I’m currently sitting at the feet of Dennis Crowley, the founder and CEO of Foursquare, as I type this newsletter. Literally. You can see photos here:
Over on that thread, Dave Wilson asked why Foursquare needed to split into two apps, and Crowley explained why: to let him get more granular notifications so people won’t turn them off.
I sort of disliked that move. It meant giving up some features that I cared about. At least at first. Crowley admitted that he wanted to get rid of check-ins to save people time and keep them from having to “work” to use the app. When they complained, he added those features back in.
If you really listen to Crowley, it’s clear that the two apps are split functionally into these two pieces:
Swarm, which is a contextualizer and data generator, and Foursquare, which is a data viewer.
As you walk around the world, Swarm knows where you are and what space you just walked into, thanks to the pattern it has recognized at millions of places. This is why Foursquare was able to accurately predict how many iPhones would sell based on Swarm users.
It watches how many people enter Apple stores around the world each day and figured out that it can accurately predict how many products Apple will sell. Vic Gundotra, formerly at Google, told me the same thing. He knew that if you walked into a store, that was a form of intent.
So Swarm is the app that can let you know things as you walk around the world, and Foursquare is the app you open up if you want to figure out where to walk in said world. Subtly different.
Crowley gave hints about other apps that might be coming to show you different things as you move around the world.
All of this leads me to Frictionless.
I’ve noticed the most interesting new mobile businesses remove friction, or pain, from life.
Think about Uber. It removed friction at nearly every step thanks to mobile. Now the system knows where you're standing and where the driver is. It can charge you automatically at the end of the ride, and it lets you properly rate the driver. By the way, the driver rates you as well, and we talk about that here:
One story I talk about is Tapingo. Most people I speak to have no clue about Tapingo, yet it currently processes 70 percent of the transactions at Santa Clara University. What is Tapingo? It's a mobile app that students use.
Let’s say you're a student at Santa Clara University. You wake up at 7 a.m. and order your iced latte. Using your mobile phone, the order is made on the app, and tells you it will be ready roughly 30 minutes later. In the meantime, it sent the order to a box in the Starbucks that lights up, beeps and spits out a receipt that goes into the workflow of the coffee shop.
So there’s one piece of friction removed. You don’t even need to get out of bed to order. No waiting in line. When you get there, you don’t need to wait in line, you just pick up your drink and leave.
This year Tapingo added delivery. Another student can now offer to pick up your drink and bring it to your class. They get paid in a virtual currency (Tapingo has its own crypto currency). The system removes friction at every level and is very disruptive.
All year long I’ve been bringing you mobile app news from developers who are building frictionless systems. From Levi’s Stadium, which has 2,000 beacons and an app that lets you order food from your seat (among many other things), to NUBank in Brazil, which makes your expense reports easier by sending you notifications and emails sourced from its credit card every time you make a purchase (and it also includes a ton of data about where you spent the money).
It all comes back to notifications. If the notifications get spammy or uninformative, people will turn those features off and/or delete apps altogether. It’s why we were at Betaworks in New York today at the Notification Summit, which John Borthwick and Steve Gillmor put together. It was small, intimate and awesome, and they recorded it and will put some of it up on Techcrunch in the near future.
We're quickly heading into a frictionless world — are you building a piece of it?
By the way, if you are, check out the Button Marketplace that was announced this morning: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/10/01/button-marketplace-lets-developers-link-to-services-like-airbnb-and-uber-in-any-app/
This lets you incorporate various mobile-focused services into your own app, or it lets you offer your services to other app developers.
Another item worth pointing out here. This week Rackspace announced a new security service:
As more mobile services are created, we'll also need more help figuring out how to secure our systems and not just keep private data secure, but protect the financial instruments these apps are increasingly relying on.
Tapingo, for instance, uses its own virtual currency. No bank or government is backing that. So there’s a LOT at stake in the future of security and we’re investing in the best people and the best infrastructure to help your business in this critical space.
Other things I did this past week:
A quick chat with Siri cofounder Adam Cheyer:
How Medium and Twitter could beat Facebook: https://medium.com/startup-study-group/how-could-medium-and-twitter-withstand-facebook-s-moves-to-get-the-journalists-and-celebrities-to-54da443ab7e2
Nest releases Weave communication protocol to connect other devices to its products:
The CEO of Hello Alfred tells me about the numbers behind this butler app/service:https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153624992109655/
Facebook adds new video profiles and I’m one of the first to get them:https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153624756809655
This is another small and seemingly unimportant update, but it’s clear Facebook is heading toward a pretty different user experience over time. This is particularly nice for mobile users.
Smart toy cars teach programming: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153623471379655
New wedding registry Zola:
A social network for doctors: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153623362859655
New Tesla released to rave reviews: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153623312264655
I hope you have a five star weekend, see you next week!
As a Rackspace futurist, I keep my finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley and global trends, to offer insights into what’s coming next in tech and why it’s important to you.
Since 2009, I’ve traveled near and far, meeting with startups, innovative companies and visionaries, as well as evangelizing the Rackspace managed cloud story.
I read all my email at email@example.com and anything done in response to this newsletter goes to the top of my inbox. I’m also at +1-425-205-1921 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble.
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And props to Hugh Macleod and team for creating art each week. Find more athttp://www.gapingvoid.com