Facebook may have found the key to mobile world domination. It’s Paper.


Facebook Paper imageFebruary 3, the day before Facebook celebrates its 10th birthday (my granddaughter Meagan just turned 10, too), the social media giant released an elegant new app, called Paper. It displays your Facebook news feed – and other personally relevant content – in a simple, beautifully designed format perfectly tuned for smartphones.

Data released last month by Flurry Analytics, whose tools measure usage of the 300,000+ mobile applications it tracks by more than 1 billion monthly active smartphone users, shows Facebook’s dominance.

According to Flurry’s report, smartphone users spend 18% of their connected time using the Facebook app. That’s three times longer than all other social media services combined.

Mobile users spend 80% of their connected time on apps, according to Flurry. As our colleagues at 7/Apps note, smartphone users overwhelmingly prefer to use apps for their online activities rather than mobile friendly websites. A responsive website is essential, too, but for many companies it isn’t sufficient to meet their customers’ mobile needs.

Paper’s design is simple. Reminiscent of news readers Flipboard and Zite, it’s built to take full advantage of smartphone capabilities.

The creative hand behind Paper is Mike Matas, who designed software for the original iPhone and the interface for the Nest thermostat.

I’m an Apple fanboy and Nest user. So I wasn’t surprised to learn an Apple alum was responsible for the design. Matas’ company was acquired in 2011 by Facebook. He now leads creative Labs, a new group of small teams inside Facebook. Paper is Creative Labs’ first product.

If Paper is any indication, Facebook’s second 10 years will be as remarkable as the first.

If you’re a smartphone user, download Paper. It’s a native app that confirms why mobile users spend most of their time using apps.

Click the image to view the new promo video:

Facebook paper video




walkie talkies

Voxer’s new app is a “10-4, good buddy”

by Cam Clark

voxer logo

Do you ever read a text and swear you can hear the person on the other end saying it? Well, you might be hearing things, or you might just be using the new app Voxer.

Voxer is a walkie talkie application for smartphones that lets you send instant audio, text, photo and location messages to one or a group of your friends. Now, I know the the thought of a walkie talkie on a smart phone isn’t exactly a revolution. You would think it’s maybe even a step backwards. However, Voxer solves a major problem for me – texting.

voxer app I am not one that enjoys jamming out text on a smart phone. I have tried and been disappointed with today’s talk-to-text translators, such as Dragon. They tend to be cumbersome and error prone. Even as easy as today’s phones have made it to type, it’s still irritating to thumb your way through the alphabet. Then there are those texts that get interpreted the wrong way, and we have all had them. I would much rather talk than type.

Some would ask, “Why not just call?” To that I say that there are many social norms attached to calling someone. When you just need a quick answer, these niceties can feel bothersome and time consuming. But you don’t have to worry about being potentially interruptive, salutations or the obligatory need to carry on a conversation when texting. It’s perfectly socially acceptable to leave them out when communicating through that medium.

Looking forward at the industry as a whole, I can absolutely see this capability being implemented as part of the next iteration of MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) on all mobile phones. While this is unfortunate for Voxer, it’s good for you and me.

I have found myself a little obsessed with this app lately and I hope you will be, too. Check it out for iOS or Android and tell me what you think. Can you see yourself finding this type of communication useful?

new year fireworks

My 12 expectations for 2012

time protester

As I look forward to 2012, here’s a short list of my PR, social media and technology expectations for the year.

1. Counsel will be king. PR firms wrestle with their responsibilities as new tools and technologies reshape how people communicate. PRSA, the largest association of PR professionals, recently launched a “Public Relations Defined” conversation to modernize the meaning of PR. The review is timely. PR professionals, at their core, are (or should be) strategic counselors. I expect 2012 will see more clients looking for strategic help from PR pros, rather than just tactical support for their media relations, social media and community outreach.

2. “Power to the people.” When John Lennon recorded that song in 1971, it became an anthem for a generation opposed to the war in Vietnam. This year’s Arab Spring and the Occupy movement pushed Time Magazine to declare The Protestor as its Person of the Year. The biggest difference in today’s protests is individual empowerment facilitated by ubiquitous, low-cost communications technologies – cell phones, smart phones, social media, texting, etc. I expect empowered and disgruntled protestors will shake up and redefine politics in 2012.

3. It’s a mobile world. Windows we opened a few years ago on our desktop PCs are now with us wherever we go. I expect 2012 will accelerate the obsolescence of desktop computers. I expect one item pushing that accelerator pedal will be Apple’s iPad 3. That’s the technology toy I want most in 2012, with its rumored high-res screen and Thunderbolt connectivity. (Apple, please release it in March, as rumored. It would be a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.)

apple logo
4. Apple still leads. Steve Jobs’ passing worried Apple fanboys like me, saddened by the loss of such a visionary leader. But I’m convinced part of his leadership is evident in the deep talent pool he built and the company’s commitment to the exceptionalism Jobs instilled. I’m expecting to be blown away by at least one Apple announcement next year, in addition to the iPad 3.

5. More video, more places. TV (video) is the emotional heavyweight in communications. It’s also the heavyweight in bandwidth consumption and cost. I expect we’ll continue to see technology improve delivery and simplify production. Websites, social networks and online demand for video programming will speed acceptance of second screens (computers, smartphones, tablets) as almost interchangeable video platforms.

6. More B2B social networking. Social networking dominates Americans’ online time. Employers that previously sought to limit or block workplace access to social networks will increasingly embrace social tools to support internal collaboration, customer relationship management and marketing. Most early adopters have been consumer-facing companies. I expect fast growth next year among business-to-business firms.

7. Authenticity vs. professional polish. There’s a dilemma in the digital world. On one hand, many businesses feel uncomfortable or unprepared to produce their own online content. They rely on professionals to help them communicate in blogs and social media. On the other hand, online content produced outside the company can lack the credibility of content produced by the credited author. I expect we’ll see more companies seek training and support for internal authors in order to make their digital communications more authentic.

8. The Oregonian on the iPad. There’s a lot of speculation about the demise of newspapers. Count me among those saddened by changes in the news business. It’s disturbing to see news staffs shrinking. As news media experiment with new delivery platforms, I expect The Oregonian will be among the newspapers developing an app to deliver content to tablet devices like the iPad. I can’t imagine NOT starting my day with a print copy of The Oregonian, but I’d still pay to get their newspaper content on my iPhone and iPad.

9. Romney vs. Obama. After all the Republican presidential candidate debates, the months of campaigning and the ups and downs in polls, I expect Republicans will nominate Mitt Romney to face off against President Obama next fall. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

10. Basics continue to matter. With so many shiny new communications toys to explore, it’s easier than ever to get caught up tinkering with tactics. But I expect, as the experimentation with new platforms and tools is analyzed, we’ll see that communications basics still prevail. Success in public relations will always be rooted in research, targeting to connect with the right audiences, persuasive writing, effective execution and thoughtful evaluation to measure success in achieving goals.

11. More of our lives will be in the clouds. As huge data centers spring up across Oregon (and around the world), it’s evident that much of what we consider private is no longer locked up for safe keeping in our homes and offices – or even in our computers and hard drives. We’re willingly sharing more about ourselves on social networks, and depending on others to store our music and photo libraries, as well as much of the rest of what we consider personal or proprietary. I expect we’ll see even more such sharing in 2012, and we’ll hear just as much angst about the erosion of personal privacy.

US seal
12. Partisanship will keep Congress paralyzed. There’s no joy in this expectation. But watching the chaos in Congress is beyond disappointing. Something serious has poisoned our political process. If elected officials can’t resolve it, I expect this year’s Occupy protests will pale in comparison to civil unrest we’ll see.

Those are my expectations for 2012. On behalf my colleagues and my family, I wish you the best this Holiday season and in the year ahead.