Tag Archives: fun

Mobile Webbys: Things are getting fun again

The mobile Webbys were announced recently and, of course, I’m excited BBC News won the People’s Choice award in the News category, but I thought I’d offer another thought I had after going through the list of nominees and winners: Things are getting fun again.

From the Webbys mobile list

From the Webbys mobile list

Games have always dominated in the app stores and as mobile downloads.  We know this.  But it looks like elements of fun and ‘play’ are edging their way into some of tools and utilities that are emerging and I think this trend is great and important.  So many of the sites and apps out there are either ‘functional’ or ‘games’ and very few of them manage to make their functionality fun in a way that isn’t distracting or annoying.  I think the apps that do this well will have a serious competitive advantage over apps that make you feel like you’re still working in the office.

I’m no stranger to foursquare – and if we’re friends on it, you’ll already know that.  Is it creepy?  A little.  But you only have to broadcast your location when you want to and to the people you want to know about it – like any other tool, I think we just need to use it wisely.  And if you use it, you can’t deny that ‘checking in’ has been made kinda fun.

I think its great that the leaderboard and badges you earn have integrated a level of play and fun into a functional city guide.  The way foursquare balances city guide functionality with social connections and fun competition is just great.  I’m curious to see what they’re doing with all the attention data and location data they’re collecting.  It must be a VERY rich data source about customers and business that’s valuable to many sectors.

And speaking of fun being woven into utility, huddle seems to be trying to leverage a brand name associated with sports and play to sell its project management app (also on the Webby’s list). Wouldn’t you rather be playing (American) football or rugby than doing project management?  Conversely, mobile stream sharing service UStream were on the Webbys list – but wouldn’t you rather play with your Kyte (one of their competitors with a more fun name)?

Geocaching is definitely a game but is another example of hardcore technology services and functionality and taking on the face of game play.  It’s been around for years (my friends Laura and Dave introduced me to it years ago in San Diego) but the app lowers the barrier to entry so nicely that I think this could make the activity alot more mainstream.  Being able to tap into users desires to feel like they’re having fun and play to get them to adopt technologies is one of the things that I think will drive the use of apps and ultimately, drive their value to users and for their creators.

Fun fashion fantasy fone stuff

My Doggie Ring Ring

My Doggie Ring Ring

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… No… It’s a dog, it’s a phone… WHAT?

I’ve always thought alot of the digital media devices we see are UGLY so was relieved/amused by two things that crept into my inbox today thanks to some very fashionable colleagues.  (If this type of thing interests you, I highly recommend you read We Make Money Not Art which looks at the intersection of art, fashion and technology.)

The first is seen in the picture above.  OK, it might not be QUITE what everyone would call fashionable – but it’s a great stab at making mobiles fun and fashionable.  Apparently, this is what one of my colleagues learned recently when she went to the showroom for the company that made the My Doggie Ring Ring in Japan.  They’re called iida – and doggie phones aren’t the only cool thing they make (but it might be the most fun!).  They’ve also got a range of concept musical instrument phones and ones that incorporate solar panels.  The work is being done in conjunction with the Au Design Project – check out their site for more interesting concepts.

I really like the way that the designs incorporate fun and fantasy with objects that provide us with utlity.  Sure, usability and utility are great – but I sometimes feel in our hyperconnected world that we need a little room to indulge ourselves with a bit of fantasy and frivolity and that all too often we gloss over this because it might impinge on usability.  Why shouldn’t we have devices that give us a laugh, connect with our tastes and personalities?  Services on mobiles are becoming more personalised – why shouldn’t the devices themselves do the same – and maybe give us a tiny bit or reliefe from the hyperconnected world we live in?

On a slightly less practical note, I was also sent a picture of a QR Code belt buckle.  So, if you want people taking pictures of your crotch and then being able to use that picture to download a URL to their phone to go to your blog (or other online profile?) you can now do it!  More here.

QR Code Belt

QR Code Belt

And… not mobile related at all but as long as I’m pointing to some everyday objects re-imagined, I couldn’t resist this one – Creative Coffins.  Eco-friendly (cardboard!) and reflect your tastes, pastimes, nationality – whatever you want.  I quite like this beekeeper’s model:

beekeeper coffin

beekeeper coffin