Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Orange Glastonav review

Yes, I admit it, I'm overly interested in mobile gizmos and when I heard about Orange's Glastonav mobile service, I thought I'd give it a try. The blurb says:

"GlastoNav, the must have mobile application for you and your friends at Glastonbury

  • view the complete line-up from The Guardian Guide
  • build your own schedule and share it with friends
  • find your way around with a detailed festival map
  • broadcast your location on the map and send alerts to find friends"

It was promoted heavily before the event via email (neither the URL nor the text in to the shortcod e worked - FAIL) to everyone who was on the Glastonbury ticket database. I finally managed to download it (why I was still trying to do this, I don't know!) and on taking a look, it showed all the bands and which stages they were on which was useful. There was also a map which was handy too I guess.

The option to add your location and the time you'd be there didn't work for me. It wasn't precise enough and there was no interactivity around it to confirm to your mate that you would meet them at that point at x time.

The gig finder was marginally useful, but what would have been more useful would be to set up reminder s so that your phone went off 30 minutes before you needed to be at whichever stage you wanted to be at - either linking in with the calendar/alarm system, or using SMS alerts (provided they could be timely). As it stood, it was confusing so I reverted to using the old skool paper guide. I also spotted typos on times and some bands which didn't exactly inspire me with confidence.

There was a news feature included in the app, but this was dependent on you having the app open at all times and checking it for news. As I only opened it from time to time (it was a real battery drainer), it meant I got the news that Hot Chip were dj'ing up at The Park 2 hours after they finished their set and that Franz Ferdinand were a replacement for Pete Doherty the day after they played. These alerts would have been much better done via SMS and actually, I probably would have paid a nominal amount to be included to get those alerts.

The service was promoted very heavily on site - it seemed to be on everything - the cups, posters and everywhere Orange was, they were promoting the application.

The biggest bugbear about it though was that it was a memory hog and a battery hog. As a memory hog, it meant I couldn't have anything else open at the same time on my T-Mobile Nokia N95. And battery life is critical at a festival the size of Glastonbury for your mobile phone. I took a spare battery with me *and* I got to charge my phone every day at a pal's market stall on site which meant I didn't have to wait around the orange tent for 2 hours every day to charge up. Most people won't bother to charge their phones up unless it's an emergency, and they're certainly not going to use up the battery on an iffy mobile application that drains your battery quickly to boot.

I hear along the grapevine that they got about 15 to 20k downloads which isn't bad going. I wonder how many of those were actually on site rather than armchair viewers? Let's say they did get 20k requests, of which, being generous, 65% successfully downloaded so we're down to 13,000 and of those 40% turned it on more than once which is now down to 5,200. And this is out of a total audience of around 178,000.

It seems we still have a long way to go with this kind of service. Firstly, don't rush a mobile service - do it right or don't bother. Secondly, make it easy and ubiquitous to charge your phone up on site. Thirdly, make data cheap/free so that there's no fear about downloading and using it.

10/10 for concept. 6/10 for implementation. Verdict: Could and should do better.