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I'll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours... Apps, that is

The Wall Street Journal has run a series of articles about the app economy this week, identifying the app ecosystem as a $25 billion business.  They write:

If you're interested in mobile, and apps in particular, I highly recommend searching this series of articles out.

When my co-founders and I started PointAbout, a mobile app dev shop in 2008, we had a really hard time convincing businesses that apps were more than just a fad.  Then in the 4th quarter of 2009 something significant happened:  I started to see budgets for app creation move from the "experimental" bucket to a dedicated budget.  That's when the most forward-thinking businesses started to build mobile apps and we were able to build a strong business making apps for Disney, The Washington Post, Cars.com and many others.

But still, many businesses don't get it.  I recently wrote a warning to Fortune 1000 CEOs because I'm convinced many of them will be fired for underestimating the impact of mobile on their businesses.

For businesses that are trying to figure out how to really double down on mobile, I'd like to highlight a startup that recently launched called Automatic.  It combines a $70 accessory that plugs into a car's ODBII port with a mobile app, allowing the car to communicate with the phone.  This is a beautiful example of how a company took something that's always been available -- diagnostic information from your car -- and turned it into something humans actually care about, with features like "Never forget where you parked," "Automatic calls for help in a crash," "Save hundreds on gas every year" and "Keep your engine healthy."  The way Automatic is unleashing data that's always been available in a new and very innovative (and valuable) way via the mobile device is a great example of how mobile is changing everything.

The Future of Customer Loyalty: Dynamic Pricing with a Hedge

I went to get my car washed today in freezing weather, the day of a massive snow storm about to hit DC. Needless to say, nobody else was there. (Why did I do this? Because the car desperately needed to be waxed + interior cleaned, and I'm not in DC for long). The experience got me thinking about dynamic pricing and customer loyalty.

Businesses typically try to use frequent-purchase tactics to drive loyalty, like a "buy 9 get 1 free" card or, in the case of airlines, frequent flyer miles. But I believe there's a better way to drive deep loyalty while at the same time maximizing the revenue a business gets: Dynamic pricing, with a Hedge. Here's what I mean:

As I mention in the video above, to say it was a slow day at the car wash facility would be putting it nicely -- I must've been one of only a couple dozen customers they would have the entire day. It's expensive to keep a carwash open on a day like today, including paying at least 10 employees to sit around and do nothing.

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