Forrester, late to the LBS party, tells most marketers to "wait and see" on Foursquare and other LBS apps/sites. The chief complaint is that adoption is not large enough for most large marketers to care and it's a mostly male audience according to the firm's survey data.
AdAge covers the findings:
Almost 80% of location-based service users are male. Close to 70% of them are between the ages of 19 and 35, and 70% have college degrees or higher. Forrester also found these location-app users to be influential . . . and they are especially receptive to mobile coupons and offers . . . This small audience is still attractive to some marketers. Forrester recommends that gaming, consumer electronics and sportswear marketers lead the way with testing these apps . . .
To its credit Forrester does recommend that some brands and marketers go after this audience, which is acknowledged to be populated with influencers. Here's the survey breakdown:
Image credit: AdAge
While the general underlying advice -- marketer know thy audience -- is sound, the danger is that this data and the coverage surrounding it will create a "negative halo" and cause some marketers to think they can "wait another year" before testing and engaging with mobile in general. They cannot.
There are a number of LBS apps and mobile websites focused on local that are mainstream now (e.g., Google, Yelp, Yellowbook). In addition, retailers and brands should be considering mobile loyalty programs (including SMS) and actively testing them today so that later they won't be in the "trial and error phase" -- while their competitors trounce them with innovative campaigns and best practices developed while they hestitated.
Mobile loyalty marketing and mobile brand marketing have have already proven effective and in many cases much more effective than online. (However mobile shouldn't be considered a stand-alone medium.)
Regarding the 4% audience metrics, they could mislead marketers as well. The US mobile Internet is already 75 million people operating at different levels of engagement. With more people buying smartphones daily those numbers may cross 100 million by the end of this year.
There's also value in being able to test campaigns and marketing tactics outside the glare of major media and large public audiences. In many ways these smaller audiences -- still in the millions -- offer a great opportunity for marketers to try and fail and refine their approaches for broader application later.
CardStar offers mobile users the ability to manage all their loyalty cards from one app. We first wrote about innovative application in March:
Cardstar is a fascinating company that sits at the intersection of offers and deals, which is fast-growing category online, and mobile loyalty marketing which is already very powerful. In terms of the latter category, we ran into Jay Highley, formerly of Tetherball360. We discussed some of the response rates to these mobile loyalty campaigns and he was sharing data from actual campaigns, which saw response rates of 20% to 40% in some cases.
Today the company announced several upgrades for its iPhone app. The bigger deal is the announcement that it is integrating with Foursquare to enable check-ins when users are showing/scanning their specific store barcodes at checkout. Both Foursquare and CardStar are mobile loyalty apps; the difference is that CardStar requires on-site presence to scan a barcode, whereas Foursquare allows check-ins remotely.
"One of the major pain points with LBS check-ins continues to be the inability to verify the customer was actually on-location when they checked in," explained CardStar's press materials. "This is especially important now as more retailers offer incentives/rewards based on the number of check-ins and demand a more automated redemption system."
Here are pre-digested quotes from CardStar CEO Andy Miller (not Quattro's Andy Miller):
Our recent Foursquare survey shows that a large percentage of SMBs (mostly restaurants) currently using Foursquare don't really know if it has helped their businesses. Roughly 70% of respondents said they were tracking check-ins, however.
Source: Opus Research, Search Influence, Dream Systems Media (6/10), SMBs offering incentives on Foursquare
CardStar has collected tremendous data on customer behavior that can be used to push and target offers to users of its apps, more of which are coming. It is evolving into a promotions platform beyond a simple but efficient customer card loyalty tool.
Foursquare early on became a loyalty platform and is becoming a new customer acquisition tool as well. It will be interesting to see whether this CardStar-Foursquare integration becomes a model for others and, then, whether Foursquare becomes a Twitter-like promotions platform that pushes offers through third party apps such as CardStar.
My suspicion is yes it will.
Mobile ads provider Crisp Wireless has teamed up with Verve Wireless "to bring Crisp’s rich media mobile ads to Verve’s global local media and newspapers." Verve develops and hosts the mobile sites for more than 700 newspapers in North America and Europe.
Quattro Wireless started out building mobile websites for companies and then became an ad network. The rest is, as they say, history (Apple). Similarly Verve is effectively now a local ad network that will offer a range of ad unit types and capabilities to marketers and publishers via Crisp. According to the release:
Verve publishers will utilize Crisp’s ad formats and interactive features, such as location-aware and click-to-call, and will have capabilities to deliver campaigns to smartphones and tablets, including Google Android devices and Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
Verve is one of several mobile ad networks and exchanges targeting the local market specifically:
Of course the traditional ad networks for mobile (e.g., JumpTap, Millennial, Yahoo, Google/AdMob) also offer geo-targeting as well.
The following are some "takeaways" by Citi analyst Mark Mahaney from the recent IAB Mobile Marketing Conference in New York (we didn't attend):
These data reflect a nice snapshot of the market today. There's higher engagement with mobile ads but the medium is more complex and challenging in some respects, as the search data suggest. Android is an increasingly viable #2 platform to the currently dominant iPhone.
Feature phones (and SMS) should also not be neglected. While smartphones in the US constitute about 23% of the market, that means non-smartphones are 77%. While the numbers will become more balanced over time there are still lots of people on feature phones in the US and around the globe.
Though many will not say it publicly many digital agency executives and industry observers believe that ad standardization killed online ad creativity. Some also believe that standardization paved the way for so-called "banner blindness" and consumer willingness to simply ignore much of what passes for advertising online.
This led the Online Publishers Association last year to introduce huge new display ad formats, used by selected sites such as the NY Times. Their explicit aim was to revive online ad creativity and grab consumer attention. According to the press release put out at the time:
These new advertising units reflect the publishers’ desire to achieve four key objectives that will guide the evolution of online display advertising into its next phase:
Yesterday the IAB published a document called "Prevailing mobile in-application advertising formats." Not standardization per se, it seeks to "codify" mobile ad formats in use today but stops short of recommending consistent ad units at this point:
Any effort to promote simplification of ad formats must make it easier or cheaper to produce creative for the medium, without stifling the creativity of those designing content or advertising for that medium. At this stage, the in-app ad landscape is too new and dynamic to be ready for creative standards.
The IAB intends this document to offer guidance to both sellers and buyers of in-app ads. We plan to maintain this survey as a living thing, responsive to the astounding pace of change in the in-app ad landscape. We envision updating it as new formats emerge on the scene and gain traction, and as devices and platforms evolve (we note that the iPhone 4’s screen resolution will render much of this document obsolete if that device catches on and older iPhone models leave the market). We’d also like to highlight not just the more popular formats, but also new and innovative ones as well.
While standardization promotes media buying efficiency it also threatens to diminish the excitement and creativity of the new medium. The IAB was wise to restrain itself and let mobile (and tablet) advertising develop organically -- at least for now.
Even before Friday's Apple press conference about "antennagate," Verizon was exploiting Apple's problems in ads promoting its Android phones in a full-page newspaper ad in the NY Times. Part of the ad copy read:
And most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls.
Then on Friday, during the press conference, Jobs now infamously said that the iPhone's antenna problems weren't unique, other smartphones have them too. Then the angry reactions and pile-on began.
At once defending themselves and sensing that there was "blood in the water" out the competitor's statements came:
"We have not received significant customer feedback on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia II," Samsung said in a statement . . .
"Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable," RIM co-Chief Executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie said in a statement emailed late Friday.
And from Nokia:
Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.
Motorola also argued that its handsets are free from the antenna problems suffered by iPhone 4.
Quick to defend themselves against what they thought were unfair comparisons, Apple's competitors relished a rare moment of vulnerability for the iconic device. Until now it had seemed invulnerable and unbeatable.
The media keep focusing on the "battle" between iPhone and Android. But the mobile platform and handset market is not winner-take-all. There's room for more than two players to succeed in the US and internationally. This is a key point made by Google itself several times now.
But how many platforms and smartphone operating systems can the market support exactly?
The following charts reflect OS representation on AdMob's global network. (AdMob does not equal the mobile Internet or mobile handsets more broadly, but there's a directional correspondence between mobile Internet trends and what AdMob shows in its metrics reports.)
If you consider the chart immediately above, what you see is that the "mobile Internet" (on AdMob's network) is dominated by iOS, followed by Android in North America and Western Europe. In other regions Nokia is a major player or dominant. Despite its large, installed base RIM is barely present on this chart.
RIM of course sells more smartphones than anyone in North America. However its mobile Internet usage data and overall user experience lag competitors. BlackBerry 6 seeks to change that.
There aren't going to be five viable global smartphone platforms. There might be four, but it's more likely three. Those will vary, as the chart above suggests, on a geographic basis, with the two "constants" across regions likely to be Android and the iPhone.
Given the scathing criticque that an InfoWorld writer offered of Windows 7 (after a demo), it's quite possible that Microsoft might not be among the winners:
The bottom line is this: Windows Phone 7 is a pale imitation of the 2007-era iPhone. It's as if Microsoft decided in summer 2007 to copy the iPhone and has shut its developers in a bunker ever since, so they don't realize that several years have passed, that the iPhone has advanced, and that competitors such as Google Android and Palm WebOS have also pushed the needle forward.
We'll have to wait and see how accurate this very harsh review is later this year when the handsets hit the market. But the Kin debacle is not a good sign for Redmond.
In the US smartphone market, it's currently a three-way race between iPhone, Android and RIM. In Europe it's likely to be iPhone, Android and Nokia. Other platforms may simply not have the scale and (developer) mindshare to compete. Several developer surveys certainly suggest this as well.
Source: Appcelerator (6/10)
All of the remarks below are from Google SVP Jonathan Rosenberg:
On Android growth:
On mobile search growth:
On click to call ad performance:
On mobile search not cannibalizing the PC:
While mobile search volumes are growing from a small base, the numbers very quickly can become very large.
Citi's Mark Mahaney estimated that mobile search volumes are now roughly 10% of Google's overall monthly search queries in the US. That may be aggressive but if it's close that would mean more than a billion searches a month on mobile devices. And if we consider that the bulk of those are coming from smartphones (21% - 23% of the market), the growth potential is huge.
Seeing an opportunity and trying to grab some attention from the Apple vs. Google debate/meme, ad network JumpTap is offering to let new customers (developers and publishers) keep 100% of ad revenue for a limited time:
The new program empowers mobile app developers and publishers to increase their revenue using the industry's most comprehensive array of ad solutions that run across any device -- including iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry -- all from one ad network and one single point of integration.
The Jumptap Passport to Freedom Program establishes a $4 million fund for new customers who will get to keep 100 percent of their revenues through the rest of 2010 or until the fund is depleted -- whichever is sooner. Become an advertiser and reinvest the earnings and Jumptap will actually double the amount available for advertising dollars -- that's up to a 200 percent payout. To get started, new customers just sign up for an account; download the SDK and start earning money.
As the statement above indicates, the offer is limited to the exhaustion of a $4 million fund. This 100% of revenue tactic -- reminiscent of how Google spread AdSense in its early days -- is also being used by inMobi to acquire new publisher-developer clients.
Separately, despite all the bluster and hand-wringing around Apple's new terms of service, which appear to bar any advertising provider associated with an OS maker (Apple competitor), Apple has not in fact barred AdMob from iOS devices. Apple's devices reportedly constitute 30% of AdMob's revenues. According to Omar Hamoui, AdMob founder (now Google VP of Mobile Ads), quoted in the Wall Street Journal:
Apple hasn’t enforced the threat, “and we’re very appreciative of that,” he said.
A number of companies, including JumpTap, are trying to seize the recent uncertainty surrounding AdMob's continued operation on iOS devices. Hence the new program.
Insight Express (IE) has put out some very interesting data this morning (coming to me via IE's Joy Luizzo) that confirms our own research and what we've been writing about for quite some time: consumers are increasingly using their handsets in stores, while shopping. In addition, they're very interested in and open to deals in context.
Some people want to look for deals themselves and a large number of people want deals pushed to them.
The data in IE's new mobile shopping report are based on a June consumer survey of 1,300 US adult mobile users. A whopping 82% said they used their mobile devices in the store, while shopping.
Source: Insight Express, June 2010 (n=1300 US mobile phone users)
Separately 72% of those open to deals expressed interest in having coupons and offers pushed to them, with almost 30% wanting to receive them in a store:
Source: Insight Express, June 2010 (n=1700 US mobile phone users)
The report also shows that smartphone owners are more engaged than non-smartphone owners, as one might expect.
People (males 25-34 with smartphone in particular) are using phones in the store, in front of products to make buying decisions. They're checking reviews and prices, as well as looking for deals and discounts. IE says that 53% of male mobile shoppers have smartphones.
Historically males have been adverse to using coupons, but in mobile (and even online) the "stigma" associated with coupon use is largely eliminated. Accordingly, IE reports that in its survey male smartphone users "over-index" (vs. the general population) for coupons in specific categories:
Finally, 51% of mobile male shoppers want to look for deals themselves vs. 39% who wanted offers pushed to them via SMS. Last week Placecast published similar findings: mobile phone owners want offers and are very receptive to those coming to them via SMS.
Related: Knowledge Networks found:
Among those who use a smartphone with applications ("apps"), 40% refer to apps at least "sometimes" when making decisions while shopping . . .32% already say they are more inclined to buy from companies that advertise in apps – a much higher proportion than for other emerging platforms.
Geodelic is one of a handful of independent LBS content providers in the market. Where.com and Aloqa are also part of that group. They pre-date Foursquare and its geo-social-gaming kin. Geodelic has had some success with carriers, white labeling and with its consumer-branded smartphone apps; yet it remains a "tier 2" player for at least the time being.
Yesterday the company announced new funding, bringing the total to $10 million over two rounds:
Geodelic, a mobile media platform, announced today that it has raised $7 million in a Series B equity financing. MK Capital led the investment, and current investors Clearstone Venture Partners and Shasta Ventures joined the round.
Founded in 2008 and incubated by Clearstone Venture Partners, the company has quickly gained traction since the launch of their first application with T-Mobile in 2009. This latest round of financing brings total investment to over $10 million. To date, the Geodelic smartphone application has been downloaded over half a million times on Android phones. It is also available for iPhone, and currently in development for Blackberry devices.
There are lots of companies and lots of noise in the LBS segment and it's seemingly getting more crowded by the day. There's also the question of revenues. This is the same question that Foursquare confronts as it seeks to grow and develop a business model.
Without a sales channel it's very difficult to sell to local businesses; and without massive reach it's tough to get brands' attention -- though Foursquare has managed to because it's so "hot."
All the "traditional" Internet companies, with any interest in local are pushing into mobile. Google is coming at mobile and location from several directions at once. Twitter just announced Places. And Facebook, with 100 million active daily mobile users, is threatening to launch both a local capability as well as a Q&A service. Yelp recently announced that it had two million mobile users and that 27% of its search query volume was coming from the iPhone.
Over time LBS on mobile devices will probably be dominated by the major online services and companies. There will be room for a few independents and start-ups. But most of those will need to focus and specialize. The "horizontal" market will probably go to the giants.
One of the questions for Geodelic is whether to continue with its consumer strategy or push white labeling more aggressively. They're not mutually exclusive of course but it will be tough to have success in both areas equally.
The company refers to itself as a "mobile media platform." That may be an indication of its future direction.
Platform "agnostic" apps store GetJar is far less well-known than its branded peers but, depending on how you count, it's either got the second or third largest app store in the market (not just for smartphones). As an aside, it becomes a prime takeover target at some point in the near-to-medium term.
The company just revealed that it has added an $11 million Series B funding round (from Accel Partners) to its earlier $6 million Accel-funded A Round.
The company was founded in Lithuania five years ago and has moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley. GetJar claims a billion downloads of 65,000 apps. Google's Andy Rubin said yesterday that Android now had "over 65,000 applications."
Below is Distimo's June calculation of the relative size of the app stores (somewhat outdated now).
By comparison Apple claims "more than five billion apps have been downloaded from the revolutionary App Store and more than 225,000 apps are available to consumers in 90 countries."
The morning after glowing iPhone 4 reviews, Verizon and Google tried to steal back some attention for Android with the announcement of "Droid X." There was a splashy press event in New York. I was not there. Here are the major specs on the new Motorola device:
This is essentially Motorola's answer to HTC's Android EVO.
Android boss Andy Rubin said in press materials that “There are 160,000 new Android-powered devices activated daily and Android Market has grown to over 65,000 applications." The new phone runs "Froyo," Android 2.2, which has some impressive capabilities.
According to an associated Google blog post, "there are 60 compatible Android devices, delivered via a global partnership network of 21 OEMs and 59 carriers in 49 countries."
Multiplatform app software platform vendor Appcelerator conducted a survey of 2,733 developers from June 15-17, 2010. It found that developers favor Apple in the near term but are betting on Android in the longer term:
The potential reason behind developers' more favorable view of Android longer term goes to the platform's "flexibility" and "adaptability" to other devices (TV, in car, etc.) and the distaste for Apple's control. The overwhelming majority of respondents (86%) said that Apple had become "too controlling."
But what's also striking about these findings (top graphic) is the diminished interest in virtually all other smartphone platforms. Just as Nokia prepares to abandon Symbian for MeeGo, the Appcelerator survey shows very little interest among US-based developers. Even BlackBerry, which has greater market share than the iPhone and Android, is seeing declinging interest among developers: 75% of developers thought that it would eventually be eclipsed by Android and the iPhone.
Although it has greater reach than any other form of mobile marketing and though it is highly versatile and can be quite effective, SMS based marketing programs are still struggling for attention and respect. Many CMOs and even some mobile industry insiders simply perceive it as a kind of interim step to a future dominated by apps, mobile search and rich media on mobile devices (e.g., iAd).
In recognition of this and in a move to diversify its offerings 4Info has acquired New York City-based Butter, a development shop that builds apps for brands. According to a piece appearing in AdAge on the acquisition:
4info plans to take its newly acquired app expertise to its 300 brand partners, which include USA Today and other Gannett newspapers, the NBA, Yahoo and Evite. Today, 4info sends nearly one-third of all content-based texts in the U.S., said Ms. Shumaker, adding up up to about 100 million texts per month. Butter, on the other hand, is on track to bring in 5% of app content-sponsorship ad revenue, she said.
This is a bid for more revenue and mindshare but also an ironic move to remain "relevant" to brands and other types of marketers that want sexier mobile offerings.
Earlier this morning I also received this email from a PR person for LSN Mobile, which operates a local ad network and serves TV affiliates:
Did you know that LSN Mobile, a leading mobile marketing and media company, sends more than 10 million permission-based SMS news alerts each month? The company empowers media companies and advertisers to deliver their content and advertising to 97% of mobile device users in the U.S—all 270 million of them. By providing local media content in all 210 DMAs and on every major carrier, LSN Mobile gives advertisers extensive opportunities to reach mobile subscribers where and when they want to be reached.
Text messaging has much greater penetration than any other form of mobile marketing. It is also the cornerstone of most mobile loyalty programs, which can be extremely effective. And it has the added virtue of being able to track other forms of media, including traditional media.
As more brands and marketers adopt mobile, SMS will continue to be an important part of the overall marketing mix. But many executives don't see this because they aren't thinking clearly about the segment and they're mesmerized by the sex appeal of apps.
Microsoft has relatively quielty released a new version of Bing for the iPhone. It adds a range of features and capabilities, as well as improving some existing features. Bing on the iPhone was already a very strong app and now it has a lot more to offer.
Among the list of things that are new:
The barcode scanner, like others in the market, makes it possible to quickly check prices and product reviews in the store without typing in product names or other identifiers. The social features are also fun/useful. You can search on a product or place and see if your friends have said anything about it.
The Bing iPhone app is underappreciated in my view. It's quite a bit richer and more user-friendly, for example, than the comparable Google app for the iPhone. Google offers many of the same capabilities spread out across Maps, Product Search and Goggles however.
These new Bing upgrades have made it more useful in my opinion. Beyond this, though not new, it has very good voice search. At some point soon, I'm going to do a quick "head to head" comparison of Vlingo, Nuance, Bing and Google voice search results.
This is just a quick overview. There's more on the new Bing iPhone app at Search Engine Land.
Where, which has built its own local ad network for mobile devices, is now lauching "Where Deal Alerts." These are SMS-based coupons, offers and deals, that factor in user preferences (by shopping category) and location:
By opting into the service, customers can set up a user profile that will allow them to receive WHERE’s Deal Alerts via text message. Consumers simply select proximity, day of week, time of day, and content categories such as restaurants and shopping, and WHERE will automatically send coupons via SMS based on preferences.
Where Deal Alerts launch first on AT&T (though not yet on the iPhone) but will expand to other carriers over time. The one limitation of the system is that users have to specify a single time of day for delivery of the alerts.
Deal alerts are set up from within the Where application but, as mentioned, come in the form of SMS notifications tied to location. Thus proximity to a QSR chain or particular merchant (at a particular time of day) would trigger delivery. Because Where has access to location from the carrier, users don't need to be in the Where app itself, "check in" or even be "online" to receive the offers.
From the Where application users configure deal alerts from within the coupon widget. Here's how the site describes the sign-up process:
Where has aggregated lots of coupon inventory from multiple partners (e.g., Valassis, ValPak) to provide sufficient coverage to make the program interesting.
Placecast offers a conceptually similar program for the retail category with ShopAlerts, and individual marketers and stores are doing their own ad-hoc opt-in SMS-based loyalty marketing.
The Where program, however, is novel in several respects. And because it's category-based (after opt-in) it can function as a new customer acquisition program and not exclusively as a mobile loyalty vehicle.
Mobile ad network Millennial Media is now putting out two reports on a regular basis: one about mobile advertising (SMART) on its network and the other about devices (Mobile Mix) on its network. Consistent with other networks and data vendors in the market, Millennial has seen considerable Android growth. But the iPad is also growing dramatically.
According to Millennial:
Below are some of the report's charts, showing the hierarchy of devices and operating systems on Millennial's network. In addition, the company shows the percentage breakdown of developers working on the various smartphone operating systems.
Compare AdMob's most recent mobile metrics report (April, 2010) in terms of devices and operating systems on its network:
Other than the iPhone and the top three Android phones, there's a different array of devices on both lists. The top Android device on Millennial's list, the Nexus One, doesn't event show up on the AdMob list. The AdMob list shows no RIM devices among the top group, whereas the BlackBerry Curve is the number two phone over at Millennial.
Comparing operating system share on the network also reflects the differences between Millennial and AdMob. Below is AdMob's US operating system share graph for April:
Millennial (top four):
AdMob (top four):
Each of these company specific reports needs to be taken with some caveats and caution. The discrepancies and differences between the networks illustrate this. However, both companies show similar trends: the growth of Android handsets, which makes sense give how many there now are, and the rise of the iPad (AdMob discussed that last month).
There's already been much discussion of some early advertising metrics on the iPad. The following results were published a couple of days ago by ad mediator AdMarvel (owned by Opera), TextPlus and PointRoll (owned by publisher Gannett):
Campaigns that ran the first four weeks after the iPad launch delivered average interaction times across advertisers of 30 seconds, and as high as 53 seconds for one advertiser. Time spent with each ad correlated with the amount of content included in the ads.
In addition, interaction rates (measuring the number of people tapping to expand and engaging with the ads, as a percentage of impressions) ranged from .9% to 1.5% in the first month of the campaign, up to 6 times the benchmark for comparable click-to-expand ads on the desktop. In addition, 67% of users who viewed a video component of the ad in the app watched it all the way through, compared to 53% completion rate for desktop. These findings show that the iPad can be a successful supplement to a 360-degree campaign across devices to strengthen and further lift audience engagement.
(Emphasis added; see ad demo.)
Dynamic Logic and Insight Express have both shown that mobile ads consistently outperform PC advertising across a wide range of metrics and brand indicators. The question of course is whether the increased engagement and metrics are the byproduct of novelty or whether these platforms are going to consistently deliver better performance over time.
Some of this better performance is clearly novelty but other factors such as less ad clutter and greater "share of voice" on pages make for higher engagement and improved response. Websites on the PC or "fixed" Internet have become a veritable wasteland of clutter and low quality ad content. That's partly why Apple's Safari 5 enables users to eliminate ads from the page.
Even as the Internet has fragmented audiences and eroded if not destroyed some traditional media (e.g., newspapers), online advertising, with the exception of search and one or two other areas, has largely failed.
The iPad is not a PC, nor is it really a mobile device in the same form as a smartphone. It's more of a portable PC with apps. We still don't have enough data to know how people use and will use the iPad and its many forthcoming rivals. In my house it has taken time from PC exposure but it's much more a "leisure" or "lean back" device than the PC, which is mostly utilitarian.
If that use case holds generally for tablets it could be that people will be more receptive to display and rich media ads on them vs. the PC.
Citi Cards has introduced Citi Shopper, a smartphone app that offers deals and local product inventory information. It's partly a branding play and partly a loyalty play for Citi. The content is provided by mobile shopping platform Slifter (GPShopper).
According to the release the free app "delivers local offers and deals on products from electronics to apparel; compares prices; provides maps to nearby retailers; as well as reminds Citi cardmembers of offers and benefits specific to their Citi credit cards . . .
Once installed on their mobile device, Citi Shopper lets users:
--Browse deals and promotions at major local and online retailers
--Be reminded of Citi credit card-specific rewards, benefits and offers
--Search local store inventory for over two billion products
--Sort products by price or distance
--View product details, images, availability, and a map to the nearest location
--Save products and promotions into a mobile Shopping List
--Share finds with friends and family
--Contact participating retailers with just one click
This is a smart idea and strong concept. The only problem is that the user experience absolutedly stinks. It may well be downloaded heavily if Citi promotes the app to card members in billing and marketing materials. However it will need to be dramatically improved if Citi hopes for repeat usage.
This app is another example of a company thinking that it needs to do something -- with an app -- in mobile and not thinking the entire process through carefully. It's very similar to the more attractive but equally unusable "Priceless Picks" shopping app from Mastercard.
There are other product and shopping vendors that Citi could have worked with. And the bank should have paid much more attention to the user experience. Perhaps it will go back to the drawing board for version 2.0. There's clearly potential here; it's just very far from realized.
Last year Hearst's Skiff project was one of at least 15 or 20 eReaders coming to market. When it was announced it was conceived of as an integrated package of hardware and software:
Skiff, formerly known as FirstPaper, specializes in the delivery and presentation of newspaper and magazine content, as opposed to other platforms that focus primarily on e-books and plain text. Newspaper and magazine content delivered by Skiff will feature visually appealing layouts, high-resolution graphics, rich typography and dynamic updates . . .
Skiff is working with major consumer electronics manufacturers to integrate Skiff’s service, digital store and specialized client software into a range of innovative devices, the first of which will be unveiled soon . . .
Skiff has signed a multi-year agreement with Sprint (NYSE:S) to provide 3G connectivity for Skiff’s dedicated e-reading devices in the United States. Plans are underway to have Skiff readers available for purchase in more than 1,000 Sprint retail locations across the U.S., as well as online at www.sprint.com. Additional distribution channels will be announced next year.
But that was before the iPad. Today News Corporation announced that it had bought Skiff from Hearst for an undisclosed amount:
News Corporation today announced that it has acquired Skiff, LLC, Hearst Corporation’s e-reading platform designed to deliver premium journalism to tablets, smartphones, e- readers and netbooks. The Company also announced an investment in Journalism Online LLC, the venture dedicated to enabling newspapers, magazines and online-only publishers of quality content to collect revenue from their online readers. The financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.
Now it appears that Skiff will become, exclusively, a software platform for News Corp content distribution on a range of devices. There was no mention of hardware in the News Corp. release.
Just as with the smartphone market we may see three or four tablet platforms that are viable: iOS, Android, Kindle (maybe), WebOS/HP (maybe) and Windows 7 (maybe). Most aspiring eReader devices will diversify or fully evolve into software platforms or apps -- e.g. Kindle for iOS, Nook for iPad and now Skiff.