Mobile X Spring 2015 - FINAL - May 15 2015 COMPRESSED

Mobile is being increasingly sought after by marketers as a tool to extend campaign experiences to the palms of customers everywhere. In many cases, various brands have opted to develop a dedicated mobile app for their campaigns.

Campaign apps can often lead to exceptionally entertaining and engaging experiences. To get there, companies must consider several key elements when curating the app experience. They include:

Simplistic Messaging: Content should be simple, digestible and easy to understand. Mobile users don’t want to dig for information, instead they expect it to be presented to them, instantly.

Interactive: Mobile excels compared to other platforms as it presents an array of technologies that can be leveraged. Each technology has it’s own pros and cons that can be combined to create the perfect interactive mobile marketing experience.

Sticky Factor: Engagement drives success. The success of any mobile app can be attributed to the engagement it drives. Providing incentive or motivation for continued use of your app leads to engagement. Creating features that are “sticky” is what really brings users back.

Value: The value provided by your app needs to be clear to the user. If they can’t see the benefits for them it’s unlikely they will download it. With device storage space at a premium users will really be looking for ways to justify an app download.

Looking for more on campaign apps? We’ve attached our Mobile X report which features analysis on some of the most successful campaign apps and the biggest mobile trends this year.

Read more here.

DeepFace3

In the past year, with a certainly impressive amount of research and experimentation, facial and image recognition technologies have gained considerable momentum. Among the largest innovators are search engine giant Google, and the colossal online community Facebook, who have harnessed the power of revolutionary facial recognition and image recognition technologies.

Just over a year ago, Facebook released DeepFace, intending to “close the gap to human-level performance in face verification”. By merely looking at two photos, the facial recognition technology deciphers whether the photos contain the same face, irrespective of lighting and positioning of the face. With 97.3% accuracy, only second to the 97.5% accuracy of the human brain, DeepFace is an impressive piece of artificial intelligence that certainly meets its intended goal.

Similarly, Google’s image recognition technology has advanced to the point of being able to mimic human levels of understanding. Although it relies heavily on image descriptions in order to tag them, the search engine is able to identify entire scenes in photos and videos. For example, Google’s image recognition can detect a group of children playing on a jungle gym. By working with Stanford University and merging two types of neural networks, Google has made the cataloguing and searching of billions of images and videos more efficient.

While such technologies may sound fun and useful, both have stirred up considerable controversy. Some Facebook users have protested DeepFace’s preemptive and automatic tagging feature, positing that it violates their human rights. Google has had to meet concerns of some of its users, now that it’s able to track all searches and identify all new content uploaded daily. The search engine recently included a solution to delete and/or download any information users may not want tracked, whether from their search history of Gmail account.

Concerns may start to arise around Facebook’s mobile app, which enables users to take and post photos straight from it. However, if the app’s face verification automatically starts tagging the users in these photos as soon as they’re uploaded, users may feel trepidatious about posting them in the first place. Furthermore, Google has an extensive suite of mobile apps and owns the Android ecosystem, all of which could be easily integrated with image recognition. Google could integrate everything from Google Camera to Google Drive with image recognition to instantly tag photos on your mobile phone and in Google Cloud services. Overall, both companies should take stock in how users will view their apps if privacy concerns remain relevant.

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While America leaves a cold, dark winter and starts to enjoy a warm, sunny spring, American upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is ready to oblige fitness savvy shoppers. Nordstrom has marketed its workout-themed Pop-In @ Nordstrom Nike Women temporary shop through Vogue magazine’s mobile-friendly site. In between content on the site’s homepage, the click-through advertisements with floral backgrounds reminding viewers of the blossoming season, and incentivizing a call to action, “Play, Shop, Win” in a contest for Nike products.

The unique mobile marketing partnership between Nordstrom, a retailer of high-end designer brands, and Nike, an internationally recognized sportswear designer, will be sure to attract the attention of young shoppers. “Millennials are quickly becoming the top consumer of luxury goods and products,” said Melody Adhami, President and COO of Plastic Mobile. “As this group is inherently mobile, consuming and engaging with content on mobile is an expectation, not a luxury for this segment,” she said.

The marketing opportunity will appeal to Vogue’s fashion-savvy audience while promoting a timely product segment. The fashion and health conscious readers and consumers can enter a contest and subscribe to Nordstrom’s newsletter via email.

To wrap up, Melody commented “Nordstrom aligning this Pop-In campaign with Vogue allows them to reach their shared demographic with fitness and health being top of mind. Also leveraging mobile has given them better chances to connect with millennials, layering in a new target segment.”

 

Apple Watch

Plastic’s long awaited mobile apps for Apple Watch garnered a lot of attention. Both Pizza Pizza and Realtor.ca were featured as launch day apps by Apple. Melody Adhami, President and COO at Plastic Mobile recently sat down with IT Business to provide some insight on exactly how these stellar apps came to be.

Designing for a revolutionary new platform may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple as Melody Adhami explains. First off Plastic Mobile sees Apple Watch apps falling into two basic categories:

  1. Companion apps:  These apps relay notifications and other information from your smartphone.
  2. Utility apps: These allow users to engage with the interface and complete a basic tasks. These apps are structured to provide standalone experiences apart from the smartphone apps.

Melody continued by clarifying the importance of broadening one’s digital offerings, for Pizza Pizza and Realtor.ca. “This is part of their offering, to be innovative, to be cutting edge,” she says. “They want to be first to market.”

Although Apple Watch is considered to be an extension of the smartphone, Melody reminds us that it has a unique set of opportunities and features “smart watch apps will have to keep functionality as simple as possible”. Looking at extending the functionality of the smartwatch Melody talked about what users may be willing to do with the device. “Buying and selling stocks off their watch, I don’t think so. But ordering a pizza? Sure!”

It seems straightforward, but Melody stresses that when entering the Apple Watch sphere brands must, “Think about what value you’re really able to offer on a person’s wrist and why that’s different from what you’re already doing. Not every task will be suitable for a form factor that’s measured in millimetres and strapped to a wrist.”

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When we were lugging folders and papers around with our real estate agent in tow rushing from one door to the next, at some point we all thought to ourselves; “This is ridiculous.” So here at Plastic Mobile we set out to make it better, with Realtor.ca. Now you can check out what’s up for sale in your neighbourhood, and call the agent to make an appointment with a flick of a wrist. The Realtor.ca app allows users to check out listings nearby, see details and call an agent right from the watch.

The Realtor.ca Apple Watch app can perform a wide variety of functions including:

  • Check for nearby properties
  • View neighborhood demographics
  • Favorite properties
  • Create lists
  • View property details
  • Call a Realtor

As technology like the Apple Watch emerges we get a front row seat to the changing consumer behavior, and how prospective homebuyers plan their future.

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In the midst of all the hullabaloo surrounding Apple Watch last week, you may have missed the release of Pizza Pizza’s Apple Watch app. So we just wanted to let you know that you can now order your favourite pizza straight from the wrist. Plastic Mobile is proud to have brought the first and only pizza ordering Apple Watch app to the world. Not to mention 1 of 2 food service apps available for Apple Watch…ever.

The Pizza Pizza Apple Watch app can perform a host of functions including:

  • Quick menu browsing
  • Pizza ordering
  • Payment
  • Delivery countdown
  • Place favorite or recent orders
  • Check club 11-11
  • Check gift card balance

“This is part of their offering, to be innovative, and cutting edge,” commented Melody Adhami, Plastic Mobile’s President and COO, on Apple Watch’s broadening of digital offerings. “The Pizza Pizza customer wants convenience and it doesn’t get more convenient than this.”

“Apple Watch represents the next wave of convenient solutions for our customers, and we are thrilled to be part of this evolution,” said Paul Goddard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pizza Pizza Limited.

 

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Believe it or not, amidst all the commotion last week surrounding Apple’s new wearable, Apple Watch, there was still other mobile news. “Mobilegeddon” is nigh, according to experts, who have coined the term in reaction to Google’s latest update to it’s search engine algorithm. Google will now prioritize sites with mobile-friendly versions by ranking them higher in search results while downgrading sites that are not mobile-friendly.

The importance of a mobile optimization for brands cannot be stressed enough. At Plastic we’ve been harping on this for 7 years. And while I’d hate to say ‘I told you so’, it’s becoming more and more true every day. As if it’s not quite enough to disappoint and lose your customers when they’re reaching out to your brand on mobile devices, now Google is also leaving non-mobile brands out in the cold.

It’s been predicted that by 2018 m-commerce will make up half of all e-commerce sales, and it’s already well on it’s way with many industries averaging 30-40% of digital sales through mobile. The dollar value of m-commerce will grow to $626 billion in the U.S by 2018, leaving a lot of market share on the table for mobile laggards.

Additionally, Google has claimed that half of all searches around the world originate from mobile devices. No surprise there. Mobile phones have also transformed the way consumers shop online and search.

As mentioned in an article from Marketing Magazine, brands can test and verify the strength of their URL, according to the new Google standards to see how they’re ranking now. The results will hopefully encourage ‘mobiphobes’ to get with the times. While many brands are passing with flying colours, most are simply not up to par. This could very well be the moment of truth for brands and businesses.

“Mobilegeddon” is not just a term to scare marketers into the era of mobile, but rather it’s a shift in paradigm and priorities. It’s not just about content and SEO any more, the very meaning of SEO is anchored in the DNA of a brand, rising up from design, usability and function.

 

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In the past two years, BMW, the German producer of design-savvy and performance-driven automobiles, has transformed the way people use their phones and their cars. The navigation and communication application Life360 will keep families connected all the time and everywhere.

As mentioned in an article from Luxury Daily, Life360 “brings you closer when you’re apart.” The app keeps users up-to-date by sending notifications to their device, which sits in the dashboard, while the navigation system helps the drivers get to their destinations.

“As families, become increasingly reliant on their mobile devices for navigation and communication, brands need to step in and recognize the opportunity being presented,” said Melody Adhami, president and COO of app developer Plastic Mobile.

Since inception, the app has been downloaded and used by over 50 million families. The app is part of BMW’s ConnectedDrive feature, which helps keep BMW’s customers connected with a more personal touch by enabling calling through the app.

When asked what in-car app integration bodes for the future of applications, Melody said, “Soon we will see car dashboards take on more smartphone and tablet capabilities, truly embodying a mobile device.

 

applewatch

Although there are some heavy smartwatch competitors out there such as: Android WearPebble and the Microsoft Band; still, over the past few months it’s become clear that Apple Watch is the most anticipated device of the year.

Thus far, the Apple Watch has sparked some concern and controversy from reviewers, but we’ll let their sales vouch for their validity. Between Apple’s discretion and industry whispers many are gearing up for an April 24th launch, however, pre-orders started April 10, 2015 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US.

According to The Verge, having just stepped into the smartwatch game it is estimated that Apple already has a million+ units pre-ordered in the US, and over 2.3 million units globally. In order to put these sales into context; compared to the first generation of iPhone, where only sold 270,000 units were sold in the first 30 hours post launch, and the first iPad sold 300,000 in its first day. This first generation Apple product is already making history.

Those who are able get their hands on these luxurious devices can expect built-in Apps such as, Mail, iMessage, Apple Maps, Siri, iTunes, and Passbook, which are a minimum expectation of Apple users.

As for new apps, users focused on their health will be excited to see a wide range of apps dedicated to helping you take control of your health. Apple is looking forward to unveiling the built-in apps, Activity and Workout. However, there are a selection of brands highlighted on Apple’s preview of the Apple Watch App Store.  You can check out,  Nike + RunningStravaGreen Kitchen, Lifesum and Runtastic, to name a few.

Other apps we’re expecting to see include: Air CanadaBabbeltheScoreESPNGlobe and MailShazamInvoice2goMint Personal Finance and Lutron Caséta.

The question here is; how do you plan on improving your users’ mobile experience? If smartwatch or wearable experiences haven’t been on your mobile roadmap, they certainly will be now. We can expect to see more Apple Watch apps flooding the market, sooner than later. Everyone seems to want to get in on the smartwatch action and frankly, we’re excited to be a part of the fun.


Stay tuned for more updates in the smartwatch sphere.

 

Plastic Black

On April 03, 2015, Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research firm, published their first report identifying the top firms focused on app development and mobile marketing, highlighting those who deliver world-class results for their clients.

We’re delighted to share that Plastic Mobile was included and ranked high as a Leading Mobile App Marketing Agency, based on a full-scale assessment of our experience and work.

Clutch’s Lead Marketing Analyst explains, “These app marketing service providers range in agency size and vary in customer and industry focus. However, these agencies and the strategic marketing teams behind them have demonstrated a commitment to meeting their clients’ app marketing objectives.”

 He also notes, “One of the biggest hurdles an app marketing agency faces is implementing a mobile strategy that is also aligned with their clients’ big picture business goals.” An area we’re proud to have a proven track record in.

Clutch identified Plastic’s strengths in key areas as well as client accolades from interviews. One such client as Pizza Pizza said;

“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 design work.”

For a more details, see Clutch.co’s filtering tools to help identify if Plastic best meets your needs.

https://clutch.co/agencies/app-marketing/research

https://clutch.co/agencies/app-marketing

 

Bracket

The NCAA tournament is coming to an end quicker than Iowa’s elimination from the first round! However, there is no shortage of diehard fans, who have been arranging their brackets and gearing up for the event long before it started. In this same vein, mobile is playing a significant role in how fans engage with the competition.

Basketball fans are flocking to mobile as a source of information for the tournament. During April and March of last year, half of all searches relating to college basketball were done via a mobile device. Continuing with this trend, the share of mobile searches reached 60% in January 2015- and this is just the beginning of how mobile has made a splash in the world of college basketball. Here are a few more winning stats and insights:

A big draw for basketball fans and sports fans alike is participating in sporting brackets. Constantly checking your sports bracket and checking game results is something that is inherently mobile. This year, ESPN’s Tournament Challenge alone had 11.6 million brackets.

The ideal situation for a sports fan is being able to enjoy the game while relaxed at home or their favourite bar, but this isn’t always possible. That’s where mobile streaming comes into play. Mobile applications from a variety of publishers including ESPNMarch Madness Live and CBS Sports are filling in the gap by providing seamless, video streaming capabilities that help fans keep track of their favourite teams- no matter where they are.

Even when fans decide to watch the game from a first screen, they are still using mobile. According to AT&T in 2014, 88% of mobile owners watch TV while using a mobile device. Much like any major event or spectacle today, whether the viewer is watching the event on their television, streaming it from a mobile device, or watching it live, they are bound to also be participating in some heavy action on their mobile devices.

While it’s important to understand how consumers are interacting with multiple screens, mobile-first strategies mustn’t be overlooked. March Madness is no stranger to leveraging native videos, and ads to connect with fans. Connecting with fans this way is easy because basketball fanatics can not get enough of tournament highlights. In other words, those who hold college basketball dear to their hearts will talk about Kentucky’s 38 – 0 winning streak this year and willingly watch and re-watch highlights from past games on video sharing sites or broadcasting apps, for years to come.

Mobile can be deployed in a variety of ways to engage fans and if we’ve learned anything from the March Madness tournament, it’s that fans love a good game. Seeing as March Madness is becoming increasingly mobile and bracket gamification is compelling everyone to participate; thinking forward, we predict that mobile gamification will play a much larger role in these kind of tournament. For now, we’ll keep our mobile devices near and tune into next Saturday’s Final Four.

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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.

 

MobilePhone

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.

Audi watch

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!