Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Ingredients for a Successful Mobile Game

Angry Birds by Rovio

Angry Birds by Rovio

Do you want to get in on the mobile game craze and produce the next Angry Birds? My organization is thinking of building a mobile game to market our business. I’ve written about Facebook games for, and, so I was able to score a free press pass to attend the Casual Connect conference in Seattle last week. Here’s a quick summary of the current market.


    Mobile Games Market, July 2011

  • 34% of smartphone users have downloaded games, according to Quyen Quach, AT&T’s director of consumer apps.

  • Who plays them: More than half of the mobile gamers are women. The demographics mirror the demographics of Facebook gamers.

  • However, most women who play games don’t think of themselves as gamers.

  • Average smartphone gamer downloaded 10 games in 2010. Over 70% of the games were free, according to Chris Williams, Playfirst’s VP and General Manager of Mobile.

  • 13% of smartphone gamers bought virtual goods on the phone. The average spend was $67 last year, according to Williams. (Williams works for Playfirst, which publishes hits like Diner Dash and Hotel Dash. $67 per gamer is specific to his company. A study recently published by mobile analytics firm Flurry cites $14 as the average spend across all games.)

  • The iPhone and Android markets are different. iPhone users are accustomed to paying for an app. Android users are not. However, if Android users like a free-to-try game, they will pay for in-app goods.

  • Android is currently hard to work with, but this is a good time to get into the market as the platform is improving.


  • Williams emphasized that each version of a game should be unique to the platform. You cannot port a game from Facebook into the iPhone, or from iPhone to Android, and expect it to succeed. The device and platform has to be a primary consideration in the design process.

    mobile battery

  • When downloading a game, most gamers are concerned about price and how much battery life it will use, according to Quach.

  • Make your game fast and light-weight. People don’t like waiting for games to load.

  • The most common time to play mobile games is either when people are waiting somewhere or when they’re at home. The latter is surprising, because it means that mobile games are replacing other forms of entertainment.

  • Games need to be social in order to succeed. There should be ways to interact with friends within a game, to share badges, pictures, and bragging rights.

  • Williams also emphasized that games like Diner Dash are never finished. The company keeps modifying the game and launching new features to entice customers to come back.

  • Cost: I described my company’s idea for a game to four developers individually. Every one of them quoted me the same price range—$50,000 to $100,000. This should cover artwork, development, music, and testing. As with other types of work, you could hire independent contractors and negotiate the price.

Categories: Mobile Tags: ,

QR Codes Get Big & Beautiful

jetblue qr codes

Ad for JetBlue Getaways, spotted in a train station

I recently went on a business trip to New York and spotted many innovative ways that designers are using QR codes on traditional billboard ads.

I love how this design for JetBlue Getaways makes the QR code a primary element of the ad. If you look closely, you can see that each square of the enlarged code includes a picture of people on vacation. The actual scannable code is included in the lower-left corner.

While the JetBlue ad caught my eye, unfortunately, it wasn’t very functional. I couldn’t bring up the site on my iPhone, because I was inside a subway. Ah… if only we were in Seoul, Korea, where people chatter and text even in the bowels of a train station.


picasso qr codes

Picasso Exhibit QR code

By far the most stunning example of QR code advertising. The code accesses the website, featuring 15 pieces of Picasso’s art, and a link to buy tickets to the exhibit, which is currently at the Virgina Museum of Fine Arts. A large mural of this can be seen in New York’s Soho district, near Wooster and Grand. When I was in NY, I only saw the beginnings of the mural. I would love to see the finished version; it’s truly a work of art.


picasso QR code mural in Soho

Picasso QR code mural. Image from

For more images of cool QR codes, check out the Flickr group, QR codes in the Wild.


Categories: Mobile, QR Codes

How to Use QR Codes

April 13, 2011 1 comment

qr code

Perhaps you’ve seen these black and white maze-like squares in magazines, billboards and catalogs and wondered what they were. QR codes or quick response codes were first invented in Japan in 1994 for the auto industry. The technology is now being used in a broader context, including advertisements aimed at smartphone users. QR codes can be scanned by smartphones to bring up a website for more information. It can be a great way to bridge your print advertising with new media.

I have been incorporating QR codes into my organization’s ads since November 2010, and I have seen increasing response to them each month. Here are some tips on how to use QR codes.

How to Use QR Codes in Advertising

  • There are many sites that can help you create QR codes for free or a small cost. Check out, or These are just a few sites; many others offer similar features.


  • Size Matters. Once the QR code is generated, place it on a print ad. Make sure that the QR code is at least 1 inch by 1 inch. Smaller codes may not be scannable.


  • To scan the code, smartphone users first need to download a QR reader. Many readers are available for free or a small charge.


  • Track It! See how many people are scanning your QR code. Most sites that generate the codes will offer tracking for a monthly fee.


Categories: Mobile, QR Codes

Increase in QR code response

April 13, 2011 2 comments

Along with the jump in mobile web traffic, I’ve noticed an increase in response to QR code advertising from January to March 2011. QR codes are black and white codes that can be scanned by smartphones to bring up a website. As you can see from these graphs, the increase in response from month to month is significant.

Visits to my org’s website through QR code 1
qr code response increase

Visits to my org’s website through QR code 2
qr code increase

Background Info: In January, my org put out 3 ads that incorporated QR codes in Dallas and Cleveland. By February 1, we had 12 QR codes running in ads in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York, in addition to Dallas and Cleveland. But from February to March, there was no difference in the number of ads that showed QR codes. In fact, our ads stayed the same in all markets.

So I wonder if the jump that we see from February to March can be attributed to the fact that QR codes are becoming more visible in billboards and magazines, and more people are taking notice of them.

Mobile Surge – Over 14% on Smartphones and iPads

April 12, 2011 2 comments

Mobile web traffic has increased dramatically during the first quarter of 2011. In March, a whopping 14.7% of visitors to the website I manage came from a mobile device.  This is a huge increase from the previous quarter: In December 2010, 9% of the site traffic was mobile. Engaging the mobile audience is a top priority in my org, and it should be a top priority for your company too.

Top Mobile Devices used by visitors to my org’s website, March 2011

mobile devices march 2011
5,054 Mobile Visits during March 1-30, 2011; 35,576 visits total

Considering that Android runs on one out of every three phones, these numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet, I was surprised that Android came out on top. I personally use an iPhone and all my friends do too—or so it seems. Just goes to show you that personal observation doesn’t measure up to real numbers. According to Gartner, Inc. the Android OS is expected to run on half the smartphones by 2012. If you’re developing a mobile site now, make sure to test it with an Android emulator, in addition to the iPhone.