The haystack is getting bigger

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Needle in a haystack.

That’s all I kept thinking this week as I read through the Cisco forecast for mobile traffic. Why aren’t we all network programmers? Job security for at least the next decade! The numbers are mindboggling, but in some ways, the challenges are exactly the same as now: How do those of us on the other side of the bandwidth find the needle in the haystack – i.e. the audience for whatever we are trying to sell or provide on the Internet? Which of course, gets us back to analytics or perhaps more succinctly, the ability to use metadata to find and track your potential/returning audience.

In that vein, QR codes are almost a quaint notion of how to do it: Convince a potential customer to take the time to scan a code. But I still find QR codes flawed. Designed to be more convenient, it actually can be more time consuming than just typing in a web address. And personally, after using QR codes a few times and being disappointed by how unremarkable the “get” was, I find I barely utilize them at all anymore. I was ready to write them off until I saw this column from the Tampa Bay Times showing how a retail outlet is using them in a way that makes more sense. For now it seems like the technology being offered by Apsalar and other developers seems much more likely to help find that needle in the haystack.

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Just as a point of reference, QR codes were an improvement over a reader-engagement model the Dallas Morning News tried back in 2000 when tying Internet content to the morning paper was a lot more nouveau. But the CueCat (a barcode reader) never took off, in part because technology eclipsed it and as the Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg noted, “In order to scan in codes from magazines and newspapers, you have to be reading them in front of your PC. That’s unnatural and ridiculous.” QR codes may have fixed the mobility issue of the CueCat but it still hasn’t delivered.  I think the local Bluetooth technology Richard highlighted in his blog post is the likely next generation “CueCat” solution.

1)   What’s the mobile device-to-person ratio in your home? Do you see that growing by 2017? Why? (Personal disclosure: We have five- mobile-equipped devices in our house between two adults and a child — two smartphones, two laptops, one tablet. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we acquire at least one more device for my daughter, age 6, which would take our ratio from 5:3 to 6:3 – no wonder there will soon be more mobile devices than people).

2)   What is your favorite function of your mobile device? (For me, it’s online banking, for example – huge timesaver) And do you see a niche for a product you want on your mobile device that isn’t being fulfilled?

3)   Would you consider employing a local Bluetooth-type technology for your own home? Would you like lights to come on when you approach your house? The oven to start cooking dinner, etc?

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13 thoughts on “The haystack is getting bigger

  1. That’s a really fascinating article you linked to about how that clothing shop utilizes QR codes to help people pick their perfect size/color of clothing! I still wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to have a touch screen in the room or have a mounted iPad available to help choose an alternate fit/color.

    1. Here at my ( and my brother’s ) place, we have 5 mobile devices and just the two of us; we each have a cell phone and each have a laptop…and I have an iPad. So a ratio of devices to people would be 5:2.

    2. My favorite thing is that I can manage my email from my phone…being able to read email and organize it…it’s incredibly helpful being able to do it from my phone instead of having to find a computer.

    3. Joni, this question reminded me of an article I’d read earlier this year and I should have totally talked about it with this weeks assignment! It was really interesting how you could program every room in your house and make it do things just by walking into the room with your phone. Check it out –> http://lifehacker.com/how-to-automate-your-phone-for-every-room-in-the-house-473409963 I haven’t done it, but it sounds totally awesome and eventually would love to have a house that you could program to adjust to you.

    • That lifehacker technology is fascinating. Sounds like some work on the front end, but must say I could see some people far more organized than me getting into it and I suspect it’s only a matter of time before it’s a lot less complicated to set up and we’re all buying refrigerators or appliances with the tags imbedded.

  2. Your first question made me chuckle as I counted the mobile device-to-person ratio in your home. I have 3 laptops just for my own personal use (I don’t know how I acquired so many, but I love computers and technology) on top of my smartphone, which is a 4:1 ratio. But counting everyone in my household – my mom has a laptop, iPad and cellphone and my dad has a laptop and smartphone. This makes our ratio 9:3. When I read the statistic that there may be more mobile devices than people my thought was, “Wow, that’s crazy. How could that be?” Calculating my mobile device-to-person ratio is an excellent example of how this could be true. I have no real need for all of these devices, but I use each one differently. My favorite thing about my smartphone is the ability to stay connected though. We talked about digital ethnography and connection without constraint (being able to connect with anyone at anytime from anywhere – and the ability to turn that off), and I love that about my phone. I can call/text a family member, Facebook a friend, email my boss, or tweet to all my Twitter followers. My reach with my smartphone is endless.

    • You are right about ease of connections. I really regret I didn’t get a smart phone earlier in my daughter’s life so that sharing photos was easier (not to mention keeping them better organized/backed up with iPhone photostream). Now sitting down at the computer and digging up an old video file seems so cumbersome…

  3. 1) 6:3 I have two roommates, we each have a laptop and a smartphone. 8:3 if you count two laptops no one uses. And we each have work-laptops that we bring home from time to time.
    I see that growing by 2017 because it’s likely we could acquire new devices like tablets or work cell phones.

    2) My favorite function on my mobile device is probably the music player. (Spotify, Soundcloud, etc.) But I keep music saved in my iTunes because a lot of the time streaming has problems. I find this kinda ironic since you don’t need any sort of connection to listen to music already saved on the device.

    3) The idea of the Bluetooth technology is interesting, however, the idea seems a little too sci-fi for me. Like with any technology, there are a lot of malfunctions and development kinks even after complete launch. If I couldn’t have my basic home essentials conveniently how I wanted them because of some new bug or error, especially when I know that it’s unnecessary, I would lose it. Maybe I will change my mind over time, but who knows.

    • I”m with you on being averse to the complexity. In general I’m a late adapter on most technologies just because I want to see if its’ really worth the dollars and effort to readapt. Didn’t get an iPhone until just earlier this year, for example (but had had a Blackberry old school style with keyboard and web browser that was slower than molasses).

  4. Interesting questions this week.

    1) Our ratio is 6:2. I have a laptop, an iPhone and iPad. My roommate as a laptop, an Android and tablet.

    2) I love taking pictures. So, I was very excited to upgrade to an iPhone a couple years ago. Most of my family and friends live outside of Florida so it is a great way for me to share my world with them. Music would be 2nd.

    3) My family and I were actually taking about locking your front door via a phone app. Personally, I am not there, yet. But never say never. There will come a time when the Joneses will become the Jetsons.

  5. The current mobile device-to-person ratio in my home is also 5:3. That includes two smartphones, two laptops and one iTouch. It’s also very likely that ratio will increase this holiday season. Yes, the whole more mobile devices than humans statistic makes perfect sense now. ☺

    My favorite mobile device functions include checking email and Facebook, texting and taking pictures. There seems to be an app for everything now a days, so I haven’t encountered a need that hasn’t been met as of yet.

    I agree with Kim on the Bluetooth technology. I would wait for the bugs to get worked out before I considered implementing it at my home. There is also the concern of misplacing your phone or having it stolen and someone gaining access to your house.

  6. 1) What’s the mobile device-to-person ratio in your home? Do you see that growing by 2017? Why? (Personal disclosure: We have five- mobile-equipped devices in our house between two adults and a child — two smartphones, two laptops, one tablet. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we acquire at least one more device for my daughter, age 6, which would take our ratio from 5:3 to 6:3 – no wonder there will soon be more mobile devices than people).

    2) What is your favorite function of your mobile device? (For me, it’s online banking, for example – huge timesaver) And do you see a niche for a product you want on your mobile device that isn’t being fulfilled?

    3) Would you consider employing a local Bluetooth-type technology for your own home? Would you like lights to come on when you approach your house? The oven to start cooking dinner, etc?

    This is a great question: I’m embarrassed to say the ratio in my house is 8:2. It’s crazy. There are two people in my house and we have two smartphones, three tablets, and three laptops. We have a backup laptop that I had before my wife got one for work, but it’s still a ridiculous number. (Anyone want to buy a MacBook!? Sort of kidding.) We also have two iPads and one Google Nexus 7. We’re in a weird interim period replacing one of the iPads. I’m almost tempted to take a picture of all of them together. It’s absurd.

    I LOVE online banking. I don’t know why banks have made it this way, but it’s actually quicker for me to use my bank app than it is for me to go online. Plus, I can deposit checks from my phone. That app just sadly replace my use for a bank teller.

    I’d love to set up software that would lower the thermostat in my house when I got home and turned on the lights if it were dark outside. It’s definitely not essential, but it would make it enjoyable to come home. Sort of like having a personal assistant.

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