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This Woman's Gotta Have Mobile Apps

Posted by Maureen Carruthers at 7:00 AM on November 30, 2010:

I’m obsessed with my phone. I don’t go anywhere without it. In fact, I only put it down when I sleep. While I don’t believe this level of phone-love qualifies me to identify what all women want from their mobile applications, I have noticed some interesting trends that may be of use to app developers looking to catch the attention of women like me.

My most interesting find was some of my favorite “apps” aren’t applications at all - they are bookmarks to the mobile versions of my favorite websites. They behave very similarly to my “real” apps and have icons on my phone to help keep up the ruse. The lesson? A savvy web developer may create the next “killer app” by simply creating a great mobile interface for an existing website.

Next, the best way to make sure I never try an app is to charge me for it. This may not be a trend for women in general, but it’s a huge barrier for me. I’ve downloaded over 50 apps for my iPhone. I’ve paid for fewer than five. I understand on an intellectual level that charging for great apps is a legitimate business model. My open source sensibilities just don't let me go there.

This price factor is complicated by the fact that for every person who feels like I do about paid apps, there is another who dismisses free software (including apps) out of hand because their experience tells them technology is likely to fail at critical moments - and using free software means there is no one to call when the inevitable crash occurs.   So what’s an app developer to do?  Decide which group to serve.  Once a developer identifies her right people, deciding if paid apps or free apps are the most likely to connect gets much easier.

The final quality of my favorite apps is how they make me feel - about myself.  From keeping me connected to my social network, to updating me on the latest news, to capturing my to-do lists, these apps help me feel loved, well-read and prepared.  That's everything this woman needs to feel secure.  Most importantly, they are intuitive, so they never make me feel stupid.  No matter how potentially amazing an app may be, if I can’t easily figure it out, it will gather virtual dust.

That’s this woman’s mobile app story.  Does it match yours?  Tell us in the comments.  Perhaps together we can answer the seemingly unanswerable question:  What do women want from mobile apps?

When she's not checking her e-mail, Maureen Carruthers blogs at Low Hanging Fruit.

These posts may be of further interest:

The Apps That Connect Us - A Report on Women, Smart Phones and Mobile Apps
Women and Apps - Mobile and Social
Best Mobile Apps for Women
Mobile Apps for Women in Business
Women and Smartphones

Coldwell Banker Townside Mobile App Available for iPhone and Android

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:30 AM on November 29, 2010:

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) launched a mobile application for the Android in September 2010.  The Coldwell Banker Townside app is now available for the iPhone on the iTunes App Store. The mobile app is also compatible with the iPod touch and the iPad.Coldwell Banker Townside REALTORS(R) App

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the iPhone in the iTunes App Store

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the Android in the Android Market

The Coldwell Banker Townside app features the Coldwell Banker Townside real estate agents - their photos, bios, and contact information ranging from phone numbers to LinkedIn profiles to Twitter accounts - and their real estate listings. Many constituencies use the Coldwell Banker Townside app, foremost among them individuals seeking real estate agents to help them find a property, and agents seeking contact with other agents on behalf of their clients.

Available on the App Store

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) has offices in the New River Valley and the Roanoke Valley of Virginia.  With five universities in the locale served by Coldwell Banker Townside, instructors, researchers and students from all over the world seeking real estate in the area can use the app to match people with places - agents with their listings - rather than simply use the listings search of current real estate app offerings. 

Coldwell Banker Townside wanted to expand the value of the app to the user from its first release.  Anticipating that the user might want access to all the listings in the area and access to all of Coldwell Banker’s listings in addition to area-specific search, they added an About tab and page that provides exactly those features.  The user’s experience with the Coldwell Banker Townside app is true to Coldwell Banker's tagline:  "Anytime, anywhere."

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R), is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  You're invited to learn all about the Coldwell Banker Townside App, check out the CBTownside blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, follow Coldwell Banker Townside on Twitter, and learn more about Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

The Coldwell Banker Townside mobile application is a Handshake(R) App from Handshake Media, Incorporated.  The Handshake App runs on a Rackspace Cloud server.

Learn more about cloud computing from The Rackspace Cloud at rackspacecloud.com

Learn More: Rackspace Cloud Hosting & Cloud Computing

Who's in FRONT? River Laker

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on November 29, 2010:

River Laker 
River Laker is a FRONTLeader in the Culture area. He works for the Roanoke, Virginia library system. He is featured in the November 2010 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo credit:  Dan Smith

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

Parametric Hand Turkey

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 5:30 AM on November 24, 2010:

This classic post from Alex Edelman originally appeared on Handshake 2.0 in 2008.

The quintessential childhood Thanksgiving arts-and-crafts project is the hand turkey, so I decided to make one. Unfortunately, a rigorous scientific education has enabled me to suck all the fun and child-like innocence out of any enterprise, so I ended up making a graph.

The graph in question is of a parametric equation. Whereas the graphs we are most familiar with give one variable as a function of another (y in terms of x, for instance), a parametric graph gives x and y in terms of another, or in our case, two other variables. I've parameterized in terms of r and t.

Equations and conditions that give us our parametric hand turkey 

Equations and conditions that give us our parametric hand turkey 

Equations and conditions that give us our parametric hand turkey 

Equations and conditions that give us our parametric hand turkey 

Wolfram Mathematica input statement that graphs the equations and conditions to create a parametric hand turkey

The parameterization, in terms of t, graphs the "shape" or "outline" of our mathematical hand turkey. It's a modification of a polar function that would normally give us a "rose" with nine petals. My fingers are not all the same size, though, so I tweaked the function with a square root of t to vary the petals a little bit. A few more changes gave me five "fingers."

A picture of the graph, as generated by Mathematica


Then, I multiplied by my second parameter, r. Since it ranges from 0 to 1, then for every possible value of r, the "t" function it is affecting will be drawn with a slightly different radius. When we put all these functions on top of each other, we get a continuous series of "outlines" which smoothly merge into a solid region.

Not entirely devoid of childlike aesthetic taste, I then used Mathematica to graph the function and, more importantly, apply a gradient of "Thanksgiving colors" to it.

All in all, though, you're still probably better off asking your kid to make a hand turkey.


If you're interested here's a high-resolution .pdf of the Mathematica notebook. It's big (8559K), and requires a little crunching from your computer, but the image it produces is gorgeous.

And for the sake of complete documentation, here's the original Mathematica notebook, in case readers of Handshake 2.0 use Mathematica.

Top Twelve Posts on Handshake 2.0

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on November 23, 2010:

The top source of traffic to Handshake 2.0 when it was founded in 2008 was direct traffic, i.e. people who knew about the site typed the URL into their browsers to see what was new.  The top source since about May 2010 has been Google search.  People are finding what they seek on Handshake 2.0.  Cool. 

What are people looking for?  Here are the twelve posts on Handshake 2.0 receiving the most traffic since its founding in July, 2008, with my commentary.

1. Making the List - Branding on Twitter

What's the R.O.I. of using Twitter?  People keep typing their doubts into the search box.

2. Blacksburg Makes the List - Lots of Them

The top source of traffic to this post by Z. Kelly Queijo is from the Virginia Tech Employment page which kindly links from "Top Reasons to Live in Blacksburg, Virginia."

3. Cloud Computing - Just Draw Me a Picture

The culminating post in a series exploring the meaning of cloud computing to companies, a dozen people contributed to the series through writing, research, definition and explanation.  Alex Edelman sketched the drawings and Kelsey Sarles created the graphics that give company leaders a way to visualize the tech department's statement, "Let's take that to the cloud."

4. Populating the Top of the Sales Funnel Through Social Media

I sketched the idea on a lined piece of paper from a tablet, and Kelsey Sarles transformed it into the graphic most requested for use by other sites and publications and the most linked-to post on Handshake 2.0.  We've even heard people say they saw the graphic in a slide presentation - without citation.  Naughty, not nice.

5. A Google Real-Time Search Story - LeBron James Had a Parotidectomy, Too

My face aches just reading the title of this post.  I was scheduled for a parotidectomy, ended up with the lesser parotid surgery, but so many people, as I did, search for comfort and information during a health challenge.  I felt less alone and less afraid knowing LeBron James had survived and thrived after his own surgery. (If interested, I made a "portal" page linking to posts on my experience with parotid surgery, including pics.)

6. The Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising: A Look at Marketing

This is one of three posts that attempts to explain the differences, but no one really knows or can.  The search continues.

7. Who Sees My Tweets?

Who doesn't see your tweets is a lot of people when you use the automatic retweet feature on Twitter.  It took 4 writers, 675 words, and 3 screenshots to answer the question posed in the title.

8. Slang at Work Doesn't Work

I can imagine the "Yes, but..." arguments about the use of slang at work, the Google searches, and the answer found in this post by Donna Dilley.

9. Outsourcing a Corporate Facebook Page

Explaining my experience with the pros and cons of in-house vs. outsource took me 1000 words.  I thought no one would read it because it was too long.  Very gratified to learn the effort helps others.

10. Rackspace Recognized for Fanatical Customer Support

While Rackspace has a history in Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Handshake 2.0, the top source of traffic to this post is people doing research on the company itself. 

11. Stuart Mease to Work for Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech

I miss Mease.  Apparently, I'm not the only one. 

12. Women and Smart Phones

I assume this post is popular for the same reason I wrote it.  I wanted to know the answer to this question:  Are there enough women with mobile devices for them to be considered a market?  That would be a yes.  More on that in 2011.

To all who find Handshake 2.0 of value, I am so glad.  To all who visit, however you arrive, welcome.  

Who's in FRONT? Jeff Krasnow

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on November 22, 2010:

Jeff Krasnow
Jeff Krasnow is a Roanoke, Virginia lawyer who often hears a different drummer.  He is featured in the November 2010 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo credit:  Dan Smith

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

Master Handshake

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 5:17 AM on November 22, 2010:

Erik C. B. Olsen and Tedd Povar

Erik C. B. Olsen, BT Transportation Planner in Blacksburg, Virginia, shares a handshake with Tedd Povar, Associate Director at Virginia Institute of Government, who led a class in a Local Government Leadership Master Series for municipalities.

What to Do About Web Advertising?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:50 AM on November 18, 2010:

Jakob Nielsen has been arguing since 1997 that advertising doesn't work on the Web.  A post on TechCrunch in 2009 by Eric Clemons, Why Advertising is Failing on the Internet, generated 590 comments and a follow-up from the author. But, Linda Abraham of comScore, writing this month for AdWeek, says it's not the click-through that's of value, but the "creative" of the web ad that can produce "view-through" results and a "latent branding impact."

What's an online start-up to do about online advertising in an attempt to devise a business plan with a real business model?

Offer it.

That's what we've decided to do for the She Chooses(TM) blog

How much should advertisers pay?  A post from 2008 on Problogger by Daniel Scocco, How Much Should I Charge for My Advertising Space?, is the clearest guide we've seen to determining advertising rates.  For now, advertising on the She Chooses(TM) blog is free. 

On our advertising page, we've been transparent about our traffic.  The Facebook widget on the blog's home page shows how many "likers" we have.  At least when they ask the question, " What to do about web advertising?", potential advertisers will have data with which they can decide for themselves.


I am one of four co-founders of She Chooses(TM), the social network for women. We think it's the answer to what women want.  Our site and applications are wildly under development.  The president and CEO of Handshake Media - I know her very well - has decided to advertise the Handshake(TM) App on the She Chooses(TM) blog.  I love this  "creative" of our web ad by Kelsey Sarles.  May it produce "view-through" results and a "latent branding impact" - and business!

Corporate mobile app

Where the Blacksburg Videos Are

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2010:

Blacksburg, Virginia was recently featured in the video The Future of Selling and Social Media by OgilvyOne.  It's the front page video on Blacksburg Lodging's YouTube Channel where users can find a selection of videos featuring the Town of Blacksburg, the New River Valley of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.  Of all the videos filmed in Blacksburg, we love this one the best! 

Blacksburg Lodging is listed among Virginia Tech's Visitor Resources.  You're invited to learn more about  Blacksburg Lodging on Twitter, Blacksburg Lodging on YouTube, and Blacksburg Lodging on Handshake 2.0.  Here's all about the Handshake Video.

Blacksburg Lodging, a Virginia hotel reservation site, is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated.

How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2010:

We invite you to view our two-year-later update of this post, How Much Does a Mobile App Cost? A Case Study.

Our corporate mobile app, the Handshake(TM) App, was made in-house.  Creating it reminded me of starting another start-up.  We worked fast and hard for long hours and learned as we went. Like at a start-up, we had no budget with fixed price billing or hourly billing to consider.  We weren't paid by the hour nor did we bill by the hour. We just worked.

According to IP expert Anne Chasser, "A company’s intellectual property is its most valuable asset." 

With four versions for clients and a fifth under development, the Handshake(TM) App is established IP for our company, Handshake Media, Incorporated.  What does it add to our company's valuation? 

To answer that question, in How to Value a Young Company, Martin Zwillig, writing for Forbes, says, "You could stick a wet finger in the air."  Cute.  He adds, "Of all valuation approaches, the asset approach - placing dollar values on all the assets on a company's balance sheet and adding them up - is the most concrete."

Let's go with "the asset approach."  To do so, we need to know the market value of a custom mobile application.  We've never bought custom mobile apps.  We've only made them.

So, how much does a mobile app cost?

According to silicon.com, "A Forrester report last year [2009] set the price of a no-frills app at a minimum of $20,000 - and reckoned a more sophisticated app could set you back up to $150,000."

Why does a mobile app cost that much?

We can answer that:  Know-how and labor.

According to TechCrunch reporting on mobile apps industry research, the minimum time required for a developer to master a mobile app development platform is 5 months.  Nazmul Idris, in his white paper on mobile app development costs (language alert), describes the difficulty and complexity of mobile application development. 

The hourly rate paid to a mobile app developer varies, and what the rate should be is a topic of discussion.  The results of my several hours of research on the subject are represented well by this conversation on stack overflow.  For our question, "How much does a mobile app cost?" we'll use the low end of the figures reported for development of the Barack Obama mobile app.

A mobile application that took 500 hours to develop at $100 per hour would cost $50,000.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (.pdf), that was the one-year real median household income in the U.S. in 2009. 

That's a lot of value.


Thought Full - an app to rememberAdded later:

Potential buyers of mobile app development may find this 8/18/11 discussion on Mashable of pricing mobile apps from the seller's pointof view of interest.

The Ins and Outs of Mobile Apps, The Wall Street Journal, 6/13/11

You're invited to read our series of posts about mobile apps on Handshake 2.0.