Google Glasses and dozens of other brands of Augmented Reality goggles hit the road running for Christmas 2013 and over the next couple of years AR applications went from Wow to business as usual. Today people look at you sideways in many cities if you aren't wearing glasses. But there has been a downside. People can't bear to be without them.
I’ve written a number of times about mCommerce and digital wallets. Now we have loads of companies offering services for electronic payment. These include the Apple Passbook, and many apps using NFC or other means to exchange money. The key thing that joins the hundreds of apps available is that they are legitimately tied to credit cards and banks. As such they provide audit trails and of course tie the world economy together as much as that is possible.
In the future I have postulated that actual paper money will decline and potentially phase out. I could see that happening in New Zealand faster than many other countries. We only have a small number of banks and clearing houses and as such were able to be the first country to mass adopt EFTPOS in the retail environment. Many people no longer carry cash.
However there is of course the grey market and one of the challenges there, is that people who do not want their money transactions audited. There is a global economy like this. People who are paid under the table for their work, people who deal in illegal activities such as drug sales, stolen goods and others. There are also people who just want to opt out of the system or at least flip it the bird. Cash of course can work around the system easily, there is money laundering and people will accept cash for most things as I experienced a few years ago when I watched a guy buying a used Ferrari with folding money he pulled out of his denim jacket pocket.
Much of this money circulates around the system but not through it and this is a challenge if hard cash currency ceased to exist. Or is it.
Yesterday I was on my way to a Microsoft Cloud presentation (which I will blog about on one of my blogs) either SoLoMo Consulting, or Imersia). I was a little early, so I sat in my car and read the latest awesome TNW Magazine on my iPad. Its a great magazine which I recommend you read if this blog is of interest to you, because it is the Money issue. There I learned about Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is “Bitcoin is an experimental new digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is also the name of the open source software which enables the use of this currency.”
Effectively here is no bank, no fees, no audit trail. There are all sorts of businesses, even retailers, who will accept payment in Bitcoins just as businesses accept payment in other forms of money, such as Bartercard Dollars. The difference again of course is that Bartercard still connects to the banks, has an audit trail and the Governments continue to collect their taxes.
Ultimately my question is, will Governments allow this sort of ”experimental currency” to continue? Can they stop it? It appears to already have a massive following. You can buy a coffee with it, you can play poker with it. There are sites where you can buy and sell Bitcoins such as Mt. Gox and there ar others too, although I noted that one of those has dissapeared and I noted a story there that Barclays had stopped allowing people to trade with them.
So what happens if the authorities stop Bitcoin? (assuming Google or someone else don’t buy them, but Bitcoin does seem to have an anti-establishment feel to it, but it could be all about the money). Well there is also Dwolla, LibertyReserve, and a host of other systems. I suspect that as cheap smartphones gain mass adoption in the blue collar world, there will be more interest and demand for ways to continue to do ‘cash deals’ without cash.
Futurists are talking about the Local-Global Duality with shifting borders and changing geopolitical landscapes. The one thing keeping us together as countries, or pulling us apart is money. Financial institutions and Governments are struggling to maintain a status quo that will keep countries running. As countries grow deeper in debt after the GFC people rush to take their money out of the banks for fear of losing it altogether, which in turn intensifies the crisis.
I’m not saying I agree with currencies like Bitcoin. I still want my roads and infrastructure, order and safety in my community. I believe that one way or another money from illegal activity still works its way back in, like the guy I watched buying a car for over $30,000 in folding. I do suspect however that we will see a proliferation in ‘currencies’ like this in the future. I also suspect that the criminal elements in our societies could be the ones with the most to gain from them, but also that there will be many scams which will be developed to trick people in giving up real money for virtual currency which they will never be able to repatriate. Silly really, when they can legally create computer games and sell virtual stuff and pay tax on legally earned activity with much less risk.
Nestle in the UK has come up with a very cool imho marketing campaign. They are putting GPS chips in the wrapping of 6 food bars such as Kit Kats and when they are opened / activated, within 24 hours they vow to track down the chips, send in the commandos to find, and possibly scare the hell out of the people who bought them and give them 10,000 pounds.
This is a very cool use of location based technology that will fire up marketing people and those into location based marketing like me big time. CNET says that this campaign will appeal to men and perhaps they are not usually the target market for chocolate. In this case I suspect sales will go through the roof and while this campaign hasn’t yet gone seriously viral, I’m sure it will. It is also likely to be winning awards as TV cameras from around the world follow the commandos to the lucky people receiving the prizes.
Just as well they are using TVC’s and billboards with NFC and QR Codes to promote this campaign or people will be thinking that a new war has broken out.
Location based marketing is going to play a major role in our lives going forward and those who are in early will reap rewards by standing out from the crowd. This certainly puts a new spin on guerrilla marketing.
I’ve been writing a series of blogs about my recent road trip in the USA and the applications that helped and didn’t help me along the way. The last couple of blogs were about TripAdvisor which was a big help when it came to accommodation, but not great for much else.
I’ve been a big fan of Foursquare for a long time. You’ll find it mentioned in many of my blogs. One of the common threads is that people all over the world are ‘checking-in’ using the GPS on their mobile phones to all sorts of businesses, leaving tips and comments. There are recommendations of favourite food, or great service through to comments about lack of hygiene in the bathrooms.
The really frustrating thing is that the vast majority of businesses that get a mention on Foursquare have no idea what it is, or that they are involved. Foursquare is of course well-known by people in marketing roles, especially those involved in social media. Most of my friends in the information and communication technology industries use it. I’ve written a number of blogs trying to promote it to businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries because it is free and because tourists and travelers are using it. I suspect it mostly falls on deaf ears.
Many of the hotels I stayed at on my trip were on the outskirts of towns and somehow we managed to pretty much always arrive around 5-6PM tired and hungry. Where to find somewhere good to eat? Initially we went for walks or drives, but we really just wanted to relax. I quickly found that Foursquare was the best way to not only find out what was nearby, but also to find what places people recommend, or don’t.
You can search from a range of items based on proximity including Specials, Food, Coffee, Sights, Arts, Trending and more. You don’t just have the option of searching in proximity to where you are, but effectively you can pan the map for the bigger picture, or search by place-name for your next destination.
Using this we found some great restaurants and bars and also managed to confirm the location of an alligator hatchery in Louisiana that the navigation unit placed about a mile wrong in the middle of nowhere, which was pretty disconcerting when we were driving on the wrong side of the road (for us) of some very narrow country roads.
I do have to say that I only found a few specials using Foursquare, which reinforced my experience that hundreds of thousands of businesses are missing out on opportunities to pro-actively win more business.
I also kicked myself after spending 45 minutes waiting for a quesadilla at The Iron Kettle restaurant in Lynchburg, because if I had used Foursquare I would have read a comment left by a previous visitor saying: “Avoid. Slow service. You could walk to New York and get a three course meal in the time it takes for a simple burger here.” They were right too. To her credit, the waitress refused to charge us for our lunch, much to the disgust of the manageress.
That brings me to another very cool feature of Foursquare and that is the ‘History’ function. If you log on to your Foursquare account and select history, you will find a chronological record of every location you checked into including the time, date and any photos or comments you made at the time. I had originally planned to start a travel diary using My Vacation on my iPad. I have to say that lasted about 3 days. We were just so busy doing and planning that we just didn’t feel like keeping a diary. Turns out we didn’t need to. That alone is a great reason to use Foursquare next time you are going on a trip. Check in, take photos, make comments and you have your travel diary.
Pay it forward and leave tips, good and bad about the locations you check in to so that others can benefit from your experience and learn from mine as well, that even if it is right there in front of you and looks OK, check for tips and comments other people have left. As I’ve said in previous blogs about TripAdvisor, if one person leaves a bad comment, take it with a big grain of salt, but when there are several, where there’s smoke, there could well be fire.
I love Foursquare and feel it is perhaps seen by many, such as those who still mock twitter, saying “I don’t care if you had a coffee!” as a waste of time. I say that it is a wonderful marketing tool, a great site and app for exploring new places that you may not otherwise have found and definitely ranks as my favourite global Points of Interest database.
Give it a go, whether you are travelling on holiday or just looking to try a new place to eat, have a coffee or be entertained. If you find it useful, share your own tips and comments, pay it forward.
I also welcome comments on my blog. What do you like or not like about Foursquare. What have I missed? There is of course much more including game mechanics, leaving comments on other people’s check-ins, mayorships, badges, friends and lists and the ability to add new locations on the fly and share them with the rest of the world. There are also many 3rd party apps usng the Foursquare API’s. What are your favourite features?
Have you ever noticed that whatever application people come up with, you are always hungry for the next big thing? Well I am, especially when it comes to mobility and location based applications. I and several of my friends and associates tend to look 5 years into the future on a regular basis and are always looking to innovate with features or technology that either doesn’t exist yet, is still too expensive, or the target market still doesn’t get it. That’s probably where we will always live.
The good thing about that is that as a consequence of our focus, the building blocks for the things we dream about become much more apparent to us when they arrive and we want to share those things with you.
There were 2 standouts for me this week. The first is that Foursquare is launching push at their hackathon which starts tomorrow. You can read more about this on my GeoSmart blog. Basically it means that developers from tomorrow will be able to use an API that sends a push notification for users of their apps. For example a bar could send a notification to you telling you that there are friends of yours in the bar and offer you a deal to come and join them.
The other is in combining Location Based Technology with Game Mechanics, or Gamification. There is a very good 101 presentation about this on Slideshare by Aaron Strout of WCG.
I’ve met with a number of people developing location based games and the game element is a factor that I believe will really pull people in. I have just downloaded TapCity onto my iPhone and iPad after watching a podcast video interview on Untether.tv (one of my favourite location based podcasts) with Dave Bisceglia co founder and CEO of The Tap Lab. I strongly recommend that you watch this video or listen to the audio version if you are interested in location based games or proximity based marketing. These guys have big plans and dreams and I believe they are going to be a huge success. I have to also mention how impressed I was with their response to a couple of questions I had from them.
If you join the game, you will find I have 2 personae, Luigi C and Claes C, mainly because I first set it up on my iPad and then found that it was more suited to my iPhone. Anyway try out the app which you can download in the iTunes Appstore for free, friend me and tell me what you think. I was pretty impressed that for a relative start up, they already have players all over the world, in fact someone already owns my office! I won’t settle for that, but was impressed that it was even there.
The concepts are all very well, but if you want to look at proximity based marketing, location based games etc as part of your marketing plan, the best way is to experience what someone else is doing. As you will learn in the interview or on their website, this is just the beginning for them. They have some very exciting plans. What I don’t know as yet is whether they plan to release API’s or whether all their development is going to be inhouse.
Either way we can learn a lot from these people. I hope they are hugely successful in monetizing their games both for their innovatio and foresight and to show everyone else that this can work. If they can sell virtual items in the same way as Zynga has on Farmville, then imagine what Burgerfuel, Borders, your regional tourism operator, world cup events like rugby organisors could do with real items!