Progress in Mobile Payments as Starbucks leads the charge


Starbucks recently rolled out their mobile payment option for devices. Basically you can download a free app, add credit, and then display a barcode that will allow you to pay for your purchases using a third-party barcode reader at your point of purchase. This is a great step in the right direction by a major brand that will make a lot of consumers take notice of what mobile payments can mean, not to mention push the consumer goods industry toward further adoption. And Starbucks had a great case to try this out as 2/3rds of their customers are smartphone users. However, having downloaded and used it for a few weeks, there’s still a few issues from a customer experience standpoint where I’m not sold. Below are a few reasons:

  • I still have to download and install a specific app – Sure it’s free and easy to install, but I still need to go get it to use it and I should (though I’m sure many have no problem making the rest of the line wait) get it ahead of time and not right as I’m paying.
  • I have to have my device handy, charged, and ready – My device is habitually not charged all the way, out of my grasp, or not in hand, mostly because I’m with someone and yapping as I wait in line. I get the thinking here. Starbucks always involves waiting because their products are complicated and time-consuming to prepare, thus the downtime and propensity to pull out your phone. However, I rarely get coffee alone so that appeal isn’t there for me.
  • I have to give my payment info to this specific app – I’m not particularly shy or paranoid about this but it’s sort of a pain to enter the info, even if it is just once.
  • A gift card is just as functional – No secret to anyone, adding credit to a gift card at the register is easier, and then after that it’s a no thought transaction to pay. No waking up your device, finding the app, etc…

Don’t get me wrong, I like where this is going and Starbucks got a lot of PR out of it. But until a technology like NFC comes along to make this all a little easier I think I’ll probably go back to cash and cards when my credit runs out on the app.


Will NFC be a slow starter in 2011 or is this the year?

Near Field Communications

So we’re past CES 2011, and of the many mobile and tablet device announcements, none in particular has included any big announcements around NFC (near field communication) support. Wasn’t this supposed the be the year? Where are the goods?

Since the first time I saw NFC demo’d at a Nokia research center in Cambridge years ago, I was captivated by the potential it represented in all sorts of transactions. From offers, to payments, to location based check-ins, there’s loads of potential here with very little for the end-user to do to opt-in. No specific applications needed, no sign-ups, just tap and be on your way. When you think about it, it’s really the way things should be right? Even traditional media outlets such as Businessweek are starting to pick up on NFC so awareness is getting there.

And before you ask “what about QR codes” forget about it. Despite many publishers and marketers piloting QR code implementations, it’s clearly crashed and burned before it ever got off the runway with NFC coming. Think about the user experience of QR codes in this hypothetical scenario:

Customer see’s a QR code in a display or printed advertisement. Assuming that the customer both knows what it is and what to do next they pull out one of the many devices on the market, most which ship without software to read the codes. Ok, let’s assume the ad tells them the name of one of many campaign specific QR code readers out there and the customer is willing to search it out and install it. Several minutes later (if they’re patient and have a good connection), bam! They’ve successfully scanned the code to what must of been a pretty compelling and clearly articulated value proposition.

Now replace that whole experience with a simple tap of a NFC supported device. The customer sees the logo at the top of the post, knows what it is, and taps away. The customer doesn’t need to think to opt-in, and they can review or fulfill any of the thought process steps involved later at their convenience.

So is the year for NFC? It’s early and I think there is plenty on the horizon. But if anything, Google’s recently released Samsung Nexus S with built in NFC support should be an industry driver, just like the features that the Nexus One bore a year before (faster processing, more memory, etc..). NFC is an eventuality, it’s how soon it gets here is what remains to be seen.

Submit your mobile app to the MAX Awards


So your a mobile software developer/publisher working in Flash Lite and want to go to Adobe MAX, the leading conference in rich internet applications, creative and design solutions, and killer parties. But you live really far away and need a little help and incentive to get there. Well guess what? If you submit your mobile application you have a chance to be selected as a finalist and get a free conference pass!

I’m an industry judge for mobile and devices and expect to see some high-quality offerings like I have and years past. Please enter your app, all entries will be considered so don’t hold back, deadline is July 31st. I’ve heard on the Twitter-verse there are going to some game-changing announcements concerning mobile so this is not one to miss.

Don’t miss the party! Enter your app here.

Podcast: Live from 360|iDev


I recorded an onsite podcast from the 360|iDev conference with some great folks from the Flash Lite and mobile community. Emmanuelle Cipollini from Barefoot Software, James Eberhardt of Echo Mobile, and Dave Yang of swfoo joined me for a quick talk concerning this conference, Flash, and transitioning from Flash to the iPhone.

You can subscribe via iTunes here.

Download the audio file here.

I’ll be posting a rave review on the conference itself later.

Aptana tools for Nokia Web Runtime on the money


Aptana has released a suite of plug-ins a few weeks ago supporting Nokia Web Runtime. I was able to load it into Eclipse on my Macbook easily enough and give it a whirl, though they offer their own IDE for those on PC. It’s a free donwload with a 30-day trial available here.

To set some expectations, this tool is not a substitute for the S60 Emulator which gives a more real scenario of how your widget will perform. But what it does do it give you a great idea of how all of your AJAX and DHtml will perform in real-time. I remember testing out some widgets recently both for business and for a talk I gave for Nokia back in October, and it was tedious using a browser for crude tests, let alone constant installs to the phone and S60 emulator. There were security issues as well as CSS formatting inconsistencies, not to mention certain Javascript functions that simply were not supported the same way you’d see it in a conventional browser. This tool really bridges the gap in those instances and I wish I had it months ago. Would have saved me loads of time.

As usual, your hardware will still give you the ultimate watermark of whether or not your code works in the runtime. Other things to note is that it supports a variety of Nokia handsets with different screen sizes, Flash Lite embeds, packaging and deployment to Bluetooth devices, as well as soft-key support. No 4-way navigation, though this is where the emulator comes in. Wonder how this will affect touch as more S60 5th Edition devices entire the product line.

Kudos to the Nokia WRT team for getting another useful tool out for widget developers

BAMaDUG Episode 3 podcast available

Boston Adobe Mobile and Devices User Group December 2008 meeting - Share on Ovi

Back again for more punishment, we recorded another podcast in Harvard Square the other night. Great conversation and good atmosphere. Here’s the low down:

    Members Rob Toole, Max Antinori, Scott Janousek, Ira Hochman, and Alessandro Pace give a recap of the MAX conference, cover new CS4 features, and the release of the Nokia N97. Recorded on location at Cambridge 1 in Cambridge, MA.

Subscribe via iTunes here!

Download the audio file here!

BAMaDUG Podcast – Episode 2 available


Once again we have another interesting podcast with an all-star lineup recorded live from the Asgard Pub in Cambridge, MA. We went a little more guerilla style for this using my Nokia N-95 8GB but the quality is pretty good considering we were in a very loud and crowded bar.

Some Subjects Covered:

    The recent Forum Nokia Tech Day
    Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
    S60 5th Edition and S60 Platform Services
    Adobe CS4 and Flash Player 10 launch
    Flash Lite/Mobile Sessions at MAX North America

Special thanks to Alessandro Pace from Biskero, James Talbot from Adobe, and Max Antoneri. Look for the next podcast coming live from MAX 2008 in San Francisco.

Get and subscribe to the podcast from iTunes here.

Download the .m4a file here.

I’m Presenting at Forum Nokia Tech Day


I’m porud to announce that I’ve been asked to speak at the Forum Nokia Boston Flash Lite Technology Day on October 10th. My session will focus on Nokia Web Runtime and Flash Lite and will highlight the advantages that both platforms offer in bringing your application/widget to market. Click here to see the full agenda.

This free seminar will be held at Nokia’s Cambridge Research Center and will feature a number of industry experts listed here:

Ganesh Sivaraman, Internet and Web 2.0 Business Development Manager, Forum Nokia
Robert Burdick, Senior Architect for Emerging Technologies, Forum Nokia
Bill Perry, Mobile and Devices Evangelist, Adobe
James Talbot, Adobe
Alessandro Pace, Forum Nokia Champion
Scott Janousek, Forum Nokia Champion
Ira Hochman, Untravel Media

This is a don’t miss seminar or any mobile professional or enthusiast. Please feel free to come out and heckle me. Registration is filling up so signup below.

Register here.

New York: An Evening with S60


An Evening with S60 lands in New York on Wednesday September 17th from 7:30 PM to 10 PM next week at the Nokia Flagship store. I’ve been to the Chicago store and it’s a pretty amazing setup, only drawback is the lack of handsets from other regions (they didn’t carry my Nokia 5700, EMEA and APAC only), but the staff was friendly and knowledgable.

I’ll be there since I missed the Boston one a few months back, not only for the free food and drinks, but for a chance to meet some new people and geek out. If you’re in the NYC area, don’t miss it and I hope to meet you. Mobile announced


What do you do when no one takes your mobile product platform and creates a truly useful, mass market focused, standalone application? Create your own and tie it into one of your own existing internet services like! According to Bill Perry, the Flash Lite application will allow users to upload, share, and view photos via supported mobile supported devices. Read more about it here.

This is cool, no doubt , however far from a killer app. Especially since sharing your photos from a mobile phone to services such as Flickr, Ovi, insert your cloud based photo service here, has been around and easy for a while now. I think Nokia really has it right with integrating this with the camera application directly.

The other part of this story (and the real win in my opinion) is that they are releasing it first to non-typical Flash Lite devices such as Palm and Windows Mobile (instead of the old faithful S60 devices). Open Screen Project’s main initiative is to get on as many screens/devices as possible. And the fact that they’re adding Palm show’s they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

Now if the devices group can use this as a momentum piece and build some more tie-in’s to their own products or even third-party services, I think they can really go places. It’s an excellent strategy in creating a viable model that other companies can mimic.