Monthly Archives: February 2010

January's AdMob Report: iPhone Users More Willing To Buy Apps

January’s Admob report came out and there were some very interesting statistics that were released around app usage and user purchasing habits. Some of the more compelling statistics are:

  • iPod touch owners download an average of 12 applications a month, 37 percent more than iPhone and Android users who download approximately nine new apps. webOS users downloaded an average of six applications per month.
  • iPod touch users spent an average of 100 minutes per day using applications. webOS users spent an average of 87 minutes per day, followed by Android users at 80 minutes and iPhone users at 79 minutes per day.
  • iPhone represented 47 percent of US smartphone usage in AdMob’s network in January 2010, followed by Android, RIM and webOS devices at 39, seven, and three percent, respectively.

The most interesting statistic as it relates to newspapers and potential paid application was  that:

  • iPhone users continue to download more paid applications, with 50 percent of users purchasing at least one paid application a month compared to 21 percent of Android users.

What does this mean to publishers? Well it could mean that if you are looking to build apps for every platform it may make sense putting more emphasis on the iPhone. You can create a pretty basic Android app that simply reads the news, not invest a lot of money into it and give it away for free. However, on the iPhone if you invest more time and money on rich features you will see a greater return as users will be willing to pay for your application.

These finding make a lot of sense given the recent news from The Guardian. If the Guardian can charge $3.99 for their app and still get over 100,000 downloads in just 2 months, why can’t you? Running a trial with paid apps may make sense on the iPhone, at least for a short while to analyze acquisition rates.

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Filed under android, applications, newspapers

Congratulations to the Guardian

The UK’s Guardian is one of the most innovative newspapers in the world when it comes to digital media. About two months ago they launched their iPhone app which costs $3.99 in the iTunes app store. In only two months they have broken the 100,000 download mark which means they have made a staggering $400,000 – 30% that goes to Apple.

This is great news and something newspaper publishers around the world should be paying attention to. Not only does it prove that consumers want to read their news through native mobile applications, but it also proves that they are willing to pay for this privilege.

A big round of applause go to the entire Guardian Digital Team for their pioneering work in the mobile media ecosystem. Congrats!

Download the app here

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Five Advantages of Mobile Marketing Over Online

An interesting opinion piece popped up on Mobile Marketer today talking about the advantages of mobile marketing over online marketing. Mobile marketing has been touted as one of the most powerful new forms of engagement for some time now. Its ability to target the right users with highly interactive content at the right time makes it a perfect playground for marketers looking to sell their products and grow their brands. Frank Powell, outlines in this article the five reasons why he thinks mobile marketing has a leg up on online advertising. I wont go into detail here as I think its quite a strong article and worthy of a read, but his five main reasons are:

  1. Omnipresence – Most mobile phone users are within an arm’s reach of their devices over 90 percent of waking hours, including times when other media are not available.
  2. Reduced targeting errors and improved data management – In comparison to other personalized messaging channels, having a unique ID – phone number – will dramatically improve CRM integrity for marketers who have historically relied on inexact transaction linking techniques
  3. Improved time relevance – The always-on and always-aware nature of mobile devices provides more timely communications than any other channel.
  4. Location awareness – Knowing someone’s geographic location can be critical to engaging in a relevant conversation with them.
  5. Increased intimacy with the device and via the device – Sharing of mobile devices is not unheard of, but is less common than sharing of personal computers.

These are great points and Frank goes into much greater deal in his article. Check it out below:

Five Advantages of Mobile Marketing Over Online

As marketers engage customers on their mobile devices, it is important that they focus on the five advantages that mobile marketing has over traditional Web marketing. These advantages enable marketers to “hold conversations with fans,” but can also create relationship hazards if not addressed properly.

When mobile marketers focus on these five advantages, they can provide the most value to their customers and engage at the deepest levels.

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BBC Mobile Apps, BBC Trust, The NPA and Lots of Drama

Last week at the Mobile World Congress, the BBC announced its plans to launch two iPhone applications. Until now the BBC has had a rather weak presence in the app store. Their app simply displayed a list of new articles from their site and then launched a web based version of the article in a safari browser. This was far from an optimal strategy if the BBC really wanted to leverage their brand on the mobile front.

By not optimizing the page for mobile devices there was really no reason for users to download their application. In addition none of the advertising was optimized for the iPhone, so CTR’s were probably very close to 0. That’s all in the past now and as of last week they have announced plans to release a proper news application in April as well as a sports application that will also cover the upcoming World Cup of Soccer (along with live radio feeds of the games).

This seems like a pretty obvious move for a news organization these days, no? Well apparently not! The BBC is a government run organization and although it is quite progressive and recently has been run very much like a business, it is still held in check by the BBC Trust. In the past two months we have seen the launch and re-launch of a number of major national British newspaper apps – i.e. The Telegraph and The Guardian. These apps are both best of breed mobile news readers and have claimed the top spots in the UK iTunes News category. These publishers, as well as a number of other publishers from the Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA – a very powerful association made up of all the national newspapers in the UK) are yelling foul saying that the BBC’s new app strategy will distort the market.

This is a very interesting case of private and public news organizations fighting it out in a very new arena. We will clearly be following what happens as the NPA is currently in the process of  lobbying the BBC Trust and the British Department of Culture, Media and Sport to effectively have the applications banned. David Newell, the NPA’s director, summarized his organization’s argument in a terse and biting statement:

“Not for the first time, the BBC is preparing to muscle into a nascent market and trample over the aspirations of commercial news providers. At a time when the BBC is facing unprecedented levels of criticism over its expansion, and when the wider industry is investing in new models, it is extremely disappointing that the Corporation plans to launch services that would throw into serious doubt the commercial sector’s ability to make a return on its investment, and therefore its ability to support quality journalism.”

What is your take on this? Will the entrance of a real BBC app strategy hurt the current publishers? Will it distort the market or will it lead to greater competition and therefore increased innovation in the news app space? I know here in Canada the CBC (a Crown Corporation) has been aggressively working in the app space. They have built out an internal mobile team and are planning to push out a number of apps over 2010. Their CBC Radio application has held the #1 spot in the Canadian iTunes News category for some time now. If the CBC can do this, why can’t the BBC? We would love to hear from you. Should the BBC be allowed to release the application or not and if not, why? Let us know!

Update (2/26/2010):

An interesting piece popped up on the Times website today, however I am not sure whether this will have an effect on the future of the BBC’s iPhone apps. The piece talks about the end to an era of expansion for the BBC. The piece explains that the BBC will be cutting down most of its radio, TV and internet operations to allow for a level playing field with their corporate competitors. There are two quotes that really stand out to me here:

“Mark Thompson, the Director-General, will admit that the corporation, which is funded by the £3.6 billion annual licence fee, has become too large and must shrink to give its commercial rivals room to operate.”

and

“It will be seen as an attempt to show a potential Tory government that the BBC understands the effect the deep advertising recession has had on commercial rivals and that it does not need outside intervention to get its house in order.”

It appears that the BBC is going to be moving from their expansionary strategy and focus on quality over quantity. As I stated I am not sure whether this will have an effect on their app strategy, but it sounds like it may. The article can be found here and is definitely worth reading.


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Microsoft is Back With A Vengeance: Windows Mobile 7

More exciting news today/yesterday on the heels of the Mobile World Congress; Microsoft has allowed a few reporters/bloggers to play with their new Windows Mobile 7 platform. To say that I am surprised is an understatement. Some of you may remember a post I wrote a short while back about Google’s Android and Chrome OS being a bigger threat to Microsoft than to Apple; this recent news makes me rethink my position. This operating system is without a doubt beautiful and well thought out from the ground up. The question now is will they be able to inspire developers around the world to begin building apps for this now? I need to get my hands on a device soon so that I can assess whether Spreed should be earmarking Windows Mobile as a viable platform to build on. I will not making any overarching reviews until then, but from what I can see in these videos, this is a pretty unique and mature mobile environment. Check it out for yourselves and let us know what you think.

Check out even more pics and videos at Gizmodo here

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Filed under internet, launch, microsoft, mobile

Carrier Consortium for Applications: A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen?

As most of you who have been following the mobile ecosystem know, this week is the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. MWC is the premiere international conference for all things mobile. Think of it as the worldwide version of CTIA. Although attendance sounds like it is thinner than other years it seems that the general consensus is that mobile is here in a big way and its here to stay.

Maybe the most interesting of all the developments over the weekend was an announcement by 24 of the major mobile carriers – i.e. AT&T, Verizon, etc, to launch an open unified application platform. Application stores are a very important channel in the mobile world as we are increasingly seeing with Apples iTunes. This move by the carriers seems to put them toe to toe against Apple, but how will they compete?

Apple is already way ahead of the game and only has to deal with one or two devices. A unified app platform would be highly fragmented especially as the major players – i.e. RIM and Google have not stated that they are participating. Andy Rubin, Google VP of Engineering has already shared his skepticism, saying, “There is always a dream that you could write [a program] once and [have it] run anywhere and history has proven that that dream has not been fully realised and I am sceptical that it ever will be“. A Techcrunch article breaks down the real issues with this unified platform by outlining the following problems :

1.) Fragmentation – With so many devices to support you will always have to wait for your manufacturer to update the most recent version of the store. Even if they can solve this issue, developers will have to deal with so many different screen sizes and resolutions. This is already an issue for developers with Blackberry’s and Android phones, however the issue will get worse with a unified platform like this.

2.) Functionality – Overall we have seen that unified platforms like these work by trading off some of the functionality that the phones are capable of. This means that these apps will be fine for very basic tasks, but we already have a unified language for simple apps; HTML5.

I wont pass my final judgement until I see who decides to join the alliance. These are still early days for this group, however they will need more manufacturers than, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Sony Ericsson in order to make this work and I doubt Google or RIM will join in given their focus on app distribution. I agree that it is scary to see a big player like Apple dominating the app distribution space and someone needs to get it ‘right’ for the other phones, but I do not think this unified approach will work.

On the note of interoperability, it is also prudent to note that Adobe has announced that it is bringing its Air platform to a number of mobile devices. If this is the case, Flash developers everywhere will be able to code applications in one unified language for all mobile phones. Once again only time will tell, but from an interoperability standpoint I would put my money on Adobe’s Air platform over this new Carrier Consortium.

What are your thoughts?

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Charlie Rose on the iPad with Guests David Carr, Walt Mossberg and Mike Arrington

While watching the Charlie Rose show a week ago I saw this interesting interview about the iPad. It is definitely worth a watch for anyone in the media industry.

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