Did you know that 30% of YellowPages.ca traffic comes from mobile? Source: YPG.com. This news actually was announced during YPGs 1st quarter results and today, Greg Sterling did a post on his blog regarding this as well, see “YPG: 30% of Our Searches Come from Mobile“. This number is pretty impressive when you consider that only 2-years ago that number represented well less than 1%.
Another piece of news today is that the new YellowPages.ca application is a featured application in the iTunes store – this is pretty big news as you can’t buy your way to this placement, your application has to be deemed pretty good for the Apple editorial team to pick up.
For this blog post I thought it would be great to take a look back.
Having been with YPG since 2006, as an employee (actually been working with the company since 2001), I managed the team that launched YPG into the world of iPhone applications. Back in 2009 there was not a lot of focus on mobile, but since then the mobile team has expanded and is now under the leadership of Matthieu Houle, a colleague and friend of mine who as we say at YPG, is “rocking da house”. Under his leadership there have been 2 more releases of the YellowPages.ca iPhone application with the most recent only 1 month old.
Here is the evolution of the home page of the iPhone Application for YellowPages.ca
2009 (features included basic search for business, people and reverse, display ads, photos and videos)
2010 (features included hot links to popular categories, streamlined and more intuitive interface, all YP.ca content including videos and photos)
2011 (features include ratings and reviews, type ahead for categories and locations and customizable popular buttons)
Download the latest application here in the iTunes store.
On November 8, 2009, I did a blog post, “Canada’s Yellow Pages(TM) Mobile App, over 1/2 Million Downloads and 3 Reasons for its Success” which in terms of the number of downloads is no longer accurate (we are over a couple of million) but the 3 reasons why I believe Canadians love this application hold.
If you don’t want to read the full article, let me summarize the 3 reasons why back then Canadians loved this app and why it holds true today –
2) Content (even more so today) and
3) Usability (which gets better with every release).
2010 was a pretty incredible year at Yellow Pages Group. As the head of business development I get the pleasure of being on the cutting edge of looking at technologies and seeing what is emerging. I also get to travel lots (which has pros and cons), which means that while on the road I rely heavily on communication devices to stay in touch and to make life easier.
My main communication device is my iPhone. I also have an iPad, which I use extensively while in the US by dropping in my AT&T Sim Card. Usually during a discussion, I get asked 2 common questions about my communication tools:
1) How do you like the iPhone?
2) What apps do you use?
How do you like the iPhone?
For the most part, I like it. Our company uses Microsoft Exchange Server which allows me to easily sync my email, calendar and contacts. My iPhone is a business phone so access to email is critical. The downside is the battery life. I am currently using a 3GS (I have not upgraded yet to the iPhone 4) and the battery is weak to say the least. For the most part this is not that big of an issue – there are usually plugins everywhere, including Air Canada which has a USB plug in the seat back TV which you can use to charge your iPhone, however, there have been times when I have been caught without a charge. If you plan to use the iPhone for business here are some power recommendations:
1) Also carry your cables – the USB with power plug. Wrap this up and keep it on you.
2) Buy a USB lighter adapter for your vehicle – buy a small travel one to take with you in car rentals
3) Buy a backup batter charge – I have the Kensington Mini Battery Pack, this little charge has saved me a few times, will give you the needed boost to get your through until you can find a plug
What Apps do you use?
I have a lot of apps on my iPhone, however, for this top list, I have decided to break it down to into 3 categories – 1) apps I use weekly, 2) apps I use at least once per month 3) other apps I like and use, but not as frequent.
1) Apps I use weekly
First let me start with the pre-installed apps that come with the iPhone – the eight that I use weekly, in many cases daily are,
Now for the downloaded apps:
WeatherEye by The Weather Network
If you live in Canada, Weather is a critical event. If you travel as much as I do, weather is a tool that helps you plan. I like this app for 3 reasons: 1) interface is attractive and easy to use, 2) lots of information provided, current, short and long-term and 3) the ease of flipping from one city to the next.
This is one of the ultimate business applications that is installed on every computer I own and all mobile devices. The repository of information that I use on a daily basis to make the decisions I make.
This could be an entire blog post itself, but let me boil it down to 3 main reasons why I use FourSquare (BTW – I do check in almost everywhere I go with foursquare – follow me). Reason #1 – more so in the US, but checking in allows me to see popularity of this application and watch grow patterns in terms of what people are using it for, #2) connecting with people – for business FourSquare allows me, especially at conferences, to see who is around that I need to connect with and to broadcast that I am around and for personal, foursquare has connected me with friends when our paths cross, and #3) deals – mostly in the US, but checking in can unlock discounts.
Great little app for tracking your calorie intake, use it daily.
#2 – Apps I use monthly
There are lots, so here a rapid fire:
DropBox – sometimes you just to access a file on the go
Globe and Mail – keep current on news in Canada
YellowPages.ca – the ultimate business look-up tool. For a deeper review, check out my blog post – New YellowPages.ca Application Available
Awesome Note – integrates with Evernote and is used as a task list – the notification feature is what I really like
What’s On? – Great for hotels, punch in the area code/zip code, select the provider and have access to tv schedule
AccuFuel – Handy app for tracking your gas milage
Air Canada – checkin to your flights and get notified of changes, killer
Skype – for the most part works great, however, if a super critical phone call, don’t rely on Skype
TED Mobile – I always take some time to listen to the latest speakers
#3 – Other apps I like
RedFlagDeals and ShopToIt – two great Canadian shopping applications for deals and product inventory
WebEx – if you need to jump on a presentation while in the cab, this gives you access – although screen size can be a big problem. The iPad version is killer though
Units – need a conversion in a pinch?
Shazam – spent a lot of money buying music from iTunes because of this app.
Flixster – killer movie application, will give you a sense of what you are in for and whether it is worth the money
What’s your favorite applications?
Over the past few years I have blogged often about news in the Canadian Space regarding mobile. Up until this point in time, I never stated explicitly that mobile was a necessity for SMBs in Canada but, we are at the tipping point in Canada of mobile usage (especially SmartPhone usage) and it is now very important for SMBs to start thinking mobile and most importantly make sure their content is mobile friendly.
What is mobile friendly content from a SMB? In a nutshell, it is when you can view your content on a mobile device (Apple iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) in a native format by which the user does not have to zoom or pinch the screen (for all your iPhone users). For this example, I am going to use my personal Dentist, Optimum Dentistry in Marda Loop to demonstrate the difference between Mobile Enhanced Content and Rendering on a Mobile Phone.
This is Rendering on a iPhone (and is not mobile enhanced content):
Hours of Operations Page:
This is Mobile Enhanced Content:
Hours of Operations Page:
As a user – which one your you prefer to land on?
Mobile enhanced content basically means rendering for the native device in which the user is viewing, which really means that your website designer need to put some specific code on your website that detects the users device and serves up content formatted for that device.
Normally, mobile sites will consist of less content than website. Keep in simple – a) what you do, b) hours of operations, c) map and driving directions (you can usually use the native device for this), d) what you sell. Keep all the enhanced content, flash, massive photo galleris and in some cases if you have advanced forms or e-commerce off you mobile site; devices are too small and in mobile, LESS = MORE.
1) If you don’t own a iPhone or Blackberry, find somebody who does and type in your website URL on the phone’s browser
2) If your site looks like the first example above, it is not mobile enhanced, call your web designer and if he/she can’t help, fire them and find somebody else
3) If your site looks like the second example above, then you are good to go
What About Mobile Marketing in Canada?
Well this is where it gets very easy. There are really 2 key places that you need to be concerned about when it comes to mobile marketing in Canada. Google and YellowPages.ca. NOTE: if you are a client of YellowPages.ca, all your business listing information gets syndicated to Google (as well as MSN and Yahoo). If you want a quick snapshot of syndication in Canada, check out an old blog post titled – Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know.
Both Google and YellowPages.ca are completely mobile enhanced web properties. See examples below for looking at data on Ramanda Hotel and Suites in Vancouver.
To learn more about Google Mobile click here.
To learn more about YellowPages.ca Mobile click here.
The above are mobile web. In the application space, Google does not disclose its download numbers, but YellowPages.ca has now been downloaded over 1.8M times, which by all accounts makes it the most downloaded local application in Canada. At this point, any content that you have on YellowPages.ca is automatically ported over to YellowPages.ca Mobile + YellowPages.ca Mobile Applications, so SMBs are getting growing coverage.
In March of this year, I posted the following blog post which shows you some screenshots of the iPhone application by YellowPages.ca – New YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Available. In June, I followed up with the following post introducing the iPad application for YellowPages.ca – First Look – YellowPages.ca iPad Application which managed to become #1 within 24-hours of its launch and has consistently stayed in the top 50 downloaded applications.
Screenshot of iPad Application Search Results:
Enhanced SMB Content on the iPad:
Lastly, back in April I did a comparison of the top mobile applications in Canada, from a SMB perspective – the voting is still open if you want to vote for your favorite mobile interface, please do so.
In Conclusion …. 3 Tips for Canadian SMBs on Mobile Thinking
1) Make sure your content is mobile enhanced on your website URL (talk to your web design company)
2) Make sure your content is distributed in YellowPages.ca and Google (this will give you the majority of coverage and at this point is included in both offerings, no need to pay extra)
3) In your analytics, track the number of mobile views (you will probably be surprised at the increasing number of your customers who are accessing your basic business data via mobile).
Overtime as the mobile space heats up, this simplified strategy will change, but for now, keep it simple, prep your content and start to monitor usage.
I have a very close friend of mine that was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. In case you are not aware, Celiac’s is a is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Read more at Wikipedia or Celiac.com.
The way to manage Celiac’s is to go on a strick Gluten-Free diet (or the removal of all wheat product from your diet). If my friend eats food with gluten in it, it can put her in bed for a couple of days and can be quite painful. On a personal note, I have also moved to a gluten-free reduced diet with my wife since the fall of last year.
Since my wife and I started our gluten-free reduces lifestyle we find the web is a pretty good place to go for generic information on going gluten-free. One of the challenges is looking for for gluten-free restaurants in cities. Not saying that it does not work but here are my specific issues with using the web.
Try – “gluten-free in XXXXX” where XXXXX is any city. You will usually end up with links to information sources on celiac’s or gluten-free and some resources of Gluten-Free restaurants. Some local businesses who have done a good job of optimizing for this keyword will rise to the top, but in a lot of cases, I notice businesses who say they have gluten-free options which does not mean they have a specific gluten-free menu. As my friend pointed out, it can be extremely frustrating to find details on either gluten-free menu’s or restaurants that cater to people with Celiac’s (which BTW cross-contamination can be a big issue).
So my specific issue with the web:
1) results for a city are usually a hodgepodge or results of “information” sites and some local sites
2) some of the directories have way to many restaurants come up under gluten-free but there is no information as to specific gluten-free menus or how they prevent cross-contamination. Net effect, not really relevant.
3) I need to be in front of computer. This can be a real challenge when you are on the go to have to boot up your computer. My mobile phone is always on me and trying to surf the web on a mobile phone can be challenging at best.
I have recently discovered a really cool application for my iPhone called Celiac Feed. In a nutshell; a user generated application that works based on the location of your iPhone to provide you with a list of restaurants/bakeries in your area that provide gluten-free options. The locations only make the list when one of the users recommends. In the Celiac world I have found out that people love to share information and really support each other. Therefore, the level of trust from these recommendations goes way up.
This application was probably one reason why my friend decided to purchase her iPhone as opposed to a Blackberry. She was on the fence for awhile in terms of which one she would buy. After I showed her this application (and although the information in Canada is limited) and the user base seems pretty small at this point, she decided on the iPhone and has been active on this application every since.
This got me thinking about the major shift that is happening to mobile. Was this one case where the application drove a sale of hardware and how many times a day is this happening now? Not sure if you agree this is a profound as I think it is, but I find it very interesting that a tiny niche application can drive a $500+ sale. For me, this is transformative as more and more devices become ubiquitous, it will be the utility of the device that will drive sales.
For niche local based applications, smart phones are far more superior than trying to search on the web. As an example, this morning at the Bed and Breakfast we are staying in (The Cottage in Qualicum Beach, BC) the owners knew we had people coming with a gluten-free intolerance and actually went out and purchased Gluten-Free bread for us. The bread itself was amazing, it actually tasted like real bread. They bought it at a place called Village Bulk Foods that has in it a Silly-Yak Bakery (a gluten-free kitchen) where they make breads, muffins and more.
So I immediately added this a recommendation to Celiac Feed along with my comments for everybody in this community. This was easier that trying to go to the web to post and is now immediately available to this mobile community.
If you have a gluten-free intolerance and an iPhone, I strongly recommend you download and Celiac Feed application it works well. More people need to use and contribute to it to make it really rock in Canada.
Here are some screenshots of the application from my location in Qualicum Beach, BC.
Have you tried other gluten-free applications for your smart phone? Please comment below with your experiences in using mobile in a niche way.
Well it is Friday night and I had another week of travelling. This week I was down at the Chirp Conference (first developers conference for Twitter) in San Francisco. The team at TechCrunch did a great job of covering the conference, here are some articles to check out if you have not already:
– Twitter has 105,779,710 Registered Users, Adding 300K A Day
– Twitter Adds Places To Its Geo-Tweets, Just Don’t Call It A Check-In
– Live From Chirp: Twitter’s Platform Roadmap
– Ev Explains Twitter’s Move Into Mobile Apps: “Otherwise We Are Failing Users”
So enough about Chirp, this has been covered extensively this week.
While I am waiting for my wife I was playing with my iPhone, actually wishing I had an iPad (after the Chirp conference and speaking to a number of people about their iPads, I am convinced that I need to buy one, but that for another day). Back to my iPhone – I was playing with Mobile Web, not iPhone applications and I got to wondering about the Mobile Web experiences for Canadians?
So here is what I did.
I visited the following sites through my Safari browser on my phone. Google.ca, YellowPages.ca, Yahoo.ca, and 411.ca. I tried to visit yelp.ca, but it gave me their actual website, not their mobile enhanced so they are not included.
I then entered the exact search term “restaurants toronto” for each site and was presented with their results. The screenshots below are the results page for each of the above websites. Check them out yourself.
So here is what I want to know? Based on the screenshots below for the search “restaurants toronto” and nothing but the screenshots below, which mobile application provides the best results? I am going to leave it as best results, you decide whether best results mean content, look and feel or brand loyalty.
In alphabetical order:
One more screenshot from an application that I am testing on my iPhone (it is not available to the general public yet) called Urbanizer, mood based searching. This application is going to rock. You can subscribe to get notified when it is available in the app store.
If we are missing your favorite mobile web application, put the URL in the comments, I would be happy to add it to this post.
Available as of this morning in the iTunes Store is the brand new YellowPages.ca mobile application for finding businesses and people with some cool new features, such as auto category selection, map based viewing of results, more added content and a completely brand new user interface.
Here are some screenshots of the application:
In November I posted on my blog and update on the fact that there were over 1/2 Million downloads and 3 reasons why Canadian love this application (click to read the original post). This release of the application stays consistent with those 3 reasons which include;
Simplicity – this version of the application remains true to its core of key functions that allow a user to get to the information they need.
Content – with a focus on videos, photos and more content coming soon, it displays the information that users want to see to help them make better decisions
Usability – with this upgrade comes a more user centric focus.
What do you think? Does this application hit the mark? Would be interested to hear your comments.
If you did not have a chance to read the press release for Yellow Pages Group 3rd Quarter Results this past Wednesday, there is one paragraph that is interesting for local search enthusiasts:
The priority in Directories continues to be the introduction of new products. During the quarter, YPG launched a new version of its popular YellowPages.ca™ local search application for the Apple iPhone. The latest version features advertiser video content and continues to put the power of Yellowpages.ca in the hands of on-the-go users. The YellowPages.ca™ mobile application remains in the leading free downloaded apps since launching at the iTunes App Store. To date, the company reports over 500,000 downloads of the iPhone and Blackberry® apps.
I originally posted about Canada’s First Integrated Business and People Search App back in April 2009. At that time, the application was #7 most popular free application within the first week.
Fast forward 6-months and the YellowPages.ca application is still in the top 20 free applications, here is a screenshot from this morning:
So What Makes This iPhone Application So Successful. I get this question alot in discussions with local search experts around the globe. I have summarized the success of this application to the following key points:
This is a under 1mb download that gives Canadian’s access to a Business Directory, People Directory and Reverse Look-up where a user can search by City, Landmark, Neighborhood or GPS. This follows in line with the new YellowPages.ca launched on October 12 – check out my post 15 Local Searches I have a Comment On, to see some example hyperlocal searches. The user ratings on iTunes as well as our user feedback prove this with over 200 of 500 ratings given it 5-stars and an average rating of 3.5. Here is the screenshot:
Note: many of the 1-star ratings are from a competitor of this app who have decided to use multiple user names to say negative things and promote their own application. Personally, I think it’s a pathetic marketing strategy that consists of flaming a ratings/reviews engine, but to each their own. There are some legitimate users who have bashed this application and I can assure you that YPG reads your comments and will act accordingly.
This application has a boat load of content including up-to-date business and people information, tens of thousands of videos and hundreds of thousands of pieces of enhanced content like hours of operations, payment types, etc. There is more content coming, but as a starting point, there is no other application in Canada that boosts such an impressive array of local content.
There has only been 2 iterations of this application since its launch. The second version of adding video was a very common user request and YPG is working on some new features that users are asking for. Stay Tuned.
Why is this significant. Many local applications release half-baked features (mostly in the hopes of getting some PR value) that either don’t work, work sporadically, have limited usability on a mobile platform, or simply don’t have enough content to be functional.
The YellowPages.ca application is a highly efficient app that delivers value by giving user what they want and when they need it. It delivers on a simple promise to connect buyers and sellers and this seems to resonant with Canadian mobile users. Sometimes simplicity can actually be the most efficient user experience.
What are you thoughts on the local mobile space? Will “cool” beat “functional”? Like the web, is content the king on mobile as well? What features would you like to see on a local application?
The latest download 3.0 software from Apple gives you the ability for Tethering your internet connect through your iphone to your computer. Here is the summary from the Apple web site, “If you travel with a PC laptop or Mac notebook, you know it can be difficult to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. With Internet tethering on iPhone, you don’t need one. Now you can share the 3G connection on your iPhone with your computer and connect to the Internet anywhere. When your iPhone is tethered, you can still send and receive data and make phone calls.” Link to Tethering on Apple website.
Since I have both a portable Internet stick from Rogers (Novatel Wireless Ovation MC9500D) I wanted to conduct a test to compare the upload and download speeds using my iPhone 3G and my Internet stick. Since both devices are using the 3G network from Rogers, my assumption that the speed tests should be fairly close. For the speedtest I used the Shaw Speed Test tool, available here.
I started by conducting a speed test using my wireless connection running Shaw’s High-Speed Internet. Here are the results of that speed test.
Here are the results from the Portable Internet Stick.
Here are the results from using my iPhone 3G connected with a USB cable.
Here are the results from using my iPhone 3G connection via Bluetooth.
As you can see from the results above, I was quite surprised at the lack of performance when comparing the iPhone 3G with the Portable Internet Stick. In both the download and the upload speeds, the portable internet stick clearly out performs tethering with the iPhone. This is interesting considering both where using the Roger’s 3G network.
Based on this test my conclusion; in a pinch tethering using your phone for quick connections would be completely fine, however, if you are a power portable user I would not rely solely on tethering as the speed is simply not there.
NOTE: this test was performed in the order listed above on July 3, 2009 between 11:30-11:50am MST.
Today I am officially announcing that my blog is iPhone compatible. I really could not take my credit for this, rather I need to give the credit to Brave New Code for developing the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. Here is what they say about their plugin – “More than just a plugin, WPtouch is an entire theme package for your WordPress website. Modeled after Apple’s app store design specs, WPtouch makes your WordPress website load lightning fast on touch mobile devices, show your content beautifully, all while not interfering with your regular theme.” Read More.
Okay, so how is this. First, you download the plugin, then you install it through your wordpress control panel and fully your customize it by adding analytic code and even Google Adsense code to get mobile advertising. That is pretty much it and you are up and running. If a user types if your blog on their iPhone, they will see a nicely formatted blog.
Here is an example of what the home page of my blog looks like on the iPhone,
If you want to see an snippet of the posting, you can click on the down arrow key beside the title to see a preview of the entire article:
The plugin very nicely displays images from within your blog posts:
Finally, you can read all the comments as well as post new comments directly from your iPhone:
Overall this is one of the best plugins and an absolute must for anybody who has a blog and wants to ensure it is compatible with the iPhone or the iPod touch.
Quick update regarding the YellowPages.ca Application in iTunes, as of this afternoon, we are now the #4 most downloaded application in iTunes Canada. See my original post introducing Canada’s Only Integrated Business and People Search for the iPhone. Check out the screenshot below: