Interview: Tinyview CEO Raj Lalwani on the future of mobile shopping

More shoppers are using their cell phones while they visit brick-and-mortar stores and Tinyview is keen to take advantage of their attention. Launched last summer, the store shopping app already has partnerships with Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, and even online retailers like Amazon.TinyviewCEORaj250

Fresh off a new revamp, Tinyview co-founder and CEO Raj Lalwani talked with Inside Social Commerce about why shoppers are going mobile, how social is changing shopping and what 2013 holds for his company.

Inside Social Commerce: What’s going on with mobile vs. online shopping?

Raj Lalwani, Co-founder and CEO, Tinyview: What’s happening is a lot of people are doing research on their mobile phone. It is always with them, so they are using it when they’re hanging out with their kids, waiting to be seated for lunch or when a friend tells them to look something up while they’re out. They are used a lot for research.

But the checkout process is so difficult, they go to the desktop and buy things from there. I think this is a temporary thing; the industry will figure it out.

Read the rest of this interview on our sister site Inside Social Commerce.

Infographic: Average app dev makes 90,000, puts in 40 hour weeks

Programming-related fields practically invented the terms “crunch time” and “non-traditional work hours”, but a new infographic from Wix argues that the new app economy is a kinder, gentler tech field with room for growth.WixAppEconomy250

It says the average app developer gets $90,000 annual and puts in between 37 and 40 hours a week. App developers have created 466,000 jobs since apps became mainstream five years ago.

We’re assuming that the data here leans towards developers within an established or corporate company. It may be another sign that the era of the lone programmer sitting in her proverbial garage is closing.

Wix also provides argument for the five primary app markets: Android, Chrome, Facebook, iOS and, of course, Wix. For Android, it argues that Google is on track to have one-million active apps faster than Apple, and Google’s Chrome has more than a third of the web browser market. Facebook has its billion users, still making it worth exploring despite the many hiccups of one-time leaders like Zynga.

The interesting nuggets here are in the analysis of both iOS and of Wix itself. Starting right now, the iPad app market is expected to grow 35 percent annually, adding serious room for growth. As far as the productivity-focused Wix App Market, it argues that it has the best of both worlds: an audience of 30 million SMBs with less competition than other platforms.

The full infographic is after the jump.


Apple Passbook more than triples accepted MLB stadium tickets

Apple Passbook mobile commerce app has more than tripled the number of Major League Baseball stadiums available. Now there are 13 American baseball options compared to last season’s four. The tickets are through the iPhone MLB At Bat app.

MLBAtBat250Packaged with last fall’s iOS update, Apple Passbook streamlines several retail apps into one user interface. In MLB’s instance, it makes digital game day tickets available on the iPhone lock screen. As with American Airlines, United and other ticket-based Passbook items, the MLB ticket appears a few hours before the purchased event.

The 2013 additions are the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

MLB was one of the few brands to launch on Passbook. It obviously getting support from the baseball organization, as well as other sports-affiliated brands like eBay’s StubHub.

The show of support assuages initial concerns that Passbook would actually take away customers from native apps. As we wrote in September, Apple’s design turns Passbook into a one-stop shop for individual retail apps, but lacks the deeper interactivity offered by the apps. Despite the limitations, Starbucks, Target and other early adopters saw a big uptick in their app downloads and, presumably, their number of users.

Amazon Coins virtual currency coming in May

Amazon is launching Amazon Coins, a virtual currency to purchase apps and buy in-app goods on the Kindle Fire. Announced this morning, Amazon says they will be available in May.


According to the Amazon Coins FAQ, an Amazon Coin has a one-to-one relationship to an American penny, so developers will receive the same royalty payments as credit card purchases. Users will be able to purchase everything but subscription-based services.

At May’s launch, Amazon promises to give away “tens of millions of dollars worth of Coins” to customers. Amazon is investing significant money in the giveaways, but users will need to purchase a Kindle Fire to redeem their gift or, at the very least, visit the Amazon App Store and risk purchasing more than just what the Amazon Coins are worth.

Furthermore, we can imagine future Amazon gift cards not being redeemable in the entire Amazon marketplace, but tailored, via the Amazon Coin, to be redeemed just within the Amazon App Store.  The Amazon Coin is another serious run to lock users into the Amazon ecosystem, specifically the Kindle Fire one.

Amazon has certainly been looking at Facebook’s issue with its own Credits system. As Inside Facebook reported in 2011, Facebook eventually let developers use their own in-app currency systems because the translation between currencies was too confusing.

To be involved in the launch, app developers must sign up for Amazon Coins by April 25. Amazon Coins will only be available in America at launch.

WebEx co-founder launches Moxtra app to organize your multimedia, foster collaboration

Moxtra, the new organizational app from the team behind WebEx, wants to classify your media and help you collaborate better.  What’s most interesting is how well the iPhone/iPad app plays well with other software.Moxtra250

The free app allows you to add virtually any type of multimedia, including documents, photos, web pages and videos. The multimedia can then be shared with specific individuals or groups, posted on social networks or even to create a presentation on the spot within the app itself. Text or audio notes and additional material can be linked to any item, too.

In a nod to WebEx, users can do live video conferences calls within the app. The other media can still be accessed while it’s happening. The app can be reached on the phone, the tablet or the desktop.

Moxtra seems to embrace other companies, allowing users to quickly shift material from Box and Dropbox. The two leading cloud storage brands aren’t direct competitors to Moxtra, as the new app is closer to Evernote than, say, iCloud, but we could definitely see Moxtra being used as a cloud backup alternative for companies with strong organizational needs.

Moxtra launches this week for the iPhone/iPad and was created by a team led by WebEx co-founder Subrah Iyar. It is currently free to all users, but we suspect its plan is to make money by providing a premium service to its high-end customers a la Dropbox.

OpenTable acquires FoodSpotting for $10 million cash

Restaurant website OpenTable has already launched the definitive mobile reservation app and now it’s acquired the food photography app FoodSpotting. According to AllThingsD, OpenTable paid $10 million in cash.FS250

Best described as an Instagram for food lovers, FoodSpotting is a mobile social network that connects user photos with specific restaurants and locations. Since launching in 2010, the app has more than three million photos and raised just under $4 million before this acquisition.

The purchase is just OpenTable’s latest push for the mobile space. It released a strong smartphone reservation app last year and, through this month, will be offering free mobile menu websites to OpenTable restaurants through DudaMobile. OpenTable has also partnered with others such as Yelp and the travel site Gogobot.

If controversial sells, then OpenTable’s timing could hardly be better. The New York Times just ran a short feature on people taking pictures of their food in Manhattan restaurants. The reactions varied from supporting consumers to banning them from restaurants.

You can read our review of FoodSpotting here.



Flurry Source 13 stats show mobile shopping up 247 percent, retail apps dominating time

It has been a phenomenal year for mobile social commerce, according to Flurry Analytics. CEO Simon Khalaf shared strong stats at the company’s Source 13 conference this past weekend, including nearly triple growth in e-commerce participation.

Flurry found that time in mobile shopping apps went up 247 percent between December 2011 and December 2012. The stats shared only include iOS and Android apps, so the impact of smaller players like Windows 8 or Blackberry, particularly in developing countries, is unclear.

Overall, users spent 132 percent more time using apps over the past year. Shopping was the third biggest jump behind social (387 percent) and media & entertainment (268 percent).

The fastest growing iOS and Android markets belong to China at 293 percent growth, Vietnam at 269 percent and Colombia at 260 percent. Inside Social Commerce predicted Colombia’s growth last October when we visited Bogota for the Colombia 3.0 expo.

America and China still outstrip other countries in iOS and Android customers, representing 181 million and 167 million active devices, respectively.

When it comes to e-commerce, retail apps are where most users are spending more than one-fourth of their time (27 percent). They spend one-fifth of their time with online marketplaces (20 percent), followed by purchase assistance (17 percent), price comparison (14 percent), daily deals (13 percent) and other miscellaneous categories (9 percent).

The stats show that users are still very interested in branded retail apps, but we think they will expect more from retailers in 2013. We can see the stats shifting more towards third-party online marketplaces if retailers don’t improve their apps to meet higher user expectations.

Khalaf shared stats in gaming and other mobile areas during his presentation. The PowerPoint is available online at Slideshare.

Square Registers for sale at Starbucks, pushing virtual sales to physical stores

Starbucks announced that Square Register devices will be on sale at 7,000 coffee locations. Starbucks is the latest place where the e-commerce gadget is available alongside Walgreens, Target and other stores.


Like the other locations, Square is actually charging $9.99 for the device with the list price credited to the user’s Square account. In other words, it is free as long as the user follows through with the purchase and follows through with Square. Users have been able to order Square devices for free online since the startup’s launch.

It is a great move for Square as Starbucks is the first natural brick-and-mortar fit for small, mobile purchases. Other retail outfits are either all-purpose big box stores, like the aforementioned Target, or tech-focused chains like Radio Shack and Best Buy.

To Starbucks advantage, any business deals are made over coffee, so entrepreneurs will have an easier time joining Square for an unexpected sale. More broadly, if a person is buying coffee for a group of people, he or she could get paid back via the device.

This will probably be the first of many physical space moves Square will make in 2013. Just last month it launched a gift card program for users to send or to redeem within Square.

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