The Connected Experience. Analyst firms have certainly talked about it, some for a while now. This is an interesting time for the internet and interacting with content across different devices. We can't just talk about mobile as a stand-alone experience anymore. Offering your customers a mobile app doesn’t immediately check off the new box for a unified brand experience.
The use of intelligent mobile devices has given more people in more places access to services and content than ever before. The user is now in control and demands interaction with products and services wherever and however they choose. Mobile is convenient in the widest number of contexts because of the combination of size and power. Now the connected device in your pocket is as powerful as a circa 2005 laptop.
But we're not just talking about mobile, we’re also talking about the push to deliver Smart TVs with built in browsers and apps. We're talking about TiVo, Apple, Google and Roku and set top boxes that allow you to access the internet, cable networks and niche channels. We're talking about tablets. We're still talking about desktops and laptops. And, most importantly, we're talking about companion usage of one device along side another.
The driving force behind it all is content: video, long and short form writing, photography, illustration, podcasts and any other sort of expression. Mobile simply plays one role in delivering a brand experience in a different context. What we're really talking about is connecting each one of those devices or touch points along an experience continuum. In other words, the connected experience.
Cantina defines the connected experience as: “The delivery of digital content and services across different contexts on the most convenient devices to build a contiguous experience.”
For a more concrete idea of what we’re talking about, let’s look at some companies that have actually created compelling connected experiences:
We have Netflix on our TV at home, smartphones and tablets. Start a show on TV, pick it right where you left off on tablet in bed. Brilliant.
Connected House Party
I can manage the temperature in different parts of the house using Nest. I can break up space within an open floor plan using Philips Hue and color! Musically, I've got Spotify streaming a playlist over airplay-enabled speakers that party-goers can add music to via the Pow-wow app. Finally, Ambify turns my Philips Hue bulbs into a music lightshow. All of this is controlled from my smartphone or tablet: connecting physical experiences with digital content and services.
Bluetooth Audio in Car
This one has been around for a while, but its still impressive. My phone is synced with my car stereo via bluetooth. As soon as I step in the car, its synced and ready to stream music, turn-by-turn directions from Maps applications, and handle voice calls. The radio is simply the conduit for interacting with these services in a new context. But its seamless.
I pull up the Messages iOS app on the train in, shoot a few interesting article links to my wife on the train ride in the morning, pick up that same message thread on my laptop midday to check in on our children and how the day is going, and send a few more messages from my iPad from the couch at night when she's off with friends. I am changing the context that I'm in, and the device, but the content and the actual messaging experience remain consistent and connected.
(Truly) Connected TV
Polar, a polling app, was one of the first adopters of Microsoft's Companion Web. The idea here is to use the internet to connect disparate devices to enable multiple combinations of user interaction with digital content. In the case of Polar, users could interact with the app while watching a show (e.g. vote on who would win in a battle on Game of Thrones). While still in beta mode, this is (one of) the near-future states of TV.
I can register and manage my account on Zipcar’s Web site as well as reserve nearby cars. A wireless zipcard acts as the car keys, allowing for locking and unlocking the car. From these I can manage my activity on their mobile app while on the go. I get texts at the end of my rental and options to extend if I want. This brings the digital experience from the desktop through actually using the service: brilliant and easy.
Between the Web site and the native mobile app, I can set up my bike rides, go out and enjoy them, track my progress and even challenge friends. Their API supports a couple watches as well if I don't want to carry my $700 mobile phone on my bike. They are continually improving their services.
These are just some of my favorites, do you have an example you'd like to share?