Natalie Pyron | Product Marketing, Product Planning & UX in Seattle

Mobile Madness Northwest Recap

Category : Blog Dec 14th, 2012

Xconomy held it’s second Mobile Madness Northwest forum this week at Town Hall Seattle. There were about six main panels and three “burst” presentations that covered topics from m-commerce to messaging, advertising, analytics, and location-based technologies. My favorite highlight was the keynote by Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer who reviewed his predictions of the last ten years and shared his predictions for the next five. Here’s the full recap.

Keynote: Adam Cheyer

In 2004, Adam predicted the following Internet trends and innovations over the course of 10 years:

  1. All media becomes digital (Right on!)
  2. Structured: disconnected becomes semantically organized (Google’s Knowledge Graph is getting us closer)
  3. Unstructured: editors becomes collaborative (think blogs & wikis)
  4. Unstructured & structured data merge (evidence but no major programs yet)
  5. Social networks takes off (Right on!)
  6. Personalization becomes ubiquitous (growth in e-commerce & advertising, but privacy concerns still exist)
  7. Public & private information merge (Right on! Example: Amazon’s EC2 and Salesforce)
  8. Usable access is key (Right on!)
  9. Applications transformed (not quite)
  10. Intelligent learning software via machine learning (Right on!)

Looking ahead over the next five years, here’s what Adam sees:

  1. Speech recognition finally works
  2. Collaborative coding & in-app marketplaces
  3. Healthcare: intelligence breakthroughs
  4. Augmented reality goes mainstream…or won’t ever
  5. Dynamic knowledge repositories begin to form.  In other words, knowledge bases like Wikipedia are taken to the next level in which collective intelligence on a certain topic is organized to solve the world’s most urgent problems.


Investor-Entrepreneur Story: & Bing Fund

Breaking free of a big company is the hardest part, and the most exhilarating.
– David McLauchlan, CEO Buddy

While this discussion was focused on entrepreneurship, I was more interested in Buddy’s solutions. provides backend services for connected devices to enterprise customers (note: they do not support the average consumer app developer).  Their key selling point is they can help tell the full customer story beyond basic usage info.  Their example: We can tell you what your users are doing (chatting with a friend in London), where they’re doing it (from a Starbucks in Seattle), and what they’ve been doing (uploading a picture of a woman from Pike Place Market).  Buddy recently launched this fall, so I’ll be curious to see how it performs as mobile analytic solutions are still nascent.


Burst Presentation: Airbiquity

The Internet of Things: We’ve Only Scratched the Surface
– Leo McCloskey, Airbiquit

From “whole product model” to focusing on the entire customer experience, the key elements include:

  • Connectivity (of object)
  • Capture the data – what is the product really doing & how is the UX relative
  • Accumulation of data over time
  • Rationalization of the consumer


The Future of Messaging & Voice

  • SMS as a medium, regardless of channel, is here to stay forever
  • Push messaging will enable two-way conversations
  • Wireless IP will dominate
  • Multi-screen is a given
  • Near real-time services is the innovation opportunity


Investor-Entrepreneur Story: Haiku Deck & Madrona Venture Group

First, I fell in love with Haiku Deck as soon as I discovered the iPad app.  There’s finally a solution that provides everyone (not just graphic designers) with a simple way to make beautiful presentations.  While some users may be initially frustrated by the limited templates and space for text, I think it’s brilliant that they launched with these constraints.  After all, I’ve found that the best presenters communicate a single idea visually on-screen and tell the story behind the image through verbal narration, rather than cramming a bunch of text on a slide that the audience can’t read.  Checkout their Mobile Madness Sounds Bites presentation for a sample of Haiku Deck.

The product aside, the company behind Haiku Deck has a great story that rings true for many startups.  Giant Thinkwell actually began as a social gaming company.  Their game didn’t take off, so they decided to pivot and start from scratch. This led them to a new concept: re-imagining presentations.  The key takeaway: it’s okay to let go and start over.


Burst Presentation: Zumobi

This was the best five minute presentation I’ve ever seen.  John Sangiovanni discussed the current mobile advertising landscape – underwhelming banner and rich media ads – and declared that the next wave for app monetization is native advertising.  In other words, there will be deeper UX brand integration by leveraging device capabilities and blending of ads with content.


Mobile Commerce

What an awesome panel for this topic with the speakers from, Zulily and Nordstrom.  I’ve personally been a fan of since using their website to shop for a new computer.  I’m even more excited now that they have a mobile app.  Zulily has created an incredible place for moms to find deals on baby and kids items. While Nordstrom is transforming their digital presence to compete with the likes of Amazon. Here are a few takeaways from the discussion:

  • Mobile accounted for 25% of Black Friday purchases.
  • Brick-and-mortar retailers are price matching if customers find a better price on their phone while in store.
  • Phone vs. tablet:
    • The discipline of creating them [phone & tablet apps] is why they are lumped together, but they are very different experiences – on-the-go vs. lean-back.
    • There are efficiency issues with creating and managing for different contexts and multi-channels.
  • App vs. mobile website: app for your most engaged customers.
  • On SMS: Feels clunky; push notifications are more efficient delivery and UX.
  • On mobile payments: we won’t see new startups or winner-takes-all.
  • Opportunities:
    • Infrastructure & tools
    • Merging online & offline – a lot of ideas, but still little development here


Burst Presentation: Mobile in the Workplace

  • The first Internet experience will be mobile for several users in the future.
  • Mobile is radically changing how we think about UX.  Example: Apple brought iOS to desktop, similarly Microsoft brought metro from mobile to desktop.
  • Little infrastructure being developed in emerging countries. Example: Going straight to mobile rather than LAN lines.
  • Mobile & cloud merging. Example: Box
  • Trust & security; what can jeopardize my data? An increasing concern for the enterprise as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes more prevalent.


People & Places

Executives from Urban Airship, Placed, and Point Inside discussed the nightmares and opportunities for location-based services (LBS).  A few good points:

  • Marketers previously segmented customers by new vs. returning users via cookies.  Location takes that up exponentially for direct marketing.
  • Nightmare scenario: being blasted with offers.  A perfect example: Just because I’m standing 10 feet from your door waiting for my bus, doesn’t mean intent.  Geo-fencing needs to be thought through further.
  • Aside from retailers, entertainment and travel are innovating suing LBS.

2013 Projections:

  • Location brings advantage to companies that have a physical infrastructure
  • Passbook provides messaging opportunities
  • Still don’t know what to do with location information, but expect more development in the 2nd half of 2013
  • Claim that online is driving offline behavior – need to statistically prove
  • Mobile POS: in-aisle checkout via retailers app
  • Less about device and more about detecting the context of use; go beyond minimizing the .com



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