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Posts Tagged ‘Location Based Services’

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The Other Day I Scanned A Banana (The Good

Yes, that’s right, a single, offline, real banana. Latin name Musa Acuminata. More specifically, I used my smartphone to scan a sticker on the banana. The banana itself had no power supply, or web connection.

I happened to buy this particular banana at a Wal-Mart in Florida (while on a fishing trip) and noticed that the ubiquitous banana “fruit company” sticker contained a mobile quick response (QR code).

I opened the scanner on my iPhone and scanned the code. In doing so, I opened a portal to the internet, a live action window into an online mobile-optimized experience that taught me something new. That engaged me. Cool.

The Del Monte QR Code

Seldom had I considered what company grew and shipped and sold the bananas to the grocery store I bought them from. Did you know that the Del Monte Fresh Produce Company was founded in 1886? (This is the year Apache warrior Geronimo surrendered and the Statue Of Liberty was dedicated). Did you know that Del Monte has 42,095 “likes” on Facebook and that they also sell a fruit called a Pluot? Did you know they own the domain http://www.Fruits.com?

Well, now you do, because I learned this on the Del Monte mobile-formatted  Facebook page that opened when I scanned the QR code.

Where I Landed When I Scanned The Del Monte QR Code

It took me about 5 seconds to scan and engage with the company whose product I was about to eat. It was not hard, it was easy. I would do it again.

The Other Day I Scanned A Banana (The Bad)

Yesterday I got my chance. This time I bought a banana at Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA. It too had a QR code on it’s sticker. When I scanned it with the same iPhone app, my mobile browser opened a standard large-format website for Chiquita Bananas, crammed on my little iPhone screen. Lame.

The QR code sticker said “Scan To Win!”, but I could see no easy way to sign up for anything and I could barely read the website on my small iPhone screen. I pinched a zoomed-in a few times and then shut off the phone.

The Chiquita “Scan To Win” QR Code

A Poor Experience On my iPhone

Unlike the Del Monte banana, the Chiquita QR code scan offered up a poor mobile experience and I was left with the distinct feeling that Chiquita needed a lesson in mobile marketing. Perhaps they will read this and call me.

Action-Enabling Ads…and Products

Some naysayers in the mobile marketing business scoff at QR codes as a gimmick or a passing fad. They talk about how hard it is to open the scanner app and actually complete a scan that opens a mobile browser window. I disagree. In lieu of another option that is this easy and simple, I find them a powerful mobile engagement tool.

In 2011, almost 60% of Twitter and Facebook users said they scanned a QR code. This is a LOT of people. In my opinion, any marketer or brand manager who sees this as merely a passing fad needs to open their eyes. QR codes allow a  low-cost “window to the mobile web” to be attached to anything. Nearly 10% of ads in magazines today feature QR codes that “action enable” a static, lifeless print ad and allow a tracked consumer interaction to occur.

Ninety percent of all QR code scans are done to obtain more information about the products and services advertised. If done right (like the Del Monte banana example) this can result in metrics that can justify an ad spend as ROI. This could be in the form of contest sign-ups, new Facebook “likes”, or even transactions. If done hastily and without thought to the mobile experience being provided (like the Chiquita banana), the result can be a poor customer experience and a squandered chance to engage mobile consumers.

Cha-Ching

Again, done the right way, QR codes are an easy, low cost way to add a mobile “window to the web” to any static ad or physical product, to drive consumer engagement. For print ads, custom mobile landing pages can be generated, to maintain the look and feel of the ad campaign.

If linked to an integrated mobile commerce site that supports deep linking (shameless plug for Unbound Commerce), a QR code can be a call to action that allows a consumer to convert a purchase right then and there. If a little “cha-ching” did not go off in the head of online retailers, it should have.

Low Barrier To Entry

The barrier to entry is so low, that there is little reason marketing depts should NOT be experimenting with QR codes. Smart eCommerce Directors that are launching mobile commerce sites should be telling them to, since they can use QR codes to drive tracked incremental commerce though their mobile commerce site!

The addition of a QR code can transform a static, non-linked print ad, in-store sign, or even a real product (like a banana) into a powerful engine for tracked mobile or social engagement and  commerce. I see QR codes as a viable and exciting new way to infuse tracked links into marketing, so literally anything can come with an integrated mobile call to action.

I had no idea two bananas would show me this, but they did.

Lessons

Certainly, scanning a sticker on a banana is not going to redefine mobile commerce or set the mobile/social marketing world on-fire. It is, however, a lesson regarding how easy it is to engage increasingly-mobile consumers by adding a link, a mobile call to action, that, when applied to other more commercial mobile commerce scenarios has the ability to generate real sales lift, as ROI.

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Wilson Kerr is VP of Business Development and Sales at Unbound Commerce. And yes, he is bananas about mobile commerce and mobile marketing and linking the two together. Contact him today at Wilson@UnboundCommerce.com or via Twitter @WLLK.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec and started Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007 to help clients harness the power of mobile.  Contact him today to learn more.

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Over one hundred billion dollars is spent annually on “traditional” online advertising, and each of the last three years have been prematurely declared the year of mobile advertising. For too long, the promise of mobile advertising has been based on technical, location-awareness-related advances the industry has heralded as beneficial, while these same advances scared consumers away.

This is finally changing and consumers are discovering simple, easy iterations of mobile technology that provide simple, easy solutions for problems they want solved. Saving money via special offers/coupons at known, nearby business locations is the best example and Groupon and their kind have driven socially-promoted savings on purchases that can be measured in increments of $Billions.

group-buying-sites

The Bridge To Mobile Commerce: Deals and Group Buying

Groupon is the fastest growing technology company in history and Founder/CEO Andrew Mason links their success to providing a “hybrid of local advertising and local commerce”.

Groupon’s unprecedented success should serve as a  lesson to the various elements involved that melding established consumer behavior and technology in a simple, easy way that also leverages consumer acceptance of social media  is a key factor for success.

The real power of this model lies in the fact that incremental, tracked purchases are made at the beginning of the consumer interaction, generating pay-for-perfomance, frontside ROI metrics that blow other “wait and see” methods of marketing out of the water. When you add in a “social media award” component (share the deal and get the deal for free), this model becomes even more powerful, as the campaigns quickly become viral and market themselves.

While Groupon, Living Social and the rest have been written about extensively, I am not sure the full potential impact of this model is understood. These companies solve an existing problem for local businesses by converting the traditional coupons, sales, and special offers they have used for decades into tracked offers that can measure in both financial upside and foot traffic. They also tap exisiting marketing budgets by stealing pre-allocated dollars away from traditional media via no-risk performance-based value propositions (that work).

This is in contrast to much-touted hyperlocal mobile push advertising campaigns that require a problem to be explained, before a retail business or brand will considering paying to try to solve it (assuming they agree the opportunity for ROI is there). More importantly, most retail businesses still do not have a way for mobile banner click-throughs to land a consumer in a place where a purchase can be converted. This is where mobile commerce comes in.

ebayMoving The Merch: “Redemption Is Mobile Commerce”

The quote above is from Dan Gilmartin of Where.com and I agree. While redemption of printed or digitally displayed group buying vouchers brought into a restaurant, hail salon, or spa (for example) works well-enough, retailers that sell lower-margin goods want converted sales that “move the merch”, as they say. Giving 50% of your margin away to Groupon and their kind, is a fine solution for high-margin, service-oriented businesses, but retailers need to link campaigns for specials to actual sales.

Converted sales transactions, rather than impressions rendered or click-throughs to a standard website, are what attracts small to medium-sized retailers that gain little from traditional brand marketing. Since non-standardized point of sale systems for redemption are still the Achilles Heel of the mobile coupon model, tracked, mobile commerce conversions will emerge as the new, essential “redemption metric” in 2011.

With $1.5 billion in mobile sales logged in 2010 (a 3X increase over 2009), Ebay’s mobile commerce success shows that consumers are willing to transact on a mobile device. In just the 30 days before Christmas 2010, eBay transactions were valued at over $100 million  in gross merchandise value, a 135% increase over last year (Mobile Commerce Daily).

“Today’s consumers are transforming the shopping experience with their mobile phones, and retailers who have not broken down their siloed channels will not be able to keep up,” says Jim Bengier, global retail industry executive for Sterling Commerce.

Coda-research

2011: The Year Of Mobile Commerce

In the rush to check off the branded app and social media platform “must-have yes boxes” , mobile commerce sites were passed over by retail brands, and consumers have been left to “pinch and zoom” and fumble with large format websites not optimized mobile devices.

How big is the mobile commerce opportunity? In July of 2010, a scant 12% of online retailers had a mobile commerce site and an even smaller 2% had an app with checkout capability (Acquity Group). Even with these dismal brand/retailer adoption numbers, US mobile-commerce (sans travel bookings) grew from $400 million in 2008 to $3.4 billion in 2010, and growth is predicted to be “explosive” in 2011 (Mobile Commerce Daily). Show me the money, indeed.

In 2011, linking a smooth-running mobile commerce engine to special offer and redemption platforms/efforts will emerge as essential, as this is the simplest way to track success in a way most retailers understand. Retailers who sell online should build robust mobile commerce sites linked to their etail “technology stack” in order to capture converted sales, driven by mobile (or social) marketing. Simply “scraping” an etail website and shrinking it to fit for mobile ignores key differences in mobile vs at-home consumer purchasing-related behavior.

Social Commerce: Sharing The Wealth

Of the 620 million consumers using Facebook, the most active 200 million access the social network through their mobile device.

Why do large retailers and brands spend money building up millions of Facebook Page fans and then drive them away from Facebook to convert a sale? It’s even worse if they send a mobile consumer to a standard website.

Increasingly in 2011,  retail brands will use Facebook to promote special deals for fans, and give them the option to buy what they are promoting by linking to a mobile commerce page where that product is cued up. Facebook might-well offer these tools for businesses as a part of Facebook Deals, as they look to emulate Groupon’s incredible success.

Social commerce will take a while to catch on, but is on the horizon. It is an extension of mobile commerce, because technical integration with the “etail technology stack” is needed to create Facebook Commerce tabs, so secure transactions can take place within Facebook pages.

The power of social commerce really shines when, for example, mobile (or Facebook commerce tab) purchases driven by special deals offered to Facebook fans can be shared within (and extended to) the buyer’s social graph, after the purchase is made.

Mobile-Payments-M-Commerce-Transactions

Tap, Tappity, Tap: NFC  Taps Established Consumer Behavior

I’d be remiss if I did not mention NFC (Near Field Communication) in this post. While mobile and social commerce are next up for online purchases on a smartphone, mobile payments at point of sale for smaller transactions will also be a hot topic in 2011. The path to a “mobile wallet” will be rocky, but NFC will emerge as the best way to both validate mobile proof of presence, and conduct small “tap to buy” transactions using value deduction from a secure, preloaded digital account contained within the device. Consumers know NFC and it is easy to use. The fact that three big US carriers have buried the hatchet long enough to line up behind NFC via the formation of Isis, is a powerful signal.

These inherently mobile “real life hot links” need to go somewhere, so NFC will support the rapid growth of mobile commerce as well. Watch for NFC tags to start appearing in pilots/tests on out of home advertising, packaging, and even wine bottle labels.

Conclusions

Mobile commerce drives revenue and location-specific redemption of special offers that can be promoted via social media marketing. Redemption takes the form of real mobile commerce transactions linked to promotions that mimic the powerful Groupon model, without giving up the margins. Mobile commerce will grow rapidly in 2011, as branded apps fade in importance, in direct proportion to increased data speeds,  accelerated location-enabled smart phone adoption/usage by consumers, and the creation of mobile commerce sites by retailers.

Facebook will increasingly play a role in every brand or retailer’s marketing plan. With 200 million accessing it via their mobile device, Facebook will become a place where discounts, sales, and special offers are  not only shared and compared, but increasingly parlayed into converted mobile commerce sales. Facebook commerce transactions that leverage this same technical backside integration and occur within Facebook will not be far behind.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec and started Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007 to help clients harness the power of mobile . He is also running sales for for mobile commerce solution provider Unbound Commerce. Contact him today to learn more.

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Did your mobile ad campaign drive a consumer to a store that carries your product and can you prove it?

If you can use opt-in consumer behavior to prove that a customer visited a specific retail location and bought a product (and link this to a specific call to action), you are touching the future of mobile marketing. Social network platforms that can effectively capture these “Mobile Proof Of Presence”  (MPOP) metrics,  can offer brands powerful new marketing tools and quantify ROI by linking them to incremental product interactions.. at point of sale.

Lest we forget, companies make money by driving consumers to buy their products, in real stores with real money. Using traditional blanket print/radio/TV advertising for “top of mind”  branding is fine, but new tools allow brands to quantify ad campaigns by tracking incremental store visits, product interactions, and even payment for that product.

Three ways to capture MPOP metrics are: Checkins, QR codes, and NFC. Each has it’s own merits.

Checkins: The Current Craze

Popular “checkin” platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla are proof that consumers will volunteer where they are and what they are doing, for an incentive. By checking in to a specific place, individuals are rewarded with product specials or freebies and broadcast their location to their social networks. The platform that captures this information can use it to build metrics for brands, showing results as incremental traffic to real doors. A downside of checkins is their fad-like meteoric rise and that  unverified rotten checkin apples could spoil the metrics barrel. Foursquare, for example, has had some issues lately with fake checkins. Gowalla validates checkins, by real location.

How much potential is there here? Recent rumors are that Yahoo might buy 1+ year  Foursquare for $100+ Million.

How Do Checkins Work? Watch The Video:

QR Codes: Get Ready!

Quick Response (QR) Codes can be used to verify that someone was at a specific location and capture when that interaction occurred. QR codes are ubiquitous in Japan and taking hold in Europe.

They are easy to implement and serve as a viable “proof of presence” without the requirement that the device knows where it is. This is key..If the QR code is unique to the location, then a physical scan of it verifies a consumer was there.

For print ads, QR codes serve as “real world hyperlinks” to the virtual, online world. A company to watch is Mobile Discovery (video intro), a top provider of QR code campaign creation and management. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about Mobile Discovery or how QR codes can serve as a bridge between real-world point of purchase display or print ads and your mobile/social media campaigns. Get ready, QR codes could be huge!

How Do QR Codes Work? Watch the VIDEO:

NFC: One To Watch

NFC (Near Field Communication) is not new technology and many Americans use NFC every day. Contactless metro cards are the best example. NFC is potentially important for mobile marketing because it can generate MPOP metrics and enable real financial transactions via the device, instantaneously. No opening scanner apps or multi-step checkins. You simply pass your phone over a contactless terminal node and you are done. The downside is that NFC requires a significant investment in retail point of sale hardware and payments will require (messy) Carrier involvement. This is why it has not taken off, to-date.

Major device manufactures like Apple and Nokia are expected to launch NFC equipped smartphones soon, for the US market. Nokia has been doing pioneering work on NFC for many years. The Nokia video below is from 2007! A recently-uncovered Apple patent details “Peer-to-Peer Financial Transaction Devices and Methods”. The new iPhone might have NFC integrated and a payment app on-deck.

How Does NFC Work? Watch the VIDEO:

A Hot New Way To Measure ROI

While trendy checkin platforms dominate the news, be sure to learn the other ways to verify, track and capture all-important MPOP metrics. There is a lot of pressure on mobile advertisers and social network platforms to prove they drove real consumers to real  touchpoints, where  real products are  purchased. As well there should be…

If you want to learn more, contact me. I can help.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is  the founder of Location Based Strategy, LLC a Boston-based LBS consulting company founded in 2007 (Facebook). Wilson is also a location based blogger, speaker, panelist, and thought leader.

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Social networks are poised to be the most-effective marketing tool of the next decade. Facebook is the biggest social network and word on the street is they will announce location-sharing functionality very soon. While this new feature will make Facebook more interesting and compelling for individual users, location sharing is not new.

What would be new and what would interest me is if Facebook introduces transformational marketing tools for brands that will link Facebook campaigns to incremental visits to locations where real products can be purchased. These incremental, verified store visits and real-world product  interactions could very well become a new ad unit, and could reshape the very nature of how mobile advertising ROI is measured.

A New Consumer Touchpoint

Before I address Facebook-powered brand interaction linked to real locations, I want to back up and address why social networks have recently hit the marketing radar and become so popular generally.

People voluntarily linked by something in common (friendship, an interest, or a preference for a brand) can convey subjective information with far more impact than the traditional “broadcast” norm that has ruled for so long. Sounds pretty obvious, but this is the fuel that social networks run on.

Since it’s no longer only individuals that can have Facebook pages, companies can interact with consumers who have opted-in to their specific social sub-network, within the larger Facebook ecosystem. Messages initiated by the brand and information conveyed is disproportionately impactful, due to the highly prequalified nature of the opt-in audience.

Remember, these new social media touchpoints are also a two-way street. Members of these opt-in brand sub-networks (Facebook fans) can interact with the actual company producing the products and their collective input can shape the products or services offered. Companies can engage in real dialogue with their customers like never before.

A Huge Opportunity: 26,143 years/day

With a reported 400+ million registered users and 250+ Million active users spending 55 minutes daily on Facebook, Facebook is best-positioned to win the race to integrate location and roll out location sharing functionality for consumers on a grand scale. If they are smart, they will also introduce innovative location-based marketing tools for brands and companies.

Of US companies on Fortune’s Top 100 list, almost 70% reported having Facebook pages. Each averaged about 41,000 fans and was posting 3.6 new messages a week (Report from Jan 2010).

Wait, let me back up a second and get out the calculator: 250 Million users at 55 minutes each daily is 13.75 Billion minutes a day, or 229+ Thousand hours! This is the equivalent of….26,143 years spent interacting with Facebook, each day. Facebook, if it were a country, would the third largest in the world and now threatens Google for web traffic generated. Facebook is very well positioned indeed.

Location, Location, Location

Either through a GPS receiver (outside) or cell tower triangulation or wifi location systems (inside), most mobile devices are “location enabled” and can share this location information with the social networking application interfaces people choose to access. The fact that we carry a device as we go about our daily lives that knows where it is becomes even more significant when we consider that this is when we are in contact with real goods to buy and the locations that sell them.

If, as is expected, Facebook helps make location sharing within social networks ubiquitous by introducing this functionality on a grand scale, the opportunities for marketing campaigns that utilize shared, opt-in real-time location information should grow very rapidly.

Again, while location sharing among individuals is neat, the tracking of opt-in interactions with actual points of sale is the real financial opportunity for Facebook. Odds are, consumers will not mind an offer to try a new coffee flavor while they are in a coffee shop, if they have volunteered to share the fact that they are there. Google now takes in $23 Billion a year on the AdWords educated bet they made back in 2000. That is: ads can be both effective and unobtrusive,  if they are contextually relevant.

Checkins, QR Codes and ROI

According to Forrester, the amount of real-world sales influenced by online ads/marketing will be $1.4 Trillion by 2014.  The percentage of sales influenced by the web is increasing at a compounded rate of 9% annually. Yet these linkages between online research and offline sales are almost totally untracked. By understanding this research online, buy offline (ROBO) “gap”, you can start to see the potential upside of linking a Facebook-powered marketing campaign to actual in-store visits and what this means for measuring ROI.

For popular “checkin” platforms like Gowalla and Foursquare, place-labeled location sharing serves as the cornerstone of their whole model. Facebook could mimic this and introduce “Facebook Checkins”, allowing mobile users to tap a button and instantly post where they are and (optionally) what they are doing, as a status update.

This same functionality could be linked to campaigns run by brands and the metrics tracked and fed back to the brands. If a special deal or offer is needed to incent users to checkin, fine. Most businesses already thrive on these proven revenue drivers. Large national incentive and loyalty programs already in-place could provide the fuel for these programs to take off fast.

Why are those funny little square Quick Response (QR) codes suddenly so important to understand? Because consumers can scan them with a phone and they both deliver information to the application that scans them and use this information to launch little portals between the real world and the virtual, online world. Sounds odd, but this is only because this way of quickly interacting with a place or product is in its infancy in the US.  Take a trip to Japan if you want to comprehend the potential impact of tracked campaigns that make use of QR codes. Here’s an example, from last year.

Facebook QR codes for brands or location checkins could drive incremental tracked and quantified consumer interactions with the dealer doors where branded goods are sold (or even with the actual product). Facebook could capture all the details of how and when this occurred and, I’d imagine, be able to deliver a compelling ROI/metrics story to keep brands signing up for more.

Stay Tuned..

Facebook’s F8 conference is next Wednesday April 21st in San Francisco. It is widely predicted that they will launch location sharing for their users and, possibly, unveil related news for brands.

How will Facebook harness the power of location for its 400 Million registered users and give brands the tools they need to track social network marketing campaign ROI in new ways? This is what I will be watching for, as this is where the money is. Stay tuned..

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is  the founder of Location Based Strategy, LLC a Boston-based LBS consulting company founded in 2007 (Facebook). Wilson is also a location based blogger, speaker, panelist, and thought leader.

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By Wilson Kerr of LBS consulting firm Location Based Strategy, LLC.

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Nokia’s newly-announced free navigation is being positioned as a planned part of their Location Based Services (LBS) offerings, delivered via their “Ovi” web services platform. The goal is to drive more device sales and, in the future, make money by selling web-based services and displaying ads to those who own these phones.

Is “free nav” from Nokia a part of a plan, or a defensive reaction to try to take back lost smartphone market share and try to establish a US beachhead in the face serious pressure from “new” movers and shakers like Google, Apple, RIM, Palm, and others?

Nokia Jumped On The Free Nav Bandwagon

It certainly seems Nokia had no choice but to go this route, as they are in market share freefall and have had no answer for the beloved iPhone, years after its launch. They lost 10% smartphone market share in Q4 2008, while Apple and RIM took off. In the middle of all this, Ovi’s May 2009 app store launch was widely considered a flop. Now Google is in the mix too, bringing some serious mobile advertising chops to-bear. Nokia makes excellent hardware and have a dominant global market share position (38%), but they seem to have stood by and watched, as the US mobile advertising market rapidly evolved. They let Google jump behind the counter while no one was minding the store.

“While smartphone sales overall increased 3.7% in Q4, Nokia’s share slid from 50.9% to “just” 40.8% on 15.6 million units. While many, including Samsung and HTC gained, it was RIM and Apple that made the biggest advances. RIM increased its share of the lucrative market to 19.5% (7.4 million units) from 10.9% while Apple more than doubled its share, up from 5.2% to 10.7% (4.1 million units).” Source.

Nokia dropped $8BN to buy Chicago-based Navteq, the leader in US base map data and Nokia bought their own navigation routing engine (Gate5) in 2006. Nokia acquired Boston mobile ad agency Enpocket almost exactly a year later. Navteq, before it was acquired by Nokia, invested in (and now owns) marketing agency Acuity Mobile. In December of 2006, Navteq bought The Map Network, a small company that was doing some very interesting things around placing the branded locations of hotels and restaurants near convention center maps. This morphed into Direct Access (video link)– a program that allows retailers to plug in locations and logos, as ads, into Navteq maps. They also own Traffic.com, which makes a majority of its revenue from location-aware advertising. Location Point (video link) is what Navteq calls their ad services.

So, the Nokia/Navteq paid services and advertising capabilities deck is long, but can they sort out all the moving pieces to form a coherent strategy and move “beyond the device” and establish new effective revenue-generating touch points with the users of their devices?

What started this ball rolling, remember, was when Google blew the lid off the “free nav” can of worms back in October 2009, announcing free navigation on free maps, via their Android mobile operating system (on up to 35 phones)! Google loves giving away a free services to open up more opportunities to sell ads. Maybe we should start calling this disruptive innovation tactic “Freegling”?

So Nokia answers Google to try to gain back marketshare. Not much of a statement until you stop and consider that Google is not a device manufacturer. Google sells ads and they are very good at what they do. All products lead to this profit center and they can loss leader like mad to drive more people to see their ads. Free is their friend and people like free.

Free works, as long as there is a “Trojan horse” element in the form of advertising, paid value-add services or market share upside that pays for free. Nokia is certainly in a good position today, as they have sold more phones capable of running navigation served by their Ovi platform than there are dedicated personal navigation devices on the planet. While device sales are brisk now (esp in Europe), the long-term problem is that they have almost no market share in Google’s US back yard and they have no track record of getting people to pay for Nokia services, after they buy the phone.

Nokia launched its first phone in 1987. Google’s founders were likely in 7th grade and would not start Google for 11 more years. Nokia has a market capitalization of about $47BN, while Google’s is about $172BN. Nokia says it would like to generate about $2.89BN in annual revenues from web-based services offered to users of its phones by 2011. Google makes this amount via web-based services..about every 5 weeks. My point is that, if Nokia hopes to catch up by charging the millions of users of their devices for “after sale” services and delivering ads on the back of free navigation, they had better get moving.

Nokia is now up against a lot more than Google for ads and apps. Their free nav move has just forced every other navigation platform and device company to rapidly accelerate their location-aware advertising and web services plans. Location-specific advertising served by proximity to those using their phones to get where they are going is (finally) about to become the hottest game in town.

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Wilson Kerr started the Location Based Services (LBS) Consulting Firm Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007. He is amazed by how fast the ad-supported mobile navigation landscape is evolving.

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By Wilson Kerr of Location Based Strategy, LLC

The speed that wild Google wireless rumors transform into fact is astounding. After just a few days of frenzy caused by leaked information about Google employees all getting FREE Google phones to test, a front page Wall Street Journal article (yesterday) announced the “confirmed” impending arrival of the Google Phone. Not a phone powered by Google’s Android operating system sold by a carrier for a subsidized price, but an actual Google device sold by Google directly to consumers, subsidized by Google, that could be used with any carrier network.

Remember that carriers create the profits that allow the real cost of a phone to be masked. While most new smart phones on the market today costs a few hundred bucks, it only takes a few months to surpass this one-time cost in subscriber fees to the Carriers. They apply some of this profit backwards and use it to subsidize the real cost of the device.

By linking the phone to the carrier, the carrier essentially works with the device manufacturer to lure the consumer via artificially low phone prices. The carriers battle with multi-million dollar advertising campaigns over coverage and partner with manufacturers to offer slick new phones to obtain that crucial new subscriber win. Of course, there is little pressure to drop the rate plan fees, since a few giants dominate and most cool phones offer no choice in carrier. If you have an iPhone, note how much you paid for it and what you have paid AT&T since that day..

Google has been watching from the wings while preparing methods for extracting more value from the actual use of the phone via the infusion of alternate value-add than can be collected in fees for traditional voice or data plans. I have written about the many programs Google has in-place for changing wireless advertising and generally targeting the point of sale in the real world, after a consumer has (literally) navigated to a store location where an advertised product or service can be purchased. Since the Google phone is not linked to any carrier, how will they be able to subsidize the price of the device and avoid coming into the US market with a $600 phone?

Google is setting the stage for a radical move that will change how the wireless world thinks about charging for phone usage. It will happen sooner than expected and I am not sure how many will see the significance when it does. On this day I will call “G Day, 2010”, a Google phone will be used to buy something. Not order something online, but to make a real purchase.

The location of the store will be displayed via Google Maps and the buyer will only have to deviate slightly from their daily routine of travel. The consumer will scan the 2-D Google Favorite code on the door and a special offer will be displayed. The point of discovery will be known to be a personalized, time-sensitive Google coupon unique to that specific store, and displayed at that exact moment. The duration of the visit to the store and any other products searched-for while in the store will be captured. A litany of other facts will be melded together in the Google cloud to make the phone that made the purchase more-intuitive, so the owner of the phone appreciates it even more and saves money in the process.

I suspect this first landmark purchase on G Day, 2010 will occur through the use of a pilot program Google Checkout system that leverages NFC (Near Field Communication) technology built onto the phone and a connected Google reader provided to the participating business at no charge. No cash will change hands, the merchandise sold will be automatically removed from the store’s inventory and the consumer’s pre-loaded Google account charged. The final stage of the transaction will be that the Google advertising account of the store will be charged not for the display of the ad that caused the consumer to discover the special, but for a % of the purchase made when the consumer acted upon the offer.

Why is this important regarding carriers and Google’s push to launch a Google phone while the industry shakes its head and wonders just what they are thinking? Because the carriers will have to compete to be the one selected by consumers to allow the phone to function. Usage plan prices should (thankfully) plunge and Google will be in a very good position to rewrite the book regarding how average revenue per user (ARPU) is arrived at. If they can generate enough in advertising fees as a % of tracked incremental transactions, perhaps they can even pay the carrier for the service, and give the already-subsidized and activated phones away. The first carrier to do this will be in a very good position to join forces with Google, the others might perish, since they will not be able to compete with the power of alternate value add machine that Google has built, while watching from the wings. Watch for this sale that will mark G Day to happen sometime this year.

Then again, perhaps, in some small shop owned by a Google employee near Mountain View, CA, it has already happened..

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Wilson Kerr is the founder and principal at Location Based Strategy, LLC, a consulting company dedicated to helping brands, content owners, and retailers understand the LBS opportunity and create strategic initiatives to tap its potential.

www.LBStrategy.com

Boston iPhone: 303-249-2083

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