Tag Archives: smartphones

Are Mobile Applications Changing Fashion Week?

 

In this day and age, smartphones are exponentially driving digital media usage. Photo centric applications such as Instagram and Snapchat have contributed to this revolution by creating new ways for users to share information.According to DigitalGov, 23% of millennials only use mobile deivices while the remaining 77% use multiple devices. This indicates that millennial is the generation with higher mobile usage rates than any other generation. Lifestyle platform such as Instagram and Snapchat have revolutionized the way users engage with the world.

Not only has Instagram and Snapchat transformed the way users interact with one another but allows them to report on major events such as: fashion week. The organizers of London Fashion Week have seen an increase in the usage of mobile applications. This time last year, during London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016, Fashion giants such as Burberry made history by being the first brand in the world to shoot and preview a collection on Snapchat. The fashion house gave a sneak peek of their Spring/Summer 2016 collection, 24 hours before the models walked the runway.This unprecedented event granted Burberry 60,000 interactions on Twitter. The brand re-invented all of their marketing tactics in order to target a younger demographic and stay relevant in today’s digital landscape. This incredible shift from print media to live-stream events have allowed brand like Burberry to make history in the digital market like no other.

 

New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 was also filled with new tactics and mobile application interactions. NYFW had its own IOS app and live-streamed shows on Instagram and Snapchat. With the increasing use of mobile applications especially social media apps, designers such as Tommy Hilfiger have employed a “see now buy now” approach, in which clothes are ready for sale when they hit the runway. The designer applying the “see now by now” approach along with employing Gigi Hadid, one of the top models in the industry, proved to be a dynamic marketing strategy. The Tommy Hilfiger show was showcased through Snapchat with Gigi Hadid making backstage snaps. Tommy Hilfiger has increased its brand’s visibility by partnering up with an influencer and using mobile apps to showcase a collection directly accessible to consumers around the globe.

 

The shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing illustrates how designers are attempting to stay relevant to the younger generation by creating new trends and parameters. Social media apps are changing the horizons of the fashion industry. Ten years ago Fashion houses will have never imagine that they will be able to massively target different audiences around the globe with a clip of a button on a mobile device. Mobile applications have created new parameters on how people interact and communicate. What will the future hold for the next generation of mobile applications? Maybe we will find out during the next Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018.

To Learn more about qSample’s panel network Click Here.

8 Killer Apps For Moving Or Remodeling Your Home

 

Remodeling and selling homes is complicated enough as it is. Fortunately, technology is making it a whole lot easier. Here are some of qSample’s favorite apps for getting the job done (some feedback provided by our contractor and home buyer online panels).

 

1. Homeselfe

Homeselfe gives you a step-by-step walkthrough of your home to help you check its energy efficiency and search for problems. That new ultra-efficient furnace isn’t going to do you much good if all the heat is escaping out the walls, right? You don’t need to patch up anything you’re going to be replacing in the near future, but otherwise, patching up the house is a great first step for any major remodeling project. It might improve the sale value, too.

 

2. iHandy Carpenter Tools

There are a lot of tools needed to remodel a house, but many families don’t own a full toolkit. You could go out and buy all of them by yourself… or you could get a digital version of some of the most-used tools.

Note that this won’t replace physical tools (like hammers), just several of the most common measuring tools.

 

3. Homestyler

This handy app focuses on digitally redesigning rooms, allowing you to get a better sense of what an area would actually look like if you remodeled it in a certain way. This sort of “try before you buy” setup is extremely helpful for ensuring the final design is something you’re going to be happy with, and it’s currently available for free.

 

4. The Handyman Calculator

When you’re remodeling your home, there are a lot of different measurements you’ll need. For example, how much paint will you need to cover the walls, and how much carpet is going onto the floor? This calculator helps you answer those questions, and comes with some shopping list features to help make sure you buy everything you need for the project.

 

5. 360 Panorama

This useful application stitches images together to create a 360 panorama view of a given area. One shift we’ve seen in the housing market is that people want to quickly and easily take a look around the home – without necessarily having to go to the trouble of actually visiting the house. Apps like this can help you reach that particular crowd, and might just result in a faster, easier sale.

 

6. Zillow Mortgages

Really, the whole Zillow series is useful, but the Mortgages one is especially helpful when you’re talking price. Pulling this out in a meeting with a potential buyer helps you talk budget and see what they could reasonably afford to pay. If buyers know that a home is affordable, they’re more likely to follow through and seal the deal.

 

7. PDF Pen Pro

“But this has nothing to do with selling houses!” you say? That, my friend, is where you’re wrong. You’re going to be signing a lot of papers during the process of selling a home, and apps like this one give you the chance to do most of that signing digitally. This is especially helpful when documents need to be submitted by a given deadline and you’re busy dealing with other matters.

 

8. JotNot Scanner

Speaking of paperwork, there will also be times when you have to send it to others. JotNot Scanner is one of the most reliable scanning apps available, and it includes a variety of messaging systems (including fax) to get your paperwork where it needs to go.

 

Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design. For more information, please visit the Uma Campbell Blog.

 

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12 Sage Tips To Optimize Mobile Surveys [Infographic]

Smartphone bursting with information and symbols

 

Video may have killed the radio star, as song goes, but mobile might be killing the PC star. Mobile is certainly killing it when it comes to consumer attention, something important to bear in mind as marketing researchers. The Mobile Era is here and it’s more like a conquest.

I could go on all day about mobile, toss in several more analogies and metaphors. Instead, why not present some sound data:

More Americans use mobile devices for web browsing than they do PC’s
– Online surveys completed from mobile devices will approach 50% in 2016
– 60% of cell phones are smartphones
– Worldwide mobile advertising revenue will expand by 3.5 times its present size in 2016
– 74% of mobile Boomers use their phone while shopping (yes, that’s boomers, just think of Millennials and Generation X’ers)
– More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including Japan and the US

See the writing on the wall? Even you, PC star?

Thus, it’s imperative to make market research mobile-friendly, a notion that many experts feel hasn’t happened fully. As one marketing thought leader said about 2016 market research trends: “Finally, we’ll continue to muck up mobile research and bludgeon unwitting respondents with interminably lengthy surveys.”

Let’s not do any of that. To assist in mobile research, our latest infographic provides several tips to ensure your next survey is mobile-friendly. Or, at the very least, as another marketer said, that your surveys are “device agnostic and optimized for mobile by design.”

Here you go:

 

Infographic with list of tips to optimize mobile surveys

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Baby Boomers Love Social Media And Tech (Video & Infographic)

Elderly couple using smartphone for a selfie

One of the enemies of market research could easily be conventional wisdom. Perception becomes reality often in the public flow, but that reality is far removed from accurate data. That is how we got the Edsel, Pepsi Clear, Robin Thicke and other poorly-researched products that at one point just seemed…conventionally wise?

At qSample, our research has combatted conventional wisdom for the betterment of clients. Our research showed, before its release, that the Apple Watch would flounder. It also revealed that Millennials are an economic yet altruistic force, today’s college students are not that stressed out, and Ivy League graduates are quite idealistic.

No, we don’t have a preference for the younger generation. Our many specialty panels prove this. As a matter of fact, this week we move into the golden years and focus on baby boomers. Since they make up 42% of the adult population, market researchers should evermore pay heed to their consumer needs.

When it comes to embracing these modern times, baby boomers are far from Sophia in Golden Girls. Here are some examples:

 47% own a smartphone
–  72% have broadband in their homes
  27.4 million engage in some form of social media
  They prefer LinkedIn the most, with Facebook coming in second (don’t even worry about this, Snapchat)
 82% research wellness and health information online

Baby boomers are also very socially-conscious. But talk is cheap and conventional wisdom is seductive, so we the skinny on baby boomers in both video and infographic.

Enjoy, and let us know if you need one of our specialty panels for that accurate data needed in your market research or Robin Thicke playlist. Here is the video:

And here is the infographic:

http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Baby-Boomers-Go-Green-1-Final.png, http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/4-Senses-of-Buying-Decisions-3-1.png

what makes consumers buy green products graphic

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The Growing Idealism of Ivy League Graduates

Group of executives under a glowing Ivy League Banner

A famous quote misattributed to Winston Churchill goes: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

That might not be the case, though, when it comes Ivy League graduates. These noted alumni may not be more liberal, in a conventional sense. However, a recent study—conducted by the Ivy League Magazine Network in collaboration with qSample—reveals they are quite the idealists. That’s certainly a reflection of the socially responsible Millennials whom qSample also researched.

With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, Ivy League graduates are a uniquely influential and affluent demographic. This data ought to make them appealing to marketers. If their views move towards that of the forward-looking yet also economically-influential Millennials, the entire marketing industry should pay heed.

qSample surveyed readers from the eight Ivy League Magazines. The online study consisted of data collected from more than 1500 survey participants—all graduates of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.

 

Idealism in Healthcare

 

As an example of an idealist bent, specifically in the holistic attitude popular today, a larger number (88%) of Ivy League Grads state that eating right is essential for good health. Additionally, 75% feel that exercise is also conducive to an overall good health. A much smaller percentage (17%) find that using advanced medicine or popular medical brands is key to good health. One doesn’t have to look farther than data from Harvard Magazine, an Ivy League mainstay, to see that a more natural, less intrusive approach to healthcare is a growing trend in the nation.

The following graph expands on the healthcare preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:

 

Graphs showing Ivy League Health Habits

 

 Idealism in Shopping

 

Does an idealistic outlook already embraced by Millennials and other demographics translate to shopping behavior for Ivy League graduates?

Not exactly. It’s not too far, either. 60% of respondents from the qSample study claim they exclusively buy American products. That’s a relatively high percentage, higher than the 45% of general consumers that buy American products only, according to Gallup. However, this percentage is still in the middle the pack in of the study. Here are the top preferences when it comes to favoring a brand:

92% Stick with a brand once they like it
91% Prefer brands from a company they trust, even if it is slightly more expensive
89% Don’t mind paying for brands that are high-quality
89% Like to compare brands before making a decision
65% Prefer brands that reflect their lifestyle

 

Idealism in Technology

 

These days, technology is considered successful not just for its capabilities but also its altruistic qualities. An example would be Google and its mission statement to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It was an almost-graduate from an Ivy League school, Bill Gates, who famously said: “If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in real trouble.”

In that respect, Ivy League graduates may not be that engaged with technology, or more like haven’t fully embraced their inner geek. Only 39% of respondents state they find themselves the first in their social caste to purchase new technology, even if 54% said they prefer cutting-edge technology.

These statistics don’t mean Ivy League graduates are behind times when it comes to technology and its benefits. As we reported in our study An Ivy League of their Own:

Over 75% of respondents are active on social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most popular social media sites among participants, with 60% on Facebook and 56% on LinkedIn. However, usage of social media varied from panel-to-panel with Brown Alumni more like to use Facebook (69%).

Moreover, when it comes to mobile devices:

Over the next 12 months, 76% of participants own or plan to purchase a smartphone and 70% own or plan to purchase a tablet computer. Among smartphone users, iPhone and Android operating systems are the most popular operating systems with 63% of respondents using iPhones and 20% Android.

 

Idealism in Life

 

The true measure of the idealism of Ivy League graduates is clearly reflected when asked about their guiding principles in life. At equally in the 99% mark in preference, these were the top ten:

Honesty: being sincere, having integrity
– Knowledge: being well educated
– Authenticity: being true to myself
– Learning: continuing to learn throughout my life
– Enjoying life: doing things because I like them
– Curiosity: wanting to explore and learn about new things
– Helpfulness: making the effort to assist others
– Working hard: always giving my best effort
– Open-mindedness: being broad-minded

Below that, friendship followed (98%). At the bottom of the list of guiding principles were Ambition (69%) and Social Status (37%).

One could argue that being socially responsible requires the ability to take a risk (as Bill Gates and others did). Ivy League graduates seem to have that inclination of risk taking, according to the study. They’re not all about “playing it safe” in all aspects as with their cars. This sensibility is illustrated in their vacation patterns—as a vast majority (68%) enjoy traveling to new destinations. 60% plan to travel outside the country this year for pleasure. In fact, when surveyed about general attitudes on life, 88% say they enjoy trying new things.

This graph presents the vacation preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:

 

Ivy League Graphs on Vacation preferences

 

Conclusion

 

Will this data translate into socially responsible actions by Ivy League graduates?

It already has, it appears. 77% say they volunteer in their community, with 43% doing so on a regular basis.

These takeaways at the very least dispel the notion of Ivy League graduates as stern agents of the status quo, or as simply being interested in their pursuits. They appear to be part of a more socially responsible society, starting to tap into their inner geek.

Interestingly enough and going back to the mentioned quote, one historian claimed that Churchill had “been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35.”

In other words, Churchill would likely have felt in good company with today’s Ivy League graduates.

 

what makes consumers buy green products graphic

 

Why Being Continually Online is Like Having a Bad Acid Trip

Woman having a drug trip while looking at her smartphone

Hippie guru Timothy Leary famously said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.”

He may have been referring to psychedelics, but his quote is more relevant than ever when it comes to our culture’s connectivity with the cyber dimensions. No one is dropping out, however, and being constantly online is overloading our minds with dangerous results.

Hyper-connectivity—that state of being continually plugged-in to our devices—is a growing problem. There are solutions, as always, but first the bad news.

 

The damage caused by hyper-connectivity

 

We may be accustomed to living online, but how it stresses our brains is highlighted in an article by ATTN:, Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug.

Here are some of the weighty takeaways:

Fifty-four thousand words—in the form of digital content—is dumped on the average social media user per day.
We receive about 200 newspapers-worth of information every day.
An average person—via texts, posts, and other media—produces about six newspapers-worth of information a day.
There are 295 exabytes of data floating around the world—or basically 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. That is three hundred and fifteen times the number of grains of sand on Earth.

That’s just scratching the info-dump surface. The point is that hyper-connectivity is straining our minds that were never built to handle that amount of data on a daily basis.

qSample has researched the effects of hyper-connectivity on individuals, finding that social media users earn less income and that social media/internet is creating a split-personality culture that is harming Millennials, in particular.

Furthermore, the ATTN: article quotes the sober analysis of Max Blumberg, research psychologist from Goldsmiths University of London. He explains:

Our brains were never designed to be always on and permanently connected with the amount of stimuli that we get today. Our brains haven’t evolved to handle that level of high activity yet, and that’s a problem.

Blumberg explains that high stimuli like surfing the web are attractive because they create dopamine in the brain. He further states:

It’s really similar to having ADHD. People with ADHD, their big problem is that their cortex—the outer part of your brain that does the executive function like making decisions—doesn’t function in the way that it is supposed to.  Unlike animals, who are distracted by every stimulus they encounter, human beings have the cortex, which is supposed to help them weigh up whether what they are currently doing is more important than whatever the new stimulus is—whether it’s a Facebook notification, phone call, or email.

This can’t be good, and other researchers are finding that hyper-connectivity may be causing depression, insomnia, narcissism, and lack of empathy among various demographics of society.

On a more “real” level, Mashable recently reported that more people have died from selfies than shark attacks this year.

(Scarier than Dr. Evil’s desire in Austin Powers for sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, what will happen if sharks acquire smartphones and attach them to their frickin’ foreheads…)

Being online is even ruining eating experiences! At least according to Food Trend TV’s Dana McCauley, who stated:

Technology has reached a point where almost every human function has been turned into a business, absolving us of the need to develop the virtues we need to get along. Activities that were once considered part of the human experience have been outsourced to the Apple store, and it’s a sad indictment of the state of our society.

Basically, we are staring at screens during our wait at eateries, skip the experience of connecting with those who serve our food, and abort the ritual of eating with other by quick deliveries at home. At least McCauley admits we don’t have to deal with the manifestations of the Soup Nazi, although she doesn’t see it as a positive because at least it’s a “real” experience.

All of this for that dopamine? Leary was promoting LSD in his day, but the “high” of hyper-connectivity is a thousand times stronger, it would appear. Except it’s akin to the infamous brown acid that hippies were supposed to stay away from at Woodstock. It’s often a bad trip instead a journey of enlightening information.

I mean, it’s not secret by now that being plugged into a mobile device or computer can create addiction, starting with the “endless scroll, that keeps us going, is actually affecting our brain and creating addicting patterns not too dissimilar to drugs.”

(Many would say there is nothing wrong with making products that are like drugs; after all, some have said that good marketing is simply making your brand addictive, giving it that aura that the consumer can’t live without it. And tech companies know marketing better than most.)

In the end and beyond companies wanting to make dough, Blumberg states that hyper-connectivity is destroying critical thinking. Also, youth who learn to temper being online (and television) will likely be more productive members of society and leaders of the future.

 

There solution to hyper-connectivity

 

Going back to Leary’s quote, the solution has to do with dropping out after too much tuning in.

In a New York Times article, Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, proposed some ideas to get us dropped out:

Segment your day in online and offline activities (and stick to them).
Also segment your online activities (as in a designated time to answer emails and another for posting on Facebook).
Find daily hobbies or activities that are not based or at least loosely connected to the Internet.
Take short breaks, walks or even naps when immersed in a prolonged digital period.
When taking a vacation, make sure it doesn’t involve the internet at your disposal.

Levitin states that these solutions will take practice. It’s not easy to get offline when various screens of information are always hovering over us. But our brains will thanks us with renewed cognitive energy.

If not, just approach it like a bona fide addiction. As mentioned, brands like it when you lose your willpower—as they are only following their nature of marketing—but your nature has never been to be inundated with information to the point you miss out of nature all around you.

South Korea has the highest rate of internet addiction in the world. The country’s solution is to set up boot camps to offer “digital detox.” The premise is that at the root of internet addiction is the problem of making too many friends and relationships online, and being dragged down by the gravity of continual “checking in and checking out.” Creating “real” associations inevitable urges people to venture out into the world and away from their devices.

I like this quote by Leary that also exemplifies our hyper-connected society:

We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.

It seems instead of nowhere we should take our minds outside and make a flesh and blood friend. Just be wary for those sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Video: Mobile vs Online Research (which one is best for you?)

We take a break from our regularly-scheduled weekly infographic to bring you a breaking video. Or more like a video that might make or break your market research in these evolving digital times. As I’ve mentioned before, online research has become the preferred method of analysis for the marketing industry. The rise of mobile technology offers yet one more dimension for market researchers.

Smartphones make up 67 % of the mobile market and 41% of  research suppliers already utilize mobile surveys. The future may not be exactly now, but it’s getting very now, so understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mobile surveys is imperative.

One of qSample’s specialties is mobile research. We’ve partnered with such companies as Microsoft to execute leading mobile research projects. Since that puts us ahead of the proverbial curve, we enjoy sharing our experiences and insights to assist others in market research.

As always, we hope this continues to assist you:

If you get a chance, please visit our YouTube Channel. Dr. Who, Bladerunner, The Matrix and Matthew McConaughey all endorse…okay, they sorta make an appearance. Regardless, the channel is ripe with data on all things market research and more.

 

Medical Tourism White Paper

 

Is Apple Going Through a Final Apocalypse?

Tim Cook watching Apple logo burn

The Apocalypse seems to have arrived early (if that makes sense). Recently, it sounded like the roar of 1000 angry lions hunting down a dentist in the wilderness.

Okay, what happened is that Apple’s stocks have recently drastically fallen and likely will continue to plummet, according to many experts. In a way, that is apocalyptical, beyond the mindboggling fact Apple has lost more than $115 billion in the stock market since April. As an article in Market Watch explained, Apple “has the largest market value in the world, a bigger drop might bring the broader market down with it.” Even now, the tech giant’s stock woes have basically dragged down the entire Dow Jones Industrial average!

That’s alarming, but not all that surprising when coming from the most profitable company in the history of all histories. Apple cannot afford to miss a dollar beat so sustain its behemoth growth. It has actually created its own gravity field because of its size, affecting the entire tech economy.

So what is going with Apple? Not too long ago, the Cupertino company possessed the Midas digital touch. As always, it’s not a simple question to answer, but some of it correlates to qSample’s own research.

Let’s see what is rotting in Apple.

 

What does Apple have to do with all the tea in China?

 

Little, as you will find out.

It’s no secret that China remains as the last bastion for a meaningful smartphone market. Everyone (especially China!) wants to flood its economy with their gadgets. As Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said:

I think China is a fantastic geography with an incredible, unprecedented level of opportunity there. And we’re going to be there.

Cook may be a day late and a dollar short in his plan. After all, a new study from Canalys claimed Apple’s iPhone has fallen to third place in the Chinese smartphone market (with Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and Huawei in first and second respectively).

Add to that the reality that the Chinese economy is slowing down drastically, it could mean that China might not be the solution to feed the beast that is a suddenly-starved Apple.

 

We got Windows 10, where is the iPhone 7?

 

It’s also no secret that here in the West, the smartphone market is saturated. The iPhone is still king and queen of smartphones, but it just doesn’t have the elbow room with so many other players.

Instead of continuing its radical innovation and marketing, Apple decided to release the iPhone6s series instead of an iPhone 7 at the end of the year. In the same interview mentioned, Cook explained that during his company’s last quarterly earnings report just 27% of the iPhone installed base has upgraded to the latest generation iPhone 6 series. “We view that as a very bullish sign on the future, and there’s a lot of headroom left for upgraders,” Cook said.

Well, Tim my boy, the market ain’t buying it. It’s assuming that the iPhone6s will have a moderate welcome from the public. Expectations are more valuable than present profits when it comes to the stock market and its investors. Perception is reality, and right now it’s not good for Apple—even if Cook suddenly declares that the Iphone6s will come with its own coffee maker.

 

Did the Apple Watch vanish to the same parallel dimension as Google Glass?

 
It seems the Apple Watch exploded on the scene early this year, but exited stage left with a whimper.

As with the iPhone6s, perception is becoming reality when it comes to the Apple Watch, yet it seems no one on Wall Street really knows the reality. As the article in Market Watch explained:

Apple didn’t segregate Watch sales as a separate line item in its latest earnings report, so analysts can only guess how it’s really selling.

TechRadar proposes that sales cannot be hidden, and the Apple Watch is flopping:

Using e-receipts from 2.5 million online shoppers in the US, the analytics company Slice Intelligence has tweeted a graph estimating that the number of Apple Watch sales has plummeted to under 5,000 units per day. A stark comparison from the 30,000 to 35,000 units per day the company was pushing in the weeks after its launch.

qSample’s own study revealed that only 41% of respondents were interested in Apple Watch when it was released earlier this year. 39% claimed that wearable technology just wasn’t that interesting. Furthermore, 26% stated the new smartwatch was just too pricey (18% held a “see and wait” attitude for the gadget, but that will never happen unless it materializes back on earth, or at least in the press).

In an article for Quirks, we granted several reasons for the tepid reception of the Apple Watch, apparent now by Apple’s stocks slide and moribund sales:

The price: The Apple Watch ranges from $350 to $17,000 to purchase. Our study revealed that 50% of respondents would not pay more than the baseline price of $350, while only 13% said cost was not an issue.

Apple is not a pioneer this time: Smartwatches have already settled in the marketplace, mainly as a niche/supplementary product. The first smartwatch ever sold was the IBM WatchPad in 2001. Apple is not in its customary role as a torchbearer, as with personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Apple isn’t leader of the tech hill anymore: According to a study, Samsung beat Apple in customer loyalty—although Apple still has the edge when it comes to customer service. Apple spent decades and vast amounts of energy perfecting its image. Today its competitors work just as hard at branding. And don’t forget that Cook is still struggling to have Apple branded in China!

 

Conclusion

 

Not all is stagnant for Apple, though. Its new streaming music service is booming with subscribers and its iTunes store is breaking records.

That’s just not enough.

It looks like Apple’s position at the top of the tech business chain could be in peril. The Apple Watch, music services, and iPhone6s won’t keep it on the throne this year, at least in investor and public perception. Neither will a faltering China market.

Nobody is king of the hill forever, although if I were a betting man I would never go against Apple. Let’s not forget that Apple is the kind of remarkable company that has faced many end time scenarios before, and basically rewrote the very fabric of the tech cosmos. It has made fools of many digital doomsday prophets.

Apple knows better than any business entity how to reshape both perception and reality in a way that grants consumers something akin to a religious experience. It just won’t happen in 2015.

 

Study reveals consumer resistance to Apple Watch

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the BlackBerry

Iron Man with BlackBerry head fighting rising iPhones

One of my fascinations has always been how seemingly “too big to fail” companies actually fail. I’m not referring to collateral damage caused some bursting bubble as happened to so many tech companies at the turn of the century. It’s more of the rapid and (almost) unexpected plunge that occurred with such companies as Myspace, Groupon or Viddy—all once entrenched in the very psyche of popular culture but quickly left behind by the public as nothing more than mammoth fossils (and still making some money, mind you).

Research in Motion (RIM, but now BlackBerry Limited), the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry, is such an example, as equally poignant and absorbing as the rest of the mammoth fossils. Yet its tragic tale might be more intriguing because there might be a resurrection from the tech graves into something close to its former glory.

It’s a captivating narrative in a society that loves comebacks and second chances as much as giddy schadenfreude.

 

rise of blackberrry2

Once upon a time, not even a decade ago, BlackBerry was the prime smartphone in the market. The phone was a well-built gadget known for its patented visible keyboard, with the ability to peer-to-peer message, fax and email. The device seemed to appear in the hands of seemingly every CEO and world leader; and that was part of RIM’s marketing: making influencers support its product. President Obama famously refused to give his BlackBerry up when he took office. At one point, RIM was valued at $55 billion. In 2007, it was the most valuable company on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

In those days, RIM was rapidly expanding beyond the business sector, as an article TechRadar explained:

Initially popular with the business community, by 2006 RIM was attracting major mass market attention. The 7100 “Charm” series marked a new focus on consumers and more features followed in the “Electron” and “Pearl” releases, including cameras, navigation, and chat features.

The sky was the limit for the “CrackBerry” (as it was dubbed). What could possibly go wrong?

Apple was what went wrong.

 

fall of the blackberry2

The release of the iPhone in 2007 was a watershed moment for mobile devices, and it quickly drowned the BlackBerry. It’s almost that simple. Since 2011, RIM has laid off 10,000 employees, more than half of its workforce. These days it only occupies three percent of the smartphone market.

What happened? Was Apple (and later Samsung and Google) that good? Was the public that fickle?

The answers have to do with, as always, faulty market research.

It’s all detailed in Losing the Signal, written by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. This new book explains several of the missteps the brass at RIM committed when the iPhone came into existence. Some of these erroneous assumptions included:

That phone providers like AT&T would not be able to handle the network power the iPhone demanded.
Consumers would eventually reject the iPhone because of its rapid battery drain.
The iPhone would only resonate with those interested in YouTube, social media, and shallow web browsing—not true professionals.
  Blackberry offered better security and a more stable network.

Consumers shrugged these issues off. In the first three months of its release, a million iPhones were sold. Put simply, Apple understood that the Internet Age was shifting to a more epicurean state. Consumers were ready for style over functionality. Look-conscious millennials—tech savvy and vociferous over social media—carried as much influence as drab businesspeople. It was just time for the World Wide Web and all of its fruits to start looking good.

Thus, the public embraced the iPhone and later smartphones for really the reason one RIM executive admitted: “Beauty matters.”

In all fairness, RIM wasn’t the only who underestimated the iPhone. Nokia, Palm and other mobile phone giants dismissed Apple’s foray into mobile technology.

RIM (at the time the world’s largest smartphone maker) attempted to counter the iPhone with its own version of beauty. It resurrected an old prototype called Storm. Like the iPhone, Storm featured a glass screen. Unlike Apple’s phone, its screen was movable. Users could activate the phone’s digital keyboard by pressing the screen down, replicating the click and tactile pleasure that made BlackBerry’s physical keyboard so well-liked.

But RIM rushed the product, and that proved to be another terrible mistake. Storm wasn’t ready, but RIM was under tremendous pressure to answer Apple. The new smartphone was released late in 2008, with strong sales at first, but with so many flaws it flat-lined soon after. Adding insult to injury, RIM’s hallowed reputation of quality products took a hit, which later affected many of its other releases.

As one article explained:

The Storm was a watershed moment, not only hurting RIM financially but wrecking public opinion and its partnership with Verizon. The company then had no idea of which path it needed to take. “We’re grappling with who we are because we can’t be who we used to be anymore, which sucked…It’s not clear what the hell to do,” said one of the company’s former CEOs, Jim Balsille.

Apple owned the image of producing superior products (which it didn’t in the early days of the iPhone) and controlled the narrative of “style over functionality.”

That should have been the end of the BlackBerry, and the fossilizing of RIM.

But the story doesn’t end there.

 

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RIM (now called BlackBerry Limited) went back to basics, just last year, to what worked for it in the beginning, and improved on it. As an article in Advertising Age explained:

The campaign, “Work Wide,” launched in September and cast BlackBerry as a serious business tool, offering security, mobility, and connectivity through the internet of things. In one video, which showed consumers using handheld devices to play games, competitive smartphones were portrayed as toys, not serious business tools. In the first week of the launch, BlackBerry sold over 200,000 Passport devices.

In an era of rising hacking and security threats, it seems consumers are ready to return to functionality. BlackBerry has capitalized on this for added success. As one analyst joked about the resurged popularity of BlackBerry smartphones: “Snowden takes over for Alicia Keys.”

In addition, BlackBerry is willing to make sensible risks, for there are hints it may adopt an Android platform on its new devices.

From losing $1.2 Billion a quarter, BlackBerry is now officially profitable. This doesn’t mean the company will ever truly play with Apple or the other smartphone giants, or even return to its former glory. Nevertheless, it is on the right track, unlike the other companies mentioned at the beginning of the article.

Besides, it should be mentioned that not too many years before the release of the first iPhone, many experts contended that Apple was already a mammoth fossil. The rest is a history of beauty.

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Will General Contractors Ever Embrace Smartphones for Shopping?

A recent qSample study uncovered the intimate shopping habits of general contractors, including their usage of smartphones while in-store for purchases. This is a vital area to study for marketing, as it is no secret that consumers now use mobile devices more than PCs when it comes to online retail…and they are very engaged online while inside stores.

Yet to better understand general contractor in-store shopping behaviors with smartphones it is insightful to compare them to general shoppers with smartphones.

The general shopper statistics were gleaned from a 2013 Google study: Mobile In-Store Research: How in-store shoppers are using mobile devices.

Here is some of the eye-catching breakdown:

– 84% of general shoppers use their smartphones in-store to assist purchasing.
– 66% of general contractors use their smartphones in-store to assist purchasing.

– 53% of general shoppers use smartphones to compare prices elsewhere while in-store.
– 17% general contractors use smart phones to compare prices elsewhere while in-store.

– 19% of general shoppers have used a QR Code in-store.
– 10% of general contractors have used a QR Code in-store.

This brief comparison reveals evident differences of in-store smartphone usage between general contractors and general shoppers. Why do general contractors rely less on smartphones, one would ask?

Here are two initial possibilities:

– General contractors shop 61% of the time at the big four stores (Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware). With such cemented shopping habits, the idea of seeking other deals will be more limited than general shoppers.

– General contractors, in general, spend less time working behind a desk with a screen in the conventional office environment—as they are clearly in a more labor-intense industry. Thus, technology in more a universal sense has not translated to general contractors.

More research needs to be conducted, naturally, but market forces are certainly not ignoring general contractors in their use of mobile technology (as seen by the many contractor and builder apps available).

There are possible solutions to increase general contractor engagement with their smartphones while in-store—with the insights of the Google study:

– 64% of general shoppers in-store still use search engines to find product information. According to a study by Symantec, 71% of businesses employ mobile apps (although almost half of the respondents find it “extremely challenging”). This means there is a disconnect between consumers and business mobile apps; and therefore there is opportunity for companies that invest well in creating attractive yet useful online apps.

– Consumers are more educated than ever because of technology. This means they expect more out of a store while visiting. Beyond friendly service, they want informed, customized experiences that include exclusive in-store deals; personalized recommendations/choices while shopping (personal or online); and knowledgeable employees to engage with.

The above is certainly germane to businesses of any size or market share vying for general contractor dollars via smartphone avenues. After all, the average cost of a business app is a sensible $6,453. Furthermore and regardless of the consumer sector, the Google study stresses one key, universal rule when it comes to satisfying smartphone users: make buying a complete and involving experiencing the entire process.

In a way and good news for the future, customer service has not changed, except that information is always at the shopper’s grasp. Therefore, it is essential for marketers to continue gaining and giving data to general contractors—especially with a vastly improving housing and building economy.

Contractor VS General Shopping