There's no bigger stage to unveil a new offering than a Super Bowl commercial, and Apple took advantage of its prime inclusion during the telecast by unveiling a new vanity URL service, reports TechCrunch. If you blinked, you might have missed it, but during the final seconds of the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer, the URL AppStore.com/StarTrekApp flashed across the bottom of the screen.
This reveal signified the launch of a new service for all app developers in either the iTunes App Store or the Mac App Store. All developers will now receive personalized vanity URLs related to the app submitted as chosen by Apple. Apple updated its developer documentation on January 31 to reflect the change, which will allow brands to give consumers these new URLs to directly access apps.
With Apple nearing one million apps, the question of name overlap comes into play. In this case, users will be directed to a search page displaying all of the apps that match the generic term.
The domain name AppStore.com was a gift from Salesfoce CEO Marc Benioff to late Apple visionary Steve Jobs. It could prove increasingly valuable if brands decide to take advantage of these new URLs in upcoming marketing campaigns.
For those of you who look at geo-location apps with a wary, stalker-fearing eye, I encourage you to head on over to TechCrunch and read the article on WhereTheLadies.at, a recently approved iPhone app that – you guessed it – shows users where the ladies are…at.
WhereTheLadies.at uses Foursquare’s geo-location functionality to aggregate check-ins made by females – er, ladies – at nearby locations (bars, clubs, etc.). It then ranks those locations based on the number of feminine check-ins made in the past thirty minutes. And just in case your raging testosterone clouds your navigation abilities, the app includes a giant compass that points you in the direction of the lady-laden hotspot.
That’s right, guys. You can now turn your iPhones into chick-finders. (For those still holding out for the chick-magnet app, I’d guess it’s only a matter of time at this point.)
Here’s what really gets me, as a linguist: when a user who has not specified his or her gender checks in, WhereTheLadies.at will use a “dictionary crawl and permutation logic” to determine if the user is male or female. This must be how microbiologists feel when terrorists use their formulas to make anthrax.
As I sit here and ponder what our hyper-connected world is coming to, and whether or not I should finally invest in some pepper spray and/or nunchucks, I also have to wonder, what does Austria make of the WhereTheLadies.at developers using their .AT ccTLD for their domain name?
Despite the mayhem that could result from the release of unlimited new TLDs, it is undeniable that there are some pretty interesting possibilities. I was thinking the other day about how cool a .APP extension could be – if done properly of course. It could dramatically enhance the market for mobile applications.
As an increasing number of brands introduce mobile apps, having a .APP TLD could be quite useful. Consumers looking to find a brand’s app offerings, or wondering if a brand even has an app, could simply type in BRAND.APP (example: facebook.app). If Apple, Android, BlackBerry, and others teamed up to sponsor this TLD, they could ensure that all registrants used the extension to point to legitimate apps. In fact, they could require all links to point to applications within the various approved mobile app stores. So, if I were searching for a way to read The Wall Street Journal on my iPhone, I could type in wsj.app, click the link for the app in iTunes, and download the appropriate application.
I certainly acknowledge that if a more ill intentioned group were permitted to control this extension, unofficial and potentially harmful downloads could be propagated. It’s certainly a risk for which brands must be vigilant. But, I hope that ICANN would be very discriminating in granting TLDs because, with the proper restrictions, this TLD could be useful to consumers who are looking to navigate the thousands upon thousands of apps currently offered. Additionally, it could help protect consumers from links that are possibly harmful by regulating what content can be posted in the extension. However, the free-for-all approach that ICANN is taking with the release of new TLDs could easily mean that this extension would get lost in the shuffle.
And therein lies the problem: if so many new extensions are released, it seems that the likelihood of consumer adoption would decrease significantly. Without the proper marketing (or with marketing overload, depending on how new TLD owners proceed), consumers will not change their Internet search habits and will revert to the omnipresent .COM extension. If released with careful thought and deliberation, new TLDs have an incredible amount of potential. However, it looks as if these appealing opportunities may get lost among the pandemonium.
A new kind of Public Service Announcement (PSA) has arrived - the public service app. It looks like smartphone apps are no longer limited to games, drink recipes, and social media platforms, meant purely to entertain us and keep us from having to interact with others during those oh-so-tedious minutes waiting for the elevator, bus, or metro. According to CNN and Mashable, both the United States and UK governments have now released a handful of official apps for both the iPhone and Android that are designed to improve citizens’ quality of life. Several US government agencies, including NASA, FEMA, and the EPA, have released apps to provide up-to-date information related to their activities, and both countries have released a variety of lifestyle apps designed to help citizens lose weight or get better gas mileage. The UK has also created apps that are meant to help users quit smoking or find a job.
I think these lifestyle apps are very interesting. They offer citizens additional, “on-the-ground” support for achieving goals set forth by government programs, like getting people to eat better, exercise more or quit smoking. These apps could boost participation in those programs by making such efforts more convenient, more manageable, or even more fun.
Just a few years ago, the Internet was the undisputed king of consumer engagement. Directing citizens to a website equipped with facts, tips, and recommended plans-of-action is much more interactive, and usually more successful, than simply instructing viewers to take action via a television ad. Now, however, smartphone apps are becoming the hottest way to engage customers. Apps provide instant and individual programming to users every day no matter where they are — not just at their computers. These two governments appear to understand that both consumer habits and forms of communication are rapidly changing, and they are aptly trying to adapt their messaging.
Most, if not all, of these apps have corresponding websites, and it is unlikely that the apps will cannibalize traffic from the websites already in place. For extended visits and in-depth searching, consumers are still likely to prefer using their computer to a smartphone. Instead, these apps will hopefully augment the existing sites and make consumers more likely to engage with and integrate the content into their daily lives. If these apps catch on, the age of mobile marketing could work wonders for the PSA.