Posts Tagged google
“Whoa, how did you do that?” I didn’t say anything when the clerk at Duane Reade—or was it Walgreen’s?—asked me how to pay. I just smashed my phone into the PayPass terminal. Money poured out of my Nexus S, and into somebody’s corporate coffers. Magic!
But then I still had to tell the dumb credit console whether I was paying debit or credit. And then I had to wait for my receipt to print out, all ten miles of it. Which made my attempt at being a mysterious stranger with mysterious magical technology quickly disappearing into the night fail miserably since it would’ve been mad awkward to stare directly into each other’s eyes for 45 seconds without saying a word.
Google Wallet is clearly a close-up glimpse at what the seamless, slippery future of money looks like—MasterCard is an appropriate enough vector for a technological Mark of the Beast, I suppose—but it’s still very much in 2011. Friction abounds.
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Wallet, read this, or here’s the rough rundown. (Really rough, since Google Wallet’s a lot of little things, banded together.) Google Wallet is an app that lets you pay for things using your phone, either by tying your credit card(s) or loading up gift/pre-paid cards. That’s the software side. Using an NFC chip embedded in a phone, you tap a pay terminal. No swiping your card. That’s the hardware side. On the online side, it’ll seamlessly combine digital coupons that you collect—either from Google Offers or merchants themselves—and loyalty cards.
The perfect theoretical—literally frictionless!—transaction looks like this: You snag a Google Offer for $1 off a Frappucino at Starbucks. (Or if you don’t have an offer on tap, Google Shopper will show you a bunch nearby.) You go to the nearest Starbucks—pinpointed by Google, of course—and order your terribly sweet concoction. When you go to pay for your drink, you open the Wallet app, punch in your pin and tap the payment console with your phone. Instantly, your Google Offer coupon is applied, you’ve paid for your drink, and you’ve racked up points on your Starbucks loyalty card. And the receipt’s on your phone. That whole scene? That’s why tapping a Google Wallet phone is potentially more convenient than a plastic card. Not the lighter wallet. Deal + payment + loyalty in one tap.
What Google Wallet looks like today, though, is different. The Wallet app will hit Nexus S 4G phones on Sprint today—and only those phones for now. (Google promised an NFC sticker to enable non-NFC-packing phones to use Wallet, but isn’t saying anything else about it—specifically, when we might see one—now.) The system exclusively uses Mastercard’s PayPass terminals, deeply limiting the number of places you can use Wallet, though Google announced today it’s licensing NFC specifications from Visa, Discover and AmEx. (Basically, the only place it’s useful to me is in NYC cabs, since I don’t shop at American Eagle or Macy’s or practically any of the other big box stores partnering with Google.) And, to top it all off, it’s only Citi Mastercards that currently get the full benefits of Google Wallet—for now, to pay with anything but gift cards, you’ve basically gotta charge a pre-paid Google Card with money from your bank account through Google Checkout. All things that highly constrain just how convenient Google Wallet actually is today.
So my experience using Google Wallet is very much what I expect it to be for most people out of the gate: a novelty, mostly. At least after I loaded it up with money, which seems weird, like giving myself an allowance, because I couldn’t use it with my Wachovia credit card. I couldn’t use it with Google Offers, either, since I couldn’t find one for any of the stores that take Google Wallet. And I couldn’t use it with loyalty cards, since I don’t use have them for anywhere but independent coffee shops far, far away from Google and Mastercard’s radar. Which nixes half of what’s actually convenient about Wallet, since tapping after punching in your pin is no easier than swiping, in most cases.
You know where it was awesome though? In an NYC cab. Trying to dig your wallet out of your ass pocket while you’re sitting down, ripping the right credit card out of your wallet, trying to figure out where to swipe it, fumbling around with the card to get the stripe facing the right direction, going through the right number of menus, swiping at the correct speed, finally, and paying the damn cabbie after he tries to convince you his credit card terminal is broken is like, um, annoying. Google Wallet fixes that.
Wallet will fix a lot of things, perhaps sooner than you’d expect, even given how slow as the financial industry moves. Because money, infrastructure like this—new terminals in every store—is a scale game. Google’s got scale. Its partners, like Mastercard and Visa and Citi, have scale. They’re gonna need it to get people on board. But eventually it’s going to wash over everything like a wave. It’ll be on lots of phones. It’ll work with lots of cards and lots of banks. It’ll be in lots of stores. And then it’ll be just as natural as pulling out a card and swiping. Maybe more, since I have my phone out all the time anyway. Besides, it’s obvious this is just the beginning for Google. Google doesn’t just want to replace your credit cards—there’s a reason they’re calling it Google Wallet, not Google Money or Google Cards. [Google, Google]
Update: I didn’t really talk about security because I didn’t worry about it. Google Wallet’s pretty secure. You need a PIN to unlock the Wallet to pay for stuff. So if you lose your phone, without knowing your PIN number, it’s useless. The NFC chip itself is locked down hardcore. For instance, the chip is disabled whenever the display is off, so it can’t be skimmed. And the secure element is only turned on when the screen is on and Wallet is unlocked and ready for payment.
Source : Gizmodo
From clever to cute, Google’s doodles are more than just a gimmick, they reflect the company’s ability to be both a global and local brand…
There used to be a time when trademark lawyers advised against tampering with a logo or adding superfluous elements to it. The concern was that these additions and modifications would, by changing the original design, create further unregistered and therefore unprotected devices and that the exclusive rights to the original trademark could be weakened, or even lost. Consistency was considered to be the safest way. A key objective of corporate design guidelines was to reinforce trademark protection by ensuring a standardised corporate logo and attendant visual identification system. Most large corporations still follow this principle.
Google, though, is different. It says that “having a little bit of fun with the logo is part of the brand” and the company wilfully and regularly violates its own trademark. Since 1998, Google has used over 1,000 variations of the corporate logo in the form of Google doodles, the remodelled and playful iterations of the wordmark that appear on the Google homepage to highlight various holidays and anniversaries of historic events. (If you want to see all the doodles from 1998 to the present, just search for ‘Google doodles’ or go straight to google.com/ logos.)
In March of this year, the US Patent and Trademark office granted Google a patent for its doodles but, surprisingly, that patent does not cover the individual doodle designs, instead, it relates to the invention of the idea and method of periodically changing the logo to entice people to the website. You might wonder how a company could be granted exclusive rights to the concept of frequently varying its logo, but that seems to be what has happened.
Flexible, or as it’s sometimes known, dynamic or fluid branding, is not a new concept [see a previous CR post here]. We can all think of logos that have variants for use in differing contexts. For example, Minale Tattersfield’s identity for Heal’s back in 1983, and more recently, the Wolff Olins scheme for Aol. In my own career I have created a number of such schemes, the earliest of which, for Priba Supermarkets in Belgium, dates from 1973. I can see that Google might want to prevent search engine competitors such as Bing and Yahoo! from doing similar things, but I remain puzzled as to how the company could have been granted exclusive rights to the notion of flexible branding that’s been used by many other organisations for so long. Attitudes to brand building and brand protection are always changing and if, today, Google’s lawyers are happy that the doodles do not threaten the protectability of the core Google brand, then I can see no reason why the doodles should not be deployed.
Like most people, I use Google as my main search engine and when a new doodle appears it usually raises a smile as I try to guess what it represents. Some are obvious while others need a bit more deciphering. I particularly enjoy the more abstract designs: the recent Alexander Calder mobile, the Les Paul guitar and the Braille dots, for example (all shown above). Some of the more entertaining doodles are interactive, whilst others use animation, sound, and occasionally, live streaming.
Google is, of course, both global and local and the doodles reflect this. Some appear worldwide while others mark local events and only appear in the relevant countries. Large corporations like Google strive to create a sense of community among users and customers and the doodles support this aim. The doodles have a keen following and, although most designs are intended to have a life span of only 24 hours or so, some have been brought back by public demand and have been allocated their own individual Google web pages so they can live on in perpetuity – the Les Paul and Pac-Man doodles are two that have been honoured with this treatment. There’s even a Doodle Store on the Google website where you can buy T-shirts, stickers and posters featuring various popular doodles.
Some doodles are developed through open competition and it’s possible for the public to submit ideas and designs for consideration. In this way we’re encouraged to share in the Google fraternity. When local events are ‘doodled’, the global corporation perhaps appears a little less monolithic and a bit more approachable.
As a designer, my main concern with the Google doodles is to do with the quality of the designs. Most of them are created by Chief Doodler Denis Hwang and his in-house team of designers. Some iterations are witty, intriguing, and well put together. Others, and particularly those that are developed through competitions, such as the Doodle 4 Google competition for schoolchildren, are, unsurprisingly, often visually crude, over cute, and amateurish. But the Google brand is probably big enough and strong enough to withstand these variations and a bit of corporate playfulness is to be welcomed.
That said, a global corporation, particularly one operating at the forefront of new information technology and openly committed to leading the way in its field, should demonstrate excellence in all that it does. Google says that its doodles are intended to “reflect Google’s personality and love for innovation” and when it describes its values, the company says it has a “minimalist ethic” and is on a quest to create products that are “simple” and “beautiful” as well as “innovative”. If those are core values, then it follows that all expressions of its identity, including the design of its doodles, should convey those values and be of the highest creative and artistic quality.
It’s been suggested that Google may have grown too big or become too corporate to accommodate quirky and entertaining doodles, but I don’t hold that view; the company describes its working atmosphere as “casual”, so the informal doodles do fit the relaxed culture.
I do, however, think that Google, in its quest for ‘beautiful’ solutions, is too good a business to embrace inferior doodles. I’m all for a bit of fun, but I think there is also room here for a bit more quality control.
John Lloyd is a founding partner of the design consultancy, Lloyd Northover, and now works as an independent consultant, artist and writer. johnlloyd.uk.com
Source: Creative Review