My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: CLARO and Square - the App of the Year 2010 and CLARO's Saviour


Saturday, May 22, 2010

CLARO and Square - the App of the Year 2010 and CLARO's Saviour

{1:3} And God said, Let there be light:  and there was light.
{1:4} And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 
{1:5} And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1 vs 3 - 5

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is indeed the God in a well balanced Apps Universe that is the mainstay of his company’s profitability aside from the sale of Apple iPods, Apple iPod Touch, Apple iPod Nano, Apple iPhones, Apple iMacs and the device of the decade and definite game changer in how we consume media, the Apple iPad as stated in the article “Apple's Endless Expanding App Universe”, published Monday April 26, 2010 By Peter Burrows, BusinessWeek – FEATURES.

No wonder developers accept the strict Commandments of the God cum CEO Steve Jobs, especially with such healthy growth where developers keep 70% of the retail price derived from the sale of the Apps and 60% from the advertising revenue with iAd.

This despite developer contractual restrictions against the use of Adobe Flash or the porting of Apps that were originally coded in Adobe Flash, poking fun at public figures and (my favorite) an effective ban on pornography as opposed to nude pictures, which are considered “art” , thus allowing Sports Illustrated and PlayBoy Apps to remain as stated in the video news report “CNET Buzz Report”, aired March 1 2010, by Molly Wood, CNET News.

All is well within the closed well defined universe of the Apple Apps Store, it is no wonder that many developers stick with Apple as opposed to the Google Android Platform, despite the predicted surge in adoption as stated in the article “Analysts predict bold growth for Google Android” published January 25, 2010 2:18 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon CNET News - Signal Strength.

This was later confirmed by a study done by ComScore that showed that Google had posted a 5.2% increase in its subscriber percentage of the smart phone OS market within the period November 2009 to February 2010 as stated in the article “Google Android growth outpacing the industry” published April 5, 2010 2:36 PM PDT by Tom Krazit, CNET News - Relevant Results.

Google Android  seemingly on its way to beating out Apple and Microsoft for the number two (2) spot in terms of smart phones OS and phones running the Google Android OS, which it has now done as now confirmed by statistics by NPD as stated in “CNET Buzz Report”, aired May 13 2010 by Brian Cooley, CNET News

In fact, the well defined environment set by Apple in having a consistent OS and device specs and a well designed and built device stands in stark contrast to the apparently disorganized Google Android camp, which is running on so many phones from Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and HTC, which started it all, that it is beginning to suffer from a commonly know problem associated with Open Source called “splintering” or “code fragmentation”

This results from complications due to slightly different versions of Android being out in the wild on so many different dimensioned devices, making it difficult for  developers to make Google Apps that can function on multiple platforms without making major design change as stated in the article “Report: Android fragmentation could harm growth” published April 8, 2010 8:50 AM PDT  by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News -Signal Strength.

But an App has come along that in my humble opinion is a “shoe in” for the award of App of the Year, even though half of the year has yet to have gone. This App is called Square as stated in the article “Ideal for Small Businesses, Square iPhone App will change the way we shop”, Posted May 19, 2010 8:21am by Kathryn Swartz, Appolocious: Tech

It was developed by Twitter co-founder and Chairman, Jack Dorsey as stated in the article “Twitter co-founder launches new venture: Square”, published May 16 2010, Physorg.

I speak these superlatives of the Square App as it has far reaching implication as to how we conduct Business transactions both on the Apple iPhone as well as on mid range phones such as the LG Neon, Xenon and Karma as described in the article “AT&T pushes quick-messaging phones”, published March 24, 2010 6:10 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon CTIA 2010 - CNET News

Even low end phones such as the Motorola Quantico or even my personal favorite, the Nokia 1208, which is a basic “flashlight” phone – and an engineer’s best friend, can possibly be made to use Square.

Basically, it is a free App with a free widget in the form of a card reader, much like the ones used to lock door entrances to secure locations e.g. ATMs that plugs into the audio input of your Apple iPhone or Google Android phone, as the Square Card reader is a miniaturized version of the one used on door locks and was always an analog device. Square allows you to conduct Debit or Credit card transactions without having to rent a POS device from your bank.

Square uses only your Apple iPhone or Google Android Phone, the Square widget and the Square App, both of which (widget and App) are free on the Apple Apps Store or Google Android MarketPlace as the makers of Square mainly make their money from Credit card and Debit card transactions charges

Charges range from 2.75% for transactions done with the Debit or Credit card physically swiped with Square widget or 15% without it being present. Users sign up at the Square website, using the sign-up process as described in YouTube’s “Welcome to Square” video and they receive the widget and can begin making transactions right away. Simple.

Currently the service is only available in the United States of America, but as Apple iPhones is all over the World, having sold nearly fifty million (50,000,000) Apple iPhones since its debut in 2007 and having plans to sell another twenty four (24,000,000) million more as stated in the article “Report: Apple readying 24 million units of next iPhone”, published May 17, 2010 10:25 AM PDT by Erica Ogg, CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

Square can also go worldwide. This apparent surge in Apple iPhone is posited on the launch of its new iPhone 4.0 OS which finally supports their unique take on multitasking, folders (finally), a the new Apple advertising platform called Apple iAd, a game social network called Game Center, similar to that of Microsoft Xbox 360.

 iBook, similar to the iBookStore App on the Apple iPad with a free complimentary book Winnie the Pooh (first thing Apple has ever given away for free!!) as hinted in the article “Will iPhone 4.0 derail Microsoft's phone plans?”, published April 9, 2010 10:24 AM PDT by Ina Fried, CNET News - Beyond Binary and confirmed in the video “CNET The AppleByte” aired April 8 2010 by Brian Senior Editor, CNET News.

As such, it is expected to be a hit, clawing back some of the lost smart phone market share from the disorganized Google Android camp, now embroiled and distracted by problems with Google StreetView as stated in the articles article “FTC asked to probe Street View privacy snafu”, published May 19, 2010 1:42 PM PDT by Declan McCullagh CNET News - Politics and Law, ( and “Google's Brin on Wi-Fi spying: 'We screwed up'”, published May 19, 2010 3:07 PM PDT by Tom Krazit CNET News - Relevant Results – again.

Thus therein lays an opportunity for Telecom Provider CLARO, the brand name for AMX (America Movil) in Latin America and Jamaica (wherein I reside in the bushes!), to team up with Twitter co-founder and Chairman, Jack Dorsey to introduce this unique App to Jamaica, as the App and its associated Square Card Reader can revolutionize how Telecom Provider CLARO sells phone cards.

Currently, when buying a Telecom Provider CLARO Prepaid (Pay-as-Go) Cards, you have to pay cash to get the Prepaid (Pay-as-Go) Cards or use your debit card in an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) or Wireless and Fixed Landline POS (Point-of-Sale) at a Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owner.

This as most Business owners e.g. vendors and Telecom Provider CLARO stores that retail phone cards for Telecom Provider CLARO only sell the phone cards as physical Prepaid (Pay-as-Go) Cards that the user still has to scratch in order to use.

As their return on purchase is so low on a card, it give little incentive for vendors to wish to have a Wireless and Fixed Landline POS (Point-of-Sale) devices, as rental alone to sell phone cards would make it pointless.

In a partnership involving Telecom Provider CLARO Jamaica, Square founder Jack Dorsey and local banks such as BNS (Bank of Nova Scotia), NCB (National Commercial Bank) and RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago).

Telecom Provider CLARO can use the Square platform to make it possible to retail their Apple iPhone as a platform to encourage Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owners to set up merchant accounts and thus be able to accept both Debit and Credit cards for transactions by renting a device at a fraction of the cost of a Wireless and Fixed Landline POS.

This would be by simply by approaching BNS (Bank of Nova Scotia), NCB (National Commercial Bank) and RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago) and offering to rent the Apple iPhones from Telecom Provider CLARO and using the Square platform allow Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owners with merchant accounts to use the device to conduct their transactions seamlessly on-the-fly, making mobile banking on-the-go both for consumers as well as for Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owners a reality.

It would benefit Telecom Provider CLARO in that they would be able to sell more of the iconic Apple iPhones with Data Plans in bulk, this time as a Business tool replacement for the ageing Wireless and Fixed Landline POS devices via banks and in the process expand the Business interests of Mr. Jack Dorsey in terms of Square.

In the process, it would allow the banks BNS (Bank of Nova Scotia), NCB (National Commercial Bank) and RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago) to create a unified platform around which to capture more of the Debit and Credit Retail Business by empowering Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owners with merchant accounts to be able to accept Debit and Credit cards with a lower overhead than is currently is possible with the Wireless and Fixed Landline POS devices

This is a win-win situation for all involved in a nascent Debit and Credit Card Retail Business that is set to explode in Jamaica ever since the implementation and Success of the JDX (Jamaica Debt Exchange) and the lowered and stable interest rates that have resulted since, with opportunities for merchants involving export, for Square would be uniquely positioned to take advantage of as hinted in my article in my blog article  JDX - Progress since the start of the New Financial Year”.

But why stop there?

Why not encourage the creation of a Developer Community in Jamaica specifically tailored to building Apps for the Apple Apps Store with servers being set up to host developed websites and Apps in Jamaica,.

This is effectively a DataCenter that is set up much as a Mall has stores which are rented out to store-owners to host their API platforms or virtual storefronts in this virtual mall.

Telecoms Providers suggested the same idea at the recently concluded GSM Association of the Mobile World Congress in February 2010 in Barcelona as state in the article “Mobile operators embrace App store mania”, published February 17, 2010 12:32 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - 3GSM blog?

Even better, Telecom Provider CLARO could also have Jack Dorsey’s Square team develop a version of his App that runs on Nokia’s Symbian and even mid-range and low end phones using a simple programming UI similar to what is currently employed to top-up phones with Credit as follows:

1.      Plug Square into the audio jack of a regular mobile phone.
2.      *177*<last 4 digits of card>*<cost of item>*<user enters PIN for Debit card># and SEND for Debit Cards and *177*<last 4 digits of card>*<cost of item ># and SEND for Credit Cards
3.      Swipe the card when the system sends you a text message prompt and a dial tone
4.      Then press *177*1# to say “YES” to complete the transaction or *177*2# to say “NO” to the transaction.
5.      Customer then asks the vendor to delete the stored PIN number, if any
6.      Square then sends back a SMS message confirming the transaction. Simple

This is somewhat similar to LIME Self Top Up, first of its kind in the Caribbean (albeit Digicel already had a similar card based top-up service in Jamaica) as stated in the article “Text to Top Up - A Caribbean first from LIME” published Wednesday, 03 March 2010 Written by TechJamaica

It is targeted at Debit and Credit Retail Business among Micro, Small, Medium and Large Business owners and regular customers alike, with added benefits for being member of Square. Even Bill Payment could be done via Square.

This branching into regular mobile phones, however, should be once Square has made a significant difference in the sale of Apple iPhones in Jamaica.

Thus ANY Mobile phone on the Telecom Provider CLARO Network would become a POS Terminal to transact Business, and thus usher in the coming of a Cashless Society via a simple partnership that would allow Banks, Telecom Provider CLARO and Twitter co-founder and Chairman, Jack Dorsey to advance their own personal agendas – and “Square up” – or at least “Square off” - against the competition by being able to bring POS transaction to virtually every Jamaica on ANY Telecom Provider CLARO phone. Telecom Provider CLARO, Square Up!! Call 621-1000 for details requesting this service!! Only from Telecom Provider CLARO!!
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