According to a new survey of 8,585 US adults, released by the National Retail Federation, consumers plan bring the full authority of their mobile and tablet devices to bear on the challenge and opportunity of holiday shopping. More than anything else the survey data reflect the degree to which people have come to rely on these relatively new tools for shopping.
Smartphones -- Almost 53% of smartphone owner-respondents said they will use their phones in holiday shopping in some form:
Tablets -- Just over 70% of tablet owners said they will use their "pads" for shopping and buying:
There are now a range of companies working on connecting online activity and ads with action at the POS using mobile devices. NFC-enabled mobile payments is just one of many initiatives going on. For example, Shopkick just announced a deal with Giant Eagle supermarkets that connects the mobile app with Giant Eagle loyalty accounts:
Shopkick's first partnership with a supermarket, and more importantly, co-founder and chief marketing officer Jeff Sellinger said that it allows the startup to "close the loop." Now, by tying user accounts to Giant Eagle loyalty cards, Shopkick will have data on what users actually purchase. That means brands can offer rewards not just for scanning products, but for buying them too.
Google Wallet just expanded its features, as well as the roster of participating stores and merchants. Now with a "single tap" Google Wallet users can pay, redeem coupons and get loyalty points. Currently Google doesn't see the transaction value or other details in the way that Shopkick and Giant Eagle will through their arrangement. But eventually Google will probably get access to more data and make that available to marketers.
Deal vendor Bloomspot has a system that uses registered credit cards to close the loop with daily deal buyers and determine whether they spent more than the face value of the deal in restaurants and stores. Placecast is working on something that matches offers and in-store transactions through credit card accounts. LSN Mobile has a relationship with First Data.
There are several other such examples I could use to illustrate what is a growing and very important trend.
Mobile devices will allow marketers to see who showed up in stores and, in the very near future, what they bought and how much they spent. There are some significant privacy issues and implications of all this and I don't want to dismiss or minimize them. However the effort to track the influence of ads and offers from online (or traditional media) to the point of sale is a trend that is starting to gain momentum.
We're not that far away from a time when agencies and marketers will have considerably more visibility into what online ads drove what in-store purchases, as well as user profiles based on purchase behavior and response to ads. This data has been collected for years in the offline world but now, through mobile devices, online marketers are going to get some new visibility on the dominant online-offline shopping paradigm.
Remember that e-commerce is only about 5% to total US retail but the Internet influences billions of dollars in offline transactions. Accordingly the growing visibility that marketers will have in just a few years about who responded to ads and what they spent will have a profound impact on the future sophistication and tactics of "online marketing."
The race is on to build critical mass around a "recommendation engine" for local search on mobile devices. A range of mobile apps such as Bizzy (owned by ReachLocal), Where (owned by eBay), Alfred (a new app from Clever Sense) and Foursquare, among others, are trying to create viable and fun alternatives to plain-vanilla mobile search. These apps leverage location, social data, favorites and past behavior to offer a broader and potentially more compelling experience than pure "local search."
Along those lines, Foursquare introduced a new notifications feature called "radar" yesterday. It builds upon Foursquare's previously introduced lists capability and it lets users know when they're nearby a business, place or activity on one of their lists.
Here's what Foursquare said yesterday about Radar on its blog:
Now, if you follow a list, like the 101 Best Dishes of 2011, foursquare will let you know when you’re next to one. Or you save that yoga studio to your To-Do List (because you really want to try it); we can remind you when you’re close. Or, better yet, if you’re driving home and three of your friends are getting together nearby, we’ll tell you so you can meet up. The app doesn’t even have to be open, it just works. We call it foursquare Radar, because it finds things nearby that you normally wouldn’t know about.
Radar is an opt-in feature that will send a nearby notification regardless of whether the app is open. ReachLocal's Bizzy has a similar capability with its "try lists," letting users know when they're near a place they previously selected as a "try." By contrast, Where and Alfred take a less "human" and more algorithmic approach to local discovery.
Where.com created what it called a "place graph" to match physical places according to selected criteria, which then form the basis of later recommendations to users. Clever Sense's app Alfred essentially does the same thing. Its technology assigns or "maps" physical places to one another based on styles, characteristics and attributes in the same way that Pandora does for music.
All of these apps are broadly trying to accomplish the same type of thing: enabling users to discover places without having to search for them -- or remember them. These discovery apps won't entirely replace search however. And multiple categories of local apps will probably co-exist over time: search, review apps (e.g., Yelp) and apps falling into this other category (discovery).
Foursquare has evolved from a relatively narrow app built around game mechanics to a much more helpful tool that has many more use cases for consumers and increasingly for marketers. Indeed, with its 10 million-plus users, Foursquare increasingly is in the strongest position of the apps mentioned to fulfill the emerging role of local-mobile discovery platform.
I'm not a big fan of the Swype keyboard but many people are. Yesterday Nuance agreed to acquire Swype for $102 million, $77 million of which is up front. The rest will apparently be paid 18 months later:
The aggregate consideration payable to the former shareholders of Swype consists of $102,500,000, of which $77,500,000 was paid at the closing and the remaining $25,000,000 (the “Contingent Consideration”) is payable on the eighteen month anniversary of the closing.
Numerous people have now reported on the deal but almost no one has penetrated the rationale except to say, in effect, "Swype is popular." (Read my colleague Dan Miller's interesting and somewhat different take on the acquisition.)
When I first read about the deal on Mike Arrington's new blog Uncrunched I was puzzled. Why would Nuance be spending $102 million for technology it already owns. The Nuance Flex T9 Android keyboard does speech and Swype-like tracing, among other things. It's the most complete Android replacement keyboard in the market.
In fact Nuance often favorably compared itself to Swype, saying that it effectively out-swyped Swype itself. As mentioned Flex T9 does more than Swype; it's more flexible (hence the "flex" part). So why would Nuance buy Swype? There are a few potential reasons:
Stil it doesn't entirely add up for me. I'll be curious to get Nuance's perspective and see where they're going to try and take their keyboard business.
Flex T9 costs users $4.99; so maybe there's a revenue aspiration in the acquisition as well (bolster the offering). It's not clear whether that $4.99 pricing will be extended to the otherwise free Swype or whether Nuance will will rebrand the Flex T9 as Swype and make it all free.
You can see Flex T9's Swype-like capabilities in the video below.
There was perhaps a decade of an embryonic mobile Internet access before the iPhone appeared in 2007. But it took the Apple device to mainstream and give birth to what we know today as the mobile Internet. It can be said with some confidence that no other individual is more directly responsible for the mobile industry as it looks today, including mobile advertising, than Steve Jobs.
Apple announced that he died this evening and issued to the following statement:
The iPhone launch is over: it was a 4S and not 5. An iPhone 5 is lurking but won't be released for an uncertain period of time. You can read coverage of the Apple event until you're blue in the face here. Post-game analysis starts now.
Basically the device is a much upgraded version of iPhone 4: it's faster, has a better camera and works on CDMA or GSM networks. In other words you can take it anywhere and it will work. It doesn't have a larger screen and won't work on 4G networks. Those things are probably being reserved for the iPhone 5.
Most intriguing today was the announcement of the Siri voice assistant. It's Siri, which was bought by Apple in April of last year, but more polished and integrated into the operating system. My colleague Dan Miller will have more to say about it, but it will perform a broad array of functions, including search and local search.
This will be the most prominent use of speech on a mobile device. The speech front end is powered by Nuance. The Siri part is the intelligence inside that knows how to answer or route a query or what app to invoke. It has a "beta" label attached, however. Apple apparently doesn't feel totally confident about how it will work, although it has got to be very polished at this point.
At 1pm Eastern time we'll know how many of the iPhone 5 rumors are true. We'll learn whether Sprint has "bet the company" on the new iPhone and whether it's getting some form of exclusivity. (Extended exclusivity would be foolish for Apple.)
We'll know whether there are two devices or one and whether one of those is a different (larger) form factor than the iPhone 4. A larger screen is very much in demand, especially with Android devices now routinely exceeding 4 inches.
We'll also hear more about the anticipated "Assistant," built on the earlier Siri acquisition. Some people have called it a "game changer" but that very much remains to be seen. Siri itself was novel and sometimes useful but not a "game changer."
We'll also discover whether the new iPhone (or iPhones plural) run on both CDMA and GSM networks. The new device(s) won't be 4G enabled, however, according to the WSJ. This is certainly a disappointment to many.
Surveys have shown "unprecedented pent-up demand" for the next iPhone, leading some financial analysts to anticipate or predict that sales records to be "shattered." It will all be contingent on what Apple actually delivers.
Although many others don't agree, I believe that the iPhone(s) being introduced today is/are critical for Apple, which now has a less-than-annual refresh cycle. If there's only a "4S" device or one that doesn't reflect obvious improvements it will fail to generate sales that live up to the outrageous expectations that have grown up around the launch.
Android is now dominant in terms of sales and market share, though Net Applications data reflect that iOS dominates all other mobile operating systems combined in terms of Internet access.
Regardless Apple's early multi-year commitment to AT&T exclusivity in the US was a strategic mistake, allowing Android OEMs to establish momentum with "good enough" copies of the iPhone. However now, larger Android screens, 4G capabilities and other features make Android handsets preferable for many people. And for this reason and others, a Sprint-exclusive iPhone 5 won't cause many (or any) to change carriers.
Android phones are now strong enough that Apple's brand strength is not enough if the next iPhone doesn't "wow." The pressure is on the company and new CEO Tim Cook. There are only a couple more hours to wait.
Intel announced that it was buying mapping, navigation and LBS content provider Telmap. Telmap provides mapping and local search content to Orange, Vodafone, Vodacom, Telefonica-O2 among others. The company is very much like TeleNav in the US or deCarta.
Here's Intel's statement about the acquisition:
This move is a step towards expanding our mobile software services capabilities as Intel continues to grow in the area of software and services. We are all very excited to have such knowledgeable and respected experts join the company.
From a consumer perspective, Telmap helps bring to life our vision for integrated, uniform experiences across consumer devices. Telmap has a tremendous amount of expertise around end-to-end mobile local search, mapping and navigation services . . . with Telmap we can directly provide developers with location-based services spanning devices, operating systems and CPU architectures . . .
Through APIs Intel wants to provide tools and content to developers to build location-based apps:
Telmap will allow us to provide AppUp developers with great, differentiated location capabilities in the form of a standard set of location-based APIs and software that developers can easily integrate into their AppUp apps.
These apps will ultimately be sold through the Intel AppUp store -- which currently has almost no consumer visibility and will struggle to compete with larger and more prominent apps distributors such as iTunes, Android Market and Amazon.
The stakes are incredibly high for next week's unveiling of the iPhone -- higher than most people realize. With Android now firmly in the sales lead and fast on its way to being the top mobile OS around the world, Apple has to get this next iPhone right or Android will leave it in the dust. If the iPhone unveiled next week is great, the device will regain some lost market share and momentum.
I'm a great test case: I want to buy an "iPhone 5" but if the device is doesn't look any different and have a larger screen I won't.
At various points in the "next-iPhone hype cycle" we've heard the following rumors about what's being introduced next week:
We won't know what's true until next week. But a new survey from ad network InMobi confirms what I said above and previously argued: the next iPhone needs to be an obvious improvement (including cosmetically) over iPhone 4.
InMobi surveyed current mobile phone owners in the US, Mexico and Canada and found that a staggering 41% overall were intending to buy an iPhone 5. But far fewer were interested in an incremental iPhone 4S:
Nearly 30% of Android users were interested in switching (I'm among them) and a remarkable 52% of RIM users. As I said, however, if the next device looks the same and is merely an incremental improvement sales will turn out to be considerably lower than what they might have been.
In addition a similar looking iPhone 4S will send Apple's stock down because of fears that the company will no longer be able to compete against Android devices, which are "refreshing" much more quickly than Apple's annual cycle. I'm hopeful on a personal level that the new iPhone is not merely a minor change but offers a larger screen and new form factor overall.
Card.io was started by a couple of former AdMob engineers and product managers to solve what they perceived to be a major problem in so-called "m-commerce," accepting plastic payments. There are a ton of companies competing in the mobile payments segment but there's nobody right now doing what Card.io is doing.
Card.io uses the smartphone camera to enable consumers to get credit card information into the phone efficiently without keying in 16 digits. Their SDK is intended for developers and publishers who want to sell things via their mobile sites. Card.io doesn't compete with Google Wallet or Square; it's not merchant-facing or consumer-facing. It solves the problem of abandonment when consumers confront the proposition of entering credit card numbers for the first time into mobile websites.
One of the major reasons why Amazon is "killing it" in mobile commerce is because the company already has your credit card on file so the friction involved in completing the transaction on a smartphone is eliminated. They also have a trusted brand and have put huge effort into optimizing for mobile.
I asked CEO Mike Mettler about potential security concerns regarding taking and transmitting pictures of credit cards via smartphones. He said they don't store credit card information and are very specific and careful about security in their messaging. He said that they anticipated this problem but so far haven't seen the concern materialize.
In my view this is a potential "game changer" for e-tailers that don't or can't have per-existing direct relationships with consumers (stored credit cards). I would expect any retailer who sells goods online to integrate this capability into their mobile sites. I would also expect that Card.io will be an acquisition target in 2012.
The company currently charges a per-scan fee to developers but will probably be moving to a percentage-based transaction model. Below is a link to a video that demonstrates the process.
PayPal, Google, Visa, Amex, Square, mobile carriers and others are competing in the rapidly developing world of mobile payments. NFC is one vision (though mass adoption is several years off if at all), while there are others such as Square and PayPal that are pushing NFC-free shopping concepts or tools.
Earlier this week PayPal laid out a very comprehensive and ambitious vision for the "future of shopping" and payments. It's a holistic concept that involves merchants, consumers and advertising; and it's built in part on recent acquisitions: Zong, Milo and Where.
PayPal wants to bring together payments on any device (call it "cloud payments") with offers (demand generation), "local search" and store inventory data. It's a strong vision and being smartly knit together through acquisitions and PayPal's existing assets. Look for them to make more acquisitions.
PayPal has the resources and most of the assets to make a pretty successful run at this vision. One of its great strengths is that it doesn't require infrastructure upgrades to work: consumers don't need new NFC-enabled devices nor do merchants need new POS terminals. So adoption could be more immediate. But there's a problem in PayPal's brand clout.
Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Google (even potentially Amazon) all have stronger brands than PayPal or eBay. And I think this is a major challenge for the company in getting merchants and consumers on board en masse. PayPal will also need to revamp and reduce its fee and commission structure to gain broader usage and adoption for all the scenarios envisioned in the video below.
In my mind, however, the brand issue (strength, trust) is a profound obstacle standing in the way of the realization of this otherwise powerful vision.
Nielsen is now measuring the penetration and reach of apps on Android and iOS handsets in the US. The idea is the measure "actual consumer behavior" (rather than survey responses) based on usage patterns of 5,000 US smartphone owners who've agreed to participate.
Other data captured will be: frequency, duration, and size of total audience. Below are some of the data released by Nielsen to promote the new service, showing reach of various apps on Android smartphones:
Between men and women there are some differences. For example, among female Android users, Facebook is the most heavily penetrated Android app after the Android Market itself.
It's all but 100% certain that the iPhone will be coming to Sprint -- and maybe T-Mobile as well -- as soon as next month. The rumor is that Sprint will offer unlimited data on the iPhone as a differentiator vs. AT&T and Verizon. The pricing would probably be $99 (plus a $10 data supplement) in all likelihood.
By offering unlimited data Sprint believes it can lure customers from AT&T and Verizon. I initially thought that was a correct assumption but at $100 per month it may not be. With more aggressive pricing it would work. But probably not at $100 a pop; there's too much "inertia" against switching.
There are also those who believe that Sprint would have to move to tiered pricing once really heavy iPhone data usage kicked in. I don't agree; Sprint has lots of Android customers (including me) whose data usage patterns are not substantially different than iPhone owners. And Sprint's network has considerably more capacity than AT&T for example.
Sprint would probably see upgrading by many of its customers, from feature phones or potential switching from Android devices. I would qualify as one in the intended latter category. I've been reasonably satisfied with my Android EVO but have had pent up demand for an iPhone for about five years. I just haven't wanted to switch carriers.
In a related bit of news, yesterday JD Power and Associates released its smartphone customer satisfaction rankings and found that the iPhone was on top for the sixth straight time:
Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 838 and performs well in all factors, particularly in ease of operation and features. HTC (801) follows Apple in the smartphone rankings.
Samsung ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction with traditional handsets with a score of 718. Samsung performs well in three factors: performance, ease of operation and features. LG (717), Sanyo (716) and Sony Ericsson (709) follow Samsung in the traditional handset rankings.
A recent AP story on "mobile shopping" carried the headline "Mobile shopping: More buzz than buy so far." It lamented the fact more consumers weren't buying through their smartphones and identified various challenges facing "m-commerce." But the notion that there's some sort of inevitable progression from where we are to billions in mobile buying is simply mistaken.
Consumers are already aggressively using mobile phones at home and in stores. (Tablets are a separate conversation.) And new data from InsightExpress about anticipated holiday shopping patterns reinforces the idea that mobile is already a critical part of the shopping experience.
The following chart shows one of the more interesting findings of the InsightExpress survey: majorities of people will go to their smartphones before store sales staff. This ought to shock retailers and convey to them that they better have optimized mobile sites and all kinds of product information and content on their sites or they'll potentially lose the sale.
The InsightExpress data also reflect barriers to mobile commerce. Overall a poor user experience, combined with security fears, blocks people from buying on their phones. These problems are unlikely to be resolved in the near term -- unless you've got a gigantic smartphone (e.g., the new Samsung Note) or a connected 7-inch tablet in the store. Regardless, overcoming the security fears will take time.
Notwithstanding these problems a high percentage of people are willing to consider making purchases over their smartphones (men more than women).
Meanwhile new data from the e-Tailing Group (sponsored by PowerReviews) also shows how people use mobile devices to shop (at home) and while in stores. The first graph below is general use (any location) of smartphones. The second one specifically reflects answers to a question about in-store smartpthone usage.
What's interesting is that the two charts above are similar but not identical, which means people are doing very specific things in stores vs. at home or work on their smartphones. Here's the top-actions list from the in-stores usage question:
Retailers must be conscious that consumers are using smartphones everywhere to get information about stores, prices and products. They need to have well-designed, mobile-optimized sites and be conscious that their best customers are going to be mobile customers as well. Failure to immediately take action to develop an optimized mobile experience for customers will, again, result in lost sales.
Nokia has bet the farm in Espoo, so to speak, on Windows Phones. It has seen steadily declining smartphone share in North America and outside the US over the past several quarters. Nokia's biggest markets are now the BRIC developing nations. The company is hoping to reverse the trend with a combination of Microsoft's OS and bold design. (The compelling looking N9 isn't coming to the US or Europe apparently.)
However it may be tough to reverse the slide. Yesterday comScore reported US smartphone market share numbers. Symbian, which is being phased out, continues to see share losses. Yet so does Microsoft despite its new OS, which many have praised.
It's not as clear what's happening in Europe, where there are indications of greater consumer uptake of Windows Phones. But so far people aren't buying them in North America and the US in particular.
Mango, the forthcoming Windows Phone software update, offers a range of new features and improvements, though arguably not enough to dramatically advance Windows Phones vs. Android and iOS. So it's quite possible that the first "Nokisoft" phones that show up later this year in Q4 will not fly off the shelves. Pricing will be a key factor, however, and looms large in the initial sales strategy.
I'm betting that the first Nokisoft phones will see modest success -- I would be very surprised if they were a blockbuster hit out of the gate -- but it's also possible that they'll fall completely flat with consumers and disappoint expectations, which are very high. (Nokia will have to carefully manage investor and market expectations.) If they under-perform expectations you'll see investors go crazy and punish both Microsoft and Nokia, but especially Nokia.
Investors will give Nokia roughly two quarters to show traction with the new handsets. If Nokia's gambit doesn't pay off the company may go on the block. All this remains to be seen of course; but the stakes couldn't be higher.
What Nokia probably should have done, but was probably precluded from doing by its contract with Microsoft, is to embrace both Android and Windows Phones as well as continue developing MeeGo with Intel. The company walked away from MeeGo, much to the surprise of Intel, though the N9 is the first and (apparently) only MeeGo phone. And it declined to work with Google for fear of becoming a "commodity producer" of Android devices.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is of course a former Microsoft employee; some people accused him of being a "Trojan Horse" for Microsoft. But he said several times that he saw a better opportunity for differentiation by working with Microsoft. But by doing so he's limited Nokia's options and outlook if Windows Phones don't entice consumers.
To use a US baseball metaphor: it's two outs, bottom of the 9th. Nokisoft needs to hit a double, if not a home run.
Not a day goes buy without at least five or 10 stories being written about the iPhone 5 based on this "leak" or that rumor. Today's hearsay and conjecture is that the new handset will have a smaller than 4-inch screen. However earlier rumors said the opposite: that it would feature a larger screen, possibly with an "edge to edge" display larger than 4 inches.
One way to reconcile these two stories/rumors is by invoking yet another Apple rumor -- that there will be not one but two phones coming out: one for the post-paid and one for the pre-paid markets. It seems unlikely that there will be two new iPhones. Regardless the "flagship" probably isn't going to have a screen smaller than 4 inches.
Earlier this year NPD group found that handsets with screens measuring 3.5 to 3.9 inches had flat sales volumes (other than the iPhone). But those handsets with screens larger than 4 inches saw significant gains in market share in Q4 2010. According to NPD, the five best-selling handsets with screens over 4 inches were the following:
The iPhone currently has a 3.5 inch screen. So I suppose it's possible to increase the screen size and still come in below 4 inches.
Regardless, of the precise dimensions of the screen, the iPhone 5 needs to be a meaningful improvement over iPhone 4. There are too many Android phones coming out all the time for iPhone 5 to be merely a modest, incremental update -- given that it's only updated once a year.
Tim Cook & company don't have the luxury of messing up this one. They need to "hit it out of the park."
As I wrote in a post at Search Engine Land, we don't know yet whether QR codes are here to stay or whether they’re an interesting experiment on the way to something else, such as NFC-based marketing. But in the near term at least they appear to be gaining and increasingly used by publishers and marketers.
Comscore has come out with some interesting new data on usage patterns. Demographically the heaviest users of QR code scanning are 18-34 year old males who make more than 100,000 per year. Most scanning is done in the home (newspapers, magazines) or in retail or grocery stores.
Several years ago I wrote a white paper about the virtues of SMS based marketing that argued SMS was a highly versatile tool that could be utilized in many ways: on traditional ads, in digital ads, on product packaging and so on. I also argued at the time that consumer response to SMS calls to action also provided compelling analytics for traditional media.
That's exactly the way that QR codes are now positioned. Accordingly they'll probably replace SMS in some contexts as a mobile marketing tool -- if QR codes survive. But QR codes don't really do CRM loyalty marketing as well as SMS.
Some financial analysts expect that Apple's iPad will dominate the tablet market through 2020. Competitor after competitor, including Motorola, HP, RIM and Samsung, has launched tablets only to see disappointing sales to date. So why then is Apple so aggressively pursuing legal remedies against tablet OEMs?
Everyone reading this is aware that Apple has obtained a preliminary injunction in Germany (and throughout most of Europe) that effectively prevents the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's also pursuing Motorola over the Xoom on the same IP/legal theories.
I believe that Samsung essentially copied the "trade dress" or "look and feel" of the iPhone with its Galaxy smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. However I also think that Apple is going too far with its attempt to bar sales of competing devices. By extension the question arises: would any tablet device that broadly resembled the iPad be vulnerable?
If so Apple would effectively be eliminating competition in this new computing category -- and that would be a very bad thing. I'm sure Apple sees it differently and would simply argue it's protecting its designs and IP.
What I believe is going on is the following: Apple feels that Android and its gaggle of OEMs have simply ripped off the iPhone and its app store and have reaped the benefits accordingly. As I just posted, Gartner estimated that Android devices gained a 43% share of the smartphone market globally in Q2 vs. 18% for iOS. The company feels badly burned by these "imitators" and probably vowed to not let that happen in the tablet market.
In addition Apple's profitability and sales are much more dependent on these mobile devices than even a year ago. However the case illustrates the problems and challenges of current patent law. There's a need to protect IP owners' rights but competitors must be able to make and sell their products. What degree of product and feature similarity should be prohibited?
I certainly understand Apple's viewpoint and the rationale behind its actions. But in seeking to ban the sales of competitive tablets Apple is simply going too far.
Much has quickly been written about the just launched Amazon HTML5 "Cloud Reader." It's a "web app" that could be used to replace the native Kindle iPad and iPhone apps. It's being widely read as a response to Apple's more restrictive App Store terms about in-app purchases/subscriptions. (Amazon has removed the button linking to the Kindle store from the most recent version of its iOS apps.)
I agree with John Gruber and others who believe this has been in the works for longer than Apple's more restrictive terms around in-app purchases. Cloud Reader does, however, completely side-step Apple and its App Store terms. The Financial Times and Walmart's Vudu also recently did something similar. More publishers and developers will follow, who don't want to give money to Apple or simply don't want to worry about Apple's rules.
An added benefit is compatibility with all mobile platforms. However developing native apps is relatively easy these days because, unless/until Windows Phones break out or BlackBerry stops its slide, only two operating systems matter: iOS and Android.
In contrast to some of the rapturous reviews I've seen Cloud Reader is not as strong as the Kindle native app. It works well and allows users to read books offline (e.g., on the iPad). But it's not as responsive or fast the native app.
Yet for certain types of sites or publications HTML5 will be fine and quite usable. However for higher functionality a native app is better, even necessary (e.g., games).
But now that several companies have "validated" the HTML5 strategy will we see the migration from apps to HTML5 that the industry has always anticipated? Not exactly. I think what we'll see is continued development of native iOS, Android (later maybe Windows Phone) apps and HTML5 from everyone else. However Apple doesn't help its cause with all its rules and restrictions.
There are two competing mobile handset stories running simultaneously in the tech press right now. The first is how Android is increasing its dominance over other operating systems including iOS. The second, which largely contradicts the first, argues that Android will potentially lose meaningful market share when the next iPhone comes out.
Below is the data that the "pro-Android" stories are built on; first Nielsen:
Google’s Android operating system (OS) now claims the largest share of the U.S. consumer smartphone market with 39 percent. Apple’s iOS is in second place with 28 percent, while RIM Blackberry is down to 20 percent.
Android, the number one platform by shipments since Q4 2010, was also the strongest growth driver this quarter, with Android-based smart phone shipments up 379% over a year ago to 51.9 million units . . .
Now the survey data on which the "pro-iPhone" stories are based:
Roughly two weeks ago ChangeWave came out with survey data that argued those planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days expressed a preference for the iPhone over Android 46% to 32%.
Then, earlier this week, Piper Jaffray released some survey data (which got way too much play for its tiny and unscientific sample) suggesting that most mobile phone owners would be buying an iPhone next. Indeed, the data argue that Android will see less than 50% retention:
No doubt many people are interested in the next iPhone but attitudes and survey responses don't always translate into concrete behavior. For the overheated claims to come true ("iPhone 5 could double iOS market share") Apple will need to unveil a true blockbuster.