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Yelp’s hidden feature on mobile app

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The thing that I am gonna talk about might not be new for someone. Actually, it has launched for a while. But, I just knew it and would like to share with some people who don’t know yet as well.

As we all know that Yelp is a popular Website for local search. We probably used it more or less to look for local restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, and so forth. The Yelp mobile application even further provides services, such as nearby stores with sales and special offers for consumers based on locations.

What makes Yelp mobile application so special is its hidden augmented-reality feature, Monocle. It allows users to show where they are through the camera. Then, users can see an overlay of local business information and customers reviews on the nearby places. It offers both location-based and real-time information for consumers.  Also, it certainly provides better user experience. To activate this feature, it has some secrets. After downloading the application, users need to log in, select the Nearby page, and shack the iPhone around three times. The Monocle button would then show up on the top right corner of the screen. But, note: it only works on iPhone 3G S.

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Mobile marketing in Japan

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

As researching on mobile engagement for the book project, I asked my friend living in Japan about Japan’s mobile marketing development. I would like to share our conversation about the mature development and various applications of mobile marketing in Japan.

Japanese cell phones have different operating systems from all other countries in the world. Accessing the Internet is the essential function of every mobile phone. Each mobile phone has its own email address. Unlike text messages, email can carry as many words and images as users want. So, most Japanese people send email rather than text messages through their mobile phones. And, one thing that I admire most is permit-based mobile marketing. Their mobile phones have the system which could filter spam. It’s even illegal to send advertising message/email without users’ permits. Thus, people don’t usually receive spam. The fact that users wouldn’t be bothered by spam enhances user experiences.

Since every Japanese people can connect to the Internet through their mobile phones, companies build their own mobile Websites to reach consumers. For the majority of products, consumers can scan QR barcode by their mobile phone to get further information about the product. Consumers can even link to the Websites of products and place orders. For restaurants or stores, consumers can go to the Websites to type promotion codes to get coupons. With GPS built in, mobile phones read 2D barcodes and would automatically link to navigation. Consumers would know how to go to the restaurants or stores without looking up the addresses. For movie theaters or trains, consumers can also go to the mobile Website to book tickets in advance.

Just like iPhone, lots of applications are created for Japanese mobile phone. Users can download all kinds of applications, such as local search for restaurants. For example, McDonald’s in Japan has its app, which can find a nearby store for consumers. Consumers can also download coupons on their mobile phone and show it in the stores. These applications enable the communication between companies and consumers more effective.

Besides, Japanese people can do almost everything in their daily life through mobile phones. The mobile phones could be PDA, checking out weather and subway/train schedules. The mobile phones could be “electronic money” (like credit card) for users to pay in the convenience stores and vending machines. The mobile phones could even be subway/train tickets (just like Charlie Card in Boston.) Users can add value and tap the machine to enter subway/train stations. Mobile engagement did create a lot of convenience for people.

Except Japan and South Korea, mobile marketing is relatively new to other countries. With different culture, mobile marketing in the US might have some limits for its development. Especially, American people don’t rely on mobile phones so much, I am looking forward to seeing what other factors would accelerate mobile marketing development in the US.

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