• Guilty Pleasures Go Mobile
    "Will you look at her butt? It is falling out of that wet suit." "I know, really, who goes tomb-raiding dressed like that?" "It would be better if there were some muscle on those legs, but they aren't even toned." I am finding it hard to believe that my daughter and fiancée are getting catty about the latest iteration of Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider: Underworld." My daughter, who has been playing this series since I first brought it into the house when she was four, seems to get as much satisfaction out of insulting the spelunker's breasts as …
  • ChaCha's Conversational Search
    I have been having trouble getting my head around ChaCha, the human search engine where people, not just algorithms, answer text and voice questions. And then Vice President of Marketing Susan Marshall told me some of the results of the company's most recent user survey. "We find the majority of users, more than 80%, are under 25 -- a lot of teenagers and college-aged students." So now at least I understand why I don't quite get ChaCha. It's the same reason I feel like an alien intruder when asking my daughter why she doesn't just call her friend after the …
  • Bucking Traffic
    One of the many habits that richer mobile data services have introduced to me and my family is real-time traffic checking. Now that Google Maps on the iPhone has a traffic density layer, I have a new ritual before driving along nearby I-95. I plot my destination and look for the green, yellow and red patches Google uses as rough visual cues about traffic. Of course, the new sport in my family is proving me and my gadgetry wrong.
  • Drive Time For Mobile Web Radio?
    Pandora's founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren surprised me the other day with a few quick facts about the mobile performance of his personalized Web radio service. I knew that Pandora was the most popular App Store app, with something like 2.7 million downloads thus far. But, I assumed many of those people were like me, occasional users. It turns out that 10% of all Pandora use now occurs off of the PC, and the "vast majority" of that is to the iPhone, he says. And that share shift is ongoing and occurring rapidly. Even more impressive, the average …
  • Form, Function, And My Thingie
    "Sorry, I forgot to bring my coupon," I tell the checkout lady at Borders Books. Border used to send me coupons by text, but no more. "You probably were the only one who used them," the sales clerk quips. In one of my columns last week I urged marketers to think harder about the basic functionality of the device and try to design campaigns that map against its conversational quality. As the Borders program demonstrates, the mobile phone is also basic, portable data storage that a marketer can leverage.
  • MMA's New Boss: The Next Steps
    As the Mobile Marketing Association announced yesterday, its long search to replace outgoing President/CEO Laura Marriott ends with the appointment of former Nuance Communications Vice President Mike Wehrs. Wehrs steps into an organization that is growing rapidly in domestic membership and overseas expansion. He was good enough to spend some phone time with me last week to discuss the priorities for him and the MMA in the next year. One major change he mentioned is the relocation of the group's main office from Colorado to Manhattan, which brings the MMA into the heart of media and agency worlds. Now, what …
  • Reviving The Portal
    I haven't a clue whether Microsoft's new partnership with Verizon as primary search provider really will amount to much. Consider this: even though Google has default search box placement on the smallest of the top three carriers, Sprint, it still dominates mobile search share. That has to tell you something about the power of brand familiarity over the deck.
  • Brands: What Are We Doing Here?
    A number of companies like P&G and General Mills are making lovely banner and landing page combos that indicate a new seriousness to mobile. But their mobile functionality still leaves me a bit puzzled.
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