Games

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January 22, 2015

The SMS Modification Craze

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Remember flying in the 80s? Long haul flights seemed to take days. There was only one movie and three screens in the entire cabin, so if you were wheezing a bit too much at Shanghai Surprise for the fifth time, everyone knew about it. To hear the audio you had to shell out $4 for those stethoscopic ‘headsets’ that were barely-glorified tin-cans-on-strings (no really, kids – they were nothing more than hollow tubes that plugged into two tiny speakers in the armrest). You could smoke.  

The funny thing was, nobody complained. It was as if flying through the air incredibly and winding up thousands of miles away in a few hours was enough for people. They didn’t need anything else. 

Like aviation in the 80s, SMS in the 90s was a primitive affair by today’s standards – if by ‘primitive’ you mean ‘the sudden ability to instantly transmit the written word to people around the world.’ 

For much of the 90s and 00s, text messaging was impressive enough to flourish without extra bells and whistles. Rapid advances in technology allied with free market forces soon put paid to that. These days, the new normal is modified, souped up, pimped out text messages adorned with fancy new skins and non-QWERTY keyboards capable of sending anything from emojis to rap lyrics.  

It should be noted at this point that SMS is SMS; the protocol hasn’t changed a jot in twenty years, only the window dressing. In many cases, ‘SMS modification’ really means ‘SMS replacement’ in the form of messaging apps. The appeal of these apps lies largely in their ability to provide users with a bespoke messaging experience.

Among the most popular of these is Chomp SMS, an easy-to-use, customizable app that lets users create their own themes and download custom font packs as they tire of their current look. 

GoSMS Pro is a similar idea but with a much bigger palette from which to work. It allows users to completely overhaul their visuals with new icons, fonts, animations, backgrounds and text bubbles. It also comes with a raft of non-visual features, including a private storage space for storing locked conversations and a text message backup service. 

Not all messaging apps are designed for purely aesthetic reasons. Some, like TextSecure, prevent screenshots of messages being taken and uses end-to-end encryption, thwarting prying eyes (whether criminal or federal!). 

The trouble with these apps is that both parties have to be using them in order to reap the full benefits. Unlike standard SMS messaging, which everyone in the world with a phone has access to, the playing field is not level. For instance, Strings - the app that lets you recall text messages you regret sending - is of no use unless both parties are running the app; two people agreeing to send messages with the app is a tacit acknowledgement that there is a lack of trust in the relationship. This will be the major stumbling block for Strings (and others) as they try to grow.

Our favorite SMS messaging apps are those with objectives no loftier than bringing a smile to the face. There are a plethora of text messaging apps designed to add some levity to your conversations with friends and family. Here are some of the very best:

Crumbles. Sends messages in the form of cut-ups from famous movies, one word at a time. You type the message, hit send and the recipient sees an array of great characters - from Doc Brown to Darth Vader - deliver each word. Hard to describe, but loads of fun once you try it.

PopKey. Leverages the power of Apple’s GIF-supporting Messages app to send any number of GIFS from a huge library of possibilities. Also enormous fun!

RapKey. Far and away our favorite messaging app right now, RapKey sends hip hop lyrics instead of boring prose. With a cool, 8-bit influenced retro interface, it works by giving you a series of categories to choose from - talking to your spouse, griping about money etc - and a list of couplets to scroll through. Find the most appropriate rhymes for your situation and make text messaging more fun!

 

 

 

December 24, 2014

Stocking-Sized Gadgets for Less Than $200

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There’s nothing better than finding an unexpected electronic item in your Christmas stocking. You had no idea you’d been so good this year. If you still haven’t sent your wish list to the North Pole, cast your eye over these little beauties. They’re smart, they’re affordable, and they won’t test the seams of a small stocking:

 

AAXA P2 Jr. Pico Projector ($198)

This pocket-sized projector hasn’t sacrificed a thing in the name of portability or affordability. Simply plug in a USB or microSD card with the content you want to project and the 55-lumen light output will deliver compelling, vibrant 720p videos to your wall. Battery life is around 90 minutes, and it’s compatible with all major brands of smartphone and popular file formats.

 

Cogito Classic Smartwatch ($180)

The Cogito Classic connects via bluetoth to both Android and Apple devices. It brings notifications – whether email, social media, text or phone call - straight to your wrist. But what’s even better is the Cogito’s ability to control your music, trigger your camera and find your phone. For anyone who carries their phone in a bag or hard-to-reach pocket, it’s the perfect quick-glance solution. Unlike many smartwatches, this doesn’t require a daily recharge - the batteries last for months. And it tells the time.

Orbotix Sphero 2.0 Smart Ball ($130)

The Sphero is a plastic ball full of electronics and sensors. Using a smartphone or tablet, you can make the ball spin, swim, dance, chase the cat – anything fun-sounding that you would ordinarily have to physically move the ball to achieve. It comes with a couple of jump ramps which are pretty thrilling to hit at top speed.

NuForce Mobile Music Pump ($60)

The amp in your smartphone isn’t powerful enough to support the highest quality headphones available. For audiophiles, this portable headphone amplifier is the perfect solution. The size of a matchbox, NuForce’s Mobile Music Pump gives you clarity and increased volume, whilst limiting distortion and noise.

There you have it. The best in cute, affordable, stocking-sized gadgets for the last minute Christmas shopper. So what are you waiting for? It’s Christmas Eve! Get out there and find some of these bits of kit! And Happy Holidays!

November 12, 2014

Generations and Their Gadgets

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It’s true: each generation has their own “gadgets,” and today’s young generations prefer laptops to desktops and smartphones to “regular, old” cell phones. A Pew Internet Study conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010 found many devices are popular across the generations, with young people paving the way for increased mobility. 

In the study, only 11% of people surveyed did not own a cell phone, desktop computer, laptop computer, or other devices inquired about. Cell phones are the most popular device among adult Americans, especially those under age 65. Desktop computers are favored by adults ages 35 to 65, while the millennial generation is the only one more likely to own a laptop or a notebook than their stationary predecessors.

Over half of adults own an mp3 player such as an iPod, and this device is again most popular among millennials. E-book readers aren’t widely used by older adults, and while tablets, such as the iPad, are most widely used among Americans 65 and older, only 4% of adults total own the device. Game consoles remain a “younger person” device, and highly used among those ages 18 to 45.

In addition to owning more of the devices discussed in the survey than their elder counterparts, millennials are more likely to use them for a wider range of reasons. Cell phones were originally used for talking and texting, but Millennials rely on them for email, internet, music, videos and games. And that’s besides their original uses!

Gen X and Millennials are comparable in their ownership of certain devices, such as game consoles, but Xers are still more likely to own desktops.

Each generation may carry cell phones, however the survey’s largest drop-off was still the older generation with 48% ownership. This is compared to 95% of Millennials and 92% of Gen-Xers. When study participants were pressed further about cell phone ownership, 33% who did not own a cell phone resided with someone who did. This means that overall, 90% of all adults—including 62% of those age 75 and older—live in a household with at least one working cell phone. And as this number increases, the likelihood of landline phone connections decreases.

Every generation’s gadgets always seem to outdo previous incarnations, with today’s devices offering a (virtual) world of options right at the fingertips. The only question is, what grandiose feature(s) and usage options will the next generation’s devices include?

 

 

 

October 28, 2014

Send a Spooky SMS for Halloween

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As the Halloween marketing machine moves into fifth gear, the usual glut of ghostly products and services have hit consumers like a ton of pumpkins. This year, everyone’s talking about paranormal text messages.

SMS is the perfect medium for mediums. But while this very modern iteration of the spine-chilling prank is new, it has its roots in much older technology. Spooky calls from the dead have been cited as proof of an afterlife since the advent of the telephone.

The first phantom caller was reported in 1886, a mere decade after Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. In 1915, an S.O.S. was apparently received by a Norwegian ship. The troubled vessel? It was, the story goes, the Titanic – which famously sank three years earlier. The incident was the first ghostly Morse code – but it was far from the last. 

In the 80s, fax machines got in on the act, with supernatural warnings blipping and honking their way into offices and homes – usually around this time of year. Everyone with an email account has received some kind of ‘pass this on or terrible deed x will befall you and your family’ message. No doubt there have been tweets purporting to be from the Other Side. Wherever there’s a new technology, the dead are using it to reach out to their loved ones.

Whether or not you believe these fanciful tales, sending a spooky text message around Halloween is tremendous fun. If you’re looking for ideas, there are plenty of scary suggestions online. Many of them suggest that the long-dead are remarkably tuned in to youth slang. Even better, with this app you can send screams along with your message to heighten the atmosphere of dread.

If creeping your friends out isn’t really your scene, but you still want to get into the Halloween spirit, there is a veritable encyclopedia of poems and epitaphs out there, all relating in some way to the scary season. For a classier Halloween text message, throw out some lines from Shakespeare’s doom-laden Macbeth – ‘The Witches Spell’ is the obvious choice here. Or there’s John Donne’s 17th Century classic, ‘The Apparition’ – perfect for summoning that Halloween spirit. For Scots, what better than the Robert Burns epic, simply titled ‘Halloween’?

September 16, 2014

Touchpoint Device Incentivizes Brick and Mortar Customer Tap Ins

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Getting push notifications in front of customers is one of the primary concerns of the modern mobile marketing campaign, but it’s important to remember that sending your message to smartphone screens is a highly personal – invasive, even – activity. That’s why any mobile marketing campaign must be conducted with care and sensitivity.

Enter Tapcentive. The San Francisco-based firm recently launched an automated platform that allows customers to earn coupons, points and other rewards by tapping their phone to a $35 ‘Touchpoint’ device. The small device contains a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon and a near field communications radio (NFC), both of which detect the tap of a customers phone. Android phones already carry NFC chips, and Apple is expected to follow suit with its latest iteration of the iPhone. Here’s how it works: 

  • A customer taps the Touchpoint device when they enter a retail store
  • The store’s app launches automatically or, if the customer does not have the app, can be downloaded via the Touchpoint platform (along with an instant reward)
  • A mobile marketing communication channel is now opened between customer and brand – all instigated by the consumer

This last point is crucial. The thinking behind Tapcentive is that greater engagement with the opt-in process translates to greater long-term engagement with the brand. It’s a cocktail of pull notifications, push notifications and straight up incentives. 

And, according to the brains behind the innovation, there’s a lot more to come. Tapcentive plans to add more features capable of reaching the customer via social media, website, email and text messaging.

The notifications themselves are also breaking new ground, representing part of the ‘gamification’ of mobile marketing. For example, a store might set up a game in which the customer wins a coupon for going around the store and tapping Touchpoints in four different departments. Another game might reward every 25th customer who taps a Touchpoint, or register them in a sweepstakes.

It’s all centrally managed via a web portal which plans the types of content available at each Touchpoint, and the triggers by which the platform will start communication with customers. There’s also the standard built-in analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of each mobile marketing campaign. If you’re interested in mobile marketing innovations, keep an eye out for the telltale Tapcentive Touchpoints in stores near you!

May 27, 2014

Brazilian Teen Sets Text Messaging Speed Record

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A 16-year-old Brazilian, Marcel Fernandes Filho, has just set the Guinness World Record for the fastest texting with a touchscreen smartphone. He won this “honor” on April 25, 2014 in New York City. 

The touchscreen-keyboard startup Fleksy sponsored the teen's trip to New York. It was on Fernandes' Fleksy, which he has been using since 2012, that he broke the record with his texting prowess.

Record-Determining Text Message a Real Challenge

As NBC News has put it, the world record-setting text “was no 'hi how r u' message, either.” Rather, Guinness required contestants to boldly text what no smartphone user has probably ever texted before: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." Whew! That sentence is 25 words long.

Those who turn their noses up at the art of texting should note that Fernandes' capitalization and spelling were perfect, as Guinness actually required them to be. The teen typed out that bear of a sentence in just 18.19 seconds, a mere quarter of a second faster than a 15-year old's January record, which was set at Microsoft's offices using one of its own smartphones.

Fernandes says he's been a longtime fan of Guinness World Records and has searched out obscure world record facts online ever since he was a child.

World Record-Setting Teen Studious, Not Addicted to Texting

The teen has also tried to set another “record” straight, explaining that he doesn't spend all day on his phone, regardless of stereotypes about “young people today.” In fact, as a physics student at southern Brazil's Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Fernandes says he's much too busy studying to get addicted to texting.

How did Fernandes find the time to become so good at texting, then? The young man confesses that back in 2009 he got so frustrated with how slow his laptop was that he took a hammer to it and smashed it.  He immediately realized he had no money to buy a new computer and was forced to use his iPhone 3G for everything from that point forward. As a result, he also had no choice but to become great at mobile phone typing. Little did he know that he'd someday be crowned the world champion.

Texting Champ's Story a Sign of the Times?

Predictably, the texting championship has spurred online debate about whether text messaging has eroded every old fashioned value imaginable, from good penmanship to the art of the phone conversation. Some commenters on CNN's website have expressed dismay over the teen's admission to having lost his temper with his computer, implying that the behavior is an example of what happens to an impatient, technology-addicted generation – regardless of Fernandes's claims to the contrary. Others have pointed out, however, that Fernandes was merely thirteen years old when it happened; and to look at this story in a positive light, he is clearly a resourceful young man.

Besides, other comments have said, technology is always changing, and that's a sign of progress. After all, if Fernandes had been the world champion of, say, stenography, would people be shaking their heads and mumbling about “kids these days?” As one commenter said to another, “How in the world is this bad? Is the future also lost because of the people who can type 130 WPM on a keyboard? The future isn't lost, you are.”

May 17, 2014

Game-ify your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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The drive to play and compete is a part of human nature. People crave the thrilling adrenalin rush that comes along with trying to beat an opponent. The popularity of gaming apps like Angry Birds is a testament to just how universal that craving is. Consumers spend an average of two hours every day on apps, including games. Successful mobile marketing campaigns today are capitalizing on the universal appeal and power of gaming as a great way to boost customer interaction and thus drive sales.

Engaged Consumers Make More Purchases

In mobile markeint, gameification means creating messages that employ elements of fun and play to entertain members or customers. When consumers are entertained, they become a “fan” of the brand and thus more likely to make a purchase. Fun can blur the line between entertainment and marketing, making the engagement experience more compelling for consumers as they aim to defeat opponents or surpass challenging obstacles. The rush of pride and accomplishment that comes from play can directly affect mood and general brand perception.

The success of Verizon Wireless's revamped customer social hub, Verizon Insider, is a perfect example of how marketers can get more from their mobile marketing campaigns through gamification. In 2012, Verizon set out with the goal of increasing customer interaction. Through its gaming campaign, Verizon Insider users earned points and rewards in several ways, including contest participation that allowed players to post their scores on the company's Facebook and Twitter feeds. Just a few months after the campaign's launch, these users were already spending 30% more time on the Verizon Insider site, with page views up by 15%. Verizon's campaign shows that gamification works.

Analytics Drives Purchasing

Marketers hoping to boost brand awareness and/or increase sales should start by analyzing their mobile messaging. A/B split testing and re-targeting are action techniques that help marketers get the most out of their campaign efforts.

For an example of how this type of split testing and re-targeting might work, one can imagine movie fans receiving quiz questions via MMS. Not only do high scoring quiz-takers experience the thrill of victory; these consumers also receive a significant discount on tickets to the upcoming sequel.In addition, they are encouraged to post their scores via social media, sharing the campaign's message with their friends.

During this first phase of the MMS marketing campaign, the company sends two different versions of the message to various consumer groups, testing to see which wording results in higher conversion rates and in what demographic brackets. After the first round of texts, the company then re-targets, sending alternate messages to customers who didn’t respond to the first one. Consumers are targeted with an additional call to action and perhaps an even a bigger discount, increasing their likelihood of conversion. After analyzing the results, the marketers have a solid idea of what works and whom it works with.

Upping the Game

Gamification in mobile marketing has become a major topic of discussion, and its use is only gaining momentum. Regardless of how much fun consumers are having, however, the importance of testing a gaming campaign's messaging is essential if marketers are going to come out ahead and maximize their ROI. For companies, after all, the endgame is always the bottom line.

January 24, 2012

What MMA Can Teach Us About SMS

Entry By Jason Brick

MMAMixed Martial Arts has begun to learn from mobile marketing and social media -- a fact evidenced by the UFC's decision to pay four-and five-figure bonuses to fighters who maintain a social media presence. 

The reverse is also true. SMS marketers can learn from the example of fighters in this newest of professional sports. The training, tactics and techniques of the Octagon have their applications in the world of mobile media. 

Hit With Combinations

In the ring, a fighter never throws a single punch or kick. He throws combinations -- a flurry of strikes that add up to serious cumulative effect. In SMS marketing, a single message won't have much effect. You need to maintain a long-term program of multiple messages. No single broadcast will suddenly turn your business around, but their cumulative effect can bring customers to the door. 

Use All Your Tools

Mixed martial arts get its name from the fact that fighters use grappling and stand-up fighting techniques to win a match. Even specialized competitors learn enough of other modalities to defend against the common techniques. 

A good SMS program incorporates not just mobile marketing, but your print campaign and web presence as well. The multiple impressions you make will engage customers with different preferences, abilities and needs. 

Be Responsive

Every fighter comes to the ring with a game plan, but good fighters will change the plan to adjust to what their opponents do. The degree to which a mixed martial artist can do this is the degree to which that athlete is successful.

One of the "killer apps" of SMS is a delivery cycle measured in terms of hours -- meaning you can respond to the reactions of your mailing list quickly and improve your message in real time. Failing to take advantage of this is a mistake.

Set Them Up, Knock them Down

In a mixed martial arts fight, the best competitors will "sucker" an opponent in with a false opening. When that opponent takes the bait, he capitalizes on the mistake with a pre-planned counter that can end the bout.

You should never pummel your customer base or choke them into unconsciousness. However, sending SMS messages that invite an immediate response can "pull in" your customer base by making them feel more engaged and interested in your brand. 

The Most Important Work is Invisible

Fights aren't won in the ring. They're won in training through practice, conditioning and skills development. The audience doesn't see that "behind the scenes" action -- but they see the result.

Your SMS campaign should work the same way. It takes effort, training and meticulous attention to detail if you want the message to work -- but your mailing list will never see the rough drafts, corrections and sweat you put into it. All they'll see is the stunning and actionable result. 

August 18, 2010

Pizza Hut Executives Expect That Mobile Marketing Will Account For 50% Of Future Orders

Being one of the first companies to offer both mobile web and SMS ordering options back in 2009, Pizza Hut is no stranger to the growing popularity of mobile marketing. So far they have offered games to iPhone and Android users, as well as chances to win bread sticks and an application which allows users to order menu items from their mobile phones. This is only the beginning; Pizza Hut expects that the use of mobile will account for 50% of their future sales!

“We want our pizza to become a favorite memory,” Mr. Niccol said. “When I came on board five years ago, Pizza Hut didn’t even have a Web site where people could order pizza. In the future, I see mobile accounting for almost 50 percent of our orders,” he added.

To read the entire article, click here.

To learn more about mobile marketing, visit Ez Texting.


August 05, 2010

KFC Doublicious Challenge

KFC recently launched a new marketing campaign that includes a football game, SMS messages and a delicious new chicken sandwich. KFC's new campaign includes a free game available to everyone who has an iPhone and includes banner ads that promote their new sandwich.

‘The objective of the campaign is to drive awareness of KFC’s Doublicious sandwich among adults 18-49 years old, while focusing in on adults 18-24 years old. KFC wanted to secure placement in highly relevant consumer areas to drive awareness for Doublicious and help drive lunch-time decision-making among the target audience.’

To read the entire article, click here.

To learn more about marketing via SMS messages, visit Ez Texting.