Discovery Networks and Phunware Team Up to Create Multi-Language Global Channel Apps

June 28th, 2011

(Silver Spring, Md.) Discovery Networks International and Phunware, the leader in enterprise branded mobile application infrastructure and experiences, today announced that new specially-languaged mobile applications are now available from Discovery Networks via the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad to international users in Spanish, Portuguese and German.

The popular Discovery Channel mobile app is available to users across Latin America in Spanish, and in Brazil in Portuguese. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the DMAX application is available in German.

Discovery’s new languaged mobile apps bring fans greater access to their favorite programs and real-life characters with a collection of video clips from the network’s new hit series like Gold Rush Alaska as well as longtime fan-favorite signature series including Deadliest Catch and Mythbusters. These new interactive mobile experiences complement Discovery’s popular on-air offerings with integrated alerts and reminders, complementary content, social TV check-in and social media companion capabilities. Fans can check in using the “I am Watching” button to let their friends on Facebook and Twitter know what they are watching, all while getting the latest social media updates from Discovery.

Other features include:

A full, location-based TV schedule and the ability to set up and manage tune-in reminders.
Popular, recent and favorite short-form video clips and photos from Discovery’s award-winning programming and insider information about the casts.
Deep social networking integration, including Facebook, Twitter, news and chat to allow fans to communicate, interact, share and follow network stars and shows.

“Discovery’s partnership with Phunware demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing our global fan base with more opportunities to engage with their favorite shows and characters in the real-time mobile environment,” said Dave Schafer, Vice President of International Digital Media, Discovery Networks International.

“We are excited to partner with Discovery in launching a tremendously entertaining experience that redefines mobile media apps for international markets,” added Alan Knitowski, Chairman and CEO of Phunware. “Fans expect rich and vibrant engagement, with deep content and relevant social connections, and the international Discovery Networks apps accomplish this in a fun, playful and comprehensive manner.”

Free downloads of the Discovery Channel and DMAX apps may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad at

About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in 210 countries and territories. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 130-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Science and Discovery HD, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including Discovery Networks International distributes 23 international brands, reaching over one billion cumulative subscribers with programming available in 43 languages. For more information please visit

About Phunware, Inc.
Phunware designs brandME™, the best branded mobile experiences in the world, along with PRAISE™, the global industry standard for bulletproof mobile application infrastructure. Phunware leads the mobile application revolution globally and is reinventing the mobile application experience for the benefit of consumers everywhere. Phunware has introduced category defining applications that challenge the outer limits of the best mobile devices on Earth and is defining the future standard for mobile application experiences. For more information, please visit

The Delusion of “Write Once Run Anywhere” Mobile Applications

June 28th, 2011

Posted By: Alan S. Knitowski

In a recent blog called The Lies, Damn Lies & “Statistics” of Mobile Commerce, I focused on exposing one of the industry’s dirty secrets about the current state of mobile commerce and the types of conclusions that could reasonably be made so early in the transition from feature phones to smart phones and tablets worldwide. Now I turn my attention to another popular myth about the development and publication of mobile applications: the delusion of “write once, run everywhere” mobile applications and the fallacy of their existence.

The old adage that “there ain’t no free lunch” has never been more applicable than it is to mobile applications. There are a lot of other analogies that likely apply as well from “you get what you pay for” to “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” I could likely go on for days with such analogies, but I raise them all today to focus on the importance of understanding that “write once, run everywhere” approaches to mobile simply don’t work. At all. They are marketing “FUD” and will fail you miserably if you’re attempting to build any mobile application of substance to run a real business through this new form of digital distribution on the highest value touch point between your brand and your consumers.

The premise of “write once, run everywhere” mobile applications is extremely alluring, almost to the point of being mesmerizing. After all, it very much feels like a “silver bullet” or “panacea” in which you get the best of all possible worlds … one investment for complete consumer coverage across all potential platform permutations … anytime and anywhere. Indeed. Unfortunately, and in order to work properly, the technology underlying “write once, run everywhere” tools has to be “dumb downed” to the least common denominator of the worst possible platform in order to check the box that all are actually covered. As a result, and even when they technologically function according to the cross platform marketing pitch, they ultimately become average everywhere and exceptional absolutely nowhere. They can handle the simplistic, but completely choke on the challenging. They can also excel at the trivial, but then gag on the useful (let alone the complex). For consumers, unfortunately, this ensures a miserable user experience across a vast array of platforms and the end result is quite predictable … dissatisfaction, frustration, deletion, good riddance and good-bye. Forever.

More than a decade ago, Microsoft published FrontPage as a “what you see is what you get” development tool for those wanting to create web pages and web sites without having specific programming expertise in HTML. While the software package functionally worked, it became evident extremely quickly that nobody in the real world would ever try running a real business with web templates and tool sets whose output was commensurate with the underlying level of investment put in to making them. In the mobile world, the equivalent versions of FrontPage for apps now include products from @adobe, @mobileroadie, @appcelerator and @appmakr amongst others. In each of these cases, there are scores of applications that have been automated and built for mobile via wizards and templates … including several for very large international brands. However, if you go to review App Store rankings for most of these, they are challenged at best and horrific at worst, with many representing some of the poorest rated applications on Earth. Why? Because automated, template-based apps simply don’t create the engagement or user experience needed to drive brand loyalty and commitment based on the underlying utility and value expectations of application users. Period.

App quantity should never be confused with app quality and the lack of meaningful, ongoing engagement between your brand and your consumer base through these types of tools is a risk simply not worth taking. In fact, your brand would be exponentially better off doing absolutely nothing on mobile if the alternative was to simply check the box and risk offending your anytime, anywhere mobile audience. Using such tools to get on to unproven and unused platforms is not a marketing race that you want to win. Instead, focus on doing what you’re planning to do exceptionally well for the relevant platforms, avoid automated templates throughout and live by a Missouri-like “show me” attitude for any non-mainstream platforms.

Otherwise, you will sacrifice delighted application users on the platforms that matter in lieu of hitting the mark for audiences that are the current equivalent of “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Read more:

A Cautionary Tale: Advice for Choosing a Mobile Partner

June 13th, 2011

Posted by: Andy Greff

Recently, Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility remarked that of the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70% are returned because applications affect performance. He basically lays blame on the open Android store for performance issues on Motorola phones. Unfortunately, this problem is not exclusive to Motorola or even Android devices. This is the unfortunate side effect of the hyper growth seen in the Mobile App space. New and / or inexperienced developers rush untested applications to market searching for the Pot Of “App” Gold. Applications that are poorly designed, written and tested create a negative ripple affect across the entire Mobile ecosystem as Motorola has clearly discovered.

Poorly written applications not only impact wireless devices, but also wireless networks. These poorly written Apps chew up precious network resources including signaling, bandwidth and airtime usage. It is common to have data issues at a large sporting event because 100,000 people are trying to use the same precious network assets. It seems logical. However, a few poorly written applications running in the same general vicinity can have a similar effect on a wireless network. Throughput decreases for everyone connected to that tower or in the area because the wireless resources just aren’t available. This has become an enormous expense to wireless operators as they not only have to deal with the exploding number of data hungry devices, but also the exponential availability and usage of poorly written applications. It is almost (almost) unfair to blame the network operator for issues that are not caused by them and that cannot be fixed without heavy-handed measures!

Why is this issue relevant for businesses that choose to create an application? A business’s image is everything. It would be terrible PR for a business if the public discovered that their application had been pulled from an app store because it had caused discernible negative impact on the performance of the mobile device. Even worse, perhaps the application is blamed for network outages and slowness. Trust me when I say that wireless operators know exactly which applications impact their networks and it is only a matter of time before they start taking action. The best case reaction is that the user uninstalls the application. Worst case is that the experience alters their impression of the business and impacts buying behavior.

So how is a business supposed to determine the viability of the company it’s trusting to build its strategic mobile assets and protect its brand equity? How can you look under the hood and kick the tires? Here are some simple methods:

  • Download their portfolio of applications. The app stores have become the ultimate way to try before you buy. Take a test drive of the applications and see how they perform.
  • Check out the ratings and reviews of some of the applications in the portfolio. The ratings will give you a quick snapshot of the general sentiment but you should drill into the reviews and look for some of the comments that indicate poor craftsmanship. Multiple negative comments may indicate something more systemic.
  • Inquire about the experience of the programmers. Do the technical folks have experience building mission-critical software or are they new to programming?
  • Ask probing questions about some of the test scenarios. What happens if the device is not in 3G? Is the application optimized to take advantage of the faster speeds of 4G and WiFi? Does the application turn the device into a paperweight if there is no connectivity at all?

Users are getting smarter and the expectation for quality is rising. Businesses need to find a mobile partner that can meet those expectations. There are some great companies out there that businesses can entrust with their brand. Phunware happens to be one of these companies. The technical and business experience that we bring to the table gives businesses the confidence that their brand is in good hands. Some of this business guidance is included in Alan Knitowski’s most recent article. On the technical side, we ensure that the application runs well on the device and plays nice with the network.

A poorly written application can impact the user, the brand and in some cases, others in the mobile ecosystem. Motorola’s experience should be viewed as a cautionary tale to businesses. Hopefully, the guidance above allows businesses to make an informed decision when selecting a mobile partner and avoid the inexperienced majority.

What iCloud Means for Mobile

June 9th, 2011

Posted By: Eric Moujaes

iCloud is Apple’s next step to change the way that consumers interact with mobile. And it’s going to work.

It’s amazing to see Steve Jobs vision come to life more than a decade after he speaks about it in the 1997 WWDC closing Keynote:

With the iCloud Storage APIs developers can now enable applications to store files and key value data (e.g. application state, settings) remotely. iCloud can then push this state and any user designated content wirelessly to any device. A truly persistent mobile experience.

More importantly, and what will be the key for user experience, is iCloud’s ability to seamlessly address the issues of version control, conflicts and syncing for users that are constantly jumping in and out of internet connectivity and application switching. All of these issues which if not addressed would spell a disaster for the service and Apple isn’t going to make another MobileMe mistake.

Much overdue, and a sigh of relief for many is the iPhone and iPad’s ability to exist independent from Macs and PCs. Apple has taken the central hub of our digital lives, the computer, and demoted it to just a regular device. The Cloud is now the hub that will seamlessly centralize our content and experiences across all platforms.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mobile Analytics is NOT an App Store Sales Report

June 8th, 2011

Posted By: Alan M. Kane

Engaging customers through mobile experiences offers incredible opportunities for brands to build brand loyalty, announce new products, deliver services and drive sales both online and offline. How businesses measure this “always-on always-connected” sales channel is mission critical to both new and established enterprises alike.

Despite this importance and the fact that unmeasured sales channels can become liabilities, many businesses today are rushing to market without a mobile analytics system in place or a clear understanding of what they can or should be measuring on mobile. Furthermore, a fragmented landscape consisting of multiple mobile platforms, multiple app stores, dozens of advertising networks, evolving privacy laws and numerous ways in which to engage users, causes even the most sophisticated or best-intentioned businesses a real headache when designing and implementing a mobile analytics system. Read the rest of this entry »

The Correct Relationship Between Apps, Mobile Web Sites and Web Sites

May 18th, 2011

Posted By: Alan S. Knitowski

Fifteen years ago it was generally fair to say that most companies didn’t have either an Internet web site or an online presence. When they did, it was also generally fair to say that what existed was pretty basic and still had yet to be refined to a point of what we would likely consider either “normal” or “table stakes” today. As we fast forward here to 2011, we have clearly come a long, long way with regards to both the quality and capabilities of corporate web sites, including the breadth, depth and reach of the associated and underlying digital offerings accompanying them. Unfortunately, however, the same mindset that permeated the transition from “no Internet web site” to “Internet web site” is currently front and center with regards to the transition from “no mobile web site” to “mobile web site” and the transition from “no mobile app” to “mobile app”.

While it is unfortunate to see this happening, it does seem to make a lot of sense as to why it is happening … despite the frustration accompanying just how wrong this approach actually is. After all, going from “nothing” to “something” tends to follow an age old pattern of common human behavior. Namely, the inherent serial approach of intellectual processing based on the adage of “how do I take something that I did before in the old physical world and then extend it to the new digital world now”? Or, thereafter, “now that I’ve taken what I’ve done in the physical world to the digital world, how do I then take what I did in the digital world to the mobile world”? Said differently, “how do I actually start with a business, create an Internet web site and then engage my mobile audience anywhere and anytime through yet another new form of digital distribution”? The answer may surprise you quite a bit, but it is the answer nonetheless and it is something that is critical to the success of your digital media strategy whether you are a large or small company or whether you are publicly or privately held.

So … what is it that you should be doing? Well, you should start by fundamentally forgetting virtually everything that you’ve previously learned, hit your proverbial personal reset button and then turn all of your current thinking on its head. Going mobile and engaging your audience anywhere and anytime is not about taking a serial approach of creating an Internet web site, then extending it to a mobile web site and then extending it to a mobile app. It is actually the exact reverse of this and is centered on re-inventing and re-imagining the mobile user experience from the device at the edge to the network at the core rather than from the network at the core to the device at the edge. Confused? Then let me explain using kids as an example. To date, how many of you happen to have seen a child walk up to either a TV or a laptop and “swipe” the screen in an attempt to advance the content on the device? Or, how many of you have seen a child walk up to the same devices and attempt to “launch” a photo, video or audio file by “tapping” the screen? If you have a few kids like I do, then I am guessing that you may have already seen this … and if you don’t yet have kids or haven’t yet had the good fortune to see this behavior … then let me explain why these actions are absolutely essential to understand for you to be successful as the wave of the mobile Internet permeates every part of our society globally.

Fundamentally all of us have been re-trained and re-tooled on how to engage and interface with mobile devices. We have high resolution touch screens that allow us to “pinch zoom”, “swipe” and “slide” content at will and we have all been empowered to launch features, functionality and content on these mobile experiences anywhere and anytime that we wish. Kids, as fate would have it, are just the purest form of this re-training and re-tooling as they are fearless with technology and simply experiment with things until they figure out how they work. But, with this new training and tooling, kids also expect that every other device should and will behave in the same way that their smart phones and tablets do as well. As detailed above, kids interact with TVs and laptops completely different than we typically do because they don’t know any better and that is the behavior that they now consider “normal”. When their efforts to “swipe” or “pinch zoom” result in nothing happening, they simply look over at someone like me and ask “Dad, why doesn’t the TV work?” Think about that. They actually stop what they’re doing, look at someone like me with a confused look on their face and then grow frustrated by how the TV or laptop has completely and utterly “failed them”.

This new generation of younger users, alongside the rest of us embracing the new smart phone and tablet technology in parallel, is quickly forcing businesses to reassess all of their strategies and tactics regarding digital media and consumer touch points. However, these efforts are often lacking in the basic understanding that the mobile app should be dictating what is needed for the mobile web site rather than the Internet web site dictating what is needed for the mobile web site instead. By default, this then also implies that the mobile web site should be dictating what the Internet web site should be rather than the other way around. The most engaging and relevant touch points are those that are made anywhere and anytime at a user’s individual selection. On mobile, many of these decisions become even more personal as a branded icon on a mobile screen is an extremely important digital piece of emotional real estate. Each of us decides what we want individually and brands that fail to understand this ultimately risk “deletion” from the mobile life of its consumers.

So what should you do to confront this challenge and not get “deleted”? I would humbly suggest that you should be embracing these changes, honoring these changes and committing to these changes … everywhere. Revisit your plans, reassess your goals, redefine your objectives and understand that the mobile experience itself should shape the rest of your overall digital strategy. Do not “extend” your brand on mobile via a mobile app. Rather, “defend” your brand on mobile via a mobile app as the core digital anchor and most highly valued touch point from which to build your anytime and anywhere relationship with your consumers. Let the mobile app lead and the web sites follow, fully understanding that whether your app is “native”, “HTML5” or a hybrid of the two being implicitly unimportant to the task at hand. Ultimately, if you focus your strategic and tactical efforts on this coveted position in the mind share of your mobile consumers, then you can evolve and enhance your mobile web site and Internet web site alike to support your core digital anchor … your mobile app. Otherwise, you can expect to see the same reaction and result with the rest of your consumers as we’re now seeing from the kids … as your brand will have “failed them” too.

Understanding Smartphone Consumers

May 12th, 2011

by Google MobileAds Team

General Smartphone Usage: Smartphones have become an integral part of users’ daily lives. Consumers use smartphones as an extension of their desktop computers and use it as they multi-task and consume other media.

  • 81% browse the Internet, 77% search, 68% use an app, and 48% watch videos on their smartphone
  • 72% use their smartphones while consuming other media, with a third while watching TV
  • 93% of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home

Action-Oriented Searchers: Mobile search is heavily used to find a wide variety of information and to navigate the mobile Internet.

  • Search engine websites are the most visited websites with 77% of smartphone users citing this, followed by social networking, retail and video sharing websites
  • Nine out of ten smartphone searches results in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.)
  • 24% recommended a brand or product to others as a result of a smartphone search

Local Information Seekers: Looking for local information is done by virtually all smartphone users and consumers are ready to act on the information they find.

  • 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information
  • 88% of these users take action within a day, indicating these are immediate information needs
  • 77% have contacted a business, with 61% calling and 59% visiting the local business

Purchase-driven Shoppers: Smartphones have become an indispensable shopping tool and are used across channels and throughout the research and decision-making process.

  • 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer
  • 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase, whether online, in-store, or on their phones
  • 70% use their smartphones while in the store, reflecting varied purchase paths that often begin online or on their phones and brings consumers to the store

Reaching Mobile Consumers: Cross-media exposure influences smartphone user behavior and a majority notice mobile ads which leads to taking action on it.

  • 71% search on their phones because of an ad exposure, whether from traditional media (68%) to online ads (18%) to mobile ads (27%)
  • 82% notice mobile ads, especially mobile display ads and a third notice mobile search ads
  • Half of those who see a mobile ad take action, with 35% visiting a website and 49% making a purchase

Prime Digital Real-Estate

May 11th, 2011

Posted By: Andy Greff

The debate between advocates of Mobile Web and Mobile Applications has been the subject of many blog articles. The technology debate continues to rage with little end in sight so I won’t try to tackle the technical merits of one versus the other, especially in my first blog post. I would instead like to explore one of the most significant BUSINESS benefits for choosing to build a mobile Application: Real Estate. I don’t mean brick and mortar real-estate but digital real-estate on the mobile device screen. Users make a very personal decision to install or uninstall an Application on their device. The property is extremely valuable and is only temporarily “leased” from the User.

How much is it worth to a brand to have its logo on a personal screen viewed 10, 20, 30 times a day or more? From a brand recognition perspective, it is extremely valuable. I am no psychology expert but I do know that some sort of brand imprinting will take place if one looks at an icon over and over throughout the day. With a mobile website, however, a User must be motivated by some other force to visit since they first have to launch the web browser like Safari and then manually type in a URL. The App icon “reminds” the User about the brand and encourages interaction. The measurable monetary value is highly dependent upon the monetization strategy chosen, but I will explore that topic in subsequent blog entries.

The App icon can be more than a passive reminder; it can also be highly interactive. The App presence means that there is an acknowledged “digital connection” between the brand and the User. Not dissimilar from a Facebook “like”, the App User has acknowledged that he or she is open to engaging with the brand and has trusted the brand with prime digital real estate on their mobile device. With that being said, what mechanisms are available to promote engagement and get the User to launch the Application? Speaking specifically about Apple iOS, the two most powerful active mechanisms are either push notifications or badges.

Everyone with an Apple iPod Touch or an Apple iPhone has likely seen a push notification. Examples include a pop-up notification that a parade is about to start like in our Disney World Wait Times, Dining and Maps App or an announcement from a TV companion App like our MythBusters or Discovery Channel Apps that a particular TV show is about to begin. These notifications can be customized per event and triggered by any number of customer or brand-initiated actions. Optimally, the User clicks on “Open” and is taken to a particular feature within the Application. Even if the User does not take action, when used judiciously, these notifications foster additional positive brand awareness.

The second mechanism is the “badge”. Everyone should be familiar with the red bubble with white numbers that shows up on the email icon. This badge indicates that there are unread email messages or any other number of unviewed forms of content. More importantly, it indicates that action needs to be taken and that the User should touch the icon. The badge differentiates the icon from the other icons on the screen and is a constant reminder to take action. Used carefully, this is a powerful psychological tool, especially for those individuals who have to have a clean interface and will respond to the badge just to clear the bubble (thanks @Facebook and @LinkedIn for the “help”).

Notifications and badges are two mechanisms designed to boost continued engagement, but getting the User to open the Application is only half the battle. Now that they are ready and willing to engage, the Application must respond in-kind. Mobile User engagement is all about nurturing the “digital connection” between the brand and the User, and we believe that all brands should work hard to convert their temporary screen “lease” in to a thriving and permanent digital property on the device.

The Era of Persistent Mobile Experiences

May 9th, 2011

Posted By: Eric Moujaes

Truly mobile experiences are those that bridge the gaps between our devices. As we become more reliant on technology, it is expected that we are able to continue our actions from one device and location to another without missing a beat.

While we are already seeing a huge surge of cloud-based infrastructure, this year will usher in a new era where mobile and cloud computing converge in full force. Amazon has already taken the first major leap into consumer cloud-based music storage through Cloud Player. Google and Apple will be quick to follow as they are slated to announce their own systems in the coming months.

This convergence of mobile and cloud computing is going to lead to some amazing new interactions, but we can already see where it succeeds today.

Netflix is a perfect example of a seamlessly transferred experience. Users can migrate between multiple devices without ever losing their place in a movie. More importantly, this experience persists outside of one location. A user can begin watching a movie at home, shift to watching on a computer and then hop in a car and stream video while traveling across the state.

As we become “couch potatoes on the go“, Netflix demonstrates that we are entering a new era where “always on and always available” has become the new rule for consumer software and applications. Brands that want to stay relevant in the mobile age must embrace this transformation and create experiences that allow consumers to live untethered by technology.

Nearly 25% of All Children Have an Online Birth Before Their Actual Birth

May 5th, 2011

Posted By: Alan M. Kane

From uploading sonograms to tweeting during labor, today’s parents are building digital footprints of their children prior to and from the moment they are born. By the time they are 2 years old, nearly all U.S. children have an online presence. To put this in perspective the average 30 year old today, the age group considered to be the most tech savvy, has an online footprint stretching back to their early twenties or late teens at best, while almost all children today will have an online presence by the time they are 2 years old. Let that sink in for a moment.

What implication does this pose for the brands of today as they look to position themselves for the consumers of tomorrow?

If you are 30 years old or older, you know a world without internet, email, smartphones, 3G connectivity, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Given this perspective, you may (or may not) excuse a poorly designed, slow loading website or a business without an email address. Consumers of tomorrow will not. They will expect to interact with businesses anytime, anywhere. They will expect their brand experiences to be mobile (accessible anytime / anywhere), social (Facebook / Twitter / Blogs / Reviews) and in real-time (push notices / geo-location). Noted technology venture capitalist Fred Wilson defines this intersection of mobile, social and real-time, “Golden Triangle”, and highlights the tremendous opportunity for enterprises embracing this strategy.

Enterprises that simply “check the box” and launch a subpar mobile experience (or worse a one dimensional mobile application) neglecting any vertex of the golden triangle will harm their brand as consumers will gravitate to the brands that meet their anytime, anywhere expectations. Phunware’s BrandME™ proprietary and patent pending branded framework helps enterprises deliver the mobile experiences that their audiences crave.