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Last week, Austin Texas transformed into the largest playground for creative talent around the world during the 22nd Annual SXSW Festival. Every year there is an overwhelming turnout of musicians, technologists, film makers, sponsors, exhibits, speakers, parties… and more parties. However, it seems that every year something from the Interactive portion of the event finds it’s way into the spotlight. In the past Twitter, GroupMe and FourSquare all took center stage, launching into success at SXSW. This year everyone was talking about the live streaming app, Meerkat.

SXSW is an incubator for cutting edge technology and creativity. Everyone wants to know the ideas of tomorrow. The thing is, speakers couldn’t keep themselves from discussing the future of mobile. From mobile influence, engagement, wearables and mobile payments there is always a special place in SXSW’s heart for mobile – especially during the contests.

Jumping into the contests, there was a generous amount of tech submitted to the 2015 Interactive Innovation Awards. Here are some of our mobile picks from the batch of winners:

FireChat (Free iOS, Android) – As the winners of the ‘Innovation in Connecting People’ category, FireChat is a mobile application that allows users to communicate or chat off the the grid without access to internet.

Freewavz –  Designed by Dr. Eric Hensen, FreeWavz are wireless earphones that received praise because they adhere to the fit-tracking needs of wearable users. More specifically, they allow users to track and hear updates on their heart rate, calories burned, distance, steps and exertion when they want. This made them the 2015 winner of the ‘Wearable Tech’ category.

Guide Dots (Free iOS, Android) –  Lastly, Guide Dots won the ‘Transportation Advancements’ category. This app is particularly interesting because it uses proprietary crowd-sourced GPS location data from Google Places and Facebook Nearby. Using this data it can call out locations and intersections to users so that they can receive nearby promotional offers and find friends who have checked in nearby. Guide Dots mainly hopes to provide an optimized user experience for the visually impaired.

We predict mobile will be an even bigger discussion next year at SXSW 2016, with Virtual Reality tech and the Internet of Things making waves in the mobile sphere. Granted, we look forward to being apart of the journey and seeing what next years talent has to bring.

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We’ve seen a variety of fashion brands such as Vanity Fair, FarFetch, and Wallpaper* provide travel guides that inspire, influence and engage their user base. On Feb 4, 2016 Vogue officially released it’s own rendition of these guides with Vogue’s City Directory, sponsored by Estée Lauder.

Plastic’s COO & President, Melody Adhami, and Luxury Daily noticed Vogue’s mobile travel guide and decided to take a closer look at it’s initiative.

Vogue invites readers to ‘discover’ the most fashionable cities, by providing readers access to content picked by fashion designers, vogue staff, models and a variety of exclusive influencers. The City Directory then guides readers through activities from shopping, dining and other services, in cities such as New York, London, LA, Milan, Paris and Shanghai.

Although this strategy is nothing new, Vogue is taking advantage of the opportunities that mobile has to offer by presenting their content in a format mobile users are familiar with. Melody explains,

“Presenting content in this listed format has become the norm on mobile and is expected by users today. This sort of listed content is beneficial to Estée Lauder because the repetition of ads throughout the content help the brand make an impact in case the ad at the top of the page doesn’t catch the user’s eye.” She continues, “The great thing about mobile is with the limited screen real-estate and on-the-go users with short attention spans, a brand can have a much greater impact by including consistent presence rather than a one-off splash ad.”

While Melody trusts that, “Estée Lauder will definitely benefit from the numerous ads especially since they are not competing with another brand, ” she also believes that the ads could have been better incorporated in the content for a more curated feel.

“Moreover, there seems to be no common thread between the content and the ads. Estée Lauder would have probably benefited from designing their campaign to be more visually aligned with the way the content is presented in the guide,” she concludes.

See Luxury Daily’s screenshots and comments on Vogue’s City Directory here.

 

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Sorry folks, the Doctor Oz alone just won’t cut it anymore. The latest way to stay engaged, informed and involved in your health is – cue drumroll – mobile.

It’s true; mHealth applications are truly empowering consumers to take control of their health and bodies. We’re not suggesting that your mobile device will be the end all cure to bodily ailments, but whether it’s using mobile applications to improve knowledge or using data and biometrics, mobile is playing a crucial role in driving growth between B2B and B2C healthcare providers and organizations.

I’m sure you’ve come across some wearable device or other that’s countings steps and measuring heart rates, or tracking sleep patterns. The increased adoption of mHealth apps that leverage the explosion of wearable and health innovations might seem straight out of a sci-fi film. Wearable health technology including, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, blood glucose monitors, asthma managers,  and pain relief sensors are encouraging people to take control of their health by keeping track of their bodies.

The issue remains, that healthcare providers and organizers have yet to truly take advantage of mobile technology that engages and empowers patients. Our bodies shouldn’t be a mystery to us, we are looking at a generation of people who want to be more involved in the tracking of their health. People are constantly searching for information on how to manage chronic and acute disorders, all while the solution is right there in the palm of their hands. Mobile allows for the public to make health data and information relevant and useful to their everyday lives as well as their physicians, with seamless data transfers.

By engaging consumers through intuitive and delightful user interfaces, leveraging voice assistance with context aware technology, the healthcare providers who choose to deliver a complete end-to-end solution will have the opportunity to become the ‘Big Heroes’ that meet the needs of these health conscious users.

This year mHealth apps have been a particularly focused on usability, and gamification to maintain engagement. Apps such as, KidSpeak – Medical Preps for Kid, Liverpool HEP iChart, and IntensiveMCQ, can all be found on iMedicalApps’ 10 Best Medical Apps released in January list and are just the beginning of applications bridging the information gap in the healthcare industry.

Mobile can truly drive healthier behaviour by improving health management and user awareness. By making better use of the mobile technology available to us we can finally move forward within the healthcare ecosystem.

Which application will your doctor prescribe next?

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2015 has been less than stellar so far for Target. Between closing operations in Canada and poor reviews on their mobile applications, Target was due for a new idea and it looks like mobile loyalty is their focus.

Target recently announced its testing a new loyalty program called REDperks. The program is centred around a mobile app that enables users to earn points on their purchases.

For testing purposes, this program is currently limited to the Raleigh- Durham area of North Carolina, by invitation only. The app allows users to earn 10 points for every 5 dollars they spend. Once a user reaches 5,000 points, they will be rewarded with a 5% off coupon that can be used towards purchases at Target.  The most worthwhile part of this program is the coupon can be stacked on top of other coupons and discounts available to shoppers.

As a sign that the brand is paying attention to the purchase behaviours of its customers, the app will also offer users free Starbucks occasionally.

Although there is a little information on how this program will work in conjunction with its core loyalty program, Target RedCard, REDperks sheds light on the brand’s strategy to use mobile as a tool to drive purchases and foster loyalty. Their approach, however, may not provide users with the best experience. Target’s app ecosystem is already fragmented with RedCard, Cartwheel, and Target’s flagship app all being separate applications. Adding another app to the mix could be frustrating for shoppers and hinder downloads.

Furthermore, REDperks users can only acquire points by scanning a barcode once a purchase is complete. Requiring users to take an additional action- after they’ve made a purchase- may turn off mobile users, who are used to earning points immediately once they open their wallets!

 

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Barcelona probably makes you think about beautiful beaches, sunny skies and vacation. This past week if you were thinking about Barcelona it probably wasn’t for one of those reasons, instead last week everyone thinking about the city was focused on the Mobile World Congress. Mobile World Congress is a yearly event and took place from March 1st to 5th this year, and you guessed it…it’s all about mobile technology.

Going into MWC the big storylines this year were new mobile devices from Samsung and HTC. By the first day both companies had delivered the latest variation of their flagship smartphones. HTC announced the M9 which is being hailed as an incremental spec bump over the M8 and largely holds the same phone design. The Galaxy S6 is being hailed as a reinvention with tacky plastic of the past models left behind, instead an amalgamation of glass and metal make up the new Samsung Galaxy S6. In terms of specs the spec bump was standard with the a key hardware change, Samsung is using it’s Exynos processor over the incumbent Snapdragon 810. Considered by some to be a risky move as Samsung’s processor doesn’t have the repertoire that a Snapdragon does, we will have to wait and see if it pays off. To compliment the S6, the S6 Edge was also announced which features a curved screen on both sides of the phone. Both of these new phones will have Samsung Pay, Samsung’s proprietary mobile payment platform that works with both NFC and magnetic strip readers.

Aside from expected announcements there was some unexpected news from several companies that brought products besides smartphones. Huawei and LG both brought round smart watches that looked spectacular. Huawei in particular showcased their “Huawei Watch” that features the standard metal clasp seen on most mens watches, folding into the rest of the metal band nicely. LG’s watch featured 4g LTE connectivity cutting ties with your smartphone.

We are with you if you said you wouldn’t have expected to see any furniture companies at MWC, but this year we were both wrong. IKEA showed up and bought wireless charging with them. They showcased a complete line of furniture including desks and lamps that feature wireless charging compatible with devices already on the market. Action cameras were also at the show, aside from the ones attendees were wearing, Xiami brought its action camera which is reminiscent of a GoPro but at a fraction of the price and specs that punch above its weight class.

Mobile World Congress put on a good showing this year with lots of big announcements and set the city of Barcelona a buzz with journalists, innovators and media. We thoroughly enjoyed the news coming out of Barcelona all this week and can’t wait until next years installment!

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San Francisco has become a haven of technology thanks to nearby places like Silicon Valley. Continuing with longstanding tradition Apple once again set the stage and rallied the troops er.. media to descend upon San Francisco just in time for Daylight Saving Time with its “Spring Forward” event. The presentation followed the iconic style pioneered by Steve Jobs and welcomed the much anticipated Apple Watch alongside new devices and developer kits. Tim Cook took the opportunity to boast to the crowd Apple’s current success as a primer to the announcement by announcing that the company has sold 700 million iPhones till date!  If you missed it, here’s what came of the event.

Apple TV

Likely the smallest component of the conference, Apple TV opened the floodgates. It was revealed that cord cutters dreams would be coming true with access to digital subscriptions such as HBO and ESPN coming to Apple TV.  Apple knew that everyone would be excited to get their hands on these new subscriptions and decided to shave $30 off the price of Apple TV. With the device now at $69 instead of $99 new customers will now have a few extra dollars in their wallets to pay for the exclusive content subscriptions. To provide further insight into the HBO subscription CEO Richard Plepler made an on-stage appearance at the event and to spark buzz around its coveted Game of Thrones.

ResearchKit

Moving on from Apple TV, Research kit was next. ResearchKit is a push by Apple to sophisticate (in a positive way) and bring mobile health to the forefront. Simply put ResearchKit is a tool designed for people working in the medical field. This app can be seen as an extension of the already existing Healthkit. The main draw here is the data collection that users can opt into. The data provided by users will help medical researchers draw conclusions from bigger sample pools and hopefully advance modern health.

Macbook

Staying true to its roots as a personal computing company Apple began to talk about its line of laptops. The main update for this category was the thinner, 12 inch Macbook, not to be confused with the existing Macbook with Retina or Macbook Air. The new rendition weighs in at a near weightless 2 pounds and boasts a 2304×1440 display resolution. By contrast it is 24% thinner than the current Macbook Air but a little heavier on the wallet, priced at $1,299. Aside from the main specs some interesting new features have been implemented such as “Force Click” a new take on the traditional trackpad, the keyboard also received a small update switching from traditional “rubber dome” keys to steel switches.  As for the internal design, the newer Macbook will consume 30% less than previous displays and features only 2 ports, USB-C and a headphone jack. Battery life is promised to clock in at approximately 10 hours of mixed usage. In the market for a new laptop? This one will be available April 10th in silver, space grey or gold.

Apple Watch

Likely what most members of the general public and media were the most anxious to hear about. Most people were already aware this product existed, but the conference served as a deeper dive into the product, and of course the much rumoured pricing scheme. The main draws and capabilities of the watch were reiterated throughout the conference – such as fitness tracking, voice assistance, and Apple Pay. Pricing for the luxury smartwatch are as follows (CAD):

The Apple Watch Sport – $449 (38mm) to $519 (42mm)

The Apple Watch – $699 (38mm) to $799 (42mm)

The Apple Watch Edition – $13,000 (limited quantities)

Each edition of the Apple Watch will be available in a variety of color and material combinations. Pre-orders being on April 10th with the device launching in several countries on April 24th.

Throughout the entire conference the team here at Plastic was glued to our screens watching the event and hearing all the latest updates. The big news from the event will certainly be the talk of the office for days to come.

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Plastic’s very own CEO, Sep Seyedi, recently opened up a discussion on the future of wearable devices and mobile payments on MediaPost Agency Daily. Sep suggests that as adoption of wearables and mobile payments sets sail, it’s only a matter of time before these two technologies overlap.

Sep began by laying out the landscape of mobile payments and wearables, saying “Although not new, mobile payments have resurfaced as a hot trend, thanks in large part to the introduction of Apple Pay late last year.”

As for wearables Sep notes the fast changing tech market and explains,  “In fact, it’s common for wearable tech to have several iterations per year.” This is most obvious with the wave of smartwatches released in the past few months, such as Google’s Android Wear and the much-anticipated Apple Watch. Sep sees this as an opportunity for mobile devices to truly embrace mobile payments.

“As smartphones begin to edge out the need to carry a dedicated wallet, watches are poised to get in on the action as well. It may be hard to imagine paying for something with your watch. That’s because Apple Watch aside, many brands have yet to talk about- let alone release- a smartwatch that gives users mobile payment functionality”, he expands.

Paying for things on your smartwatch has become a lot more realistic as,

“Apple Watch will serve as an NFC [near field communications] capable intermediary that features a “mini” Passbook app to allow users of fifth generation iPhones (and up) to utilize Apple Pay”.

Although this solution still requires a smartphones to make a purchases, this is the beginning of smartwatch devices taking on mobile payment technology. Sep concludes,  “Implementing fitness tracking and mobile payments into smartwatches will help advance its position from a gadget-like toy, to a full-fledged mobile solution.”

 

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Plastic’s COO & President, Melody Adhami, and Luxury Daily took a closer look at the new luxury marketplace, Farfetch, and their mobile marketing initiatives on Departures website.

For those unfamiliar with Farfetch, their mobile ad campaign, Unfollow, piqued interest with the tagline “explore 300 boutiques at 1 address”, which Luxury Daily noted was a good introduction to the brand and allowed them to align themselves with other global networks and boutiques.  Melody commented on the brand’s latest marketing strategy saying,

“Although this is a great opportunity for Farfetch to position themselves as a luxury brand their messaging may be disconnected with that goal based on their focus on promotions and exclusive sales.”

On the Farfetch landing page, consumers are invited to download the brand’s Discover app. The app includes both shopping and travel guides sourced from the brand’s global boutique owners to offer users a bigger bang for their app. Melody comments on this type of experience stating, “This allows for a richer mobile user experience that travelers beyond fashionistas can enjoy.”

Melody continued to address the company’s mobile ads initiative saying “Farfetch Discover made good use of mobile ads to drive downloads and to better engage their user base to the app.”

Overall Melody concluded, “Farfetch’s campaign ‘unfollow’ is eye catching and intriguing to early adopters.” as for their mobile ads, “Although their messaging was a bit unclear, with more emphasis on customer loyalty their effort has potential to drive a lot more downloads and sales.”

 

Our team was curious about the concept of marrying old and new methods of gaming. The idea was to create a completely mobile version of an existing board game, applying mobile to each and every aspect.

We’re never too old for games, and mobile games have vastly diversified in narrative, now appealing to the masses. Once only loved by the gamers, mobile games have attracted a variety of mobile users and sparked a growing popularity in the development of games such as Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, and the agitating Flappy Bird.

eMarketer recently quantified the value and impact of mobile gaming this year, relative to other mobile content genres. The findings were prominent in terms of growth, with a large part due to the freemium model. The report dictated that “US mobile game revenues—including both downloads and in-app purchases—expected to grow 16.5% in 2015 to reach $3.04 billion.”

Additionally, eMarketer found that in comparison to other mobile content genres such as ebooks, videos, and music, mobile gaming is tipped to account for 30.9 % of the US mobile content market in 2015. Despite the potential marginal increase from 29.3 % in 2014, mobile game revenues have still not reached its peak as the number of device owners in the US continues to surpass 200 million.

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Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research firm, recently updated its research on Leading Mobile Agencies. The new research ranks Plastic Mobile as a Market Leader in two of the research categories – App Marketing Agencies and New York Mobile App Developers.

Plastic was first approached by Clutch several months ago, during the first iteration of their App Marketing Agency research. The review process involved a complete analysis of Plastic’s services, technical and strategic capabilities, and the diversity of project types and sizes.

 In addition to an internal assessment of our professional experiences, Clutch analysts also conducted in-depth interviews with several of our valued clients. The performance feedback that Clutch gathered on our behalf was especially gratifying.

“You can tell that the Plastic team loves what they do. They are passionate about it. They’re not locked to supplying only what a client pays for. They are more than willing to suggest ideas as we go. Plastic is a great company and definitely poised for growth.” explained one Plastic Mobile client during the interview with Clutch.

Pizza Pizza, another valued client commented, “We see Plastic not only as a partner but as an extension of our group. They’re very unique, and that’s why they’re very good at what they do. They stand out in their designing.”

Plastic Mobile is delighted to be recognized as a Market Leader as well as a practice that is consistently creating five stars apps and breaking new ground in the mobile industry.

For a full list of all companies considered:

New York Mobile App Developers –  https://clutch.co/directory/mobile-app-developers-nyc

App Marketing Agencies – https://clutch.co/agencies/app-marketing

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Luxury Daily and Plastic Mobiles COO, Melody Adhami, team up to take a closer look at a series of advisements by Leading Hotels of the World featured on Departures’ mobile website.

While the ads seeks to entice viewers to explore their properties, their approach does not evoke the uncommon aesthetic that the brand maybe aiming to communicate; conversely this may be something that attracts the reader’s attention. Mel elaborates on this potential, for the ad to intrigue those who aren’t familiar with Leading Hotels of the World, and ultimately land more bookings.

“Travel is aspirational and as a luxury hotel service focused on destinations and experience, Leading Hotels of the World is strategically utilizing mobile as a travel-planning tool to get people excited (and dreaming) of their next vacation.”

In terms of the ads potential to drive engagement – which is an integral part of any mobile strategy, Mel discusses whether or not the landing page takes advantage of mobile functionalities.

“In order to deliver a better and more contextual experience Leading Hotels of the World could have made better use of native, device-specific functionalities,” she said. “For example, using location-based services to identify where the user is, and serving up content that speaks to that geographic area.”

Although the series of ads are a good introduction to the possibilities and experiences that Leading Hotels of the World has to offer Mel points out that the limited screen size makes it challenging to articulate the whole brands promise.

See Leading Hotels of the World’s series at of advertisements here, to get a better look at their most recent mobile strategy.

Target’s Demise

By on February 23, 2015

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As we know Target has endured quite a series of unfortunate events this past year.  After acquiring 220 irresistible Zellers’ leases, the mega-retailer lost billions of dollars and evidently $211 million by its Canadian operations’ in the first quarter of 2014.

Some attribute Target’s demise to pressure placed on the brand to enter Canada within merely months; some point out that their competitive pricing was simply too high, and that their stock was inconsistent. One thing that is evident though is, Canadians are still deprived the option to purchase Target goods online, and the Target mobile application is still not available to Canada. The kicker is, loyal customers who are able to access Target’s mobile application seem to be highly disappointed with it, even with new updates.

Unlike many new businesses entering the app market, Target is already a well-established household name that may not be prioritizing app adoption. However, based on the many negative reviews we quickly see users discouraged from engaging with the app and ultimately the brand. Scoring a 2.5 on Apple’s App Store, users synonymously seemed least impressed with the apps registry, purchasing cart, and significant glitches impeding on their shopping experience. Target Cartwheel, Target’s discount app, hasn’t captivated customers either. Users like the idea but the app’s experience struggles with seamlessness in the shopping experience.

Although global expansion is not an easy task and the closing of 144 Target stores in Canada has truly set the tone for their expansion plans, entering international territory can definitely be throttled with focus on mobile-first strategies.

Canadian retail prices are notorious for being higher than the US, thus Canadians are profoundly appreciative of a good sale. Tapping into that cultural enthusiasm for value and allowing Canadians to interact with Target Cartwheel and other in-app discount incentives would have been very beneficial to Target during their momentous time in the mobile savvy Canadian market. Even the big blue retailer, Wal-mart, has been exploring ways to better engage customer loyalty through mobile initiatives with their click-and-collect grocery ordering.

Target’s desperate times, call for smarter measures. Mobile has the capacity to drive engagement and reach customers in ways that are efficient to both the consumer and business.

To our dearest family, friends and colleagues,

Although some of you may have heard the news, we wanted to take the time to personally share with you the recent events that have taken place. Plastic has started an exciting new chapter in its life.

As most of you know, we began our journey into entrepreneurship 7 years ago when we quit our jobs and set our sights on a vision.

We began a mobile business at a time when only a few (Steve Jobs included) really saw its full potential some years down the road. We spent the first few years knocking on doors and mostly having them slammed in our face. We took our first business from our living room and within a few weeks needed our first office space. The building, which was practically abandoned, fit with deplorable bathrooms and a daily trek of 4 flights of very steep stairs was perfect (and affordable) for a small startup, bootstrapped business. It didn’t take us long before we outgrew our humble, 1000 sq ft and made the jump to Liberty Village, which has been our loving home since.

Our first few years were difficult and involved a lot of “growing up.” We have seen heartbreak as we lost employee number 1, joy as we celebrated 5 successful years and pride as we installed management teams (some very talented folks if I may add) and well oiled machines that allowed us to take our honeymoon 4 years after we got married.

About a year and a half ago, our business reached a maturity and level of expertise where we felt we could play with the “big kids”. We wanted to, and started participating in large RFPs (Requests for Business). Some we won and some we lost. The wins were momentous as we beat the likes of Deloitte, Publicis and other giants but the losses were tough. Tough because our reason for losing was almost always our “size”. So we began thinking. It was time that we take the next step for our business and allow our talented teams to achieve their potential.

Enter Havas. The 6th largest communication group in the world, headquartered out of France with the global footprint that we needed. The partnership was perfect. We had a skill and expertise that is unique in the digital space and they offered the global scale that would allow us to take Plastic to the next step. It was time for our “baby” to graduate and enter this exciting next chapter.

Today, Havas acquired Plastic Mobile and we joined the vast network of this amazing company with over 200 years of history. Today we are ecstatic about the potential that this venture offers Plastic and the challenges that lay ahead of us. We will continue to operate Plastic as CEO and COO under the Havas umbrella.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our friends, family and colleagues who supported us until now and thank them in advance for the support we are sure we will continue to receive as we take Plastic to new heights.

Thank you all!

Sincerely,

Melody and Sep

 

 

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Parisa Durrani, Lead Marketing Strategist of Plastic Mobile and Nicolas Bianchi, VP of Sales and Loyalty Marketing at SPC, took the Canadian Marketing Association Loyalty Conference podium by storm Tuesday, when they revealed the keys to mobile marketing. IT Business Canada covered the talk, outlining some crucial messages to take away.

After Plastic Mobile and SPC joined forces, they took hold of millennial users and the SPC app saw a dramatic improvement – as this is SPC’s fourth attempt at a mobile application. Since Plastic’s redesign,

 “… the app has seen a 75 per cent increase in downloads compared to the year before, as well as more than 50 per cent of users reporting they’d used their SPC cards more often, thanks to the app. Plus, 85 per cent of users said they’d recommend the app to their friends,” IT Business writes.

You’re probably curious to know how the Plastic Mobile team finally tapped into SPC’s audience and gain such a beautiful response from millennials.

Parisa brilliantly captivated the crowd while explaining, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your app looks. It doesn’t matter how great your ideas are … especially in talking to these millennial audiences. They don’t even know what 3G is – they had LTE coming out of the womb,”

Parisa was clear and firm in her emphasis on the importance of engagement through gamification and reminded attendees the value in personal preference when redesigning the SPC app.

Make sure you read more, here.

 

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As we know, digital wallets are poised to become one of the most interesting discussions this year.

Recently, mobile tech expert and Plastic CEO, Sep Seyedi, spoke with TechCrunch about the the on going War of the Wallets.

The article outlines the battle between enterprise frontrunners Apple and Google, as they compete to disrupt personal finance with mobile.

Sep begins by identifying how the digital wallet space is fragmented, “Since the inception of mobile payments, there has been a lack of a cohesive solution by key players in the space.”

He continues by addressing Google potential acquisition of Softcard and how the internet giants are striding to make headway over Apple in the mobile payment market. “A month after Apple Pay launched, Google Wallet saw transactions increase by 50 percent in a single month, and the number of active users doubled” he said.

To get the full scope of how Apple and Google battle it out to be the most revolutionary mobile payment method read the ‘War of the Wallets’ on TechCrunch.

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In efforts to engage New York magazine’s audience, German automaker, Audi, recently featured a new mobile ad on The Cut that targets women and differs from their usual advertising style.

Plastic’s President and COO, Melody Adhami, sat down with Luxury Daily to answer a few questions about the campaign.

Melody addressed the interactive ad stating, “It’s great to see Audi moving in the direction of interactive advertising, but the convoluted content really discourages users from interacting with the ad with a clear intent.”

She suggests that any brand trying to break into the mobile sphere must have a strong mobile strategy. “A brand is ready to dabble in mobile advertising only when it already has a robust end-to-end offering in the mobile space.”

On a final note, many brands and business are still trying to understand how to optimize mobile-first initiatives. Melody further explains, “Mobile advertising is intended to drive traffic to a mobile portal, be it a mobile optimized site or app, where a clear call to action provides an opportunity for users and brands to engage with one another.”

The more the automotive industry embraces mobile the better chance they have at being successful with these mobile strategies.

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Plastic Mobile’s CEO, Sep Seyedi, sat down with Yahoo! Finance to discuss the role technology – and mobile – plays in Canadians’ personal finances.

Sep noted that “the user experience of banking apps in general is quite limited and basic today, just providing the core banking features.”

Despite the current state of mobile banking apps, Sep did address the potential they have. “In the next couple of years, we are going to see huge transformations in the functionality and the user experience of these banking apps” he said.

As the future of banking becomes increasingly digital, Canadians continue to embrace online services and mobile devices that manage their finances more and more. The problem here is that the finance industry has yet to reciprocate this need with a strong mobile strategy causing customers to be extremely unhappy with their experience.

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Automotive key fobs are a staple of the auto industry but have remained largely unchanged for an extensive period of time. The keyfob performs it’s basic functions through RF technology to let you communicate with your car remotely. Luxury car maker Audi is looking to do away with this technology to help add to the premium classification of its vehicle line up.

Audi demoed a wearable that completely replaces a standard key fob and adds additional functionality. Adario Strange of Mashable reported that the smartwatch is looking to become Audi’s remote starter replacement.

The new smartwatch starter was tied to Audi’s A7 sedan, the same vehicle that drove itself to CES without any human intervention. Surprisingly the smartwatch showcased was not powered by Android, but instead a re-iteration of WebOS. This operating system is being pushed by LG on its smart tv and future wearables as it bought the open source operating system.  The smartwatch also has a sort of fail-safe to allow you to unlock your car even if the watch is dead. The watch features NFC as a way to unlock which a conventional remote is unable to do when not charged.

Details on availability or a time line were also scarce leaving us to wonder when we can interact with our car while glancing at our watch.

 

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Big news came out this week from 9to5Mac regarding the Apple Watch, courtesy of the iOS 8.2 beta. News began with the finding of an Apple Watch companion app which 9to5Mac was able to get their hands and provide a complete breakdown of. The app simply name “Companion” outs several key features of the Apple Watch.

Customization: Being able to customize a device is a pillar of user interaction. The Apple Watch with its now famous circular grid style home screen will allow users to re-arrange icons to their liking. On a more personal note users can create a virtual monogram of 1-4 letters allowing them to imbed their initials or the like on the clock face.

Functions: Users will be able to enable a small circular red dot on the watch face as an indicator of a new notification. This can be likened to an LED light on some smartphones. For the more business minded amongst us, Apple Watch will allow you to receive a stock quote directly on the watch through a specific watch face.

Messaging: The Apple watch will not feature a keyboard function, however responding to messages is still completely possible without interacting with your iPhone. The Apple Watch has the ability to respond to text messaging via voice commands. A user will be able to send actual voice messages or transcribe your voice into text. If you are responding to an iMessage the ability to enable or disable read receipts is also available. Finally if you are not a fan of constant notifications on your Apple Watch you will be able to disable text message notifications on the watch. Furthermore you can  set it to only receive notifications from certain contacts, allowing you to ignore overzealous friends or family members.

Health and Fitness: The Apple Watch companion app features the now standard gamut of health and fitness options. Heart rate tracking is built in, allowing you to measure your heart rate at a glance, this can be disabled as well. Calorie counting and pedometer functions are built in as well.

Passcode: Security on the Apple Watch will be similar to that of your iPhone. You can set a numerical passcode to unlock the watch independently from your iPhone. If you unlock your iPhone your Apple Watch will also unlock automatically allowing for easy device continuity.

Other: With the companion app it was outed that the Apple Watch will indeed have onboard storage. This storage will be accessible to users to use as they please. Lastly you will be able to access a sort of mini-settings app on the Watch showing you how much storage you have left, what you have stored and other basic information like serial number.

It is only a matter of time till Apple enthusiasts can get hands through an Apple Watch, and Plastic Mobile cannot wait!

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French-Italian outerwear brand, Moncler, recently added a unique flair to its marketing efforts with the release of a Facebook app, Snow Experience, to interact with its consumers. The app requires users to take a picture of themselves with a “snowy” filter depicting winter like conditions.

Plastic’s Lead Digital Strategist, Parisa Durrani, works with some of Canada’s top brands to develop and execute their digital strategies, and sat down with Luxury Daily to talk about Moncler’s recent social media initiative. “The app is merely a campaign to garner awareness about [Moncler] products and associate them with cold weather,” she said.

Parisa also commented on the longevity of the app saying “The app is most likely to have a short life cycle, considering it is on Facebook and could lose its appeal after one picture is taken, The likelihood of repeat usage is minimum.”

She added that the brand could have done a better job by recommending some of their products in its Snow Tracker section.

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Deloitte ushered in the new year via its TMT Predictions 2015 event, used to showcase its biggest technology, media and television predictions. Plastic Mobile was there to see what Deloitte had to say about 2015. The list of predictions was informative and detailed with census data as recent as last week to back up the bold predictions they were making. Lets look at a few quickly:

Mobile Pay: In 2015 Deloitte predicts that the mobile pay landscape will finally catch fire and go mainstream. It is expected that there will be a 1,000% increase in the number of consumers using a phone to pay at least once a month. This prediction was specifically based on NFC payments, not barcode scanning.

Media Content: Media content has evolved over the years and purchasing habits have evolved with it. Millennials in 2015 are expected to spend $750 annually on media content, this could represent up to 15% of their income and outweighs the percentage older generations will be spending.

Smartphone: Smartphones will still remain strong in the forthcoming year with an expected 1.35 billion sold globally. The smartphone category is growing by 12% year over year. You would be mistaken to attribute this to new consumers, 1 billion of the devices sold will represent upgrades of older smartphones with only 350 million attributed to new customers.

Wearables: These devices have been a hot topic and media buzzword for several months now. Deloitte predicts that in 2015 these devices will become a staple of enterprise solutions, not consumers, as previously predicted. These devices will drive innovation through cyber-fying workforces.

3D-Printing: Seen as a mix between niche and mass market product, 3D printing in 2015 will find its home within enterprise. Again Deloitte has predicted that this technology will move back to an enterprise solution while consumer markets dwindle. The ability to rapidly prototype and create part replicas with precision while maintaining costs will prove an invaluable solution.

The conference provided by Deloitte this morning will now visit several other cities across the world to share its predictions. Plastic Mobile was able to get a head start on what are expected to turn out as some of the biggest tech trends as predicted by Deloitte.

Rounding up CES 2015

By on January 09, 2015

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It is well known that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. That is, of course, unless you’ve been trapped under a rock because when it came to CES 2015, nothing stayed a secret.

The myriad of news from CES didn’t trickle out slowly but hit us like a tidal wave. CES 2015 covered everything in tech, and nothing was left behind. Throughout the show floor we saw products ranging from smart home to drones, wearables and beyond. Let’s quickly recap some of the biggest products and trends that hit the floor this year:

Smart Home: The idea that all the autonomous appliances in your home should be able to communicate freely and be controlled remotely was indisputable this year. The wine cooler talked to the washing machine, the fridge and stove become best friends and in control of them all was a mobile device of your choice. Every major company at CES demonstrated some sort of smart home device from the simplistic such as a wifi security system to a pot plant that can water itself via your phone. Qualcomm showcased a complete smart home in the form of a hotel room where attendees could play with the devices using qualcomm tech. Smart Home was undoubtedly one of the most important themes at CES this year.

Auto: As mobile began to gain dominance over the last few years, automakers have started to capitalize on the technology within their vehicles to create a “wow” factor beyond car design or performance. Several companies were on hand this year showcasing concept or new model cars. Audi and BMW showcased self driving cars that can operate with or without a driver.

BMW, in particular, setup a literal crash course and dared conference goers to attempt to crash the vehicle. As expected (and thankfully), nobody succeeded.

Audi integrated wearables with its latest sedans incorporating all the features of a remote starter into a WebOS powered smartwatch. Over the next couple year we can expect to see cars controlled completely by mobile and key fobs that are touch based with full LED displays.

Wearables: Before we dive into this one, we will just say they were everywhere. It is as if nobody dared to show up at the conference without one for fear of being left behind when this market explodes. Wearable tech at the conference went above and beyond the synonymous smartwatch. We were able to see rings, belts, jewellery and even shoe in-soles that had mobile connectivity each with their own distinctive features. Wearable technology has moved far beyond a simple pedometer or the ability to read your text messages, the products showcased at CES went far beyond what we thought wearables could do.

CES 2015 has been a fun time for everyone at Plastic Mobile. The conference provided us with content to discuss and surprise other co-workers with. As CES 2015 draws to a close we look forward to seeing all the mobile tech and developments from the conference become a consumer reality this year.

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It would be expected that as CES enters its final day the excitement and entertainment would begin to wind down, however on the penultimate day of the conference there is still no sign of companies, journalists or innovators slowing down. Las Vegas is still buzzing with self-driving cars, fitness wearables and of course start-ups looking to make a splash.

Everyone loves pets; whether you are a cat or dog person, it’s hard to resist a cute ball of fluffyness running around without paying attention to it. Pet owners hate to be away from their pets and as far as we can tell, pets hate being away from their owners. Enter the “Petcube”, designed to solve all your pet detachment issues and keep you two closer together than ever before.

The “Petcube” is a combination of technologies that will embed your pet into your daily life, even when you are not at home. The device is a camera that features wifi connectivity and compatibility across mobile devices. It has built in lasers so you can do that thing your pet loves so much. The “Petcube” features several intuitive features that allows you to interact with your pet anywhere. Using the mobile app you can watch your pet via the camera built in and speak voice commands to it. The laser is touch controlled and as you drag your finger across the app a laser will replicate the movement in front of your pet keep in entertained while you are taking a lunch break. The device is a sleek 4-inch cube that features a 720p camera and two way audio.

“Petcube” will be available in February for $199.

Keeping us closer together than ever with our furry loved ones has deemed the “Petcube” our CES 2015 Pick of the Day! Look out for our CES 2015 wrap up tomorrow!

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The second day at CES was nothing short of revolutionary with product announcements and demonstrations coming from startups all the way to massive industry players. Smart home products were buzzing throughout the conference combined with showcases of wearables, laptops and curved displays.

Since the introduction of cables, their functionality has been essential but their clutter and hassle were always a negative side effect. Energous’ “WattUp” is looking to bring mobile device charging to the forefront of the cable clutter issue. “WattUp” a device agnostic wireless charging system that is not only contactless, but can also charge devices from up to 15-feet away!

Sounds too good to be true right? Well to demonstrate “WattUp” turned a Las Vegas hotel room into a wireless charging cradle. The device works similar to an internet router, you place it in one section of your room and it takes care of charging your devices.

Lets break down the tech specs of how it actually works. “WattUp” features connectivity via LE Bluetooth and RF. The device acts a router within your room, it identifies devices through Bluetooth and then sends out directed RF signals on the same bands as wifi which your device converts into DC power. This device is all about connectivity! It can even create a closed or public network for charging and can prioritize devices based on low battery.

“WattUp” should be available by 2016 with a host of accessories for devices that don’t already include the charging tech. Read more about the “WattUp” on their website http://www.energous.com/overview/

Leading the wireless charging revolution while leaving your cables in the dust makes Energous’ “WattUp” our favorite product of CES Day 2 2015! Check back tomorrow for another pick as CES 2015 reluctantly begins to wrap up.

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CES 2015 is upon us from Las Vegas with countless tech inventions and innovations to captivate us all week!

Wearables, wearables, wearables! The idea of turning everything you wear into a smart device has caught on with many companies trying to distinguish themselves through innovation in both design and technology. Wearables have expanded beyond just smartwatches, however.  Bragi has introduced “The Dash” at CES 2015, a wireless ear-bud style headphone that has all the features of a smartwatch and more.

Let’s start with a few tech specs of “The Dash”, it is a pair of earbuds that connect simultaneously to your phone and each other wirelessly. These earbuds feature touch control, 4GB of onboard storage and a battery life rated for 3.5-hours. The Dash will appeal to the fitness crowd with its inclusion of an accelerometer, heart rate monitor and even a oxygen saturation sensor. Further niche features include the option to hear ambient noise, personal trainer feedback and in the future real time language translation. The Dash is able to do everything from basics like skip a track to sending advanced fitness data back to a smartphone of your choice whether it be Android or iOS.

“The Dash” is already available to early backers of a KickStarter campaign. General availability is scheduled for Spring 2015 with a price tag of $300.

Far beyond your traditional earbuds and a new take on wearables Bragi’s “The Dash” is our favorite product of CES Day 1 2015. Rest assured Plastic Mobile will bring you a Tech Pick of the day at CES 2015 for the rest of the week!

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Italian outerwear label, Moncler, recently leaped into the mobile space with the launch of its first mcommerce mobile app which allows users to both shop and consume content. Moncler aims to provide its audience with a more convenient and contained shopping experience through its app.

Plastic’s VP of marketing and business development, Salome Sallehy, addressed Moncler’s mobile initiative with Luxury Daily saying “I think that this is just a first step for Moncler on mobile, some brands do it the other way around in that they first launch with branded content on mobile and then proceed to bring a more complete brand experience by including commerce in later versions.” However, “Moncler has brought their core offering first and the content will likely follow. Neither approach is really the best.”

When asked about the need for a mobile app Salome said “A mobile app allows for use of the native functions of a mobile device such as location, push, time and date as well as the device security features, allowing Moncler to provide a more contextual customer experience for the user.

“For example, when a customer is detected to be in proximity to a Moncler store or vendor a personalized message can be pushed to the customer.”

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Recently our President and COO Melody Adhami sat down with Luxury Daily to discuss the mobile gaming marketing efforts of the British department store Selfridges. The department chain is building awareness for its in-store helpers through gaming efforts, the game is called “Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest” which is available on desktop or as an app on Apple devices. The premise of the game is the consumer plays as one of the retailer’s in-store helpers to save Christmas and performs similar tasks to that of a sales associate, suggesting thoughtful gift ideas for stumped customers.

“Gift shopping adds a layer of complexity because the best person to facilitate the decision is usually also the recipient of the gift. Offering a service that mobile users can turn to make those difficult gift decisions is a utility that is likely to be appreciated by the users and allows them to fulfil the social validation of the purchase.” Melody shared. “Mobile users are already in the habit of turning to their smartphones in the shopping experience.” “They take and share photos, check out product reviews, and do price comparisons to help make buying decisions.

Between October 23rd – December 24th, Selfridges sales associates were referred to as Elfridges for a festive twist. For instantaneous help, customers will be able to  interact with the Elfridges via Twitter for quick gift recommendations; they could tweet the department store between 10am – 8pm using the hashtag #AskAnElfridge and include the chain’s Twitter handle @Selfridges with details about who the gift is for and their ideal price point.

“Over the years we’ve seen a steady surge of mobile game activity over the holidays when people are spending time with family,” Melody added. “Games and entertainment sharing has become a popular social pastime at the dinner parties and the holidays lend themselves well to the occasion.

“This is a time when mobile users are seeking new gaming experiences, and tying it to a customer service offering is very timely because the service stays top of mind for customers as they’re being entertained,” she said. “Both the game and the Elfridges service are in high demand at this time and will likely yield results as pairing utility and gaming is a winning combination in mobile.”

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Facial recognition software has been gaining traction lately, edging it’s way to becoming the next big thing. Some of technology’s juggernauts like Google, and Facebook have been tapping into the power and revolution of this image recognition software. Countless hours of research and experimentation have translated into major strides in the recognition space, making it a close second to the human brain’s ability to perform the task of recognition.

Facebook has developed a software called DeepFace – not kidding – despite it’s unusual name it can look at 2 photos and decipher with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face, regardless of the angle or the lighting. Quite impressive when you compare it to that of human accuracy which is about 97.53%. Developed by Facebook’s AI (artificial intelligence) research group, the intelligence is supported by a simulation of a learning neural network, which is the essence of the technology. The software incorporates what is called “deep learning” which is one of the many methods of machine learning. Deep learning involves looking at a large body of data – in this case human faces – and developing a high-level abstraction by looking at reoccurring patterns like eyebrows, cheeks, and ears. This deep learning method also consists of a learning process that sees the creation of 120 million connections between those neurons, based on an assemblage of 4 million face photos.

Complimentary to their facial recognition software, which is still a bit ahead of it’s time, Facebook also plans to release Facebook Search this month to iPhone users, formerly known as Graph Search, which allows users to search for content on Facebook using natural language, for instance “places my friends like to travel to.” This way users can navigate directly to filtered content, rather than leafing through the endless pages of posted media.

Similarly, Google and Stanford University each have their own rosters of scientists working independently, and collaboratively on an artificial intelligence software that is capable of recognizing and describing the content of photos and videos. The intelligence is sophisticated enough to mimic human levels of understanding, and teaches itself to identify entire scenes for example, a group of children playing on a jungle gym. Both groups of researchers merge to weave two types of neural networks together; one focused on recognizing images and the other on recognizing human language. The researchers found it astonishingly accurate when compared to that of human observations of the same compilations. Modern advances in technology has made it possible to better catalog and search billions of images and hours of video more efficiently.

Thus far Google has been relying heavily on image descriptions to accompany a photo in order to tag it accurately, a requirement that cannot be easily regulated and maintain consistency with all the users of the world’s biggest search engine posting content daily.

While this is a huge technological advancement and testament to that old saying “if you can conceive it, you can achieve it!” This caliber of technology begs the assessment of risk, privacy, and vulnerabilities.

As the topic evolves the technological enhancements are steering towards a future of behavioural recognition. Although we’re talking about new technologies, we’re also talking about ancient human responses rooted in the oldest part of the brain. By identifying patterns of behavior as they correlate to facial expressions, which are universal, we will be able to collect psychographic data at an unprecedented rate, and at a much lower cost than what we’ve ever been able to do. The opportunity for marketers and brands to acquire a deep understanding of their customers’ needs and expectation and collect data in an unobtrusive manner will change the market research as we know it.

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The extremely popular social messaging app LINE, set up its first pop-up store in North America, located at 1515 Broadway in New York. LINE’s pop-up store will be open from December 9th until December 31st, offering shoppers a variety of products, including stationery, stuffed toys, mugs and jewelry based on the original characters from the app. Shoppers also get a chance to take photos and interact with LINE’s official mascots.

LINE has been very successful in Asia thus far and is now making a leap into the Global market, especially North America where a number of messaging apps like WhatsApp, and KIK  have found their glory. The messaging app currently enables users to make calls and send messages for free, as well as offers in app purchases of stickers featuring LINE’s own original characters.

Very few mobile-first brands have become popular enough to support a real-world presence one of the rarities being the Angry Birds game, which spawned a wealth of licensed merchandise, including stuffed toys and apparel. Sep Seyedi, CEO of Plastic Mobile discussed LINE’s pop-up store strategy with Mobile Commerce Daily noting that “Mobile-first businesses have an advantage in a heightened level of engagement with their customers that strictly brick and mortar business can attain,”

“Pop-up shops lend themselves perfectly to this opportunity, but we’ll be seeing more mobile-first businesses make permanent fixtures of themselves in brick and mortar going forward” Sep said.

Sep went on further to say, “mobile users are now ready to take these intimate relationships, with the businesses that serve them on mobile, to the next level and experience them in a more tangible manner.”

 

Wearables: Beyond The Wrist

By on December 12, 2014

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The wearables market has quickly become one of the fastest growing mobile industries we’ve seen to date. From watches to fashionable bracelets it seems that everything needs to be smart in one way or another. Smart gear has been progressively moving beyond the wrist; check out the smart clothing line up for the new year:

Athos Apparel, founded by Dhananja Jayalath (DJ) and Christopher Wiebe, is a fitness shirt that monitors your biometrics in real-time then sends the stats from your workout to your smartphone. Using an EMG (electromyography) device that detects muscle effort, muscle building toning, overall training, and muscle fatigue. The device then relays this information to your smartphone companion app which translates it into readable data and training suggestions.

Another product that has been around for some time is the Nike+ shoe sensor. This little device was released in 2006 as an iPod accessory, a nugget sized device measures your pace, distance, time elapsed and calories burned, which is then transmitted to your iPhone or iPod via bluetooth. The data is then saved on the device which enables users to have easy access to their progress data.

Even Victoria Secret has dipped into the wearables market with their very own heart monitoring fitness bra which features Body-Wick fabric, paired with bonded, seamless technology for comfort. You would then detach the transmitter after use and connect it with your compatible device to retrieve the results.

These products now being dubbed Smart Clothing are changing the way we track our health by providing a comfortable and relatively accurate means of tracking our daily physical routines, and giving the term ‘self-awareness’ a whole new meaning.

The development of these new products is becoming more commonplace with just about anyone being able to create them with a basic technical skill set. A blogger named Kathryn Mcelroy wrote an in-depth tutorial on how to build your own interactive, RFID and LED messenger bag. The limitations of how far these technologies can advance are only set by the skill limitations of the creators!