Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Futures Broker Embracing the Mobile Web

Futures Broking via Mobile Device
Futures Broking via Mobile Device
Perhaps the central issue with marketing via the mobile web is the centrality of the mobile web to the marketing organisation's thinking process. Is the mobile web central to the thought process, or is it something of an afterthought? I have to own up that in most projects I've been involved in, even in the past year, I have to convince clients and their web designers of the value of the mobile web. Indeed, even in recent months some clients choose to ignore my advice to make their new websites truly mobile friendly.

Most of the time my attempt to persuade is to quote the progress made by clients that sell online. Pointing out the dramatic sales growth via tablet devices such as iPads. My request is for the new website to be built using responsive web design. That is a web design that adapts to the screen resolution of the displaying device. But given that most web designers are not familiar with the CSS and design skills required to effectively operate responsive web design, in the end we tend to compromise. We generally end up with a design that works okay with iPads and other tablets but fails to work on smart phones.

In essence, most clients have failed to fully embrace the potential of the mobile web. The same could not be said of futures brokers RJ O'Brien. RJO have launched a complete suite of mobile friendly products and services built specifically for the needs of users of iPhone and Android smart phone devices.

The thinking behind RJ O'Brien's approach is driven by the need to provide a seamless service; in the office, on  the road, and at home and a stream of real time information in a market category where information is time critical.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Mobile and Ski Tracking Apps

It has a big weekend for mobile apps. The Sunday Times published the first edition of The App List, a list of what it claims is the top 500 Apps in the World. This week's edition listed a total of 250 apps. These were for news, games and social networking.

The Sunday Times is published behind a paywall so that you can't get online access to much of its content and of course Google cannot crawl and index it. The only way to get the content is to sign up for a subscription. The cheapest of which is the digital edition which costs £2 per week. So I'm relying on the old fashion way of reading the paper edition of the newspaper and picking out some highlights.

Skiing off-piste near Chamonix
Skiing Off-Piste - Avoiding Danger
The first edition App List does not cover travel mobile apps. Travel will be covered in the second section to be published next Sunday. However, the Driving and Technology section of the paper did cover skiing apps. Entitled White Hot, the best ski and snowboard apps. The newspaper selected 5 apps that between them can measure the calories you are burning, create a photomontage or even calculate the risk of avalanches in your ski area.

The mobile apps were a combination of free and paid for apps. Four of the apps are available for both Android and iPhone. With one exclusively for iPhone. In terms of value, the good news is that 4 of the 5 apps are available in free editions.

Alpine Replay - Free, iPhone and Android - Rated best for Fitness.
This is a tracking app that also uses your mobile's GPS to gather stats as you ski down the mountain and works out how many calories you are burning. Some features require an upgrade costing £2.99 per month.

Ski Tracks - 69p, iPhone and 79p Android - Rated best for Tracking
Described as a tracking app for the stats-obsessed winter sports fan. This app also uses your mobile's GPS  to track your maximum speed, distance travelled and vertical descent.

Actionshot - Free, iPhone - Rated best for Action Photos
Skiers and snowboarders often attempt to get action photos of jumps and turns. If this is you, then this is the best app for on or off-piste skiing photography. Its downside is that it is not available for Android devices.

Mammut Safety- Free, iPhone and Android - Rated best for Safety
This app gives up to date information on avalanche bulletins and assesses the risk of where you are standing.  This app also includes an in-app SOS button that sends an SMS text for help.

Ski and Snow Report - Free, iPhone and Android - Rated best for Powder Reports
This helps you make the most of your time on the ski slopes by helping you find the best powder snow. The app covers 2,000 major ski resorts.

A general rule for all of these apps is to make sure you understand the costs of using your mobile device whilst skiing abroad. Many of these apps are data hungry. So be careful to use locally available wi-fi. The Sunday Times carried out its tests in the Trois Vallees resort of Val Thorens, where wi-fi is widely available on the slopes and ski lifts. Other resorts that have a large number of outlets with free wi-fi include Chamonix. Both resorts have very high ski runs and offer off-piste skiing, where the safety and tracking would come into their own.

My advice would be to limit your selection to just one ski app. Decide on your priority - depending on the resort and type of skiing you will likely undertake and the function of the app that best suits it; tracking, fitness or powder snow etc. Once you have installed the app then set-up and familiarise your self with it before you travel on your ski holiday.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Shares Fall For Android Backed Mobile Products

Some of the leading technology brands saw heavy falls in their share prices due to the Apple victory over Samsung in the recent patent infringement case. Samsung shares fell 7%. But Google, as the provider of the Android mobile operating system, also fell by 2.8%. The market fears that the long term prospects of the Android system and products could be held back by San Jose court ruling that concluded that Samsung had infringed a number of Apple's patents.

Google has recently acquired a large number of mobile phone related patents from electronics manufacturer Motorola. Google acquired Motorola's mobile phone division along with 17,000 patents earlier this year. Amongst other things, Motorola will focus on its two way radio product range.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Blogger Ap

Just using the Blogger Ap on my smartphone. It's a little slower than using a desktop. But it does enable me to publish posts whilst on the move.

Google's Mobile Web Recommendations

Following my recent post on responsive web design, I have spotted Google's recommendations on building websites for smartphones. Essentially, Google are stating that a responsive web design that adjusts the display via CSS is their preferred option.

When building a website that targets smartphones, Google supports three different configurations:
  1. Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
  2. Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device.
  3. Sites that have a separate mobile and desktop sites.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Smartphone Bounce Rates and Website Design

Skeleton as seen on an iPad Tablet and an iPhone Smartphone
For two years now we've been talking about the mobile web as the elephant in the room. Indeed speculation is growing about the true value of Facebook on the basis that it has yet to find a way to monetise users accessing its site from mobile devices. This growth of mobile usage is not just a problem for Facebook.

One problem for website owners is that with smartphone and tablet usage growing so much faster than traditional desktop and laptop devices there websites are hit with incredibly high bounce rates. Our own research shows smartphones bounce rates 44% higher than for desktop and laptop devices. And we regularly see smartphone bounce rates above 70%.

One major cause of these high bounce rates is likely to be design. Many websites designed for desktop just do not look that good on smartphones. They are hard to view and require manual pinching and resizing in order to access content. Some standard solutions exist, including the one used on Blogger for this website. We also use a mobile site modifier for the internal blog attached to our main website. However, neither of these solutions is entirely satisfactory.

Firstly much of the aesthetic aspects of the original website are lost. Secondly, the ability to navigate around the whole website is severely restricted. One solution I have come across is the responsive web based solution called skeleton.  The image above captures the key concept behind the responsive nature of the code behind skeleton. That is, that websites designed in skeleton still look good on both tablets and smartphone devices. In my opinion a mobile responsive design would do much to reduce mobile bounce rates. I will be writing more about skeleton and the responsive web in future posts.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Google's Motorola Acquisition Clears Final Hurdle

Google's acquisition of Motorola's mobile phone business has crossed its final hurdle by gaining approval from the Chinese Government. As well as the Motorola smartphone manufacturing business Google acquires more than 17,000 patents. These patents will help defend Google's Android smartphone browsing device in any intellectual property dispute with other mobile phone manufacturers.

Motorola will retain and focus its activities on its Motorola two way radio business. Motorola is the global brand leader in two way radios and has recently launched the Motorola SL4000-4010 range.

Google's Android smartphone browser has recently overtaken that of Apple's iPhone.