Tag Archive | iphone

My Favorite iPhone Apps of 2010

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,
Mail,
Calendar,
Contacts,
Clock
Safari
iPod
Messages
and Calendar.

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.

The Weather Network - iPhone Application

Evernote
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.

Foursquare
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.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn apps
Great ways to stay connected with your social networks,

ShapeUp
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?

Yellow Pages Group is Canada’s Largest Canadian Internet Company! Is It True? Yes, Here’s Why [Part 1]

Full disclosure; I am the head of business development for Yellow Pages Group in Canada, check out my LinkedIn profile. What I will share with you below is public information that I felt was time to compile into one post. With the recent announcement of the SMB Targeted Campaign by YPG and with prominant bloggers like Greg Sterling posting, “YPG Aims New Brand Campaign at SMBs” the question will be raised – is it true? Is Yellow Pages Group Canada really the largest Canadian Internet company?

I get asked a lot about YPG in networking events, from former colleagues and friends as to what exactly is YPG doing in the online space. Many people wrongly assume that we simply print books and that we are irrelevant to SMBs when it comes to the web. When explained to them how active YPG is online, what properties we own, and our mission to put our advertisers in the “path of ready to buy consumers”, they usually start to see the full picture of how RELEVANT YPG actually is in the Canadian Internet Landscape and why I am as passionate as I am about this business.

To start with, here is the print ad that is running across the country and here is a link to the Radio Ads:

Yellow Pages Group - Let Us ReIntroduce Ourselves as Canada's Largest Internet Company

I will break this post into the following 3 parts to explain the rationale regarding this claim of Canada’s Largest Internet Company:

1) Reach
2) Content
3) Revenue

#1) Let’s Talk Reach and Distribution

When I talk reach, I like to use a third party company to measure relative reach. Therefore, below I will use ComScore Media Metrix as the benchmark to speak about reach. There are other methods to track reach, a) internal logs, b) alexa, c) compete, etc. but in the Canadian Media Landscape – Comscore is still a standard when it comes to companies making decisions about spending on digital ad budgets as well as completely independent, therefore I use them as the benchmark.

Let’s start by looking at the September 2010 ComScore Numbers for the top 20 Properties used by Canadians. Here is the list:

September 2010 ComScore Top 20 Web Properties in Canada

If you re-sort this list based to only Canadian Owned Companies, or majority owned by Canadians, the top 20 list breaks down to only 6 companies.

#1) Yellow Pages Group
#2) Sympatico.ca Property
#3) Canoe Network
#4) CTVglobemedia
#5) Postmedia Network (formerly, CanWest Interactive)
#6) The Weather Network Meteomedia

Based on this metric, it is clear that YPG is in fact Canada’s largest Canadian Owned Internet company.

One important aspect of the YPG network is its unique position of “ready to buy consumers” who have location intentions. The portfolio of properties that makes up Yellow Pages Group (see below) are a collection of sites that have intention to buy as a common element. This is a powerful as other leading web properties are focused on or have elements of research, education or entertainment. The leading search engine, Google, reports that 20% of their queries are location based as an example of how even major search engines are only partially used for the purposes of local.

In terms of the buying funnel it is very accurate to say that YPG Users are closer to the buying decision, which makes them highly qualified leads. If you disagree with this, I would like to hear your opinion why?

Here is a sample of the sites that make up the Yellow Pages Group network:

- YellowPages.ca & PagesJaunes.ca
- Canada411.ca
- RedFlagDeals.com
- Restaurantica.com
- SuperPages.ca
- AutoTrader.ca & AutoHebdo.net
- LesPac.com
- BuySell.com
- HomeTrader.ca
- CanPages.ca
- ZipLocal.ca

On the Social Front – earlier this year I did a post on How Social is Yellow Pages Group in Canada – if you are interested, check out to see how active we are in Social Media.

On the distribution front, YPG is one of Canada’s most active companies that continually looks to distribute its content + its advertisers content throughout the web eco-system. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Search Engines – YPG listing data is distributed to Google, Yahoo and MSN. If your business is listed on YellowPages.ca, it will be listed on all major search engines in Canada. See attribution at the bottom of this sample from Google.

Google Maps Showing YellowPages.ca Attribution

YellowPages.ca Attribution on Google Maps

Major Portals – YellowPages.ca is integrated on all of Canada’s major portals, MSN, Sympatico, Yahoo, AOL, PostMedia Network, The Weather Network to name a few. Here are some example of doing a search for DENTISTS-TORONTO:

MSN – Dentists in Toronto
Yahoo – Dentists in Toronto
Sympatico – Dentists in Toronto
AOL – Dentists in Toronto
The Weather Network – Dentists in Toronto

PostMedia Including Sites Such as:
Canada.com – Dentists in Canada
Montreal Gazette – Dentists in Montreal
Calgary Herald – Dentists in Calgary
Vancouver Sun – Dentists in Vancouver
Edmonton Journal – Dentists in Edmonton
Ottawa Citizen – Dentists in Ottawa

Telcos – Distribution through major Telco websites including Bell.ca, MyTelus.com, MTS through MyWinnipeg.com, Bell Aliant, NorthernTel, TBay Tel.

At the end of September, YPG and Telus announced a first of its kind relationship in Canada to preload the YellowPages Mobile Application on Telus Blackberries.

Other VerticalsPraized Media, FindItInCanada, WhitePages Network, DuProPrio.com, ByTheOwner.com, Lozzal

Developer Community

Last month, YPG released an Open API called YellowAPI.com to the Development Community, read the press release here.

YellowAPI.com – The Yellow API allows ANYONE to build their own applications and mashups by providing dynamic local business data. We supply you the tools to encourage innovation and expand your audience reach to 33 million people. Read more about our data and opportunities in the Overview.

Mobile

In June, YPG debuted its iPad Application (see my post when this was the #1 app in iTunes) and according to the press release was approaching 1 Million Downloads of its mobile applications. As of today, this number is well over 1 Million.

Think about this for a second.

Over 1 Million Downloads of applications, for a 100% pure Canadian application that is not a game. There are many great Canadians Applications for SmartPhones, TheWeatherNetwork, GlobeandMail, Sportnet, etc. which all are incredible in their vertical, but YPG is the only one focused solely on connecting local buyers and consumers – that is pretty cool.

In terms of mobile development YPG Canada is also a leader, releasing a specific version for each major platform used by Canadians. Check out more at Yellow Pages Mobile.

Yellow Pages Group's Mobile Application for Major Mobile Platforms

Although there is no 3rd party that benchmarks applications, I can tell you personally that I have talked with many of the major players in Canada and the US and at over 1M downloads, YPG is not only a leader in Canada (all agree that we likely #1) but would be a leading application down south as well. When it comes to local mobile applications, there is little doubt that YPG would be #1.

So What Does This Mean For a Small Business

If your business relies on directive advertising as a source of leads, YPG still drives a significant number of leads. In my upcoming post on revenue and the SMB portfolio, I will explain how YPG has embraced other sources of lead management for SMBs, namely Search Engines, to continue to drive its mission of connecting buyers and sellers.

In the interim, I suggest you take a look at the following posts, some of these are a couple of years old but still very relevant for Small Business Owners.

Directive vs. Creative Advertising

Reverse Engineers the Local Media Mix – Who Gets Credit for the Sale

Why Really Smart Advertisers Look Beyond the Big Shiny Numbers

Hits, Page Views and Unique Visitors – Which Metric Should I Use?

What Do You Think of Part 1?

Mobile Applications Bring Local Relevancy to Gluten-Free Restaurants and Drive iPhone Sales?

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.

Celiac Feed Search Results in Qualicum Beach

Results for Village Bulk Foods in Qualicum Beach

Have you tried other gluten-free applications for your smart phone? Please comment below with your experiences in using mobile in a niche way.

Which is the Best Canadian ‘Mobile Web’ Local Search Product for the iPhone?

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:

411.ca
411.ca Mobile Web - Restaurants Toronto

Google Web
Google Web - Restaurants Toronto Search

Yahoo Web
Yahoo - Restaurant Toronto Search

YellowPages.ca
YellowPages.ca - Restaurants Toronto Search

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.

Urbanizer
Urbanizer - Restaurants Toronto
Urbanizer - Restaurants Toronto

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.

First Look – Screenshots of the new YellowPages.ca

Last week I had the pleasure of posting screenshots on the new YellowPages.ca iPhone Application launch – check out that post to see those pictures, this week I get the pleasure of posting screenshots on the new YellowPages.ca.

Canada’s Largest Online Directory has just launched its most ambitious release. This release includes some new features that are sure to please users. I will follow this posting up with a more detailed look at the new features, but here are some screenshots and highlights.

Of course the best way to experience this new platform is to check it our yourself at YellowPages.ca.

New YellowPages.ca Home Page

You will notice some new features on the home page. Type-ahead, links to Deals, provided by RedFladDeals.com and new Dining Guide provided by Restaurantica.com.

New YellowPages.ca Home page

Deals from RedFlagDeals.com

Deals Provided by RedFlagDeals.com

Dining Guide by Restaurantica.com

Dining Guide by Restaurantica.com

New Search Results Page

Here I did a search for Restaurants in Calgary.

Restaurant in Calgary Search

On this page, notice a few items. At the top of the screen – towards the right hand side you will notice that I am now logged into YellowPages.ca using my Facebook Account. You will want to do this as this is what is going to allow you to rate and review businesses.

Logged in Using Facebook Connect

Another neat feature is when you have a listing that has lots of individual listings in a city, for example, big chain restaurants. Here is a search for Restaurants in Toronto and you will notice the listing for Mandarin Restaurant expanded to show me locations.

Mandarin Restaurant Listing in Toronto Expanded to Show All Listings

New Merchant Page With Ratings and Reviews

Here is a search for Monty’s Crab Shack in Calgary.

Monty's Crab Shack

If you are the first to review this business, select the review this business icon and you will be presented with the following pop-up window:

Monty's Crab Shack Reviewing

Finally if you are looking at a listing that does not contain any enhanced content information, YellowPages.ca will suggest other places that are similar that contain enhanced information. Here is a search for Badass Jacks Subs and Wraps in Edmonton.

Similar Businesses to Badass Jacks and Subs in Edmonton

Focus on Mobile

New YellowPages.ca Mobile section featuring direct access to all the popular device applications such as iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm.

YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Centre

The Video Channel continues to get it home page exposure and is fast becoming the source of local video searches in Canada. Check out my original post for YellowPages.ca Video Channel Get Home Page Exposure.

In my opinion, the Online Services team at Yellow Pages Group did a great job pulling this together. From my perspective, always great to working with a team of incredibly talented individuals who can make big projects like this happen. I am proud of their work.

So what do you think?

New YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Available

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:

YellowPages.ca Mobile Application on itunes

Find a People Using YellowPages.ca Mobile Application

YellowPages.ca Application Map View

YellowPages.ca Detailed Merchant Page on Mobile

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.

6 Travel Tips for the Frequent Flyer in Canada

I travel a lot for my work as head of business development for Yellow Pages Group. In fact, I have spent so much of my time in airplanes and hotels that I have achieved Super Elite status with Air Canada and a Platinum member at Starwood Properties. I was telling some of my co-workers things that I do to help in speeding up travel and they suggested that I should write a blog post about some travel tips that anybody can use. .

So, here are some tips that I have put together that make my travelling life a little easier. Hopefully you find a couple of these useful in your travels.

Tip #1 – Purchase Some Space Saver Bags (the non-vacuum type)

I try not to check any luggage preferring instead to take carry-ons; I find it much faster when you don’t check luggage to get out of the airport. The issue with carry-ons is making sure you don’t exceed the size limit. What I find works out well to allow you to pack up to 7-days worth of clothing is the space saver bags. However, make sure you don’t buy the ones that require a vacuum cleaner (good for when you leave, not so good when at the hotel) – instead buy the ones that you simply use your body Lose Weight Exercise to push out the air.

Space Saver Bugs for Travelling

Personally, these have helped a great deal in not having to check luggage. They are great if you are using a airline size piece of luggage or simply looking to add your clothes to a backpack – it keeps them nice and tight. Downside; you may run into the issue where some clothes need to be ironed.

Tip #2 – Know Your Airplane and Which Bag to Bring

I mostly fly Air Canada and when you book with them they always tell you the airplane in which you are flying in. Notice the screenshot below but the numbers that are E90, 320, 321, tell you the aircraft. The one to be particularly aware of is the E90 or the CRJ because checked luggage can be an issue if you are sitting in executive class. For example on the “left side of the plane” if you are looking towards the cockpit in seats 1a, 2a and 3a the overhead bin is extremely small and will not fit any luggage. On the “right side of the plane” the bins are larger but you cannot exceed the recommended size of luggage. This overhead bin will fit jackets, backpacks or even a small duffle bag.

Air Canada Aircraft Types

When I am doing a short-haul, less than 3-nights (usually this means Calgary-Montreal), I will pack in a small backpack my clothes (using a space saver bag) and liquids. Specially here I will use the backpack because it allows me to use the small overhead bins. There is always lots of room, easy to grab stuff out when you deplane and you don’t have to worry about anybody squishing your stuff.

Tip #3 – Know your Airports for Mobile Checkin

This one is probably going to change, but here is my experience this year with mobile checkin. The Montreal airport has the proper scanners to get through the priority line as well as security. I find that Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver tend to take longer when using mobile check-in because they don’t have the proper mobile scanners. I even had one person tell me that this was not a boarding pass, thank goodness for other employees in the security line. For now, if I am leaving out of Montreal I will go mobile check-in all the time. For the other airports in Canada, I will use a paper boarding pass and flying out the US (at least the places I have been) I will continue to use a paper boarding pass.

Note: in Montreal you don’t have to be a frequent flyer to use mobile checkin. Anybody can and if you select that option, you can get through security much faster.

Tip #4 – Know Which Clothes Set Off the Security Alarm

Flying out the US it is a policy to remove your footwear. In Canada, it does seem to be a hard and fast policy (sometimes I have gone through with shoes, sometimes I am asked to remove them). I have one pair of shoes that always set-up off the alarm. When I wear these, whether asked or not, I will remove them – otherwise I will end up spending more time in the security line.

This is the same for belts. Some of my belts will not set-up the alarm, others will. I have a good inventory of knowing which ones will and will not. That said, this is a trial and error learning, so this tip is really meant for those frequent flyers.

Tip #5 – If you have a an iPhone, useful Mobile Applications I use when travelling

iPhone Applications

WeatherEye by The Wether Network – know the weather of where you are going and dress/pack accordingly. WeatherEye for iPhone (links to iTunes).

YellowPages.ca Business/People Finder – handy application, very clean and simple (read one of my previous blog post on this application) and a great tool for looking up businesses and/or people in your destination city. YellowPages.ca iPhone launches iTunes, YellowPages.ca Android and other devices. For Blackberry text – blackberry to 411411 for the application.

What’s On – A great application to know what is on in your hotel room and what channel. Works in Canada and the US. What’s On for iPhone launches iTunes.

ATM Hunter – this is issued by MasterCard and is a great location based application when you need to find an ATM. ATM Hunter for iPhone).

Skype – this is a killer application that can save you tons of money on roaming charges. Note: you need to be connected via WIFI to use, but most hotels offer WiFi. You can then make calls use this application and forgo any roaming charges (great when you are in the US) and pay Skype’s low per minute fees. The only issue – if you receive a text or you have your calendar set to notify you of a meeting, it will drop the call. Still not 100% but I have saved hundreds this year on long distance/roaming calls from my cell. Skype for the iPhone.

Here are a few other applications that I use when travelling:

- Restaurantica – good for looking at reviews of Canadian restaurants
- YellowPages.com Mobile – US based find a business search
- Globe and Mail – keeps me up to date on CDN news when I am away
- Shooger – mostly US, but a great application for coupons and deals
- Yelp – really good for restaurant reviews while in the US
- Facebook – you need to stay connected
- Tweetie 2 – a must have if you use Twitter

This are a few that I use regularly when travelling – if you have others that you recommend, please enter them in the comments section.

Tip #6 – Bring the Right Power Connections

If you plan to work on the airplane there are two power connections that you can leverage. The USB connection that is in the TV (great for charging your phone) and the regular power jack that is connected to your seat.

For MacBook Pro users, remember to bring your regular power cord attachment for the 3-prong, otherwise, your standard power cord won’t work on the airplane.

MacBook Pro Power Cord

Those are 6 of my most common travel tips that I would recommend. If you have other travel tips that you would like to share, please feel free to comment.

Canada’s Yellow Pages(TM) Mobile App, over 1/2 Million Downloads and 3 Reasons for its Success

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:

YellowPages.ca Application in the Top 20 Free Apps in iTunes

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:

1) Simplicity

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:

YellowPages.ca Ratings in Apple's iTunes

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.

2) Content

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.

3) Usability

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?

iPhone 3G Tethering Speed vs. Roger’s Portable Internet Stick

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.

Shaw Internet Speed Test



Here are the results from the Portable Internet Stick.

Roger's High Speed Portable Internet Stick



Here are the results from using my iPhone 3G connected with a USB cable.

iPhone 3G Tethering USB Cable



Here are the results from using my iPhone 3G connection via Bluetooth.

iPhone 3G Tethering 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.

My Blog is Fully iPhone Compatible – Thanks to WPtouch: Mobile Plugin

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,

Darby Sieben Home Page 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:

Darby Sieben iPhone Article Expanded

The plugin very nicely displays images from within your blog posts:

Darby Sieben iPhone Images in Blog Post

Finally, you can read all the comments as well as post new comments directly from your iPhone:

Darby Sieben iPhone Blog Comments

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:

YellowPages.ca iPhone Application - #4 Top Download in Canada