As the move to mobile continues, it’s becoming more and more important to pick the right mobile technology to fit your needs. Xamarin, and its younger brother Xamarin Forms, have fundamentally altered how we create mobile applications. Before I tell you about Xamarin, let’s take a minute to examine the current reign champs of the mobile development world.
Native development means that you are developing in the environment and languages that Apple, Google, and Microsoft intended you to. It means maintaining multiple code bases, in different languages, with different design philosophies for each application. If that sounds costly, complex, and time consuming, that’s because it is. But in the end, you have a wonderfully crafted, high performance application, designed for your specific needs. If user experience and performance are highly valued over time and cost this is where you want to be.
HTML5 allows you to develop your application in a single code base, with one language across all platforms. The cost, complexity, and development time is only a fraction of what Native development is. Perhaps this sounds too good to be true. Well that’s because it is. There are two core issues with HTML5. The first is its performance. You are designing web views that are being displayed inside a Native shell. What this means is you are not optimizing for the device you are running on, and your app will never perform like it would if it were a Native application. Choppy animations and laggy transitions are common in HTML5 applications. The second issue is that you are limited in what you can do by your toolset. If you need to leverage core graphics, platform-specific social tools, or any low level phone items, you’re out of luck!
Where is the happy medium?
Well that is where Xamarin comes in. Xamarin has spent the last several years building an ecosystem where you can share your app’s core logic, and design Native UIs per platform, all in a single language and toolset. This reduces the cost significantly from Native development, since you are only writing your logic, data structures, and core functionality once. But it provides your users with a Native UI experience and not a HTML5 layer. It also allows you to tap into the Native phone features of each platform, required for highly complex applications.
Xamarin’s new cross platform UI system, Xamarin Forms, brings even more value to the mix. It allows you to create a single UI system that compiles to Native code. If that sounds a lot like HTML5, let me tell you, it’s not. Let me explain. Let’s take examine the Switch control (On/Off toggle). In HTML5, if you use a Switch, it looks the same on each platform. On the other hand, each of these Operating Systems have their own look and feel, and in Native code Switches for each system all look very different. Since Xamarin Forms actually compiles to Native code, you get the native look of each platform without having to create three separate UIs. And if you need to write custom system code, they provide you with the ability to create your own custom Renderers.
Like Native and HTML5, Xamarin is not without its drawbacks. While Xamarin is a mature toolset, Xamarin Forms is still very young (only about 12 weeks old at the writing of this). At this point, there is still a lot of missing functionality. It does however give you the ability to write custom Renders to achieve specific per platform functionality. With this, there’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to achieve.
By now you’ve probably heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. People all over are dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and then challenging others to do so. It’s become something of a phenomenon, with celebrities getting in on the act as well. In recent days the challenge has even come under fire in the state of California, where we are facing the worst drought in decades, for the amount of water that is being wasted on the challenge. The main criticism is that those doing the challenge, have potentially opted for the ice bucket bath rather than making a donation to the ALS Association.
As I write this, the ALS Association has raised $41.8 million dollars. What’s most amazing is that in the same period last year, they raised only $2.1 million. The awareness of the ice bucket challenge is obviously making the difference. The combination of friends challenging other friends, along with the exposure this has seen on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and even television has raised this to the level of national debate. Even critics of the challenge are doing a lot to garner awareness, as most often critics are the loudest ones in a group.
What’s the lesson to be learned here? Strong engagement over social media can be an incredibly powerful tool to spread awareness for your business.
I think most people would agree that to be an entrepreneur you need faith that you and whatever business on which you’re engaging will be successful. However I think in many situations people don’t realize how significant of a factor that really ends up being during the journey, and how big of an impact it can have on you personally.
I recently came across this article in Forbes which, while being a bit dated (from 2012) had some interesting points. One of them was quoted from Rhonda Laurtizen, who is quoted in the article saying
“Our strong faith keeps us going when others might throw in the towel. And when I say faith, I am not referring so much to religion per se, but rather a deep seated belief that when we are fulfilling our purpose, things have a way of working out.”
I agree whole-heartedly that to survive the entrepreneurial experience a person won’t last long without faith. However, I think one of the less positive and certainly less politically correct nuances is that this doesn’t mean your faith isn’t frequently challenged, with some days better than others, and some days much worse than others.
Many of the stories we read about entrepreneurs are all about being willing to risk it all, go ninety miles an hour every day, and all with boundless energy and optimism. Yeah, not so much.
There are plenty of inspirational and glamorous stories of people who seem unshakable and have succeeded despite the odds (and walked uphill both ways to school in the snow); that’s great, but I think it’s less common than people think. More common is the entrepreneur or young company that absolutely works hard, puts everything into striving for success, but has doubts and has their faith tested frequently. My feeling is that those who are in it for the right reasons know that having consistent faith that survives being tested will succeed in the long run. This is particularly true when you surround yourself with outstanding people of quality – both professionally and of personal character.
Long story short, having your faith tested and having doubts doesn’t make it invalid – it only makes it stronger … and not just in business.
It’s Friday afternoon – I’m sure many people are looking forward to the end of their workweek and are ready for some rest and relaxation. Before breaking for the weekend, I wanted to encourage you to take a moment and reflect on your week and hopefully be inspired to return next week recharged and ready to make a difference at your workplace. As you may know I often write about Work-Life Balance. I think it’s just as important to remind yourself why your work is worth it and what it is that makes you keep doing it day after day, week after week. This blog post, I want to focus on how Company Culture can add to your satisfaction in the workplace and keep you coming back for more than just a paycheck.
Although a recent Business Insider survey of Millennials showed that when asked to select the 3 most important factors in job selection, Millenials ranked “Pay” number one, but “positive relations with co-workers” came in a very close 3rd. This is really important when evaluating your company culture. If you focus on maximizing employee happiness and creating an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration, you are likely to find your employees interacting more with one another and building those internal relationships that are paramount to your companies success.
Below are a few great quotes that focus on how Company Culture helps drive success in your business:
To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first. – Zappos
If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning. – Whole Foods Market
No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it. – Jack Welch
So as you go off this weekend – relax, focus on re-energizing, and be ready to start the week focused not on just what you have to do, but why you love it and what you can do to help those around you love it even more.
Thanks for reading!
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
– Henry Ford, American entrepreneur
What is Geolocation? Geolocation is the identification of the real-world physical, or geographic location and behavior of an object such as a mobile phone or an Internet-connected computer. The integration of this information into aspects of marketing is referred to as geomarketing.
It’s fairly easy to recognize why marketers would be interested in geolocation: you can effectively target customers at the most crucial point in their consideration cycle – standing right in front of you or the product. Historically, digital marketing has been relegated to brand awareness or driving customers into e-commerce.
Social media has been shown to break the wall that exists between the two – brand building and purchase behavior. Starbucks has done a fantastic job of driving sales through social media engagement.
The value of geolocation for the consumer is not as clear, though. Studies have shown that more than 30% people who have smartphones say privacy concerns prevent them from sharing their location on their mobile devices.
To overcome consumers’ fears about privacy, marketers can use a brand’s authority and reputation. Brand trust will be one of the main factors in driving geolocation services into the mainstream. Nike and their Nike+ products are a good example of this. On top of their brand authority, Nike used sharing achievements with friends and the running community to provide consumers a clear reason to share their personal information and location data.
Yelp is another company that successfully used geolocation on top of social media from the beginning. By letting reviewers check into restaurants with their phones, they could be reminded later to review the restaurant. This built their reputation with their friends and others as an authoritative “foodie.” That reputation was worth giving up some privacy for.
Don’t worry about getting everyone – especially your casual customers to check-in or engage with other geolocation services. Instead, you should incentivize your most loyal advocates – your existing, active social media followers. These consumers will let you know how much they trust your brand based on their social behavior. Plus, you can tell how influential a consumers is when they check-in or use other geolocation abilities. Always reward and thusly reinforce that behavior.
Create rewards and reinforcements that yield richer social connections with your consumers. By putting consumers in touch with each other, your brand creates a meaningful and engaged community around a shared idea. That’s a big win for everyone.
For example, Taplister does a great job of this by connecting beer aficionados with geolocation information about where their favorite beers are on tap. Taplister successfully builds on the beer lover’s desire to taste, compare and discuss beers with others interested in the topic.
As of 2014, Over 60 million people have used a geolocation service. That’s enough to recognize that geolocation and geomarketing should be an important component of any digital marketing strategy. It’s still early enough for you to run a pilot program to determine what works and what doesn’t without risking your brand equity. Information you acquire will become invaluable when using geolocation services becomes as commonplace as sharing a picture on Facebook.
What are you doing to be ready?
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.