Category Archives: Widgets & Gadgets

QR Code Professionalism @ BMW

“QR what?” I hear you say – and you are right. :-(

It’s just been a couple of weeks ago, that someone tried to convince me, that now (as both have become commonplace) marketeers finally have fully understood the benefits and proper usage of QR codes in attracting new prospects for their campaigns and products.

And I had been quite close to agreeing with him.

Though, that was before the BMW incident.

Considering myself an addict to the latest electric vehicle technology, I could not help but taking a closer look after spotting a BMW ACTIVE E model at a charging station in downtown Leipzig.

charging station with BMW ACTIVE E and smart electric drive connected

Of course I also grabbed the promotional QR code from the window tag.

QR window tag on the BMW ACTIVE E

Which immediately brought down my longtime confidence in BMWs ever-present compentence in perfect engineering:

page stating the invoked page could not be displayed properly on a mobile device

“This content has not been optimized for mobile devices – please use a desktop system for viewing.”

 

So, yes, it still happens – and obviously even to the big guys.

Despite I have no idea how advertising for a huge corporation can get through all their internal approvals, without ever being verfied to work, it also shows that even in competitive and over-advertised markets like automobiles there appears to always exist some room for a competitor to do better.
 
Heard that, over at Daimler and Audi? ;-)

 

The Empire strikes Back:
NOKIA’s Return To Your Pocket And The Magic Of Context

Sometimes you just don’t see it coming…. We all remember the times, not too long ago, when Nokia were selling basically the same Series 60 models of their phones for years by essentially just changing their outer design – along with the pricetag.
 
And despite a couple of surprising successes like with their N770 PDA tablet (which, at the time, we also used to showcase the early SemaWorx prototypes) there obviously has not been a lot of initiative inside the company to more dedicatedly pushing the technological borders in direction of widening the market for cellphone usage.
 
After all, one could still make a good living from the existing models’ diversification and even afford to send away Apple back in the days when the late Steve Jobs approached them in order to speed up the initial iPhone product development.
 

Though the times, they’re changin’: With Apple’s stock price ranging as high as it may ever get, but their once-superior phone engineering at the same time showing inceasingly more weeknesses in both concept and execution, this is the dawn for their competitors again. And since it can be quite hard to impossible sometimes, to beat huge corporations such as Apple in the business they themselves created, the guys at Nokia did wisely, to leave to others what others can do better.
 
In the past, Nokia’s own developments haven’t ever really been up equally with their counterpart’s products in terms of UI and OS engineering, which in recent years more often than not resulted in quite limited software capabilities even on the newer Nokia handsets. In following this inevitably lead to a shrinking community of application developers willing to take the hassle to write software for e.g. the Symbian or maemo.org platforms.
 

With the introduction of their new LUMIA smartphone series however, the NOKIA management left building the smartphone OS to Microsoft and their Windows 8 product. This did not only bring a new, sophisticated though proven, system base to their latest generation of completely re-engineered phones without causing too much hassle on the run, but brought in a huge crowd of new application developers as well, who already had long-yeared experience in programming for the Microsoft platform.
 

The other strength which NOKIA has just turned into a USP again, is their experience in engineering high-standard cellphones. And even though the current models’ hardware may not always be able to keep up with the installed Windows operating system’s hunger for computational power yet, they focus on the customers’ outcomes by providing them a high level of tools to ease a phone user’s life. And no, I don’t think so much of the literal ˮbells & whistles“ here, but more of features like
 

  • Mutiband Phone Networks (including LTE broadband) Where competitors stick to supporting only certain partner-vendors’ networks, Nokia Lumia customers always get the full spectrum.
     
  • High Quality Multi-Brand Location Services With the strategic purchases of NAVTEQ and earthmine, Nokia product designers get their hands on powerful features like sight-based navigation, making up for a nicely designed AR display of your environment, accompanied by corresponing quality guides: Besides the omnipresent crowd-sourced content, Nokia services provide a wide range of professionally authored information from providers like Michelin, HRS or Expedia.
     
  • Realtime Public Transport Information The one-of-a-kind just-on-time routing for those of us travelling by foot and public transport.
     
  • Phone Calls Almost forgot about it: No, they haven’t forgotten about building reliable voice calling into the latest generation phones. No antenna-issues involved here…
     
  • Above Standards Camera With photo shooting among the most popular phone features in recent years, Lumia devices come with ZEISS lenses, optical image stabilization, sequence-shots and HDR-like processing tools.
     

In my oppinion, these new approaches will, in the longer run, put NOKIA at the heart of an eco-system fucussing much less on what is possible, than on services users actually need to navigate through life on a daily basis.
 

Checkout Re-Visited: Step 6 — when the deal is done; The ORDER SUCCESSFUL Page

 

If one would really want to add use to this page (thereby exeeding its functionality beyond the one of a simple check mark…) probably adding some of the following features could do the job:

 

  • Display a copy of the order just taken.
     
  • Tell the customer what the next steps towards the fulfillment of the order are going to be and and how long these are being assumed to take. Let the customer know when he will be going to hear from you for the next times.
     
  • If possible provide a clickable URL to a page where your customer can query the processing status of his order and allow him to make final adjustments there (this will save you money in the end).
     
  • Provide your customer with a simple way to keep track of his order. Allow for printing out all of this information. Peace of mind is a really important issue here and not to be underestimated.
     
  • Facilitate later reference as well as re-orders by including appropriate links and materials with a downloadable version, as well as sending a copy of all information on this page to the customer’s e-mail account.

 
That’s it, an overview of possible outcomes to be created by developments currently underway on the web. Those of you accustomed to catching up with the latest developments on the web, will likely have heard of one or the other approach, though what in my eyes has been missing by far is a combined usage scenario for for all of these ideas.
 
My intent has been to show both potential and side-effects coming with some of the latest developments that are growing from nowhere today, but may soon have serious impact on how we live our lives online.
 
You hopefully enjoyed the trip alongside the cutting edge of what is already possible today, let’s see which of these ideas are going to successfully make it to ease life on the worlds online markets and which one we will possibly not appreciate being offered us with our own online purchases within the next years.
 

See you. :-)

Checkout Re-Visited: Step 5 — check it out before you check-out: the Review-and-Confirm Page

 
Probably the only page you really will not want to dispose from checkout at all. :-)   It offers an overview of all the products you chose, collects the billing and shipping details you provided and displays them alongside with the vendor’s business terms just before you finally place the order.
 
It’s a bit like putting everything in your basket onto the cashier’s conveyor while potentially realizing you missed something that wasn’t on you shopping list or that you must have left your wallet on the desk at home.
 
Online however, the review page also is the most reliable way to compare prices and shipping options. Usually you will love to save or print this, since as a customer this is your only chance to really document (and therefore prove afterwards) at which conditions the deal has originally been made, without having to rely on the seller’s order confirmation e-mail (if there should be any).
 
Unfortunately most webpages of this kind are not made to be printed or even saved at all — you will know this if you ever tried. When printing, the screen layout will likely be scattered across multiple half-printed pages, often missing out on the actual order data. And saving (if possible at all, without unexpectedly quitting the order process) will potentially leave you up with an HTML-file accompanied by a mess of images and other media files, often in separate folders. Not exactly an efficient way to keep records.
 
In a time when (as in Germany for instance) electronic signatures are required by law for digital invoicing and peer-confirmations are being sent and saved from every blog post or chat you make:
 
How can it be so hard to just grab the data of the electronic contract you are about to close and subscribe to its follow ups, in order to archive them, just as if they were a blog-feed or podcast ?
 
There already are public standards like ebXML, RDF, SSE et al. to do exactly this kind of work. But none of them have been implemented yet to ease average Joe’s or even SME-employed users’ everyday processes. By the time of writing this article, successful implementations of these technologies are only known from big corporations like Boeing, Microsoft, SAP, Vodafone or Volkswagen/Audi. Nevertheless, with them the approach is praised as creating huge gains in fields like knowledge management and procurement efficiency.
 
As the implementation is – technically spoken – supposed to be hardly a miracle, divulgence of these approaches probably may increase with the growing availability of appropriate coding kits and documentation for developers that are looking to implement these concepts.
 
And of course, as more shopping outlets start thinking more seriously about new ways to make online purchasing a more pleasant experience for their customers.

The Macintization of Windows’ Mice

Being a powerful interface widget for Mac users for quite some time now, Exposé has now come to Windows either.
 
Well, sort of. When I first experienced this, I actually thought it was the recently installed beta version of Safari for Windows, who had secretly smuggled this onto my computer.
   Though, alleging this being from Apple, it would have been a working but poor piece of design. Later on I remembered I had also upgraded the drivers for my Microsoft Intellipoint Mouse. Bingo ! The latest Intellipoint Driver installer switches the auto-scroll "click" function of your mouse wheel to this all-open-app-view without asking, so you have to discover this by incident or (like me) accident at some time.
 
With so many Windows under ones hood, you’re now officially a pimp (and all of this completely advertently, of course…). ;-)