Digital Footprint: Pocket and other read it later functionality

If you are reading this, you’re probably in a similar situation to me, trying to absorb as much content as possible, in a world of information overload.

Some years ago, this meant for me keeping up with a broad array of print publications topped up with online sourcers.  As we moved towards an increasingly globalised and less centralised world, relying on content on the local newsstands and booksellers shelves proved increasingly not enough.

We all find ourselves scouring the world for titbits of information that shed new light on the world we live in. The PC has provided us with a great means of accessing this information but unfortunately it doesn’t provide a cure-all when it comes to  consuming it. Laptops are more portable than ever but there are still plenty of situations where they aren’t appropriate or accessible.

This is where read it later services like Pocket and Instapaper come in handy, allowing users to push content (articles, blog posts etc) to a range of devices including tablets and smartphones for offline consumption. Similar native functionality is provided for Apple users as long as they stay loyal to Apple across their different devices via Reading List (I am an Android and OSX user making it a no go).

When I first started using Instapaper back in 2009, the service revolutionised my media consumption, freeing me from my desktop or the need to have hard copies of the relevant. When you find content you like online, you simply click on the browser extension and it’s pushed to the relevant device.

In the case of Pocket, you are also seeing integration with content sources and aggregators like Twitter, Flipboard, PulseZite and Feedly making it easier to move content from one platform across to your read it later collection.

The only problem now is keeping up with the ever growing list of content in my reading list…not that I’m complaining (too much).

The featured image comes from French artist GoddoG

Thought starters: content that has got me thinking 9

The following provides a roundup of some of the articles, thought pieces and content which have got me thinking recently.

Organisational intranets are too often where content goes to die. SmallWorlders look at how to get colleagues interacting more with their organisational intranets.

The Atlantic looks at the difficulties in choosing metrics that give a true representation of website traffic – no one measure is going to provide a cure-all.

Russell Holly gives his verdict on Google Glass – good but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

The rapid growth of the mobile based social network Secret (currently iOS only) has seen a growing interest in user anonymity online. Wired and PandoDaily profile Secret and the the anonymous trend (and Secret’s pseudo anonymity) whilst Chris Poole and Sam Altman give arguments for and against anonymity.

Secret

Wired profiles Amazon’s Flow mobile app which uses image recognition to reduces the hurdle to purchase for mobile users.

The New Yorker takes an extended look at Amazon’s effects on the book industry for consumers and for the publishing sector.

Maserati’s Superbowl television advertisement didn’t exactly send a stampede of customers in the direction of their local Maserati dealerships. Advertising Age has done an interesting analysis on what else Maserati could otherwise have bought with their media budget.

Bitcoin payment solutions are looking less and less like science fiction, so it’s valuable to hear from an ecommerce retailer about their experiences in using the alternative currency.

McKinsey reviews the growth in mass customisation which has been given a boost by various technological innovations and is allowing companies to better engage with their audiences.

Europe’s stalled economic performance has prompted a lot of hand wringing, with the region often criticised for its lack of innovation. INSEAD’s Bruce Lanvin puts this idea under the microscope and provides a rather different conclusion.

Featured image comes from French artist Nelio.

 

THOUGHT STARTERS: CONTENT THAT HAS GOT ME THINKING 8

The following provides a roundup of some of the articles, thought pieces and content which have got me thinking recently.

The startup sector continues to get a lot of attention in the news media, positioning itself as an engine of innovation. A contrary view is given by Mariana Mazzucato in The Economist who points to mid and larger sized enterprises as being stronger drivers. Am not sure this gives a full reading of the situation, but its an important reminder that innovation isn’t monopolised by any one part of society.

Jana Mobile  point to various developing markets as evidence that Windows Phone has a potentially viable opportunity  as a third smartphone operating system. Beyond Devices takes a much more bearish view, pointing to the growing stranglehold that Android and iOS have over the smartphone market.

The challenge for new mobile operating systems

Zal Bilimoria suggests in re/code that we may be moving towards a post tablet world as consumers look to consolidate around PCs and phablets.  Too early to tell, but an interesting hypothesis.

It has been interesting watching the changing tone of conversation around Chromebooks as better hardware and improved web services make the platform ‘good enough’ for an increasingly large population of users. Cases in point are David Gewirtz’s recommendation for civilians and Andrew Cunningham’s more luke warm review for users with greater  technical requirements. TechWorld points out that Chromebook remains an outlier in the enterprise sector, but it is beginning to emerge as a realistic alternative for some.

WeAreSocial have released a valuable presentation looking at some of the key social and mobile metrics from Europe that goes well beyond  the EU5.

The appointment of Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s CEO and the emergence of Bill Gates from behind the curtains has prompted a lot of commentary on the company’s current fate. Tech.pinions is among the more positive commentators but a gloomier view is head by John Gruber (never a Microsoft fan at the best of times). It’s also worth reading Ben Thompson’s commentary on the reemergence of Bill Gates at Microsoft.

The media sector has taken a bit of beating lately with many organisations hit by declining print advertising and sales with online revenues failing to fill the gap. Marc Andreessen sees a rosier picture with plenty of opportunities with new business models emerging.

McDonald’s has taken a lot of flak over the years over the quality of its food. Given potential consumer misgivings, so it’s interesting to see McDonald’s adopt a more  transparent attitude towards the products it sells…definitely not something to file under food porn. More information over at AdWeek.

If you are in London this weekend and prepared to brave the gale force winds, Phlegm’s show at the Howard Griffin Gallery is well worth a look. The featured image at the top of the page comes from Marcus Peel’s photography of the show which can be found on Phlegm’s blog.

 

Trends to Watch: Bitcoin reducing hurdles

I was asked to have a look at some of the trends that I feel are likely to have a considerable impact on the consumer landscape. This is the third in the series, after pieces on mobile enhanced retail and quantified health.

There has been a lot of debate in the business press about the opportunity Bitcoin presents to investors. Whilst the future value of Bitcoin is a point of considerable debate, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are likely to have considerable impact on how consumers buy and transfer funds in the future.

Traditional online and foreign exchange payment systems take significant fees for the purchase of goods and conversion of currencies, with typically higher fees in the developing world.

Using Bitcoin provides the opportunity to avoid these gatekeepers (and some of their protections), lowering the fees encountered by consumers and businesses. For consumers, this has the potential to ease payments abroad, reduce prices and enable the purchase of new goods and services via micropayments.  It’s in the growth of micropayments that we are likely to see the most significant change for consumers, as businesses are able to fund services that were previously uneconomic (eg payment for access by article rather than for the whole publication for online media).

Kipochi: Getting money back to loved ones

Kenyan based Kipochi provides a mobile app enabling consumers to send funds internationally. This provides an important innovation for remittance payments given the 10% charge that Western Union and other money transfer agencies typically charge.

Kipochi

BitWall: Making it easier to support publishers

BitWall gives web publishers the opportunity to charge visitors to their online content via a small one off Bitcoin payment, subscription, via tweeting or watching an advert. Bitwall system integrates with the Coinbase digital wallet system enabling conversion between Bitcoin and US$.

BitWall

Fancy: Fancy that?

Ecommerce website and social network Fancy now provides consumers with the opportunity to pay by Bitcoin. Similarly, ecommerce operators using Shopify are now Bitcoin enabled via integration with BitPay.

Fancy Bitcoin

BitTag: How much is that?

One of the problems retailers face in introducing Bitcoin payments is the fluctuating value of the cryptocurrency. This can be more readily managed for ecommerce but provides a bit more of a challenge for bits and mortar retail. BitTag have looked to overcome this by introducing digital price tags which give real-time pricing of goods in Bitcoin.

BitTag
BitTag

Trends to Watch: Quantified Health

I was asked to have a look at some of the trends that I feel are likely to have a considerable impact on the consumer landscape. This is the second in the series, after an earlier piece on mobile enabled shopping.

Quantified Health

We have seen strong growth in the use of fitness trackers such as Runkeeper and Strava and of wearable devices such as Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone Up and Fitbit since the launch of Nike+ in 2006. This field has gained a further boost with reports that Apple is building an application codenamed Healthbook which will see it more actively taking a role in this space. But it’s the adoption of tracking and monitoring devices in the more traditional health field that we are likely to have a more discernible impact on individuals’ lives. Devices are becoming increasingly available that enable consumers to track their own vital signs and share these with medical professionals. This sharing of information will be a key factor in facilitating remote and virtual care, particularly as tools and trackers become designed with a consumer audience in mind.  This will enable developed countries to better cope with the growing burden of an ageing population without having to resort to inpatient care.  

YoFi Meter: Helping diabetics manage their own care

Diabetes is a growing problem, with sufferers expected to increase from 366 million to 552 million globally by 2030.  The YoFi Meter looks to help patients better manage their glucose levels with an integrated tester and reader and integrated 3G connection allowing interested family and medical professionals to stay informed.

YoFi Meter

imedipac: Ensuring consumers get the treatment they need

Getting patrients to follow their treatment programme is not always easy, particularly when dealing with older patients who are multi-medicated. The imedipac looks to make this process easier in what is described as a ‘connect pill box.’ The device provides users with measured doses and treatment reminders, aiding patients with mental, sensory or mobility difficulties and with the ability to share treatment information with relevant health professionals.

imedipac

Reebok Checklight: Keeping your head in order

Concussion is receiving  more attention as consumers become more aware of the long term damage associated with it. Reebok has developed a skullcap with an embedded sensor that determines the impact a head receives, with warnings when a player has receives a moderate or severe hit and also measures the cumulative number of impacts. This enables players and coaches to make more rational decisions when players should be on and off the field/boxing ring.

Reebok Checklight

Trends to Watch: Mobile enabled shopping

I was asked to have a look at some of the trends that I feel are likely to have a considerable impact on the consumer landscape. This is the first in the series, drawing on my earlier presentation on mobile retail.

Mobile enabled shopping

The growth of smartphones has provided ecommerce operators with the opportunity to encroach on the space of bricks and mortar retailers with apps like Amazon’s Price Check providing a presence in physical stores as well as at consumers’ desktop. In the words of Street Fight, we’re moving towards the following environment:

“Discover anywhere, transact anywhere, and fulfil anywhere.”

But smartphones are also enabling bricks and mortar retailers to provide a more enriched instore experience for consumers. We saw the beginnings of this with the introduction of QR codes, enabling consumers to access product information, reviews and comparisons from their handset and expanding the selection of products beyond what is physically available instore.

The introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons has made the process of bringing information to the attention of consumers a whole lot easier, with information and alerts triggered by consumers’ location within the store after downloading the relevant app.

Smartphones are also offering to enrich loyalty and discounting campaigns, making the process of rewarding more tangible and providing offers to consumers that they can more readily take up.

Whilst we’re still to see the arrival of the much-touted mobile wallet, we have seen retailers begin to integrate payments into their own mobile apps, providing an additional means of purchase, which can prove particularly valuable for regular customers.

These initiatives provide retailers with a rich seam of data with which to better understand their audience and the opportunity to provide a more personalised response to consumers when combined with an effective data management strategy.

Macy’s & Shopkick: Making consumers feel welcome

Macy’s has partnered with Shopkick in the deployment of shopBeacon (BLE) transmitters. Consumers who have downloaded the Shopkick app will be welcomed by the app when entering participating branches and then shown location-specific deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards, without having to open the app.

Cartwheel by Target: Bringing discounting into the 21st Century

Target offers consumers the ability to browse for discounts online, add the offers to the Cartwheel mobile app (and share with friends via Facebook) and then redeem the offers at the checkout. Target must be doing something right as it came at as the most browsed retailer on mobile in the US.

Cartwheel by TargetKFC Fasttrack: Getting what you want asap

 KFC is piloting the Fasttrack app in the UK, enables consumers to place an order and get priority service when they arrive and check in at the participating branch. The app makes it easier to order by remembering favourite items and payment details.  For the participating branches, this has meant cutting down waiting and ordering time by 60-70%, sounds like a win-win situation.

KFC FastTrack