This week, Mashable reported on Best Buy’s latest social media marketing campaign: auto checking in customers who have an iPhone. According to the article, Best Buy will use shopkick to auto-login shoppers not via GPS, but rather, via a store sensor. Those running the shopkick app on iPhone and Android (to be released soon) devices will earn rewards.
Last week I talked about how users of “other” smartphones need to stand their ground and tell companies what they want, rather than letting companies dictate how we’re going to function based on the devices we use. This latest endeavor by the electronics & music mogul provides yet another example: companies will reward us, but only if we use devices of their choosing. Why? After all, Foursquare is already available across nearly every smartphone platform in the US. Does it need better authenticity? Sure, but it doesn’t exclude the webOS and Blackberry users.
I will note that the Foursquare app for webOS was developed by folks completely independent of the Foursquare company. The app is free, though developers gladly accept donations.
Shopkick is just one of many apps companies are using to market and reward customers, with most of those also being available only to users of specific devices. While some app developers say it’s only going to take some time to develop for all devices, some have no plans to do so. This means users of “other” devices can’t participate, or independent developers will need to step up to the plate, in hopes the users (rather than the service company) will help fund their efforts.
I donated to the developers of the webOS Foursquare app. This means I paid money to use a service, while users of other devices gained access entirely free.
I know the arguments, which center around companies developing for the most widely used platform first. However, Apple has the strictest guidelines for app development. Porting apps to other devices should be easier, and shouldn’t take a year (which many have). I also blame participating companies (Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters and Sports Authority have also signed on with shopkick). After all, shopkick relies on them as much as they rely on shopkick. These companies could simply say, “We’re game, but not until you make it accessible to users of all smartphones”. Instead, they’ve opted to let shopkick rule the timeline.
I have to wonder if there’s something going on behind-the-scenes that hasn’t yet been leaked. Have Apple and Google been striking deals with app developers and corporations in order to secure more sales of their own devices? Are company giants trying to tell the rest of us we’re idiots if we’re not following the masses? Or, are the powers-that-be ignorant of the fact that you gain profits and loyalty by catering to the most people possible?
Whatever it is, I’m not buying into it. I’ll simply say, “No thanks, Best Buy, et al”. If I can’t gain rewards because I’m running a Palm, then I’ll just take my business to someone else – someone who isn’t trying to bully me by putting restrictions on the devices and applications I run.