New Messenger App for Businesses

Paul Adams of FacebookWhen Paul Adams left Facebook to join Intercom, a customer communications firm, his goal was to help businesses become more personalized and intimate communication methods with customers. The release of the newest version of Intercoms in-app messaging service seemed to be a step in the direction of achieving that goal. Some critics were wary upon the first release of details of the new version of the app, claiming that it wasn’t that different from Series B, the version of the app released earlier in the year.

However, Adams disclaimed this belief by declaring that the new version chose to focus on five areas that companies tended to struggle through in communications with customers. First, Adams sought to do something about the impersonal nature of customer messages. Associated with that was his opinion on the poor targeting and timing of these messages. Often, he found that these messages lacked for context and were often seen as cold and remained unanswered as a result. Contributing to this was the fact that the existing messages weren’t very conversational, and didn’t prompt much productive feedback. In general, Adams found that many of the existing tools in completing the task sought to treat web and mobile communications as two separate things.

To demonstrate the success of his addressing of these five problems, Adams engaged in a demonstration of the new app recently. He used Intercom’s own website as a platform to show how the new app could help communicate with clients and retrieve feedback from customers. The app allows the message sent to appear as if it is from a specific team member; those sending the messages are also provided with information specific about the client, through data collected from the website. The message can be formatted to meet the sender’s preferences, including through the use of photos, videos and emoticons.

From Intercom’s point of view, the app allows for a collection of plenty of data through responses received from customers, which is then provided to their clients. Messages can also be sent through the web or from a mobile device. Through this, businesses who use Intercom’s app will be able to start supporting more sophisticated work forces. Testing for the app was offered to a limited number of businesses, but has recently been released to all of Intercom’s clients.

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon recently released their own smartphone: the Fire Phone.  According to an article completed by the L.A. Times, the phone is enticing, but not nearly enticing enough to inspire Apple and Android customers to jump ship.

Fundamentally, Amazon’s phone has top of the line components and is also priced to compete in the competitive smartphone market; In that sense, the phone does stand decently against other high-end devices. However, the LA Times and a few other major news sources denounce the phone as merely a capable gadget—not impressive enough to pull on consumers already dedicated to another device.

Itai Kathein, Amazon Fire Phone

There are some unique features to the phone. There are infrared LED sensors located at each corner of the front panel of the phone.  These form ultra low power cameras that are able to detect the user’s head.  Through this, the owner can direct the phones actions through a motion of the head—instead of using a finger to swipe through pictures, the owner need only angle their head.  While several apps are producing separate versions to adapt this function, the article argues that there are not enough on the market to make his feature truly useful.

Another quirk of the product is a function entitled Firefly.  Through the use of the camera and microphone, Firefly allows the phone to automatically detect information, text, products, movies, television shows and music.  For example, business cards or email addresses can be scanned through Firefly and automatically entered into contacts; this is possible with the mere touch of one camera button.  In addition, if the owner catches a glimpse of a movie but does not know the title, this feature allows the microphone to detect the dialogue; from there, the phone will automatically take the user to and Amazon, where details of the movie will be available and purchasing the film is one mere click away.

However, this brings the author of the article to the biggest criticism of the phone. It is essentially one big advertisement for all things Amazon.  The product does come with a year of Amazon Prime, which includes free viewing of their Prime Instant Videos.  However, during viewings, advertisements for similar shows and movies to be purchased will arise.  Every product scanned immediately takes the consumer to Amazon, where it can be purchased.  While using an app, the consumer will see recommended similar apps available for purchase.  While listening to music, the owner will be offered song suggestions to buy.  While these advertisements can be turned off, they are set as the default setting and are quite irritating.

In essence, the Fire Phone may be a good option if the consumer regularly buys from Amazon. If potential buyer is interested in other means of purchasing, they should consider sticking to their current phone.