The Mobile Retailing Blueprint covers the interdependence of Mobile Retail and Social Media very well. However, I hope that some of you will agree when I say that Social is only one (although extremely important) of several elements of the mobile context. Context is a broad term and deals with surroundings, circumstances, and settings in which events occur. In a mobile world, context is built around elements such as location, time, device capabilities, connectivity status, mood, comfort, intent, personal preferences, social influences, etc. Retailers need to understand that for their mobility initiatives to be successfully adopted by consumers their mobile apps need to be context-aware in more ways than one.
Let me spend some more time explaining context, this time with a hypothetical example. Using context, a simple multi-player Solitaire mobile game can serve as a hook to a dating service. How you ask? Consider this . . . A 20-something guy is playing Solitaire on his mobile phone as he is bored (mood) one evening at about 6 pm (time). He switches to 2-player mode on his mobile phone (device capability). The Solitaire service starts up his GPS receiver (location) and is able to recognize his dating interests (personal preferences) and more since he has signed in through his Facebook account’s single sign-on service (social context). The server (connectivity) looks for players in his vicinity (location context) that match his preferences. While playing with an opponent, he is able to see her photograph and interests from her Facebook profile and chat with her as well. They hit it off, and decide to meet socially. He hits the “meet” button (intent), which seeks her permission as well (comfort) and upon her acceptance, the app suggests restaurants open for dinner (time context) which are mid-way between their respective locations.
Imagine now, the convergence of multiple contexts in various different ways. A whole new way of interacting with humans, will open up its doors for you.
A good resource for understanding the Mobile Context can be found on C. Enrique Ortiz’s blog post for those who would like a deeper understanding of the subject.
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