Saturday, December 15, 2012

Innovation - from the eyes of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

I recently read a Bloomsberg Businessweek article featuring an interview with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, that basically sums up my thoughts about digital innovation.

 Image from LA Times

Quality over quantity
Many companies get lost in keeping up with new platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, but the fact is that platforms will continue to be invented everyday. It's important to keep up with what's going on in your industry and be timely with everything you do, but to "keep up" by building products and services around the the new and coolest is the easiest way to digress your company culture.

How Tim Cook sees it:
"Apple has changed every day since I have been here. But the DNA of the company, the thing that makes our heart beat, is a maniacal focus on making the best products in the world. Not good products, or a lot of products, but the absolute best products in the world."
This is why Apple is one of the greatest companies -  it reinforces its persistence in company philosophy from top to bottom. Apple ensures that it takes into account new popular apps and user behaviors when building new user interfaces, but refuses to release a new product until it's at its perfection at the time. While other companies continue to push out new products and services every quarter, Apple releases ONE new product every year or two.

Focus on how to make people's lives better, profits are just byproducts
When you're blinded by how your product is going to make money, you're likely to lose focus on how to make the best product so it'll actually sell. I heard about the Convenience Quotient at a mobile conference recently, and it states that any time you build a new platform or product, the benefits provided for the user has to be much larger than the barriers to adoption. In other words, it's great to provide innovation, but keep in mind your user habits, and how difficult it would be to adopt your new product.

How Tim Cook sees it:
"In creating these great products, we focus on enriching people's lives - a higher cause for the product. These are the macro things that drive the company. They haven't changed. They're not changing. I will not witness or permit those changes because that's what makes the company so special.

We want to really enrich people's lives at the end of the day, not just make money. Making money might be a byproduct, but it's not our North Star."

Creativity is not a process, it comes from everywhere and everything

The key to the best innovation is simplicity.

How Tim Cook sees it:

"Creativity is not a process, right? It's people who care enough to keep thinking about something until they find the simplest way to do it... A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation of something... Everybody in our company is responsible to be innovative, whether they're doing operational work or product work, or customer service work."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stella Artois' Le Bar Guide App - A Great Idea That Fell Short

This is definitely not a new mobile app, but I was a little slow to discover it. The Stella Artois Le Bar Guide app helps beer/Stella Artois lovers find and discover places to drink. It pulls in Google Maps to search nearest bars serving Stella Artois to your location in an Augmented Reality. The whole idea is quite fantastic and could turn into a frequently used app for pub crawlers, but it is currently rated 2.3 stars in the app store and has yet seen success.

Let's start off with some cool things it does:

A little too tipsy to find a bar...
So, you had a few drinks, but you planned on bar hopping, so let's keep that going. Where is the next bar? Oh, here you go. On a map, in real life, and on a list. You really can't miss it.

I know you said that way, but which way is it?
In case the alcohol is doing funny things in your system, if you point your camera down to the floor, arrows will appear on your screen to guide you way to your next bar.

I need to go home, someone help me. Please?

One drink too many, and you completely forgot to appoint a designated driver at the beginning of the night. Here's your sober friend. The app lists cab numbers and calls it when you click on it. You can still say your address correctly right?

I'm in the cab and am ready to put down some drunk comments...
Forget drunk texting, here's a place to comment on the specific location you went to, and see what others have said.

It also does a little bit of Yelp.
On this "Rate it" tab, you can rate the bar by it's menu, dance, clientele and service.

Sounds pretty awesome, so what's wrong with it?

Firstly, no one knows about it.
Well that could be quite the problem. I could create the world's greatest app that does your laundry and homework, but not tell anyone about it. Not really sure if I really need to elaborate on this.

Use Google Maps, but all of it.
It pulls in Google Map locations and images, but it only shows you 10 locations within your state. There should really be at least 10 locations within my block when I'm in the city. If you look closely, the nearest bar locations to you is about 2.5 miles away. Half a mile is really far away when you have a few drinks, let alone 2.5.

Why can't I share?
I would choose to believe that this app was created for social reasons, but none of it is connected to any social networking platforms.

Here are some opportunities that would make this app awesome:

Pull in the Google Maps.
This app could be really cool if it pulled in all the locations that served Stella Artois, instead of a selected few. The description in the app store says that it currently only has a few of the brand's favorite bars but will be building to full coverage in 2010. It's been two years and there are barely 10 bars listed in Boston. This makes the app quite unhelpful.

Create conversation
If the point was to have people use the app and talk on it, it would make a whole lot more sense if it pulled in the foursquare tips, Yelp tips, and Twitter conversation surrounding each location.

I'm drunk, don't make me press so many buttons.
While you're at it, why not connect to foursquare, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram so that

1. It checks you in on Facebook and Foursquare.

2. Allows you tweet a half templated text like "I'm sipping on my @StellaArtois at XXX..."

3. Lets you upload pictures on/from Instagram (although this could be dangerous since drunk photos can be .... you know, drunk.)

The 3D augmented reality and the whole idea is fantastic, but would it hurts me to see that it didn't take off because it only went half way.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Viggle for Couch Potatoes - Initial Pros and Cons

Hooray! Here comes the first ever television loyalty program on social for all you couch potatoes out there.

What is it?
It is a social app that allows you to check-in to your favorite television shows to receive points for gift cards to CVS, Burger King, Starbucks, Banana Republic and many more.

What can you do on it?
-Check-in to shows (obviously).
-Watch short trailers or ads for points.
-Keep up-to-date and post on Facebook and Twitter about the show in real time.
-"Like" shows.
-Set reminders/alarms for when your shows are aired.
-Keep track of your check-in and rewards history.
-Invite your friends to Viggle for 200 points.
-Look up more info on shows listed via IMDB, Wiki, iTunes, Amazon, Bing, and Facebook.

How does it work?
It works like Shazam, it "listens" to part of the show to identify which show you're watching.

Here are my initial thoughts of the app:

1. Users are awarded for something they already love to do. 
This is like if I got paid for sleeping my normal hours. TV-lovers are now rewarded with food, clothing, music and more just by doing their things, and perhaps encouraged to be a little more social.

2. Yes, do remind me when my shows are AND give me free stuff. 
So Viggle will be my alarm clock for shows and give me things too... can't complain.

3. Yay! I'm not the only Castle fan out there admiring how pretty Becket is! 
The "Latest Chatter" feature pulls up a real-time feed from Facebook and Twitter on the chatter about your show. It allows you to post real-time to share/complain/admire with fellow TV-ers during your show.

1. Wait, how many hours do I have to watch for a coffee? 
So let's say a $5 gift card for Starbucks is 7,500 points (as currently listed on Viggle), and one check-in is around 100 points... if my Asian math does not fail me, that equates to 75 check-ins. That's about 19 shows per week for a month, less than 3 shows a day... I don'w know about you, but that's a lot of TV watching.

2. Oh dear god my muffin top is not going away. 
Not judging all the TV-watchers, but I eat when I watch TV... this increased in TV viewing doesn't seem very healthy for me. Just think what happened when Facebook was born and how many hours people spend Facebooking.

3. EVERYONE SHUSH, I'm trying to check-in. 
For those of you who use Shazam, you'd understand my frustration. Since it requires "listening," if the parts of the show aren't properly recorded (of which I assume you could be with friends, cooking, or drying your hair,) you can't check-in! "Sorry, no match" is one of the most irritating messages.

4. Why don't I have Viggle friends =[.
Yes it allows me to read/post on Facebook and Twitter, but what if I just want to see what my friends watched/ are watching? Or if I wanted to recommend shows to my friends? Foursquare lets me have friends, can I have friends on Viggle please?

5. I can't invite my friends.
So one of my friends asked me to invite him so I can get the 200+ points. It turns out I can only invite by email, and ONLY emails that are existing in my iPhone address book. Inserting a new email address is not possible.

What can brands do with this?
  • Well ad exposure of course. When you check-in, a full-iPhone-page spread of advertising pops-up.
  • Learn more about what their audience like to watch, then join TV campaigns with social ones!
  • Encourage conversation DURING shows!
  • Contests! Woot! Imagine Coca Cola running a contest for users to find product placement within an episode for prizes!
So there goes my initial thoughts of Viggle. In general, I think it's a pretty cool idea. The app has only been launched for less than 2 weeks. I will come back to this when it is in full throttle!

What are some of your thoughts on this? Do comment or tweet at me @Mayzyap :).