The iPhone accessory you’ve always needed …

What accessory have you always wanted for your iPhone? A bottle opener obviously. You’re probably desperate to know how many bottles of beer you have opened with said accessory? Good news then. The iphone bottle opener comes with an app which can do that. The Intoxicase (what else would you name it?) is an iPhone case with an integrated bottle opener and an accompanying app. To me it seems to be an utterly useless gadget offering a complex solution to a problem that never existed in the first place. But that’s me. I’m not a student. If only they made a cork screw version for wine bottles then I would see the point!

4G. The UK lags behind

Update: The UK operator EE (Everything Everywhere), a partnership between Orange and T-Mobile have announced they will be offering 4g to customers in 16 cities by the end of the year. The UK operator Ofcom allowed the roll-out on their existing 1800 MHZ band ahead of their competitors, particularly O2, who would have to bid for the channel when the government announces their auction. More here:

In the UK we’re still waiting for our 4G. If the network operator data caps are anything to go by, 3G is creaking under the strain. However, in spite of early promises for the Olympics, it looks like the UK roll-out for 4G will take a while. Ofcom, the regulator won’t decide on how the spectrum will be sold until summer 2012. Then there’s the auctions. Then there’s the roll-out itself. When will we actually see 4G in the UK? 2014 would be my guess. In the meantime, the best solution seems to be O2’s one, which is to install WiFi hotspots for their smartphone users.

Other countries are way ahead. The US has tended  to lag behind other developed countries when it comes to mobile, but they’ve had it for over a year. So have Canada, and the obvious advanced mobile countries including S. Korea, Japan and most of Scandinavia. That’s all well and good, but a number of countries who would be considered less advanced in the mobile space are also starting to implement 4G. The include Bangladesh, Cameroon, Peru, Fiji, South Africa, Ghana, Jamaica and Nigeria. As has been predicted, it looks as if some up and coming countries will leap-frog their more mobile-mature counterparts with new, super-fast mobile connections. And when everyone can get high speed internet everything changes.

Classic QR fail from the Highways Agency

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, if you look at the enlarged version of this poster there’s a QR code at the bottom. Did they really think that whilst having a pee, someone would get out their smartphone and scan the code? What if I accidentally aimed the camera down a little bit much? How would I explain that photo to my partner! That aside, using your camera in a men’s toilet would probably get you arrested (I had to make sure the toilet was empty before I took this photo). Well done the Highways Agency, a government organisation. Oh, and the title of the poster? ‘Be Wise’. Something that clearly, they didn’t do when thinking about their QR code.

I’ll make an FOI request to find out how many people scanned the code. If you want to know how to do QR without getting your users arrested, then see my guide to the perfect QR campaign here.

What’s Next for QR? Pizzas apparently!

Another Example of Creative Use of  a QR Code

Here’s the problem. How do ad agencies find good digital creatives these days? German agency Sholtz and Friends decided that pizzas could provide the answer. Working with a pizza deliver company, Croque Master, they came up with the ‘Pizza Digitale’. Whenever someone from a rival agency ordered from the company, they were sent a complimentary pizza with a QR code imprinted in tomato sauce. Scanning the code took the user to Sholtz and Friend’s hiring page. Did it work? Well they got 12 applications out of it and hired two staff. When you consider how much it costs to go via a recruitment agency, that was a good result. It’s certainly not the first time someone has used food to create a QR code, but the company still got a nice bit of PR for the agency.

Of course with QR it’s all about getting the context, engagement and targeting right. Click here to find out how to deliver the perfect QR campaign.

Looking for more creative QR campaigns? This great campaign puts QR on cardboard to raise awareness and money for the homeless. You can find even more campaigns here on Mashable , or some creative QR examples here on Mobile Inc.

Tesco’s Falling Sales: another example of why shops won’t be shops

ImageThe supermarket’s Xmas sales slump is an indication of the massive changes happening in retail. An article in the Guardian explores the reasons behind Tesco’s poor performance: ‘The age of the fortnightly shop is disappearing as more people turn to mobile devices’. I’d previously blogged about how online and mobile are changing the face of retail. It looks like those changes are coming faster than expected.

Tesco’s problem is that consumers now have the tools to fight the supermarkets dominance. They can no longer have it all their own way. We have a situation where consumers are generally both cash and time poor. Necessity is driving us to find the best bargains. They are found online, but increasingly, they are being found on smartphones whilst shoppers are in the supermarkets. Some shops are beginning to get it. ‘Click to collect’, for example, represented 10.4% of all orders at the end of 2011. Whilst a majority of online orders are home deliveries, not everyone wants that. Click to collect offers an immediate solution without the hassle of queuing in the store. Other attractions such as free WiFi to help shoppers find the best deals and more engaging interactions such as virtual mirrors are also supporting the in-store mobile experience. John Lewis has made a point of going for mobile sales, and encourage customers to make price comparisons on their smartphones.

In the end, we will see more diverse shopping behaviours, driven largely by smartphones. Hopefully the biggest benefit will be the end of that dreaded phrase, ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’.

Domino’s Uses Blippar in AR Campaign

The pizza chain, Domino’s is one of the UK’s more forward thinking brands in mobile. Apps, Foursquare check-in offers and iPad apps have all been part of their mobile arsenal. This time, they have made their bus shelter posters ‘Blippable’ to promote their 555 (£5.55) pizza campaign. iPhone owners can user the Blippar App in front of the poster to claim their offer. As with QR, image recognition should be planned for context, engagement and targeting. It will be interesting to see if Domino’s have got it right with this campaign, but full marks to them for getting out there and trying it.

One small step for … open data

Nasa Creates an Open Source Portal for Agencies

The US space agency has been open data for quite a while. Their data and images on The World’s highest mountains allowed EA Games to create snowboard runs on Everest. However, they have now taken their open data even further by providing a portal at It lists open sourced projects and contacts for each. They intend to extend this soon with for tracking, hosting and planning for software they have created.

I previously blogged about how open data could be the solution for creating branded apps. This is another great example of how it could (should) be done.

Weetakid: Augmented Reality Campaign from Kellogg’s

Update: whilst I thought this was a good example of AR, unfortunately the targeting of the campaign itself was pulled as it ‘exploited children’s credulity and vulnerability‘ according to the ASA ruling. The problem was not the AR itself, but rather the call to action. If the child had no box to scan, Weetakid said: “What?! No Weetabix?! Why make things harder for yourself?”.  Is this the first AR campaign to be banned?

Kellogg’s have created a well-executed campaign using their character ‘Weetakid’. It’s a nice game with some of the best AR I’ve seen. It works using image recognition and scanning Weetabix packs from within the game. Available in iPhone and iPad, the app can be downloaded here.


What is The Solution to Solution to Spam SMS?

Spam texts are clearly a problem. Although they represent a much smaller percentage than email spam (around 3% vs 75%), mobile is a much more personal channel. Maybe one solution could come from a preference service? In the UK there is one for voice called the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). It is widely known by consumers and generally works well. It started as a voluntary scheme, but became part of the regulations. Any brand intending to conduct telemarketing in the UK must, by law, screen the numbers against the list.

So why not set up something similar for SMS? The problem is that SMS is different to voice. Where as a telemarketer can phone you without prior permission, text messages are classed as ‘electronic mail’ and require the user to opt-in before a message can be sent. So for a marketer to send you a text, you must have given your permission directly or indirectly through a soft-opt in (through a sale or negotiation of a sale). Not only that, the marketer must also offer a method of opting-out of further messages. It’s therefore pointless for marketers to scan against a preference list, as users will already have opted in.

A preference service won’t stop the spammers either. In the UK a majority of unsolicited messages are for accident claims, debt management or mis-sold loads or personal insurance. The people sending the texts know they are breaking the law, so they use a variety of methods to avoid discovering. One thing is certain though. They are not going to scan their lists against a preference service.

In the end the only way to prevent SMS spam is a combination of better enforcement against those who are breaking the law – so far the regulators haven’t prosecuted anyone – there is much more they can do. Stopping spam also needs to be supported by better filtering at the operator level. This will stop many more messages from reaching handsets in the first place. One way to support this is through a spam reporting button (or address book entry) on every mobile handset. Even though it may be well intended, a mobile preference service is not going to solve the problem. In the end it may simply mislead consumers into believing that registering with it can somehow prevent spam messaging. It won’t.