Androids, Androids everywhere and not a purchase made

It’s perplexing. While the Android platform has significantly more devices in consumers’ hands (roughly 68% of the global smartphone market vs. 17% for iOS), Apple has more engagement. During the shopping weekend of the year (Black Friday through Cyber Monday), they had significantly more; they dominated holiday shopping (Android had 23% mobile traffic vs. Apple at 77%). With the increasingly important role that mobile is playing in brand strategies, this is a perplexing user-experience question. Why do Apple users engage so much more than Android users? The question is only just coming to light; it will be interesting to see what insights come from exploring this conundrum.

What is clear right now is that understanding what is going on here will not be simple nor easy. It’s not just a matter of having lots of users new to the smartphone experience and not familiar or comfortable with mobile commerce. Android has blanketed the market with both high- and low-end devices targeting both the first-time smartphone owner and the tech savvy consumer. With more than 25 Billion app downloads, all those credit card numbers are on file and waiting to be used.

Look at Samsung’s direct push against Apple with their Galaxy S3 targeting a very valuable demographic (mid-20s, tech-savvy, and employed). The smartphone demographic will be changing in the future, but not now (check out the chart from Business Insider below). In the future, demographics are going to shift older and poorer as the younger, affluent crowd is already on smartphones.

The web is littered with reviews pitting the latest and greatest devices from Apple and Android. There is not consensus nor a clear winner any more (in online reviews at least), so it’s not just a device feature and functionality problem. There look to be several factors working here, tablets and payment infrastructure.

First, Apple has completely overwhelmed Android in the tablet space. In Asymco’s analysis (link below), the iPad + iPhone had 4x the online shopping traffic as just Android phones while Android tablets didn’t even register. Second-screen shopping is only just coming into its own as an e-commerce channel and that definitely is a factor.

A second factor is the ease with which people can purchase on mobile phones (see any eBay ad recently). To the degree purchases are made in-app, Apple has made this process almost too smooth and easy.  Compare that to the fractured payment infrastructure that Android must support (Does Google, PayPal, the carrier or some other third-party handle billing?) and it’s obvious that anything more than a click to buy in a mobile app becomes a major barrier to purchase.

These two factors together mean that it’s not necessarily a problem for CPG brands to solve. It is something that needs to be understood and accounted for as part of the entire consumer interaction experience with the brand. One thing that is missing from the reports is how many missed opportunities there were because brands and retailers weren’t ready to support this new style of interaction.  The environment in which brands operate is in a state of constant flux, now more than ever before (and less than it will be in the future). It’s not survival of the fittest; it’s survival of the most adaptable.

Beyond the obvious, such as creating a “good” iOS experience, what should marketers do? Here are three things that everyone should keep in mind:

  1. Mobile first is a great start, but to keep up with consumers, marketers must look at all the places that consumers will interact with the brand. Does the brand have communication channels setup to actually converse (not just talk at) consumers? Is there an actual value exchange happening there?
  2. Tablets are a strong and growing force in mobile commerce, does the brand support that experience? Sitting on the couch and buying stuff while watching TV is very different interaction than using checking prices on the phone in store or talking about a brand’s social post.
  3. Change is both omni-present and accelerating, is the brand setup to react well to the changes they know about? Once the brand can manage change well? Can it start to drive change?

The signs are clear, the landscape is in flux, and the only real question is how well the brand is setup to adapt to the new consumers; both reacting and helping to guide them in a direction that works for everyone.

Randall Noval


iOS devices dominate mobile device online shopping stats

Online shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy gifts for the holidays, according to IBM’s 2012 Holiday Benchmark Report, and those shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Apple’s iPad and iPhone to do so. Black Friday purchases via mobile devices accounted for nearly one quarter of all sales for the busy holiday shopping day, up from 14.3 percent in 2011 and 5.2 percent in 2010. And, according to further analysis by Asymco, 77 percent of all those mobile purchase originated from an iOS device.

“The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smart phone, reaching nearly 10 percent of [all] online shopping,” IBM noted in a press release. “This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android [at] 5.5 percent.”

Mobile Market Share Not Equivalent to Usage Share

The Android engagement paradox

Here’s The Next Group Of U.S. Smartphone Buyers – Chart

IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Black Friday Results 2012

Google Play hits 25 billion downloads

Android Users Versus iOS Users


Amazing Lego re-construction of Helm’s Deep

Amazing Lego re-construction of Helm’s Deep


Amazing to see how far some people can go with a concept. Getting to this level of incredible takes time and patience and lots of dedication. What are you dedicated to?

– Randall Noval

Endlessly Interesting

These are notes from when I co-hosted the first ever Bagels with Berky without Berky.

(You should keep doing what you’re doing because it’s where the amazing is.)

Get going.

and keep going.

and keep going.

and keep going.

and keep going.

How do I find and remember all this stuff?

  • Read EVERYTHING, including stuff that is really obscure. Lots and lots and lots of blogs. The niches are where the interesting things are because that’s where people have gone the furthest.
  • Be curious about everything, follow the reference links at the bottom of articles / blog posts to find out where they got stuff. You may find a whole new world!
  • Learn and use tools, but keep it simple. Once you find a technology that will help you be productive, spend the couple hours you need to really learn how to use it. Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Learn how the app behaves. You will be far more productive if you know how to wield your tools effectively.

Tools I use

  • Google Reader ( for managing blog feeds.
    • From your 983 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 25,078 items, clicked 232 items, starred 6 items, and emailed 0 items. Since January 26, 2012 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
  • Reeder ( on my computer and phone for “processing” them.
  • Pocket ( on my phone for easily capturing an article that I just want to read.
  • Evernote ( for capturing notes & articles and organizing thoughts.
    • I’ll spend an hour a week cleaning up, managing, updating, processing, etc. notes in Evernote.

Data Visualization

  • Can show patterns not readily visible through other means
    • One week of Twitter conversations: Network graphic reveals all the conversations between the people working at Twitter over a time period of one week.
    • What patterns did you see?
    • Sometimes it’s about what you don’t see (no significant clusters, evenly dispersed)
  • What’s coming: ViralSearch: Identifying and Visualizing Viral Content

360i Vendor DB

Quick and always available FPO Images

When creating LOTS of websites, it is often not nearly as seamless a handoff as the project plan would hope for. Often times developers need to use For Placement Only (FPO) images to complete the build before the actual creative assets are finalized and approved. These are images that are meant only to hold open a space in designs and be obvious about it.

A risk that developer run into is that if they are missing an image (say a picture of a product in an ecommerce store), they will often just re-use the same images so that something shows up. The risk here is that if the images are similar, it becomes very easy to overlook details and believe that the developer has all the assets they need when they are actually missing some.

FPOImg has a great solve for this. It allows developers to put in FPO images without actually needing the creative asset files. Just drop the URL in as the source, adjust the dimensions (WxH) and voila! An instant, custom sized FPO image. This makes much easier to spot missing creative assets during internal reviews while providing developers the assets the exact size they need.


As an example, you can even add custom text to the FPO image!×600?text=This_is_awesome

The only thing to note here is that this tool should only be used for content images and not for design element images. It’s great to have FPO products all over a catalog while they are still being shot. It is a bad idea to have FPO images for the UI design elements as those are usually structural in nature and changing those may have an impact on the code.

– Randall Noval

Facebook Private Messages are appearing on your Timeline!

Well, not quite. From the looks of it, the whole story is a bit more complicated and serves as a nice illustration of the short-term memory of consumers and how that plays with unvalidated assumptions. Be aware when you change user experiences that people will have made up reasons (that may or may not be true) to explain particular application behaviors. When an old assumption that was not correct is illuminated as such, and there is no pre-emptive information sharing about it, people will be confused and upset.

Update: Facebook Confirms No Private Messages Appearing On Timeline. They’re Old Wall Posts.

Facebook also says in no uncertain terms that there is absolutely no privacy bug. What people are seeing are old Wall postings, not private messages. A spokesperson told Constine:

“Every report we’ve seen, we’ve gone back and checked. We haven’t seen one report that’s been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]“

Facebook privacy scare illuminates the evolution of online conversation

Facebook users worldwide today are claiming that private messages sent in 2008 and 2009 are now publicly viewable on their Timeline profile pages. A news story about the issue was first posted by Metro France, and was afterward picked up by sites like The Next Web and TechCrunch.

Facebook said to The Verge:

“A small number of users raised concerns after what they mistakenly believed to be private messages appeared on their Timeline. Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users’ profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy.”

– Randall Noval

QR Codes in NYC

I recently saw two very interesting developments on the QR code front, both great uses of the technology. First, the Dept. of Buildings is adding QR codes to the permits to let people look up lots of additional information about that construction site. Second, the NYC Council just passed a bill to require restaurants to post QR codes to pull up info like their letter grades issued by the Dept. of Health.

QR Codes Unlocking Secrets of NYC Building Permits


… New Yorkers will be able to scan the QR code of any construction permit and instantly learn details about the ongoing project – including the approved scope of work, identities of the property owner and job applicant, other approved projects associated with the permit, the complaints and violations related to the location and user will have the ability to click a link that will initiate a phone call to 311 to make a complaint…

Includes a sample QR code that takes you here:

New York City Council passes bill to require restaurants to post ‘quick response’ codes so smartphone users can instantly pull up info about business

Sample QR Code URL:

New York is going to start putting QR codes on city permits

Starting next fall, the data from some city agencies can be accessed with QR codes posted on the permits. Here is what you would find if you scanned those tags:

Construction sites: Scanning a building permit QR code would give the details of the permit as well as any complaints and violations issued against the project.

Restaurants: In addition to the letter grade, the webpage would give the number of times the eatery has been inspected, all the details about past violations.

Day Care Centers: The Department of Health currently lists all the day care centers it certifies on its website. There, parents can find information on violations as well as inspections.

– Randall Noval

Real-time Facebook cover photo

From Zaraguza Digital, they automatically upload a snapshot from an office webcam every time a user visits their page. While automatically updating the FB Cover Photo is supported by the FB API, this may be an involved process to setup all the parts. It’s an interesting concept and though it’s not possible to animate the cover photo, having it automatically update or respond to external events could be interesting.

World’s First Real Time Facebook Cover Image

Zaraguza are claiming to have created the world’s first real time Facebook cover image, which updates at what looks like every minute or so, by posting a new image into a Facebook album which is sucked into the Cover image automatically, and is refreshed when new people hit the page or click the refresh button. Kinda cool, I suspect this will start trending. What do you think?

VIDEO – Real Time Facebook Cover – Zaraguza Digital – BIG

In Zaraguza Digital we experimented a bit. Namely with Facebook cover photo feature and a webcam. After a few tweaks, our regular Facebook cover became a real-time Facebook cover. Zaraguza live cover was launched on July 30th 2012.

NOTE: A cover is the large photo at the top of your timeline right above your profile picture. Facebook found out that people have a better experience viewing yout timeline when they see a cover that is as unique as you are. So now, you can see us, LIVE 🙂

– Randall Noval

Google’s new consumer survey tool

Brought to you by Google’s consumer marketing division. They’ve included a fair amount of data from the DNC speeches this week using rapid response surveys. You can download data, pull apart demographic info and explore a pretty slick user interface. Check it out!

Survey Data from the DNC:

Google Consumer Surveys:

How it works:

More Sample Surveys:

– Randall Noval

Wolfram Alpha analyzes your Facebook profile

Wolfram Alpha (your favorite online computing engine) has recently launched a analysis of your FB profile. It’s full of charts and graphs and word clouds and a friend network and lots more fun data munching.

Simply go to and type in “facebook report” to get yours. Here’s a sample of my friend network using clustering by mutual friends:


Wolfram Alpha launches Facebook personal analytics reports

Wolfram Alpha is continuing to expand into the data analytics space with a feature that will likely be more popular amongst regular users than its professional data analysis service: personal analytics reports based on Facebook. To try it, simply go to Wolfram Alpha’s website, type in “Facebook report,” and enable the Wolfram Alpha Facebook app. As you might expect, it needs plenty of permissions in order to analyze your Facebook activity and friends, but once you grant them, Wolfram Alpha kicks out a remarkably detailed report in very short order. Details on where you checked in, whether your friends are married or single, a cluster-map of your friend network, and information about your own Facebook usage are all presented with detailed graphs that you can easily share.

You might think of it as a data-lover’s version of Facebook’s own Timeline, broken down into as many as 60 different reports. It is a stunning reminder of just how much Facebook knows about you and your network, and also gives you a chance to dig into your personal analytics almost as much as Stephen Wolfram has dug into his.


And today I’m excited to announce that we’ve developed a first round of capabilities in Wolfram|Alpha to let anyone do personal analytics with Facebook data. Wolfram|Alpha knows about all kinds of knowledge domains; now it can know about you, and apply its powers of analysis to give you all sorts of personal analytics. And this is just the beginning; over the months to come, particularly as we see about how people use this, we’ll be adding more and more capabilities.

If you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll be prompted to authenticate the Wolfram Connection app in Facebook, and then sign in to Wolfram|Alpha (yes, it’s free). And as soon as you’ve done that, Wolfram|Alpha will immediately get to work generating a personal analytics report from the data it can get about you through Facebook.

– Randall Noval

W+K pushes the Vimeo platform

With the new W+K ad for Old Spice, you can now play with Terry Crews’ muscles and make some “Muscle Music”. This is a great example of what Vimeo can do with brands. They have a set of private APIs not available to the public.

Watch the video and then do what Terry says.

Old Spice Muscle Music

And this is already making the rounds:

Terry Crews Plays Music with His Muscles, Encourages Viewers to Do the Same for Old Spice

In what we’re being told is what’s a “first-of-its-kind embeddable interactive experience,”

From a purely technological standpoint, this could be a big step forward in integrating audience interaction into streaming video. Your move, YouTube.

This Is The Most Kickass Old Spice Ad Yet

But this, this is inspired.

– Randall

This Is Now

This is a great idea, showing the pulse of a city through Instagram photos. This is something that could be expanded to include other types of content, social networks, themes, etc. Throw in a couple of keywords to filter with and you could have a live stream of content around a particular topic happening at that time. (e.g. @coke, #happiness, NYC or @dentyne, #connection, San Francisco)

This is Now

This is Now project is a visual composition which uses real-time updates from the ever popular Instagram application based on users geo-tag locations. The tool streams photos instantly as soon as they are uploaded on Instagram and captures a city’s movement, in a fluid story.

– Randall Noval

Should mobile ads be different?

I think it kind of depends on your perspective. If mobile is just another distribution channel, then the ads can just be resized and you’re done. If it’s a completely different experience though, there are opportunities to tell a different story, one that directly engages the person viewing it, pulls them into the story by making them participate. That completely changes the story then, because it’s not about how you want to tell it, it’s about how they experience it.

Case in point, this innovative ad talking about violence in the workplace. I suggest watching the video below at full-screen, even though you’re not directly interacting with the ad, you’ll still feel a strong reaction (I know I did).

Violence Against Women Place Startling Ad in Vogue iPad App

Now this is how you get a message across! As part of international day against violence towards women in 2011, BFF: Women against Violence wanted to highlight the fact that one in every four women experience violence, a startling statistic on its own, but German agency Plan Net Global decided to take it a step further.

So in the editorial section of the fashion magazine Vogue, it inserted an ad to raise awareness of this fact and the way it does this has to be seen to be believed. Explaining what actually happens will only diminish the impact it has (and it’s also the reason why we had to use a boring screenshot), but you will definitely be startled when you see the ad in action. Not only it’s very effective way of playing with your emotions and getting a reaction, but it also makes brilliant use of the iPad’s capabilities.

The campaign was created by Plan Net Global, which is based in Hamburg, Germany.

UPDATE: It looks like the original video has been taken offline, here is another video that has the ad as part of a case study.

– Randall Noval

Improv Everywhere – The Mini-Golf Open

The MP3 Experiment is not only a lot of fun, but also a great way to see how things can come together in “organized chaos”.

I could imagine a number of ways that brands could participate in a way that enhances the experience without over-shadowing the event (e.g. A Dasani water filling station open to everyone as you get off the ferry, Canon sponsored video / photography of the event, etc.).

To that end, Improv Everywhere recently did a mission with mini-golf, ESPN and the Claret Jug (a big deal if you’re into golf!). Check out their video and behind the scenes below.

The Mini-Golf Open

Ever since our Best Game Ever mission, I’ve thought about doing a sequel with golf… Last summer Connor Arras emailed me with this exact idea and pointed out that a new mini-golf course had recently been opened in Lower Manhattan on the newly created Pier 25 (which was one of the starting points of The Mp3 Experiment Eight.)…

I had the idea on the back burner until I got an email from ESPN asking if I would want to do something with the historic Claret Jug from The Open Championship (often referred to as the British Open.) The jug was going to be in New York on a publicity tour in advance of the championship and ESPN wanted to offer it to me as a prop in a mission, giving me creative control to do with it whatever I wanted to. They loved the mini-golf idea, and agreed to produce the video with all of their awesome camera equipment, making the whole thing more epic in scale. This jug, by the way, is not a replica, but the actual jug made in 1928 that has been held by all of the Open champions since. It came with its own security guard.

– Randall Noval

Cinemagraphs continue to mature

This medium continues to mature. Meet the “Echograph”, a new iPad-only app targeting professional & “prosumers” who want to make cinemagraphs. I also like this a lot because it’s another step closer to using technology to tell a better story instead of just being a new medium.

Echograph App Lets Pros Make Art With Animated GIFs


If apps like Flixel are trying to be the Instagram of animated GIFs, Echograph is more like Photoshop Elements. It’s pitched as a creative tool, not a social network or a digital-hipster fad. That’s why it’s designed for the iPad, which can display higher-resolution imagery and offer users enough screen space to subtly finesse the details of their animated compositions.

Why not just a full-on desktop app like Photoshop?

“Two main ingredients would be missing from a desktop app,” says Alt. “The first is immediacy while working in the field. The ability to test an idea and have an opportunity to reshoot allows for built-in course correction to make a better Echograph while you’re in the moment. Second, the physical act of creating an Echograph is inherently tactile when using the iPad.

It’s $3.99 on iTunes.

– Randall Noval