Have you heard of the oPhone DUO? I’ll bet you haven’t because it’s brand new! And it has very interesting implications for online marketing. The oPhone DUO is a combination of oSnap and oPhone which was unveiled at the Connected Conference in Paris this week.
oSnap is an application that allows you to share smells online and oPhone is the delivery system. (No, this isn’t a joke, though Google did joke about something similar on April Fool’s day in 2013.)
This amazing new product has so many implications for online marketing that it could be revolutionary. Let’s dive in.
How Do oSnap & oPhone Work?
According to Boston Magazine:
“With oSnap, users can tag their photographs with unique scents, which can then be forwarded and received via email, Facebook and Twitter in select hotspots where an oPhone is present.
The oPhone serves as the hardware that emits the smell sent to a user once they open the message. The oPhone is loaded with what are known as oChips, which can be easily replaced and are responsible for producing oNotes — the actual aromas.”
The actual smells are sent via computer codes starting at oSnap and then delivered to the physical person though the oPhone product.
The core of the application is its ability to deliver the experience of smell along with other pieces of information.
No matter what or where you are sending information on the web, you will be able to deliver a smell along with it, as long as the user has the oPhone enabled.
Harvard Professor David Edwards built the device with the help of former Harvard University student, Rachel Field. According to Rachel, right now there are 32 smell options available, as the device holds 8 oChips that can hold 4 primitive aromas each (think ink cartridge on a printer).
Please take a moment to think about the implications of this. This is an entirely new industry that is unfolding.
As far as the companies’ rollout strategies, they are giving away the application for free in the iPhone App Store starting this week. Furthermore, the company will be giving out oPhones in select locations.
For those who support the funding program for the device, they will be invited to attend a launch party in Paris at Le Laboratoire on June 19th. During the time of the funding campaign, the oPhone DUO is available for a reduced price – $149, rather than $199 set for commercial launch next year.
If it gets off the ground, this could be big for online marketing. Imagine landing on a cookie website and an oPhone delivers a freshly baked cookie smell to users, or landing on a camping website and having the oPhone deliver the aroma of the outdoors.
In the future, we could have an entire new sector of online marketing arise. How about a Smell Optimization Expert?! This person’s job is to make sure each individual page of an online property aligns with the buying experience and in some way entices the user to convert. Think about split-testing a PPC landing page that sells cookies.
“Well team, looks like double fudge chocolate chip scent has a 10% higher conversion rate than the original chocolate chip scent. Let’s make the change live!”
Certainly, there are some challenges for this technology. The main one being that you need to have the oPhone installed to smell anything. And even the reduced price of $149 isn’t cheap. The company is going to need marketing, relationships and contracts to make this go mainstream.
Right now, the company has only raised a small portion (7% as of publication) of their $150,000 goal, so it does seem things are not necessarily moving at lightning speed. That being said, the funding campaign did just start on June 16 and ends July 31, 2014. So there is time left.
Outside of this, the company must be able to deliver the smells that the device demands. If the smells don’t sit right with people, there will be major issues.
I will say, as a marketer with a lot of experience in new product rollouts, that I think if oPhone and oSnap push this outright, and make the right relationships, this could be a success.
Why It Might Work?
People are skeptical about this device. The most common complaint is that you actually need the oPhone to have the smells delivered to you. The device is critical.
But think about this, when it comes to your computer you have speakers to hear, a monitor to see and a microphone to use things like Skype and Google Hangouts. So why wouldn’t you have an element that supplements smell as well?
This sense has been neglected online for so long it is very hard for us to comprehend this change. But let me ask you this: if your computer came with a built-in smell delivery system, would that bother you or would it enhance the online experience? I mean, who wants to visit a cookie website without smelling cookies?
Because of this, the oPhone Duo may work to align with computer and device manufacturers. Now that they have the technology, if they can work it in with devices that are already present (smartphones, desktops, tablets), it will have more legs to run with. Thus, licensing will be an important discussion.
Let me end this article by tying it back into online marketing. Would you visit food websites more often if a delicious smell was delivered each time you went there? Would you visit a surfing website more often if it had the smell of the brisk ocean? Would smells make websites more of destination for relaxation and brief moments of satisfaction?
I believe it could if done correctly. I can’t wait until the Food Network gets on board. Just as long as those oChips (the smell cartridges) make some good smelling oNotes (the aromas).
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Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.