Category Archives: internet

Public transport suddenly makes sense

Over the past few years I’ve found myself using Taxis more and more to get around the city, steadfastly ignoring the fact that using the most expensive form of transport, in a grid-locked city like Sydney, one of the most expensive cities in the world, was becoming frustrating and digging a big hole in my wallet.

More than that, I found that in a Taxi I could never quite relax – always feeling somehow responsible for helping the Taxi driver navigate the best route, and always aware of the traffic jams around me. A minor comfort point is that I could never use my phone or ipad in a Taxi even on a short journey without feeling a bit queasy – not exactly the state I like to arrive to meetings in.

Over the past couple of months this situation has changed … a lot … since I took the time to recognise the brilliance that is Google maps + Public transport. I’ve been using maps for a long time, but typically while driving. Now I’m using them all the time during the day and the only downside is that my phone battery doesn’t like it so much.

From a user perspective using maps with public transport couldn’t be much easier :

Open Google maps on your phone. Tap on the directions button (circled red here).

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Use the default of My Location and add the destination. Tap the button that looks like a bus – for public transport, then either use the default of “any transport mode” or select bus, train, ferry etc from the drop-down list (all circled in red).
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Click Get directions. See a list of trips which include the walking time between stops, details of the stop number, bus number and time to complete the journey.

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Details of each trip can be viewed as a list or map. So far, apart from buses being late (only occasionally) this has worked beautifully.

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Now, with my additional discovery that there is a free shuttle bus around Sydney city, I’ve become a total advocate for public transport.

The utility of this becomes more amazing when you compare this to the official offering from the local transport companies, which has the same information presented in a much less simple way, and it is impressive that Google can plug all of this data into their maps and make it make sense. Good job Goog.

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SXSW redux

It’s a month or more since I got back from my first visit to SXSW in Austin, Texas – and some of the takeaways from the conference are finally starting to properly take shape.

First, I have been coming round to realise how important it is to recruit and retain talented people. There was a lot of angst at SXSW from people either looking for a gig, or trying to employ good people. The common theme was that as soon as you find someone who’s good, they get snapped up by Facebook/Google and the rest.

Second, there are no new ideas. Not a new one in itself this, but just having a good idea in this world is nowhere near good enough – you really need to be able to execute well. There were a multitude of group messaging apps at SXSW but even though they were attracting a lot of attention (and investment) in truth there were several which were no good and will dissappear with out trace as quickly as they emerged.

Third, HTML5 is definitely the future, but is not the “right now”. No matter how annoying the fragmenting apps. ecosystems are, developers can’t drag themselves away from the real money available through the app. stores, and their clients want to have a presence in the app. store as well. The iTunes app. store that is – forget about the geek-fest that is still the Android marketplace.

Friendly advice – internet trends

A friend recently asked for some themes or trends that he could use at a work brainstorming – I knocked this list of thoughts & opinions out quickly and thought it was worth reproducing here …
1) Mobile internet is quickly overtaking the fixed internet.
The % of people who access the internet from their mobile phone/tablet (ipad et al) is accelerating massively as people buy more smartphones (mostly with big, touch screens, powerful web browsers and the ability to download apps). iPhone currently dominates, but phones running Google’s Android system, and Blackberry are not far behind. Nokia is rapidly losing its overall dominance and does not have a good hold on the high end market. They are using these phones to download apps at a massive rate (these apps often access the internet to do stuff), and they are increasingly visiting regular web sites – though the trend is to design apps and web sites specifically for smartphones. e.g. have a look at m.smh.com.au on an iPhone and see how it compares to www.smh.com.au on the same phone. People with smartphones (which are quickly becoming much much cheaper) have an expectation that they can do anything with their phones that they can do on their PC.

2) Apps are on a meteoric rise
Keyed in with (1), apps are the new way to represent your brand, and to engage with customers, but do not enter into this lightly as you will quickly alienate customers and they will tell you about it. Current stats are that each iPhone/Android customer downloads 8-9 apps per month.

3) Social Media is reaching saturation point. There is not a single demographic that is not deeply engaged with social media in one way or another. Facebook, Twitter and even “Like” on 3rd party sites are important channels. Some are even predicting that in the next couple of years they will supplant search engines and keywords – though I personally believe this is a way off yet. Social Media is overtaking Email as the base-case communication tool.
Twitter is an important one to get right, but check how your target demographics are using it – as there are differing levels of interest.
Stats : Facebook has 550million members (1 in 13 of the earths population). Foursquare went from almost 0 checkins in 2009 to 382million in 2010. 4300% growth – not to be ignored or thought of as fringe.
To get a social media strategy right you’ll need to consider how transparent you want to be with followers and friends, and what impacts this will have on your organisation. You also need to get the language and tone of voice right on your blogs, tweets, status updates etc.

4) Location and group based selling
Mobile : Foursquare is a location-based game turning into “show me local specials” – worth looking at.
Groupon is part of a massively growing group-buying site. Google just offered $4billion to buy it – the founder turned the offer down !
There are many of them popping up – there are a couple of Aussie ones.
Group opinion has taken a while to pick up, but think of sites like tripadvisor.com and the impact that user comments have on the hotels etc.

5) User generated video continues to grow exponentially.
Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are still growing crazily. Think of how many times you’ve seen a YouTube video embedded in a facebook posting. This heavily distributed approach has meant that YouTube is the defacto video site – even though people don’t visit the site itself. Having said that, I’ve heard that branded channels on YouTube are very successful. Have a look for Coke and Nike on YouTube and you’ll get to their channel.

hope that’s some use 🙂

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