Web/Tech

83 posts categorized

November 15, 2014

The Potential of App-to-Person SMS for Mobile Network Operators

App-to-person SMS represents a major revenue opportunity for mobile network operators. Globally, app-to-person messages are expected to hit 2.19 trillion by 2018, generating predicted revenues of $60 billion.

The figures come from wide-ranging research conducted by UK-based industry analysts mobilesquared. They surveyed more than 50 international mobile network operators and made a number of key findings:

  • 32% of mobile network operators have experienced a reduction in person-to-person SMS over the last year
  • 50% have experienced an increase in app-to-person traffic, with a third of those reporting growth of at least 6%
  • 81% cite decreasing revenues from traditional services like P2P text messaging as their primary concern

When it comes to P2P messaging, mobile network operators have long been upping the ante on competitors, with increasingly generous – and in many cases unlimited – SMS bundles on offer as a way of enticing new users. 

They’re no longer just competing with each other. So-called ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are usurping traditional SMS providers as the go-to platforms for interpersonal communication. Half of all mobile network operators who took part in the survey expect to lose at least half of their customers to OTT services by next year. 

But while P2P text messaging is on the wane, business is booming for commercial text messaging companies. Consumers, it seems, are compartmentalizing their personal life, preferring OTT platforms for talking to friends while sticking with traditional SMS to engage with brands.

This is great news for mobile marketing campaign managers and small businesses. With an opt-in model predicated on consent and trust, the mobile marketing industry has managed to skirt the problems faced by their email-marketing forbears. Rather than filtering out all commercial messages as spam, smartphone owners are engaging with businesses via SMS because they want to, not because it’s the only option available to them. 

There’s no such low-hanging fruit for mobile network operators. They must forge relationships with OTTs and provide competitive price points if they want to leverage revenues from app-to-person SMS.

 

 

 

November 14, 2014

How to Text in OS X Yosemite

Apple recently introduced iOS 8.1, and with it activated SMS text forwarding from iPhone to OS X Yosemite. This makes it possible for users to read, send and reply to cellular-based messages directly from Mac computers and iPads in addition to iPhones. And while texting forwarding is “off” by default, turning it on is as simple as connecting to and setting up an Apple TV. So how does it work? 

The first step is navigating to Settings on an iPhone featuring iOS 8.1, where you’ll see a new option entitled “Text Message Forwarding” just below the iMessage toggle switch. It features the wording, "Allow your iPhone text messages to also be sent and received on other devices signed in to your iMessage account."

Select this option to bring up a menu pane of devices, such as the Mac Pro or the MacBook Pro, with each featuring the ability to “connect with and transmit text messages to and from your iPhone.” Choose which device you want to connect to and you’re almost finished. 

Let’s say you activate a MacBook Pro to receive text messages. You’ll receive a six-digit prompt in Messaging for Mac, which you’ll need to enter on your iPhone. Enter the passcode and voila: the devices are now paired, allowing you to receive and send SMS and MMS messages.

Should you receive a message not stored in your Contacts, you’ll get a Notification Center alert along with the unidentified number. Reply directly from this window as you would an iMessage, or click the alert to open your Message app.

Text messages sent from Mac devices are green, the same as iOS, to help users keep track of how many messages they’re sending. The conversation pane in Messages also features a small informational line of text, which indicates what number the text is being sent to or received.

Users may also begin text conversations by highlighting numbers in other Mac apps such as Safari, Spotlight, Calendar or Contacts. Share sheets are available as well, making it easy for rich content such as pictures to be sent through MMS. However, early testing found that while texts from numbers linked to existing contacts did appear with correct identification, results were “spotty.” Numerous tests found known numbers that “failed to trigger correct caller ID on the alert,” and instead appeared in line with iMessages from the same person sometime later. 

As soon as this kink is worked out, texting in OS X Yosemite will likely become the next big thing in the world of mobile.

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?

 

 

 

November 07, 2014

How to Reach Millenials with Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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In the world of mobile marketing, much hay is made of millennials and how to reach them. They’re supposed to be wily, committed to free content and spendthrifts. They spend a lot of time online – but not so much money. But is this demographic really so mysterious and elusive? Are there really 12 types of millennial that you must identify and target at all costs in order to thrive?!

At this point, a group of 22-year-olds grimace, roll their eyes and go back to texting their twelve types of friend about how baby boomers ‘just don’t get it.’ The problem for boomers and Gen-Xers is that millennials have grown up in a connected world. They’ve never known anything else. Their interactions with the online world are more sophisticated and diverse than any of us can understand. There’s no point scanning the latest research paper on how long those 22-year-olds spend on their tablet. It’s more complex than that.

The ‘amount of time spent’ is such a common metric that many mobile marketing campaign managers have ceased questioning it’s validity. For millennials in particular, the amount of time spent on a specific device is far less important than what they are doing on that device. Let’s break it down:

Laptop

Millennials stand alone among the generations in their preference for laptops over desktop computers. According to Pew research from 2011, 70% own a laptop, compared with 57% who own a desktop. The laptop is their primary portal for shopping, web browsing and watching movies and TV shows.

Tablet

The tablet unites all demographics under the age of 65. Though only 4% of adults own one, that statistic remains constant for people of all generations. For millennials, it’s a luxury item used primarily for entertainment purposes – and often in conjunction with other activities, such as watching television. 

Television

Ah, yes, television. Lest we forget, young people still watch traditional television sets in huge numbers. The rise of prestige TV, in conjunction with an increasingly diverse array of options, may have heralded the end of the family viewing experience, but individually we’re watching more than ever. And instead of uniting the nuclear family, TV shows are uniting people of the same age. If you’ve got the budget, don’t make the mistake of ignoring traditional television advertising. The millennials have been dubbed Gen FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), an indication of the power of multimedia as a social glue.

Smartphone

The smartphone is like a fifth limb for Gen Yers. They’ll just as happily use an iPhone to watch a YouTube video, and the market is awash with apps aimed squarely at young people. There’s nothing they don’t use smartphones for, but the commonest activity – by far – is the humble text message. Time Magazine recently suggested that the average American aged 18-29 sends 88 text messages per day. For anyone devising a mobile marketing strategy aimed at millennials, that statistic is a mouth-watering one.

Millennials are by far the most likely group to own more devices and to use more functions on them. From a marketer’s perspective, there’s little point just blithely shifting budgets to digital. In order to reach millennials, you need to understand how they engage with the digital world, and recognize that they are calling the shots.

November 05, 2014

Can I Start a Business in Canada if I’m Not Canadian?

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Yes.

That’s the short answer. Now for the caveats. ‘Starting a business’ can mean a few different things. How much red tape you have to wade through before getting your enterprise off the ground depends on what your current situation is. Are you launching a brand new company? Or are you simply looking to expand an existing operation into the Canadian market? 

If it’s the latter, you can do it without even setting foot in the country. The rules for established foreign businesses vary from province to province. Even if you don’t currently have a preference for which part of Canada you register in, it’s imperative to compare the rules and regulations for each province - you may well change your mind. Visit the corporate registry for starting extra-provincial companies in British Columbia and see how it fares against Ontario. Rinse and repeat with the other eight provinces. If you wish to do business in more than one province, you will need to register separately with each. Here’s a list of provincial registrars across the country.

If you are starting from scratch, things get a little more complicated. Broadly speaking, there are two options for launching a brand new company in Canada as a non-citizen: become a citizen or form a business partnership with one. Let’s take a look at each option.

1) Immigration

If you want to live in Canada anyway, you can incorporate your business interests into the immigration process by applying for business immigrant status. There are two types of business immigrant: self-employed persons and start-up entrepreneurs. Again, you can’t be too thorough in your research here. Look into each type of immigrant status and decide which is most appropriate for your situation. 

2) Partnering with a Citizen

If you have no intention of moving, you can team up with one or more Canadian business partners. At least 25% of the company directors must be resident Canadians. If your company has fewer than four directors, at least one must be a resident Canadian. Contact the provincial registry for the territory in which you want to do business and follow the requirements therein. The key thing to note is whether or not you plan to incorporate your business federally or provincially. Consider how far your business could expand – it might be worthwhile registering federally from the get-go (bear in mind you still have to register with each province individually if you incorporate your company at the federal level).

There are numerous benefits to launching a business in Canada. Government subsidies for tech startups are much talked-about, and can make all the difference during those crucial first 18 months. If you’re lucky enough to get it. However you go about it, research all the options thoroughly to ensure your Canadian adventure will pay off.

November 03, 2014

Text Messages Now Considered 'Official Government Documents'

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Imagine getting fired over a text message.

The United States House of Representatives decided in September of this year to include text messages “among the electronic communications federal employees could be fired for improperly destroying.”

Called the Federal Records Accountability Act and introduced by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., it addresses any federal employees an inspector general found knowingly “concealed, removed, mutilated, obliterated, falsified, or destroyed any record, book, or other thing” controlled by the offending employees. Republicans and Democrats alike supported the bill, which was approved unanimously by voice vote.

The bill also prevents federal employees from using personal devices to conduct official business unless an electronic record of the communication is created. All email, instant messages or text messages sent from a personal device regarding agency business must be officially recorded. A worker found guilty of manipulating records would face suspension and receive a written statement of the charges within 15 days. The worker can defend him or herself in the 15 days after receiving the notice, and has the right to a Merit Systems Protection Board hearing and appeal.

Meadows says the bill is “common sense legislation,” and that it will improve transparency and historical preservation.

“Intentional destruction of records is a criminal act,” Meadows noted. “Federal employees found guilty of such a crime should be fired.”

Scandals at the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency prompted the bill, as employees of each were charged with purposefully destroying records. Criticisms by lawmakers concerning federal managers using personal devices for official business is nothing new, however.

“It wasn’t one agency,” Meadows said, “it was plethora of agencies that have communication going on a regular basis that isn’t being preserved.”

Yet the Project on Government Oversight does not fully support the bill as the optimal way to deal with the transparency issues raised by the IRS and EPA scandals. Joe Newman, a POGO spokesman, told Government Executive the bill was “too narrow” and mainly punished “whistleblowers.”

“We're always happy when Congress moves to increase transparency and accountability but we're not sure this bill is the best way to do that,” Newman said. “There are long-standing problems with federal record keeping practices that need to be addressed but it might be a better approach if Congress looked at the system as a whole, rather than tailoring legislation to address a specific scandal.”

Some government agencies, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, are expanding use of Short Message Service (SMS) technology to provide better services. It has also been suggested that government text messages should be used in other ways. Texting is most popular among young people, and could be a vehicle for the Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send anti-smoking messages.

 

 

October 31, 2014

Defend Yourself from the Attack of the Android Worm

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Android users are facing a new threat in the shape of a worm, ominously named ‘Selfmite.b’. As with most worms, the majority of users will be unaware of the threat, which sends text messages to every contact in a user’s list. Selfmite.b gets into others’ phones via the innocent-looking SMS which appears to be from a friend or other trusted person. Once a user has been tricked into clicking the bogus links contained in the text message, malicious software is installed on their device.

This pernicious virus takes its name from Selfmite, the SMS worm that attacked smartphones earlier this year. But while that worm sent links to the first 20 contacts in an address book, Selfmite.b sends them to every single contact. Not only that, it does this on a loop, meaning victims continue to receive malicious texts until they are blocked.

According to data from AdaptiveMobile, the worm had sent over 150k messages during the first ten days of October. Victims span the globe, with infected phones identified in Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sudan, Syria, USA, Venezuela and Vietnam. That’s a hundred times more traffic than the first Selfmite generated. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the people behind the worm can change it remotely using a configuration file. This makes it much harder to stop the infection process.

As inconvenient and embarrassing as having your entire contact list spammed is, the worst upshot for victims is financial. Selfmite.b can generate huge phone bills, and victims even risk having their number blocked as though they were the perpetrators. The worm can even sign users up to expensige online subscriptions.

You can protect yourself. Selfmite.b requires you to manually click a link and manually install the APK file. If in doubt about any such file, don’t install it. Because of the generic nature of the messages containing the links, it shouldn’t be too hard to spot the scam. It will use one of the following texts, or something similar:

Hi buddy, try this, its amazing u know.http://x.co/5****

Hey, try it, its very fine.http://x.co/5****

Unless your friends are in the habit of sending you weird links, alarm bells should already be ringing. The poor syntax is a dead giveaway. And if nobody calls you ‘buddy’ then you’re probably on to Selfmite.b immediately.

The key is to avoid falling into the trap of absent-mindedly clicking links. Always read messages carefully, and if you have any doubts, give your friend a quick call to see if they sent you a text. They will thank you for alerting them to the fact they are being targeted. If your phone has already contracted Selfmite.b, a good anti-virus program will get rid of it.

October 30, 2014

Want a Personal Shopper? You Probably Already Have One

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Always dreamed of having a personal shopper? You probably already have one...in the palm of your hand.

A new survey by Perception Research Services International, a company that specializes in shopper

research, found 76% of smartphone owners use their devices for shopping purposes.

The survey notes “53% of smartphone owners rely on their devices to compare prices, 49%

to read customer reviews, 48% to search for product information, 48% to check for sales or

coupons, 37% to get product information from a manufacturer’s site, 34% to get a friend or

family member’s opinion, 31% to make a purchase, 31% to enter a contest, and 17% to view

a product demonstration.” Out of the 1,450 American adults surveyed, over half owned a

smartphone.

 

Consumers use their smartphones when shopping for a range of products, including electronics,

clothing, computers/software, groceries, cosmetics, furniture and appliances, cosmetics and

personal care products, office supplies, home decor, and pet supplies among other items. QR

codes are among the most popular mobile commerce options, with consumers using codes to

learn more about products and promotions, participate in loyalty programs and receive rewards,

read customer reviews, and obtain store addresses.

 

“Retailers and manufacturers need to adapt to a world in which shoppers are armed with a

tremendous amount of information at their fingertips—about the brand to choose, the price

to pay and the place to buy,” notes Jonathan Asher, executive vice president at Perception

Research Services International. “Retailers know they will continue to lose a certain amount of

sales to online purchases, and they must accept that some showrooming will occur. The key is

to find ways to capitalize on those opportunities in which shoppers are in their store examining

products, and make it compelling for them to make purchases there rather than go online—or to

some other retailer—to do so.”

 

Marketers are therefore encouraging shoppers to buy new products or services based on

previous purchases and shopping patterns. Companies such as shopkick and Paypal are

utilizing Bluetooth-enabled beacons to link consumer in-store data to mobile marketing. Taking

advantage of location-based technologies and tracking buyer history has subsequently made

recommending products and services to consumers easy and efficient. Even third-party

manufacturers can benefit.

 

Beacon hardware manufacturer Roximity is developing marketing technology that leverages

beacons. For instance, a supermarket using Roximity’s technology could allow a third-party

brand, such as Dole, to utilize its beacon network for a particular promotion.

Startup companies are quickly getting on board with location-based technology, using mobile

not only to help consumers find their businesses, but to add understand what products

customers like and how to incentivize greater purchases.

October 27, 2014

Integrity of Whisper App Questioned

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The firm behind social media app Whisper is tracking the location of its users – despite claiming to be ‘the safest place on the internet’ in terms of anonymity. The company is also sharing information from phones known to be used in military bases with the US Department of Defense, according to a recent Guardian expose.

Whisper users currently publish around two-and-a-half million messages a day. Their principal selling point is anonymity, but the Guardian report alleges the company has developed an in-house mapping tool allowing them to locate users to within 500 meters. The British newspaper also claims Whisper has been handing user locations to the Department of Defense. 

According to the Guardian, Whisper has been storing data since their 2012 launch. At that time, much of their brand image was predicated on a policy of holding data only for ‘a brief period of time’ and allowing those who don’t wish to be tracked to opt out of geo-location.

But the Guardian claims Whisper has been storing data even on users who specifically opted out. The news will be particularly alarming to military personnel who have used the platform to unburden themselves of traumatic events witnessed or experienced in the line of duty. Many soldiers use the app to share suicidal feelings and symptoms of PTSD and to discuss other topics they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about on social media outlets like Facebook. 

The Guardian says Whisper has shared user data with law enforcement agencies, the FBI and MI5, a practice Whisper contends is standard in the tech industry – and only in situations where there is evidence of criminal behavior or imminent suicide.

Whisper has denied the allegations, saying it ‘does not follow or track users’ and dismissing the suggestion they were monitoring people without consent as ‘false’. CEO Michael Heyward issued a ten point riposte to the Guardian and suspended his editor-in-chief when the allegations came to light. He insists Whisper is only sharing information with the DoD when there is an investigation into frequent mentions of self-harm, adding “[We] are proudly working with many organizations to lower suicide rates.”

Heyward has been summoned to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee to answer questions about the app’s privacy policy.

Whisper has experienced rapid growth over the past two years and is now valued at more than $200m. The app tapped into a growing demand for private, confessional platforms which purport to foster more candid public discussions about sensitive issues like suicide.

Whisper has updated it’s terms and conditions since the story broke. 

October 23, 2014

Smalltown America: The Tech Industry’s New Home?

 

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The internet revolution has worked wonders for entrepreneurs with big ideas and small wallets. And while the tech giants are still keen to project a certain cache by basing themselves in huge economic centers like Tokyo and California, start ups are finding fewer financial impediments to realizing their dreams in less illustrious surroundings.

One of the tech industry’s new suburban outposts lies to the far west of Chicago, in and around the Fox Valley. Towns like Naperville, Aurora and Elgin are fostering the new bright young things of software development, web marketing and business.

These places have a centralized support network designed specifically for tech workers, mimicking the ‘all in it together’ mentality of their Silicon Valley counterparts.

If the spirit of technological collaboration is alive and well in Illinois, it’s positively thriving in Colorado. The state’s tech industry employed 162,600 people in 2012 (according to a TechAmerica Foundation report). That’s 8.7% of the private sector workforce, making Colorado the third biggest contributor to the national tech economy. In 2012, Colorado’s tech payroll amounted to $15.8 billion.

Tech wages are 98% higher than the average private sector wage, and the industry is the 7th-best paid in the United States. This skilled workforce is generating solutions to everything from the energy deficit to space travel. The further out of the big industrial centers tech companies base themselves, the lower the overheads - and the higher the potential wages. No wonder talented tech workers are eschewing the glamor of Silicon Valley in favor of better paid jobs in surroundings that are perhaps less illustrious - but also less cut-throat.

This tech diaspora has been facilitated in part by SEO campaigns that are increasingly targeting niche markets for highly specialized - and regionalized - products and services. Most tech companies are no longer aiming for world domination; they simply want to maximise their ROI by advertising only to those people with a high likelihood of purchasing their product.

Industry analysts are convinced that towns like Naperville have the capacity to become key tech hubs. Tech workers are starting to see the benefits of working in smaller towns, where they can commute quickly to and from work - without sacrificing their resume or salary. And why not? After all, their products and services are opening up a global village in which everybody can be a major player, irrespective of geographical location. To sell this new reality without believing in it is a contradiction too big for the bright young things of tomorrow’s technology industry.