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What are you most excited about in Mobile

Good video interviews from Rob Woodbridge and some of the more forward thinking marketers in mobile. Top themes that emerged form the interview:

  1. People still excited about SMS. Many retailers have realized that even though it’s been around for a while, it’s been underutilized.
  2. The lessening of fragmentation in the market will inevitably create more opportunities. This applies to everything form devices to carrier interoperability.
  3. Latin America (LATAM) is a key opportunity and also a key challenge, both from a technical and best practices perspective.
  4. MMS. People seem exited about it, but it’s still a cloudy topic in need of more clarity

Some themes we were surprised didn’t emerge:

  1. Voice and gesture as a means of communication across all devices.
  2. Mobile transactions, e.g., Square
  3. All-mobile social networks
  4. Mobile gaming. Which has overtaken the traditional gaming consoles and appeals to a broad range of demographics.

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A new contender in mobile gaming

Sony introduced its next-generation gaming device, the PlayStation Vita, which is expected to go on sale before the madness of the 2011 holiday shopping season.

The new device is aimed at competing with the likes of Apple’s iPod Touch and the plethora of smartphones and tablets on the market. After the device was first unveiled in January, the show on Monday revealed other details, including the name and basic price.

Priced at $250 – or $299 for the 3G version – the Vita is Sony’s latest effort to control as much of the mobile gaming market as possible, a difficult feat given the stellar competition posed by the likes of Apple and Nintendo.

Similar to Apple’s initial iPhone carrier strategy in the US, Sony revealed this week that AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for the Vita.

The PlayStation Vita boasts a quad-core processor as well as quad-core graphics to go with dual analog sticks and front and rear-facing cameras.

Although Sony believes it is offering “competitive” pricing on the Vita, more than a few analysts believe that Sony has attached a dauntingly high price tag to make the Vita truly capable of reaching mass-market appeal.

“That’s fine for core gamers who want to play games all the time, but it’s too expensive for the mass market,” Dan Ernst, a Hudson Square research analyst, tells Yahoo Finance.

The global games market is projected to reach $65 billion this year, an increase from $62.7 billion last year.

Games Most Popular Mobile App Category in US

According to Nielsen, games continue to be the most popular app category, and according to Nielsen research, 93 percent of app downloaders — those who have downloaded an app within the past 30 days –  are willing to pay for the games they play. In contrast, only 76 percent of downloaders are willing to pay for news apps.

Among smartphone consumers who have played mobile games in the past 30 days, those with iPhones, Windows 7 phones or Android phones are the most likely to have downloaded the games they played, while those with Blackberry phones or featurephones tend to play pre-loaded games.  The average mobile gamer plays an average of 7.8 hours a month.  Those with iPhones tend to play around 14.7 hours each month while those with Android smartphones play around 9.3 hours per month.

Malls Test Apps to Aid Shoppers

From: Wall street Journal, April 26,2011 Kris Hudson

Shopping malls, threatened by the rapid growth of online retailing, are experimenting with mobile applications to help consumers navigate their stores and parking lots and, in some cases, find sales and special discounts.

Simon Property Group Inc., the biggest mall owner in the U.S., offers Shopkick Inc.’s shopper-rewards app in about half of its 338 properties, and is developing its own app to offer group discounts.

Mall owner Westfield Group launched its mobile app at most of its 55 U.S. malls last year. Yet another mall landlord, Glimcher Realty Trust, is discussing a similar app it hopes to introduce in time for this year’s back-to-school season.

The industry’s efforts are just getting off the ground, and none of them are expected to entirely prevent malls from losing more shoppers to Web-based retailers. But mall owners view the apps as vital at a time when shoppers increasingly consult mobile devices like Apple Inc.’s iPhone to plan their excursions.

These mall apps now do little more than help shoppers remember where they parked, and provide store directories and movie times. Some of them also offer reward points for visiting certain stores. But some mall owners envision them doing more.

At a Citigroup Inc. conference last month, Simon Property Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Simon said he would like his malls to emulate Groupon Inc., whose deal-of-the-day website has surged in popularity over the past year. The site uses email to promote group discounts offered by a range of merchants. Shoppers often have to visit one of the retailer’s stores to redeem the coupons they buy.

“What I’d like to figure out how to do—through acquisition or creating it on our own—is to create ‘Mall-on’,” he said. It would be “a loyalty program coupled with an offer program for the mall environment, where we have all of the retailer participation in the mall. …You could see us ultimately buy a technology-based company to facilitate that,” Mr. Simon said.

Mr. Simon didn’t elaborate, but a Simon Property executive said later that the Indianapolis-based company intends to flesh out its plans for the project in the next six months. Last year it assembled a digital-marketing group, led by Patrick W. Flanagan, a veteran of consulting firm Accenture PLC and ShopLocal.com, to oversee mobile apps and other online efforts.

Mall-focused apps are emerging as malls face their biggest challenge ever. Online sales still account for just a fraction of overall retail sales, but they are growing rapidly—gaining 12.6% last year to $176.2 billion—and are expected to increase at a compound annual rate of 10% through 2015, according to Forrester Research.

By contrast, sales at brick-and-mortar stores, excluding gasoline and vehicles, rose 3.7% last year to $2.37 trillion, according to the National Retail Federation. The trade group forecasts 4% growth this year to $2.47 trillion.

Whether mobile apps will help to slow the exodus of mall shoppers remains to be seen.

Shopkick, available in 161 of Simon Property’s malls, is among the leading mobile apps for shopping, with more than one million users. The mall owner and seven retailers, including Target Corp. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., have signed up to offer shoppers rewards through the free app, which is accessible via the iPhone, as well as devices powered by the Android operating system. Simon paid to install transmitters in its malls that sense when a Shopkick user’s phone enters a store.

On average a Shopkick user gets 60 to 150 Shopkick reward points for visiting a participating store. The user can redeem 875 points for a $25 gift certificate from one of the retailers.

In October, Simon Property unveiled its own mobile app, which displays promotions from stores in its malls, publicizes events planned at the properties and helps shoppers remember where they parked.

Australia-based Westfield Group introduced a free app for the iPhone last year and for Research in Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry device last month that provides a mall directory, parking-spot marker and movie showtimes. The app, which it developed with mobile-app maker Simplikate, also allows users to create shopping lists. Westfield said it eventually wants to add product-search and you-are-here locator functions.

David Towers, Westfield’s vice president of digital business, declined to say how many shoppers use the app, except to say it is “in the six figures.”

“As far as working more extensively with retailers, that will come in time,” Mr. Towers said. “But before that happens, we have to build a critical mass of people using our app and [it] becoming a critical part of our shopper experience.”

Indeed, skeptics point out that the relatively small number of people who use mobile apps for shopping make it hard to generate much extra business with them. “It comes back to the fact that they still have relatively small bases of consumers using these things,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

That hasn’t deterred Glimcher, though its mobile app is still on the drawing board. The Columbus, Ohio, company, which owns 23 U.S. malls, said it envisions a free app that includes a parking-spot tracker, a map for navigating its properties and notices of promotions from participating stores. But the company hasn’t selected a contractor to develop and operate the app.

Teen Smartphone Purchase Plans at Record High

From Mobile Marketing Watch Posted on 07 April 2011

More and more US teenagers are entering the US smartphone market.

According to the findings from a new survey by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, teen attitudes toward smartphones – and, in particular, those made by Apple – have never been stronger or more favorable.

Based on the input from the 4,500 students surveyed, 37% of teens expressed plans to purchase an iPhone in the next six months. For one of Piper Jaffray’s bi-annual surveys, this figure represents an all-time high.

17% of teenagers presently own an iPhone, which is an increase from 14% six months ago.

Corresponding to the growing interest in iDevices, Apple’s market share in portable media players has never been stronger in the teen market – 86%, an increase from 78% six months ago.

Equally impressive is the permeation of the tablet computer among teenagers. The survey found that 22% of students either own a tablet or have one in their house. What’s more, an additional 20% anticipate buying a tablet within the next six months.

Where there’s smartphones, there’s music and social media. 65% of teens report using peer-to-peer music sharing networks. The percentage of students who actually download music stands at 77%.

Healtcare Industry Rapdily Adopting Tablets

Why this matters: doctors have to access various information types in the course of the day, but when it comes to talking to patients, the visual nature of tablets is helps them to better understand their situation, disease, treatment and procedures.

An increasingly large segment of the medical community is turning to tablet computers. According to a freshly published study from Knowledge Networks for the pharmaceutical industry, a substantial 27% of primary care providers now own a tablet like Apple’s hugely popular iPad. That’s about 5 times the level in the general population.

The study’s results are based on the findings of a survey targeting some 5,490 doctors. Not surprisingly, an even larger percentage of doctors report owning a smartphone (64%). So what are these medical professionals doing with these devices? They’ve delving into cutting edge medical apps.

About three-quarters of specialists and PCPs view Epocrates, which appears to be the most widely used app of this sort. In general, 40 percent of pediatricians use drug reference apps, compared with 30 percent among specialists. But only 6 percent of specialists and PCPs use apps from drugmakers.

“Mobile technology has indeed proven a boon to busy physicians, helping them keep up on the latest information and manage their practices,” said Jim Vielee, Senior Vice President in charge of Physicians Consulting Network (PCN).

“Their focus on the practical – and slow adoption of branded pharma apps and mobile e-detailing – is something marketers need to keep in mind to make their efforts balanced and effective. Our findings also reinforce the important role that sales rep visits still play in doctor interaction; the transition to digital is still just that, and ignoring either side of the equation is likely to backfire,” Vielee adds.

From the Boston Globe:

Dr. Henry Feldman comes up close to the bed, taps on his iPad a few times, and tilts the panel toward his patient, Courtney Williams. On the screen are small pictures of something raw-looking and pink: the inside of Williams’s stomach, up close and magnified.

The previous day, Williams, a 27-year-old refrigeration technician, had walked into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center weak and dizzy, suffering from excruciating abdominal pain. He had a bleeding ulcer, so severe that he lost almost half his blood.

“That’s your actual ulcer right there,’’ Feldman shows him on a picture, “the thing that sort of looks like a volcano, and what’s underneath that is a blood vessel.’’

He taps on the screen again, and a picture from Frank Netter’s “Atlas of Human Anatomy’’ comes up, showing the stomach and the blood vessels that feed it. He points out exactly where Williams’s ulcer is — “a bunch’’ of ulcers, actually.

Another few taps and Williams’s medical record pops up, so they can discuss discharge instructions. Williams eagerly takes in the information. He’s been through hell, he said, and it’s very important to him to stay healthy now.

Last month, at the launch of the iPad 2, Apple showed a video in which Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess, said the iPad “will change the way doctors practice medicine.’’

It was a bold statement, and not the first lofty claim made about technology. But this much is clear: Hospitals across the United States and as far as Israel and Australia are embracing iPads.

The reason is simple, Halamka said in a phone interview — iPads are a great fit for doctors.

“The secret for the ideal clinical device,’’ he said, “is it has to weigh a pound, it has to last 10 hours, because that’s their shift, you have to be able to disinfect it so there’s no risk of contamination, and you have to be able to drop it 5 feet onto carpet without damage.’’

Technically, iPads weigh about 1.3 pounds, and the wipe-downs they get constantly at Beth Israel Deaconess are strictly against Apple’s directions.

But what makes iPads ideal, doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess said, is that they combine mobility — the ability to do substantive work at the bedside, in a stairwell, anywhere — with interactive touchscreens they can use to share pictures and data with patients.

Other devices available at the hospital — computers on wheels, static workstations, laptops, tablet computers — fall short in critical ways, said Feldman and Dr. Larry Nathanson, an emergency physician and fellow iPad evangelist. Size, weight, and battery life get in the way, they said, and nothing can be flipped around and used at the bedside like an iPad.

As soon as the iPad went on sale, the doctors got them and have been using them since, though in rather different ways.

Nathanson, in the emergency department, keeps the patient tracking system on his screen at all times, so he can keep informed without the constant interruptions of pages to update him. He enters orders and pages colleagues, and pulls up websites for patients on the fly.

Feldman, a hospitalist, has armed himself with educational resources. He used to hand-draw pictures for patients to explain, say, the digestive system; now he uses Netter’s “Atlas,’’ and flips back to X-rays, lab results, etc. to connect the pieces and answer questions.

“The number of times I’ve had patients say to me, ‘That is the first time I have understood my disease’ — I can’t even count,’’ he said. Sometime soon, he believes, “it will become the standard of care to show people this kind of stuff off a device.’’

Yet even at Beth Israel Deaconess, which Feldman said is optimized for mobile devices, with a robust network and Web-based patient records, iPad users are still a minority.

Almost all the iPads are owned by individual physicians, although for a study led by Nathanson, the emergency department bought four iPads to be shared by 15 doctors. More units may be bought for residents, and the hospital has licensed educational content ideal for iPad users, Halamka said.

At Children’s Hospital Boston, chief information officer Dr. Daniel Nigrin said there is already “substantial use’’ of iPads by individual doctors, but the hospital is only beginning to look at ways to use them more extensively in clinical settings.

Children’s has done more with iPads in research, most notably by Howard Shane, director of the hospital’s Center for Communication Enhancement, who advocates the use of iPads to enrich the lives of children with autism as well as other disorders, according to the hospital’s website.

Shane’s research has shown that autistic children are often drawn to touchscreen devices, and the same Apple video that featured Halamka also touted the iPad’s life-changing impact for some children. Shane and his team advise parents on how to use iPads, and they are evaluating existing applications and creating new ones to engage children and help them learn language, according to the website.

At Boston Medical Center, where several doctors already own iPads, network security upgrades had to be made first, but the hospital is launching a pilot study this week with about 20 clinicians, said Meg Aranow, vice president and chief information officer.

“My expectation is that it’s going to go very well,’’ she said, “and we’ll be rolling out more broadly.’’

American Medical Association Launches First Official App for Physicians

The American Medical Association (AMA) has lifted the curtain on its first official medical application (called CPT E/M QuickRef) designed specifically for physicians. The app in question, which is now available for free through the iTunes store, enables doctors to quickly find CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) billing codes.

Compatible with Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, the app features both decision-tree logic and quick search options, allowing physicians to digitally track CPT codes and email them anywhere. Physicians can also save their most frequently used codes by location or type of service to allow for even more ease of use. “The AMA’s new CPT quick reference app helps physicians determine the appropriate E&M code for billing quickly, easily and accurately,” said AMA Board Secretary Steven J. Stack, M.D. Simultaneously, the AMA also launched the 2011 AMA App Challenge to find “the next great medical app idea.”

“To find the next great medical app idea we are going right to the source by inviting physicians, residents and medical students to participate in the first-ever AMA App Challenge.” Open to all US physicians, residents and medical students, the 2011 AMA App Challenge calls on those on the front lines of medicine to submit their unique app idea for a chance to have the AMA bring it to life.

According to the official rules of the contest, participants can submit their app ideas through an online form. Submissions will be accepted through June 30th, 2011. Two winners will be selected, one from the resident/fellow or medical student category and one from the physician category. The winners will each receive $2,500 in cash and prizes, plus a trip for two to New Orleans for the grand unveiling of their winning idea at the AMA’s meeting in November

new incubator for healthcare IT startups

A groundbreaking new incubator for healthcare IT startups, RockHealth, is making mHealth a high priority with a freshly launched program that hopes to direct the attention of today’s best and brightest young developers to the growing tech needs of the healthcare industry.

RockHealth’s founder Halle Tecco says applications are now being accepted from startups that promise tech-driven solutions to some of healthcare’s biggest problems.

“We’re creating an environment where entrepreneurs and developers from other sectors can approach problems in health care,” said Tecco, who serves as managing director for RockHealth.

Tecco wants startups to “build something useful” in the world of healthcare and, in return, your startup may very well be tapped for invaluable mentoring from the likes of Accel Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures, the Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Twitter, and Harvard Business School.

Putting money where her mouth is, Tecco has succeeded in raising $500,000, which will be given out to select companies in $20,000 grants so that they may bring their projects and other ingenious ideas to life.

“Health care cries out for the creative and entrepreneurial talent that has flown so freely into social media,” says Patrick Chung of New Enterprise Associates.

Chung says Rock Health is like “a Petri dish that will propagate many interesting things.”

Tecco recently dished to Tech Crunch that some of the innovative ideas already pitched her way include the likes of therapy-related iPad games for sick children and home health monitoring apps for the iPhone.

Tecco says the first incubator class is set for June and will last until almost the end of the year. Startups, however, must be based in San Francisco “or agree to relocate there.” Applicants from anywhere in the world remain welcome.

Applications are open until May 20th. For more information, or to apply, click here.