Free Porn for the ipad

Whilst Steve Jobs and Apple are looking to have an apps market free from porn (and quite understandable), it looks like some companies have identified there is an adult niche when it comes to the ipad. YourPorn and launched a free ipad optimised site with video content. Given that it’s delivered over the web, there’s not a lot Mr Jobs can do about it.
As with other technologies could it be that porn will drive sales of the ipad. It has a lot going for it. Being small and highly portable the ipad can easily be used in privacy, but at the same time it offers a high resolution screen for the best user experience. I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about it coming with a wipe clean screen.
So, like it or not, ‘adult content’ is often the driver of new technology adoption, and it may well take the same role with the ipad.

Google Latitude API

First there was FourSquare, then Facebook talked about getting in on the location band wagon. In fact Google were there before with Latitude: in spite of it’s early privacy controversy, I blogged at the time that the significant point about Latitude was when Google offered an API. And now, it appears they have.
Whilst it would seem that Google getting in on the act could kill the likes of FourSquare. Google’s current USP is the live realtime tracking of location (which may help prevent the un-cricket-like remote check-ins on FS). However it is far from a given that Latitude will dominate the location sector. Whilst I think that the Latitude API offers real opportunities, FourSquare are rapidly establishing themselves in the location/checkin market. FourSquare’s biggest issue is some flakey technology which cannot keep up with the rate of members. Most likely to take the FourSquare (Mayor’s) crown is likely to be Facebook. With the introduction of location into their status updates they could well dominate the market. As long as they don’t piss off their members over privacy issues!

Apps vs HTML5

This debate has been brewing for some time, and it looks like it will rage on for a while yet.

The argument, in short, goes something like this:

Apps are temporary and ultimately everything on our phone will be delivered through the mobile web, and HTML5 in particular.

Certainly a lot of evidence points to the decline of apps, or at least the slowing down of apps over the next few years. A report by IBA, for example, suggests that app sales will peak by 2013. On the marketing front, an OMMA conference in New York, the agency delegates firmly concluded that HTML5 is the future of mobile advertising (and so do Apple in the form of iAd).

The same question, ‘will HTML5 take over from apps?’ was asked at a recent workshop of mobile marketers that I attended. The answer was a resounding ‘yes!’. Apart from one person. Myself. In short, I don’t believe that apps will be dead in the future, and HTML5 is not the great hope which will cure all of this app mania.

First off let me say that I am a BIG fan of the mobile web. As a mobile agency I get a number of brands and creative agencies calling me interested in developing iphone apps. More often than not, I point that what they are looking for is a good mobile web site. Many branded apps could be delivered as just that: a mobile site. What’s more it would cost less to develop, manage and work across all handsets. A great example of how a mobile site should be done is the recently launched Marks and Spencer mobile site. It has it all. The facility to browse and buy from 1000s of products, user stored details and a find my nearest. The only downside is that it can’t access my location data to tell me my nearest store. I need to add a town or postcode.

The potential of HTML5 is massive. Already the likes of Apple and Google have demonstrated that it can do amazing things, for delivering video content to HTML5 games based apps. What’s more it works across multiple devices, so there is no need to develop for specific platforms. It’s really exciting, and given that HTML5 can do pretty much everything, surely the app is ultimately dead?

However, I am convinced that HTML5 will NOT take over the world and that apps are very much here to stay. There are two primary reasons I believe that: data and appstores.

Data
All of this assumes that mobile users have a good quality, active data connection. Whilst connections vary worldwide, on the whole mobile data connections are much slower and less reliable than fixed line (and even fixed line connections aren’t always great). In the UK for example, O2 have admitted that the network is creaking under the strain of their iphone users constantly checking Facebook. In fact some network operators have touted charging search engines for mobile users given that they use so much of their valuable bandwidth. At least we have 3G. Some of the largest mobile phone markets such as China and India have no significant roll out.
If I’m travelling then it’s even worse. I’ve been stuck in the countryside unable to get a signal on two iphones on two different networks, totally unable to access my maps! Trains are a pain as the signal varies. And then there’s abroad. Probably the time I need to use my phone the most. Have you seen how much hotels charge for WiFi?
The advantage of having an app on my phone is that basic functions are already there. I have a London tube map with an A2B finder. That works underground, the only thing missing are the live updates.
I think the most convincing argument in favour of apps is Google Docs. Who uses them? I do occasionally but really for storage. It’s not practical to work on them as they can be very slow to load, if a all. The idea of Google Docs is great, but some companies who switched to using the cloud for all their applications quickly switched back. So just as we need to install applications on our PCs, so we will have to do so with phones.
So should we wait and hold out for 4G? Perhaps the answer to data connection lies in faster mobile data networks combined with WiMax. They are experimenting with it in the UK, but don’t hold your breath. It won’t be coming any time soon.

App Stores
For many HTML5 advocates the advantage is that it is outside the appstores. Apple changed the mobile user’s relationship with content. We went from tolerating our carriers as a supplier of content (through their portals), to getting it through app stores. It went from a carrier to an OS relationship. But why has Apple’s appstore been so successful (and why are the other handset manufacturers running to follow suit)? The answer is that they offer a high level of usability and engagement. Searching is easy, downloading and installing is simple. Getting a paid app is also easy. What’s more, Mr Apple checks all the apps so I am pretty certain that they will work and free from viruses. OK, we haven’t seen any viruses yet on mobile phones, but I bet we will if we move to an HTML5 world.
However, app stores have gone further than that. They have caught the imagination of mobile users. Those little icons have become, well, iconic! A friend of mine said those little icons were like the album covers of his youth. When you bought a vinyl record you often had the inner sleeve with little icons of other albums. It’s a bit like that. How many people enjoy flicking through their iphone home pages looking at all the lovely icons?

The unseemly row between Adobe and Apple over Flash isn’t doing much to help support HTML5. Although the odds seemed stacked against Adobe, they have strength in the fact that a majority of the world’s online videos use their platform (not to mention the various ad banners, animators and games). The fact is that competition from Flash may make it harder for HTML5 to establish itself.

Whilst the new HTML offers some great opportunities ultimately it is not a replacement for apps. Apps and apps stores are currently the erm, killer app, in mobile content. It’s going to take a lot to knock them off that pedestool.

Forget buying a Nikon, it’s Nokia all the way

As a keen photographer and keener underwater photographer I have been a lifelong Nikon fan. In fact my photo cases are almost a history of the camera maker. Even though I switched to digital underwater some years ago (Nikons, of course), I still hail my film-based Nikonos V as my favourite underwater camera.
According to Nokia’s executive VP, that’s all about to change. For starters, handset manufacturers (presumably Nokia) will be offering HD video in their phones in the next 12 months. And not long after, the quality of phones will make owning an SLR obsolete. Hmm. Maybe I’m being naive here, but I simply don’t see it. Although digital has come on leaps and bounds, there is a basic technical issue with how much information and light can be captured through a tiny phone camera lens. They’re fine for snaps, and are offering real competition to the compact digital camera market. But when it comes to the high end stuff getting that kind of quality out of a phone is a long way off. Or maybe even never. Personally I’m not ready to ditch the Nikons.

Openbook fuels Facebook privacy issues

Facebook‘s ‘Posts by everyone’ feature has been taken up by a new site, Openbook, and shows how much people are prepared to (over) share. The feeds are full of people stating how they cheated in exams and took drugs. Not exactly a job reference.
One could argue that this isn’t Facebook’s fault, after all users are both responsible for what they post and can manage their own privacy settings. The ‘over-sharers’, as I call them, aren’t just on FB, Twitter and FourSquare have the same types in their own way. Why do people do it? I suspect there are two reasons: firstly, a few people just don’t realise and secondly, the rest are showing off to their mates and the rest of the world. You could argue that the second category deserve everything they get, but I don’t always feel that is the case.
Last week a man in the UK was arrested, had his computer equipment seized and was fined for a Tweet threatening to do serious damage to an airport after his flight had been canceled yet again (volcano rage). His Tweet may have been ill advised, but I can understand someone seeing red and just loosing it. It was pretty obvious that he didn’t actually mean what he said, but in this paranoid society we live in you have to take care.
I believe that social media sites have a far greater responsibility to take care of their members privacy than they do. It goes beyond offering settings options. These options should default to the most secure. Certain posts should be filtered … if Openbook can pick on people admitting to cheat in their exams, how hard would it be to have a message along the lines of ‘do you really want to post this update?’, before they click the button?
However Facebook have a difficult path to tread. If they are to realise value from their site, then they need to offer advertisers more and more options for targeting customers. From that perspective, the ‘post to everyone’ feature is advertising gold. The flip side, however, is that as privacy concerns increase, more users will leave the social networking site.
From a mobile perspective the issue is significant. We have already seen security issues with FourSqaure, and with FB adding location into it’s settings these issues will significantly grow.

Facebook privacy concerns may scupper their advertising

From an advertising perspective Facebook is a dream. With the data it has no it’s members it can offer a very accurate behaivoural targetting of it’s ads. And Facebook has made a great success of it. Whilst it was struggling to make money last year, in 2010 their advertising revenue has sored. Comscore measured Facebook as offering over 16% of all ad impressions online.
However, to the Facebook member, behavioural targetting, and more importantly, privacy issues are not a dream, but actually a nightmare. Many of the recent changes in profile status etc are aimed at improving FBs appeal to advertisers. This blog here, expresses some of those concerns. We may see a situation where FB is loosing as many members as it gains with it’s changes to their privacy and user settings. And I’m not making it up. Look at the huge traffic surge on wikiHow on how to delete a Facebook account.
Long term, if I was Facebook I’d be worried.

Apple hit back at Android sales claims

An Apple spokesperson has dismissed the latest figures showing Android outstripping the iphone in the US. The press release pointed out that just 150,000 people in the US were surveyed and that Apple experienced 131% sales increase in Q1. The survey, however, was conducted by a reputable research firm, and is consistent with other studies which show Android sales sitting above Apple’s by the end of this year. The war of words continues!