Tag Archives: future

Favor: This is going to be the next big mobile app

Favor app. Someone in my office thought this guy looks like me. I'm not so sure.
The excellent Favor app. Someone in my office thought this guy looks like me. I’m not so sure.

Whilst I was in the US last week I heard about Favor, a new app which provides a concierge/ delivery service. Although Favor is only available in half a dozen US cities, it seems to be growing very quickly and it’s only a matter of time before it’s available internationally.

Favor enables a customer to order an item from a nearby shop and have it delivered straight away. The average delivery time is 35 minutes. It costs $5 plus 5% of the product(s). The product can be food, dry cleaning, clothing, groceries, etc., although this being America, they won’t deliver alcohol.

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Reading tab list for the week

Netflix share price - first 3 weeks of 2015. Break open the champagne as thousands cut their [TV] cables
Netflix share price – first 3 weeks of 2015. Break open the champagne as thousands cut their [TV] cables
Here are the interesting web articles I’ve read over the last couple of weeks:
Can I Stream.It? – Almost the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) of legal streaming sites.
BBC News – Windows 10 to get ‘holographic’ headset and Cortana – Windows 10 looks great and this is one of the best descriptions of forthcoming Microsoft products (excluding Office, Sharepoint, development tools…).
Davos 2015: The university of the future – Some good thoughts on the future of universities, even if it’s a somewhat biased article.
10 Innovation-Killing Phrases That CIOs Should Refute – A great resource to dip into when necessary.
BBC News – Netflix shares jump 12% on growing global membership – Glad I bought some shares six months ago. Seriously though, Netflix has become synonymous with legal movie streaming.

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The Future of Digital #Payments

Yours truly at Endava's Future of Payments Event
Yours truly at Endava’s Future of Payments Event. The audience isn’t asleep – they’re tweeting insights from the presentation, or watching the football

For the past 3,000 years payments hasn’t been the most exciting industry, but in the last 5-10 years, there have been dozens of new entrants into the market.

It took 3,000 years to give us pretty much seven payment options: coins, banknotes, debit cards, Diners club, Visa, Mastercard and American Express. In the last ten years, we’ve seen an explosion of disruptive players, all driven through the adoption of the Internet and/or mobile technologies.

Yesterday we hosted an event “The Future of Digital Payments” in London at the magnificent, if slightly warm, Royal Exchange. It was one of the best attended Endava events that we’ve held, despite the World Cup and Wimbledon trying to compete with us!

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The Advertising business model

In today’s Western digital businesses, advertising is the main source of revenue for websites, mobile sites, mobile apps and anything in between:

In the first quarter of 2013, Google advertising revenue was $11.9 bn. Advertising revenue was 92% of Google’s revenues for the quarter.

For the fourth quarter 2012, Facebook’s revenue from advertising was $1.33 billion, representing 84% of total revenue.

Personally, I believe the advertising industry is in a bubble which is ready to burst. It is a semi-self-fulfilling industry that has been growing at a rate out of proportion to the businesses revenue which support it.

Organic revenue growth of the big four advertising companies, 2010-2012
Organic revenue growth of the big four advertising companies, 2010-2012. From Statista

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The Freemium business model

The Freemium business model works for Spotify
The Freemium business model works for Spotify

This post is the second of a multi-part article describing methods to monetise large digital audiences. The freemium model is one of the most modern monetisation methods in the series.

The concept of freemium is to offer a free service, and if users want more content or functionality, they must buy a subscription.

One of the most common freemium products is the music service, Spotify. Users can download Spotify and immediately listen to music. If users want to be able to listen to the music when an Internet connection is unavailable, or they want to listen to ad-free music, they need to pay a monthly subscription.

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Google Glass review

An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass
An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass

Last week we received an email from Google offering us a pair of Google Glass (singular). Google Glass is a pair of spectacles with a head up display unit over one eye. It also has a forward facing camera for stills and videos, and has most of the functionality that you’d expect from a modern device – such as Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, and it can make calls.

We’ll be using Google Glass to develop some prototype apps for our clients, and showing our customers how their consumers will be using technology in the future.

Google Glass is only available for developers in the US. It’s not cheap – it’s $1,500 (currently £1,000), and for that money, you only get tinted lenses, not clear ones. It does come with a charger though. And the charger comes in very useful…

When you buy Google Glass, you have to book an appointment to get them. My US colleagues went to the appointment, and within a couple of days, Glass was on a plane over to the UK.

The first thing we did was to factory reset them. This is important because Glass relies on a Google+ account, and pretty much everything you do with Glass is then applied to your Google account.

It took two hours to set Glass up. In that time we had to charge them, do another Factory Reset and then charge them again. Apparently, Glass works well if you already have an Android phone. I’ve got a Samsung S4 so this was music to my ears. You download the MyGlass app from Google Play and hey presto. Only, MyGlass isn’t available in the UK Google Play and the US store wouldn’t let me download it. So we continued the set up on a computer and manually configured my phone as a hotspot and paired it to Glass.

Setting up Glass on a computer is a step by step procedure which finishes with a QR code. You use Google Glass to look at the QR code, and this transfers all the settings to Glass. Clever stuff.

You need to do some configuration on a computer or phone because entering Wifi passwords just isn’t practical on Glass. There’s no concept of a keyboard on Glass.

The first thing you notice, even during setup, is how crystal clear the screen is. Bearing in mind I had to remove my standard spectacles to wear Glass. The system font is the [currently] fashionable thin san serif, and it’s easy to read. And Glass feel no heavier than my usual spectacles.

Once we had eventually setup Glass, it was time to start testing them. But the Google Glass User Interface isn’t easy to pick up. You use the right arm of the frame to swipe forward, backwards and down. The track pad is excellent to use, but it’s easy to get lost in the user interface. You can swipe between each ‘screen’ or ’tile’, and some menus have dozens of tiles. It reminded me of old Nokia phones.

After half an hour I’d got the hang of some of the functionality. It also helped that a colleague from the US office who had been in the original Google appointment, sat opposite me and walked me through some of the functionality. If you are close enough to the person wearing Glass, you can see a reflection of the screen they are looking at, and then help them with the track pad.  A word of caution though – in the middle of an open plan office it looks like you’re stroking the side of someone’s face. Another word of caution – this half an hour of ‘playing’ with Glass had reduced the battery to 71%.

The user interface is a key problem for Google. As soon as the device arrived, people in the office wanted to use it. But as soon as they started using it, it was confusing to use and they got frustrated. It takes a while to get the ‘wow’ moment, such as activating Glass  by saying “OK Glass”, and then doing a voice activated Google search.

I found voice activation worked well, although I’m using it more and more in Chrome (you should try it) and Word. Other people in the office managed to annoy the rest of the office by constantly repeating “OK Glass” in an increasingly frustrated tone.

The battery life is clearly an issue. If smartphones like the iPhone or Galaxy frustrate you, Glass is in a league of its own.

In the office, twenty-one people wanted a go within two hours of setting Glass up, and that included some customers. But it takes a while to master that user interface, so people’s reactions went from amazement of seeing the device, to frustration of not being able to use it properly.

I’ve been adding more apps to Glass. Apps are added via a web browser, and there are several apps already available including my all-time favourite, the cycling app Strava. There are lots of apps available. After almost a year of using Windows 8 I still have fewer apps on my laptop than I have already added to Glass.

Once the initial novelty had settled down, I thought about wearing Glass outside of the office. I wear prescription glasses, so it would be a bit silly leaving those in the office and walking around with Glass and the absence of lenses. And then there’s the looks. Glass looks really nerdy. Really, really nerdy. Honestly, I think I’d feel a bit embarrassed to wear them in public at the moment.

Last night I had a parents’ evening at my son’s secondary school. I couldn’t help but think that if I’d have worn Glass to the parents’ evening, teachers would have spoken to me differently. The forward facing camera is the same size as a modern smartphone – it’s clearly visible. Trust will be a significant issue with Glass, and I’m not sure how it will be overcome.

Will this be the future? At the moment it feels a bit too intrusive. From Google’s point of view, it’s a brave step. The smartphone was a natural evolution of where mobile phones were heading. An iPad is in between a laptop and a smartphone. Smartphones and tablets are evolutionary. And Google Glass is revolutionary.

Using your bank for Single Sign On

Where do you store your important documents?
Where do you store your important documents?

I’ve been writing about the need for a trusted Single Sign On system across the web for some time now and I think I’ve seen it start to emerge.

My concept of the Single Sign On solution is similar to Facebook Connect, but from a trusted, strong, long term brand. Facebook still needs to prove its credibility in the trust arena. I only use Facebook Connect for some personal sites where I want to reduce, or even avoid, the time it takes to register.

Would I use Facebook Connect for tax returns, or my road tax, or my company’s payroll system? Nope.

I do a fair amount of travel and seem to need my passport number (and sometimes other passport details) from time to time. I once scanned my passport and I keep it as a digital image on some secure digital storage where I know I can access it everywhere (interestingly the UK Government also recommends to store it online using a secure data storage site). The same goes for my National Insurance card, photos of my bikes’ frame numbers and stuff like that. When I speak to other people about this, they have similar solutions, and I know some people who keep these solely as photos on their phone. We all have different levels of security that we’re comfortable with, but I really wouldn’t advise the phone method.

Last week I heard about a new service from Barclays Bank called Cloud It. Cloud It enables, well actually it encourages, users to upload important documents. It then adds additional functionality such as alerts for expiring documents, or regular renewals (e.g. MOT certificates and insurance).

I have no proof whether Barclays Cloud It is any more or less secure than say, BT, Google, Microsoft or Dropbox, but the fact that a bank is storing your document ‘feels’ more secure.

The next step of Cloud It really should be Single Sign On. I would trust my bank to authenticate me into other services.

Trust a bank?

I spoke about this concept of a bank offering Single Sign On at a conference earlier this year. Over lunch afterwards I was asked whether people really trust banks after the recession, and the bad press that bankers often receive. One person on the table categorically stated that he wouldn’t trust his bank.

My answer to this is simple: people still keep their money, one of our most valuable day to day assets, in banks once they’ve been paid and they still go to banks to borrow money for their houses and cars. Conversely, if people didn’t trust banks, we’d be hearing a lot more about mass withdrawals after being paid. But people don’t withdraw their money based on lack of trust (except Cyprus), and this proves that people do trust them, and in the future we’ll be trusting them to log in to all sorts of systems across the Internet.

Google Chromecast: This Puppy Changes Everything

This puppy changes everything
This puppy changes everything

In a technology trends report that I produced earlier this week I included a slide called “This Puppy Changes Everything” next to a picture of Chromecast, the USB dongle designed by Google which plugs into TVs and makes it really simple to watch web TV on a TV. Hours later, Iolo Jones also released a blog post called “This Changes Everything”.

My nephew has just competed in the Maccabia games. The opening ceremony was streamed live using a proprietary Flash player, so our family and extended family sat around a computer monitor in our house. 10 metres from the computer is our 40-something inch TV (with a comfortable sofa instead of chairs!), but hooking the computer up to the TV is a nightmare.

Chromecast changes all this. It will stream content from any iOS, Android or computer on your home network. There are apps for Netflix and YouTube, but the most powerful function is to duplicate your web browser (well, as long as it’s Chrome) on any device, on to the TV.

And Chromecast is a one off cost of $35 (less than £25). One of the reasons it is so cheap is that no remote control is required – the unit is controlled using your smartphone or computer.

Chromecast is a game changer because using a web browser is by far the most flexible and easiest interface available. Why would you subscribe to a premium TV channel if content is available on the web for a cheaper price?

Concentrating on legal content for a moment, monthly web subscriptions to say, sports content, is cheaper than equivalent TV subscriptions. When you include illegal content as well (I’m including YouTube here) makes it the game changer.

This is the most disruptive piece of hardware I’ve seen in the media industry since Sky+.

Automatic check-in to Facebook using facial recognition

If you liked the post back in February 2011 describing the Coca Cola village integration with Facebook, you’ll love this video of Facedeals, using automatic facial recognition to check-in to places.

Check-In with Your Face from redpepper on Vimeo.

Why didn’t Microsoft win the Premiership rights for the new Xbox?

Microsoft Xbox One
The Microsoft Xbox One. Lovely console. Silly name.

The new Microsoft Xbox console looks like it will be an amazing piece of kit, with voice activation and what looks to be (no pun intended) some impressive image recognition too.

Microsoft is firmly focussing on the TV market. The current Xbox allows users to watch video on demand, but the new one will support live TV as well, with a fully integrated EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).

Many people have questioned whether the world needs another generation of games consoles, and many people have been suggesting Apple will release an Apple television or a decent version of their Apple TV product, which is currently too ring fenced to appeal to a mass market. Microsoft has answer both questions admirably, by providing a cutting edge games machine as well as a highly interactive STB (Set Top Box).

There had also been rumours that the new Xbox might not have an optical drive at all, that all games will be downloaded in a similar model to iOS devices. Microsoft has answered both end users who want a second hand games market, and the games developers’ business models by not making the console backwards compatible. So if you enjoy playing a specific game, you’ll need to either keep your existing Xbox console for that game, or buy a new version when it’s released for the new console.

Microsoft also announced a $400 million deal with the NFL to provide interactive TV experiences during matches. I question whether users want this level of interactivity during sport, but Microsoft (and the NFL) clearly believe many users do want it.

The surprise is that Microsoft didn’t win the rights from the Premiership football rights during the recent bidding with BT. BT want the Premiership to boost their BT Vision product. Winning the Premiership would have similarly boosted the adoption rates for the new Xbox. Perhaps Microsoft doesn’t want to go head to head with broadcasters, but this is probably inevitable (and underway) by supplying the de facto platform for Netflix.

The craziest part of the new Xbox is the name. During the announcement I saw a friend’s tweet which asked “Why is it called the Xbox one when it’s the third one? – asked by my son who’s seven year’s old” And apparently the Xbox one is what eBay sellers refer to the original Xbox in listings!