Facebook places launches in the UK

There seems to be much excitment about the launch of Facebook’s location service in the UK. Twitter is full of it, and most of the social media/digital news sites are mentioning it. And it all seems to be quite positive. There are the continued privacy issues, but it looks like location is catching user’s imagination. The addition of location into Twitter hasn’t caught people’s imagination in the same way. Comments like ‘what’s the point’ shows that it looks like a bit of an after thought on Twitter’s part.

iPad subscriptions- are Apple getting too greedy?

Apple is looking to take as much as 30% from newspaper subscriptions sold through it’s app store, along with 40% of advertising sold through those subscriptions. The model is consistent with their app store and iAd revenues, but are Apple going too far? With when the iphone app store first appeared it was a new market, largely speaking. Apple offered developers (especially small developers) revenue opportunities through a new channel. The fact that Apple took a large chunck of that money was less of an issue as they were offering a platform which was not previously available.
There have since been a few moans about the iAd revenue split, but the latest idea of taking 30% from publishers could be a problem for Apple. Newspapers and magazine subscriptions is a long-standing market. Longer standing than the iPad and the internet. Many of the brands are well known and already have a customer base. So why would they want to allow Apple to take 30% from each subscription. The publishers would like to see a simple fee rather than a hefty revenue percentage. Whilst at the moment Apple dominate the tablet market, there is plenty of competition on the horizon with the likes of The Kindle and Android devices. Are Apple about to get too greedy?

Guardian report here
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iAd’s ‘tiny reach’

In spite of all the noise from Apple about iAd changing mobile advertising, six months down the line, it still doesn’t look like ad agencies are convinced. At a panel conference in New York, execs from ad agency Publicis claimed that iAd couldn’t deliver the numbers that brands were looking for. Jami Lawrence, associate director of mobile marketing at Publicis Modem said ‘it’s a really small audience—from a scale perspective not really there’. Whilst the iphone is popular it only represents a few percent of handsets at best. What’s more, for many brands those users are not their target audience. Look at retail, and the supermarkets in particular. For most of them their customers are mainly women, and for some, mainly older women. Yes, men shop in supermarkets these days, but typcially the main buying decisions are made by women.

Lack of reach is one problem for brands, but the other is the $1 million entry fee limits the network to major brands. And major brands who are willing to risk that amount in the mobile space. Publicis pointed out that typical spend on mobile campaigns is $20-$50k, which is consistent with the UK experience.

There is also a barrier to developers including iAd in their apps: the 60% payout rate from Apple may not be enough of an incentive. Added to that are the limited metrics provided by Apple. Click through rates are not enough of a measurement for today’s digital advertisers, they want to see a full run down of customer behaivour. Something that iAd cannot give. I previously blogged about Apple ditching Quattro Wireless and putting all of their eggs into the iAd basket.
Whilst iAd offers a great, interactive experience (that doesn’t take the user away from the app), that simply isn’t enough for brands. Apple have pitched their network at too high a level to make it a success. In all likelyhood Apple will make money from iAd, but it will remain a niche product. Unlike the claims from Steve Jobs, it will not do for mobile advertising, what the app store did for the iphone.

Top Ten New Social Media Platforms

This is quite an interesting piece on some of the new social media platforms. One significant fact is how many of these are focussed on mobile social media, in my view the next big thing in, er mobile (and social media for that matter). Having said all of that, and looking at these sites and their tag lines, it begs the question, how many of these will still be here in a year’s time? My guess is not very many. Some of them are just too faddy, some of them will be copied by Facebook (Gowalla already is), and if they are very lucky some of them will be bought by Facebook, Google or someone similar.

Here are some of the taglines from the new social media platforms, and some of the taglines that they should be:

Gowalla
Tagline: “Keep up with your friends, share the places you go, and discover the extraordinary in the world around you.”
Should read: “At least we’re not Facebook.”

SCVNGR
Tagline: “Go places. Do challenges. Earn points!”
Should read: “Aren’t Foursquare doing something like this already?”

Whrrl
Tagline: “Check in, unlock Societies, unleash your Footstream.”
Should read: “We’ve been doing this way longer than Foursquare and Gowalla, what do those upstarts know about anything?”

Loopt
Tagline: “Go places, find friends, get stuff.”
Should read: “We help ad agencies to try and sell you stuff.”

Aardvark
Tagline: “Tap the knowledge of people in your network!”
Should read: “If you don’t have any real friends, but a lot of random Facebook contacts then this is the place for you.”

StatusNet
Tagline: “Bring the conversation to your domain.”
Should read: “We’re not Twitter, but wish we were.”

Flash vs HTML5: the war continues

Following Apples announcement that the WILL allow flash to be used for app development, Adobe put out a statement support Apple’s decision. Don’t expect an Apple/Adobe love-in just yet, but at least relations are improving. However it looks like Google and YouTube are not entirely convinced that HTML5 will be a replacement for Flash. YouTube has pretty much made Flash what it is, certainly when it comes to delivery. In the old days it was a battle between wmv, Quicktime and Real Player for delivering online video. They all had their problems and along came Flash with their flv’s. Fast, reliable and high quality. Even better (for the video producer) was that it was hard to download and store an flv on your computer.

Back in June, a YouTube engineer outlined the issues: in short, HTML5 just won’t play video as well as Flash. What’s more it breaks the current standards for video formats. So it looks like the age old VHS/Betamax debate all over again. My money is on the format that the porn industry adopts!

Apple (finally) publishes app store guidelines

Developers and app publishers have previously criticised Apple for it’s lack of guidelines in reviewing apps. Some commentators have suggested that the openess of Android’s Market may drive developers there in the future.

I’m sure Apple are not remotely threatened by Android apps (at the moment), but they have seen fit to publish their app review guidelines to developers (and it quickly found it’s way onto everywhere else on the internet). And it’s a pretty chatty and helpful document: “We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted,” is one example.

They have also relaxed the guidelines on which tools can be used to create apps – another bone of contention for many developers. They will allow any tools as long as it maintains the integrity of their security.

To some this may appear to be an insignificant move, but from a developer standpoint it is a major step forward.