Tag Archives: iphone

Street by street, block by block

Back in the early days of grad school, when questions about the future of online advertising came up, I was bullish about the future of location-based mobile advertising that would by contextually relevant to the content you were viewing and the place you were sitting.

I was wrong about a big piece of how this would work: I envisioned free wireless access blanketing the world, so that you could be sitting on a bench in downtown Santa Cruz with your laptop and find out, while reading a story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s food section, that Lulu Carpenter’s had a deal on day-old pastries right now.

This was pre-iPhone, and the most “super” mobile device I had at hand was a bottom of the line half-sausage sized thing from Verizon.

Now, that next step for local advertisers looking to capture walk-in business from real live human beings in their neighborhood is becoming far more clear.

Foursquare and Gowalla, location-based services you should be well aware of by now, are already getting into this business, opening up the market.

Here’s the “anatomy of a Foursquare special” as broken down by Cory Bergman at Lost Remote:

“Clicking over to the special reveals a useful offer for a free drink with a $20 purchase — if you show that you’ve checked in from the restaurant.”

Keep in mind, a note about a “nearby special” shows up in Foursquare next to the name of the business when you’re casually browsing nearby places, or checking in at the competition across the street.

Over at VentureBeat, a look at iPromote, a company building a mobile ad network to allow local businesses to advertise to anyone who happens to walk by:

“For a minimum of $5 per day, iPromote will serve ads to mobile phones near an advertiser’s place of business. The company serves both display ads, for which clicks aren’t counted, and cost-per-click ads where the advertiser only pays when a user clicks through an ad to their site.”

Sounds like a healthy model.

Of course, there’s a disruptive elephant-sized gorilla in the room named Google.

Push a button on your phone and Google tells you what’s nearby. As in, local businesses, restaurants, etc. How long before they start selling featured listings based on geography? Want to be the featured one-dollar-sign, four-star restaurant within a fixed square mile? That’ll cost ya…

Here’s the short list of location-based mobile apps on my iPhone right now:

  • Foursquare – Mostly using this these days when I’m at a restaurant or otherwise non-routine location. Especially useful when I was in New York City over New Year’s.
  • Gowalla – Trying it out. It’s cuter than Foursquare, but I don’t see how it’s any more or less useful yet.
  • Yelp – I still use Yelp on my phone whenever I’m in a strange city and just want to know where the nearest Thai, Vegetarian, or Burrito  joint can be found.
  • UrbanSpoon – Cute slot machine interface, but nothing special.
  • Brightkite – I used to check in here socially, as I way to declare when I arrived in a new town for a conference. More for social check-ins than local business action, and I haven’t checked it in months.
  • EveryBlock – Might be fun to check the restaurant inspections, Flickr photos, or crime reports here while walking down a block, but I haven’t.
  • Honorable mentions on my phone for Redfin and Zillow — both real estate apps extremely useful when househunting, especially when you just want to know what’s for sale near your current location, while you’re cruising around checking out neighborhoods.

Have any favorite location apps that I’m missing? Are any local news organizations selling their own location-based mobile ads, or just buying into larger networks?

Repackaging the unbundled

Scott Karp (yes, he’s my boss over at the office) is more fascinated than I am about Google’s new FastFlip, but he’s wisely focusing on the fact that it’s an experiment with a new user experience for online news, and not implying that it’s something poised to Save Journalism.

Scott’s latest post on the topic argues that “content doesn’t matter without the package.”

“Newspapers’ inability to generate the same revenue online as in print has nothing to do with content. It’s because on the web they are no longer in the business of packaging content, and that’s what the newspaper business, like every other media business, has always been about. Instead, media companies put their content on the web and let search and other aggregators package it.”

It’s that last part that’s most interesting. I mean, it’s no surprise that the news business in the age of the Web now operates in a world of unbundled media, where the mp3 is currency, and the album is an outdated package. The individual news story, blog post, or tweet is not something we’re willing to pay for as consumers, even though we might occasionally still drop a few quarters in a box for a Sunday New York Times print edition — a packaged product that includes a bunch of individual items and products that we’re interested in. (For me, it’s just about the crossword, and it’s been multiple years since I last purchased said paper for said purpose.)

But.  How do we consume all those broken up pieces of content, news, information, and commentary online?

Maybe we use Google Reader. (A package of RSS feeds we’ve selected.)

Or Twitter. (A package of microblogging feeds we’ve selected.)

Once upon a time, people paid for software like RSS readers. (NetNewsWire in its heyday.)

Today, some people pay for Twitter clients like Tweetie, and many, many more pay for iPhone apps that package individual bits and streams of information into a pleasant interface that minimizes both button-pushing and waiting, two things of limited desirability when a human being is mobile.

The iPhone app package is so useful and valuable to us as consumers, that we’re even willing to pay for niche content like a Miami Dolphins app from a news organization.

Questions:

  • What other repackaged interfaces for unbundled media will consumers be willing to pay for?
  • How do you consume news and information? Do you navigate from site to site, or do you operate a packaged interface?
  • Which companies, organizations, and individuals are winning at repackaging unbundled media?

5 important things that happened in the last 10 days

In no particular order, with little commentary, and limited accuracy on that whole “10 days” concept: