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Monday, September 27, 2010

Smartphone GPS Apps & The Customer Experience

CoPilot Live, Smartphone GPS Apps & The Customer Experience
My friend Devon Valenti and I were discussing the benefits of smartphone GPS applications.  She has a special interest in them as she is marketing manager for ALK Technologies which manufactures CoPilot Live, a smartphone GPS navigation application; I have a vested interest in her success since she is my client.  We both share an intense love of maps and getting places on time, and -as you know- I'm fascinated with the customer experience.

Smartphones - because of applications - represent intriguing devices. We've only just begun to see how they will change how we do business, experience retail, resolve customer service issues, navigate through our environments and interact with others, among other things.

Although the latest news reports that Android devices are picking up steam per a recent Comscore report, the iPhone has so far captured the imagination of many users.  Call it Apple magic, intuitive design, a focus on simplifying the mobile experience... In any case, iPhones and iPads are in the news and the public's eye. Cool Infographics captures some user stats in Apple iPhone Statistics 2010 infographic video. Unfortunately, the data zooms by so fast, it's hard to capture it all to digest fully, but it's impressive in its scope. iPhone User Statistics from 2/27/10 extracts several cool charts from AdMob Mobile Metrics Jan 2010 which looks at both Android and iPhone/pad/touch usage. Android users skew male (78%) whereas the other devices have similar gender distribution, with just under half being female (see page 5).

Yes, men are slightly more mobile, but given women's affinity for networks and the ease of purchasing and installing iApps, I would be really surprised if the gender distribution didn't change further to favor women. Why? because the more relevant usefulness smartphone apps offer, the more women will adopt them to help simplify their lives, organize them, get them to places on time, entertain them, make shopping easier and help them connect with important constituents.

GPS devices are a great example of this evolution that we're in the midst of.

Traditionally, GPS devices have been guy toys.  Cool, useful, not necessarily intuitive, expensive... I first remember seeing them used by certain maverick drivers from the car service I used to get to the airport. Then car rental companies started offering them as add-ons.  I’ve also noticed them “in-dash” – i.e., integrated into specific car dashboards. Lately, they've become much more mainstream and I routinely notice city taxi drivers using them.

With GPS functionality being merged with smartphones - and iPhones in particular via apps - I believe that GPS navigation is about to become a woman's best friend and most-critical-app to have readily available.

CoPilot Lives ActiveTrafficOnce GPS mobile navigation becomes fully embraced, I foresee new opportunities for retailers to connect with potential customers via those mobile devices - within the GPS nav apps or via the networks users use to communication and/or update others of their whereabouts... [Hint: think Foursquare mashed with other functionality. Or even combined with QR codes.]

Comments? Reactions?

Do you use a GPS? Is it a standalone model or is it on a smartphone? How has it been most useful to you?

If you don't yet use a GPS, yet have a smartphone [Android, iPhone or Windows Mobile] and you're intrigued with a smartphone GPS App, consider trying CoPilot Live.  The voice-guided turn-by-turn directions [in a multitude of personas - my favorite is Emma from England] are so cool - especially when you realize that your mobile device can now provide you with the same level of sophisticated GPS technology formally only available via in-dash car systems or standalone (expensive) GPS units.  So, if you're on the run or on the road and you have your phone, you always have your GPS system with you. No more getting lost, getting stuck in unsafe places, being dependent on direction-challenged friends or not making it to critical appointments...

[If you're curious to know more about CoPilot Live, definitely visit Devon's CoPilot Live North America blog where you can also learn about CoPilot's latest GPS enhancement: ActiveTraffic.]

And, then, let me know what you think about smartphone apps, GPS and how you think they will affect the customer experience.


Nick Stamoulis said...

I do use GPS, and actually returned my stand alone device because my droid's gps application works great!

CB Whittemore said...

Nick, I love hearing about someone else who appreciates the smartphone version of the gps... What a great story returning your standalone!

Thanks for sharing.


Lighting Wizard Tips said...

Timely article with the flood of iPhone and Android devices hitting the market.

Shopping is work for most people and most shoppers are women. Part of shopping for women is social, hanging with the girls is something that guys will never get. And part of shopping is supplies and basics, something else that some guys get but most prefer to avoid thinking about.

Anything that can reduce the time spent on the supplies and basics shopping is a gift from heaven. The ability to get product reviews, price comparisons, ask the electronic community for suggestions, check manufacturers sites, and order for delivery or pickup is wonderful and positive. This is the updated and smarter version of calling Mr. Perkins at the corner store with the weeks shopping list.

The social aspect is also enhanced and enriched with some judicious application use. Time with the girls is important to women in ways that guys do not share with each other (I think of the blunt medical talks the women in my family have and I cannot imagine the average guys talking about cancer or survival rates or how to comfort the sick).

Safety is also enhanced with GPS, phone and internet in one device, a big issue with most of us and a really big issue for the frail and (often) elderly.

These devices are tools. Humans are great at inventing and using tools to make life easier and more productive.

These tools can also be time wasters. Electronic devices can distract us from the world but that is true of many things in our life (crossword puzzles anyone?)

Smart retailers need to be looking at any tools that can make shopping easier, more enjoyable, and (incidentally) more profitable.

This would be a good subject for an infographic, something Mint has been doing a great job of.

thanks for the research and excellent writing, Arthur

CB Whittemore said...


Thank you for sharing your wisdom once again. I love how you break down shopping into work vs. social and further put it into perspective with time. In fact, you just made me think about 'bending time'. These tools manage to make painful time go by faster and turn it into something positive.

Definitely a topic for a Mint infographic.

Again, thank you!


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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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