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15 questions to Mark Tynan of ShopQwik.com

I don’t recall how I first came across ShopQwik.  I think I’d posted a wicked article about Reporo and how easy it was to buy a DVD via the service, when I saw a note from Mark of ShopQwik saying words to the effect of ‘if you liked Reporo, wait until you see what we’ve been working on‘.   I thought this was a pretty bold claim to make — and I also thought, ‘oh, another Reporo? Hmm‘.

A few weeks later though, I was able to get access to ShopQwik’s first version and check it out.  My first reaction was ‘where are all the books and CDs to buy?‘ — for some reason I thought Mark and his team were working on a shopping trolley style service similar to Reporo.  Not a bit of it.  When I fired up the application and saw the menu items, I could see that Mark’s bold claim was well founded.

‘Book flights? On your mobile?‘ I thought.   I sat for a while and considered the possibilities.  Shop for flights, car hire, hotels, resorts.. on your mobile?   I then picked up the mobile, my notepad, pen, car keys and headed out the door to the pub way down the road for a good lunch.  About an hour later I got a phone call from a client telling me I had to be in Cannes on Monday (it was Friday) and I should take care of my hotel and flight. 

Ah hah.  An opportunity to put ShopQwik to the test!  I’d had a play with it already but I wanted to see if it was meaty — sure, it could probably get me a room in London — but Cannes? 

I flipped out the mobile, brought up the application and began flipping.  About 5 options later I had a whole array of hotels ready for booking.  I tried flights.  A few flicks later, yup… there was a flight leaving Stansted at about 8pm on Sunday.  I almost booked.  Then, in true Scots style, I remembered that I’d configured ShopQwik with my personal credit card details — and not the company card. 

For a few weeks now I’ve been sitting debating the concept of booking travel arrangements on your handset with friends and colleagues from around the industry.  At first, quite a few people dismiss the concept saying they’d definitely wait until they get to their computer.  I thought this too — until I realised that I didn’t ‘enjoy’ booking my travel to Cannes.  It was work related.  There was no pleasure, per se, in booking it.  In fact it was a bit of an arse.  If I’m booking a £20k ocean cruise, well, then, yes, I’ll spend a good time researching it on the web and probably book it online too.   But for run of the mill and more frequent I-need-to-go-to-Cannes-on-Monday trips, I think ShopQwik is extremely useful. 

The concept of being able to see pictures of the hotel on the handset is wicked.  The fact that all booking references and details are kept on ShopQwik is extremely valuable.  No faffing around with bits of paper.
I can really see the potential with their service.  I can imagine myself sat on the train speeding home on a Thursday evening wondering what the cost would be to jet away on Friday… then just booking it! 

Marktynan1
I asked Mark if he’d have time out of his rather packed schedule to do a ’10 questions with’.  I was delighted when he readily agreed.  It’s actually 15 questions this time — here we go:

1.  What was your first mobile handset (and network)?
I think it was some nokia carry case thing (we’re talking way back)

2. What’s your current handset strategy?
I use a Sony Ericsson M600, SE W800 and a Nokia 7610 (best phone ever if you ask me). I’m with 02 on their £75 a month tariff, which has no large data amount with it for some reason.

3. Tell us a bit about your background?
I come from a travel and merchant banking IT background.

4. Why ShopQwik?  What was the inspiration?  Give us an overview of the service and your objectives.
Well, I’m always forgetting stuff, not losing it but just not taking it with me. I’ll remember my passport and bags but forget my reference number on a piece of paper on the kitchen table. I never forget my mobile so having something that marries the two together was something that I was looking for.

Booking flights and hotels on a phone is not something you’d immediately think people would do because it would be too hard to use and take to long to book etc. We agreed with all of that and set ourselves a target of 90 seconds to book something or it wasn’t worth doing. After many revisions I think we’ve cracked it.

5. How have you found the challenges with developing applications for mobile?
It’s not bloody easy! Actually, it wasn’t easy at the start at all. It’s like programming a 386 from years ago, but after a while you start to do things faster and we have very few problems today with producing a lot of content very quickly indeed.

6. When did you last use ShopQwik to buy something?  What did you buy?
I use ShopQwik to buy stuff all the time. I’m over to Dublin this week, so I booked my flight yesterday and I’m off on holiday to the Greek Islands at the end of the month. Again, flights and hotel all booked on my phone saving me around £185.

7. I need to get away from all this email at some point.  Recommend a hotel, somewhere in Europe, that I can book on ShopQwik?
I’ve wanted to go to Barcelona for ages, so I’ve booked Le Meriden Barcelona on the handset the other night for a weekend in August. I can bring up the booking info at any time so I can see the details and pictures of the hotel, which is great for showing your friends where you are going.

8. List 3 other mobile applications and/or services that you really rate.

  • I like the Flickr integration apps, I think things like that are very clever and everyone should use them. I will on holidays this year.
  • I like the Reporo app as well. Its very well done and they’ve got over 30,000 people signed up now so they must be doing something right.
  • My next app after ShopQwik. (Cheeky I know but I’ve seen it and its great!)

9. What’s your ringtone?
All standard ones I’m afraid. Boring I know but I’m not into the personal ringtone thing.

10. What’s the most used feature on your handset, aside from ShopQwik?
Texting and picture messaging.

11. How much was your phone bill last month?
Too much! About £120, which is way too much if you ask me.

12. List the UK networks and tell us what you think of them?

O2
pros: Best network by far.
cons: The Data plans are not as good as T-Mobile

Vodafone

pros: First to market with most things
cons: Same data plans as O2

T-Mobile
pros: Best data plan anywhere
cons: Coverage not as good as the top 2

Orange
pros: Great Ideas
cons: Data plan a bit better than O2 & Voda but not as good as T- Mobile

3

pros: Cheap & Great TV ads
cons: Everything else

13. Which one person in the mobile industry do you reckon is a complete star?
Paul Ray. The guy’s a genius.

14. What websites do you regularly check?
Smstextnews.com
Biskero.org
Adobe.com
BBC.co.uk
RTE.ie
Thisislondon.co.uk

15. Last piece of music you bought?
The Fat boy slim compilation last week. His cd always seems to get borrowed and never quite makes its way back.

Thanks very much Mark!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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