Mobile Fix – November 21

Mobile Matures? 

This week feels like a switch was flipped. Or a target reached. Or is it just that mobile has finally grown up? 

A number of the things we have been predicting finally happened this week. Now these predictions weren’t like our (cheesy)  2002 Futurology piece where we called a fair bit of todays tech enabled world. 

These are more logical next steps or inevitabilities. But they have taken longer to happen than we expected.

Google use mobile optimised as a signal in ranking.

Google have finally announced that they are going to tell users which sites are mobile optimized. And they are going to experiment with using this data as a signal for ranking. So Google will now reward those people who have invested in their mobile experience. And (gently) start to penalize those who haven’t

If you think about it, Google has one key job; help the user find what they are looking for as quickly as possible.  Everything in the Google armoury has been focused on this – using your location, your previous search history, landing pages score etc. But until now Google has ignored one key factor – your device. Knowing you are using a smartphone and returning answers that are not mobile optimized doesn’t make any sense for the user.  Or for Google. But now they are correcting this anomaly and a huge amount of SEO work is about to be made redundant. 

If you don’t have a mobile site, now would be a good time to get one. And if you do have one, you should be constantly testing to make sure it’s as good as it can be – too many mobile sites are designed by desktop web people and are not really focused on touch and fat fingers. ( 

Google kicked out by Firefox

When we talk about GAFA and vertical stacks, we cover the way Google have been eased out of iOS. When the appstore was launched Google were baked in with 3 key integrations; the YouTube app that Apple built, Google maps as default and Google as the default choice is the Safari browser. As we all know Apple have evicted Google from Maps and if you want a YouTube app you have to go download the one Google made. Both have had an impact on Google, but they are still pretty big in Maps and Video on iOS 

We have long argued that, at some point, Apple will kick Google out of search by changing the default setting for search in Safari. They added DuckDuckGo, so the 4 options are now Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google and Yahoo, with Google getting the default tick – for which they pay around $3bn. And we are convinced that Bing and Yahoo would happily pay more.

Firefox have tested this scenario out and in just a few weeks time Yahoo will be the default search engine for the Firefox browser. We can’t imagine that both Bing and Yahoo aren’t pitching a similar deal to Apple every single day.

How long before Apple decide they would rather not have Google know what all their users are searching for? And such a deal could help Apple with legislators like the EU worry about the Google ‘dominance’ of search; by making the default setting an alphabetic one they could rebalance the market.

We’ve been advising our clients to focus more attention on Bing and Yahoo SEO for a while now – you should start too.

Apple have released some advice for developers focusing on the Watch; essential reading around on what can and can’t be done. The key thing for us is that the iPhone is heavily involved in most possibilities so as to leverage the more powerful CPUs and longer life of the phone. So the Watch is a peripheral rather than a wearable. Slightly pedantic I know, but we have to develop experiences that use both devices, not just the Watch.

And last in our told you so list, we now have some more good proof that mobile advertising can and does build brands. We laboured against the belief digital is purely a response medium 10 years ago and it’s slightly frustrating that the same mis-informed nonsense has been trotted out about mobile. But a good case study from Havas and Sky proves what many people have known all along – you can drive brand metrics and response metrics with mobile advertising.

You just need to think carefully about how you use the medium and recognize that an investment in good creative is just that – an investment. One that usually pays off.

Future of apps

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of debate about how apps are going to evolve. There is data showing that time spent in mobile apps is now more than the time spent using the browser on both desktop and mobile.

The Wall Street Journal take the view this means that the web is dying as the walled gardens of GAFA and others dominate. (We would argue that much of this time is actually games and music where one would have used a different device before smartphones).

The very nature of these apps is changing as the latest versions of both the Apple and the Android OS enable notifications purely etc to do more, reducing the need to open the apps. We pointed to this smart thinking about what that means for brand apps and one of the people who initiated the debate has come back to say his thinking as misinterpreted – apps are not dying – they are just evolving. 

Both these pieces are worth reading as is this other viewpoint what the web is pretty resilient and could still come out on top.

Just like they say in Hollywood, no-one know anything and brands should remain nimble and avoid making moves based purely on technology. Instead focus on creating valuable experiences for your customers on the devices they choose to use and in the channels where they spend their time.

Quick Reads

Flurry have some new research showing time spent in apps now exceeds time spent watching TV in the US. This doesn’t mean one should ditch TV but where are the examples of people looking to link these two hugely powerful media? There is huge potential to marry the power of TV with an immersive mobile experience; essentially delivering part 2 of the commercial.

Interesting look at how GAFA (and Microsoft) are developing their vertical stacks. And how their value has doubled in 3 years.

Snapchat say their ads work even though there is no targeting. Reach – combined with the targeting inherent in the channel – can be enough

Apple are poised to launch Beats and will use their next OS update to get it onto everyones iPhone 

Retailers continue to test how mobile can improve the instore experience. Target are trying in store navigation

And one of the major players in Beacons is rolling out new features to try and make it simpler to implement this technology.

BAT – the Chinese GAFA – have a way of investing in promising startups and using their reach and muscle to accelerate the growth. Could they bring this Kingmaker strategy to the West?

It seems Apple are about to enter programmatic advertising – at least according to this press release which got taken down after a couple of hours. 

Finally …More proof that content is king.  A podcast has gone viral and is getting over a million downloads for each episode. We believe episodic content has huge potential in modern digital. Imagine a 3 minute video version of something like Hollyoaks published on Facebook at 12 noon every day with storylines expanded in Snapchat Stories. A weekly omnibus on YouTube. And each character has a rich social presence too.

It’s time for brands to reinvent soap operas. We are developing an interesting format and would love to talk with potential partners and collaborators.

 

Mobile Fix – November 14

It’s all about Video

“Five years ago, Facebook primarily consisted of text …if you fast forward five years, it’s probably going to be mostly video.”

Mark Zuckerberg

We missed this quote from a couple of weeks ago, but along with Susan Wojicki statement that over half of all YouTube viewing is now mobile this backs up our conviction that it’s now all about video. Now.

That’s why Yahoo bought BrightRoll – so they can continue to grow their display revenues and capitalize on the shift to online video spending by big brands. And look at the how the EMEA Yahoo team has so much experience in TV.

Some Yahoo investors seem to think that a merger with AOL would be a smart move as that would give the joint entity a third place position after Google and Facebook – but still some way behind. We tend to agree with this piece defending Marissa Mayer. With the hire of a top ad sales person from Amazon, the team seems well positioned. And this new buy shows they have a plan.

Video is display 2.0. It’s what brand advertisers love. It’s a format that elegantly and easily transitions from broadcast television to PC to mobile and even to wearables. This is why video is a key part of our strategy. 

It’s all about Music

Along with photos we see music as a key Anchor, something that GAFA have to offer to have a chance to keep people within their vertical stacks. We still have thousands of tracks in iTunes many of which aren’t on Spotify etc and migrating them to a new service is a lot of friction. The threat to the money Amazon made selling music CDs by Apples iTunes store arguably kicked off the tension between GAFA, and all now have strong music strategies.

The new Google service is Music Key and it builds on the often overlooked fact that YouTube is already the biggest source of music listening on digital. The new service looks strong – this analysis by Musically is a good read – and raises the bar for Apple and Beats.

They were helped in the PR battle by Taylor Swift pulling all her music from Spotify. Music Key has all Taylor Swifts old music but doesn’t have the new one either. Swift and her label contend that Spotify isn’t paying them anywhere near enough money, but Spotify disagree.

The Music industry is divided over the future; those who believe streaming is going to generate much more money for labels and artists are seen as overly optimistic by the rest, who think making money from selling recordings is over and its now all about live shows. 

The next stage in music is ad funded streaming and we expect that YouTube will continue to be a big player here as non subscribers watching music videos will still be pretty huge.  A combined Beats / iTunes radio is expected to launch with ad funded models early in 2015 and we’ll see whether brands can take advantage of this opportunity with better creative. Anyone who has spent any time listening to the ads on the free Spotify service may be not be that optimistic.

We can expect to see lots more exclusive windows of top artists new albums – see JayZ with Samsung and Beyonce with Apple – as the key players see the value of being able to offer something their rivals cannot.

The other players in music are also active; SoundCloud has raised quite a lot of money and have now signed a deal with Warner where the label gets paid whenever one of their tracks is featured in a mix or a DJ session.

And the original music start up LastFM – now owned by CBS – is still around and we understand they are going to focus on discovery with their fantastic Scrobbler technology, with the music delivery left to Spotify etc.

Retail

We talked last week of the activity in visual recognition and Fashion Tech. The other side of this coin is how retail are using visual recognition and mobile in general. As we have covered before, most of the big supermarkets are playing with Beacons but none feel ready to subject their shoppers to personalized messages – yet. Asda are the latest to trial the technology – and we know their colleagues from Walmart have been scouring Europe to see who is doing what.

In our view, the big opportunity is around personalized pricing as a way to counter the general cheapness of Lidl etc. The next Clubcard type step change in retail will be a big player using a ShopKick style service to deliver real time discounts, funded by the brands of course. 

The FT have an interesting round up of what retailers are doing including the Asda partnership with Zappar to celebrate Halloween.

Singles Day

The online shopping frenzy that Alibaba invented, took place this week and broke all the records. They took $9.3 billion – up by around 50% on last year and 43% of the orders were on mobile. To give that some context, Amazon takes $166million on an average day.

This is a fascinating look into how the Alibaba team ran the day – lots to learn.

Quick Reads

Sweden has embraced electronic money

Square are looking to exploit the shift to chip and pin cards in the US.

Amazon are commissioning more original programming – and so are Netflix.

Twitter have a new expression of their mission and want Wall Street to see they are bigger than they thought

Amazon are experimenting with using Taxis for delivery – the smart people at GetTaxi have been looking at that too

More smart thinking on the evolution of apps – how they are changing from destinations to distribution tools

Finally… if you want to read a good business book the FT have published a list of the best ones from the past few years.

Mobile Fix – November 7

Mobile Money

The word on Apple Pay seems positive in the US. As this article points out the rapid adoption is one of the key strengths of Apple.  And this well thought through post points out the strategic importance of Pay for Apple. Having tested all the key ingredients Apple could launch a fully ready product and they are taking advantage of the fact the upcoming switch to chip and pin requires everyone to install new POS terminal – (nearly) all of which will have NFC.

As we mentioned last week, US retailers have an alternative system – CurrentC – brewing and some stores have refused to accept Pay in the meantime – switching off the NFC terminals as it’s the only certain way to stop Pay. This interview with the CEO of CurrentC doesn’t suggest that Apple have much of a fight on their hands.

It’s hard to see anyone really countering Pay in the iOS ecology so I guess the opportunity for all these other Mobile Money players is Android, But can any get the scale to dominate? 

The obvious contenders are Google, Amazon & PayPal. It seems to have gone quiet at Google Wallet but we should expect some movement. And newly independent Paypal are still innovating – their One Touch payment is coming to Europe soon.

Amazon showed one strategy with their partnership with AllSaints. As well as being able to pay using your Amazon account, being a Prime member gets you free shipping.  As they get more sites using the Amazon pay button, an offline payments system makes more sense. But will high street retailers feel comfortable partnering with Amazon and sharing data on purchases 

As well as helping push payments this partnership is probably part of a bigger Amazon (stealth) push into fashion.

China

As the debate continues over how apps and mobile content evolve what can we learn from China? Their BAT, like our GAFA , are dominant and shaping the market. And finding the big switch to mobile something of a challenge.

Because of the great firewall that keeps US competitors like Google, Facebook & Twitter out of China, the Galapagos effect is interesting as it shows alternatives to the way our market is changing.

It’s the largest internet market by far – with 632m internet users it’s over the twice the size of the US (in second place with c270m users) – even though penetration is relatively low at 48%. When/if it gets to the UK figure of 90% the market would be over 1.2 billion users – the vast majority by that time on mobile.

The three big players in BAT (Baidu, Tencent & Alibaba) see messaging apps as the key to maintaining their dominance and both Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily to compete with the Tencent owned WeChat and QQ.

These apps that have daily usage often have ‘smaller’ apps bundled within them; the most quoted example is a hotel booking app bundled in the Baidu maps. As linking between apps become more common we expect this focus on partnerships to grow in the West too.

Alibaba have taken another approach that has paid off really well. They invented the idea of Singles Day, where Chinese people who don’t have a partner treat themselves with some online shopping. Last year this event drove nearly $6bn in sales – twice the size of the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and with Alibaba sales up by 54% in the last quarter expectations are high for this November 11.

Of course just as the Chinese own lots of physical infrastructure in the west who is to say they don’t become equally acquisitive of digital businesses?

Visual recognition

One of the issues for the CurrentC people in their fight with Apple, is that their payments system uses QR codes and, despite that being hugely successful for Starbucks, it positions the product as a little dated. Even Google Goggles seem quite old hat now – but their acquisition of WordLens suggests they are still moving forward .

One area where there is lots of action is in FashionTech where a Shazam for clothes is the Holy Grail for many. Upmarket US department store Neiman Marcus have been quick to embrace mobile and have launched a new service called Snap Find Shop. Using a Canadian technology called Slyce, shoppers take snaps of clothes or pictures of clothes and the NM app shows you matching items.

That’s actually quite hard to pull off and this piece points out the difficulties andlooks at the various players – many of whom are in London.

One killer application of this tech is in making print catalogues and magazines shoppable. When Net a Porter launched their print magazine Porter they also launched a Layar powered app to make all the content shoppable. Other AR players like Blippar (who now own Layar) are active in this space too.

Mad Men/Math Men

It’s one of the most persistent clichés, but the tension between Mad Men and Math men gets repeated because it’s largely true.

The Chief Creative Officer of Facebook has made an impassioned plea for creative people (the talent celebrated in MadMen) to get more involved in the distribution of ads. He is right that at the moment the Math Men tend to drive the digital element and the benefits of right/left brain collaboration are lacking.

Too many creative people still dismiss digital as just banner ads and on their 20th anniversary they are getting a bit of a kicking. Somewhat unjustly really , as many very smart digital creatives have and continue to make them work for both brand and response. But too often they are left to the last minute and given to the most junior people. On mobile it’s even worse, as frequently desktop assets run unchanged  – just smaller – or are chopped up by mac jockies at the media network.

But there are better formats on mobile, as we find ways of integrating messages into the flow of peoples mobile stream.

Michael Wolff laments the loss of the old (Mad Men) advertising world here, but we remain optimistic – you can blend art and science and those brands that do can perform alchemy; turning the lead of small ad formats into the golf of customer attention and action.

We have been doing a lot of work looking at how Programmatic and Creative interface and we see a huge divide. And a huge opportunity.

The best way to improve any Programmatic campaign is by making the creative more relevant and more effective. As we develop our new project in this space we’re keen to talk with anyone who wants to see the two worlds realign. If you are interested get in touch.

Quick Reads 

Building on the Apps are the new CDs thought we shared last week Forrester have made 8 predictions  on how apps are going to change

And a look at how Messaging Apps are so addictive

An interesting look at how Facebook are approaching partners in Europe

More on the new Twitter developer tools Fabric

Good stats on the rapid rise of Mobile Search – you need to be getting this right, right now.

Finally – our favourite media remains Vanity Fair magazine which always has a great mix of insightful articles. This one on the Uber CEO is well worth reading

 

 

 

Mobile Fix – October 31

Apps; the CDs of Mobile?

As big music fans we were late into CDs. For quite a while after the launch of this “revolutionary new format” we stuck with buying the Vinyl albums. But eventually the convenience – and the difficulty getting a vinyl copy – saw us make the transition and now we’ve more CDs than Vinyl. 

Of course making the music digital led to a subtle change in how music was listened to; in the car a CD changer meant songs could be listened to randomly. Then along came the iPod and burning CDs to iTunes – there even used to be businesses offering this service – soon led to the Shuffle and Genius. More songs played randomly. Which essentially laid the way for streaming, where the song is the hero and the album concept devalued. 

Could we look at Apps the same way? Is web content the “analogue original” existing as destinations and do Apps package that content in a more convenient way? Are homepages of apps the mobile equivalent of CD racks? Now notifications and cards are staring to devalue the app experience by reducing the need to visit the app.

So the question is – what’s the Mobile equivalent of streaming? Will Apps no longer be needed as all the content and the functionality is distributed through the stream of notifications and cards? Do we see a near future where the home screen blends notifications with Tweets and social updates , mediated by some all powerful algorithm?

Given that Google Now gives us a glimpse of this future and the Apple home screen is evolving in a similar direction will GAFA control these streams? Is the power law of the top 25 apps coming from a small number of big players going to consolidate?

We continue to advise clients that they need to think through how they work with GAFA – partnerships and distribution across these big players – and Twitter is going to be key. Having Uber feature as an option within Google Maps is a huge win for them – helped by a $250 VC investment – and a disadvantage to their competitors.

There is lots happening with mobile content and services and just building an app doesn’t seem enough anymore. Having a Card strategy feels like a smart next step so that, as more opportunities to distribute your content/service arise, you have some learning on what works and what doesn’t.

CDs promised a better way to consume content but ended up a stepping stone to the atomisation of music. Are apps going the same way?

Lots more smart thinking on this topic in this piece – which ends with more good articles to read.

Twitter

Cards are probably most mature in Twitter and we think their new rapprochement with developers is likely to see more uses of Cards. How Fabric works with cards remains to be seen though.

One significant move from Twitter is to use the phone number as a way to sign in to apps, with Twitter handing the SMS authentication. This seems a win win as it makes it easier for the user and the app developer, and give developers an alternative to the Faustian pact they must do with Facebook and Google over the data shared on social sign ins. Fred Wilson sums up this sign in issue well.

But whilst the industry see the new tools as a step forward Wall Street still worry about user growth and it seems inevitable Twitter is going to make some changes so that new users can get more value from the service more quickly.

Twitter wants to create an “immersive experience” for users who do not log in and eventually generate revenue from promoted tweets “across the entire mobile app ecosystem”, Mr Costolo said..

We still think that curated lists could be a way to solve this problem; reading the tweets from a list of Leeds United players, fans and journalists for example would give people a quick easy way to follow the current Elland Road soap opera. Danny Sullivan makes a similar point when he argues that people should be able to follow interests rather than users. 

Whatever Twitter decide to do, they have to hope it works for both new users and for existing ones. Whilst lots of people – including us – love Twitter and find it really valuable, these days it is easy to lose traction and relevance can be lost really quickly. If they are going to offer New Twitter they should make sure Classic Twitter remains available too.

Facebook

The Facebook results didn’t disappoint many people, and they now have 456 million mobile only users.

This scale is encouraging their efforts to woo publishers and they are suggesting that media companies use Facebook as their primary distribution means for mobile, rather than bother with a proprietary app.

As we discussed earlier this could be one future and there are lots of upsides for publishers being in the stream rather than a diversion from it, but there are quite a few downsides too. As Wired point out, do we want Facebook to control everything we read or watch online? News Corp have been quick to say no, not ever but they largely exist outside of social as their firewall makes sharing their content pretty pointless.

Publishers need a smarter strategy around distribution. (The plan to sell the Guardian and Telegraph together is interesting too)

Money

Apple Pay is up and running in the US and seems to be quickly getting traction – Tim Cook talked of 1 million users in the first few days and we hear that’s now around 3 million.

But there is some resistance. A consortium of retailers are developing their own mobile payments service called CurrentC. The only problems seems to be that it won’t be ready unto next year, it uses QR codes and is quite complicated for both the user and the retailer. Oh, and it’s been hacked already.

These retailers are refusing to accept Apple Pay and some are even disabling their NFC terminalsTurning away people who want to use Apple Pay probably isn’t a huge issue right now but as the adoption grows it could be risky. Already other retailers are making a point that they do take Pay.

A primary point in CurrentC is that the retailers get data on what people are buying and that’s valuable – as the ShopKick acquisition showed – but given Apple are pushing privacy and not using any data from Pay, this could be a hard sell to consumers. But the other ambition is to reduce the fees paid to Credit Cards firms 

Techcrunch have a good look at CurrentC here.

Quick Reads

Is no news on iPad sales, good news? Probably not.

Facebook have launched another new app. Rooms. Described by the Guardian as reinventing the 1990s chat room you don’t have to use your real name which is further evidence that Mark Zuckerberg is less fixated on people having a single identity

An interesting way of looking at the Vertical Stack model we apply to GAFA

YouTube to offer an add free subscription model. Music Key is the Google play in music streaming and this report suggests it will have a big impact.

Is Google an Artificial Intelligence business? Good look at AI from Kevin Kelly 

A good Internet of Things video from Qualcomm

FinallyTim Cook has come out. It seems a little sad that this is seen as news

 

 

Mobile Fix – October 17

The Chinese are coming

At IAB Engage this week Martin Sorrel warned the audience that the Chinese are coming, and pointed out the size of Alibaba and the growth of Xiami as two examples. Fix readers know this and also that the size of BAT (Baidu Alibaba & Tencent) is based on a market where internet penetration is around half that of the UK, so lots more growth to come. Of course not having Google, eBay, Facebook and Twitter to compete with, helps this stellar growth. 

But the really interesting thing about China is that this Galapagos effect – an ecology cut off from the rest of the world – has inspired some fascinating business models. So there is a lot to learn from China, other than merely the growth story.

As this chart shows the messaging apps across Asia are developing business models other than taking ads and its likely Snapchat will be amongst the first to monetise their reach as a platform for other content and services.

And whilst Jony Ives may think that Xiaomi are little more than copycats this HBR piece shows they have an innovative business model that may prove more resilient than Apples.

If you want to dig a little deeper on China this report from Campaign Asia is worth a look.

New Devices

With Samsung, Google and Apple all launching new product this week we have seen each brand get their 15minutes of social buzz before the next launch. First the Samsung Note 4 had everyone extoling its virtues. Then along comes Google with their new Nexus 6 – even bigger than the 6+ their new tablet Nexus 9 and the new version of Android, Lollipop. Early indications are that the new devices are impressive and the look and feel of Lollipop is a clear improvement and the other features sound promising.

And then there are the new iPads – with lots of upgrades and some data on sales to counter the theory sales are flattening out.

The Xiaomi model of longer production windows for their product does look smart as they profit from falling component costs– what are Google and Apple going to do with the 7 that makes people what to upgrade? And what will the next iPads do?

Clearly the iPhone and the top end Androids work as Veblen goods – status symbols – or at least as social objects; many people have raised bendgate when they have seen our new iPhone 6 and we know people comment on the size of the 6+.

But because most tablets aren’t actually mobile- they stay at home or in the office – they don’t cause comment and therefore don’t act as social objects – so is the desire to upgrade to the very latest model less powerful?

And because so few people bother to make tablet optimized apps- a huge mistake in our opinion – is there less need to upgrade to benefit from the new version? 

Should ad fraud stop you investing in digital?

The recurring problem with fraud in digital advertising, is polluting the discussion over how much investment brands should be switching over to digital. Whilst the argument is clear – as consumers change their habits, so should brands that want to keep up – the background noise over fraud and viewability is a diversion.

The problem is that just as the sheer volume of money attracts VCs to invest in AdTech, it also attracts criminals. So the arms race between the adtech that can verify your spend is going in the right places and the bad guys is heating up.

This week we heard two great examples that demonstrate the problem. You have probably seen the meme of your porn name? The name of your first pet is the first name and your mothers maiden name is the surname – so mine is Pluto Clement. Great fun, but everyone now knows two answers to the most common security questions online.

Then at an event this week discussing fraud, one of the audience made the sensible comment that where a campaign is measured against a purchase, fraudulent views and invisible impression below the fold etc don’t really have any effect as the bots don’t buy things.

It turns out they do.

Filling forms online is pretty straightforward to a fraudster but they also have lists of stolen credit cards with which to make the purchase.  Eventually the sale will be cancelled and the money refunded to the person whose card is used, but the fraudster is long gone with the CPA commission.

Now having the right partners and paying attention to how your campaigns are being managed can protect you from most if not all of this. And not investing in digital for these reasons is no more sensible than pulling your money off TV because people do go make cups of tea when the ads are on.

On the panel at the Facebook upfronts this week I made the point that we now have an unprecedented situation; for the first time for a long time it is possible to get a significant competitive advantage on your sector.

Your rivals have the same distribution as you do, similar brand awareness and a product that is probably top parity. So gaining advantage has been hard.

But we are now at a point when being much better at mobile and social can give you a clear advantage.

Your competitors’ agencies are probably just as good at making the most of ITV etc as are yours. 

But if your team can get more reach, attention, engagement and, yes, sales from Facebook, Google etc then that’s a great place to be. 

What are you waiting for?

Quick Reads

The Mobile Marketing Association say that brands should invest 16% of their ad budget. Now the right figure for any brand depends on their objectives and strategy, but it’s clear most (all) brands should be spending more. What will you do if your main competitor gets there first?

Apple looking to revitalise their iAds offering with retargeting.

Benedict Evans has shared a good presentation on the Industrial Internet – another name for the Internet of Things

Are Yahoo going to invest their new found wealth in AdTech?

Twitter payments launched in France 

Delivery hots up – Amazon launch same day delivery with Pass My Parcel and Google extend Google Express

Pinterest is gearing up to be the next big ad opportunity. Are your agency partners geared up to advise you on this? Really?

Niche is an interesting now type of agency

Finally… no Fix next week as we are off to Cornwall for half term. But there will be a RCKSCK Friday Edit later today and next week, so if you’d like some tips on how to get the most out of London sign up here.

Mobile Fix – October 10

Privacy comes up more and more in our work. In the last couple of weeks two clients have mentioned feeling slightly disturbed by the way data is being used in marketing. One, a German, felt quite strongly that brands that ‘overuse’ data run the risk of alienating customers. 

Which reminded us of Google location – just click on www.google.co.uk/locationhistory/ and, if you are logged into Google, up will pop a map like the one above, with a calendar, so you can see exactly where you went on a particular day. (The random day I picked from last summer happened to be the last time I went to Facebook and – being before Citymapper launched in that city – I was probably the only person to turn up on the bus)

You can also run it as a movie, showing exactly how you travelled around that day – presuming you had a smartphone with Google turned on. Of course Apple also know quite a lot as does Facebook who are poised to launch hyper local location based ads.

Now we are all watched over in many other ways; if you drive in London your number plate is recorded and checked constantly to see if you have paid the congestion charge/ taxed your car/ have valid insurance. And in the city with (probably) more CCTV than anywhere else on Earth , you can be tracked as you move around the city as improving facial recognition makes this easier and easier.

But the depth and breadth of what digital firms know is worrying people. A good Wired piece on data and how it is used was picked up by the Standard this week. It’s a really good take on the subject.

Tim Berners Lee argues that this data should be owned by the individual, as it is really useful to that person;

“In general … if you put together all that data, from my wearable, my house, from other companies like the credit card company and the banks, from all the social networks, I can give my computer a good view of my life, and I can use that. That information is more valuable to me than it is to the cloud.”

The idea of Vendor Relationship Management where a person has control of their data and capture the value themselves has been around for quite a while – we featured it in our 2002 futurology video – but it has never caught on and one wonders if it’s now too late?

A good piece in Quartz points out the rapid growth in social login, where access to a site or app is given when the user logs in with Facebook, Google, Twitter etc rather than registering with the app itself.  Some US research says 77% of people had used social login, up from 53% the previous year. Other research says Google and Facebook account for over 80% of all social logins.

Talk to any good growth hacker and they’ll tell you that social logins are a great product feature as people find them convenient – and perversely some think privacy is better protected this way.

As brands understandingly migrate to vendors who have first party data, enabling cross device tracking, and Google and Facebook extend their ad networks, the monetary benefit for the app owner to favour social logins will only increase.

The strong are going to keep getting stronger and their favoured diet is our data. Hard to see anyone changing this in the short term.

But Apple may have a go; a friend spotted this now pops up on iOS8.

Advertising 

The new IAB figures show burgeoning growth of UK mobile adspend continues. The figures for the first half of 2014 are up 68% with video doing incredibly well.

Agencies are increasingly adding online video to traditional TV campaigns, with Omnicom recommending US clients switch between 10% and 25% to online video. Much of this still flows to the big broadcasters for their catch up services but clearly lots gets directed to newer players. Which is why Yahoo are so focused on video – much of their European management team has a TV background and Marissa sees the future as video; 

“For us, display is really about brands storytelling, and display 2.0 is video.”

Probably the most intriguing advertising news this week (other than the Facebook local play) is that SnapChat are ready to offer advertising. Given they have a lot of reach and not much data, there won’t be too much targeting and users will be able to skip ads

“We are cutting through a lot of the new technology stuff around ads to the core of it: telling a story that leaves people with a new feeling,” he said. “They aren’t fancy, they are not targeted.”

Sounds like the need for smart creative in mobile is back. News that Google are pushing tools that measure the brand effect of digital ads supports this. Brand Lift isn’t that revolutionary but making it a core tool rather than an add-on is a significant move.

Money

One of the emerging tools to measure the longer term effect of mobile advertising is to look for a sales effect and much of the energy around mobile money and wallets is that they could be the best attribution measure ever. Imagine person a saw the Facebook ad on their mobile, watched a YouTube video on their mobile, clicked on a mobile banner and subsequently visited the store and buy the product using their mobile wallet. Data doesn’t get much more compelling than that.

That’s why we think Google will buy PayPal or Square to accelerate their mobile wallet. And it’s why Facebook hired the PayPal CEO and have a payments product ready to go.

Apple however has a different agenda and ads don’t seem that big a part of it. Tim Cooks note on privacy a few weeks ago set the tone. They want to sell great products and build what we call Anchors – services so compelling that moving to Android would be a huge effort.

Apple Pay is clearly an Anchor and they have eschewed the opportunity to harvest data from these transactions. This plays nicely to privacy but also to security. When the Target CEO gets fired because hacker stole 40m credit card profiles, security is moving front and centre and Apple don’t want to risk their reputation. The breach of iCloud to steal celeb selfies was damaging but containable. A similar scandal with Apple Pay would not be.

In this in depth look at Apple Pay we can see that the system is built around a new way to handle payments. Whilst complicated, its benefits are really clear. This is much safer than using a credit card in the normal way. (And the fingerprint recognition on the device is also hugely impressive for users)

All the other players are going to have their approach compared to Apple Pay and we suspect people like Zapp will struggle, despite signing up retailers well in advance of their launch.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to see real innovation in FinTech –Marc Andreesen believes the whole system is ripe for reinvention

“We have a chance to rebuild the system. Financial transactions are just numbers; it’s just information. You shouldn’t need 100,000 people and prime Manhattan real estate and giant data centers full of mainframe computers from the 1970s to give you the ability to do an online payment.

‘‘You would not today, starting from scratch, invent any of these financial businesses in the same way. To me, it’s all about unbundling the banks. There are regulatory arbitrage opportunities every step of the way. If the regulators are going to regulate banks, then you’ll have nonbank entities that spring up to do the things that banks can’t do. Bank regulation tends to backfire, and of late that means consumer lending is getting unbundled.” 

One start up that has been able to disrupt the market is Square – the $billion side project of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Despite some negative commentary recently, they have raised more money – $150m at a valuation of $6billion. 

And picking up the point we made regarding Starbucks last week, they recognise that payments in and of itself isn’t a problem that needs solving – it’s the areas around it where you find friction. So Square are getting into pre ordering  - just like Starbucks. I guess this takes Square into the same space as JustEat and HungryHouse.

Quick reads 

Good thinking from Harvard Business School on the war for attention

More on Softbanks hunger for content 

Is Instagram The Next Great Ad Network? Yes

A look at the changing music industry. As we have discussed in the past, the future is really good as streaming delivers increased revenues. Its just that the sharing out of these riches may prove controversial.

How linking between apps is getting better

Finally …we are out and about next week. I’m on a mobile panel at the Facebook Upfronts on Monday morning then talking about location and mobile at an Omma conference in the afternoon. As ever, if you are there come and say hello.

Mobile Fix – October 3

What Apps?

As a warm up for client workshops we often do a WhatApps exercise. We get everyone to unlock their phone and pass it to someone else and then get people to talk about what apps are on the homescreen of the phone they have.

It gets 3 important points over really well;

1/ People feel deeply uncomfortable seeing someone else holding their phone, demonstrating just what a very personal device it is – so marketing risks being very intrusive if not done really well

2/ Most people have a few of the same apps; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google search etc plus their bank app and a news app perhaps

3/ Everyone has a few niche apps that are very important to them – Dads have games for their kids, sports fans have apps about their team or sport, others have things like YPlan and apps for nights out or travel

And we are also starting to see that people are organizing their apps with the home screen for the most used apps and unused apps migrating to later screens and being forgotten about.

Knowing what apps someone has is hugely valuable for advertising and everyone is trying to get this insight. Apple and Google clearly have the best view but some others have good data too. Facebook has some knowledge through those apps that use Facebook connect in some way  – and where someone has downloaded as a result of a Facebook ads. 

With the Flurry acquisition Yahoo now have a pretty good view too and along with the Aviate launcher app they acquired a while back are building an interesting data set on the apps people have.

Whilst the number of new apps downloaded is declining, we believe there is still a huge opportunity to help people discover apps they will find useful/ entertaining. Especially given how poorly the app stores perform if you don’t know exactly what your are looking for. People have done very well with apps designed to help find new apps but just as Apple kicked out AppGratis last year they have just kicked out an iOS launcher app. Launcher was different to AppGratis and seemed a good way to improve how you use the apps you have – but Apple clearly don’t want anyone but them to know what apps you have.

Of course the other people who have some idea of what apps you have – at least theoretically – are operators and we think they are missing a trick by not providing a really elegant service that helps their customers discover new apps.  There have been some attempts but no one has nailed this; the upside of happier customers and a chance to get some of the burgeoning app download spend should make it a priority.

Facebook & Adtech

When Facebook bought the Atlas adtech business from Microsoft last year the price was rumoured to be around $50m – a very low price when Microsoft had paid $6bn+ for the whole aquantive business. Nothing much was heard about Atlas until recent rumours that it had been complete rebuilt to give Facebook a robust platform for serving and tracking ads.

Its now officially launched and is a big part of the new Facebook ad network where they use their profile data to target Facebook users across sites and apps outside the Facebook empire. It’s more evidence of the antipathy across GAFA and means Facebook starts to get a better view of what’s happening across the open web, which should let it improve ad performance within Facebook.

Mobile & Money

Building on our thoughts on Starbucks last week, mobile money is heating up. We see that Apple has hired two very senior Visa execs in Europe. And Capital One have launched a pretty good wallet app in the US whilst Barclaycard are rolling out their bPay bracelet – which is interesting but could do with some love from a designer.

But the big news is that eBay and PayPal are going to split into two companies. Many people believe PayPal will be more valuable on its own, but it will also probably be more attractive to a potential suitor who doesn’t want the distraction of eBay. Who could be interested? Well Google needs a response to Apple Pay and folding PayPal would be a great way to revive Google Wallet.

Content is King?

Last week we speculated that Softbank – now ran by ex Googler Nikesh Arora – could be interested in buying Yahoo, as they look to build out their Sprint and broadband business by adding content.

This line of thought is probably validated by the story that they are in talks to buy Dreamworks – the hugely successful movie studio ran by Jeffery Katzenberg.  

This blending of content and pipes has always been talked of, but the AOL Time Warner debacle still scares most people off. Like most dotcom bubble hubris though, the issue was essentially one of timing – and poorly executing the merger.

Yahoo, Softbank & Alibaba

As we discussed last week these 3 companies are closely linked and this long article is a great look at how they came together. If you believe in fate, choosing then Chinese Civil servant Jack Ma (now the Alibaba founder) to guide Jerry Yang around the Great Wall of China in 1997 is right up there. A must read

newTV

If you talk to any enlightened media planner they will tell you they now see TV and online video as essentially the same thing; if you want to reach Downton viewers you are equally happy to buy them on broadcast TV or online catch up. And they also know that smart use of pre rolls or any of the online video formats will probably add reach to a traditional TV campaign, as the elusive light viewers are added.

But regulatory things are still more compartmentalized. Now that is starting to change. In the US it looks like regulators will treat online video services as the same as cable and satellite providers. This means they can get cheaper access to programming and the old divisions will start to melt away.

Some brands get this already and Mondelez have done a global deal with Google for video to accelerate their ambition to put 10% of their spend into online video.

Adding to the momentum is the new Twitter TV ratings, where Kantar will report on levels of Tweeting related to TV programming with data around how twitter affects audience.

Many years ago we tried to prove that data on recording a programme correlated with better engagement in the live viewing. If you like a show so much you record it when you are out, you probably are more attentive when actually watching it live. So ads in those programmes are probably more effective and more valuable.

Those enlightened media planners will be looking at whether Tweeting is a similar engagement metric 

Quick reads

Still play Angry Birds? No us neither. And they are firing 130 people. More proof that apps is a hits business.

Did you know people launch brands on Amazon? Coke and Pepsi have both launched products only available through Amazon.

Google have acquiesced to German publishers and won’t publish extracts from their stories – they will just show the headlines. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Product placement is getting tech – Music videos can now feature brands in a way that the product can be changed according to region etc.

The Google Internet of Things play is now public – The Physical Web. Very interesting.

Lots of the smart people at Tesco know that their real competition is going to be Amazon rather than Lidl, but (understandably) short term thinking is prevailing and they are going to sell or close Blinkbox

Apple debut Watch at our favourite Paris store, Colette. And as they reposition themselves as a luxury brand, Vogue profiles Jony Ive.

GE Enhance your Lighting is a great example of a brand using video and social really well.

We have mentioned Shopkick before – a great example of where mobile, physical and promotions meet. It’s been acquired for $200m to fund international expansion so expect to see it in Europe soon

Finally

We heard Peter Thiel talk about his excellent new book and lots of his thinking applies to any business – not just startups. In our Digital Transformation workshops we talk about how big companies can learn from startups and this book is very useful. So too is this Stanford lecture on how to start a Startup and this piece by YCombinators Paul Graham.

Oh, and we have finally revamped our website outlining the range of things we do for clients and for our own projects. <sell> If you ever need any help lets have a chat <sell/>

Mobile Fix – September 26

Mobile & Money

As the details of Apple Pay become clearer, analysts are generally positive – although not quite as bullish as the Chamath Palihapitiya view we shared last week. Many people site Starbucks as evidence that payments can and do work.

In the last data we saw, Starbucks dominates mobile payments in the US. In 2012 around $500m was spent using mobile payments – and Starbucks was around 90% of that. They have been hugely successful – and now 15% of all their US transactions are using their app – but the Starbucks Chief Digital Officer points out it’s not just about payments – the loyalty aspect has been a big driver. 

They are one of the brands that Apple have partnered with for Pay – but interestingly they don’t intend to let people but coffee with Pay – just top up their Starbucks app. Their brand is so strong they have ambitions to expand outside of Starbucks;

“We want to get mobile ordering right first, but you could be hearing more about us in the mobile wallet or universal loyalty space sooner than later

A smart Fix reader made a similar point about the Oyster card and how it could have become a means of paying for items outside of Tube tickets. Now with a plethora of new players like PayM, Zapp Powa etc as well as the Mobile Operator wallets, PayPal and Google iPhone  et al users have a lot of options. But it seems to us that Pay will become a real Anchor for Apple by making it so easy.

And as more people use Pay, more retailers will come on board. Talking with UK supermarkets, they have resisted payments because they tended to slow down the checkouts. Starbucks have focused on their point of sale tech and processes; 

We were able to save 10 seconds a swipe for any kind of Starbucks card, mobile payment, credit card or debit card transaction. That ended up saving us 900,000 hours of line time a year. 

If Apple Pay can contribute to that sort of improved efficiency, people will rush to sign up.

(btw  – one of most hyped mobile money startups has been Clinkle; ran by a 23 year old, they raised $25m seed money and has a  long list of VCs as investors, along with Richard Branson. Lots of smart people have joined and many have quickly left. And it was in stealth so no-one knew quite what they were up to.

After 3 years it has finally launched a rather average debit card linked to an app. Sounds a lot like the Osper card we mentioned the other week)

The Chinese are coming

The Alibaba IPO was the biggest float ever, raising $25bn – eclipsing the $16bn that Facebook raised. Some have questioned the ethics of investing here – largely because the BAT Chinese digital giants  (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) benefit from having no competition from Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay etc in their home market.

There is a lot to learn from how these companies operate and we now look at BAT when consider the vertical stacks of GAFA. And this good article looks at how important China has become to the global tech economy – with good insight into their M&A activity.

But perhaps the most immediate effect of the IPO is that it (probably) puts Yahoo into play.

Yahoo’s market capitalization is about $39 billion, while its Alibaba stake is worth $37 billion and its Yahoo Japan stake is worth $8 billion.

So someone could buy Yahoo and sell those stakes and essentially get Yahoo for free. Who could that be? No doubt clever Private Equity people are hunched over their calculators right now, but to GAFA, Yahoo would be a valuable acquisition.

Despite some peoples misgivings over their progress under Marissa Mayer, Yahoo still have huge reach (on desktop and mobile) and throw off huge amounts of cash.

Given that Yahoo is still a major player in search its hard to see the EU etc allowing Google to swallow them without divesting the search business to Bing. But for Facebook and Apple they would get lots of content to feed their userbase. And Amazon would get lots of potential buyers that it currently has to advertise with Google to reach. And perhaps even Microsoft or Murdoch could be interested?

Or how about Softbank?. This Japanese company has been very aggressively trying to grow the US business with the merger with Sprint, but its pursuit of TMobile has been unsuccessful. Combing an operator with a content business like Yahoo has been talked about lots, but this could be a first.

As JV partners in Yahoo Japan, the two sides know each other well. And, of course, Softbank now has a new leader who knows a little about the digital space; Nikesh Aurora moved over from Google a few months ago. Is this how he makes his mark in his new role?

We think it’s unlikely that the Wolves of Wall Street will leave something this vulnerable (and valuable) alone, so watch this space.

Beacons

Just like Big Data there is rather more talk about Beacons than there is action. It’s clear there is huge potential, but so far few people have actually started to use them. This piece looks at some of the innovations around the internet of things that use beacons – but there isn’t a killer app. Yet

The people at Estimote have done much to shape the market, and this article considers how they see the potential – including indoor locations. We think that Beacons will be used for simple ideas that improve various situations. For example when Starbucks get around to pre ordering, how do they stop the coffee going cold before you get there? A beacon could detect when you arrive at the store and the coffee is made then and there – and you don’t need to wait.

This example of coupons in Passbook working really well shows the potential – and Beacons could add another dimension. There is a huge opportunity for good old fashioned sales promotion thinking (or Shopper Marketing as its now called).

We’re keen to help kick start this area, so hungry to work with retailers, restauranters etc to test out ideas and try and make some progress.

Quick Reads

Blackberry has a new square device that is going to save their business. We’ll see.

The clever people at Betaworks have revitalized Digg

Apple have bought a firm that makes it easy to create magazines for mobile. Another sign that content creation is being democratized. Will we see the return of the fanzine?

More good thinking on the Apple Watch

More proof that Apple are only human. After the live screening debacle at the launch event, the latest iOS update has been withdrawn.

Eric Schmidt has a new book out – How Google Works. It’s now on our Kindle but we are still engrossed in Goldeneye

Finally…we are big believers in the sharing economy and are looking to rollout our collaborative consumption platform SkratchMyBack in more regions. But the some elements of this movement are proving controversial.

In New York lots of people don’t approve of their neighbours renting to strangers and this long piece looks at both sides of the argument. And the way Uber treats its drivers is questioned in this MIT article. Enabling people to share their assets makes perfect sense but we need to consider the losers as well as celebrate the winners.

 

 

 

 

Mobile Fix – September 19

Thinking about Apple

The ramifications of the Apple launch last week continue. Pre sales of the new phones have gone very well – too well perhaps; as the wait time on Apple is weeks. Some of the operators were quick to offer the iPhones too and have done really well.

iOS8 is available and that has kept people thinking about Apple –once they could actually get it downloaded. It looks beautiful and the elegance of much of the interaction whets the appetite for the iPhone6 too.

We are also starting to get an understanding of just how much better the new devices are – and the camera in particular is getting a lot of praise. As we talked about last week, the Ice Bucket Challenge has taught millions of people that making and sharing video isn’t that hard. Add a great camera to that new expertise and we can expect some great content.

For a long time we have argued that video is going to be democratised just like music was with the launch of technologies like the Roland 808 –that enabled talented people to make music in their bedroom and bypass the traditional stranglehold of the record companies. As the explosive growth of YouTube has shown, the talent is there and even with a webcam they are making content people want to see. Better camera will accelerate this. SXSW showed a film shot entirely in an iPhone5 and the guy behind that is very bullish.

It’s the Apple watch that is driving most of the commentary though. Last week the feeling as the launch was a little vague and that was a bad thing.  This week the feeling seems to be that the vagueness was actually pretty smart – as it allows Apple to set the agenda over the coming months as they drip feed feature and functionality news. Talking in a US TV interview Tim Cook talks about their desire for developers to come on board before the device launches. Just like no one expected Uber, Moves or Flappy Bird when the iPhone launched, great watch apps could make the device a must have.

One of the best Apple commentator blogs is DaringFireball and he makes some good points over pricing – suggesting the gold watch could cost as much as $10k. He also gets into some of the possible functionality – which, along with some of Tim Cooks comments, make the Watch sound like less of a peripheral. It will clearly have many ways to enhance the iPhone in your pocket or bag but will be able to do a lot on its own. He also thinks that the S1 computer on a chip that powers the watch could be replaceable, meaning the Watch is truly comparable with luxury watches where people expect them to last a lifetime.

Ben Evans thoughts on the Watch are worth reading – particularly his point that the delight of glancing at your wrist, to see that Leeds have scored or that your flight is being called, could be just as addictive as the smartphone. People check their phones dozens of times a day – can a watch replace much of that? 

The chatter around Pay is more muted – largely because there is still a lack of real insight into how the service will roll out. Sure, we know the key points but as Apple need all the various partners on board, its not easy to see where they could end up in a couple of years. Right now the US is poised to move to Chip & Pin or Chip and signature, so retailers will have to upgrade their terminals. And just like in Europe most will include NFC technology. So Apple have been smart and adopted a less optimal technology largely because someone else is paying for the hardware roll out. And partnerships with Visa, Mastercard Amex etc make perfect sense. 

But one of the smartest investors Chamath Palihapitiya thinks Apple have pulled off a masterstroke. He believes Apple is poised to disrupt the global banking infrastructure in the next decade or so and earn trillions of dollars. He likens the deals with the credit card firms to the way they got the record labels to support itunes. And he thinks that – eventually – an iPhone will act as a POS terminal so you then don’t actually need the credit card. Very interesting.

It is worth watching the Tim Cook TV interview for a good take on where Apple is and some hints on what’s next. Asked about TV, he says its still stuck in the 70s and then politely declines to talk about their plans for the space. And he also talks about the move into enterprise and the IBM partnership. (this long Bloomberg interview covers a lot of these issues too)

Another piece of the jigsaw is the Apple announcement on privacy, making the point that advertising is a small part of their business and hence they can be very focused on privacy. It also makes the point that Apple don’t cooperate with the NSA – which begs the question who else can say that?

Google & Nest

The $3bn acquisition of Nest did more than position Google as a key player in both the Internet of Things and the connected home. It also injected 300 people with an Apple DNA into Google. The CEO was instrumental in the launch of both the iPod and the original iPhone, and at Nest he attracted lots of Apple people.

This interview is a good reminder that Google value design thinking too.

Fashion tech

We have covered Londons dominance in FinTech before, but as well as leading the field in the Financial world London is a major player in Fashion Tech. This FT piece looks at Burberry as a great example of a luxury brand embracing digital and others using tech to show at London Fashion week. The Burberry Kisses campaign from last year is also worth a look – not least for showing how digital marketing is maturing 

Metrics & ROI

Preparing for a workshop for a Financial Services brand we have been looking at best practice in metrics. As ever the key is having a small number of important metrics to focus on and ensuring that everyone can see (and understand) what’s going on. The Don of analytics  Avinash Kaushik shows us how simple a dashboard can and should be. His latest look at Mobile measurement is essential reading too.

The desire for comparison means we often measure the same as everyone else, but here we see that a less usual measure can be really useful too. Weekly users is a lot more valuable metric than monthly users for many businesses.

Twitter – what’s next?

Comments from the new twitter CFO around improving the timeline in Twitter caused consternation. This is a thoughtful piece on how Twitter can evolve to deliver on the timeline that so many value and provide other ways for more discreet conversations 

Quick reads

Bubble anyone? A veteran VC doesn’t think so, but worries there is too much money going to startups, and that the burn rates are unsustainable for most of them.

A good case study on responsive design and ecommerce from long time Fix readers at Schuh 

Long article on the riser and rise of GoPro

The Economist takes a look at programmatic. Good round up on where adtech is and some of the key issues. Our favourite quote;

“We are only where search advertising was in 2001,”

Once called the Ministry of Magazines, IPC is probably managing the transistion from print to digital better than most. Newly rebranded as Time, this is a good interview with the man now running the business globally.

Finally the rise of growth hacking is seen by some as an indictment of marketings failings, but to us the technique of product/market fit is just modern marketing. This piece looks at how engineering works as a marketing tool. We think modern marketers work to the Malcolm X / Jean Paul Satre mantra By any means necessary. 

Mobile Fix – September 12

The huge hype of the Apple launch reminds us just how far mobile has come in the last few years. TV news coverage and stories in every newspaper. Celebs, fashion journalists and Rupert Murdoch at the event. 

Apple isn’t just a tech company anymore. They are a lifestyle. A hybrid of fashion, content, devices, services and U2. The mycube from that Simpsons episode never felt more insightful;

I see you’re admiring our myCube

It’s fueled by dreams and powered by imagination.

(Homer) What does it do?

You should ask yourself what can I do for it

The new iPhones are pretty much as the leaks suggested – and whilst Android fanboys make the point the spec is virtually the same as the 2 year old Nexus 4 – we think they will sell really well. Ben Evans has a good take on how the product and pricing hits Android – and particularly Samsung – hard.

It’s likely that the imminent Nexus 6 from Google – (& Motorola) will be a more innovative device, but that’s unlikely to dent iPhone sales.

The Watch also lived up to most of the hype but has divided opinion – especially given the price point. It’s telling that no-one seems to be talking about battery life

Our take is that it won’t replace many peoples current watch. If you still wear a watch, it’s probably as much a piece of jewelry as it’s a timepiece. Will people want to wear something that’s the same as everyone elses?

But some people have more than one watch and we can see the Apple watch being added to that repertoire – particularly for sports.

For those people who have stopped wearing a watch as their phone tells the time, this could be good enough to tempt them back. Once people can actually try the watch we’ll have a better idea – one horology expert does rave about the level of finish and the detail. Given he wears a $40k vintage Omega it’s a pretty positive viewpoint.

So one thing we should expect is lots of ways to customize the watch, with more straps and more apps offering unique dials. Just like Swatch did in the 80s, partnerships with fashion and art brands will keep the device fresh. Remember the Japanese phone market has lots of partnerships with fashion brands like Marrimekko and Pucci. Expect a Kanye West watchface as part of his next album promotion.

But the big problem with the watch is that it’s not a wearable. It is actually – like most of this sector – a peripheral 

Wear an Apple watch without having your iPhone in your pocket and we suspect it’s pretty useless. Like the Nike Fuelband we gave up on as they didn’t have an Android app.

And if you have the iPhone in your pocket, the question is what does the watch do, that is that useful. But we can expect lots of app developers to focus on this issue. And, as someone on Twitter said, Do Google put Google Now on this device or keep it back for Android?

Pay is a big deal and Apple have revived the NFC market. The only issue is how they persuade retailers to invest in the instore devices, but that should just be a matter of time. A big surprise is the fact Apple don’t know what you buy – which erodes a potential advantage for their ad sales.

Overall Tuesday supports the view that all Apple really want is to keep selling premium price devices. And they are building Anchors to keep people in the iPhone franchise; the wallet, health kit, home kit etc. And as the U2 music spam showed, they will use content as an Anchor too. Will they buy Netflix next?

Probably the best commentary we have read is Jason Calcanis, who is very positive. And yes, we’ll be buying a Plus to replace our Nexus.

As more details emerge we’ll get deeper into Pay in the coming weeks.

(One more thing. Apple now has a mobile optimised site. Finally.)

Another interesting peripheral.

Motorola have some interesting product around. The Hint is really intriguing –an in ear headset that you can speak to and cintrol your phone. Bluetooth Headsets suffer from the Ken syndrome – most people who wear them aren’t very nice. Maybe this can revive the sector.

The Fire phone

The Amazon fire is finally coming to the UK – on an exclusive with O2. It’s hard to see many people choosing this over a new iPhone. But the pricing is very aggressive – and in the US the price has dropped to 99 cents. So whilst the strategic logic of Amazon having their own phone remains, getting significant distribution is proving a problem.

We are still convinced that Amazon will make the Fireflly technology available on other devices. This is the most interesting feature of the phone and makes everything identifiable and hence buyable. What’s the point of restricting it to the few people with a Fire phone, when you could add it to the Amazon app on millions of peoples iPhones and Androids? In time for Christmas.

Video & Facebook

It looks like the Ice Bucket challenge is over. As well as a great case study for fundraising and social it’s also possibly the first mass participation video meme. Most previous memes on social have been about sharing rather than making content – remember the old 1 9 90 rule where I % create content, 9% share it and 90% just view?  Whilst the % sharing has been growing, the % creating hasn’t.

But this showed that people now can and will create and share video. And even more interestingly a huge proportion of this video lives on Facebook, rather than just being on YouTube. Facebook had 17m Ice Bucket videos shared and seen by 440m people in total.

Facebook have been conscious of how big video is for them, but only now are they showing viewcounts. The baked in ability to share on Facebook is a big advantage over YouTube. A new Beyonce video got 2.4m views on Facebook in the first 4 hours after release – against just a few thousand on YouTube 

This NYT piece looks at how Facebook video has grown but also looks at how media brands are using social to drive views.

Facebook are being quick to push the use of  video to their customers

China 

More on the O2O Retail (Offline to Online) partnership in China that we mentioned last week. The intention is to fight back against the dominance of Alibaba and one of our readers in China pointed us to this video of the Alibaba founder telling the story of the business

As they prepare for the IPO they are moving into mobile games – where rival Tencent is very strong. The Chinese BAT vertical stacks show how keeping customers in your stack on mobile is so crucial.

The O2O article gets into some good detail on why Chinese retail is different and also looks as some of the most recent BAT investments.

Quick Read 

Microsoft are killing the Nokia brand name (and Windows Phone) and focusing on Lumia and Windows. Not sure that’s such a smart move.

Twitter have added a buy button. Is eCommerce going to be big for them?

One of the smart people we worked with at WPP was Jeff Cole from the Centre or the Digital Future. His views on the future of advertising are worth a listen

One of the smartest Internet of things ideas is finally launched – Tiles are such a good idea, but we’ll probably wait to version 2

The US NFL is starting talks over their next TV deal. TV companies are bidding up prices as live games are seen as an edge over online services, But they are talking to Google et al and their VP of media says; 

Selling game-streaming rights to an online company is a matter of “when, not if,”

Over here consultant Claire Enders told the Royal Television Society that youth is deserting TV, with a 22% fall amongst 4 15 year olds. Are they all watching YouTube?

And more evidence that TV is changing; Sky have expanded the targetihg options for their AdSmart service. Brands can now choose the households their ads are seen in based on postcode as well as MOSAIC data etc. And you can use your own data to target.

Ages ago we mentioned that Sainsbury was trialing a mobile shopping service in Clerkenwell and Mile End. The Shop and Scan seems to have gone well and its being rolled out to more stores. Despite using QR codes. Why hasn’t some mobile expert explained that QR codes don’t work?

Mobile adtech firm Medialets have shared lots of data on mobile advertising.     

Cards are probably the biggest step forward in how mobile is put together, but they are still misunderstood by many. This is a good guide to what they are. And this is a good guide to how to use them on Twitter.

Finally…    John Batelle is one of our favourite bloggers. He runs a very successful digital media business and really gets the whole space, although he admits he was lateish to mobile. He has written a good summary of his thoughts on where mobile is now and where its going. Well worth reading.