As Zappos’ Head of Mobile, Aki Iida leads the design, development and execution of all mobile technology products. Aki has been part of Zappos since its infancy, having played a large role from developing the fulfillment center software to many of the website projects and innovative features. Prior to Zappos, Aki worked at LinkExchange and Microsoft and lived in many parts of the world. A Las Vegas resident, Aki likes to go out to eat as often as he can – and then exercise so he doesn’t gain too much weight.
What smartphone do you have?
An iPhone 5S. I initially purchased an iPhone because it was an interesting new device and had the ability to carry the Internet in your pocket. It didn’t have a watered-down version of the Web, and I was glad to have a browser with me. The ability to use apps everywhere you go is so much better.
What are your preferred apps at the moment?
Obviously, I use the Zappos app quite a bit because I really want to be a user of our apps. So if I find anything troubling, I can report back to the team – “Hey guys, can we think about changing this?” Also, I’m the Head of Mobile so it kind of goes with the job. I check every little detail.
I do like to eat, so I use the Yelp app quite a bit. Wherever I am, I like to find restaurants near me. The Yelp app also has images of the food, so I can determine if I want to go there. A few weeks ago, I was trying to find the best pizza place in New York, so from the Yelp app I found one place that had a lot of reviews, so I knew I had to go there.
On a personal level, I’m half Hispanic and half Japanese, so I have this app called StickyStudy, which is a flash card study of the Japanese characters called Kanji. It helps me refresh my memory to all the different sentences and characters. Growing up, people would tell me I was so lucky to know those languages, that it was going to get me so far in life, but never once have I had to use my languages in business. Once I used my language knowledge to write a note to the cleaning crew [laughs].
For my Spanish side, I use an app called Bright Start, which is like flash cards where you learn how to write the ABCs, read and pronounce letters and distinguish consonants and vowels. They have a Spanish version of it that I was playing with my nephews while I was visiting some relatives in Guatemala.
I use the Facebook app quite a bit to keep up with friends. When I travel sometimes, I post, “Hey, I’m in this area, anyone I know want to hang out?”
With the Hotel Tonight app, you can find the cheapest rate of any hotel in the metropolitan area, though I’m not sure which metro areas it’s in. That app can give you a really good deal based on the availability of hotels in a particular area.
Since I travel quite a bit, I also use the Expedia app. I really like their app to check the status of my trip, as I travel quite a bit, and sometimes I’m not sure which airline or what time or even what day I’m flying [laughs]. You can see if your gate changed or if your flight was delayed.
I like Amazon Instant Video. I’m a Prime customer, and I like to look watch videos while I’m bored or stuck somewhere. I use the Kindle app a lot. I like to be able to read when I’m stuck at the airport, or when I have to wait quite a bit at a restaurant. It’s a great way to kill time and better than carrying physical books.
I use Google Maps, like everyone else. I like to know where I am, and I’m always using the directions when I’m traveling. When I was in Japan last year, I was using the app all the time. In Japan, you can see all the different public transportation options, but if you’re taking a train or a bus, the Google Maps app will tell you when it’s arriving and the length of time to travel from point A to point B, as well as how much it costs.
What’s your screensaver?
I think I just have some weird default picture from the first time I bought the iPhone. It looks like geeky Hawaiian carvings. I have no particular affiliation to it – I just had it at first, and I’ve kept it all this time.
What’s On Your Phone? is an occasional blog series that asks business leaders, celebrities and plain ol’ folks to tell us about their smartphones and apps.