‘No Ads’ says Jobs. So where does that leave iAd?

Interesting to see that amongst all the figures showing Apple’s mobile dominance at the developer’s conference, there was no mention of iAd. Although Steve Jobs didn’t dismiss iAd as such, when he was speaking about iCloud he said:  “We build products that we want for ourselves, too, and we just don’t want ads.” Hmm. OK, so it’s a different channel to iAd, which is focussed on rich media advertising delivered via apps. But it isn’t exactly an endorsement of it.

Apple as an advertising network doesn’t seem to sit comfortably with their great product design/user experience philosophy. Having had some conversations with iAd in the UK last week, they still seem to be finding their feet with it. The minimum spend has been reduced, but it is still more than most brands total mobile marketing budget. Neither is there is an ad management platform or automated reporting – something that many brands and agencies would want in order to book and refine their campaigns.

Another update to iOS, the Safari Reader will remove ‘clutter’ from browsed sites. That could well include ads, but in spite of enquiries from the marketing press, Apple failed to shed any more light on it. If it does strip out advertising though, then the new update could scupper the rapidly growing mobile advertising market. iPhone users are important to this channel as they tend to be more affluent and browse the web more than anyone else. Without that market, what are the implications for Google’s Admob, Millenial and InMobi?

Both the lack of mention for iAd and the possible change in Safari could be a really big deal for mobile advertising.
More on the iAd snub here. 

More on the Safari update here.

200 million iOS devices: a look behind the figures

At yesterday’s developer conference Apple announced that iOS was now in 200 million devices. That’s good going, making their mobile operating system Apple’s greatest asset. However, before brands start assuming that ‘everyone has an iPhone’, it’s worth getting a bit more understanding of what these figures really mean:

  • Whilst 200 million iOSs puts Apple level pegging with the most successful mobile phone ever, the Nokia 1100, that was a single device. Apple’s figure is across the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  • Apple tell us there are 25 million iPads out there. They have trounced the tablet market with no one coming close in terms of sales.
  • Although we don’t have up-to-date figures from Apple (they don’t publish separate iPod touch figures), there is plenty of financial analysis (and their lawsuit against Samsung) which indicates that it represents 1/3rd of their iOS users. That puts iPod Touch sales at around 60 million.
  • That leaves the iPhone with sales of 115 million over four years – that’s consistent with figures published earlier this year estimating phone sales at just over 110 million.
  • The iPhone is currently the best selling smartphone, however there are more hansets using Android than iOS.

115 million sales of a device over four years is great going, and in many markets the iPhone is the best-selling handset. However, these figures aren’t the complete picture.

For a start, that figure of 115 million represents total sales, not actually devices in use. How many people still use an iPhone 2g or 3g? We simply don’t know the actual numbers, but if we are looking at Apple phones in people’s pockets then the figure will be well below the total sales.
From a brand engagement perspective, it is important to understand where your customers are in the mobile landscape and what they are doing on their phones. Many marketers assume that most people have an iPhone, or at least the ones they want to be talking to.  However, when we look at the smartphone market share then the global split is 36% Android, 26% iPhone and 25% BlackBerry. In the UK the total handset market share is 15% Android, 10% BlackBerry and 9% iPhone. Nielsen also found that Android users access more data (and nearly as many apps) as their iPhone counterparts.

Whilst it’s true that iPod Touch and iPad are still iOS and offer opportunities for brands, the fact is that the device usage and demographics are different to the iPhone. iPod touches are popular amongst a younger audience (many of who have a BlackBerry for their phone), where the main activity is around listening to music, watching videos or playing games. Similarly with the iPad, it is much more than a big iPhone. Magazine reading, rich content and higher end gaming are more the order of the day.
There’s no question that the advent of the iPhone four years ago significantly shifted our ideas of what a mobile phone is (or can do). Apple lead in terms of profitability, but it’s important to look behind the figures and realise that there are many more handsets out there than just the iphone.

Facebook Places vs Foursquare Check-Ins

What’s more popular, Facebook Places or Foursquare? WSJ published some data on Foursquare’s check-ins last week, but you would expect Facebook’s Places to be far bigger, given that they have 100 times the users of Foursquare. We don’t know for sure how many people are checking in on each network, but this comparison from Fastcompany on some of the top Facebook check-ins, shows how Foursquare compares with the same venues. Hardly surprisingly Facebook leads, especially at Facebook HQ:

Logan Airport (Boston)
Facebook: 84,000 check-ins
Foursquare: 66,908 check-ins

Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Facebook: 50,000
Foursquare: 20,800

Westfield Shopping Mall (London)
Facebook: 38,000
Foursquare: 11,300

Hotel Piazza di Spagna (Rome)
Facebook: 6,000
Foursquare: 1

Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas)
Facebook: 33,000
Foursquare: 29,300

Interestingly though, apart from Hotel Piazza di Spagna in Rome, the Foursquare check-ins are not that far behind their Facebook counterpart. Although many observers thought that Places could be the end of Foursquare, it has instead seen them almost double their user base since Facebook launched their offering to 10 million users. Foursquare has the gamifaction element – the chance to win badges and that all important Mayor – that Facebook lacks. Whilst some companies beginning to work with Places and Deals, Foursquare are particularly brand friendly with some good campaigns under their belt.

Google Wallet: what’s right and what’s wrong with it

Last week, Google launched their contactless payment system, Google Wallet. They are initially trialling it in two US cities, New York and San Francisco. Besides a simple touch to pay wallet, it will also include the facility to hold and redeem vouchers on the phone. There has been a mixed reaction to Google’s Wallet though. Here is a run-down of the good and bad points about their NFC offering:

What’s right with it

  1. Google has the traction to make NFC payments happen. Whilst there are many companies in the mCommerce space, it takes a Google (well, Google) to get it into the mainstream. Given the number of providers getting into the sector, Google will help consolidate the market.
  2. Low cost of transaction. From a merchant perspective this could be the killer app. Google are not interested in making money from this but rather, using it to develop their search marketing base. They are therefore only charging the standard card-holder present fee. Compare that to the transaction costs of Premium SMS (35% or more), and Google Wallet become a bit of a no brainer. What’s more, for launch they are giving away the terminals and $100 worth of free transactions.
  3. Vouchering and discounts. Wallet ties in very neatly to Google Offers. In fact there are some that believe that Offers isn’t about beating Groupon, but rather connecting it to NFC. The idea is that Google Wallet users will receive offers that can be redeemed by touching in to a contactless terminal. As one commentator put it, it will ‘close the loop’ in the offers/payment system for merchants, and reduces the effort of having to print out or show vouchers for customers (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2075862/Google-Offers-and-Payments-Its-all-about-Search).
  4. It goes well beyond payments and vouchers. Google wallet isn’t just a payment card, or an offers network. It will also be a ticketing mechanism, travel card and could even replace your house keys and let you into your home. Worried about losing your phone (and ergo your wallet and your house keys)? Google point out that people take more care of their phone than their keys or wallet. We know where our phone is most of the time, but do we know where the other items are? And the advantage of it being held electronically is that you can both quicky ‘cancel’ your keys and get a replacement. Much cheaper than a locksmith.

What’s wrong with it

  1. Getting sued by PayPal. OK, tech companies are always getting litigious with each other (just look at Apple and Samsung), but the legal threat from such a major payment competitor will make roll-out more complicated (http://www.webpronews.com/paypal-sues-google-2011-05).
  2. Lack of terminals. Obviously for NFC to work, there needs to be enough terminals in retail outlets. Google are intending to use Mastercard’s  PayPass as the reader. There are already 120,000 of the devices in the US – that sounds good, but in terms of retail coverage that’s a pretty tiny percentage of outlets. Some commentators believe that terminals will need to become ubiquitous to achieve mass adoption.
  3. Fragmentation. The market is already becoming divided. First off there is the operating vs operating system wars. RIM have already launched an NFC handset in the states, Orange and Barclaycard in the UK. And everyone knows that Apple is developing their offering in that space. Outside NFC, Square is making great gains and recently launched their CardCase which allows users to easily make payments through their phones. It is far from a given that Google will own the contactless space .
  4. Issues with Privacy. As one commentator said, it will be the end of anonymous shopping. That isn’t simply about being able to hide embarrassing purchases. It will be about freedom from being followed round by advertising. Google’s revenue model is all about advertising, so the primary reason for getting into NFC is to use the data to further ad revenue, particularly behavioural targeting. Google will know everything about your purchasing habits both on and off line.
  5. Concerns over security. It’s the question almost everyone asks when first told about NFC. What about security? Google have certainly addressed the issue by keeping the credentials separate to the OS along with a robust encryption.
    That’s still doesn’t detract from user concerns. Most people wonder if it’s possible to snatch a payment just by walking past someone. The answer is of course ‘no’. Both the proximity (4cm) and the encryption makes that hard (Google would say impossible). However there are some industry experts who also think that many hackers will try to compromise the system (http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Google-Wallet-Security-Solid-Until-its-Hacked-566798/). After all, Android was hacked just a few months ago.
  6. Developer unfriendly. Fair enough, it’s a mobile wallet so you can’t exactly open up the data to everyone and their dog. However, that also means that Google is looking to succeed without the support of a developer community (http://www.i-programmer.info/news/81-web-general/2519-google-wallet-developer-unfriendly.html). That will make the whole thing much harder to realise. Surely there must be some kind of API that allows developers to interact with the wallet but raise security problems?

Linking the Wallet to their search and offers is a shrewd move by Google. Search is what they know. In the end, the success of Google Wallet comes down to one thing – consumer adoption. If the public believe that it makes life easier, is genuinely secure and that they won’t get endless offers they don’t want, then it may well be a success.

Sears Uses SCVNGR to Drive In-Store Location

The US retailer is using the social location game, SCVNGR to drive sales in their footwear and fitness departments. Using a specially developed version of the game, they are encouraging their customers to check-in and try on items at various locations in their stores. Users can also upload photos. In return Sears are offering ‘players’ discounts of up to 20% on purchases and loyalty points. The app certainly ticks a lot of the boxes on getting customer engagement through mobile. It will be interesting to see how this initiative works out.