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With the commotion of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us (but lengthy credit card bills ahead!), that means it’s time to start gearing up for the holiday season, and that means one thing….office holiday parties. Not sure what to talk about with Debbie from Accounting, or Keith from Sales during the party? Well we’ve got you covered in our latest Mobile X!

Chock-full of interesting and timely facts and statistics, reading our Mobile X, will for sure make you the hit of the party!

Covering such hot topics as autonomous cars, how mobile is impacting professional sports, trends in IoT– and the all important question of is Trump more popular than Obama on social media–this report promises to keep you ahead of the curve on everything mobile.

Here is an overview of the 3 main sections of the report:

A Driverless Future (See Page 8)
It seems as though every major player in the automotive and technology industries has at least a minor investment in the race to reach full autonomy, but yet we still see regulations, ethical quandaries, and other external factors stalling the progression. However, there still continue to be sporadic breakthroughs, which help keep us optimistic and looking for more. In this section we overview the past, present, and future of driverless cars to help you stay in the know. 

Internet of Thing (See Page 14)
In a day and age where seemingly everything is connected, the term “Internet of things” gets thrown around a lot, but does everyone understand what it really means, and what its implications are for business? This section aims to educate you on the topic, as well as arm you with information on trends to look forward to in the future

The Modern Athlete (See Page 18)
With 3 of 4 Major (4 of 5 if we include MLS!) North American sports leagues in full swing right now, it’s the perfect time to take a look at how mobile technology is being used to enhance everything from the fan experience to player performance. 

Like what you see in this post and want to read more? View the full report here!

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While that Tuscan Chicken and Goat Cheese Panini you just had for lunch doesn’t seem very technologically advanced, the app that enabled you to order it definitely is. The on-demand food economy is still in its relative infancy, and is not immune from its share of missteps, but it is advancing at an exponential pace–recently valued at an estimated $13.5 billion. This rapid growth and success is even making brands from unrelated industries stop and take notice in an attempt to try and uncover their “secret sauce.”

In the past when you thought of food delivery it was usually a high school student in a beat up Corolla, who had to be there in 30-minutes or else it was free. Although some people may still be calling in for their food, the vast majority of food ordering in major-cities now takes place over mobile. Between May 2009 and May 2010 there were 1.4 billion food orders placed by phone (via calling) in the US, compared with only about 400 million placed online. However, in May of last year, those numbers showed online ordering trending to surpass phone ordering with phone ordering at 1 billion and online at 900 million.

With a multitude of different options to choose from–door delivery vs. pick up, bike vs. car, from a restaurant vs. made in house– food delivery apps have developed features (GPS tracking, payment solutions, logistics) that are helping move the on-demand industry forward.

For apps like Ritual, UberEATS, foodora, and GrubHub, and others in the market, their survival is based driving awareness, increasing partnerships, and most importantly growing their user base and maintaining users over time. With the average app only retaining 23% of its daily active users after the third day, and the rising competition in the market, it is no wonder why these apps have had to stay on the bleeding edge of technology to avoid getting lost in the clutter. And for other brands, that means that it is imperative for them to keep their finger on the pulse of the on demand meal delivery industry, and use it for more than just food for thought.

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It comes as no surprise that in our digital world, eCommerce is disrupting the way consumers purchase everything from dinner to holiday gifts. With that in mind, it is becoming more common for consumers to look for alternative ways to ease the weekly chore of grocery shopping. In a recent study completed by Morgan Stanley, it was estimated that 34% of online shoppers expect to purchase groceries online in 2016. As shoppers are becoming more accustomed to shopping online — coupled with the rise of mobile natives– grocers will have to start looking at ways to mobilizing their produce offerings and meet consumers where they feel most comfortable.

The obvious advantage of mobile grocery shopping is the convenience factor, allowing consumers to spend less time in the grocery aisles, which can often be a tedious task. However, there are also some hindrances as well, such as not being able to pick one’s own produce or baked goods– a challenge that is tough to overcome digitally. Therefore sustainability of consumers relies heavily on digital and mobile strategies incorporating new types of personalization to grocery shopping in lieu of physical interaction.
Ordering groceries online is a process that should seemingly be easy to adopt for consumers.

The effortlessness of ordering your weekly order from your mobile device or desktop and having it delivered according to your schedule doesn’t demand much from the consumer. Grocers receive an order and process the items to be picked up according to drop off time. Therefore selected produce remains fresh from the time it was picked to the drop off time. eCommerce grocery shops like LeShop in Switzerland have been championing the Swiss markets since 2011 and demonstrate that online grocery shopping can be successful by changing the consumer landscape. By incorporating mobile capabilities to offer consumers even more convenience, they were able to capitalize on the growing affinity for mobile shopping occurring with Switzerland.

By being committed to creating innovative mobile solutions, grocers have the ability to capitalize on a wider range of consumers. Enhancing online digital channels, such as mobile, could seemingly benefit every type of consumer from the digital savvy, to the budget conscious. Consumers will now have the ease of shopping with purpose and avoid the seductions of the magazines and chocolate bars at the checkout counter. Capitalizing on digital growth will offer grocers the ability to innovate the shopping experience, and help meet the needs of every individual regardless of gender, economic status or dietary preference.

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With Black Friday just around the corner, and the holidays fast approaching, shoppers and merchants are going to be busier than ever. As consumers hit the pavement, and the outrageous checkout lines grow, their patience begins to run low, we can’t help but think how brands could simplify the process?

Faster payment processing always becomes a hot topic around the holidays, however more recently, it has become a point of contention within the financial industry. With this year’s annual fintech event just passing — Money20/20 covered just about everything from digital payments and innovation to mobile and retail. Through all the topics discussed one thing was clear, the digital world is drastically disrupting the financial industry. Here are our major takeaways from Money20/20:

  1. The digital industry is changing consumers expectations, because of this the financial industry must adapt new digital products, that are not only accessible, but offer a tailored customized experience to secure loyal customers.
  2. Mobile payments is on everybody’s radar (including ours!). With the rise in popularity for tap and go payments, financial institutions need to secure quicker alternative methods for consumers to pay.
  3. As technology increasingly becomes further intertwined within the financial marketplace, security concerns are increasingly being questioned. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) dedicated to in providing seamless and secure payments options, the majority of financial institutions are making this a top priority to ensure that these standards are being upheld to protect consumers.

The challenge for early adopters of fintech has been finding a balance in a fragmented mobile payment ecosystem with divides in carriers, devices and financial institutions. However with the entrance of Apple Pay to the Canadian market, Canadian banks are eager to support new forms of mobile payment technology. As mobile experts we pride ourselves on being able to design, build and deliver mobile applications that are memorable and usable in everyday life. In partnering with mobile technology experts Canadian banks have the ability to position themselves as a world leader in mobile digital payments. The benefits of such partnerships will ultimately lead to a world class customer centric mobile experience for the end user.

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We’ve got another great meetup planned for you, and are excited to share the details!

With the influence of technology on the financial space growing at an exponential rate, there has been a new wave of disruptive startups, making fintech a popular buzzword. Since it’s a topic that may come up around the water-cooler, we wanted to give you a crash-course on the topic to make sure that you are well informed!

The topic is no doubt a fascinating one, and we’ve gathered a couple masterminds in the field to share their insights on the importance of strong UX in the fintech industry.

At this MUX Meetup, we will hear from speakers, who live and breathe fintech, to learn about everything from how fintech UX is impacting consumers, to how to redesign financial applications for the future, and how organizations can be disruptive in the industry.

Our speakers for the event include: Giannina Razuri, Principal, Global Consultancy Services Inc., Maurice Carty, UX Lead, Blueprint Software Systems, and Matt Bellew, Senior UX Architect, Sun Life Financial.

We hope you can make it, and promise that it will be an exciting night for anyone who works in, or is interested in the fintech industry!

Click here to RSVP!

AndroidTO

Yesterday, four Plastic Developers headed to the MaRS Discovery District, to embark upon a day of all things Android at the seventh annual AndroidTO Conference. The event, part of Google’s DevFest initiative, was aimed at furthering the Android development field in Toronto, and bringing the community closer together.

Poised to uncover the newest insights, technologies, and techniques, the team from Plastic spent the day coding and learning with hundreds of likeminded developers. With experts and speakers from Google, and Twitter (among others) discussing topics ranging from Machine Learning, to Tensorflow, Firebase, and Android Wear 2.0, the event had everything for fans of the Alphabet owned OS.

Bursting with new ideas and information, our developers came back to the office ready to share what they had learned to anyone who would listen.

We are excited to see what new ways of thinking this conference will bring to the table, and will definitely be coming back for year 8!

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At Plastic, we love developers. So much so that our CEO Sep Seyedi, and his team, have spent the last couple of months working on launching a new initiative –  the Developer 30 Under 30 Awards.

With globally renowned universities and technological organizations calling Canada home, the nation has some of the finest development talent the world has to offer. Yet, much of their hard work goes unrecognized.

To combat this, we are proud to announce the first Developer 30 Under 30 Awards. With an embarrassment of riches in the technological field, we are looking to find and acknowledge 30 diverse individuals who are in a class of their own.

With high profile judges from the top companies in Canada, such as RBC, Rogers, Air Canada, and more, this promises to be a truly momentous event.

We encourage you to nominate your top Developer talent, as well as share this with your network, so that we can reach as many people as possible. To be eligible for nomination, the nominee must live and work in Canada and be born after April 1, 1987.

You can learn more about the awards at developer30under30.com.

We believe that with your help, we can make this event a great success, and bring the developer community together to find the best and brightest young stars in the industry!

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Yesterday, our CEO Sep Seyedi, along with Business Intelligence Analyst Joseph Totera, had the opportunity to share their Internet of Things (IoT) insights with the crowd at Connected+ that was eager to learn. Connect+ is the country’s leading IoT conference with over 70 speakers and over 750 IoT professionals. Intended to bring the industry leaders from IoT, Smart City, and Connected Consumers products, Connected+ was created to satiate the hunger of the Canadian Connected Community.

In their workshop, Sep and Joseph covered a wide range of IoT topics including how brands are using it to expand their offerings, its similarities to mobile development, and what the future could hold for IoT. Being a technical demo workshop, Joseph also showed how relatively simple IoT development can be by building  a voice activated assistant right on stage. By the end of the session, Joseph had the AI assistant answering questions, cracking jokes, and completing simple tasks.

With the IoT world expanding exponentially on a daily basis, it was a great opportunity for us to see what else is going on the industry, and how we can share these new technologies with our clients!

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If you were disappointed about the lack of hardware introduced at Google’s I/O event in May, then the Google Pixel event was aimed at you. The San Francisco based event was kicked off with a little witty banter from two of Silicon Valley’s favourite fictional developers, before handing the mic over to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai to discuss the company’s newest projects. It is worth noting that this event roughly coincides with Pichai’s first year at the helm of Google –meaning that these releases may be the first truly associated with his legacy. That being said, we have watched the keynote and have cut through the clutter to bring you the 5 biggest announcements from today’s event.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL
The worst kept secret before today was that Google’s flagship smartphones would be dropping  the Nexus name, and take the name “Pixel” moving forward. With that came the release of two new devices, the Pixel (5-inch, 1080p display) and the Pixel XL (5.5-inch, Quad HD panel). After previously splitting their manufacturing between Huawei and HTC, Google had decided to trust both Pixel phones to HTC.

Furthermore, the team at Google spoke a lot to the importance of AI and how it would be integrated into Google Assistant. It is obviously an integral part of the vision for Google moving forward, and they see Google Assistant as a way to deliver it to the masses. Google Assistant pulls information from all over your device and Google accounts (if you allow it) to help create a more personalized experience through machine learning. It’s main feature is a voice-powered assistant with improved voice recognition, more natural speech, and enhanced photo recognition.

Both the Pixel and Pixel XL are available for preorder today.

Daydream VR Platform
With Daydream and the Daydream View, Google is making its second foray into the world of virtual reality. Unlike other VR Viewers on the market such as the Samsung Gear, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift, the Daydream View is supposed to be “unintimidating” and accessible to everyone. Available in three colors, this soft, yet durable headset will be compatible with any Daydream-supported smartphone. It also comes with a handheld controller to help the user interact with their virtual world.

Chromecast Ultra
Adding to the Chromecast lineup is the new Chromecast Ultra which is the first in the family to offer 4K and HDR streaming. It also promises faster streaming regardless of TV resolution, and an Ethernet port on the power adapter in case the user’s wifi is not able to handle 4K streams.

Google Wifi
Annoyed with the range of your router? Well Google is now looking to correct that with the introduction of Google Wifi which is a multi-point network, which can let you optimize your coverage by placing multiple routers throughout your house. The system is sold as both a single router, or in a three-pack for larger houses. It also allows you to restrict others on the network, such as children, through a connected mobile app.

Google Home
Google has finally announced a price ($129USD) and release date (November 4th) for its Amazon Echo-like home assistant, Google Home. Powered by Google Assistant (or through a mobile app), the device can answer questions, control music, and interact with other connected devices from brands such as Phillips, Nest, and Samsung. Sticking with the “more-is-better” idea, Google home will also be released both separately and as a three-pack.

 

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With almost 64% of the population, and more than 75% of mobile phone users in Canada owning a smartphone, Canadians are now consuming more media via mobile than ever. Because of this, brands are still working tirelessly to introduce new, innovative, and intriguing ways to interact with consumer via mobile.

In their new report titled “Canada Mobile 2016: A Look at Smartphone Behaviors and How Brands Are Attempting to Master Mobile,” eMarketer profiles the growing Canadian mobile market and what it means for brands and consumers. To help them gain a better understanding of the space, they reached out to top mobile strategists for their help– including our very own Director of Mobile Strategy, Parisa Durrani.

Commenting specifically on “Today’s Mobile Consumer,” Durrani speaks to the effectiveness of brands advertising on mobile, as well as the creation of app ecosystems. “We find that organizations start to plan app strategies with multiple apps in mind, not with the intention to split it up , but organically-developed, really focused apps. It’s commonplace in the financial space, with each bank operating with a minimum of three apps,” she states in the report.

To check out more of Durrani’s insights and learn more about the Canadian mobile landscape,  follow the link to view the report.

 

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For the second year in a row, Clutch has ranked Plastic Mobile a leading app developer in Canada. Clutch is a US based ratings and review firm that performs some of the most extensive market research and data available in the realm of app development.

Their criteria featured over a dozen qualitative and quantitative factors, including the ability for a company to successfully deliver a quality product to market with highly rated reviews. For us to qualify as a leading app developer, Clutch looked at our previous work, clients, and the average size of our projects. Unlike other ratings firms, Clutch is unique in the way that they collect detailed reviews from clients we have worked with.

While it feels great to be recognized as a Top Canadian App Developer, we were even more thrilled to get such positive feedback from our clients as part of the award. We are grateful that we have been able to build products for such great partners, and will look to continue innovating as we move forward.

If you are curious to learn more about Clutch and the work that they do, check out the rest of their digital coverage.

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Over the course of 2016 there has been a new class of mobile applications that have attempted to get ahead by breaking the mold of traditional smartphone apps. By trying something new, these apps have used the attention (both positive and negative – looking at you Mrs. West) that they have garnered to propel them to the top of their respective app stores.

From manipulating photographs and delivering hyper-local weather reports, to delivering the news in a new way, these five apps have made their mark and set new benchmarks in their respective categories.

Quartz
For Quartz, presenting the news was more about making it engaging than it was presenting everything going on in the world. Built with an interface similar to iMessage, Quartz makes the news feel like it is being personally presented to you by a real person in conversational form. Whereas most news apps are looking for ways to fit more stories into their apps, Quartz takes pride in curating only the top stories of the day, and delivering them in a unique way to keep the reader coming back.

Dark Sky
Creating a weather app seems pretty straightforward, recognize the user’s location, and show them the forecast. However, Dark Sky has gained quite the following by expanding on the concept, by tapping into native device pressure sensors, as well as crowdsourcing tactics to ensure their users are getting the most accurate weather possible. It seems many people are very serious about their weather, as Dark Sky continues to rank as the number one weather app in the app store, and in the top 50 overall.

Snapchat
Snapchat has made a living out of turning features that you didn’t even know you needed into ones that you couldn’t live without. Take for example geofilters, which originally began as a way for brands to embed sponsored content into photos, but has evolved into something much bigger when it was opened up to the public. Opening up the opportunity to create a filter to everyone has allowed for brands and consumers alike to get creative and put their mark on something personal. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat photos make users much more likely to share a branded image, than they would if the image were permanent, as they are on Facebook or Instagram.

Kimoji
Whether or not you believe that the Kimoji app was earning Kim Kardashian West $1 million per minute, or that she “broke the App Store,” there is no denying that the reality star has found another way to make her mark, and stay relevant with such a simple offering. Not to be outdone, other public figures from NBA Superstar Steph Curry (StephMoji) to disgruntled actor Charlie Sheen (Sheenoji) have turned to emoticons to try and cash in on the over 6 billion emojis that are sent on a daily basis.

MSQRD
Many experts say that the best apps do only one or two things well, but they do them really well. MSQRD followed this adage well enough to garner the attention of Facebook, and led to an acquisition by the social media giant. The app allows users to add filters to photos and videos to add some flair to their photos. Even after the acquisition, the MSQRD app was allowed to stay as a free standalone app, exponentially increasing its downloads with the backing of Facebook and its 1.6 Billion users.

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For some September means the end of the summer and back to school, but for millions of Apple fans it means time to put an end to months of speculation, and finally reveal their much awaited product releases. With the amount of people Apple employs, it is quite impressive how they still keep their announcements under-wraps, right until the last second (Minus their last minute miscues with Twitter and Amazon). Sure people can speculate, but even those most in the know weren’t sure what Apple would pull out of it’s bag of tricks at today’s event. Remember last year’s Apple Pencil? Not that it was a groundbreaking announcement, but no one really saw it coming.

The big question up until yesterday for Apple was what would the iPhone 7 bring, but now that all of it features have been revealed, the conversation moves to if Apple has done enough to convince people to purchase it amidst rumors of the iPhone 8. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, causing many to expect the iPhone 8 to offer significant innovations. It will be interesting to see the effect this has on iPhone users, which already makes up 43.5% of all smartphone users in the US (Android makes up 53%).

With that being said, we followed yesterday’s  announcements in San Francisco and have rounded up all the information that you need to know. Here are the top announcements from the event to keep you in the know.

1) Death of the Headphone Jack with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (Released Sept 16th)
As has been reported for months, the iPhone 7 family of phones has removed the standard audio headphone jack in favour of a lightning port that accepts headphones as well. The removal should not come as a shock since Apple has a track record of cutting out features it deems obsolete– as it did with the CD-drive. Apple pointed to the superiority of the lightning port for audio, and the ability to remove a single-function input that was taking up valuable space, as reasons to say sayonara to the beloved headphone jack. To make the transition easier, Apple has included lightning headphones, as well as a lightning to headphone jack adapter in the box at launch.

2) Air Pods: Apple’s First Foray Into Wireless Headphones
By eliminating the headphone jack, it was inevitable that Apple would be hoping that people would start to become more comfortable with wireless headphones. Not wanting to be outdone by their partners at Beats (who also have their own line of new wireless headphones), Apple has released the Air Pod wireless headphones. Looking identical to their current earbuds– minus the wire– the Air Pod’s promise 5 hours of battery life, and a charging case that can hold up to 24 hours of its own.

3) The iPhone 7 is all About the Camera
Remember when we used to refer to our cell phones as “Camera Phones?” Well it seems Apple did with its newest iteration, as it spent most of its time discussing the improvements in its camera’s capabilities. More specifically, its improvements for the 7 Plus, which for the first time features two lenses on the rear of the camera. The dual lense gives the camera better optical zoom (56mm vs. 28mm), better depth management, improved color gamut and better stabilization.

4) Apple Watch Series 2 Unleashes your Inner Athlete (Released late October)
The trend of the Apple Watch launch was athletes. From athletes in all their promo videos, to partnerships with Nike and ViewRanger (an app for hikers), Apple looked to be now positioning the Apple watch as the premier fitness watch in the market. In the 16 months since the launch of the original Apple Watch, Apple has already become the second best selling watch manufacturer behind Rolex. The new watches, dubbed Apple Watch Series 2, showed off their improved GPS, swim- and dust-proof cases, brighter screens, and faster dual core processors at the event. New strap and casing options were also displayed, with a new ceramic body edition coming in at a whopping $1,700USD.

5) Apple Leans on Nintendo
Pokemon Go has been everywhere in the news, but the last place we expected it to pop up was at the latest Apple event. But there it was taking center stage, with the CEO of Niantic telling everyone how useful the Apple Watch could be on your next pokehunt. This all took place after legendary game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, came on stage to introduce a new Mario based iPhone game Super Mario Run. This new Super Mario game is reminiscent of the old Super Mario Bros. games, and hopes to cash in on generations of Nintendo fans, who have traded in their consoles for iPhones. With the pair of announcements surrounding Nintendo properties, their stock price was the real winner, seeing a 24% increase following the event.

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In the past, when a consumer was interested in watching a new movie, they would either head to their local cinema or video store. Now with the market being inundated with new viewing options and access points such as video-on-demand, premium movie channels, and subscriptions streaming services, the marketplace has become much more of a battlefield. To counteract the declining theatre attendance, and rise to the top of the clutter, cinemas are reimagining the experience by attempting to make it much more personal engaging.

At the centre of this shift is the smartphone.

Once an ostracized technology at the movies, smartphones now play a major role in the pre-, during, and post-viewing lifescycle. Because of this, movie theatres have had to find new ways to incorporate technology to keep putting bums in seats.

One of the reasons that this seems to work is because frequent moviegoers tend to be more connected than the average population. Over 75% of all frequent moviegoers own at least four types of digital tech products, compared to only 57% of the total adult population. As well, the same moviegoers are also more likely to own a smartphone (85%) compared to the total adult population (73%).

From researching what movie to watch and purchasing tickets, to playing games in the cinema and even finding the perfect spot during a movie to head to the washroom, there is no shortage of apps created to suppliment the movie going experience. Rather than tell people to turn off their phones, theatres are now hoping that they can gain greater access to their customers by being available to them at all times. No longer is it enough for movie theatre apps to just have a theatre locator, display showtimes, and allow you to purchase tickets. Consumers are demanding more from these apps including loyalty options, personalized offers, and the ability to invite friends–all right from the app.

Along with the introduction of a more digital experience, theatre companies are looking to new offerings to diversify their portfolio. Showing eSports and offering higher end meals and alcohol service with more comfortable chairs, are just a couple of the ways being used to increase revenues and combat declining traditional box office sales. Paired with digital transformation, theatre executives are optimistic that that they can change the perceptions and behaviours of moviegoers to get them excited about going to the movies again, and out from behind their streaming services.

However, becoming more technology friendly does not always benefit the cinema, as AMC found out earlier this year when they quickly reversed course after promoting a new plan to allow texting during movies. This idea was postulated to try and attract more millennials, but instead caused a social backlash and forced AMC to retract the idea. Although the idea never actually saw the light of day, it does show how careful theatres have to be when it comes to injecting technology into the movies.

How movie theatres integrate digital into the theatre-going experience is going to be vital to the health and success of the movie theatre industry. Competing for consumer’s disposable income and time, theatres will have to find new ways to leverage mobile to enhance how customers view a night at the movies. The future of movies is uncertain, but one thing that’s for sure is that smartphones will begin to play a much larger role in the cinema-going experience.

Toronto

From Uber to Airbnb, there’s no doubt that the majority of industries are faced with disruption from digital newcomers everyday, and the financial industry is no different. On August 19th we joined the Digital Finance Institute at FinTechTO for a day filled with the latest in financial technology.

The full day event in the heart of downtown Toronto featured the brightest leaders in fintech with speakers from Google, TD, ScotiaBank, Mastercard and CIBC (to name a few), on topics ranging from anti-money laundering and fighting financial crime, to financial inclusion and banking innovation. And for the grand finale? Google shared a super exclusive, top secret keynote (stay tuned for their future announcements)!

Leaving the venue absolutely packed with new info, here are some of our favourite facts and discussions of the day.

FinTech Takeaways:

- From the challenging process of tracing and validating credit, to facing an intangible global market, the industry faces many hurdles everyday

- When it comes to Bitcoins, the level of their anonymity depends on what we want to tolerate as a society

- With the advancements in technology and the increase in fraudulent behaviour, the Canadian legislators are working to keep up with the pace and adapt to the changes

- Stats show that 92% of the time, Uber users rate their experience 5 stars. We have come to expect this type of seamless experience across all tech platforms, setting the bar pretty high for fintech!

- Digital offerings have become the center of our lives; with 73% of millennials even expressing their desire to bank with digital forums such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, rather than established financial institutions

- By the year 2020, 3 Billion people will own mobile phones & 50 Billion devices will be connected to the internet!

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Whether you are ”Gluten-Free,” “Vegan,” a “Foodie,” or a “Junk-Foodie,” it is undeniable that the food industry is one that runs on trends. Which is why our partners from Havas Worldwide decided to investigate the topic, and uncover what the ever-changing landscape means for brands, marketers, and consumers alike. This report, supported by global-surveys, delivered a number of great insights, but here at Plastic we were most interested in their findings that related to the digital space. More and more consumers are introducing technology into their eating-habits– through ordering, diet tracking, and social media apps– changing the way we connect with the food industry. We have chosen a couple of our favourite insights from the report and have highlighted them below, but be sure to check out the rest of the report here.

Living busier lives has made it tough for some people to continually monitor that they are always eating healthy, which is why many have turned to digital devices to help them track their food intake. One-third of millennials, and one-quarter of gen X’ers surveyed make use of digital devices to make healthy food choices, while baby boomers trail far behind with only 11%. With greater connectivity also comes the ability to access an unlimited source of information regarding the food around them, and decide what works best for them. By being more aware of their choices, consumers can feel more confident that they are making good decisions. That being said, technology can also have the adverse effect of making it easier to obtain unhealthy foods as well. Technology can only do so much, and it is up to the consumer to create a plan and stick to it.

The report also found that food has become a much larger player in conversations on social media. We understand many of you may hate (or love, no need to be embarrassed!) seeing people post photos of their meals, but “Foodporn,’ does generate clicks, the same way the Food Network generates viewers who never plan on cooking the meals they watch. Capitalizing on this, many food brands have found social media as a way to reach their consumers on a more organic (no pun intended) level. Starbucks (10 million followers on Instagram) and Redbull (5 million followers on Instagram) have very different styles on social media, but have both stayed true to their brands to generate massive social followings.

If you are hungry for more information about trends in the food industry, be sure to check out Havas Prosumer’s full report on the “Future of Food” here.

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With summer in full swing, we want to make sure that you’re ready for when any mobile topics come up while hanging out at your next barbeque. Our R&D team has scoured their top resources to round up the newest and hottest mobile trends, and share them with you in our new Summer Mobile X Report!

Here is an overview of the “Big 3” topics we covered to give you a taste of what you can find in the report:

Apple’s WWDC Conference Highlights (See Page 8)
While it may have been slimmer on hardware announcements (not surprising for a developer conference) than some people had been looking for, WWDC 2016 still had some big updates for the majority of Apple’s product line. From new OS’s to reinvented apps, the WWDC left consumers excited for what’s to come from Apple.

Fintech Trends for 2016 (See Page 14)
With financial institutions feeling the pressure from disruptive startups, they have begun to focus more on investing in new technology themselves. For an industry already on the rise, this influx of backing capital can only mean one thing–exponential growth is coming. With that in mind, we have laid out the 7 fintech trends that we expect to continue in 2016.

Chatbots (See Page 18)
While developers are still looking for a way to truly pass the Turing Test, many messaging services and brands are turning to chatbots as a new way to interact with consumers. You may have already unknowingly encountered some, which is why feel it is the right time to read up.

Something here that peaked your interest? View the full report here!

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While most university students are off on their summer vacations, a captive group of inquisitive minds was on hand Tuesday night at the University of Toronto to hear our own Director of Mobile Strategy, Parisa Durrani, deliver a guest lecture. For the Foundation of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media students, Parisa was able to give them a first hand account of what factors go into curating a successful mobile strategy. She covered topics from “what do you need to know about an organization before creating a strategy?” to “how do you know what feature sets will work for an app?” and “is one app enough?”

It also gave the students the opportunity to ask her about her career path which has taken her from jobs with the CBC and Chicago Bulls, to her current role at Plastic. Parisa always has an ear to the pulse of what consumers are looking for in mobile apps, and being able to hear from the future minds of the industry offered her a fresh outlook on where mobile is heading.

Parisa would like to thank Donna Papacosta, and University of Toronto for allowing her to share her insights and experiences with the class.

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You’d think that with the warmer weather, would come more relaxed work days- but not at Plastic Mobile! Which means that we haven’t had time to share everything that our team has been getting up to. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our experience sharing our thoughts on mobile UX research with a full house of Interactive Ontario members during their latest iLunch session.

Plastic’s Strategic Marketing Coordinator, Alex Herron, and Director of Strategy and New Business, Hannah Savage, led the group through an informative session that focused on how neuromarketing can be used to better understand the behaviours of mobile users. The presentation focused on the different types of research that goes into creating industry leading mobile app UX’s and what it means for brands.

Alex and Hannah would like to thank Interactive Ontario for hosting such a great event, and we look forward to attending some of their other events moving forward. To learn more about the the insights Plastic gained from undertaking their neuromarketing study, you can find the full report here.

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To promote her new Autumn/Winter line of 8-bit inspired handbags, fashionista Anya Hindmarch and her eponymous brand, recently launched a mobile app (The PIX by Anya Hindmarch) that allows users to pixelate their photo’s.

Our Director of Mobile Strategy, Parisa Durrani, spoke with Luxury Daily to discuss why a brand, such as Anya Hindmarch, would look to mobile for a creative way to promote a new product line.

“The PIX app is another way for the brand to portray her fun and playful attitude while simultaneously getting free brand awareness when people share the images they make,” Durrani states.

“The novelty of the app may wear off soon for users, but it will be worth it the Hindmarch camp can capitalize on the small window created by this campaign app. This window of opportunity is tight since the app is not particularly deep in terms of offering, which will see the majority of users uninstall after a single use,” she adds.

For more of Parisa’s insights on the topic of creative brand apps, and to view the article in full, click here!

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On Monday, Apple unveiled several new software updates at its WWDC keynote in California. It included a major iOS overhaul, as well as better cross-device integration with a rebranded desktop OS. Needless to say, this year’s developer conference featured some of the biggest announcements about Apple’s mobile and desktop software in recent years. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most interesting things to come out of WWDC 2016:

  1. Siri is now open to third-party developers through API

The recent proliferation of digital assistants and conversational AI from major players like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook made it seem like Apple wasn’t doing nearly enough to capitalize on its first-mover advantage with Siri. This new update, however, seems like Apple’s attempt to finally turn Siri into a platform and bring the virtual assistant back as a leader in the space. Third-party integration will allow outside apps to activate from Siri’s voice commands while allowing Apple to craft stronger relationships with mobile users through better AI and democratizing third-party apps through a single platform.

  1. AI: iOS 10’s central theme

In another push to get ahead in the AI space, Apple’s iOS 10 has integrated personalized context into users’ mobile experiences. QuickType text suggestions will now lean on Siri intelligence about the user by offerings suggestions based on things like location, schedule and contacts. On-device computer vision will now detect both faces and objects in images, allowing the Photos app to organize images by events, people, places, and related memories. User data will be held on-device, keeping personal data within the user’s control.

  1. Messages got a major revamp

With iOS 10, iMessage users can expect an enhanced experience with Apple’s messaging platform. The most drastic change comes from third-party app integration within Messages, allowing users to do things like order food and send money straight from the app. Emojis come to the centre of this update, with their increased size and the ability to “emojify” text. An emoji search engine will be directly integrated into Messages’ keyboard, and predictive text will offer emoji suggestions for highlighted words. In other words, now you’ll be able to simply tap on a word and replace it with an emoji! Scalable “bubble effects” will also be added, allowing you to adjust the font size of your text, and your own handwriting and small special effects.

  1. 3D Touch will now have an expanded role in iOS 10

Back when iOS 9 was announced, 3D Touch was just a cool additional feature. But with iOS 10, 3D Touch is given some genuinely useful functions. This feature can be used straight from the lock screen, tapping on right side to unlock the camera or the left side to open up widgets. As with many other WWDC 2016 updates, third-party apps will also be able to integrate with 3D Touch. From a user perspective, this will undoubtedly make it much easier to interact with live-updating apps like Uber and ESPN.

  1. Goodbye OS X and hello macOS

Apple has finally moved on from its beloved OS X naming structure with the introduction of macOS. But the name change isn’t the only exciting thing about the latest macOS, Sierra. New features emphasize better cross-device integration for a more seamless Apple user experience. Universal Clipboard will allow users to access their desktop and documents across all macOS and iOS devices. Apple Pay will also be available on Mac, linking up intelligently to your iPhone’s TouchID for authentication. Similarly, Auto Unlock will allow Apple Watch users to unlock their Mac by simply walking up to their desktop. Finally, Siri will be available on Mac, giving users completely hands-free access to their desktop computer.

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Once an app is downloaded, as the developer or brand, your work is not complete. It is the first 3-7 days that are the most telling of whether or not an app will be successful. A study by SimilarWeb found that the average app only retains 23% of its daily active users after it’s third day. So what does this mean for brands? What can be done to try and limit or prevent uninstalls all together?

To ensure that you get past the honeymoon phase, (where the majority of apps see their demise) you must hook the user on their initial visit to show that you provide value to them. This is where mobile onboarding comes into play. Onboarding – often done through tutorial and sign in screens – is a way to introduce users to the app and its features.

Have an onboarding process that is too long, and you risk the user losing interest. Have an onboarding that is too short, and the user may miss out on seeing the value of the app. Although still an inexact science due to the thousands of variables that go into making an app, there still are a number of foundational elements that should be followed when developing an onboarding strategy. Here are 6 of the rules that our designers and developers live by:

Choose a strategy that works for you
Depending on the objectives for your app, there are 3 common strategies for mobile onboarding, and it is important to recognize which one is right for you.

  • Benefits-oriented onboarding: explicitly state the benefits that the app can bring the user
  • Function-oriented onboarding: highlighting specific, often core, features of the app
  • Progressive onboarding: offer guidance to users while they actively work through the app

Welcome the user
The onboarding screen is the first date of the mobile app world, and as with first dates, impressions matter. By simply welcoming the user with a positive greeting, you are starting the relationship off on the right foot, and put them in a better mood for the rest of the onboarding.

Give choice
The level of familiarity with your app will vary greatly between users: by giving them choice on how much of a tutorial they need, you can eliminating the barrier for those users who like to learn via exploration.

Prototyping
Without validation, you cannot truly know how users will truly respond to your onboarding experience. To create the best process possible it is important to do user testing techniques such as touch heatmaps and live usability tests.

Get them going faster
For apps which require more information from the user to get set up (Eg. in apps which focus on personalization) they should think about integrating the customizable features into the first screens the user sees. This is so that they can get thrown into an experience of their choosing once onboarding is done.

Onboarding is ongoing
You should not look at onboarding as a one-time thing. Although it is most important during the user’s first interaction, it is also an important way to introduce and explain new features.  For example, if a banking app were to introduce “Tap to Pay” into their current app, they could use onboarding screens to make users aware of the new feature and teach them how to use it.

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Once a year developers, journalists, and general Google/Android fanboys descend on the Bay area to see what Google has been working on behind closed doors for the last number of months. Even with all the speculation and “leaks” that pop up in the blogosphere in the months leading up to the event, it is quite impressive how much of the announcements at Google I/O are total surprises. With only a limited amount of seats at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, we have rounded up the top 5 things you need to know from the event yesterday. Even if you are reading this on your iPad, while checking your Apple watch, and downloading the new Drake album on Apple music, you may be pleasantly surprised with some of Google’s new offerings!

1)N Stands for…Choice?
One of the fun little quirks that we have come to expect from new Android OS’s is their food related names. With a developer version of Android N being sent out earlier this year, rumors have been flying with different N-monikers. Would they use a beloved brand in Nutella, similarly to they way they used KitKat for K? Would they stick with the code name New York Cheesecake? Could it be Nougat or Nachos? Well instead of deciding themselves, they have chosen to take the democratic route and leave the honors up to the public. To vote you can either #NameAndroidN or visit their website here.

2) Google Home powered by Google Assistant
As part of Google’s plan to make your daily life simpler, they have announced Google Home, a home hub aimed at linking all of your connected devices. This vase-shaped device is powered by Google Assistant, an extension of their Google Now technology, which is a voice and text activated digital assistant. Akin to the Amazon Echo, you can ask Google Home who starred in your favourite movie, to play music through connected speakers, or even change the temperature of your house (permitted you own a Google-owned Nest thermostat). And for the design conscious, the base of the device is removable and comes in a variety of colours to match your room’s decor. Sadly, it is unclear whether or not they will be rolling out a floral option to match the pattern of your grandma’s old couch.

3) Android ventures into VR
With all the hype around VR these days with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR, it was inevitable that Google would be coming out with its own version. Already having explored the lower-cost end of the VR spectrum with Cardboard, Google introduced the Daydream. Similar to the Gear VR and Cardboard, Daydream is a headset which is powered by Android phones. However, unlike the Gear VR, Daydream will be compatible with phones from a variety of manufacturers, having already signed contracts with LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel. You can expect to see this hit the market this fall.

4) Allo and Duo
These two new app offerings from Google are looking to make communicating through mobile much more immersive. Allo is a chat app loaded with multiple new features that take advantage of the aforementioned Google Assistant. The goal of Allo is to learn more about you and make it easier for you to reflect that. As a companion to Allo, Google released Duo which is a video calling app (many are calling it Google’s answer to Facetime). The main feature that separates Duo and it’s competitors is Knock Knock, a feature that allows the receiver to see video of the caller before they have even picked up the phone. This can give the receiver more context to the call, letting you see where the caller is and what they are up to.

5) Everything Else
This event was jam-packed with announcements from many Google departments, and we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention them.

  • You can now open specific parts of apps without installing them by clicking on URLs
  • Android Pay can now work on partnered mobile sites
  • Android Wear 2.0 was introduced, which looks to allow for standalone apps
  • Developers will be excited with new improvements to the Play Store, Android Studio, Firebase, and Google Cloud

 

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While the smartphone arms race still looms large, one of the biggest trends to emerge from the major release events in the first half of 2016 (CES, MWC & SXSW) was the introduction of new periphery hardware. All of these new hardware devices are aiming to modify the way we interact with our smartphones. Each one of these new technologies, from VR headsets to home assistants, is impacting the way users experience their smartphones.

Here we will spotlight some of the ones that we found more interesting, and look at their possible implications for smartphone users.

Samsung Gear
By partnering with Oculus on the Gear VR, it is apparent that Samsung is very serious about attempting to be the first mobile hardware developer to bring VR to the mainstream.

  • Launched Gear 360 for consumers to produce own VR content
  • Circular Camera with two lenses, each capable of filming 196 degrees
  • Ability to share content instantly to social media

Sony Xperia
This year, Sony Xperia debuted three new peripheral devices that can be linked to their Xperia line of mobile phones.

  • Xperia Ear: a “hearable” Bluetooth headset, that acts as a personal assistant
  • Xperia Eye: Wearable camera that captures images instantaneously via voice command and face detection software
  • Xperia Agent: Multitalented home hub, with a tabletop projects and IoT connectivity

LG
Similar to Sony, LG has also introduced three of its own smartphone companion gadgets this year.

  • LG 360 VR Headset: Compatible with the LG G5, the 360 VR aims to shrink the adjustment time to VR with a less bulky design and digital simplicity
  • LG 360 Camera: A pocket-sized VR camera capable of both 180- and 360-degree video in 2K
  • LG Rolling Bot: Real-life offspring of BB-8 can roll around its surroundings and live stream video and images through its partner app

Takeaway
So what does this mean for smartphone users?
1) It shows that there is going to be a large link between smartphones and VR & AR moving forward with all the resources these companies are allocating to these technologies.
2) Phone manufacturers are using these gadgets to convince people to switch to their flagship devices since many of these products are exclusively compatible with their own brand of smartphone.

Either way, smartphone manufacturers are looking to expand their offerings and create new ways for their consumers to interact with their brands. By creating an ecosystem of products for consumers to use, they are utilizing the allure of new technologies to create a new revenue stream as well as create awareness of their other devices.

 

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                                                                                                                                 Via @AlexanderBFung

The International Payment Conference, InPayCo, is an international exhibition gathering impressive leaders across the city to provide insights and expertise on modernizing payments. The two day event combines informative roundtable, keynotes and workshop sessions with the industry’s foremost leaders and experts, including Plastic Mobile CEO Sep Seyedi.

Sep joined a team of industry experts, Michel Brunet, Marc Lemieux-Lawyer, Elana Hahn and Jeff Shinder to lead a workshop on payment systems across the Americas.

Topics of discussion at the workshop included:

  • How to modernize the innovation and infrastructure of US payments
  • The major role that different markets play in the creation of such a service (I.e. Merchants, Card Schemes and Banks)
  • Canada’s method of updating framework
  • The process of financial inclusion; proving to be a key component in Latin America

Throughout his years in the mobile industry, Sep has had the opportunity to experience first hand, the remarkable changes happening in the payment sector while working beside some of the largest banks in North America. The panel was an amazing opportunity to share his expertise as well as gain insights on a rapidly expanding industry.

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Back by popular demand, Plastic Mobile sponsored MUX will be hosing “UX in the Virtual & Augmented Worlds” on Thursday, May 19th!

As one of the country’s largest Mobile User Experience meetups, MUXers have the chance to gain insight and perspective on some of the hottest trends in mobile from impressive industry leaders.

This year, step into the world of Virtual and Augmented User Experience with Josh Maldonado and Stephan Tanguay as they share their specific knowledge and experience with Virtual and Augmented Realities.

Complete with mingle time and plenty of snacks, it’s definitely a night you won’t want to miss!

Click here for more information!

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The current market value of Artificial Intelligence reached $126.24bn this year, and is estimated at $3,061.35bn by the end of 2020- and with that comes the opportunity for brands to leverage the latest in AI technology towards their day to day operations, marketing and sales efforts and loyalty strategies, among others. Here at Plastic, we’re incredibly excited about the potential and have shared below what we think AI can mean for brands across healthcare, retail, and banking.

Healthcare:
Healthcare is one of the most ethically sensitive markets, which means that before any AI technology becomes a mainstay in the industry, it must first undergo a multitude of tests. Having digital caregivers may be a way to alleviate stress on overworked medical staffs, but we must first find a way to convince patients of their competence. To be successful, robotic doctors powered by AI don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be more reliable than human doctors. For the foreseeable future, there will always need to be a human buffer between the patient and machine, but this may change once acceptance levels rise.

AI is not ready to diagnose patients and replace medical workers at the present time, but it can be an effective tool for them to use. Currently, the team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is using machine learning algorithms to help them better capture patients chief complaints and do rounds. The benefits of this are extra time, energy, and attention that they can now give to patients.

Retail:
From robotic personal shoppers to predictive shopping carts, AI lends itself nicely to retail. Brands such as AirBnB and Gilt Groupe have turned to AI to improve sales by utilizing preemptive shipping, anticipatory shipping, and dynamic pricing. It allows them to strengthen their predictions through customer buying habits and subjective habits. As well, The North Face has partnered with IBM Watson and Fluid to create a predictive shopping webpage, that makes suggestions based on how you interact with it. AI can give shoppers helpful, relevant, and intuitive product recommendations, and look like it will become a norm moving forward.

Banking:
Similarly to retail, financial services can benefit from AI by taking advantage of the vast amounts of data that track users online habits. By tracking a users’ habits, banks can personalize their experience to anticipate the individual users’ needs. This tracking serves dual purpose, as it can also learn the users’ tendencies, making it easier to detect outliers and reduce fraud.

Banks see the opportunities presented by AI, and have been investing in it as a result. Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that the AI industry will be valued at $70bn by 2020. Last month, Royal Bank of Scotland debuted Luvo, an AI system that can help call-center staff answer customer questions more efficiently. As well, Barclays and Goldman Sachs are looking into how they can utilize virtual assistants and machine-learning, respectively.

From the Terminator, to The Matrix, to Ex Machina, there has never been a shortage of pop culture references to Artificial Intelligence. Whether it is out of fear or curiosity, it is a subject matter that has captivated Homo Sapiens, and even predates the first known reference to “Artificial Intelligence.” With projects like DeepMind from IBM, Siri from Apple, and M from Facebook, we may already be living in the dystopian future that has been hypothesized for decades. To help you better understand AI, we have created this helpful infographic to bring you up to speed.

If you like what you read here, be sure to check out our Spring 2016 Mobile X Report, which goes into more depth on AI, as well as many other mobile trends that you need to know about right now!

 

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With all the biggest tech companies looking to the future for their next breakthrough, the R&D team at Plastic thought it was time to think differently and look backwards for inspiration. This is why we have decided to revolutionize the mobile app space, by now offering the development of mobile apps for flip phones. The smartphone is so 2015 anyways.

Introducing “FlipApps,” an innovative-bespoke-artisinal platform from Plastic Mobile that lets you enjoy the apps of today with the phones of yesteryear. At Plastic, we pride ourselves on our ability to anticipate trends, which is why we believe now is the perfect time to go all-in on the flip phone market before it becomes “too mainstream.” Right now everything retro is making a comeback: Record Players, N64, Black & White Photography, Polaroid Cameras, and Typewriters; and with Hipster culture on the rise, the flip phone revolution is inevitable.

Our client’s took a little bit of convincing when we first pitched them the idea, but we assured them that they would hate themselves once they realized they were on the wrong side of mobile history. The flip phone truly is a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

We have 100% buy-in from all our divisions at Plastic. Our developers have been hard at work learning to code in T9. Our Designers have been hard at work trying to optimize apps for one-inch screens. Our QA team have been hard at work rummaging through thrift shops to see where they can find test devices.

Why flip phones you ask? With the practicality of these devices, this once global phenomenon is poised to make a comeback. Remember how indestructible your old clam-shell phone was? Or how many days your phone could last on one charge? Remember the days before butt-dialing, and how your office couldn’t reach you at all times. How could you not think that this deserves a comeback?

Old-School is New-School with “FlipApps” from Plastic Mobile.

If you or anyone else you know would be interested in being a part of the flip phone app revolution, please feel free to contact us at thisisnotanaprilfoolsprank@plasticmobile.com.

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Cartier is no stranger to the importance of optimizing mobile involvement with their products, and the launch of their Clé de Cartier line of watches is no exception. In hopes of creating optimal buzz for their new product line, the French jewelry brand took to the mobile homepage of Conde Nast’s Architectural Digest to make this happen.

Recently, our President and COO Melody Adhami shared her insights on Cartier’s decision to target Architectural Digest’s Mobile site with Luxury Daily.

“With a price tag ranging between $8,000 to $100,000 or more for the new Clé de Cartier, Cartier is catering to the affluent clientele who has a keen eye for unique and iconic design, which likely corresponds with Architectural Digest readership.”

In this day and age, a brand’s awareness via mobile platforms has become exceedingly more important. “You have to account for a mobile audience when planning a product launch, since a large portion of readers access news and articles via their smartphones,” Adhami adds.

To see the article in full, and for more of Melody’s insights, check it out here!