If you drove by T3 Austin headquarters in the wee hours of Saturday morning, you might have noticed all the lights on. We didn’t forget to shut down for the week, but instead to open the doors to developers competing in the official SXSW HackATX all-night hackathon competition.
Competing teams were given access to 23 enterprise-level 7-Eleven APIs developed by T3. The goal: develop new and innovative ways to provide digital convenience.
After a kick-off party at T3 Austin headquarters, a group of experienced developers settled in for a night of coding and creativity to help 7-Eleven re-imagine convenience. We provided caffeine, snacks, T-shirts and development advice. On the line were bragging rights and cold, hard cash.
The night was fueled by a creative spirit, plus lots and lots of hard work from the 27 competing teams. After a sleepless night of coding, 10 teams were asked to present their ideas to a panel of judges. Sean Devlin and Team Doo emerged as the overall winner. His SMS-centric app focused on the convenience of reaching as many 7-Eleven customers as possible. With a simple text message to a dedicated phone number, mobile customers using his app can find the closest 7-Eleven, current promotions, available services (gas pumps, Redbox, etc.) and directions.
Winners were chosen by a panel of industry-leading judges based on a combination of functionality, design and presentation.
“We want to thank everyone who participated and competed at HackATX,” says Pamela Crosier, T3 director of Creative Development. “It was exciting to see such a collaborative spirit coursing through this place overnight. Great fun, great work.”
Core themes about mobile emerged at Stanford University’s recent Future of Media Conference, prompting this attendee to share some thoughts on mobile.
It’s clear that mobile-led thinking is becoming a rallying cry across media types. The rocketing popularity of mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets) over the last couple years has not only impacted the way people communicate, but also how they consume media. Most publishers and producers have seen the percentage of mobile users accessing their content accelerate from 5–10% upwards to 30–40%; in some cases like Twitter or Facebook, well over 50% are mobile users.
People today are far more willing to engage in dialog and sharing, ecommerce and even creating their own content on mobile devices. Media providers of all stripes are recognizing the need to supply a rich and useful experience through these platforms to match this consumer demand.
This rising demand for mobile content underscores a huge challenge. Developing mobile-optimized content experiences is way more complex than merely offering re-sized screen dimensions and lighter weight delivery systems. Variations in operating systems, screen resolutions, bandwidth access and processer speeds complicate the space even further. Because of mobile’s growth, designing for this fragmented array of platforms and ensuring a robust, useful and engaging experience has become a leading issue instead of a trailing one.
Mobile up makes sense.
The idea of mobile as a leading issue is becoming serious business. During the conference, Facebook claimed to have revamped their internal organizational structure to incorporate mobile expertise into all groups, rather than having a separate mobile team. This ensures that mobile and desktop experiences are developed in tandem, and each to its own strengths and limitations, rather than designing for one and repurposing for the other.
Indeed, it would actually be easier to design for mobile and repurpose to the desktop, where there are fewer constraints and technical permutations to address. In much the same way that Twitter character limitations often make crafting a well-written tweet harder than a free-form essay, designing for mobile requires a sense of economy and precision that can be more difficult than web development.
Both organizational and marketing models will be challenged to adopt this new orientation to consumer behavior. Breaking the inertia of workflow process and organizational design can be very difficult and pose real business problems for some companies. But this trend is continuing to escalate and the fragmentation of how people access content is now the norm that all facets of the media and marketing landscape must contend with. And the sooner it’s addressed, the better.
We’re convinced that mobile will continue to change how we live and do business. That’s why we’ve teamed up with mobile leaders like PCMag and Urban Airship on a series of mobile events with a simple goal: have some drinks, some fun and some serious conversations about how to move mobile forward. Our Feb. 5 “Business on the Move: How Mobile is Changing the Game” event did just that, drawing nearly 100 mobile enthusiasts for a provocative exploration of the mobile frontier.
T3 President Rick Doerr kicked off our Feb.5 mobile event in NY.
We broke the night up into three parts. Starting off the conversation was Sascha Segan and his session on the future of mobile. That was followed by my discussion on brands that are transforming their business today, plus a panel discussion from those with experience on the ground using mobile to drive their business.
If you don’t know Sascha, here’s a quick bio. He’s a genius. Full stop. He continues to blow us away with his vast knowledge of the mobile space. His team reviews every mobile device released in the U.S., so it’s obvious he has the inside track and he’s not afraid to share his opinion. He regaled us with “what’s next”, but six things from his speech really jumped out at me:
1. Prepaid is the future.
Mobile users across the world, particularly in Europe, have embraced pre-paid plans for years. T3 client MetroPCS and a few others in the U.S. are making mobile subscribers think twice about the need for a long-term contract. Watch out for the pre-paid market. This just might be the year that many Americans cut the cord.
2. It’s no longer an iPad world.
You can thank Samsung and Amazon for this. Six months ago, a tablet strategy was really an iPad strategy. Throw that thinking out the door. Not only are the projections for new sales skewing heavily toward Android and Microsoft, but Amazon is starting to steal a significant share of tablet traffic. Run the device traffic numbers for your brand today and then run them again in 4–6 months. You’ll be shocked.
3. We are about to see the end game on carrier consolidation.
The Obama FCC wants four major carriers, so we will have four carriers. Sprint has acquired CLEAR mobile. Watch for T-Mobile to acquire MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless and U.S. Cellular to be acquired by Verizon or AT&T, leaving us with four national carriers—Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
A reception prior to the event spawned lively discussions about mobile.
4. The death of BlackBerry.
Oh, BlackBerry. You gave it a valiant effort, but Segan laid down the cold hard truth. Apple and Android rule with 92 percent of the market. Microsoft has the edge on the third spot. You needed a Hail Mary to remain relevant, and with BlackBerry 10 you gave us the best phone of the year…if only it were 2011. There are some amazing things about the BlackBerry 10, but it’s too little, too late.
5. Five inches is the new four.
Phablets were the word of the night. Just big enough to make you look like an idiot holding one up to your face. Look for a rash of 5-inch “is it a phone or a tablet?” devices to flood the market in the next few months. While everyone agrees that they look pretty ridiculous, they are a kick-ass Web device, and that’s what’s driving demand. And if you wear your jeans baggy enough, they might even fit in your pocket.
6. Connected devices.
We’ve been talking about connected devices for years, e.g., the day when your refrigerator knows that you are out of milk. Well, we are closer than we think. Although the connected device craze is taking off—particularly at CES this year (did you see the connected trashcan?)—look for the automotive space to be where we see most of the first forays. Segan outlined an interesting point, though; with all these devices in our homes and cars talking to each other, we are going to see some serious bandwidth issues in the near future if we can’t solve the data compression issue.
Participants were engaged in mobile discussions before, during and after the event.