Published on: June 6, 2012by Kate McMahon
Looking to connect with today’s consumers? It’s not enough to think outside the box, but rather inside the palm of their hand. Reams of research and a plethora of innovative apps all point to the power of the mobile device.
It’s not just the Generation Y-ers that literally go to sleep and wake up to their smart phone. I am the 50-plus mother of two such Gen Y daughters, and used to scoff at their “crackberry” (now iPhone) habits while waiting to finally upgrade my clunky flip phone. Now even I have gone “smart” mobile, and am about to finally get an iPad.
I’m not alone. As reported on MNB last week, the market research company NPD Group found that mobile phone applications are quickly becoming the go-to source for countless daily tasks, including finding grocery deals, hunting down recipes and connecting with favorite food brands.
To add even more perspective, consider these numbers. There were about 1,000 iPhone apps available in 2001. Today there are a half-million just in the iTunes store. Here’s just a sampling of new and inventive approaches to engaging consumers through social and mobile media that have recently come across the transom:
• Folks in Houston can literally “wake up with” local TV station KTRK , via an iPhone alarm clock app. In addition to serving as an alarm clock, the free “ABC 13 Houston Alarm Clock” app features local weather, news, traffic reports and the voices of the KTRK morning news team. The ABC Owned Television Stations Group plans to roll our customized apps in all eight of its markets by mid-June, noting that “growing numbers turn to the small screens of an iPhone or an iPod touch first thing in the morning.”
• Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (“A Visit from the Goon Squad”) recently debuted a new science fiction story in The New Yorker - one tweet at a time. (Yes, even the estimable New Yorker has a Twitter fiction handle, @NYerFiction.) In a first, the magazine posted 140-character tweets of Egan’s story “Black Box” for 10 nights – one tweet every minute between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., followed by a summary. You can read the 8,500-word story in print in this week’s New Yorker.
• In another example of the publishing industry turning to social media, you can peruse exclusive excerpts from more than 30 much-anticipated Fall 2012 book titles featured at the recent BookExpo American convention. Simply download the free Kindle edition of BEA Buzz Books from Amazon.com.
• On the dining front, PayDragon is a speedy new food finding/payment app with the logo “Swoop In. Swoop Out.” It helps users find local restaurants (even those with special deals such as “drink with purchase”), place an order, pay and store a digital receipt before you even arrive at the eatery or take-out establishment. While only available in limited locales in LA and Austin, the app is due to expand to New York and other cities soon.
• And here’s my favorite – an app that sends mobile alerts when you are running low on or are completely out of milk. A Toronto-based firm has developed a specialized milk jug with a weight sensor and mobile Android app called “Do We Have Milk” that pushes notifications to your phone when your daily supply is running on empty. (The jug is particularly handy in Canada, where milk is often distributed in bags). Even better, the app shows you the closest location to purchase milk.
While I certainly will avail myself of all these apps when available, I sure wish the milk app was around when my family was younger, drinking gallons of milk and communicating by hollering, “Hey, Mom, we’re out of milk.” Today, they would text just me.
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