Why don’t more companies understand smartphones and technology?

Here’s a fun fact for you. Up until today, I didn’t know what a “Twitter canoe” is. I’ve been on Twitter since before 2009, so I may not be “old school” by some standards, and I didn’t even set my computer on fire in protest when Twitter wanted to break chronological order of tweets. So maybe I’m just not awesome enough to know what a Twitter canoe is. Apparently it’s an ongoing conversation on Twitter with more than three people. I’m not even making this up and it’s actually scary how much sense it makes.

But then again, my job isn’t really to know Twitter. Sure, there’s a Twitter component to it – promoting the site and staying connected with the Pocketnow community, but Twitter isn’t necessarily in my job description. So, I can be forgiven for not being hip to what the cool cats are rapping about Twitter this week. People still say that right?

Live_Extra_notification_failSmartphone marketing 101

Anyway, when your job is in marketing, that’s no longer the case. When you’re marketing a product – any product – across a number of different channels, it is your responsibility to understand those channels. At least, it’s important to have a rudimentary understanding of what you’re promoting, and what you’re promoting it on. I’ll give you two quick examples.

During the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, which tragically ended way too soon (or at least my interest in them did), NBC’s LiveExtra app rightly promoted the fact that some of these action-packed games could be streamed right to your mobile devices. Awesome! The only problem is, I’ve been carrying Android devices lately, and every single one of the notifications it sent kept saying “Swipe right to watch now”. Well, that’s fine, except on Android, swiping right dismissed the notification, and I don’t get to watch Patrick Kane and yet another magical goal.

On iPhones, swiping right would indeed open up the app, presumably to the game and an embarrassed-looking goalie. But NBC Live Extra was sending the same notification to all devices, likely irritating 80% of its audience. Until, I corrected them that is. You’re welcome.

walmart-pay-useWhat platform was that again?

Another example of a technology flub by a marketing company was Walmart’s introduction of Walmart Pay. Walmart’s introductory video clearly shows a rather generic looking Android phone, or at the very least a non-iPhone phone (this is important) and all the neat things you can do with Walmart Pay. The problem is that Walmart Pay only supports iOS at the moment. In fact, I spent a solid 10 minutes exploring the Walmart App looking for how to set up Walmart Pay, all because of that stupid video.

Of course, notifications can change – and indeed Live Extra did change the notifications. But this video is static and pricey. This is a four- or five-figure mistake. But it just goes to show how little companies are aware of technology and how the darn things work. I’m sure all of us have stories of posters we saw back in 2010 that said “Follow us of Facebook” or whatever, and that’s cool, but this is 2016. Smartphones are literally where the money is. Is it asking too much that companies know enough about this tech so that they can properly represent themselves on the field? I don’t think it is.

All the wrong moves

And yet we’re left with these companies who don’t know a darn thing about this space, while at the same time pushing their brand out into it. They’re simply unprepared. Remember when Q thrust the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant because Picard said they were ready? Granted, there isn’t world domination on the line here, but there’s certainly reputations at stake. When companies fail to understand this arena, they look foolish, plain and simple. It’s like Snapchatting a coupon to customers telling them to show it to their retailer the next time they’re in the store. It just doesn’t work that way. Or maybe it does. I know less about Snapchat than I do about twitter canoes.

So, those are my examples. What about you? What’s the most egregious thing you’ve seen a company do in the realm of technology. What faux pas have you seen in the media, or on billboards that have blatantly misrepresented the technology they were trying to accommodate? Share your stories below and maybe we can group shame those companies into doing a bit of research next time.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!