Published on: June 25, 2009Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
The last few weeks has seen two major smart phone introductions – the new Palm Pre, and new iPhone 3GS, the sales of which have suggested that maybe the recession isn’t quite as bad as we thought…or at least that when it comes to setting priorities, new smart phones tend to be fairly high on the list.
Not surprisingly, there have been tons of stories about these phones and the ways in which they have evolved and will continue to shape and define the ways in which we communicate. Fast Company talked about how they began as a technological marvel and evolved quickly into a social phenomenon, allowing people to engage with each other and with the broader universe in ways that might not have been imagined just a few years ago.
The New York Times put it this way: “The smart phone story is as much about consumer sociology and psychology as it is about chips, bytes and bandwidth. For a growing swath of the population, the social expectation is that one is nearly always connected and reachable almost instantly via e-mail. The smart phone, analysts say, is the instrument of that connectedness — and thus worth the cost, both as a communications tool and as a status symbol.”
So what does that tell us? I think it suggests that while smart phones are far from being the dominant mobile technology at the moment, we’re certainly headed in that direction.
Just in the last few weeks, applications have become available for the iPhone that include the ability to access Whole Foods’ recipe database, and the “Good Guide,” which allows me to identify a wide variety of products as being safe, healthy and/or green. I’ve got Cellfire on my iPhone, which allows me to access online coupons, CardStar which allows me to keep all my frequent shopper card numbers and bar codes on my iPhone, and Kraft’s iFood Assistant, which allows me to download recipes, create shopping lists and even watch cooking videos on my phone. And that doesn’t even include al the other stuff I have on my iPhone – everything from applications that allow me to identify constellations in the sky above me to applications that allow me to buy books and movie tickets and make restaurant reservations and even check out where the closest and cleanest public restrooms happen to be. I can send Twitter messages from the road, see how the Mets are doing, and even read books because it has been synched up with my Kindle.
I’ve even seen and tested technology being used by MorningNewsBeat sponsor MyWebGrocer on the Google Android phone that allows customers to use their smart phone to scan a bar code and see who is selling a specific product within a given radius and what they are selling it for. It is amazing and almost limitless. I do this for a living and it takes my breath away.
Oh, yeah. I also can make phone calls and send email, too. And listen to music and watch movies and TV shows on the built-in iPod.
I tell you all this not because I want to dazzle you with my technological expertise. Far from it – it continually amazes me how long it takes me to figure out each new application compared to my kids, who seem to be able to pick up my iPhone and instantly understand how to make everything work.
(For so many of us, smart phones seem like something out of “Star Trek.” In many ways, they seem far superior and more sophisticated than the supposedly futuristic communicators used by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the original series.)
No, I tell you this because if you are not using a smart phone and are not turning your research and development people loose on the idea of adapting smart phone technology for your business purposes – both B2B and B2C – then you are making a serious mistake.
More and more I find myself wondering why retailers with which I do business do not have an iPhone application that will allow me to research and buy products without having to sit down at a laptop or desktop computer. And that’s me – a fairly unsophisticated guy when it comes to this stuff. Think about my kids and your kids and all the kids out there for whom this is all second nature.
It will be the retailers and manufacturers that embrace this technology, either through their own internal initiatives or by aligning with technology and content providers who can help do the R&D for them, that will be the winners in the long run.
Look at the smart phone sales numbers. Look at the enormous number of applications that have been invented just for the iPhone in just the past couple of years. And then look at recent history and how fast things have changed and then think about how fast things are likely to change in the near future.
We cannot run analog businesses in a high-def digital world. Not and succeed. Not and be relevant. Not and survive.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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