The trillion dollar question is if this emerging chatbot technology will annihilate the phone call. Though I’m bullish on messaging and chatbots, the answer to that question is likely no.
Bots could displace apps just as apps displaced search. “Search started with consumers typing into a box,” Pingup’s Ron Braunfeld said recently. “[AI] is all about knowing where you are, time of day, what’s in your refrigerator; and giving you the right information without having to search.”
Most beacon scenarios require users to jump through a set of compatibility hoops. But Google has been quietly working on an antidote: The physical web. To sidestep some of the opt-in friction, it positions the browser as the beacon interface and it transmits beacon content using URLs.
Apple is co-promoting Square’s NFC reader for SMBs. and selling the readers in Apple Stores. The $49 reader accepts Apple Pay, which significantly lowers the barrier for SMBs to get in the game. The move should boost Apple Pay, but there also may be much bigger ambitions to lock in market share in new areas.
With each passing tech revolution, response time diminishes while opportunity cost grows. Local media companies that were late to the consumer internet or the smartphone revolution already know this pain. With VR and AR, local startups will be more agile to experiment than larger incumbents.
In a year of overblown topics, the grand prize goes to mobile ad blockers. The backlash is not only disproportionate to real impact but also has fueled the wrong conversation. Instead of fighting ad blockers — or fueling them in the case of biased reports — the ad industry should ask itself how it got in this position to begin with.
A year into the on-demand revolution, the question persists: Where’s it going next? So far, it’s gone into nearly every local vertical, but there are still areas with the right conditions for on-demand models to take root, some of which remain underdeveloped. These include higher-end professional services like lawyers and doctors, project-based work like design and writing, and, of course, SMBs, especially when it comes to local marketing and advertising.
Facebook is known universally for its social networking features, but the company has quietly but consistently been rolling out a set of tools to make it the go-to platform for SMBs. From social buy buttons, call functionality, and Pages to messaging and free beacons, Facebook is staking its claim to online, offline, and online-to-offline marketing and commerce for SMBs.
One of the coolest things to come out Apple’s September product event was 3D Touch, which lets users indicate levels of intent based on how hard they press apps and links. Beyond the gadgetry of 3D Touch, one thing hasn’t been said: This is essentially deep linking, an area that will be a key battleground in local. 3D Touch could preempt the deep linking dilemma by peeking deep within other apps — a lighter and more elegant solution I’m calling “deep previewing.”
The social graph alone won’t be a silver bullet for local. It’s just not big enough. And its value to local is overstated. My friends are great for party pics and snappy news feed dialogue — they don’t yet excel at plumber reviews.