This week Amazon launched its Android Appstore opening the app market to its millions of customers and adding some welcome innovations to the app purchase experience.
First off, the Amazon Appstore, http://amazon.com/appstore looks great. Mainly because its layout is based on Amazon’s familiar ecommerce site. The front page displays the current “Free App Of The Day” with a host of featured apps below it. Featured app categories include: games, entertainment, utilities, social networking, productivity and music.
Once selected, individual app product pages load much like standard physical product pages on Amazon’s main site. There are product photos, descriptions, user comments and a five-star rating system. There’s a “Buy Now” box on the right side of the page that lets you know whether the app is compatible with your phone after you’ve made your first purchase or download.
Besides the easy-to-use interface, the app store also boasts special deals available only on the Amazon Appstore site. Rovio’s popular “Angry Birds Rio” is currently available for free download only through Amazon. It retails for $.99 on other marketplaces. In addition, as mentioned above, the site will showcase one paid app a day offered for free download. The Appstore Android app gives users the option to sign up for automatic daily downloads of these featured apps. The free app on the day this article was written was “The Newsweek Mobile” app which normally retails for $1.99. Although it only had a one-star average user rating.
Probably the most exciting feature Amazon Appstore offers is a virtual “Test Drive” for apps. It uses a Flash emulator to simulate apps in shoppers’ web browser so they can try them out and see how they function before making a purchase. There is a 30-minute time limit on test drive apps and not all apps featured on the store currently work with the service. However, the site just launched last week, so it’s only a matter of time before they get the kinks worked out.
The Amazon Appstore is a very exciting innovation and it will be interesting to see what techniques and strategies Amazon implements in coming months to gain market share in the competitive world of retail app sales.
This past Saturday night I had the good fortune of being home at 7pm Pacific Time when recently unemployed television star Charlie Sheen launched the first episode of his live Ustream talk show “Sheen’s Korner.”
For the past couple of weeks Sheen has been lighting the internet on fire with a flurry of entertaining television and radio interviews, trending Twitter topics and a deluge of hilarious meme-making catchphrases. However, all this was just too good to last.
Sheen’s Korner [sic] had none of the spontaneity, humor or unabashed awesomeness of the star’s previous media interviews. And Sheen fans seemed to lose interest in it pretty quickly. The show peaked with about 115,000 Ustream viewers at minute-one of the show, but quickly dwindled to less than 85,000 views within the first ten minutes on the air.
Here are 10 ways Sheen’s Korner could have (and should have) been better.
This week Mozilla launched their first-ever mobile version of their popular Firefox browser for Android smart phones. The new browser boasts a bunch of new features that you’d normally only find in a desktop web browser.
Firefox Mobile 4.0 for Android features a personalized start page that enables users to pick up where they left off during previous browsing sessions. This mobile browser can also link up with its Firefox desktop counterpart and synchronize their home or work computers’ Firefox history, bookmarks, passwords and form data with their phone.
Another cool the new Firefox Mobile 4.0 features is “tabbed browsing” that lets users open multiple pages at once using separate browser tabs. Users can screen swipe left and right to move between browser tabs and save themselves from having to open extra menus or pop-ups.
All of this browsing and swiping is sped up by the inclusion of new major mobile technologies that Mozilla calls “Electrolysis” and “Layers.” Mozilla’s website says these two innovations allow for more responsive and intense graphical interactions such as zooming and scrolling, as well as greatly improving the smoothness of screen animations.
All are welcome improvements to the mobile web experience. Firefox Mobile 4.0 for Android gives consumers the ability do almost as much on their phones as they can on their home computers and in some cases more. The browser also includes optional “location-aware” web surfing that can tailor a user’s internet experience according to their geographical location.
Firefox 4.0 for Android is available for free download at: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/mobile/
WordPress released the new version of their free, powerful blogging content management system (CMS) today. This new iteration, version 3.1, boasts several features for bloggers and content publishers to help them better manage and display the fruits of their digital labors. This update helps WordPress retain their deserved place on the forefront of the competitive world of blogging CMS platforms.
For publishers who wish to link to previous content in their current posts, WordPress has added the “Internal Linking” feature. This allows bloggers to search for relevant keywords throughout their sites and displays the results inside a pop-up box within their current blog entry. Users can then choose which of these articles they would like to link back to in the body of their new post. This is a great feature for publishers of current events, news and ecommerce blogs. They can quickly and easily link back to related stories and product pages without having to run a Google search in another browser window just to find their site’s related content.
For site admins, WordPress has added a new feature appropriately named “The Admin Bar.” The admin bar is a customizable overlay that appears across the top of a site’s browser pages when admins and authors are logged in to their blog. It allows quick access to a blog’s comments, appearance, SEO features and other utilities via buttons and drop-down menus. The Admin Bar can also be disabled for users who prefer not to take advantage of this new feature.
WordPress 3.1 also adds a new exciting feature called “Post Formats.” This is an innovation that developers and theme creators have requested for quite some time. Post Formats gives blog publishers the option of changing the layout of a post according to predetermined styles built into a theme. Depending on which format the publisher chooses, blog entries can appear as bold italicized quotations, video player windows with customizable dimensions, hyperlinks, chat windows, photo galleries and more.
Post Formats adds a new Tumblr-like flexibility to posts while capitalizing on the WordPress platform’s robust and stable content management and publication system.
The new WordPress 3.1 release is available as a via free download at: http://wordpress.org
Justin Bieber’s 3-D biopic and musical extravaganza “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” arrives in theaters across America today. But fans have already feasted their eyes on more video content than you can shake a Bieber-sized stick at online.
Tuesday’s nights “purple carpet” premiere in Los Angeles was streamed via Livestream onto the promotional website for the film: http://justinbieberneversaynever.com.
In just three days since the premiere, fans have watched over 11,360,000 minutes of footage from the event. Or, the equivalent of 21.6 years of Bieber-related video content. That’s a lot of Bieber.
Famous Interactive is proud to have worked with such a talented and popular star to design and deliver the website for this film.
The site carries the messaging of the film “His Story Is Yours” one step further by allowing to fans create multimedia content starring themselves on the site.
On the site, fans upload their photo and have it added to a mosaic of fan images that animate to recreate the poster for the movie. Fans can also upload photos of themselves to an app that makes them the star of a animated slideshow set to the Bieber hit “U Smile.”
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, fans can also send each other personalized JB-themed eCards inviting friends and loved ones to make a date with them to see the movie.
If you haven’t already, head over to the site and get yourself into a poster or slide show. Twenty years of fan viewership in just three days can’t be wrong.
Webcams provide many different ways for consumers to communicate deepen their multimedia experiences online. Video chat, Skype, vlogs, celebrity webchats, puppy cams — you name it. Internet users produce and consume almost limitless amounts of video content via their computers and webcams everyday.
Recently Famous Interactive build two applications that let consumers to use their webcams to interact with two well-known brands in two very inventive and innovative ways.
The first was The Kung Fu Panda Awesomest Staring Contest Ever app that Famous created for Dreamworks to help promote their new film, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom Of Doom.
The app, which can be found at http://kungfupanda.com/staringcontest uses fans webcams as a body motion sensor. The web-based game allows users to interact with animated objects on screen such as firecrackers and noisemakers to distract KFP2’s ursine protagonist, Po, and deplete his focus meter to win The Awesomest Staring Contest Ever.
It’s a nifty example of using existing technology in a creative way to give consumers a product and user experience that they haven’t seen in a web app before.
Another one of Famous Interactive’s inspired uses of consumers’ webcams was the augmented reality (AR) app that they created for AT&T to promote three of the communications leader’s latest Windows 7 smart phones. The app can be found here http://apps.facebook.com/attaugmentedreality/.
Famous Interactive created a Facebook application that let users download a special graphical AR marker used to interact with their computers’ via webcam. Once activated the app allowed users to hold virtual 3-D versions of new AT&T phones in their hands via the marker. From there, users test drove the phones on their computer screens and unlocked a special golden tile and incentive prize for checking out all three phone models.
Both of these apps are examples of Famous Interactive combining the talents of their in-house creative, production, development, design and strategy teams to provide two big brands with a pair of interactive webcam products that are definitely anything but run-of-the-mill.
Facebook applications have quickly begun to rival microsites as the preferred hub destination for many online marketing campaigns. And for good reason.
Branded Facebook apps placed within pre-existing brand pages have several major advantages over branded microsites. Here are just a few.
Using a Facebook app as your social networking campaign hub allows your brand instant access with over half a billion people who have accounts on the social networking juggernaut that Facebook has become. Not only are your gaining acesss to consumers, but you’re going the opportunity to interact with users who already have a social networking account (i.e. Facebook) who can participate in your campaign with one simple click of the “Facebook Connect” feature. This allows users to sign up and become a fan of your campaign or product without opening any additional accounts, entering personal information they might be leery to provide or having to remember any extra passwords.
Another great thing about using a Facebook app as the center of your campaign is that once consumers sign-on and interact with your brand’s Facebook page through its app they remain a fan of your brand’s page, even after your Facebook app campaign has run its course and even after you deactivate the app. Using Facebook as your campaign’s hub helps increase your chances for long-term consumer interaction and brand loyalty built up over time.
Today, Facebook is the leader in online social networking. Many of the best and most visited websites in the world use some type of Facebook integration on their sites. Aligning themselves with the largest social media brand in the world means that these companies can take advantage of the constant innovations, improvements and new features added to the site daily.
Using tools like application permissions let brands reach consumers in more meaningful ways and to provide more value to advertising dollars spent. Consumers, in turn, get richer online experiences and increased opportunity to be entertained and to interact with their favorite brands as well as learn about new ones.
Facebook applications are great way to connect with consumers, make them part of your growing fanbase, and get them interacting with whatever big idea your brand gives life to next.
When building the Famous Interactive site I ran into a list of elements that I wanted to have flush on the right and left.
Making it flush on the left is easy. Don’t use left margin/padding (duh), but what about the right? I wanted to use the styling on other parts of the site.