For those of you who haven’t started yet (I know one or two) time is running out. But for those who have been doing their Christmas shopping this year, it turns out that online shopping continues to grow (15% over last year according to the New York Times). What is interesting is that more people are using mobile phones in the shopping process, though appears they largely browse via these devices and make the actual purchases on a tablet or traditional PC/laptop.
It will be interesting to see how mobile phone shopping and purchasing evolves. In the early days on online banking (just about 15 years ago), consumers were willing to review information on their laptops but felt the desktop was much more suitable to make actual transactions. Back then they indicated they felt that desktop computers were more secure and they’d be less error-prone when entering numbers or commands. It may be that as consumers get more and more used to employing smaller mobile screens in the shopping process, increased transaction numbers will follow.
Who knows, maybe in a few years we’ll see an easy return the Christmas presents you don’t want app.
More and more often developers are skipping the PC when designing consumer applications. The latest example is Google’s new Flipboard competitor: Google Currents. Like Flipboard, the application is designed to make a tablet or mobile magazine reading experience better and more interactive. The one interesting wrinkle is that it’s also set up to import your Google reader feeds, taking that content and making it beautiful. It’s good enough that it makes me want to read the content on my phone instead of on my laptop.
Also this week, Twitter released a new version this week. The trick to get the new look and functionality? You had to download it to your Android or iPhone first.
Voyurl, a new data mining service that allows web browsers to collect and analyze their own surf data, wants to give consumers the same power as advertisers to assess their web behavior: Voyurl collects search and surf data to make content recommendations, and to allow individual consumers to analyze their own behavioral trends.
It’s an interesting take on the ongoing privacy debate over tracking consumer behavior online – Voyurl hopes that by putting the same information in consumer hands that third-parties are collecting on them, they will be able to leverage this knowledge in an empowering way.
Curious to see what others are reading into your surfing habits? Sign up for a beta account here.
QR Codes have been around for a while but adoption in the US has been slow. In South Korea, where they’ve caught on, the grocer Tesco has figured out how to combine QR codes, mobile phones, and downtime to make day-to-day lives better. What did they do? Tesco figured out that in the busy lives of Koreans, grocery shopping was a dreaded chore that sucked away their free time. So, by placing QR codes in a previously unproductive space (subway stations) with displays that mirror grocery displays, the retailer was able to grow market share without adding stores.
The brief video below shows how they leveraged a mix of technology, market insights, and strategy to rebrand themselves and provide people with a solution that actually made their lives better.
Two travel brands are essentially telling you to leave your laptop home this summer. If you use any of the Google services like Gmail you won’t need it. Why? They’re offering free Chromebooks for their passenger and customer use. Starting July 1, Virgin America and the Ace Hotel will provide the devices to their customers. The idea is that all your information is in the cloud so the device will let you go out and grab it. The Ace has even created an app for the device that provides a field guide to New York.
The U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies has long supported (for the past ~5 years) an online system for pulling area-based employment and residence data using a visual map-based selection tool called OnTheMap. This software is fairly intuitive and fun to use, but can also be quite useful in exploring a specific market or region to understand where workers live and work, and how that has changed over time.
OnTheMap is useful for more than work location, however. It’s a multi-layered mapping tool, with companion data on demographics, earnings, industry characteristics. We’ve also used it to identify exact metropolitan statistical areas and radius ranges, to find transportation routes, greenspace, and tribal and military lands, and to simply better understand a physical marketplace.
For years, organizations like the Census Bureau relied heavily on point-in-time estimates, tables of statistics and physical and static maps for data exploration like this. As new systems come online, are developed further, and improved over successive versions, our ability to access information from our desktops is not only facilitated but empowered.