The days of mobile app are numbered.

There’s been an interesting development in the virtual assistance space with the likes of Google Now and Siri. In the last Technology Tea and Toast Breakfast Session, we talked about Virtual Assistant devices such as Amazon Echo, Cubic Robots and Jibo and how they will eventually replace screens such as mobile but we all know that might still be several years down the road, at least where New Zealand is concerned.

At the recent Google I/O Developer Conference, Google shared a road map for making apps obsolete and getting users back onto the web, where Google rules the roost. And that road map is paved by Google Now. Until recently Google Now was limited by its ability to draw info primarily from Google services like Gmail and Maps. However as of recently they have integrated Google Now with more than 100 services. “We understand more than 100 million places,” Chennapragada, Google Now Project Manager, said during her presentation. “Not just their physical layout and geometry, but also interesting things like when are they busy, when are they open, and what are you likely to need when you’re there.” And it is this real-time contextual awareness is what will be most useful to consumers and that most companies with their own app will struggle to compete as their data is highly dependent on the usage of their proprietary apps.

An excerpt from Wired sums it up quite nicely as to where this is going: Those answers are summoned from the depths of Google’s knowledge graph, a collection of over one billion entities (sports teams, recipes, petrol station locations, and so on) that might be useful to you even if you didn’t realize it. They’re also increasingly supplied by information housed in third-party apps—apps you have less and less reason to visit as Google Now becomes smarter and smarter. It goes beyond pure information, too; you can play Pandora stations in Google Now or order groceries from Instacart.

With Google taking a lot of interest to make this a reality (and they often will get their way), it is key to start exploring how the customer-facing mobile apps and the back end systems and data can be integrated into Google Now and the benefits for businesses especially where conversion and transactions are involved. The web according to Google should be the one-stop shop for most things For e.g. booking a flight, ordering burger or buying and watching an online movie may someday happen all within the mobile web browser. Google has already launched Google Flights (www.google.com/flights) as a way to show that this can work. And that is not just one thing, Google Shopping has been around for a few years and getting better with new updates and releases. Imagine being able to find an item on the web and knowing it is the best price regardless of whether it is from TradeMe, eBay or Amazon or a Kathmandu store near you with directions on how to get there, traffic conditions, contact number and its opening hours.

And for a relatively small market such as N.Z, it maybe be beneficial for SVOD companies such as LightBox, Neon and NZME to work with Google to provide content via the web and differentiate themselves through different content and exclusive rights and leave the high cost of fulfillment to Google. YouTube has already started selling full-featured movies and soon you will be able to watch it from the web browser, so like it or not they will want everyone to conform. And this is where media agencies need to get smarter on how they can influence the consumer’s decision making process by working closely with Google Now and how it can provide information that is contextually relevant from time, location, weather and even intent. And intent comes from both keywords being typed into the search bar or being spoken into Google Now which is a trend that was reported by Google last year: Voice Search, which includes virtual personal assistants like Google Now, Siri and Cortana, is cool according to 79% of teens. Even 63% of adults say the same thing. 45% of the teens wished that voice search could send them a pizza while 44% of adults want it to help find their keys. Ironically, there are apps and accessories that will help both sides get what they want. (excerpts taken from PhoneArena.com)

I personally think it is moving into the right direction as downloading and installing apps, switching between them and waiting for them to load are all taking too much of my time. So the more streamlined it is, the more I can get and do what I want from one place and get out of it quickly and spend less time on mobile.

For those with more time on their hands than they know what to do with it, here’s a full write up from Wired. http://www.wired.com/2015/05/google-now-io/

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