Home What’s Next For Mobile Apps?

What’s Next For Mobile Apps?

Yesterday we looked at DASH7, a wireless sensor networking standard that may play an important part in next-generation mobile services – including location-based services, the Internet of Things and social networking.

In this post we analyze some use cases for DASH7, which also point to where the Mobile Web is heading. We’ll look at how location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla could evolve. Then we’ll explore the potential of long-distance mobile advertising and mobile coupons.

Extending Location-Based App Functionality

Given the growth of location-based apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla in 2010, it’s intriguing to think about what’s next for these services.

According to an as-yet unreleased white paper by the DASH7 Alliance, enhanced loyalty programs could be the next big thing. With a DASH7-enabled phone, the white paper states, “a user could set his or her preferences in the Foursquare or Gowalla application that would allow the user to be automatically “discovered” or “checked in” at the coffee shop/restaurant/gun store/etc. and thereby accrue loyalty points passively, i.e. by just being in the establishment, rather than requiring active/conscious user behavior to participate in the program.”

Even more advanced services could offer customized promotions created on the fly, targeting a certain user’s preferences.

Mobile Advertising From Long Distance and On-The-Go

A long-held goal of the Mobile Web – at least for retailers – is using mobile phones for mobile advertising, loyalty programs, couponing, and other personalized shopping experiences. Of course there are privacy issues with these things, but nevertheless these scenarios are (finally) coming soon.

NFC-enabled phones have shown glimpses of this functionality, via smart posters, kiosks and billboards. As discussed in a previous post, NFC technology is limited to a four centimeter range – so the phone needs to be held close to the media asset in order to initiate the data transfer. Also it requires a tag reader application to be installed on your mobile phone.

According to its white paper, the DASH7 Alliance thinks that “a far larger set of customers would be willing to execute the same applications provided that they were executable a) from a longer distance, b) while moving, and c) in some cases, passively/without any conscious initiation of their own.”

DASH7 has a range of hundreds of meters and can be used while on the move. While point 3 might scare some privacy advocates, it’s very likely that customers would need to opt in before they passively received such advertising messages.

If this is still too abstract for you, here’s a potential scenario: I’m driving down a street and I pass a smart poster pasted onto a building wall. This elicits a beep from my phone, because my phone has passively scanned the poster and discovered something that I want to be notified about (I’ve opted into receiving notifications only about certain things). Because it’s against the law where I live to check my mobile phone while driving, I wait till I’m parked and then I check what the beep was for. Turns out that one of my favorite bands is playing in the city tomorrow night! The smart poster I’d driven past was an advertisement for that band. So I then proceed to book a ticket, using my phone of course.

Mobile Coupons

Mobile coupons are a hot area of activity already, with Google and others offering them. However, currently mobile coupons are limited to short-range and active receiving. Soon we might have long-range couponing, real-time interaction and passively receiving coupons.

The DASH7 Alliance white paper offers a scenario of Paramount promoting its upcoming movie Iron Man 2 using a smart poster. In the NFC scenario, someone could walk past the Iron Man 2 poster and download a two-for-one coupon to see the movie. However, according to the DASH7 Alliance:

“…a combination DASH7/NFC-enabled smartphone could still support the default NFC scenario, but could also provide for a) longer distance distribution of the coupon b) “passive” acquisition of coupons according to a user’s pre-defined “coupon acquisition criteria” (e.g. “auto-accept coupons for any movies starring Al Pacino”, and c) real-time interaction with the media asset (e.g. “answer the following three questions correctly and win a 2-for-1 coupon to see “Iron Man 2″.)”

Those are just some of the next generation mobile services we can expect to see soon, thanks to wireless technologies like NFC and DASH7. Let us know in the comments if you have other potential use case ideas!

Photos by David Berkowitz; kengo

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