Mobile Fix – January 20

Apple education

Apple made their much anticipated move into education today with iBooks2  which pushes the iPad as a tool for students. This new service enables publishers to easily convert textbooks into iPad friendly ebooks and also allows anyone to create a book for free – with lots of interactive features possible.

Apple already do a lot in education and with their discounts for students and now lower cost of e-textbooks they’ll be hoping this reduces the attractiveness of the lower priced Kindle Fire for students (and parents). Of course the books ‘converted’ using Apple tools are incompatible with the Kindle or any other non Apple device.

One of the key Apple products for education is the excellent iTunesU, which has courses from 1000 universities – and has had over 700 million downloads.  One of the things that makes the iPad so interesting is that it’s a device for reading textbooks and for watching video – so we expect to see innovation in education, building on the great work that the Khan Academy does with educational video.

It’s also worth remembering Chris Andersons seminal Ted talk where he demonstrates how video is driving innovation as people learn from others around the world.

The other Apple “news” this week is that the iPad3 is expected to launch in March


Jason Calacanis has a great article on the power of Amazon Prime – their service where an annual fee gets you free delivery and – increasingly – other benefits; US Prime customers also get free movie downloads.

And as a reminder of the power of Amazon to disrupt analyst RBC Capital estimate that Amazon loses $2 on every Kindle Fire sale, they make an additional $136 in sales to each Kindle Fire customer.


The Observer had a good round up of the challenges facing traditional TV, which builds on our piece last week about the new economics of newTV. A good round up of CES emphasizes how focused everyone is on making connected TV work. And a very interesting article in Fact Company tells how lots of hardware brands are keen to build Shazam into their products. If you missed our take on how significant this all is you can read it here.

Branded Utility

Anyone remember Branded Utility? The idea that brands would do something useful for their customers as a way of getting their attention. Whilst it’s no longer such a buzzword, the thinking drives some of the more interesting brand work we see. But the original example that got people excited was Nike + – a branded service that solved a real problem, made lots of money and build the Nike brand.

Well now they seem to have done it again; Nike Fuel is a band you wear that measures your movement and energy. If you watch the promotional video we’re sure you’ll want one too.

This is a great example of brands using technology to create converged services. The next generation of digital isn’t about single purpose apps but instead sophisticated services that really harness the power of technology. One fun example is the connected toothbrush – one that knows how long you have really brushed for and can give badges to kids who look after their teeth well.  Sounds like a joke? We expect to see it in stores this year.

Online advertising

Online advertising isn’t flavour of the month right now; too many people write it off as banners and buttons and focus on earned and owned media rather than paid media. But new research suggests brands are starting to invest – with 64% of brand marketers planning to spend more.

The basic plumbing still needs work though. As well as the clutter on most web pages, we now see that almost a third of all display ads never get seen; many are at the bottom of web pages where people never scroll down. And a high proportion of campaigns had ads running next to content deemed ‘not brand safe’.

Smart agencies know how to make online display work well, but clearly there are a lot of people wasting their clients money. On mobile it’s crucial that we don’t import these failings from desktop – and new research shows that good old fashioned context has a very positive effect on campaign results in mobile.


As Timeline rolls out, Facebook have announced 60 lifestyle apps that bring to life the verbs that Facebook is building Timeline around. As well as Spotify for listened and the Guardian for read, new apps include hot start ups like Foodily (ate) and Zeebox (watched). The full list is here.

Brands are going to need to think through the verbs they can harness if they want to be part of peoples timelines – and we believe the marketers addiction to the Like will soon start to wane.

At this months Facebook Developers Garage, hearing of the latest changes to the platform emphasised just how complicated an ecosytem Facebook is. And this excellent infographic summarises all the changes over the past             years.

But despite being complicated, marketers are investing in Facebook and they now pay 23% more per impression that they did a year ago. The full research report is worth a look.


It looks like our friends at Google may be in for a tough time soon. The bureaucrats in Brussels seem to be moving very quickly in putting together their report on Google, with an announcement expected in the next few weeks. A well informed journalist tells us that Brussels moving quickly generally means bad news.

This isn’t a huge surprise for Google – we met Eric Schmidt a few years back and were told that if Google were to have issues with regulators, it would almost certainly be in Europe rather than in the US or Asia.

Maybe we’ll all be told we have to use the EU funded search engine Quaero instead of Google?


As parts of the web went dark this week to protest against SOPA we thought we’d point you to two great explanations of just how stupid – and dangerous  – this legislation is.

Seth Godin nails it when he points out that Kodak could have been protected by banning cameraphones. And this video by Clay Shirkey puts SOPA in a historical context  – well worth watching.

Quick reads

Latest hotstart up Pinterest has a great approach to signing up members –well worth learning from.

eBay expects to make $8bn in mobile sales this year and their subsidiary PayPal should do $7bn in mobile payments

A former HuffingtonPost Mobile exec makes a great case for using HTML5

There are some great tools for listening to social and this deck covers most of them.


this article makes the argument that agencies need to get mobile if they are to be taken seriously by their clients. We agree.


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