The anticipated launch of Skype for the iPhone has been confirmed. The NY Times and CNET cover the story. CNET got a sneek peek at the app and has a detailed dicussion of its features, as well as screens:
Skype's screens are well organized and use the iPhone's ability to add filters, for instance, to sort your contacts alphabetically, or by who's online. There's chatting as well, though Skype's flagship feature is its VoIP calling that's free to other Skype users and an inexpensive per-minute fee to landlines. Calls on Skype for iPhone work only if you're in range of a Wi-Fi network, so your call quality will in part be at the mercy and strength of wireless networks nearby--calls will not work over the cell phone network on the iPhone (but chatting will.)
Apparently in the US VoIP will only work over a WiFi connection and won't be able to be used on AT&T's 3G or edge data network, though IM will work over the data network.
Here's the interesting part of the NY Times' article about whether Skype competes with carrier voice plans:
Skype tested its service in London in the last two years with Hutchison 3, a British mobile network. It said it drew more customers to Hutchison 3 and increased its revenue for each user, since people were making calls on their cellphones using Skype that high calling rates would have discouraged otherwise.
Scott Durchslag, Skype’s chief operating officer, said he did not think the limitations on using Skype on the iPhone would be a big drawback for users, since Wi-Fi networks have become common.
The point about users making calls they wouldn't normally make is probably valid: people simply wouldn't do the additional calling in the absence of Skype (or one of its competitors). It's clear that mobile callers are highly cost sensitive and will respond to price incentives accordingly.
Right now the limitation of Skype's VoIP service to WiFi networks means that its use will probably not threaten voice minutes. Also, quality will be an issue so many people will choose not to use it except with international calling or in other, similar circumstances.
Skype, Truphone, Fring and others become most interesting perhaps in the context of MIDs that are not phones. VoIP turns those devices (with a connection) into a phone and may make MIDs more attractive accordingly. The two issues are the availability and speed of the connection and the quality of the VoIP service, which often still sounds like you're talking in a fishbowl.
Update: Om Malik, who broke the Skype-iPhone story, has done an initial review after several hours of testing the app. He was extremely positive about the experience and the call quality ("awesome").
As it has done with US iPhone users, comScore has released data on iPhone users and their behavior in the UK. Here is the chart:
As with their US cohort, iPhone users outpace other smartphone users in all areas and by huge margins traditional mobile phone users. For example, almost 80% of iPhone owners access the mobile Internet vs. 19.8% of conventional mobile phone users.
Demographics (per comScore): 75% are males, mostly between the ages of 18-44. Smartphone ownership also typically skews male in the UK, with males comprising 65 per cent of the audience.
AdAge, via Business Insider, is reporting that Yahoo! is placing more coordinated emphasis on mobile:
We hear that under Jerry and former mobile boss Marco Boerries, the mobile unit worked more like an isolated startup. Now, under Carol and new mobile boss David Ko, the mobile team is working more closely with product teams as mobile becomes a stronger focal area for Yahoo.
We've been arguing for a version of this for some time. We argued directly to Yahoo! that success in mobile was in some ways a key to "reinvigorating" the Yahoo! brand overall. Yahoo! Mobile is a terrific improvement over Go and its previous mobile experiences.
Yahoo! Mail has historically been the top mobile destination in the US. However, Opera reported yesterday that Yahoo! fell two places in its list of top 10 US mobile websites. And Google has the lead in mobile search.
Yahoo! has a more developed mobile advertising business than Google (at this point). And it has carrier relationships around the globe that give it access to north of 800 million users hypothetically.
The company needs to keep paying attention to mobile as a highly strategic initiative at the level of CEO. So it's good that Bartz is involved, assuming the accuracy of the report.
uLocate's WHERE has launched a location-enabled mobile Web site (not an application) in conjunction with Sprint, with which it has a long-standing relationship:
With access to network-based location on the Sprint network, WHERE provides nearby search results, even on non GPS-enabled devices, without requiring users to report their location. Sprint users can now browse to WHERE (m.where.com) on their phone’s Web browser and easily find locally relevant information from AccuWeather to ZipCar.
WHERE has also been experimenting with some innovative social features on its client application for the G1.
The benefit of the Sprint relationship is that the mobile site can detect location without the need for a download, a GPS chip in the phone or triangulation; current location is supplied via the carrier. Any user with mobile Web access can get the site; however location would need to be manually set for non-Sprint customers.
Here are the "top 10" site lists for the US and UK:
Yahoo!'s decline should be of concern to the company and should encourage Yahoo! to get its new Yahoo! Mobile app/site into the market as soon as possible.
As with the AdMob data, this represents the Opera mobile/mini universe and is not necessarily identical to the "mobile Internet. However, directionally it's going to be accurate.
Smartphones are a disproportionate driver of mobile Internet usage, especially the iPhone but other smartphones as well. AdMob's mobile metrics report for February shows that smartphones dominate mobile Internet traffic (and apps usage) in the US. These data are drawn from AdMob's network of sites and apps for which it serves ads and not identical to the "mobile Internet." It should be seen as a directional indicator of trands and user behavior.
One of the headlines from the release put out by AdMob is "HTC Dream (G1) and BlackBerry Storm are the #1 Devices on T-Mobile and Verizon Just Three Months After Launch." That points to a larger Android share in the future as more devices hit the market.
Here are the top-level bullets from this month's report:
Here are a few of the tables from the report:
Again, these data are not necessarily representative of the mobile market as a whole. But they're probably a reliable indicator of trends. The data that show the loss in mobile Internet share by Nokia/Symbian as well as Windows Mobile are striking. Palm has lost share too but that's consistent with its slow disappearance from the marketplace (although the Centro has impressive Internet usage in the US market). Palm and its investors are hoping the Pre will revive the company's fortunes.
Outwardly Microsoft betrays little or no concern about the competition for Windows Mobile, but these data -- assuming they are representative of larger trends -- have to be of concern.
Right now, it's important to point out, handset unit sales and mobile Internet share aren't equivalent; the iPhone has a mobile Internet share that is disproportionate to its overall penetration. But the mobile Internet will become a larger factor in consumer smartphone buying in the immediate future.
ChaCha announced this week that it cut some staff and secured $12 million in equity financing. ChaCha has had great success with consumers but, despite strong ROI, most advertisers are still on the sidelines when it comes to mobile.
Nancy Hill, CEO of the AAAA, gave a keynote at last week's ThinkMobile event in New York. She was very bullish on mobile and presented some great case studies. She said in her prepared remarks that "mobile was top-of-mind for agencies." However, when I questioned her a bit more on that point, she acknowledged that the recession was delaying the adoption of mobile advertising and that many marketers and agencies were still not committed to the medium because it was "early."
While ChaCha is a free service, rival kgb costs $.99 per use for consumers, in addition to any text messaging fees. kgb also doesn't have a voice front end because the firm is a directory assistance (DA) wholesaler to many US operators and doesn't want to compete with its own customers. However it operates the very successful "118 XXX" direct-to-consumer DA services in the UK and France.
In New York I spent some time with kgb's Thomas Falconer and Bruce Stewart. In promoting the new direct-to-consumer text service in the US, the company is doing something very unusual: running TV commercials for and otherwise actively marketing it. For example, it was a sponsor of MTV's spring break and demo'd the service "on the beach" to young people in Florida.
I was surprised to hear kgb say that they found many people didn't know how to use the service and so they've made their messaging much more explicit. "Text your question to 542 542" (kgb kgb) is now the tag at the end of all the company's TV ads.
Late last week, kgb announced cancellation of its planned IPO, given the recession. According to Reuters:
The New York-based company, which reported profits of $42.4 million on revenues of $649.2 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, had planned to use the IPO proceeds in part to pay off debts, according to a regulatory filing.
The company said in a filing that it answered more than one billion requests for information in 2007 on the phone, by text message and on the Internet, and created the directory assistance services known as "The Number 118 118" in the United Kingdom and "118 218" in France.
ChaCha and kgb's services sit between directory assistance and search. You can ask any question, but there are humans behind the scenes to "disambiguate" and respond to queries. ChaCha has created a distributed network of agents who respond to queries; and recently kgb, which has historically used professional DA agents, acquired the UK-based texperts, which uses non-professionals to respond to user questions.
There are a wide range of companies directly and indirectly competing with one another in the mobile search/DA segment. Most of the ad-supported/free DA providers are unknown to or little used by consumers, even call-volume leader 1-800-Free-411. Search engine use on smartphones is growing. But the majority (87%) of mobile handsets in the US are not smartphones.
It is this majority segment of the market that ChaCha and kgb can address better than their competitors because of the DA-search hybrid model. For the moment, ChaCha is relying almost exclusively on advertising for revenue, while kgb is experimenting with advertising at this point but isn't dependent upon it for survival.
ChaCha may need to consider a user-pays model if the economy remains where it is for awhile.
PaidContent reports on Clear Channel's multi-platform success:
The iheartradio iPhone app offers 150 radio stations, which are broken down into different categories . . . In first 20 weeks, the iPhone app has been downloaded more than 1 million times for an average of 50,000 downloads a week, and usage is growing by 13 percent per week. It continues to be in the top 100 free apps list and is the No. 4 free music app . . . The Clear Channel Radio attracts 20 million unique visitors a month online, and the iPhone mobile app attracts 146,000 unique listeners a week.
This is striking and reflective of the way that all radio has to go. We're in a mutli-platform world and those stations/networks that fail to act accordingly will simply fail or watch ad revenues vanish. With online and mobile, radio can claim additional reach as suggested above (although with non-local listeners ads are slightly problematic).
Speaking of which, the Clear Channel stations broadcast ads just as they would on the radio extending the reach of the stations to mobile listeners. (I listen to audio-ad-free Pandora on my iPod Touch.)
Clear Channel also offers interactive ads in mobile as well. This is definitely a model for others to emulate.
Mobile analytics and billing infrastructure provider Bango Wireless put out data this morning that showed, across its universe of measured sites, that the US now drives about 29% of mobile browsing on a global basis.
Here's the traffic breakdown by country according to Bango:
Interestingly, Bango also "surveyed the Top 20 most trafficked PC websites and found that at least 50% weren't optimized for mobile." The company also said that on average roughly "5% of visitors to PC websites now come from mobile devices, up from 1% a year ago." More broadly, Bango’s research shows that between 3%-10% of traffic to a PC website now comes from mobile devices.
This is a self-evident argument for taking mobile seriously and devoting resources to providing a good mobile user experience.
Google has rebranded and expanded its GrandCentral service as Google Voice. This is a dramatic announcement and, depending on the voice quality and reliability of the services, a potentially very big deal (think "next-gen telco").
We'll have a good deal more to say later. For now, here the services that Google Voice includes:
Google Voice is getting very positive reviews from those who've used it, including the NY Times' David Pogue.
Related: Comcast now says it's the third largest residential provider of phone services in the US:
Comcast Digital Voice now serves 6.47 million customers, which exceeds Qwest’s reported residential subscriber base. The popularity of Comcast’s innovative offerings with consumers has enabled Comcast to add residential subscribers in each of the last twelve quarters.
The complaint filed earlier this year by privacy advocates with the US Federal Trade Commission takes aim at ad targeting capabilities in mobile. Precisely those rich targeting capabilities that the mobile device brings to advertisers are decried by critics who object and would like to blunt data collection and tracking on the mobile Internet.
That broadside against mobile marketing is an extension of a similar complaint filed against behavioral targeting practices online. The FTC declined to regulate BT online for now but says it's keeping a watchful eye open.
An article in today's NY Times summarizes the battle lines between privacy advocates and mobile marketers who want to be able to tap the various layers and flavors of mobile targeting: demo, location, dayparting, etc. The central issue is awareness and consent from users: how explicit is it? While the MMA advocates "best practices" around opt-in and consent, these policies have not mollified mobile marketing critics.
I wrote before, in the context of a discussion about Smaato, about how express consent and explicit opt-in practices may help resolve the issue (and even benefit mobile marketing):
The MMA has promulgated best practices around opt-in for mobile marketers. But there's a difference between pure mechanics and what I believe [Smaato co-founder and CEO Ragnar] Kruse is arguing for -- a philosophical orientation to mobile marketing.
Opt-in makes mobile marketing more like search, where people indicate preferences and intentions through keyword queries. There are questions of mechanics and user experience -- how would all this be presented? -- but theoretically I would indicate my interest in seeing selected categories of ads and offers (much like opting in to email newsletters). I might also be inclined to share additional information about myself to maximize the relevance of those ads.
What it's really about is creating a more personalized culture of mobile advertising than what currently exists online, despite behavioral targeting. That might not be able to develop if the current online ad culture quickly and entirely transfers over to mobile.
Google today introduced a beta program that implements behavioral targeting. What's interesting about the program for purposes of this post is that it allows users to state category and subject preferences that will impact the ads they later see. (They're calling it not "behavioral targeting" but the more consumer and regulator-friendly "interest-based advertising.") This preferences dimension of the program goes beyond pure consent to an affirmative statement of interests by users. (Getting them to do this as a practical matter might be challenging.)
Yet there's something potentially very important for mobile marketing in this experiment.
Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney recently summarized in a research note some of Nielsen's data around consumer attitudes and resistance toward mobile advertising:
We believe there are roadblocks to the adoption of Mobile Advertising, including user skepticism, and privacy concerns. In the U.S. 68% of mobile data users are opposed to mobile Internet ads, even if those ads subsidize a portion of their mobile bills. Only 8% feel mobile ads are trustworthy, and 87% are not open to mobile ads even if those ads are relevant to their interests. However, in Europe, users are more open to mobile ads – In France, Italy and Spain, 41%, 52% and 54% would be receptive to mobile ads if they lowered their bills.
We've written at length before about consumer acceptance of mobile marketing, which is growing and exists more at the high-end of the market -- the more engaged and sophisticated mobile users are the more interested they are in advertising on their mobile devices.
The statement that a majority of consumers simply object to mobile ads is too broad. Yes there is considerable resistance; however it also depends on the context and presentation of the ads. For example when we framed a question in a way that conveyed both a sense of the benefits and user control, responses were generally favorable:
Source: Opus Research (2008), n=789
There is a potential resolution of privacy and targeting objectives that involves user education, consent and/or affirmative requests for ad categories and types (e.g., coupons). The Google example will be one to watch accordingly.
Last week Big in Japan, creator of the barcode scanning Android app ShopSavvy, announced that it had integrated the Skyhook location awareness suite of tools. The G1 has built-in GPS but the Skyhook tools will be used to augment that and better provide location-related data that facilitates delivery of nearby store inventory information.
ShopSavvy crawls for data and works with Krillion to provide local product inventory.
Other mobile providers of local inventory data include NearbyNow and TheFind (which gets data from NearbyNow). In-store price comparisons and local inventory lookups are going to be increasingly popular as smartphones continue to grow share.
However ShopSavvy in the US is currently unique; there is no comparable barcode scanning app today for the iPhone, WinMo, Symbian or BlackBerry. Yet we can expect to see much more use of the camera as a search tool across smartphones in the future -- with barcodes, QR codes, etc. And many of those codes will likely be embedded in traditional media: magazines, newspapers, outdoor.
From a usability standpoint this "camera search" capability is roughly akin to voice interfaces in a way, expediting the retrieval and return of information.
When we did our mobile social networking research early last year, we found that the dominant brands online were also dominant in mobile -- despite the relatively small audience. We surmized and have repeated since then that mobile-only networks would be severly tested by bigger and better known PC-based brands as mobile social networking becomes more mainstream.
Data from Nielsen from Q4 2008 confirm the pattern:
The most popular social networks via PCs/laptops tend to be the most popular via mobile too. Facebook is the most popular in five of the six countries where Nielsen measures mobile activity – only Xing in Germany bucks this trend. Mobile applications for handsets such as Apple’s iPhone are playing a substantial role in the expanded mobile use of these networks. Soon after the launch of the 3G iPhone, Facebook, with one of the most popular iPhone applications available, surpassed MySpace in mobile usage in the U.S. visited a social network through their mobile phone in Q4 08
The headline from this broad social-networking survey is that social network activity (broadly defined) now has greater reach than e-mail by two percentage points. That's quite significant -- as is the fact that there's still considerable indifference to ads on these sites among the core "Gen Y" audience -- but the mobile angle here is what we're obviously focused on.
The following shows the number of mobile Internet users who visited a social network on their phones:
The data above don't show market share but it's the established brands that are leading: Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc. In fact, as mentioned in the report excerpt above, Facebook's iPhone app and its aggressiveness in mobile generally have drive additional momentum and growth vs. MySpace.
This broad, general pattern where the leading brands online take the lead in mobile is mirrored in the search market, where Google leads Yahoo!, which leads Microsoft by roughly the same percentages as online.
Mitigating variables can be a better or poorer user experience in mobile (re the online brand) or an exceptional mobile competitor.
Call it the battle of the incumbents vs. the insurgents. In the one corner is the iPhone and Android, in the other is Nokia's Symbian and Windows Mobile. Both of the latter have been in the market for years, while the iPhone and Android are newcomers.
The press likes to pit Google and Apple against one another because it's fun to write about that "battle" with all its implications: Google gains from the iPhone yet competes against it; Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the Apple board and must recuse himself from iPhone conversations, and so on.
Most recently Informa Telecoms came out with a deliberately attention-getting forecast that by 2012 Android would outsell the iPhone. That could turn out to be true, especially if multiple OEMs globally produce desirable handsets and sell them through multiple carriers. So far however Android has sold well but it has, to use a baseball metaphor, hit a triple rather than a home run.
I think the Google vs. Apple discussion misses the larger context and the fact that Symbian and Windows Windows mobile stand to potentially lose more than the iPhone as smartphones take a larger share of the mobile handset market. Symbian has already seen its market share suffer via the increased competition, though Nokia continues to dominate handset sales globally.
The CEO of Deutsche Telekom's large businesses division was reportedly critical of Windows Mobile at this year's CeBIT event in Germany while he praised Android, calling it "future mobile phone operating system standard."
Windows Mobile 6.5 recently was introduced, however it won't be available on handsets until late 2009 apparently. Windows Mobile 7, a more significant and potentially user-friendly improvement is coming in 2010. In the interim Windows Mobile may continue to see critical statements such as the above and general consumer-market indifference to its platform in contrast to the buzz around the iPhone and Android.
It's thus my contention that Android doesn't hurt the iPhone (though it may slow its growth) as much as it potentially competes with Windows Mobile and Symbian. We'll see in 12 to 18 months whether I'm correct in that thesis.
TechCrunch posts the transcript of a Charlie Rose interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In it, among other things, Schmidt talks about rumors regarding Google's potential interest in acquring Twitter and about mobile TV.
Here's what Schmidt said about Twitter:
You also bought YouTube. You have Google news. We’re in a time now, and we’re going to talk a lot about the economy in this conversation because of the roles you have. Acquisitions come up. People are excited these days, the lost several months about Twitter. Does Google want to buy Twitter.
I shouldn’t talk about specific acquisitions. We’re unlikely to buy anything in the short term partly because I think prices are still high. And it’s unfortunate I think we’re in the middle of a cycle. Google is generating a lot of cash. And so we keep that cash in extremely secure banks.
Schmidt is also quite bullish on the outlook for "mobile TV":
Eric Schmidt: Well, in our case we’re building the platform that will allow the content people to do more targeted content. So you can imagine the mobile device will say, well, Eric, you watched this episode of this television show, we’ll offer you this other one. Or didn’t you forget that you already watched that episode of Charlie Rose? You should watch this other one because it’s related to the one you liked. This personal viewing experience is a fundamental thing that the Internet can do, and companies like Google can do.
People are watching more and more mobile video; whether the concept of "personalized TV" comes to fruition on mobile devices is another matter.
When Schmidt talks about the future it's typically conceptual. He won't talk about Google's intended actions or products. He speaks generally about whether Google is seeing certain kinds of activity, etc.
He's of course right when he speaks about the potential of mobile devices to offer customized or personalized content and programming. The context of the TV-related quote above is a discussion of the Kindle, which is itself a fascinating device and points the way to an Internet tablet distinct from current mobile smartphones.
Schmidt's remarks about Twitter suggest that the company has considered the acquisition carefully and is evaluating how much it would take to successfully acquire it. It may not be placing as much of a value on Twitter as its investors are. Google bought two Twitter-like services (Jaiku, Zingku) and failed to develop them successfully.
Twitter is now a bona fide cultural phenomenon, however, and Google could quickly monetize its "searches" and page views. It would also preempt something that may be emerging (in the mobile context) as a partial threat to search. So we shouldn't see Schmidt's statement above as anything necessarily definitive about Google's intentions regarding Twitter.
Related: Analytis company Ominuture is offering monitoring of "brand activity" on Twitter. I suspect it charts mentions of brands and products on Twitter and shows up or down trends.
Rumor has it that Yahoo! is in talks with Vodafone UK to replace Google as the default search provider in that market. In the US, Microsoft won that derby for Verizon's business at apparently great cost. Verizon Wireless is a JV of Vondafone and Verizon.
Search providers that are "behind" must win these deals to habituate users to their experience, look and feel, etc.
Yahoo! has the strongest mobile content brand, but Google is the mobile search leader. Indeed, Google has such brand strength and association with search that losing all these default deals might not significantly affect usage. Still Google will probably strive to retain and renew the Vodafone relationship.
Separately, a week ago Yahoo!, released search tool Inquistor for the iPhone:
While Inquisitor is graphically nice to look at and generally helpful it's not a revelation. There are thus two responses to the launch in my mind:
There's no question that BlackBerry's new apps store, "Built for BlackBerry" is critical to the longer term success of the platform. However, right now it's critical for defensive reasons mostly.
The store has launched with roughly 75 apps, about 5-7 of which (by my count) are local or about place. The apps are organized into the following categories:
The arrival of the apps store should be a boost to several of the apps providers, including Poynt, one of the few local search apps currently. Yelp competitor and mobile social site Whrrl is also there. Interestingly Poynt is under Travel & Mapping, while Whrrl is classified under lifestyle. Apparently business listings are for travel but recommendations and friend finding are for "fun."
It's quite unlikely that BlackBerry will win many new users with its apps. Rather it will help retain users and may slightly broaden its consumer appeal.
From everything that I've seen and from individuals whom I spoken with, the Storm is largely a bust while the Bold is a big hit. The Storm was in some respects an attempt to "answer" the iPhone and appeal to sophisticated users who are not in the BlackBerry camp. But for BlackBerry to truly gain consumer adoption it will need to build other new devices that move beyond its familiar enterprise comfort zone.
Related: The iPhone apps store has apparently now crossed the 25K apps threshold.
The placeholder for the Windows Mobile apps store is here.
Correction: I stand corrected. I'm not a BlackBerry user so I was unaware of the site above, which I'm told has existed for some time. I'm told the true BlackBerry apps store has not in fact launched yet.
It's been widely reported now that Google CEO Eric Schmidt characterized Twitter -- now frequently discussed as a "threat to Google" -- as a "poor man's email" system. He made those remarks apparently during the recent Morgan Stanley technology conference. Juicy as that sound bite is, as supposed psychological evidence of the legitimacy of the threat, Schmidt's comments are unfairly being taken out of context.
Silicion Alley Insider (now Business Insider) has more context for Schmidt's remarks:
"In other words, they have aspects of an email system, but they don't have a full offering. To me, the question about companies like Twitter is: Do they fundamentally evolve as sort of a note phenomenon, or do they fundamentally evolve to have storage, revocation, identity, and all the other aspects that traditional email systems have? Or do email systems themselves broaden what they do to take on some of that characteristic?
Google initially didn't "get" the rise of social networking, reportedly passing on MySpace for $280 million before News Corp. spent twice that much. Maybe Schmidt is speaking (and thinking) about Twitter too technically and isn't focused on Twitter's value to people: it's immediacy.
Another juicy Schmidt quote, from our point of view, coming out of that same Morgan Stanley speech is the prediction that mobile search volumes will eclipse PC-based search in years, "not decades." Indeed, we agree.
Our research has reflected growing search volumes and levels of engagement that are far in excess of the 9-10 average mobile searches per month figure that's been attributed to the MMA and that Nielsen reported six or so months ago.
In developing countries that day will come much sooner. In the US, UK and other parts of Europe it may take 7-10 years but it is inevitable.
Arguably the biggest tech news today involves the fact that Amazon has released a free iPhone app that effectively turns the device into a Kindle (without the hardware purchase). It's optimally designed to be used with an existing Kindle device (the iPhone app syncs with an actual Kindle if you have one) but doesn't have to be. Depending on your point of view this will either erode future Kindle sales or represents a kind of genius landgrab at the right time in the burgeoning eBook market.
The Kindle 2.0 costs about $350. It's a big improvement (in almost every respect) over the first version of the device and probably will be quite popular. Yet it's also a frivolous purchase for most at a time of recession. By creating a free iPhone app, Kindle has increased its potential market by millions of users.
I would argue that the move is a smart one for Amazon to broaden its market and head off competition from alternative eBook readers on the iPhone. It may also be able to sell hardware Kindles if people are exposed to the experience and then decide the want the "real thing."
It's a kind of classic "will we cannibalize sales" dilemma. According to comments in the WSJ this morning, Amazon apparently doesn't think it will hurt device sales (I agree):
[Amazon VP Ian] Freed said he is "not at all concerned" that making e-books available on other devices will cannibalize sales of the $359 Kindle. Instead, it will increase sales of digital books and the Kindle, he says. Amazon says it plans to release applications to read Kindle books on other devices, but declined to specify which ones.
Mr. Freed says he expects that users of the iPhone application would read their books for 20 to 30 minutes at most, after which eye strain or battery life might become a problem.
Here's Amazon's release.
TheFind, which offers an iPhone app with local inventory data, has just started integrating third party coupons directly into search results. According to the press release that went out earlier today:
On each search results page, consumers can immediately see all matching products, including ones that have coupons and discounts offered by stores. Shoppers can filter their search results to only show products on sale, or with special offers, such as free shipping or percentage discounts.
Here's an example search result and an example of how the coupons are integrated at the product level:
When users roll over products they will see a window:
I haven't yet spoken to the company but I assume that this will ultimately come to the mobile offering as well.