Friday, 26 February 2010

Living with Google Nexus One / Going to Microsoft MIX?

I'm taking a long weekend out to visit Dublin (it's my (Irish-born) hubby's 50th birthday, bless him!) and, as I already have an O2-Ireland SIM card, I'm going to 'live' my communications using the Google Nexus One, and I'll see how I get on with it being my only internet connection whilst I'm away, just as I did with the iPhone when in Berlin a few weeks ago. I'll let you know how I get on next week.

Are you going to Microsoft MIX conference in Las Vegas next month? I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the impressive (on paper anyway) Windows Mobile 7 platform with a view to including it in our list of supported mobile operating systems (alongside 6.x) in our mobile strategy by learning about it there. I'm hoping to 'live' my communications using a Windows Mobile phone when in the USA in March so it will be interesting to compare my enforced comms experiences with iPhone / Nexus One (Android) / Windows Mobile if this works out (I'll buy a local USA SIM card with lots of data to make the compasrison fair).

Monday, 22 February 2010

Tesco iPhone Apps - Latest Download Counts & News

I thought you might like to know the latest download counts for the three iPhone apps that we have released into the iTunes App Store.

Tesco Store/Product Finder
(released October 2009):
Total downloads: 78,940
Average daily downloads in the past week: 701 per day.
Continues to rank at #1 most downloaded app in 'Navigation' section of UK iTunes App Store.

Tesco Wine Finder
(released 16 December 2009):
Total downloads: 22,786
Average daily downloads in the past week: 152 per day.

(Brace yourself)

Tesco Clubcard
(released 8 February 2010):
Total downloads: 191,971 (nearly one hundred and ninety-two thousand).
Average daily downloads in the past week: 14,254 (fourteen thousand) per day.
Peaked at 8th most downloaded app last week in WHOLE of UK iTunes Store (current ranking is 16th).

Tesco Clubcard Director, Janet Smith, is happy to say the least! When I emailed her with the good news and asked her for permission to publish the download counts, not only did she agree but she also wanted to place in the public domain the fact that there will soon be version of the Clubcard app for Nokia and Blackberry phones too.

So congratulations to the Clubcard team and to the developer Ben Martin for re-defining 'what good looks like' in terms of download counts!

There's another app coming from within a very few weeks.
It will enable a complete end-to-end grocery home shopping experience.
It's running on my iPhone right now.... and soon I'll see it running on a Nokia N97...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Tesco Clubcard iPhone app launches

tesco Clubcard app entry screen tesco Clubcard app barcode screen

Off we go on our journey to bring a great Tesco Clubcard experience directly to your mobile phone!

Clubcard is Tesco’s way of saying thank you for shopping with us - it’s easy - simply scan your Clubcard every time you shop. For every £1 you spend on qualifying products at Tesco, whether in-store or online, we’ll reward you 2 Clubcard points.

However if you’re like me, sometimes your Tesco Clubcard sometimes doesn’t quite make it to your wallet, or it’s slipped down the bottom of your bag and you can’t find it. The good news is that my iPhone is always on me so wouldn’t it be a great idea if it could quickly display the barcode of my Clubcard when I’m next at the checkout? The first version of this application is quite simply to do that - bring a virtual version of your Clubcard to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Start the application the first time, type in your Clubcard details, and from then on whenever you start the app, it quickly displays the barcode seen on your plastic card which can be scanned at our checkouts. No more worries about losing points.

That’s just the start of the journey - we intend to do lots more with this app in the future, such as display your points balance - we’re even looking at finding ways of bring e-vouchers straight to your Clubcard app so you can use them at the checkout directly from your phone.

The application was written by Ben Martin, a member of the 'Group Technology & Architecture' team (Tesco PLC's larger version of's R&D team!) and I think he's done a great job as well as being excited by what he can bring to the app in terms of new features as he continues work on this project with the Clubcard team.

Anticipating your questions:

So the application just displays the barcode? Can’t it do anything else?
Not in this very first version. The aim is that, because you love your iPhone you are more likely to have it on you when you approach the Tesco checkout, so it is simple to display the barcode and earn Clubcard points. Once you have this application on your iPhone we will be introducing more features to it over the coming weeks and months.

I notice that the account for this app is "Tesco PLC" and not " R&D Team". Do you have two accounts now?
Yes we do! Our work with Tesco Finder and Tesco Wine Finder has excited people all over Tesco, and a cross-functional team is being put together to create great applications for all kinds of Tesco "stuff" - indeed a complete mobile and device strategy that goes way beyond iPhone. We want to be able separate mainstream production applications from prototyping apps of the sort we have launched (and will launch) under the R&D Team banner, thus the launch of the Tesco PLC account. We'll use this difference across all 'app stores' and downloads for your phone or device, so you know what to expect.
The difference is that Tesco PLC apps are fully supported production-quality creations, and R&D Team apps are experimental prototypes that we bravely try out on you to see what you think, notwithstanding the fact that we intend these apps to have a nice long shelf life and we are happy to support them within the team.

The application is not accepting my Staff Privilege Clubcard number or Republic of Ireland Clubcard number. Why?
The number ranges are different for these Clubcards and we can’t verify them at the moment. We’ll bring you this feature very soon, though.

How do I find the Tesco Clubcard app?
Go to the App Store on iTunes or your iPhone and search 'Tesco" or "Tesco Clubcard". If iTunes is installed on the computer on which you are reading this entry, try this link:

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Speaking at London iPhone Developer Group (Wed 3 Feb)

Image of London iPhone Developers Group logo

I am delighted to have been invited to speak at the London iPhone Developer Group (LiDG). It's taking place tomorrow evening (Wednesday 3 Feb 2010) at the Apple Store in Regent Street, London.

I'll be exploring with LiDG members some of the ethnographic research that we conducted with customers last year which identified our original need to create a mobile (indeed, "device") strategy.

Quite a few developers write to me who have the technical know-how to build applications on devices, but they want to understand some of the customer background that makes us think that having a mobile/device strategy is important; they want to consider the business case for this strategy. This is why we first revealed the ethnographic research at last year's Tesco API TJAM event - and I'll be exploring it again with LiDG members tomorrow night.

Monday, 1 February 2010

What do we think of the Apple iPad?

The launch of Apple's new tablet computer, the iPad, certainly caught my attention for 3 reasons:
  1. I enjoy spending an hour each evening consuming web content (news, blogs, video, social sites) with only occasional typed interactions - my laptop is massively over-specified for such use.
  2. I like to try out recipe ideas in the kitchen, and wondered if this might be an alternative to paper printing - and my beloved Macbook Pro isn't going anywhere near the place with all that flour and water and raw ingredients and stuff getting in the keyboard or sucked into the fan inlet.
  3. I'm a geek with a soft spot for Apple, so it just would catch my attention (you want honesty here, right?).

Tablet computing is geared towards consuming media content rather than creating it. You wouldn't want to type a novel or major report using it - it's all about reading and watching stuff (with a smattering of feedback), rather than creating or adapting it. This use alone places the tablet computer somewhere between the smart phone where it's all about consuming content except for voice and text, and the laptop which is as much about creating and adapting content as reading and watching it.

Of course you might argue that Netbooks fit between smartphones and laptops. Rubbish. A Netbook is a laptop with all the goodness taken out of it. Cheap, value electronics and poor-quality-everything. Yes OK you might take a netbook where your beloved Macbook Pro, Latitude or Vaio might fear to tread, but that's only because you've lost £200 when you drop it and it smashes into a million value pieces. Come to think of it, Macbook Pros, Latitudes and Vaios are expensive enough to include drop survivability in their design and will be happy in those fearful places. That makes the Netbook even worse value.

No, tablet computers are not really value devices even though they are cheaper than good laptops. Their job is to bring content to you in a convenient and easy to use manner:
  • Powerful enough to offer decent & fast web browsing and media playback on a high quality multi-touch screen that is easy on the eyes and fingers.
  • Convenient enough to take round the house with you - to pick up and put down like a magazine or newspaper. Pore over a recipe in the kitchen, enjoy your favourite blog updates in the bath (waterproof ones, please!), and read your favourite e-books in bed. Use just with the natural stroking and tapping of your fingers.
  • Inexpensive enough to not have as your 'main' computer yet being cheaper only because 'unnecessary' parts such as keyboard, mouse, too many ports are missing. What's there is to be always of good quality.
Seeing demos of the iPad are certainly impressive; my only criticisms are:
  1. Still no support for Flash or Silverlight. Yes I know HTML5 can offer this level of intensive experience but it's not quite implemented in some of the major browsers/versions of browser our customers are using yet. We've only just got ourselves away from wiring a dual site for IE6 (with its 'special' HTML formatting) vs. every-other-browser (with their W3C standard compliance) and don't want to start HTML4/5 divisions if we can help it.
  2. No webcam! Oh how I want customers scanning products by holding them up to the camera - most Netbooks and all premium laptops *do* have a built-in cam. This type of device is certainly suited to the kitchen and I note that some other tablet brands of tablet have built in camera (one of the team has told me they have spotted video source support in the iPad SDK so I suspect a blot-on webcam will be available soon).
However let me balance my criticisms with this important conclusion: Tablet computers are going to be big, they are going to be in the kitchen (amongst other rooms) and we will certainly research a great customer experience for them. Why? Because if Steve Jobs and Apple have invested in the market with iPad, the tablet concept as a whole is sure of success.