Category Archives: launch

iPhone OS 4 Event Review : Stats, Features and iAds

Apple, who are notorious for their big media events, made their official announcement of the iPhone/iPod Touch OS 4.0 features today. There are loads of new features to go through, but I will do my best highlighting the most important ones here.

Firstly some statistics:

  • 300,000 iPad sold on first day of sales. 450,000 iPads sold as of today.
  • iBooks: Users downloaded 250,000 iBooks in the first 24 hours. Users have now downloaded over 600,000.
  • 1 million iPad apps downloaded in the first 24 hours. As of today they’ve downloaded over 3.5 million
  • Users have downloaded over 4 billion apps through iTunes
  • 185,000 apps in the App Store now
  • Over 3,500 iPad apps in the App Store
  • iPhone has 64% mobile browser usage. Everything else combined is just half the iPhone.
  • Over 50 million iPhones have been sold.
  • If you add iPod touches, over 85 million iPhones and iPod touches

Now for OS 4.0

  • Developers can now access calendar, photo library, still and video camera data, quick look, SMS inside their apps.
    • This is great news as event modules can now add events into your actual calendar.
    • Articles can now be shared via SMS within the application without needing to leave the app
  • Automated testing tool that Apple uses internally to decided whether an app will be accepted or rejected is now publicly available.
    • This means that the app approval process is much more open and it will speed up the overall approval process
  • A few new features: Create playlists, 5x digital zoom in camera, Bluetooth keyboards, spell check, gift apps, Tap to focus video, Places in Photos, Home screen wallpaper, file & delete mail search results, web search from sugestions,Larger fonts for Mail, SMS & Alerts, Rotate photos, Sync IMAP notes, iPod out, Wake on wireless, Folders.
  • Multitasking is here! Jobs likens it to cut, copy and paste. “Not the first, but the best.”
  • Apps keep track of where you were and can start right back up again.
  • iBookstore on iPhone as per our predictions in this blog post
  • Better data protection. Encrypt all your e-mail, including attachments with PIN codes.
  • Mobile device management. Letting IT managers to deploy iPhones and manage them remotely.
  • Wireless app distribution. Companies can push out custom apps over the air instead of relying on an iTunes sync.
    • This is great for corporate apps as they no longer have to be distributed through iTunes

There is much more, but this is all they had time to highlight

iAds

iAd’s is Apple’s new advertising network. They will be managing all the inventory and from the sounds of it they will be taking 40%. All ad units are built in HTML5 and get served up in the application without having to go to an external site. Spreed is doing something very similar, but NO development skills are necessary.

  • Jobs says Apple wants to help developers make money off their creations, but says that “most of this mobile advertising really sucks, and we thought we might be able to make some contributions.”
  • Jobs says ads are easy on the desktop b/c of search. But people are spending all their time within apps. “This is where the opportunity to deliver advertising is,”

  • Jobs: Average user is spending 30 minutes a day using apps. That’s 10 ads per device each day.
  • We want to get 1 billion ad impressions per day by the end of the year.
  • Jobs: deliver “interaction” and “emotion”Something that’s in the middle of where Web ads are, and ads on your TV.

  • Jobs said it was annoying for people to click on an in-app ad b/c it would take them out of whatever they were doing.
  • Devs can add iAd in their apps for a 60% split of the revenues. All the sales and inventory are handled by Apple.
  • Ads have access to much of the same APIs as apps, like location and some level of accelerometer access
  • Jobs demoed a Toy Story and Nike ad
    • All the animations are interactive, and crazy smooth.
    • It’s not so much about the content of the app, but the interactivity
    • He’s flipping through the app: it’s offering up the history of nike ads, allowing you to flip through the years to see all the shoes throughout history
    • He pulls up the app with the Nike ad. It puls up an Air Jordan 2010 clip

So the run down on iAd’s is that it is great for developers in that it will be very easy to monetize apps. However, this is not a great solution for publishers and media companies. Apple will be taking 40% of all ad revenue and they are administering the inventory (you cannot retain your ad sales teams). In addition I am skeptical as to how deep their ability to target advertising will be. They have one piece of the puzzle and that is strong creative advertising, but they do not address targeting. Because they do not parse, control or index the content and because they do not understand user behavior, it will be hard to do deep targeting which is one of the main promises of mobile advertising.

Julie Ask of Forrester Research backs up my point about iAds not being for big publishers in her blog post on OS 4.0 with these two points

  1. We didn’t hear a lot about targeting – making use of past purchase behavior, day-to-day use of applications, etc. We did hear about location. Knowing that I have downloaded and am using the latest Audi application or browsing automotive sites on my iPhone might indicated that I am in the market for a car – that would be valuable information to automotive OEM’s. Knowing that I buy alternative rock music or that I read mysteries adds other dimensions. Location – given the structure of how they sell ads – this will more likely be purchased by large, national companies with stores throughout the country. Location (from the consumer’s perspective) will be more interesting when it helps me find local mom and pop stores that better match my interests.
  2. We didn’t hear much on analytics for the advertisers. This will be interesting to watch as the more effective Apple can be in demonstrating ROI – bought movie tickets, purchased a Nike shirt, bought the movie Toy Story – the more advertisers will spend. They’ll spend on branding now, but I think they’ll spend more if they can drive sales.

What is good though is that it will super charge the agencies to begin selling ads as they can utilize their existing skills sets to build strong creatives. Jobs just did to the mobile ad industry what he did to the mobile industry in general 2 years ago.

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The iPad is Coming: Are You Ready?

Well it’s only a few days away and the anticipation is certainly building up. The iPad will be available in stores April 3rd, but consumers are not the only ones who are investing money into this revolutionary new device. As we already know The New York Times is launching an iPad application that will be available when the new device hits the shelves.

The New York based national newspaper is already seeing return on their investment as advertisers from all sorts of industries begin buying up inventory. It has been reported by multiple sources that big-name advertisers have already bought ad space on the NYTime iPad app. Unilever, Toyota Motor, Korean Air and Fidelity have booked space on the New York Times’s iPad application, and Chase Sapphire already purchased all of their advertising units for two months.

iPad advertisements on print publishers’ applications cost $75,000 to $300,000 for a few months with some exclusivity, Phuc Truong, managing director of Havas Digital’s Mobext US, told the NY Times. Early excitement is due, in a large part, to tapping into the Apple buzz, which includes having advertisements show up in all Apple in-store demos of the product. Time is charging $200,000 for a single spot in its first eight issues designed for the iPad. The Wall Street Journal has four-month deals with several companies that cost $400,000.

These are by no means numbers to ignore. Spreed has been contacted by a number of our publishing and media partners to develop iPad apps for them and we are working very closely with a number of them to design what we think will be a best of breed solution. The iPad has unique capabilities and design opportunities that we are very excited to be working with. Please let us know if you need any help building or monetizing your iPad applications.

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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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The iPad – Good for Newspapers?

So the iPad was just officially announced by Steve Jobs and overall sentiment online has been mixed. I am going to reserve my judgement until I have actually placed my eyes and hands on the device myself. However, I do want to point out that this device or one similar to it is going to completely revolutionize the PC industry.

A few posts back I talked about the impending mobile OS wars and the future of the PC industry. The launch of the iPad proves that this movement is very real and that we are going to see more of these in the near future.

What does this all mean for newspapers and media companies? Well, we saw two media demo’s today. The first was from MLB who always do a spectacular job with their interactive technology innovations. If anyone is on the cusp of making ipTV attractive for the masses it is the MLB. more importantly though was the demo from the New York Times.

Here at Spreed we are very focused on the newspaper industry and as such the iPad is a very interesting platform  for us. The NYTimes demo showed off a great looking app that really took advantage of the entire form factor to replicate and enhance the traditional newspaper experience. I love how they have integrated videos and galleries seamlessly into articles and how users can get a snapshot of every article in todays newspaper through one view.

In addition this is a much smarter platform for newspapers and magazine publishers in comparison to the Kindle. For a good year now I have been saying that the Kindle is okay, but it doesn’t satisfy the needs of readers and advertisers. The Kindle is black and white and not interactive from a media stand point. The iPad completely satisfies these holes left by the Kindle. It can do everything a Kindle can, but displays everything in color and lets people really interact with the content (a must for online advertisers these days).

Mobile platforms are exciting and there is loads of potential for innovation. Spreed is definitely going to be playing around with the iPad and helping our clients embrace this new platform. However, we suggest everyone be cautious and make sure that they understand each platform before they move onto the next one. Make sure you can sell at least some of your existing mobile inventory on your iPhone, Blackberry and Android apps before you start sinking big money into an iTab edition of your paper.

I look forward to getting my iTab and sharing my first hand findings with  you all. Please feel free to call or email me with any questions about this new platform and what it means for your organization.

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Microsoft Releasing Zune Phone in 2 Months?

This article just popped up on my Google reader just after I posted my last article about how Android is a bigger threat to Microsoft than it is to Apple. I have heard rumors of a Microsoft Zune phone for some time now but always dismissed them. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has always been very adamant about following the OS only approach,

With Windows Mobile, we want to permit a range of hardware innovation, and yet, still have a pretty good experience end-to-end, with good applications, and we want the ability for software developers to target both a very high-end and a lower range or mid-range phone. And the ability to scale up and down, to work with multiple hardware vendors, to get a range of competition and innovation and price competition amongst the hardware guys is a big asset. It is certainly what our strategy is.

However, a recent article in All Things Digital has eluded to new evidence that may suggest that Microsoft is prepping to launch the Zune phone very shortly, possibly within the next two months.

Microsoft to Launch Zune Phone in 2 Months?

It’s intriguing to see that talk of Microsoft’s (MSFT)long-rumored ‘Pink’ phone project has started up again. In a note to clients today, Jefferies analyst Katherine Egbert claims that Redmond is gearing up to launch a phone based on WindowsMobile7.

“Our recent industry checks indicate Microsoft will be debuting its own phone sometime in the next two months,” Egbert writes. “We expect the new phone to debut soon, at either the Feb 15-18 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona Spain, or possibly at CTIA in Las Vegas one month later.”

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Spreed Has Quietly Been Making Some Major Changes

In November of 2008,  Anthony (our CEO), Suhail (our CTO) and I had the privilege to attend the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. This was my first chance to experience San Francisco.

Just a little personal background: I am a young guy and have been a techie my entire life; pretty much ever since I can remember, so going to the “tech mecca” was big for me. San Fran didn’t let me down. It was everything I thought it would be and more. 

During the Summit we had the chance to attend seminars ranging in topics life environmental sustainability, econonmic responsibility, emerging technologies and most importantly, to us, the mobile revolution.

People have been talking about mobile for a long time and we have always known it was going to be big. It’s been touted as THE platform. A way for advertisers to connect with users in a far more intelligent way. The problem was that the technology and interest of the people just wasn’t there.

The Web 2.0 Summit presenters and attendees, however, seemed to suggest that the technology (i.e. 3G, the iPhone, the Bold) is now where it needs to be and that the market is ready to adopt it. 3G networks are rolling out all over North America and the iPhone and Bold is becoming a common staple of ever day society. We realized it was time to commit to the mobile revolution.

I had the opportunity to chat with mobile expert, Raven Zachary, who made me realize the opportunity in providing mobile services to businesses.

As a team we decided it was time to truly define our business model and It is no surprise, given the excitement at the conference, that we chose to focus our model on mobile – and the iPhone in particular. 

We left San Fran more inspired than ever.

As of today Spreed will be focusing on providing fully branded mobile applications for content providers. We will use our expertise in mobile reading technology to provide publishers with the best of breed mobile solutions.

But we wont just stop at reading technologies. We want to replicate the newspaper experience on a mobile device. We want to eliminate the need for paper based news. More importantly, we want to find ways for newspapers and other content providers to engage their readers and build revenue they never thought possible. 

That being said we will unfortunately have less time to focus on projects like Spreed:News. We appreciate all the feedback we’ve received so far and will continue to fund our R&D lab and develop new reading technologies. We apologize in advance if we do not respond to your feedback as fast as we have in the past.But at this current time, our prime focus will be on pushing content to mobile devices with a clear eye to helping the publishers monetize that content. Such is the reality of 2009 – and from a technology point of view, the timing couldn’t be better. improve the system. 

This is a very exciting time for Spreed and we appreciate all the support we’ve received and continue to receive. I look forward to connecting with everyone in the near future. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about Spreed’s model or Spreed:News. I am always available via twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/spreed or less frequently via our facebook fan page @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spreed/51827975076

I look forward to hearing from you all

Best regards

Dave Coleman (@DaveColeman)

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