The old ones are the best

So much for innovation. The most downloaded mobile game is Tetris, the 80s console classic. In spite of being over 25 years old, new versions of the game are still as popular on iphones as other older handsets.

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Android will (nearly) take over mobile in three years

A report by market research firm points to Google’s Android taking second slot behind Symbian (used widely by Nokia). Whilst Symbian currently holds the top OS slot, second place is RIM’s Blackberry followed by the iphone. I have blogged about the potential of Android previously and with the release of the Droid and Nexus One phones, there are some serious handset contenders. When combined with Google’s more open source approach to the OS and app stores will drive them into second place within just three years.

Will the Apple ipad change everything?

The ‘change everything’ phrase comes from the iphone adverts. To some extent (but not entirely), Apple were right about the phone. The app store, the touch screen and the functionality brought about some fundamental changes in the way that we use our smartphones. So will the ipad have the same kind of effect in the tablet market? The short answer is no. The ipad will not significantly change the game.
For a start, where does the ipad sit in the market? Is it a mobile phone? Is it a lap top? Or a games console? Or media player? Whilst it is all of these, it is also none of these. Even with it’s superb screen and interface, there are other devices that do all those things much better. Why would I get an over-sized phone when I can get an iphone that fits in my pocket? Why would I replace my laptop with an ipad or is it an additional device (and do I really want to carry another device)?
Having read numerous blogs from app developers, techies and industry thinkers, on the whole no one is that excited about the ipad. The main thing going for it seems to be the price (and how often can we say that about an Apple product?). The cheapest models undercut the iphone price-wise and Apple’s own lap tops. Throw in an operator subsidy for the 3G models and you will be able to pick them up for next to nothing. Apple have proved people wrong on many occasions, but neither have they always been right. I think the ipad clearly has appeal, but to a limit audience. It certainly won’t be replacing our iphones or laptops any time soon.
This photo sums up alot of industry feeling about the ipad:

Peaked too soon? Have the iphone’s sales flattened off?

Reports of Apple’s iphone sales for the last two quarters of 2009 show (relatively) slow sales and no increase in market share.
The third quarter saw 7.4m iphones sold and the Xmas period was a poor 8.7m. Blame it on the recession? To some extent yes, but if you compare it to the market leaders, Nokia and Blackberry, Apple’s 17% share of the smartphone market remained the as the previous quarters. In fact Nokia had a good end of year with handset sales bouncing back.
The market will only get tougher for Apple with other manufacturers from Motorola to Google releasing some quality, Android-based smartphones. The next upgrade for the iphone will be in June 2010, so there will likely to be a slow down in sales until at least that point. In the meantime, RIM will continue to grow their market share, not least due to growing interest by the teen phone market.
In the UK, a YouGov study found the iphone to be one of the most-loved coolest gadgets around. Why, when there is such popularity for Apple’s phone, will their market share decrease? In part, it’s one of cost. Whichever way you look at it iphones are pricey. However, the phone only appeals to quite a specific demographic. Generally 20-50 year old creative and media types. So lots of journalists, lots of journalists who will write about how great it is!
Given the success of the iphone, and the billions that Apple earns from apps, I’m sure the company is not very worried. They claimed at their ipad press conference that they were bigger than Nokia. Bigger profits-wise. However Apple have never aimed at monopolising the market. Whilst every other phone manufacturer has developed all flavours of phone – touch screen, keypad, media players etc – Apple has a one size fits all approach. And if you don’t like it, then buy someone elses. That’s not to say that the company doesn’t listen to its customers or the market, far from it. They are currently searching for a better mobile phone browser for example. However, those needs aside, the latest sales figures could be an indication that their phone sales have peaked.

I said at the end of 2008 that the iphone was niche. I still stand by that and I am of the firm view that Apple’s 17% share of the smartphone market is their peak. The iphone will remain much loved but only account for around 15% of the smartphhone market at best.

Apple ipad: a new medium for marketing?

I pose the question because a number have people have mentioned that notepads could represent a new medium for marketing and advertising. Certainly with Apple’s entry into the market with the ipad, they may be creating a significant new channel.
Apple have managed it to create something of a new marketing channel with the iphone and more specifically with apps. Even though the iphone represents a tiny fraction of the total mobile users (and less than 2% of the UK market), brands have been rushing to get their apps into the appstore. Market penetration aside, the iphone has caught the imagination of marketers who are providing everything from games to utilities on behalf of brands.
So what of the ipad? Well it’s not a mobile phone. And it’s not a laptop either. It sits somewhere in the middle of everything. It is more like a personal DVD player and hand-held games console type of machine, than it is a mobile phone.
Will it create a new marketing medium? It’s too early to say for sure, but I’m going to stick my neck out and so no. There are a few reasons for that: firstly, I don’t see it having the same market penetration as an iphone or an ipod. There are 50+ million iphones and nearly 200 million ipods out there. I cannot see how the ipad fills enough of a need to match those figures. Although if anyone can create a new mass market, then Apple can.
Secondly, the nature of the consumer engagement is different to a mobile phone. Mobiles are something we carry with us all the time. We call our loved ones on it, and we personalise them with backgrounds and ringtones. Clearly the ipad will not sit in the same space. I can imagine carrying an ipod when I’m on a journey, but for day-to-day use, I doubt it. And I’ll be carry a phone as well. The ipad is not a replacement for the mobile handset. Apart from anything else it won’t be available in 3G form straight away. Therefore the impact as a marketing medium is unlikely to be as significant as a mobile phone.
Ultimately the impact and effectiveness of any marketing will be down to our particular relationship with the technology. In itself the ipad brings nothing really new – it runs the same apps as the iphone with a few bits on top. Whereas the iphone was revolutionary in respect of its approach to apps, the ipad simply runs with that existing channel.
Ultimately it’s a case of waiting to see what happens with Apples new tablet. So, watch this space!

The future of mobile advertising?

Following on from O2 More, a direct marketing channel, Orange have launched their own call Orange Shots. The idea is pretty simple – they take opt-in subscribers and send them up to three messages a week on sectors that they are specifically interested. The idea of targetted mobile advertising is not new, and Orange, having acquired Blyk, have adpoted their approach in the new channel.
However, I see two major problems with this:
Firstly, the consumer. Orange are offering free premium content to those who sign up for the program. But how much will mobile users value this in return for marketing messages. Blyk reported that their users found the marketing messages generally useful. However, the offer and relationship at Blyk was somewhat different to Orange. The former company focussed on an under 26 demographic. And for that they offered free calls, SMS and even data. That is a much more compelling offering than free premium content when you’re already paying a network subscription.
The second problem are the operators themselves. Of course each operator can only access their customers. If the T-Mobile deal gets through Europe then they will have the largest customer base of any network. But it will still not be a majority of UK mobile customers. Of those, only a small portion will sign up. More significantly is the perception of mobile operators as advertising providers both from the point of view of the consumer and that of the brands wanting to sell their wares. In short, most people see mobile operators as delivering phone calls, SMS and some data. The example of the operator mobile web portals shows this. As soon as users have a chance to avoid the portal (for example through the iphone), they will go elsewhere. From a brand’s perspective, who would you go to for marketing? Your an existing online provider (Google), your ad agency or a mobile operator? With Google’s acquisition of AdMob, the search provider looks to be a good option for brands. Google have experience in delivering results in this kind of area. Agencies understand the whole brand and marketing mix. I suspect that operators are way down the list of choices.
The mobile operators need to find new sources of revenues. Phone ownership is at saturation point and most people have the subscripition or tariff they are happy with. So, there are no new customers and no one is likely to spend any more on their phone calls etc. It means that the operators are stuck if they want to increase revenues. That is why they are looking at direct marketing and platforms such as Orange Shots.
It’s true that Orange have done a good job of the offering. They are encouraging brands to create a dialogue with their customers and feeding back good, solid reponse data. Ultimately though, how much direct advertising are mobile users prepared to accept? I suspect it won’t be that much.