August 11, 2011

Re Mobile: What have I learned from the web?

In my previous blog post on "Has the mobile created a gap in your product offering?" I started exploring a model on how to rethink the experience of my product line given the mobile wave hitting us now.  In this post I want to look back on what my overall big lesson was from the web days. I want to see if I can use it to understand how I can move my mobile strategy forward. 


What Did I Learn from the Web

Looking back, when the web came about it made people realize who needs a store anymore; an e-commerce setup and voila, no inventory required, brick and mortar is dead. Amazon played that card very well. Another angle was Google: with the web, TV was no longer the only advertising in town. 

More importantly, the things we talk less of, are all the Small Medium size businesses out there now making use of the web or where the web is central to their success. Many businesses went from mail order to web commerce. Others went to the web to make the experience of doing business with them more convenient by automating processes e.g. quote process, order status, appointment taking or appointment confirmation. There are millions of great example that we don't know of or we just don't see anymore. I think this builds up to several more googles and amazons; they are the forgotten millions. It allowed for the delivery of new services that didn't exist before when there was only TV or the corner bookstore.
The web is a platform with a unique experience:  to reach and sell to customers, as well  optimize business activities. 
I believe the mobile wave we are going through right now and for the foreseeable future is exactly the same thing but different! Seriously. It's similar because I believe mobile will impact both the top line and the bottom line. It's different because the web is anonymous and the mobile is more personalized; from global to local.

Things Mobile is Good At

Both the web and the mobile are great at gathering data about me. Mobile though has a lot more context around what I'm doing. No matter what I experience in the day to day, since I have my mobile with me the experience can be enriched in some way. My phone can see, hear, talk, and knows about its geo spatial position as well as equilibrium. For the web, mobile is to the web what my senses are to my brain.  The mobile on its own also has brain and it can leverage the central brain to help the local experience.

So below are two fun examples of brand extensions taking advantage of the local context concept. They are astute and useful. They are truly outside of the comfort zone of the product and brand they represent and yet very close. I think they are great indicators of how wide we have to cast the net when looking into world of possibilities for what mobile can do for a given product line.

The World of Possibilities


This is offline product Tide making its way onto my mobile. It's an example of making use of the fact that I always have my mobile with me. When I stain my shirt at a dinner or on the road, I want to know how to clean it up quick. The people at Procter & Gamble have masterfully cornered their brand in a place where I will not immediately use their product when trying to remove the stain at the restaurant. However, it will very likely influence my decision to buy Tide next time I need detergent. 

In the whole strategy I think this is an Attractive Quality and one that makes me talk about Tide. It values the whole experience I have with the product itself. The fact that I use tide when I do the laundry doesn't mean it's the only time I think about cleaning my clothes and Procter & Gamble nailed that one.


This is an application to help me select my colors. It's another example of making use of the fact that I always have my mobile with me. When I have painting on my brain, as in this wall in my living room must change color, I start looking at colors that I find would be a nice replacement. With this app I can now take a picture of a wall I find nice and the app will give me the exact code and name of that color. Benjamin Moore has a more powerful application, one from which you can snap photos to get color codes and also manage projects for designers etc. Of course they both show you the nearest store from where you are.

In the strategy with the concept that mobiles are going to be everywhere, this is to me again an attractive attribute. From the Benjamin Moore standpoint though, where one can do small project management of house project design, the color identification becomes a one dimensional attribute. 

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