Innovation Lab: Samsung Droids, Food Catapults and DNA Memory

At Mobile Marketing we’re proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions, whether it’s on our website, in our magazine or at our Mobile Marketing Summits. Giving a platform to companies that are breaking new ground in their market brings audiences one step closer to the ideas and developments that will shape tomorrow.

In that spirit, our Innovation Lab feature takes a step beyond the world of apps, ads and handsets with slightly bigger screens, in order to share some of the tech world’s innovative ideas. They might be interesting, disruptive or just outright strange, but these are the stories that have caught our eye over the past week.

Samsung’s Personal Assistant Robot is Otto-ly Adorable
Devices that host a digital assistant are becoming increasingly popular, from Amazon’s Echo to Samsung‘s new Otto robot, a prototype revealed at the company’s developer conference this week in San Francisco.

Unlike the Echo, which resembles an advanced speaker, the Otto leans more heavily into personifying its personal assistant with a digital display that resembles eyes, and would look at home among the robots seen in Pixar’s Wall-E.

The device relies on Samsung’s ARTIK Internet of Things platform to connect to a range of other smart home devices, enabling owners to control everything from lights to thermostats to music through a central hub, as well as providing news, weather and other information when prompted through voice commands.

In addition, the device includes an HD camera that can live stream footage to your smartphone, essentially working as a security camera for users when they are away from home. However, some critics have raised concerns over the idea of an internet-connected device that is capable of both watching and listening to those in the room.

Throw Treats to Your Dog From Across the Country

Pet cameras aren’t the most recent invention, but the creators behind Furbo have gone a step extra and made a device that can catapult treats to your dog when you’re away from home, enabling you to interact and keep your pet active.

The Furbo, which is currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo, has all the functionality you’d expect from a traditional security camera, including a 120-degree wide angle lens, night vision, zoom function, the ability to take photos and record video, and a microphone/speaker combo that enables you to speak to your pet.

Beyond the usual, however, is the device’s treat delivery system, which you can fill from the top with small biscuits or other treats and, with a click of a button on your smartphone, can send a treat firing across the room for your dog to fetch.

There are a number of other pet cameras that already have treat-dispensing features, but Furbo is the first we’ve seen that literally launches the snack across the room, integrating some basic exercise into the process and, hopefully, a little fun for you and your furry friend.

argentina football chipArgentinean Football Club Wants to Install Chips in Fans
One of the most popular chants for loyal supporters at Argentinean football games translates as “I carry you inside me”, but one football club is choosing to take the sentiment literally in a new innovation aimed at easing match day queues.

Club Atletico Tigre, one of Argentina’s biggest football clubs, is exploring a radical new way to manage fans entering its Buenos Aires stadium on match day by offering people an implantable microchip that would enable them to move through the gate turnstiles faster.

The chips, which will carry basic information about the fans, have yet to be cleared by the Argentine Football Association, as well as various health and security agencies, but that hasn’t stopped team director Ezequiel Rosino acting as a guinea pig and implanting a chip under his club tattoo.

Swimming Robot Snake Can Fix Undersea Pipes

A huge amount of the invisible infrastructure of the internet, not to mention the telecoms and energy industries, relies on undersea cabling and pipes, all of which can be incredibly difficult and expensive to maintain and repair.

That’s where Eelume comes in. The device, created in partnership between the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Konsberg Maritime and Statoil, is designed to reach areas that other remotely operated vehicles cannot, making regular maintenance and inspections much more cost-efficient.

“Eelume is a good example of how new technology and innovation contributes to cost reduction,” said Elisabeth Kirkland Kvalheim, chief technology officer of Statoil. “Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self-going janitor on the seabed.”

shutterstock_242111533Microsoft Uses Synthetic DNA to Store Information
We’ve moved from floppy discs to the cloud, but Microsoft is already investigating the next step in information storage that could see its data retained for thousands of years by encoding it into synthetic DNA strands.

According to the IEEE, the company has converted a portion of data into DNA nucleotides, then worked with startup Twist Bioscience to make 10m synthetic DNA strands with the specified sequences. Through a combination of an encryption key and DNA sequencing, Microsoft can encode and recover digital data from synthetic DNA with 100 per cent effectiveness.

The process is a long way from any kind of commercially viable product, but it could represent not just the next step in terms of data security, but also one of the most effective methods of data storage, with a team of Harvard scientists working on a similar process in 2012 able to store 704 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA.

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Google Trials Trips Tourism App with Trusted Travellers

Google Trips

Google has launched a limited beta of Google Trips, a travel assistant app.

Trips auto-populates with destination information based on the user’s bookings. It combines a traditional ‘where to go/what to eat’ travel guide along with flight and hotel details lifted from Gmail.

The app looks like an extension of the Destination mobile search product Google launched last month. Trips offers similar content, but with the added ability to save for offline browsing – handy for travellers trying to avoid roaming charges.

According to Dutch site AndroidWorld, the app is currently exclusively available to ‘local guides’ – frequent contributors to Google Maps’ place listings. That seems to hint at Google’s plans for Trips to act as a hub for user-generated content.

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Angry Birds Land on McDonald’s, H&M and Lego Products with AR Campaign

Angry Birds Pez ZapparRovio has launched an Augmented Reality (AR) campaign with brand partners including McDonald’s, Lego and Walmart to promote its latest Angry Birds game.

The campaign works using an AR function, powered by Zappar, which has been integrated into Angry Birds Action.

Action players can scan ‘bird-codes’ printed on Angry Birds branded merchandise, from H&M clothing to Pez dispensers, to unlock in-game content. McDonald’s packaging, for example, can be scanned to play a ‘whack-a-pig’ mini-game, while WalMart stands link to daily power-ups for the game.

With the Angry Birds Movie coming out next month, the BirdCodes will also appear on Sony Pictures’ marketing materials, linking the game and film.

Angry Birds Action is the cornerstone of our comprehensive digital movie program, which bridges digital and physical entertainment like never before,” said Miika Tams, VP Games at Rovio “And with more than 1bn bird-codes to be found out in the wild, at a scale never seen before either.”

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FordPass App Drives a New ‘Mobility Marketplace’ Approach for Ford

FordPass App

Ford has launched FordPass, an Android and iOS app that combines a variety of functions for owners of its vehicles and non-customers alike, if Ford’s plans come to fruition.

“What we want to build, and we are going to build, is a marketplace for mobility solutions,” Ford consumer experience marketing head Jörg Ullrich tells Mobile Marketing. “Today our core business is all about selling vehicles, but we believe the whole industry will move more strongly into consumers’ general mobility needs which don’t necessarily require a vehicle at all times. Vehicle sharing is only going to increase – the numbers prove that is going to happen – so for us it’s key to build a whole ecosystem which is first of all tied to our vehicles, but also extends beyond the customers we have today to non-Ford owners.”

Pulling up in the US now, with a European launch planned for later this year, FordPass isn’t the automaker’s first app, by a long shot – but based on what Ullrich tells me, it may just be its last.

Going multimodal
FordPass centres around a ‘My Vehicles’ feature which lets drivers add their car to the app – in certain cases, by scanning a barcode in the car – to see basic model details, colour and when it was purchased, as well as monitor how many miles are on the clock and the current fuel level. Any product recalls will also be pushed out to drivers via the app.

More exciting is the ability to use FordPass as a digital key which can remotely lock and unlock the vehicle, and even start the engine. This is only compatible with cars that have a modem functionality – at time of writing, limited to the 2017 Escape model in the US – but it’s a signpost to Ford’s intentions.

“Right now, this might just seem like a nice feature to have,” he says. “But if you think about the future, as more people are sharing and exchanging their vehicles, that information becomes very important. In any car share, ‘how do you get the key?’ is always the one of the biggest issues, but now you can simply choose who has permission to access this digital key.”

The 2017 Ford Escape is the only vehicle to currently support mobile keys

The 2017 Ford Escape is the only vehicle to currently support mobile keys

On top of that, Ford is integrating everything from parking functionality – enabling drivers to save a map and photos of where they parked – to its existing car sharing apps, like the one it currently operates with Deutsche Bahn in Germany. It will be pulling features from a number of pre-existing Ford apps, which will be shuttered after a ‘transitional phase’.

That’s a lot of functionality to cram into a single app – though the plan is to ameliorate this by letting users sort and hide features based on their own priorities – but that’s exactly the point of Ford’s approach, which Ullrich describes as “multimodal”.

“We have already existing apps out there which we are trying to pool together, and make into one app rather than a cluster of apps on your phone,” he says. “We currently have a service app just for online service booking but how often do you book a service in a year? Maybe once – is it worth having an app for that alone?

“The car sharing app, you might use more frequently, but if you could add more content to it, it actually would be more valuable to keep that app on your device, rather than having those all divided functionalities out there which makes it very messy.”

Loyalty and beyond
The other half of Ford’s strategy to retain FordPass users – and to attract them in the first place – is a loyalty program. Set to launch later this year in the US, and sometime next year in Europe, it will be the brand’s first-ever global loyalty scheme, and it’s probably the biggest way Ford is hoping to tie up all the disparate parts of FordPass.

Points can be collected through anything from buying a vehicle to filling up the tank at a partnered BP garage, or booking a parking space or car share through the app. These can then be redeemed against traditional Ford services – a free oil change or a winter check with free windshield wipers – or just about anything available in the app. Ullrich points to the opportunities for “packaging up” services: “If you use the parking with the car sharing vehicle, we might offer you the parking for free.”

Of course, each of these elements is a new potential revenue source for Ford. Ullrich describes FordPass as a ‘mobility marketplace’ that goes well beyond cars – train ticket booking and cycling hire are just two possibilities he mentions.

“Our core business right now is selling vehicles, but we want to get into that emerging business and build it slowly but steadily,” Ullrich says. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but there’s a lot of those little things which tie together. Car sharing, parking tickets, gas stations – if you add all those revenue streams together there’s a lot of business out there that we’re not even touching at the moment.”

Ford Jorg

It’s strange to think of a company that has always relied on big-ticket purchases even bothering with these relative small chunks of revenue. By way of explanation, Ullrich draws an interesting comparison with Apple:

“With iTunes, nobody understood why Apple was getting into the music business, but it was just the first content for their existing physical hardware product. Nowadays, as well as making money by selling iPhones, it’s just as much about the other side, the services, for Apple – and you can make the comparison with our vehicles.”

He’s not wrong about Apple’s services business, as the company’s quarterly results showed earlier this week. Whether Ford can pull off the same trick remains to be seen, but Ullrich is confident that the firm is in this for the long term.

“It’s not something we want to throw in the market and it’s then done and baked,” he says. “That’s quite interesting for us as an automotive company. We are used to launching a vehicle which has to be perfect from day one when it hits the production line – but the app is very different. It has to be an evolving product.”

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Topshop Opens Up Wearable Tech Programme

High street retailer Topshop has announced the launch of Top Pitch, a new month-long wearable tech programme that will see tech startups and entrepreneurs presenting retail-focused devices to a board including Arcadia chief Sir Philip Green.

Top Pitch is described by the firm as a ‘development programme’ focused on wearable technology that will appeal to Topshop customers and be available at an accessible price point, suggesting that the company has firm plans to introduce wearable tech into future lines.

The project is a collaboration with corporate innovation specialist L Marks, and will see the retailer discovering and co-developing prototypes that will move wearable technology further into the fashion arena while also retaining useful functionality for consumers.

Startups who take part will have access to an extensive group of experienced mentors from across the worlds of fashion and technology, including Maddy Evans, fashion director for Topshop; Rachel Arthur, journalist and founder of Fashion & Mash; and Bethany Koby, CEO and co-founder of Technology Will Save Us.

The four-week scheme will culminate in the competitors presenting to Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green, with the winning startup continuing to work with Topshop to design a product with utility, relevance and style for the Topshop customer.

“Topshop has long supported emerging talent in creative industries and this project serves to further this aim,” said Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director for Topshop. “As a brand we champion new platforms of innovation and we see wearable technology as an exciting area of further exploration.

“The merge of style and function has yet to have been seen in a true consumer-ready sense and our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable product at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer.”

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Amazon Reports Record $513m Profits in Q1

Amazon has reported profits $513m (£352) for Q1 2016, the highest in the company’s history (or at least, since its 1997 IPO). By comparison, in Q1 2015, it reported losses of £57m.

Those profits came off the back of a 28 per cent year-on-year increase in revenues, up to $29.1bn – an especially strong first quarter, but paling in comparison to its Q4 peaks, driven by Christmas sales ($35.8bn in Q4 2015).

Even with lower revenues, though, Amazon managed to significantly better the previous quarter’s profits of $482m – at the time, a record for the company – but was remarkably quiet on the matter in its earnings report. No surprise, perhaps, given the eCommerce giant’s well-documented reluctance to make a profit.

CEO Jeff Bezos spoke about Amazon’s approach to profit in a 2014 interview with Business Insider: “The reality is that Amazon is a collection of several businesses and initiatives, and we have some very significant, very profitable, more established businesses that are free cash flow-generating very significantly,” he said. “And then fortunately, the way I think about it, we have lots of opportunities to invest in new initiatives, and we take advantage of those opportunities.”

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Mobile Networks Failing Their Customers, Study Finds

CapGemini reportMobile operators investing in digital are outperforming their peers in customer satisfaction and revenue growth. That’s the key finding of a report by the Digital Transformation Institute at Capgemini Consulting, the strategy and transformation consulting arm of the Capgemini Group.

The report reveals widespread consumer dissatisfaction with mobile network operators across Europe and the US, linked to a lack of investment in digital. More than half of the 48 operators surveyed registered a zero or negative Net Promoter Score (NPS) meaning consumers would not recommend their provider to friends or colleagues.

5,700 customers of 48 mobile network providers across nine countries in the US and Europe were surveyed for the report, titled: Unlocking Customer Satisfaction: Why Digital Holds the Key for Telcos. It paints a picture of an industry undergoing change. The rise of web and mobile apps is driving a significant shift in what consumers expect from their mobile operator. Physical channels are falling out of favour, with only 8 per cent of consumers surveyed now considering the existence of stores as a must-have for mobile operators. Consumers want an improved digital experience and yet only a third (36 per cent) report that their operator is providing it.

But the report also found that the focus on digital customer experience is paying off for some operators. The survey shows a positive correlation between the use of digital channels and the NPS of mobile operators. High-NPS operators also garnered an average revenue growth of 33 per cent over 2012-14, whereas the low-NPS operators suffered a revenue decline of 7 per cent on average over the same period.

This high-performing digitally-focused brands are either smaller operators that have been launched in the last decade, or larger players that have managed a transition, but all have adopted either a digital-only operating model or a hybrid model with a greater focus on digital channels.

The majority of operators, however, are struggling to adapt to the shifting needs of users. Only a third of consumers believe that their operator has used digital technologies – website, mobile apps and social media – to improve the customer experience.

As a result, telcos are facing the risk of losing customers. 46 per cent of consumers who rated their mobile operator “poor” in terms of use of digital technologies plan to switch within the next year, compared with 14 per cent of consumers who rated their operator “great” in the use of digital technologies. Such is the demand for a new type of customer experience that more than half of mobile network users (58 per cent) said that they would switch over to a digital-only operator that exclusively uses digital channels to interact with customers.

The study finds that the benchmark for a quality customer experience is being shaped by the digital and personalised experience users receive from ‘over-the-top’ players such as Google, Apple and Facebook. 44 per cent of mobile users would switch to one of these brands if they introduced a mobile service, with 48 per cent citing “better service quality” and 23 per cent “personalised experience” as the main reasons to switch.

“Consumer expectations of telco providers have changed, but many operators have failed to provide what they demand, leading to low customer satisfaction,” said Capgemini Consulting vice president, Romain Delavenne. “Slow roll-out of digital services lies at the heart of the issue and this is a clarion call for operators to accelerate their digital transformation efforts or risk disruption from digital-only players.

“It is clear that investment in digital is key to improving customer satisfaction, however many incumbent operators are saddled with legacy platforms and distribution channels that make true digital transformation difficult. The success of the newer breed of digital-only or hybrid operators in driving customer satisfaction and revenue growth provides a transition path for more established competitors. For many incumbents, realising quickly the benefits of digital could be tackled by launching greenfield, digital-only operations in the short term while continuing with core digital transformation efforts in parallel.”
The study feeding into the report included survey responses from 5,776 consumers across nine countries: the US, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. The survey was conducted during January and February 2016. This research was supplemented with a web-based, secondary research analysing nearly 60 mobile operators in the US and in Western Europe, including their digital initiatives and their customer experience propositions.

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Triby Becomes First Non-Amazon Alexa Device

TribyTriby, the kitchen device from Invoxia that combines music, messaging and communication functionality in one voice-activated product, has become the first non-Amazon product to be Alexa-enabled, in the US.

Triby is a digital assistant, internet radio, connected speaker, hands-free speakerphone, and connected message board rolled into one, and now comes complete with voice control. It employs four digital microphones and noise and echo cancellation technologies to create a beam to capture voices while eliminating background noise from up to 15 feet away.

The device uses wake-word detection to respect privacy: Triby will not send any audio to the cloud until the “Alexa” wake word is detected. It then alerts the user it is listening with an audio and visual signal, and is immediately ready to carry out the user’s voice command. Customers can also choose to mute the microphone at any time by pressing and holding the push-to-talk button on the right side of the device.

Messages, emoji and freestyle drawn doodles can be sent to Triby via its dedicated app. Messages are displayed via Triby’s E-Ink display and its mailbox flag is raised to alert the user that a message has been received.

“As a company specializing in creating speakers and telecoms devices, we are excited by the world of possibilities consumer products like Triby offer families to improve their lives,” said Sébastien de la Bastie, Invoxia MD. “Our expertise in far field voice capture and connected devices helped us integrate the Alexa Voice Service quickly, and now the already multi-functional Triby becomes even more versatile and intelligent, giving people access to continually evolving cloud-based content and services.”

Priced at €199 ($225), Triby first became available through Amazon Launchpad, a program that makes it easy for startups to launch, market, and distribute their products to Amazon customers across the globe.

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Movers & Shakers: Kony, Xaxis, Publicitas and Spirent

The mobile marketing industry is ever-changing, and that applies to the people as much as the technology. Movers & Shakers is a regular feature following the hottest hires in the industry, so you can keep track of who’s joined which company, and what they’re doing there.

Movers Shakers

(From left to right) Bill Bodin, Harry Harcus, Andy Vogel

Kony Hires Master Inventor Bodin from IBM
IBM CTO of mobile computing Bill Bodin has joined enterprise mobility firm Kony as its new mobility market, and shaping Kony’s technology vision and future product roadmap. He will also lead the company’s technology evangelism efforts.

Bodin brings more than 30 years of technology industry experience to Kony. Most recently, he served as CTO for IBM’s Mobile Computing CIO group. He was both a distinguished engineer and a recognised master inventor at IBM, and holds numerous patents in domains including Mobility, Operating Systems, Media, Telematics, Consumer Electronics and Healthcare.

Prior to joining Kony, Bodin created and deployed IBM’s mobile ecosystem, delivering mobile capabilities to IBM’s customers and employees and creating a reference implementation of IBM products and services.
Bodin is also the creator and thought leader for IBM Catalyst, the mobile development accelerator framework (CIO100 2015 award winner). He was a member of the IBM Academy of Technology and Academy Leadership Team and also represented the CIO organisation in the Center for Innovation Leadership (CIL), championing innovation and invention in the IBM Corporation.

“Bill is an extremely well-respected technology visionary leader with an incredible reputation and depth of knowledge and expertise in the enterprise mobility space,” said Dave Shirk, president of products, strategy and marketing at Kony. “He is not only a technical thought leader when it comes to mobile, but has a strong track record of helping businesses take full advantage of mobile transformation.”

Harcus Takes UK MD Role at Xaxis
Programmatic trading desk Xaxis has appointed GroupM veteran, Harry Harcus as Managing Director, UK. Harcus will be responsible for leading the Xaxis UK business, including driving the growth of Xaxis’ performance business, Light Reaction, and its native advertising unit, plista. He succeeds Nicolas Bidon, who was recently promoted to global CEO of plista.

Prior to joining Xaxis, Harcus spent five years in a range of senior positions within GroupM, joining the company in 2011 as digital operations director. During this time, he built a new Digital Operations business unit in the UK, tasked with the implementation of new technologies and the adoption of optimal business processes across GroupM’s media agencies. In his most recent position, Harcus played a key role in the creation of GroupM Connect and was responsible for programmatic buying media operations for GroupM in 2014.

Digital Brief for Vogel at Publicitas
Andy Vogel has joined media and ad services company Publicitas as its head of global digital product. He will be responsible for developing and implementing new digital marketing strategy and products, working across all global regions.

Vogel brings with him more than 20 years’ experience in the development of marketing and revenue strategies for new and emerging businesses.In the US, he has worked at C-level for brands, agencies and media outlets including ADP,, Gannett, the LA Times and Tribune. He has also been on the N. American Board of the Mobile Marketing Association, the Board of the IAB’s Mobile Center of Excellence, and Google’s Publisher Advisory Board.

Rasuo to Head Up Spirent’s Embedded IoT Division
Spirent Communications has appointed Dejan Rasuo to the role of vice president of its Internet of Things (IoT) Connectivity and Subscription Management business. In his new role, Rasuo will lead the sales and business development of Spirent’s Embedded IoT Connectivity and Subscription Management Cloud, which enables universal connectivity on devices to unlock the vast revenue potential of IoT.

Rasuo began his career with embedded security software company Oberthur Technologies and held various positions in his 11-year tenure with the firm, first as an area sales manager and ultimately telecom business director for Central & Eastern European markets. He then earned his start-up credentials with mobile multimedia content aggregation and delivery service provider Go Live as chief sales officer. He subsequently joined mobile solutions company Oasis Smart SIM as European and Americas general manager.

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Easy Ways to Improve Your Apps

51Degrees James Rosewell, CEO and Founder,James Rosewell, CEO and founder of 51Degrees, offers advice on how to monetise apps and improve their success.

At the start of the year, mobile topped the list of marketing trends for 2016, making user experience for desktop, mobile and native apps the number one priority. By the year 2020, there are expected to be 6.1bn smartphone users globally, using multiple devices to browse and access mobile apps. Recent findings from Flurry Insights, an app analytics firm, found that the average time spent per day on mobile devices is two hours and 38 minutes, with 80 per cent of this time spent in apps, compared to 20 per cent in a browser.

The need for apps is still debated. However, many businesses value their existence and rely on them for income and reputation maintenance. The ability to effectively monetise an app is an art, and optimising each user’s experience holds the key to success.

To understand an app’s user base, app developers must look beyond the data that can be pulled from a user’s device. There are many intelligent solutions, such as device detection, that will help build a granular picture of customers, devices and behaviour. 51Degrees has recently launched an API for native app detection – a solution that will recognise thousands of device specifications in under a millisecond. Specifications include retail price of the device running the app; physical screen size; pixel density; and the precise specification of integrated components such as GPU, CPU, cores and Bluetooth radio support.

It is crucial that app developers and marketers understand how to interpret advanced data analytics to improve the overall user experience. It will allow apps to increase revenue through improved advertising, personalisation, message consistency and ease of use.

Personalisation can dramatically enhance user experience, and it can only be achieved by understanding an app’s user base. Layout, content and product catalogues can then be tailored accordingly.

Devices have varying specifications and software capabilities that are often ignored by the employment of a ‘one size fits all’ responsive web design mentality, which is not efficient in conjunction with apps. Consistency and brand messaging are key to encourage brand recognition and respect – the same applies for apps as, if done well, apps can nurture a loyal community. A solution must be sought that can effectively personalise all platforms.

Developers and businesses that implement a device detection solution can benefit from granular device intelligence to push new products and reorganise product catalogues. For example, if a user accessed a shopping app via an iPhone 6, the app could push appropriate complementing products such as iPhone 6 cases or compatible speakers.

Aside from product recommendations, device intelligence can be used to remove the all too familiar ‘Flash needs to be installed on device’ error message – just one example of hundreds of software-related constraints. If an app user’s software is not up to date or it cannot view video on the device, developers can tailor the experience to replace the content with an engaging, relevant alternative.

Navigation is another attribute that must be considered. Although the majority of smartphone devices are touchscreen, it must not be assumed that every user that accesses an app can navigate, for example, a large, drop-down, touchscreen menu.

Clunky apps can be detrimental to revenue and user experience. A study carried out by CA Technologies suggests that users will abandon an app and a brand, sometimes forever, if it does not load in less than six seconds. Clearly then, time is of the essence.

Advertising is crucial to the monetisation of apps, particularly if they are free to download and access. However, ads can often intrude on user interfaces and impact on page navigation, resulting in users exiting apps prematurely. If advertising affects the usability of an app, it is unlikely a user will continue to use it. App developers need to ensure ads are expertly placed so they are portrayed as a useful recommendation as opposed to an intrusive obstruction.

Ad placement is now more important than ever with Apple and Samsung’s introduction of ad blockers, which represent a significant threat to the advertising industry. By understanding the devices that are accessing an app – their screen size, software capability and price – developers can not only ensure that ads are non-intrusive but that they are also targeted, by making assumptions about the user in relation to their chosen device.

In October 2015, Google acknowledged that the tools used to date for mobile optimisation have resulted in the ‘broken mobile web’. In a bid to increase revenue via the mobile web Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for publishers. These are a method of mobile optimisation to create multiple web pages for different devices.

AMP, combined with Google’s mobile-friendly search algorithm, means it is now more important than ever to ensure that apps, mobile and desktop sites are optimised for all devices and remain consistent across all platforms. This can be achieved by implementing a solution such as device detection to streamline content and advertising where necessary, optimise brand messaging on all devices, and improve revenue-attributing features. If all platforms are in tune, brands can improve reputation and become a leader in their space.

Apps continue to be a dominant form of digital interaction. Regardless of business type, an app can help find and retain customers. Once an app has been properly optimised, it is far easier to monetise its service; until then it is often a costly luxury. The use of detailed data analytics will help app developers design interfaces that are unaffected by advertising, personalised and consistent with mobile websites. Simple solutions such as device detection – which is available for native apps – can do the leg work, readying apps for maximised revenue and industry success.

James Rosewell is CEO and founder of 51Degrees

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