Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More on Akoo - why it's there, and why I'm familiar with the concept

I had jury duty service on Tuesday which ended before the day ended so, rather than driving an hour to work, I got drafted to pick up my daughter from Ontario Mills. As I was waiting for her, I noticed some display screens and photoblogged about it.

After I wrote the blog post, I began interacting with Akoo. My location is "ONT," so when I wanted to know what video was playing on the screen at the time, I'd simply text the following to 33123:


As I sat there, I got responses regarding artists that I know next to nothing about:

What's playing now? Jordin Sparks - Battlefield!

What's playing now? Kristinia DeBarge - Goodbye!

What's playing now? Esmee Denters - Outta Here!

I confess that I have NEVER heard of Kristinia DeBarge or Esmee Denters, but they're obviously popular.

At the same time, as I mentioned previously, they flashed various seven digit codes on the screen to allow you to request a video. None of the suggested videos interested me until I saw a reference to Sublime's "Santeria." Since I like the song, and I had never seen the video, I requested that one. Within five minutes, the video played.

I was intrigued by the appearances of Bradley Newell in the video, which made it obvious that Newell had already died before the video was made. A similar technique was used in the video for Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line,", which was made after Roy Orbison's death.

But back to Akoo. After getting back home, I had the opportunity to visit http://myakoo.com/ (although I subsequently discovered that the site worked on mobile phones, including my older model). After entering the appropriate code for my location (in this case, "ONT"), Once I did that, I was presented with a screen with several options (Most Requested, Artist Spotlight, Music Channels, Search Music), along with the opportunity to register by using my mobile phone number as a login.

The available artists are not numerous, and are obviously targeted to a younger audience than myself (although it may be possible that different artists are available at different locations). On a whim, I checked to see if they had Flash and the Pan. Here are all of the available artists under the letter F:

Fair To Midland
Fall Out Boy
Fatboy Slim
Fefe Dobson
finger eleven
Fiona Apple
Five For Fighting
Foo Fighters
Fountains of Wayne
Frankie J
Franz Ferdinand

But this is just one of the services offered by Akoo. The main website describes their mission:

Akoo's interactive networks enable any mobile phone to act as a remote control, empowering viewers to activate video entertainment programming and immersive band experiences on HD LCD-TV screens in out-of-home environments.

So why would a mall implement this? As it turns out, I have an understanding of this. Some of you may know that one of the Empoprises blogs is called Empoprise-NTN and is devoted to the interactive trivia games offered by NTN Buzztime. Their claim is that if you put their online trivia game into your bar or restaurant, people will play the trivia, stay in the bar/restaurant longer, and spend more money.

It's no accident that Akoo was installed in a food court at Ontario Mills. Presumably the same principle is in play here - get your teens with their text-ready phones (or web-ready smartphones), get them sitting in the food court for longer times, and get them to order more fast food, and maybe spend a few more hours at the mall like shopping and stuff.
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