable guide (usually year, a couple of marquee actor names, and the director if you're lucky) are no help.
Shazam for movies would use the embedded camera and microphone to recognize actors and then connect you to a database of other clips, background information, and trivia. It could connect you with other content by the same director (interviews, trailers, etc.) and make suggestions for other titles that you'd like. Then it could connect to my DVR so I could record it...OK, too much?
Well, I used up this month's mobile column on a pre-holiday wish list for apps. That was pretty selfish, but really my message is about solutions. Because mobile can provide sight, sound, motion, interaction, computing power, location awareness, and so many other benefits, there are great opportunities for entrepreneurs and brands alike to address all kinds of life's problems, to provide solutions to frustrations, and to satisfy great curiosities. These experiences can be highly satisfying to brand customers, can secure their loyalty, and can grow their productivity with the brand. Every brand should be thinking about what role innovative interactions, such as these, have in their communication, channel, and media plans.
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Eric Bader is a partner in BrandInHand, a full-service mobile marketing and media company that serves global brand marketers, partners with agencies, and assists emerging media companies. BrandInHand's clients span the consumer goods, financial services, technology, and retail industries.
Prior to forming BrandInHand, Bader served as managing director of digital at MediaVest Worldwide. A new media veteran, he was formerly the head of online enterprises at CSTV Networks (now CBSSports) and, prior to that, executive director of interactive marketing at Ogilvy.
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