Wyoming Business Tips for May 13

May 7, 2012

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Mark Atkinson, WSBDC regional director

"Are websites really going away? I just took a class and the instructor told me that. And is there anything new in technology that may replace smart phones? What's coming next?" Austin, Kemmerer

Self-named social media gurus who travel through our communities and tell us to burn our websites since Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare will save us do not, in my opinion, really get it.

Why? For one reason, when people use their smart phones to buy something, where do they think they are shopping? The answer is websites (and apps of course, many of which interface with website systems and their databases).

Social media is and has always been mainly about keeping up with friends and family, not buying and selling. That is not to say there are not other popular uses, but commerce does not seem to be one of them.

Mobile commerce is huge. A new study by Mobile Commerce (of course, the very name hints of bias) tells us that, sometime in 2014, more than half of sales on the web will stem from smart phones. That is a big claim.

Yet, we do so much on mobile devices now that shopping is a natural function, along with using GPS when going places; looking for a new job; checking the weather; teaching children on certain subjects; checking to see what the line wait is for "Pirates of the Caribbean;" and even web conferencing with Skype -- all from an iPhone.

And many of these functions are facilitated by websites.

So, to answer your other question: What, if anything, will replace smart phones?

To me, this is just fun speculation. But Google does not think so. Speaking of Google, search for "Google Glass" and "Google Goggles." The former is hardware and the latter is software. The photo of Google Glass will blow your mind. It's interesting, but is it going to reach critical mass?

Google Glass is a set of glasses that has a computer in it, with a tiny screen and a camera. You can point the camera (no kidding) at something and Google Goggles (the software) will tell you what it is, or how it is.

So why would a Wyoming small business care about something that seems so Sharper Image-ish? Because, in the same way we use visual branding to tell people our story, we will, someday, undoubtedly need to tell our small business story visually. A device like this will attract consumers to it.

Check out an article about Google Glass at http://www.techradar.com/news/video/project-glass-what-you-need-to-know-1078114.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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