SES Toronto Live Blogging – Cool Mobile Apps

Mitch Joel, President, Twist Image
Cindy Krum, CEO & Founder, Rank-Mobile
Nick Patsiopoulos, Yahoo! Canada
Miriam Warren, Director of Marketing,

Cooler than the other side of the pillow

Cindy’s up first!
Starting with what’s important: what makes apps cool, the iPhone being the primary hunting ground.

Unique – Cool special features and combinations of features (Shazam audio search engine)
Viral – Not only for its quality (telling people about it), but its social nature (Monopoly)
Useful – (Air Mouse Pro, turning your iPhone into a mouse, or a wireless keyboard, stereo, tv, etc.)
Interactive – Cool (iBeer glass of beer)
Fun or Novel – Nifty interfaces and fun ways to engage with the app (Urban Spoon restaurant search engine)

All the above examples have all the qualities.

How to make your app cool:

  • See What’s Hot, New & Noteworthy & Staff Pics
  • See what the competition is doing, let what works inspire you
  • Learn from your competitors’ mistakes
  • Learn from other apps for interactivity and fun inspiration
  • Price properly and promote

The coolest thing I will see all day, apparently, coming up…

App evaluation engine! She’s showing an easy tool to change location, time period, type of app, paid vs. free, and other details to be able to see what people like, sortable in cool ways.

Nick Patsiopoulos, Yahoo! Canada

Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998
-Jakob Nielsen,
The opportunities that we’ve enjoyed in desktops will get there in mobile, but it’s tough because the technology progresses at half the rate.
% of Canadians using mobile web has jumped:
Aug 2006: <5%
Aug 2008: Just over 5%
Feb 2009: Just over 20%

What’s changed?
1. The devices – screen, browser, isp.
Extra point about wi-fi, being a major driving force in mobile web use. Makes it more of an integrated part of your daily life. Do heavy users seek mobile devices with wi-fi, or does wi-fi turn people into heavy users?
2. Apps
Far more visual, better usability, taking advantage of browser capabilities
3. Cell Phone Plans
Usually seen as a hindrance. The apps are no longer crap, so it’s more worth it.

3 Apps he loves:
Yahoo! Front page. Right! Real time info, easy look and feel, portal.
Viigo (Blackberry): Access to offline information. Pushes content to the application. Full articles when the RSS contains it.
iHandy Level (iPhone): Better than physical alternative, and takes cool advantage of what the device can do, symbolic for what mobile applications and technology will be able to do as they evolve.

Yelp for iPhone

Miriam now.

They wanted to solve a problem: How to connect businesses to customers?

What is Yelp? (Time for another speaker advert!) Really about connecting to business more than people.
Yelp consumers are affluent, educated adults. Good to send people to businesses with money, after all. She’s proud of her 21 million unique users in May. Nabad! 6 million business reviews, 1 million in the last 3 months. Mostly restaurants, a lot of shopping, and the rest is spread out just about everything else.

What do Yelpers want?
They wanted to build an application that would meet users where they are, Yelping from wherever they feel like, to help them find the best local businesses nearby.

You can search by category (even ATMs!), ratings, proximity (then offering directions).

Shows easy highlights of the information you’re looking for to save you time.

I would have liked to have known more about their development process and strategy, and I feel like I’m just extending her advertisement to our readers here. Enjoy!

She’s talking about the detail in tips and reviews that people give (eg. “This restaurant is dog-friendly!”), and is proud of her “amazingly dynamic community”.

The Future:

  • Ongoing dev for iPhone
  • Focus on features for the community
  • Evaluate opportunities with new mobile devices. They started with the iPhone because it’s what their user-base was using, but they’ll branch out.

Q & A

How long did it take to develop, and how many people were involved?
Miriam: Several months, developed in-house

Does the variety of OS hinder application development?
Cindy: Yep, definitely. Have to keep porting. See what your audience is using, and develop there first.

How do people react to ads on mobile devices?
Summary from the panel: people hate them, threaten to leave their providers, but they end up clicking. Click through rate is around 1%, much better than on non-mobile.

Mitch Joel: How do you overcome the developmental problems associated with developing mobile applications?
Much less competition on Android, so opportunities there. If you make it simple, it’s easier to port.

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