Tag Archives: Mobile

First Days with My Garmin Nuvi 760

After years of resisting the urge to buy a GPS – I generally know where I am going — GPS prices have come down so much that I broke down and paid $190 on Amazon for a Garmin Nuvi 760 that cost $399 last year.

I know it’s a short term piece of equipment. Next year’s SmartPhone acquisition will probably replace it. But for now, the Nuvi 760’s big 4.3 screen, solid casing, fairly loud volume, turn-by-turn directions and blue tooth capability for in-phone calling seemed like winning features. It seems like a huge improvement over the 3.5” screens (although they are REALLY cheap). And I pinch myself thinking I’ve got the same capabilities as the $2000 built-in GPS in many new cars.

But those are all almost besides the point. Mostly, of course, I’m intrigued by Garmin’s local information features (points of interest, favorite, local maps, shopping, etc.). I like that you can designate “drive” or “walk” as well. I do a lot of walking in big cities.

So, technically speaking, how did the trip to Santa Barbara Wine Country go last week? It was decidedly mixed, mostly due to the high learning curve for this device (which comes with almost no directions).

On the plus side, it was great to have the automatic distance count before turns, and the turn by turn directions to the obscure but recommended Chamomile Bakery in Carpenteria. It figured out where I wanted to go after typing just a few letters. After lunch, it accurately put me onto 154, the mountain route, to The Ballard Inn, rather than the longer ocean drive that some maps would put me on.

But the GPS drive time to Ballard was off by more than an hour. And I definitely missed being on a real Internet-connected service. At this point of Web 2.0, I’m used to getting reviews and recommendations. There was also no place in the car to easily put the thing.

In California, it is illegal to use the suction cup on the windshield. I’ll have to buy a beanbag mount for the dash.

The next day was more of a challenge. First up, I needed some gas. And it it gave me a nice selection of gas stations, complete with distances. But the list of Vineyards was lacking a major location – the one I had a coupon for.

And then, disaster struck. The battery died and I didn’t have the plug with me. This thing is very colorful and only has a few hours of unassisted battery life. But you don’t want to turn it off because it takes several minutes to “locate satellites.” And I had no way of knowing how to get to lunch or back to the Inn because I didn’t print out any directions, as I usually do. There I was, asking for directions at a local bakery.

The next day, on my trip back south, I learned to plug the Nuvi into the charger. And once again, I found it reassuring to drive on the 405 knowing exactly how far major turns are.

But then I got hungry and looked for food 20 miles ahead of my location. It couldn’t do that. It kept on looking for restaurants where I was. I thought I’d work around the system by typing in the “Costa Mesa Mall” as a shortcut to the food. But I had the wrong name. It is actually called “South Coast Plaza.” Google knows this, but the Nuvi does not.

And a search for stores that I know to be at the mall came up blank as well. Luckily, I took my eyes of the Garmin long enough to eye a Macy’s off the freeway at Westminster…. and we got to a food court in time. I didn’t get home on time, however. The Nuvi optimistically had me getting home an hour and half before I opened the door.

Do I love this device? Not yet, although it is very impressive. And while the categories are great, there doesn’t seem to be a way to call up a custom map to compare proximity for the category listings. We’re getting spoiled on the Internet. Maybe I’ll eventually learn how to do this.

Do I want to return it? Not really. But it makes me look forward to the next, much improved generation. And it’s going to have a phone, camera and Internet connection.

JitterGram for Local Merchants: ‘Show the Phone!’

A lot of small businesses are tinkering with mobile media, especially adding Twitter. We heard recently from sales consultant Mel Taylor that Naked Pizza in New Orleans, which is backed by netprenur Mark Cuban, is getting 15 percent of its walk-ins via Twitter.

But how can most businesses really work with mobile? That’s the challenge taken up by Ric Pratte, who has launched JitterGram, an eight person company near Manchester, NH dedicated to leveraging mobile’s chief advantage: just in time promotions. “Save Money – Show The Phone” is the company’s tagline (I like it).

Pratte says that JitterGram can be used to reach out to patrons and touch the in wyas to get a quick response…even that night. Its especially good to get rid of unused inventory, ranging from hotel rooms to salon reservations. “For a whole generation, email is just too painstakingly slow,” he says.

Mostly, JitterGram employs SMS text messages as its platform. But comprehensive mobile solutions can also be developed. Currently, JitterGram isn’t working directly with local businesses. Instead it is relying on local resellers, including our friends at CitySquares.com.

Cobalt: Car Buyers 3X More Likely to Click Thru on Mobile Than Web

In the wake of GM’s bankruptcy, auto dealers are being pitched mobile applications and other technology that would steer likely customers their way. Cars.com reports success with its mobile app, and now Cobalt, a major provider of tech and marketing solutions for dealers, is out with an app as well.

Cobalt’s feeling is that mobile users represent a better cut of the car buying public than typical Internet users. And they’re ready to buy — especially at dealerships for upscale brands, such as Cadillac and Infiniti.

Specifically, Cobalt Mobile focuses on one-click calls to action; easy-to-browse inventory, one click-to-call and point-to-point directions. The vendor’s research shows that mobile users are “nearly three times more likely to click-through to an ‘Hours and Directions’ page than Internet shoppers using standard dealer websites. “As a result, Cobalt Mobile steers shoppers in the final stages of their shopping process to nearby dealerships.”

In addition to acting as a customer tool, dealers are said to use the mobile service as a portable inventory sales tool.

DC Insider Dick Wiley at WMS ’09: Broadband is Top of Agenda

Broadband is at the top of the agenda for the Obama administration and the FCC, with digital TV a close number two, according to influential Washington lawyer Dick Wiley, who was speaking at BIA’s Winning Media Strategies.

Broadband is going to be “the big one,” with a special focus on underserved, vulnerable parts of the population, said Wiley, who sites as one of DC’s pre-eminent communications lawyers after serving as FCC Chairman 30 years ago. “Unfortunately, that isn’t clearly defined,” said Wiley, but a lot of money –$7 billion –is being thrown at it. He noted that $2.5 billion is earmarked for The Rural Utility Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the impact of making this relatively obscure division a major player in communications policy.

The second big issue for the administration is Digital TV, which is finally getting the big switchover from analog signals on June 12 after 22 years of policy development, noted Wiley. Enormous opportunities lie in wait with digital for broadcasters in business, and in regulatory relief. Broadcasters can use digital to extend their core competency in wireless communications and localism, he said. “Here is a area where being a broadcaster is a plus.”

Wiley also said that he didn’t see the Fairness Doctrine coming back, but that there may more restrictions on embedded advertising.

NAA 2009: Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Local, and Future of Information

Google CEO Eric Schmidt addressed newspaper publishers this morning at the NAA Annual Convention in San Diego, giving a high level, thought-provoking talk (without apparent notes) about the future of information and the role that newspapers, search and consumers will play in it. (While I attended the event, the talk was streamed online here).

Schmidt noted that there are basically two models of information: the newspaper of record, and Wikipedia/user generated content. Given the rapid shifts in technology and consumer patterns, there’s going to be some integration between the two, and we are basically going to have to relearn what a “newspaper of record” means. Reporting “is what newspapers are ultimately about,” he says. “Knowing all things that happen in a local environment, a national environment and a global environment.”

Schmidt suggests that it will be marriage of reporting and reliable networks of communication, such as cloud computing. One example of such a marriage was Google’s mapping this year of Flu Trends. “It provided early, instantaneous analysts that gets ahead of everyone else” and had real societal importance, says Schmidt. Looking forward, Schmidt anticipates databases providing instant “BS detectors” for politicians in debates and other forums. “It’s the most obvious,” he says.

Mobile also plays an essential role in Schmidt’s vision of user empowerment. “It isn’t obvious, but it represents a fundamental change – all in a local context. If you like history, you can walk down the street in San Diego, and the phone can tell you the history of every building,” he says. “We never had these kinds of tools before to use, and perhaps, misuse.”

The ultimate goal is “to get one billion people with this kind of power in their hands,” says Schmidt. “It is easy. That many mobile phones are being built in the next couple of years with this kind of capability. The underlying platform has now been built, and all the mobile operators are now building services with the kinds of capabilities I am describing.”

While the Web and mobile is our future, right now, Schmidt concedes the User Interface needs a lot of works. “The Web is still relatively unpleasant to read,” he says. “Think of the joy of reading a magazine. It is the most wonderful experience. Why can’t we recreate the same thing on the Web? The online experience is terrible compared to wonderful experience of magazines and newspapers. It is a fundamental thing we don’t do very well on my side of the world.”

But personalization will be a factor in making the Web better to use, he says. “People consume information in many, many ways. Now we have the opportunity (to get away from one size fits all). And “we need new formats for journalism that will work for all platforms.”

The newspapers’ lack of knowledge about their readers especially has to evolve, says Schmidt. “Why doesn’t the newspaper know what I read yesterday? It is easy to remember this kind of thing. The new model is knowing you have already read this…you can tell me what has changed.

User generated content also plays a major role in all this. “The reality is the vast majority of information is not being produced by any traditional means. It is being produced user-to-user. That’s another fundamental change. People care a lot about what their friends are doing.”

But what is the business model, going forward? Schmidt notes that “the Internet doesn’t respect traditional scarcity structures. We think the answer is advertising,” he says. “Of course we have a bias. Ninety eight percent of our revenue comes from advertising. “

While Google’s cash cow is text ads, Schmidt says the company has to keep pushing the envelope of better story telling –“ads with narrative and engagement.” User engagement is key to all this.

“When you go the movie theater, people will be twittering: ‘Oh, I think he is wrong,’ or ‘this is going to happen next’” he says. “We’ll have mood mapping in real time.” (Google is rumored to be in talks to buy Twitter).

But Schmidt also sees subscription-based models making a comeback, perhaps using Amazon’s Kindle as a core platform. “Kindle is very successful,” he says. “It is another example of cloud computing for specialists. It is a model that works, economically and technologically.”

Schmidt noted that he thinks that television’s evolution is probably the model for all subscription content. With TV, consumers can get free TV, cable TV and on demand paid TV. “The vast majority deals with the free model,” he says. “But micropayments are getting to be possible.” Before, transaction costs were so high that you couldn’t do things that cost one or two cents. But now, “with aggregation, you can do this.”

So – given the venue, does Google believe there is a future for newspapers? Schmidt gives newspapers kudos for being early to embrace the Web. “They understood repurposing of the Web. They had their reporters blog. But there wasn’t an act after that. The act after that is much harder. How do you keep a user’s engagement? How do you keep from being dis-intermediated?”

NAA 2009: The Las Vegas Review-Journal Launches Mobile Video

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has launched an ambitious local mobile video site using the The AP Mobile News Network, says AP President Tom Curley, speaking at the NAA Annual Convention in San Diego. The site extends The Review-Journal’s leadership onto the video platform , and it figures into the way the newspaper is telling stories, he adds. The LVRJ is a Stephens Media company.

“The public sees newspapers as the best source for news . This is another channel,” says Curley (a former publisher of USA Today, and decidedly not related to Rob Curley, who is president of Greenspun Interactive, the publisher of The Las Vegas Sun, which is The LVRJ’s smaller crosstown rival). Curley notes that the site includes The Review-Journal’s logo and branding. “It is the right channel at the right time in the right format,” he says.

Video has been a big bet for AP’s Digital Consortium model, which seeks to provide newspapers with all kinds of searchable digital content at a cost that might be just 20 percent of what they’d pay to develop it themselves. Its success is vital to the future of AP, which has seen some newspapers drop out to save money. Others have dropped out to develop their own for-profit consortium models.

Marketplaces 2009: CitySearch CEO Jay Herratti

Citysearch CEO Jay Herratti, in a keynote at Marketplaces 2009 in Los Angeles, stressed that there are four things that local sites need to focus on: being more local, mobile social and balanced. “Local is really an evolution,” he said. “Now the evolution is transforming the marketplace from cities down to neighborhoods.” Accordingly, Citysearch has “rearchitected” from 150 sites to 75,000.

“It is our hybrid local strategy,” said Herratti. “Tp be hyperlocal, you need to understand geography – not just in New York, but in small cities. And to the neighborhood level. The real power is doing hyperlocal not just in New York or LA, but with everything in between.”

Mobile is going to be especially important going forward. “There is no better hyperlocal application than mobile,” said Herratti. “It is really about what is immediately around you.” The emergence of smartphones has also made it easier to use phones to submit reviews. Citysearch was especially surprised by the explosion of reviews on the Web from mobile, said Herratti.

The emergence of social is another “huge trend,” said Herratti. “Everything has changed (from last year). Nothing is happening on the Web that is not social.”