Tag Archives: iphone

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


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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Flurry Smartphone Industry Pulse, February 2009: Traditional Media Dominating the News Category

Flurry, a mobile analytics company known for their strong industry statistics released their February report today. The report is interesting as it relates to the consistent surge of iPhone developers and their unique demographics. What is interesting to our readers is the specific attention it gave to the news category. As expected traditional media sources are dominating the news category. This is mostly due to the fact that it is not easy to simply start publishing the news and creating content. What it does point out though is that the iPhone and other smartphones are very useful channels to distribute content very inexpensively and target a very attractive demographic.

Possibly, more interesting is the rise of online news sources on the iPhone. Flurry believes that with the release of the iPad we are going to see an even strong supply and demand for blogs and other online media sources. It is therefore essential that if your newspaper does not have an app now, to act fast. If you wait too long, the online media sources will own the real estate on users phones and other mobile devices.  More below and in the report.

Like gaming, the creation of compelling content in News is a specialized and costly operation. To source and report quality news, companies often have to span various media such as TV broadcast, radio and print, which further increases cost. It’s therefore no surprise that Traditional Media dominates the News category, controlling nearly two thirds. For traditional media (e.g., New York Times, ABC News, NPR, etc.), the iPhone represents a large channel through which to distribute their existing content. The small incremental cost of expanding the distribution of Traditional Media’s core content, and the attractiveness of reaching an educated, affluent and tech-savvy audience, makes iPhone the perfect platform through which to serve news. Looking forward, the iPad creates an even greater opportunity to increase reach because its larger screen size works better works for newspaper and magazine layouts, as well as TV broadcast.

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Mobile Newspaper Apps Deliver Young Readers

“A new survey by the Pew Research Center released Monday found more than a quarter of all American adults read news on their mobile.” –Pew research

This headline from the March 3rd edition of MobileMarketing Daily caught our attention.  The headline is taken from the recently release Understanding The Participatory Newspaper Consumer which is a deep analysis of the publishing ecosystem.  From our perspective as a mobile publishing company the most encouraging news for publishers is the degree to which younger readers – the readers newspaper publisher need to bring into their franchise – are using their mobile devices to access news and information where and when they want.   This table taken from the study confirms  that younger adults are much more likely to access news and information on their mobile than older adults – 43% adults under 50 expect to find  at least some of news and information that they need on their mobiles.

We are not surprised by the importance of mobile as a trusted source of news and information for younger adults.  The iPhone apps we have built for our publishing clients continue to drive double digit growth in new subscribers and page views.  As important, app publishers are experiencing month over month growth in average number of articles read.  This tells us that  iPhone app subscribers  have quickly adapted newspapers to fit their reading habits – they no longer need to be in front of the paper or online editions to access the news they want when they want it  We expect to continued growth in on demand newspaper as more and more adults move to app enabled phones.

We remind our publishing clients that Apple app editions deliver a young readership – almost half of whom are under the age of 34 according to AdMob research.– and  that these apps are the pipeline to their future franchise.

When most of us think of Apple app editions, we usually think of the iPhone as the most likely delivery device.    But as Flurry research shows, the iTouch now delivers 41% of all Apple app user  sessions

AdMob data above  clearly demonstrates that the iTouch user profile is very different from the iPhone user profile – three quarters of iTouch users are below the age of 18 vv 15% of iPhone users.  We believe that the iTouch cohort is of vital importance to publishers for two reasons.

1)      Because they can and do access the App Store just as easily as iPhone users, they are a captive audience for news and information relevant to them

2)      They are now locked in to satisfying their information and entertainment needs with proprietary Apple hardware and software.  As they mature, the migration to the iPhone and iPad will be a natural and seamless progression for them.

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Mobile Newspaper Applications: Beyond the Headlines

It is often a habit of mobile developers to crunch every piece of functionality they can into their apps. This is a fatal flaw in many of the applications that we see built for newspapers and media companies today. There is a very fine line that needs to be drawn between user experience (UX) and functionality and we find many people try and cram everything, including the kitchen sink into their apps. When developing an app you must first think about what your goals are and how best to leverage the mobile platform. After you have defined your goals, you can then define the functionality.

If you are a regular reader of the Spreed blog or know much about Spreed:Inc, you will know that we believe that newspapers in this day and age need a mobile application. However, too often we see people try and cram everything they can into their mobile news reader. This is a problem in the newspaper industry as news websites have such a large amount of varying types of content.

Here at Spreed we advise our customer to follow a long tail niche approach to application development. The first application that any company develops should be focused specifically around their news content. However, by no means should you ignore all the other content that is available on your website. Now that many newspapers have applications it is time to start thinking about the different niche apps that can be built to include your other content while leveraging the unique capabilities of these phones (i.e. multimedia, GPS, built in camera). By no means should you cram all of this other content and functionality into your existing app. Each source of content applies to a different app and can provide yet another revenue source to your paper.

A few scenarios that we often suggest our clients to consider are sports apps, traffic/weather apps, tourism apps, classified apps, finance apps and home listing apps. These applications can be sold at a premium and leverage the vast content pool that newspapers already have access to. If you try and cram all these features into your main headline app, you will sacrifice both your UX and your potential future revenue.

There are three examples of strong niche apps developed by newspapers that I would like to show here:

The first is the GoVolsXtra application developed by Spreed for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Knoxville had already created a separate portal for their university sports team, so this was an obvious extension of their brand. We simply pulled their live stats, news, pictures and videos and packaged them together in an app. If Knoxnews tried to cram all this info into their main headline app they would not have been able to provide as rich of an experience.

The second app that I would like to highlight is a tourism app developed by USA Today (Gannett). The Gannett team has been very strong in the mobile space and many will call the USA Today application one of the best news apps in the iTunes app store. Although there is a lot of functionality in the USA Today headline app, they have done a very good job at balancing it and not allowing for any more than three clicks to get to any particular piece of information. USA Today has a wealth of content and they have decided to release numerous apps, however the best one in my opinion is the USA Autopilot app which is a great tool for any frequent traveler.

The final application that I would like to highlight and the newest entry in the market is the NYTime home finder app. This app lets you find home listings in the NYTimes database and find homes for sales/open houses that are around your current location. This app it light, easy to use and takes advantage of location based features of the iPhone. It is a huge win for the NYTimes who have not really updated their mobile application since it first hit the app store.

The point that I am trying to make here is that the application ecosystem holds a lot of potential for newspapers, but be careful not to replicate what you did on the web. Do not try and cram everything into your existing application as it will not service any of your primary goals; building retention, generating revenue. There is so much content available within a newspaper website and each set of content can lend itself to a specific application. Each app presents a huge opportunity to become a major revenue generator for the newspaper. I am not saying here that you should not include some of your niche content in your headline app. For example you can still have a sports news  in your headline app and then different niche sports apps that present scores, statistics as well as news.

A good strategy moving forward is to watch your headline app statistics very carefully. The key here is to not include loads of functionality around your content in your headline app to the extent that it becomes bulky and impossible to navigate. If you see that people are reading your sports section, travel section, weather section or books sections  heavily, there is a good case to be made for building a niche app around that content in order to leverage the functionality of these device to build a richer user experience in a separate app. The devil is in the details and it is very important to keep your eyes on the stats to see where your mobile opportunities lay.

If you have any questions on how you can leverage your existing content to build an app please let us know.

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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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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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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.”


“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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