Jerome Allien, Founder, Boom Mobile


Sophie Doran | September 30, 2011

Jerome Allien isn't convinced that brands are using mobile to its full potential, but remains confident that mobile will soon become the number one device in our lives

Jerome Allien isn’t convinced that brands are using mobile to its full potential, but remains confident that mobile will soon become the number one device in our lives

The fourth in a series of conversations with our Corporate Members, where we will explore and discuss the future of the luxury industry, we spoke with Jerome Allien, CEO and co-founder of Boom Mobile, a communication agency dedicated to mobile devices, especially for the iPhone & iPad.

When you think that Boom Mobile was launched before the first generation iPhone was on sale, you can’t help but think a move to create a Mobile agency was somewhat daring. But knowing what we all know now – namely that sales of smartphones are expected to exceed 420 million devices in 2011 (IMS 2011) – the Boom concept could not have been more timely. Particularly given their enthusiasm for integrating Augmented Reality technology all the way back in 2009, which has now almost become a staple of timepiece and jewellery communications.

The full service agency deals with mobile development from strategy to deployment, and draws on a collective background in traditional communications, to develop cross media strategies to ensure use of the mobile medium in coherence with other campaign touch points. Whilst they specialise in iPhone & iPad applications, they work across all mobile platforms, including Symbian, Android and Blackberry.

Tell us some more about the launch of Boom Mobile. What was the opportunity you identified when developing the business?

When we started boom in 2007, we held high aspirations for the mobile phone, in becoming the new media with the capacity to connect people at anytime and anywhere. All Boom team members came from a communications background, and we all agreed it was going to become “the number one touch point” for a brand or a company in general. From text messaging to iPhone applications, whether it’s a simple communication or a full experience, it’s a direct channel for a brand to its clients.

At the beginning, the mobile media for brands was just something fun to try if they had some budget surplus for the year. Now a presence on mobile has become necessary, there are budgets dedicated to this media and from our experience, these budgets are growing.

The Boucheron application allows users to ‘try on’ on some of the House’s most audacious creations using Augmented Reality

How quickly has your business grown and what are some key projects/achievements?

Our first two years were mostly Research & Development, before the iPhone and its App Store appeared. We had to invest a lot of time in educating our clients and finding, testing more effective ways to distribute our content. We’ve been though a range of different technologies: SMS premium, Bluetooth push, desktop synchronization… but our business really started growing with the arrival of the iPhone.

Our first big project/success was MyWatch, a multiple brand presentation app with watch industry news and, for the first time, Augmented Reality. It was the first AR app proposing to take a picture of the watches being presented on your own wrist. We have then developed this method of appropriation to brands such as Chanel J12, Chaumet, Boucheron, Girard-Peregaux…

Lately we have made another app for Côté Maison (Group Express Roularta), which proposes over 100 different home, design objects, regularly updated, to try in your own home. This is still an AR project, because we think that an app needs to offer more than pretty pictures and geo-localisation, at least for a design magazine.

“ I am not sure that any brand is currently leveraging mobile technology to its full potential ”

Why should mobile be an important consideration for luxury brand marketers?

The simple answer is because we believe, in less than five years, mobile will be the first device used to access information regarding anything, which of course will include luxury brands and services. The more interesting reason is because luxury brand marketers will find, using mobile support as an important marketing tool, a super efficient and always-on ecosystem custom designed for their business.

For example, in developing WatchMarket, we created the below ecosystem, designed to present luxury timepiece collections from all over the world and to facilitate their sale:

o A store window to present the products (zoom, 3D, video…)
o A physical doorstep to which the client can be driven to (geolocation) for expertise or repair
o A promotion tool (very reactive) to send a message to all your client in seconds (push notification)
o The ability to add a market place to speak directly with your clients (blog/forum)

MyWatch iPhone app dedicated to watch lovers and watchmaking enthusiasts

How are luxury brands using mobile? Which brands are doing it well and why?

I am not sure that any brand is using mobile to its full potential, currently marketers are content just presenting their products with different levels of experiences and using geolocation to advise customers of the closest store. Payment is the next logical step to make mobile fully useful for brands, but that said, we have noticed many good ideas that are working well for brands:

For a useful experience, the IWC app demonstrates the mechanisms in the timepieces, which allows users to understand the technology behind their function. For example the automatic movements, which can be difficult to explain in words, are then simplified using visuals. This is something that Jaeger-LeCoultre is also using to educate users/clients.

For a sales experience, the Nespresso app allows users to select and order capsules via the application – for many it’s easier and faster to order things on the app, as they remember it, and have everything delivered to their home. This is missing in many current luxury brand applications.

For a fun experience, Absolut Vodka’s Drinkspiration showcases a series of cocktails with a dynamic navigation panel. You can also see a live list of who is making which cocktails from all around the world, and of course add your own activities. Havana Club Rhum proposes a video of the famous “Bodega del Medio” where the barman shows you how to make a “real” Mojito…

“ In five years, mobile will propose all current Internet functionality with all it’s own additional capabilities ”

Talk us through the App development process …

In simple terms, the development of an App goes through five distinct processes, some in collaboration with the brand, others are strictly technical and/or creative.

Idea: What does the app do?
Concept: How do we propose to achieve this? (RA, 3D, geo-localization …)
Ecosystem: Once downloaded, how will we entertain and engage the users, make it meaningful and useful?
Architecture: Technical details like choice of interface, ergonomic menu system…
Production: Producing content and rich media experiences

We then work through two levels of correction and send to Apple for approval and distribution.

The DeWitt collection application, where users can make instant contact with DeWitt representatives

When developing an App, what is the most important thing luxury brands should keep in mind?

Luxury brands should remember that mobile is one of the most direct channels in which to engage their clients. They must not only entertain them, but also ask them what they think, test products or ideas on them – effectively, create a meaningful relationship with their users. The mobile is the closest media/medium one can have, therefore brands need to actively propose methods of engagement, whilst still respecting client’s private life.

Apps should use cross information such as geo-localization and time, research information should be stored, brands should utilise all support capacities to exchange information with clients.

“ Luxury brands should remember that mobile is one of the most direct channels in which to engage their clients ”

How do you feel mobile will evolve in the next five years?

I believe that mobile will propose all the functionality currently available on the Internet, with all it’s own additional capabilities. But you won’t have to type in a URL, the technology will be more visual, more image based – you’ll just click on the screen from one icon to another.

Mobile will become the number one device in our life, serving as our wallet, a remote control, a rapid content/information exchanger, a travel guide, a comparison guide, a health coach, a friend finder…

For others discussions regarding the future of luxury and communications, please see the following:

- Augmenting Luxury Realities: Jonathan Chippindale, Holition
- Challenging Luxury Communications: Fabrice Paget, Napkin London
- The Post-Advertising Age: Jim Boulton, Story Worldwide