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 »  Home  »  Business & Finance  »  Merchants turn to iPhone app to reach tourists
Merchants turn to iPhone app to reach tourists
By Business Notes | Published  08/17/2009 | Business & Finance | Unrated
Business Notes
Read articles and press releases from local Brampton businesses and business related information. 

View all articles by Business Notes
By Chris Harnick

For some local merchants, downtown business development is going mobile.

Mobilefringe along with the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (B.I.A.) is launching the Mobile Yonge iPhone application on their m3 platform. The Mobile Yonge application will have the ability to show promotions and events that will appeal to both visitors and residents of the popular Toronto area.

"Together with the Toronto Downtown Yonge B.I.A., it is about giving citizens and visitors of the area a way to access directory and category information in seconds, and get to where they need to go fast," said Steve Sorge, vice president of business development, Mobilefringe, Toronto.

"There is no better place to do that than the mobile device when they are actually in that geographic location," Mr. Sorge said. "The future possibilities include sending dynamic promotions and digital coupons."

Within Downtown Yonge there are over 600 retail stores, 150 bars and restaurants, eight hotels, four theaters and Yonge-Dundas Square. The Downtown Yonge B.I.A. has approximately 2,000 local business and property owner members and was formed in 2001 by the efforts of the former Yonge Street Business and Residents Association.

"There are over 1,000 businesses in the Toronto Downtown Yonge area that are members and included in the app," Mr. Sorge said. "They include large corporate stores like Best Buy, Jack Astor's and Nike to local small business owners like The 3 Brewers. The main categories are Shop, Eat, Stay and Play.

Mobilefringe is a Toronto-based development house for iPhone and Blackberry applications.

To promote the new application, Mobilefringe and the B.I.A. are utilizing the Downtown Yonge Web site, newsletters, press releases and articles local dailies and weeklies.

With this application, Mobilefringe is utilizing its m3 platform it built with people like property managers, brand advertisers and event organizers in mind.

"We have some cool features that can be included based on the requirements of our client," Mr. Sorge said. "For example the most exciting part is the dynamic promotion system that we have built that can serve hundreds of messages daily in the app. This can really drive foot traffic to a desired location.

Mobilefringe said its pricing model is what sets the company apart from its competition.

"We never charge the typical $30-100 thousand [in] fees that you typically see," Mr. Sorge said. "In fact in most cases Mobilefringe does not even charge anything to make the application. "Companies are so overwhelmed and confused on where to start a mobile marketing campaign."

Mr. Sorge said Mobilefringe hopes to solve that problem by framing content and templates for clients.

"This leads us to more meaningful dialogue on what an app can be for them and how it can support the overall marketing initiatives the company has," he said.

The Downtown Yonge application has a wide target audience.

"Downtown Toronto habitants and visitors covers a large cross section of demographics so the easy thing in this regard is that this project is about extending the B.I.A. communication to a mobile channel and the best device to do that on is the iPhone and iPod touch," Mr. Sorge said.

"Looking at launching it on other devices is something we will be considering as well," he said. "But we did not start with a traditional who is our core demographic in this case, because we want everyone to visit and enjoy Downtown Toronto."

Chris Harnick is an editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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