Just a few months ago, investors were concerned about Google’s ability to maintain mobile ad rates, in the face of Facebook’s mobile ads generating 30% of ad revenues.

Google’s recent announcement of joining ad forces with Facebook to create a monster ad exchange has certainly calmed the nerves of the concerned. The search company’s advertising clients now have access to FBX, Facebook’s real-time bidding exchange, in addition to the current offering on DoubleClick Bid Manager.

In spite of going head-to-head in the mobile ad competitive landscape, both digital giants realized that advertisers wanted the best of both worlds, social ads along with search ads, and now DoubleClick is well on its way to be the go-to exchange for advertisers everywhere.

This recent move sent investors swarming, bumping up stock prices by a whopping 14%, and pushing Google’s stock price over $1000USD for the first time! While it is a significant milestone, it’s got us wondering what next move is gonna keep those stock prices afloat.

Since Motorola became a Google company back in May 2012, we have all been anxiously waiting for their new flagship phone. After many leaked images surfaced the web in the past couple of weeks and plenty of speculation, the Moto X has officially been announced!

The Moto X has a number of great features that consumers won’t be able to find with competing smartphones, such as the ability to talk to Google Now or open the camera app even when the phone is on standby. In addition, the Moto X is always on permanent listening mode making it the first “self-driving” smartphone.

There’s more!  As promised in one of their ads last month, customization is one of the main features of the smartphone. The device can be customized with the choice of 2 front panel colours, 7 accent colours, 18 back panel colours and the option of an engraved backing. With the combination of these features, the Moto X can be customized in hundreds of different ways.

In terms of overall specs, it is similar to a Nexus 4 which is pretty good, but fares lower in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy 4.

In addition, the smartphone will be assembled in the US and as a result, consumers will have shorter wait and faster delivery time. This is important considering the assembly will be specific to customers’ customization.

Check out the hands-on video below:

Are you as excited as we are about the Moto X? Let us know at @PlasticMobile!

 

Waze

This past year, there has been already a number of large acquisition moves in the technology industry with Yahoo buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion and Salesforce acquiring ExactTarget for $2.5 billion this month. The most talked about story in the tech industry lately is the recent acquisition of Waze by Google for $1.1 billion.

Waze is an Israeli-based startup of a free mapping and turn-by-turn navigation app (available on Android and Apple iOS), that caught the attention of the top three tech companies in world: Apple, Facebook and Google. Earlier this year, Apple reported a $500 million bid, then Facebook offered a $1 billion deal, but Google closed with a $1.1 to $1.3 billion offer.

Maps are powered by big data and Google Maps has established itself as the map maker to be beaten. With nearly 50 million users crowdsourcing real time data from their devices, Waze relies on these users to flag and record updates on accidents, bottlenecks and traffic. It mines information from your phone such as your speed and location to determine the best routes on its own maps.

Although Google Maps may be the most popular app, acquiring Waze further leverages Google’s capabilities as a search and data powerhouse, while shifting towards localized mobile advertising revenue. Waze has a defined advertising program where brands can display their logo and information based on the user’s driving route. It will be interesting to see how mobile advertising will take off in the coming years.

Waze offers various features that can help Google improve the way we interact and use maps such as the social functionality. Drivers can view where their friends are in real time on their way to a mutual destination, share drives, pickups, meetups and make it easier to communicate status from the road. Waze currently features a Facebook single sign-in option which will likely be replaced with Google+ to attract more users to their social network. Google will continue to let Waze operate as a stand alone division.

What are your thoughts on Google’s acquisition of Waze? What features appeal the most to you? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

braille phone

Technology is getting better very fast. Day after day devices are getting smaller, faster, stronger, smarter. Our lives have changed a lot in recent years because of this. When technology helps people with disabilities though, it’s even better.

A pioneer in this field is Sumit Dagar. He is the latest person to use technology to help visually impaired people use the devices most of us take for granted. He created a smartphone for the blind. Braille is not only on the buttons, but also on the screen. It’s automatically generated depending on what the phone is doing (web browsing, maps, pictures, games, you name it). He presented his invention during a TED conference in 2011 and the phone should be available at the end of this year for about $200.

Another recent move to help people with difficulties was made by Google. Last month they released the app One Today for Android.

This app lets you donate $1 to a charity of your choice. Unlike Facebook likes, this app gives real dollars, which are far more helpful to people in need. With millions of Android users, the impact could be very significant. The social part of the app (visibility of friends donations) that Google has added in, is a brilliant idea that should drive more people to participate.

Google will of course not charge anything on your donations except the credit card transactions fees, which is 1.9%. Now we just have to wait to see this app on all platforms and in all countries.

Do you know any other mobile projects trying to help those in need? Let us know  on twitter @PlasticMobile

androids!It’s a fact that sales of computers are falling as people spend more time on their smartphones and tablets. Part of this is because it’s very convenient to carry these mobile devices in your pocket or your purse. But it’s also because mobile operating systems are easy to use, making them more accessible to a larger public.

We know that Android is the most used OS on smartphones worldwide. Google maintains it as an open source OS so that any company can use and modify. Even though it was released after iOS, Android quickly became the most used OS and its recent updates make it even better than iOS for a lot of users. Here is an interesting infographic about Android devices in the world.

The really interesting thing now is that Android is available on TV and a lot of other devices as well (e-readers, smartwatches, cars and more). Google Glass will be add to the list at the end of the year, but before that, here are two other kinds of devices that Android is about to conquer:

- Android on computers:

It’s not an accident that Microsoft is taking is latest version of Windows in a mobile OS direction with a new interface and app system. Unfortunately for them, Windows 8 hasn’t had very much success so far. The latest rumours say Google will announce an Android laptop soon. This is probably a better idea than Google’s current laptop, the expensive Chromebook Pixel. It runs the Chrome OS and is not worth the hefty price tag despite the impressive hardware.

Another computer called MiiPC, coming from Kickstarter, is a product that we really like because it addresses the real issues parents have trying to monitor their kids computer usage. Check out the video.

- Android on video game consoles:

There are a lot of people playing games on smartphones and tablets, so making an Android game console that can play the high number of already existing games seems like a good idea.

Ouya, to be release in June, looks like a traditional video game console, except that it fits in your hand and will bring Android games into your living room. Another option will be released a few days later in June, Gamestick, is just a dongle (but apparently also less powerful than Ouya) and will do the same.

Do you think Android will have the same success in PC’s or game consoles? Let us know on twitter @PlasticMobile.

Google is serious about getting their “driverless” technology on the road within the next five years. This project is currently being led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun (co-inventor of Google Street View). His main goal for this new technology is to create a car that can drive safer than the actual driver can – because it turns out there are a lot of really bad drivers out there, and a lot of freak accidents. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 4-34 and can cost some $300 billion a year. So, the Google car mission is to improve traffic safety and open opportunities for people who can’t drive on their own.

This all sounds amazing, but we’re a far cry from surrendering control of our cars to computers. Over and above the technology, there are several laws, regulations, safety standards and insurance policies that need to be dramatically modified in order for the Google Car to move forward. I mean, who will take the blame when an accident does occur? The driver or the Google Car?

Reviews from Google Car test drives report that the system drives at speed limit, maintains its distance from other vehicles using sensors and even provides an override so that the driver can take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel. Many said that in the beginning of their test drive they did not trust the vehicle, but as they saw how well the car drove itself, they began to trust the system more.

The U.S. state of Nevada is all for the “driverless car.” So much so, that they passed a law in 2011 permitting the operation of driverless cars. Driverless cars are coming, but we will just have to be patient to see what shape they will take in the next couple of years.

To check out the test drive video, click here.

What do you think about the Google Car? Do you think you can see yourself purchasing this type of technology in the next couple of years? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile

BW: A Galaxy of Rumours

By on March 13, 2013

GSIV

The official launch of the new Galaxy SIV is this Thursday. Despite Samsung doing a remarkable job keeping the juiciest details (including what it looks like) from leaking, nothing can stop the rumor mill from spinning.

The Launch of Samsung’s flagship phone is big news in mobile and has been the talk of the office lately. We rounded up some choice rumours for your consideration. Keep in mind that this is all speculation and we will not know until tomorrow if any of this is true.

- Eye-tracking tech, so when you are looking at your phone it will be looking back at you. The GSIV will track your eye movements and scroll pages for you when you are at the bottom of the screen. Useful, yes. Creepy, perhaps.

- Eight-core processor with a separate eight-core graphics processing unit and 2gb of RAM. The top of the line hardware rumoured to be inside the GSIV will make it the fasted phone on the market. This could lead to battery issues unless. . .

- 4.99inch, 440ppi, Green PHOLED display. Screen technology has not evolved nearly as fast as the rest of the industry. This rumoured new tech will increase screen efficiency by up to 33% wile providing a sharper image than the Super AMOLED screen currently found in the GSIII

- 13 megapixedl rear facing 3D camera. 3D has had a hard time getting off the ground. Could putting a 3D camera on what promised to be a hugely popular phone be the catalyst it need? This seems like an odd match, but Samsung makes 3D televisions and has a hard time selling them so this dark horse rumour may be more credible than it looks. Very interesting.

Are you looking forward to the Galaxy SIV launch? What features do you hope to see in the new GSIV? Let us know on Twitter @PlasticMobile

The Google Maps Comeback

By on December 14, 2012

After millions of angry Tweets, Samsung guerrilla marketing and government issued warnings, Google Maps is back on iOS devices (hurrah!).

It’s still difficult for us to face the fact that even Apple can mess up sometimes. Of course, Apple’s geographical mapping blunder isn’t the WORST thing that could happen, we can’t help but wonder about the million dollar question beckoning from beyond the grave: would Steve Jobs have let this happen?

We will never know so enough of these ponderings! Let’s just be thankful that Google and Apple have worked it out this round. Now quit getting lost and download this thing already!

Happy Halloween!

This year is extra spooky for Apple since Google and Windows have released some cool new smartphones.

Despite Hurricane Sandy, Google went ahead and unveiled their newest smartphone on Monday. The Nexus 4 gives real competition to the iPhone 5. Its got a slightly higher screen pixel count, 2GB of data instead of the iPhone’s 1 GB, Android 4.2 and wireless charging. Like the iPhone, it has an 8MP camera and 1080p video, but is a little heavier and doesn’t have LTE. Those are great specs, but here’s the clincher: The Nexus 4 starts at $299 for 8GB and is available in early November.

The second buzz-worthy release this week is the Windows Phone 8 by HTC. Although Windows has been putting out some pretty cool offerings lately – like the Nokia Lumia 900 earlier this year – this new smartphone goes above and beyond. The device features an interactive home-screen that is cooler than ever and all of the tech specs you’d expect like 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal memory and  an 8.7MP rear “Pureview” camera. The problem with the Windows Phone 8 isn’t anything to do with design or functionality. It’s just that no one uses it yet! Although the 8 offers a great integrated ecosystem that avoids the “walled garden” developing situation that Apple perpetuates, there is no community of developers and limited support from brands. This means that there will be a shortage of apps until developers start coming on board. It also means that the “Wallet” feature on the 8 will not do too much for a while either. “Wallet” is NFC and m-commerce capable, but will not embody its full potential until people start developing for it.

All these competitive phones – the iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and Windows Phone 8 – are great. With amazing standards across the board you really can’t go wrong. It just comes down to what works best for you.

Check these out and let us know which one you’d get! @plasticmobile.

Yes, we know that the title of this article probably sounds completely weird. But, there’s a story behind our madness.
To begin, since iOS 6 was released with its own Apple version of the Maps app, most people are noticing some bugs, quirks and problems that would indicate that it may not have been 100% ready for the market. In fact, some people have become incensed by the latest Apple app, and have been posting all kinds of crazy things that this new Apple Maps app is showing. We suppose that is must be difficult for some users who had become very accustomed to Google Maps, to now have to get used to something new.
Just the other day, we saw someone get lost because he was using the new app. And across the pond in London, England, countless iPhone users trying to navigate the London Tube system have posted comments making fun of its inaccuracies.
Another rather hilarious and ironic misnomer is seeing the app re-direct to Google Maps on the web because the service currently only exists as an app.
Some of us here at Plastic are of the thought that it was pretty poor planning of Apple – known for its high-quality products – to replace a useful service, with their own that seems to be still a BETA version.
While this also did happen to an extent with Siri (especially in the US), Siri was a new technology and ergo, was forgiven for its bugs and quirks. But the new Apple Maps is replacing a perfectly good service that already existed.

Even today, all of Siri’s bugs haven’t been worked out, for example, if you ask her to find a restaurant for you in Paris, she proudly lists 15 options – a mere fraction of the restaurants in Paris, but we’re getting there.
The good news is that even if you get lost because of the new iOS 6 Maps, you might have more fun than if you were given the correct information, thanks to a Japanese company called NeuroWear. They are working on different concept of accessories to translate your emotion from your body to electronic cat ears called Necomimi or electronic cat tail called Shippo, which will even allow you to share how you felt about places you have visited via the mobile app.
We can’t wait to hear how everyone feels about being lost because of the new iOS 6 Maps! Just kidding, Apple. We know you’ll fix it for us.

PM UX: YouTube Revamped

By on September 25, 2012

The recent release of Apple’s iOS 6 marks the end of YouTube as we iPhone users know it. With the five year licensing agreement between Apple and Google not being renewed, users running iOS 6 will no longer be seeing YouTube as a pre-installed app on their devices.

I for one couldn’t be happier about this. You see, Google has released it’s own version of the YouTube app and it addresses my biggest problem with the old app, very limited video selection.

Not only does the new YouTube app offer more in terms of video selection, it also offers some new functionality, and much better experience. The app is currently available as a free download in the App Store and, not surprisingly, it’s also sitting comfortably in the #1 spot of the Top 25 free apps’ list.

YouTube

When I launched the new YouTube app, the first thing I noticed was a cleaner, sleeker and far more aesthetically pleasing design. Only when I saw the new app in all its glory, did I realize how outdated the old YouTube had become.

The new YouTube sports an overhauled menu, larger images for your viewing pleasure, an alternative to full screen landscape viewing and a search function that not only reduces taps, but also allows users to search for videos without even typing.

Updated Menu

The new YouTube app utilizes a familiar menu style used by many other popular apps, most notably the Facebook app. The new menu also improves browsing by providing users with more categories to browse by and allowing them to do so efficiently. Users can find more content that interests them in a shorter amount of time.  The previous app only allowed users to browse “Featured” or “Most Viewed” videos, which only go so far at keeping users engaged.

Larger Images For Better Browsing

 

The new YouTube app displays much larger images than its predecessor. I find, and I’m sure most will agree, that larger images make for quicker browsing. In fact, with the new design I find that there’s less of a need to stop and read a video description, because a picture is worth a 1000 words.

I also find larger images much more enjoyable to browse through. Especially, when the app displaying those images is quick and responsive as the new YouTube app is. Take a look at the below screenshots of the old and the new, then decide for yourself.

Improved Search Functionality

 

If you remember, the older, pre-installed YouTube app had its search function tucked away in a tab menu. This meant that if a user wanted to search for a video while browsing the “Featured” list, they would first have to tap “Search” from the tab menu, and then tap the text field to enter their query.

The new YouTube places the search function in the app’s header bar, as an icon resembling a magnifying glass. The function is available throughout most of the app and the placement is consistent, making the function highly accessible and easy to find.

When a user taps the search icon, the keyboard slides up and a pre-selected text field appears. Because the text field is pre-selected, the user can begin typing right away, saving them a tap.

A cool piece of additional functionality comes in the form of the ability to dictate a search. By tapping the microphone icon next to the search text field user can simply dictate what they wish to search, then select their video from a list of search results.

When I first saw this feature in YouTube, I was sure I had seen it somewhere else, but simply couldn’t remember where. Shortly after, it hit me. It was another Google app we reviewed here, Chrome.

A Huge Improvement

There is no comparison! In my opinion, the new YouTube app is better in every way. Probably because the old app  never really saw any significant updates and was essentially the same app for as long as I can remember.

Today we wanted to give a shout out to an incredibly bright 17-year-old who has unknowingly done women across the globe a great service. Brittany Wenger from Florida, won the Grand Prize at Google’s annual Science Fair.

The best part? Her prize winning piece uses data and cloud computing to detect breast cancer with 99.1% accuracy. Called the, “Global Neural Cloud Service for Breast Cancer,” the product took her more than 600 hours to code.

Asked how she got involved in computer science, she said she just started exploring things she loved, like soccer. As one reporter wrote , “Wenger’s work with artificial neural networks (yeah, I know) started when she applied the computer programming methods to soccer, a sport she loves. Why not let a kid explore what he or she loves? They can always move onto cancer.”

A HUGE congrats to Brittany on her achievement!

Last week at Google I/O 2012, it was announced that Chrome, the popular internet browser, was coming to iOS. Hours later, it was available in the App Store for all iOS devices.

I’ve been using it for the last few days and have found it to be a very easy transition from Safari on my iPhone – though, I should mention that I use Chrome daily as my go-to browser on my Mac. In fact, with the exception of a few minor differences, the iOS version doesn’t look or feel much different.

Google Chrome on the iPhone

Upon launching the app, I was first greeted with a screen displaying the Google Chrome Terms of Service that I had to agree to before I could continue any further.

Once the formalities were out of the way, I was given given the option of signing in using my email address and password or continue without doing so.

I chose to sign in, as doing so gave me access to my open tabs, and bookmarks from my laptop. I found this feature to be very useful, as it allows for users to grab their phones and pick up right where they left off on their computer. Meaning that, in a sense, the Chrome application for iOS bridges the gap between the desktop and our mobile devices. Finally!

To access bookmarks and open tabs that exist on other devices, users select the corresponding tab near the bottom of the screen while in a new tab. Alternatively, they can tap the menu icon to the right of the address field and select the “Other Devices” option.

Undercover Chrome

Another thing I like about Chrome is something called “incognito mode,” which is basically the equivalent to Safari’s private browsing. The main difference between the two is that Chrome makes switching between regular and incognito browsing easy and quick, while Safari users are forced to navigate away from the browser and make the change in Settings.

To enter incognito mode, users tap on the menu icon next to the address bar and select “New Incognito Tab.” This opens a new tab where users can browse without having their browsing history, searches and cookies saved.

Incognito tabs have a dark grey menu bar at the top of the screen, while regular tabs are light grey. This colour coding helps users keep track of which tabs are incognito and which are not. I really appreciated this feature since you’re probably broswing a la incognito for a reason, so confusing the two could result in bad news.

For me, it’s the simplicity of Chrome that makes it a good browser. Unlike Safari, which has two separate fields for URLs and searches, Chrome has one universal text field for both. Because Chrome can detect what it is you are trying to do, with the Google guess, there is no need for two separate fields. Chrome will either navigate to your desired site or provide Google search results for your query.

Users can also speak to Chrome to tell it where to go or what to search. Just by tapping a small microphone icon in the far right of the URL/search field, then dictating either a URL or keywords, Chrome will produce your results just like that.

Make the switch?

Overall, I enjoyed Chrome and believe it to be a fairly good alternative to Safari. Particularly for users who are already using it on their desktops.

But in the end, it ultimately comes down to preference. Users know what they value and what they like. For example, it has been reported that Chrome is the slower of the two browsers, making Safari a better choice for those who value speed. However, I’m sure any difference in page loading times is minimal, as I did not even notice it.

The biggest problem with Chrome for iOS is that there is no way to set is as the default browser, which means that links from messages, emails and other apps will continue to be opened in Safari. Leaving Chrome secondary browser. Boo.

What do you think of the Chrome app? Love it? Hate it? Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts.

The latest in Android anti-virus, called Sophos Mobile Security, has produced a report identifying the top five most frequently encountered scary problems on the platform. The first, PJApps-C, is Android’s most significant chaos causer. See the chat above and the list below for more on Android’s scariest viruses.

1. Andr/PJApps-C.

2. Andr/BBridge-A.

3. Andr/BatteryD-A.

4. Andr/Generic-S.

5. Andr/DrSheep-A.

Read more in depth about each of them HERE

While many people may not give a second thought to the mobile computing threats emerging as the mobile industry continues to grow and expand, there is some cause for concern. Thankfully, the company Veracode has got our backs. They’ve recently released a free ebook about mobile security that offers 10 simple ways to ramp up the company protection against a very real growing mobile threat. Get the free ebook HERE.

ComScore Mobile Metrix 2.0 released a report on Monday that looked at mobile media usage across both apps and mobile web browsing. According to the new data, Google is the #1 site used across iOS, Android and RIM devices, followed by Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon.

But in terms of usage, apps took home first prize. The New numbers from Comscore indicated that of the smartphone users on the web while mobile, nearly all of them are using apps and not a browser, with four out of every five mobile media minutes spent in apps.

There was little surprise as to which apps were being used most with the built-in system applications winning and Facebook following as a close runner up.

The first spot on app usage? Well, given the information above, it seems obvious that – platform dependent – the App Store or the Android Market are most used.

What does this mean for mobile commerce, we wondered? It’s hard to say from the report statistics, but we’re excited to see more mobile users moving away from just browsing on their phones and using apps to do their research, stay connected and get immersed in the wonders of mobile.

What do you use most on your mobile device? The web browser or apps? Tweet us and let us know @plasticmobile.

Check out comScore’s latest mobile report from Mobile Metrix 2.0

Who will be the first Data Carrier?

The biggest topic of conversation at today’s Bagel Wednesday sharing of mobile news was the possibility of Google and Apple to start carrying their own data.

While not exactly news, or even anything imminent, we couldn’t help getting all excited at the prospect of a solution to our pricey Canadian carrier plans. And so, we started pondering – a wishin’ and a dreamin’ – about Google, Apple or Microsoft finally purchasing their own data plans.

While there has been a lot of speculation about who will be the first to buy a data carrier, we started wondering why they hadn’t. Clearly they have the necessary funds, with an article in The Next Web putting purchasing a data carrier as at the top of the list of things that Apple, and others should consider doing with their $65 billion dollars of cash reserves.

The same article notes that Google has been rumored to be looking at buying Sprint and also Verizon FiOS and that  Microsoft might pick up an ISP from their recent location based advertising and purchase of Skype.

Since the vast majority of our favourite device creators’ headaches come from dealing with the data carriers, and most of the pains we have with our devices are a result of our data carriers, why not just cut out the middle man? In fact, we’re like the sound of faster and cheaper service with a direct channel to both device and service provider. We like it a lot.

What are your thoughts? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you think about Apple and Google getting into the data carrying game.

In my weekly blog post, I normally prefer to comment on some of the large scale challenges or successes affecting the mobile industry, but this was too special to pass up.

Our team  made some time earlier this week to mobilize our Ping Pong matches. It all began with one of our Android developers creating a tablet app that could actually keep a proper game score (there seemed to be a recurring discrepancy in the scoring of our afternoon table tennis matches). The idea was that an Android tablet would sit atop the Ping Pong table and the app would keep an accurate, un-biased score of the Ping Pong games while in action.

How it works is pretty awesome. The “Plastic Paddle,” as it has now been dubbed, is good for a single’s or double’s match, and scores in terms of three sets per match and follows the proper rules of Ping Pong prior to 2000, meaning every 5th point the server changes. You can pre-set the serve, or use the server randomizer by clicking in the middle. A voice not entirely unlike Siri (but, better) will tell you who’s serve it is based on the scoring system. She will also tell you who’s advantage it is or if it is a deuce. To compensate for the inevitability of human error (if you click a point on your side when you did not actually receive a point) you can minus out the score. Last, when you win, the voice will tell you that you are the winner, and then a prompt will appear to allow you to post your results to the server.

It proved such a huge success around the office that it’s currently being developed for web to include such things as player stats with loss and win ratios and real-time tracking so matches can be carried over and rivalries can be tracked.

While this is an amazing first step, I’m looking forward to an even more advanced Ping Pong tracking system – Got that, team?

A big congrats to our developers for their ingenuity and drive to maintain a civilized game playing environment, and stay tuned for the coming improvements!

Great job team!

The stylus has been a heated topic of conversation around the office ever since last week’s Bagel Wednesday. Today, the battle continued between the pro-pen vs. anti-stylus fanatics during our discourse of baked goods.

A key component to the dispute is, of course, Apple vs. Android – with Apple users in the office suggesting that a stylus is more suitable for an Android device because iOS products are (their words) “superior.” WELL. According to this article in Gizmodo, there is a stylus for iPad that might actually be better than our “inferior” phalanges.

Ten One Design’s Pogo was one of the first styluses designed for use with iOS devices and has recently out done itself with the pressure-sensitive super stylus (code name: Blue Tiger).

Using a low-power Bluetooth 4.0 connection it wirelessly connects to your iOS device without the huge, heavy battery pack that can make a stylus quite the cumbersome utensil. Also, as long as an app supports it, the Blue Tiger can accurately relay information about how hard you’re pressing. This technology is amazing for the artist group – probably the stylus’ no. 1 supporters. The Blue Tiger allows the users to vary the thickness of a stroke based simply on how they apply pressure. Pretty cool for artists, but what does that mean for the rest of us?

Is the Blue Tiger awesome enough to convince the skeptics in our office to choose a pen over our handy (get it, hand – y?) fingers to conduct every day iPad use? Tell us what you think on twitter @plasticmobile.

Blue Tiger Stylus. Photo: Gizmodo

comScore's report on mobile

A hot-off-the-press comScore report presents the 2012 Mobile Future in Focus – and things are looking good for mobile!

ComScore examines last year’s mobile landscape through “an exploration of key trends driving smartphone adoption growth, mobile media use in categories such as social networking and retail, mobile ecosystem dynamics, and shifts in multi-device digital media consumption.”

From a proliferation of public WiFi access, an insurgence of app usage in health and commerce to the ongoing battle for top mobile platform – now led by Apple and Android – the report shows that mobile has been the hot topic in tech since early last year.

The report is lengthy and covers those myriad avenues of mobile influence, but one thing is consistent across mobile usage and industries: as mobile continues to grow as a part of core comprehensive marketing strategies, it becomes increasingly important for brands to understand how current trends are shaping the mobile environment – and how the mobile space is shaping future trends.

The report does highlight a few interesting emerging trends, one of which is mobile’s advancement of social media users to interact with brands in the commerce arena.

The study found that, by the end of last year, nearly one in every five mobile (smartphone) users scanned product barcodes and one in eight compared prices on their phone while shopping in an actual brick-and-mortar location.

As mobile retail usage grows retailers are faced with the challenge of understanding how audiences interact with their mobile devices while shopping to take advantage of any opportunities to increase customer conversation and conversion.

Of course, gender behaviours varied – as they are want to do – when it came to mobile commerce. Males preferred to do product research on-the-go, while females were more likely to use their devices to share their shopping experience socially (ahem, Pinterest?). The latter finding is interesting considering we think 2012 will showcase and interesting menage a trois for the mobile + commerce + social media equation.

What do you think? Will mobile and social media continue to change the way we browse and buy from retailers? Tweet us @plasticmobile with your thoughts, comments and general mobile musings.

With Forrester predicting Facebook and Amazon as 2012′s major mobile players, another ComScore study speculates on the rise and expansion of overall social networking. And we ponder the relationship between the two…

Social platforms are still in the early stages, growing and evolving almost faster than they can be tracked. Social in general continues to gain ground as a dominant source of online content, accounting for 16.6 percent of minutes spent on the web towards the end of 2011. ComScore’s recent report on social networks showed that, while leader Facebook continues to dominate the arena (three out of four US users are Facebookers), relative newcomers like TumblrPinterest and Google+ are also climbing the popularity pole.

Twitter held the no. 2 spot in the category as of December, drawing 37.5 million unique visitors and surpassing its biggest competition from 2011, LinkedIn, whose audience clocked in at 33.5 million at the end of last year.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean there isn’t healthy competition brewing out there. According to ComScore’s findings, in the past six months Google+ has reached 20.7 million US visitors, while Tumblr hit 18.8 million. The network we find the most impressive/interesting is Pinterest, which has managed to draw 8 million unique visitors – mostly women! – without the clout of a gargantuan network of products such as Google’s.

And where does mobile fit into all of this?  Plastic Mobile of course sees it as a key resource to all platforms, and a crucial leveraging point for those looking to get a leg up on the competition. Melody Adhami, our President and resident mobile guru weighs in: “all of the social networks should be paying attention to mobile because it is a) where their audience is spending most of their time and b) an obvious way to reach that audience on an intimate and consistent level – meaning, those networks who can remain relevant in the mobile space will win more ‘facetime’ with their customers. Now, that doesn’t mean just offering a mobile friendly version of their site. It means taking advantage of the inherent features of the phone and the way people are using mobile to make sure users are accessing your social brand vs. your competitor’s on mobile.”

And according to an article in the New York Times, it seems other industry leaders are in agreement: “Mobile is the new face of engagement,” says Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Forrester. “Businesses should stop thinking about it as a small Web site on a tiny computer, and start thinking about mobile as being deeply embedded systems of engagement. That turns out to have huge implications.”

What do you think? Who will be the next big social network powerhouse in 2012? Will Facebook maintain it’s dominance, or will Twitter close the gap? Or will both of them lose out to Google+, or the underdog with girl power, Pinterest? And, more importantly (to us, at least), how will mobile tie into the social media battle for total world domination (or something)?

Tweet us with your favourite network, mobile 2 cents or just general musings about social networks and their future bearing on our LIVES!

Source: Twitter Bots

We all new the day would come, though no one was ever able to predict when. But, it seems Mark Zuckerberg finally got tired of everyone speculating about the value of the Book, and decided to put a price tag on it himself: $5 billion! Not too shabby.

The new speculation, of course, is does that dollar figure over-value the social networking phenomenon, or will it follow the path of the Google’s before it and prove everyone that Zuckerberg and team were actually airing on the side of conservative? Only time will tell!

The decision to go public may have been prompted by the expectation that Facebook will probably hit its 1 billionth users this year, and that they turned a tidy profit of $1 billion last year. Another very interesting fact to come of the filing for an IPO, is that about 80% of the Facebook fan fare is based outside of North America. Weird? We at Plastic Mobile were positively baffled by this stat, since no one we know isn’t sharing, posting and chatting on Facebook – except for one guy. But, he still uses Explorer as his web browser.

One final tid bit of interest we read in PCWorld stated Zuckerberg is not only chairman and CEO, but he has also included a clause to allow him to name his successor if he is still the company’s controller upon his death: “In the event that Mr. Zuckerberg controls our company at the time of his death,” Facebook’s S-1 filing says. “Control may be transferred to a person or entity that he designates as his successor.” Reports from The New York Post and Bloomberg Businessweek suggested that analysts found this mighty strange, but one thing is for certain; Mark Zuckerberg is, and will remain, Facebook’s reigning king.

We’re standing by to learn more about the over-under value debate and to see where this major moves takes the world of Zuckerberg, err, Facebook.

According to Mark Evans (and us, of course) Plastic Mobile is hot, hot, hot!

Plastic made the Mark Evans Tech “Companies to Watch” list for 2012. We’re awful proud and delighted to have been noticed by such a reputable member of the industry. Plastic Mobile has definitely been working hard to create the spectacular mobile initiatives that warrant this kind of attention, so it’s nice to be noticed.

A big thanks to Mark for his accolade and a shameless plug to anyone who is in fact “keeping an eye” on us: As a company to be watched for 2012, Plastic Mobile is determined to make this the year of meaningful UX through more of our astounding mobile marvels. Vive the mobile revolution!

A Union of Print and Mobile

By on December 15, 2011

A recent InsightExpress study suggests that mobile and print would make a great team. The company found that mobile users are also print junkies: “Based on our findings, it’s clear that brands and retailers should be incorporating mobile into their print strategies,” said Joy Liuzzo, vice president and director at InsightExpress.

Print and Mobile, sitting in a tree…

Liuzzo goes on to say that there’s more to this relationship than just a little QR coding. There are a number of ways to strengthen this bond, including article archiving or sharing and information gathering. The company specifically focused on QR codes and user engagement, finding that smartphone owners who use their mobiles for six or more daily activities were also reading or subscribing to print publications. These users are a hot target for advertisers as they have diverse tastes extending even beyond their reading mediums to any number of lifestyle routines (eating, shopping, etc.). The study found that these people were also more inclined to connect with companies via their mobile devices. “The biggest surprise to me was with the segment of smartphone owners that do six or more activities on their phone every day and their print media consumption,” said Ms. Liuzzo. “This group is both subscribing to, and reading more, print materials than any of the other groups (smartphone or regular phone owners).”

According to our friends over at Mobile Marketer, InsightExpress then delved into an investigation of this market’s varying reading behaviours and discovered that magazines came out on top in terms of user engagement. For example, tearing out articles or tracking down a product mentioned in an article or ad.

Turns out, traditional print media isn’t out of the game just yet. It just needs to get wiser and learn a thing or two from it’s new young partner. From here, who knows where this dynamic duo can go? What do you think? Are print and mobile a match made in heaven? Tweet us your comments to @plasticmobile.

This week, the Internet marketing research giant and data specialist, comScore, released its MobiLens service data, revealing key trends in the Canadian smartphone industry. As of September 2011, eight million Canadians owned smartphones – a figure representing 40% of the total mobile market in Canada. The highly anticipated data reveals that the Canadian smartphone adoption rates are increasing aggressively; with a seven per cent increase in just the past six months! One surprising fact to come out of the comScore data was that RIM still leads the pack with a 35.8% market share, albeit, followed closely by Apple’s 30.1%. Also, although Google’s Android is sitting in the number three spot with only 25%, it is important to note that Android has doubled its market share during the last six months; corresponding fluidly with the global surge in Android device purchases within the past few months. (FYI: Android gobbled up more than half of all global smartphones sales in Q3 alone!) The dying fossil Symbian is ranked at the fourth spot, with 4.2%, followed by the new kid on the block, Microsoft (at 3.2%).

Top Smartphone Platforms in Canada (As of September 2011) Source: comScore MobiLens
% of Smartphone Subscribers
RIM 35.8%
Apple 30.1%
Google 25.0%
Symbian 4.2%
Microsoft 3.2%
Total 100.0%

In terms of content use, it seems Canadians are using the phones to consume a very wide and diverse range of content and information, and of course to no surprise, the smartphone users are outdoing the feature-phone users in every form and aspect of mobile content consumption, as shown in the chart below.  With such a fast pace of smartphone adoption and such diverse and broad range of smartphone use, the Canadian market is shaping to be the perfect place for businesses to embrace mobile technology and provide the added comfort and value that the Canadian consumers are soon going to automatically expect.  Instead of waiting for mobile access to become a mainstream consumer service before you invest the necessary resources, which you will inevitably have to do, we suggest hopping on the mobile train in its relative infancy, and taking advantage of its current indie and avant-garde profile to garner some serious respect and up your street cred, or as we say in the marketing world “gain some competitive advantage by becoming and early adopter.”  For being so forward thinking.

Mobile Content Usage (As of September 2011) Source: comScore MobiLens
% of Mobile Subscribers % of Smartphone Subscribers
Sent text messages 67.4% 88.1%
Used downloaded application 40.9% 84.2%
Accessed news and information 39.5 % 79.3%
Used browser 36.9% 74.8%
Used email (work or personal) 32.7% 69.3%
Accessed Social Networking Site or Blog 29.2% 60.7%
Played games 28.0% 53.2%
Accessed weather 27.5% 60.2%
Accessed search 24.2% 51.2%
Listened to music on mobile phone 20.8% 40.7%
Accessed maps 20.1% 44.4%
Accessed sports information 14.8% 31.5%
Accessed entertainment news 14.2% 29.5%
Accessed bank accounts 13.5% 28.8%
Scanned QR/bar code with mobile phone 8.1% 18.1%
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100%

The battle for market share, and bragging rights, continues between Nokia and Google.

Google has already captured the great wide outdoors with its Street View fleet logging outdoor spaces for Maps. Naturally, they’re now looking at documenting indoor arenas. According to today’s reports, the popular app 6.0 version is set to hit the android market in the US and Japan, including retail and airport floor plans.

And so, Nokia has apparently begun furiously preparing it’s own version of the mobile behemoth’s indoor maps for wireless users. They plan to use Bluetooth 4.0 for the indoor navigation and location service, with hopes to entice a gaggle of partners to outfit retailers, malls and other public spaces with inexpensive antenna arrays to track a user’s movements via device-embedded Bluetooth tags. They also mention equipping large stores with tagged carts to track and study consumer behaviour.

We can’t help wondering if this game of one-up-man-ship isn’t getting a little tired, but as mobile enthusiasts, we can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next!

Take peek at the proposed equipment here.

Is Rimageddon Coming?

By on July 29, 2011

Congratulations are in order as Research In Motion’s Blackberry App World has finally reached 1 billion downloads last week. For those who don’t follow tech news, RIM has been struggling for the past several months (understatement). Approximately three years ago, RIM shares were trading at $150.00 apiece; currently they are trading at roughly $26.00.

Shareholders must be ripping their hair out!

Although we are happy for RIM, we cannot side track from the fact that it took about two years to accomplish this whereas, Apple’s app store has a total of 15 billion downloads to date and hit it’s 1st billion in just nine months. Google’s Android has a total of 4.5 billion downloads to date.

In the latest shareholders meeting, RIM confirmed that it is planning on releasing seven new phones in the upcoming months. SEVEN? RIM hasn’t stated what new smartphones they will be launching but they are most likely to be upgraded models. The two most talked-about Blackberries to be released are the Bold 9900 and the Torch 2 (9860), as for the other five, we will just have to wait and see.  Also, RIM announced that the new Blackberry OS 7 would be the OS running on the Bold 9900.

We are thrilled to see the new operating system but rumor has it that current blackberry users would not be able to upgrade to OS 7. Let us hope that this is just a rumor.

But could this be the beginning of a comeback or the coming of Rimageddon?

Most will agree with the latter, it’s just too difficult to stay optimistic! Just a couple of days ago, RIM announced they plan to lay off 2,000 employees, which is equivalent to approximately 11% of their workforce. The intended purpose for this is to help RIM achieve higher growth, realign strategic objectives, and restructure senior management. These lay-offs will allow RIM to reduce costs and supposedly, introduce products to the market in a more timely manner (i.e. faster).

The next couple of months should be exciting.

Good or bad move by RIM?

Good luck RIM, you’ll need it.

SXSWi 2011 Plastic Mobile team had a great trip to South by Southwest Interactive. Austin, TX was buzzing with over 20,000 people traveling from around the world to attend the festival. We hopped from one panel to the next keynote speech to the various industry parties. Most importantly, we enjoyed connecting with talents in the digital space.

Over the last few years, SXSW has become a launch pad for many start-ups. Social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc all got their popularity boost from this festival. For the sake of mobile, here are some highlights from this year’s SXSW:

1) Group Messaging: Before the festival began, the hot thing expected for 2011 was ability to message an exclusive group of people. After SXSW, we still don’t think group messaging got its sex appeal (yet). It’s still a tool that people will find useful on the specific occasions. Beluga, Fast Society, Kik, Yobongo, and GroupMe were all contenders in the group messaging app battle. According to an infographic published in TechCrunch, GroupMe won at SXSW. Now, I’m not sure if the results were skewed since GroupMe were serving free beer and yummy grilled cheese sandwiches. Marketing is king at SXSW.

2) iPad 2: Opening day of SXSW fell on the same day that the iPad 2 became available in the US. Apple made it convenient for the fellow SXSW tech aficionados to get their hands on the latest tablet by opening up a pop-up store in the heart of downtown Austin. Yes, iPad 2 was heavily talked about at the festival. Plus, we saw a lot of tablets being held up in the air, as people were testing out its camera feature. (I hope this doesn’t become a trend) As expected, the iPad 2 was pretty much sold out…well, they only had 64G version in Austin.

SXSWi 2011 3) Mobile app creator. Everyone wants to create a mobile application. Many bloggers and online publications have the influence but not the budget to invest on a mobile application. New platforms are coming out help alleviate that problem – so people can produce high-quality apps at an affordable price. Plastic Mobile will soon be launching its mobile platform called Joomo (pronounced “You-Mo”). It’ll create applications for all platforms on smartphones and tablets based on a site or blog. Learn more about Joomo by checking out our site (it’s in beta): www.joomo.com

Source Code Press Event with Jake Gyllenhaal at SxSWi in Austin, TX 4) QR Codes: The movie Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal premiered at SXSW. Microsoft was a sponsor and used its Tag technology to promote the film. Essentially, Microsoft Tag is a form of QR Code where you scan the barcode and it’ll direct you to a specific site. The Source Code tag, took its users to a social game on Facebook. The game itself was based on the movie. Are we seeing a new trend for Hollywood in order to promote its films?

SXSWi 2011 5) Deals: As Groupon leads the race on the daily deals space many other mobile applications are jumping on the bandwagon. Facebook has announced that they are testing daily deals in a few US cities. The co-founder of Foursquare, the geo-location mobile app, said in a SXSW presentation that they are aggressively looking into offering more deals for its users. All I have to say, let’s move away from the discounts on spas, massages, or bootcamp sessions. New deals please!

picture-2

Google has finally launched the much anticipated Nexus One phone that runs the Android operating system.  With Google’s history of market domination, is their entry into the phone market going to follow foot steps of their entry into the search engine market?

An HTC-built phone has a new tweaked and updated Android interface with a great sleek design but is it really the Google product that the world has been waiting for?

Hardware

  • 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB RAM, 32GB-capable microSD slot, a 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display at 800×480, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and 720×480 video capture @ 20FPS, dual microphones for noise canceling and a trackball.
  • Ultra-thin body
  • Sleek curved edges
  • Unmistakably and HTC device but there are plenty of design cues that scream Google.

Software

  • Runs on Android 2.1
  • Cool graphics and animated effects. (I only worry that this may hinder performance and speed but I can not tell just yet)
  • Voice recognition that lets you speak into almost all fields.  This means you can dictate text and email messages.
  • It’s fas. Partly from the Android 2.1 operating system

Battery Life

  • Comparable to other similar devices and so far not complaints on battery life

Cost and Payment plans

  • Unlocked for $530 or subsidized, with a T-Mobile contract for $180

The feature set seems impressive and the OS has some great applications and features that make Nexus One a good contender.  Would I trade in my iPhone for this device?  I still prefer the full touch screen capability of my iPhone, its sleek design and the 100,000+ applications that virtually let me do anything I can think of on my iPhone.  I am still waiting for “THAT” device that compels me to switch my iPhone ways.

You may not have heard but the new Droid phone by Motorola was released today and it has created quite a buzz in the tech world not to mention an unfortunate drop in some GPS on board navigation manufacturers.

The new Droid phone is the very first Android phone to run Android 2.0, and Google Maps Navigation is the talk of the town.  Not only is the Google Maps Navigation application better than on board navigation devices since its connected and online, but it is a better navigation tool than other mobile devices since it has a slew of new and advanced features including:

  • Easy search (no need for address)
  • Voice search
  • Traffic information (from data sources and crowd sourced from app),
  • Street view close up pictures when you get near your destination.
  • The car dock mode gives bigger icons and auto-voice mode

It’s impressive to see such grand strides in the mobile space but not unexpected since for companies like Google its just an extension of what they currently have.  As Google leads the way, we will see that it is only natural to extend digital offerings to mobile devices.

Enjoy the video and if you don’t have a data enabled phone you love, give the new Droid phone a real consideration (if for nothing else than the street view on the Google Maps Navigation app).

Google just announced that they optimized AdSense for Mobile for smartphones.  You can now use standard AdSense formats to target smartphones or “high-end” phones like the iPhone and Android.  Both standard text and image ads will be available for display on mobile apps.

This is of course great news for all developers looking to generate revenue from advertising or marketers looking to target mobile devices as part of their usual campaigns with AdSense. The program is still in “beta” mode and more information is available here.

Here’s the demo / announcement video from Google’s Laren Usui:

More information can be found on their blog.

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