Mobile Fix – October 18


As we approach Christmas we are seeing more device launches. Next week Apple have invited journalists to an event on Tuesday promising We still have a lot to cover. This is almost certainly the new iPads – with more powerful chips and retina screens likely to be the main new features.

With upgraded Kindles and the new Nexus 7 already announced (as well as the Tesco Hudl and the Argos MyTablet) Apple need new products for the peak selling season. Also arriving in time for Christmas is the upgraded Nike Fuelband.

And the rumours of an Amazon phone have surfaced again with the FT claiming they are working with HTC on a smartphone. This makes lots of sense for both Amazon and HTC; Amazon extend their kindle success into the phone sector and reap the benefits of more content sales and usage on their devices. And HTC get a partner likely to drive some volume – which the Facebook collaboration failed to deliver.

The issue that is still unclear is how they get a price advantage given the operators subside smartphone sales in the US. However given the Amazon track record in eschewing profits in favour of volume and the promise of more sales, we should expect aggressive pricing. But it’s likely to be 2014 before we see a launch.

Apple retail

The big news of the week was Apple luring the CEO of Burberry to join them to run their retail operations. Given that Angela Ahrendts earned around £18m at Burberry last year this is a significant hire. And it seems to make more sense than the previous incumbent who came from Dixons and lasted less than a year. As well as being a brilliant retailer Burberry have spent around 60% of their budget on digital and have been strong partners for Apple, as well as Instagram Vine and all the usual suspects

So she clearly gets digital and retail. But we wonder if there isn’t more to this.

We have argued before that Apple is the BMW of mobile; could it be that they are a luxury goods brand? This good FT piece looks at the move and points out that HSBC make the argument the real competitor to Louis Vuitton is Apple. And of course Apple hired the ex CEO of Yves Saint Laurent a while back.

And as people start to get the scale of opportunity of beacons the Passbook concept starts to make much more sense. Could the retail role also encompass making Apple Passbook the defacto shopping assistant for luxury brands and their customers? We spent a lot of time talking with Gucci a couple of years ago and it was clear that luxury retailers need a way of identifying their most valuable customers as they walk into their stores – so they can deliver the best service to their best customers.

The overriding motive for the Apple vertical stack is to keep people buying the latest iPhone and iPad – because that’s where Apple make their money – so baking in services that are hard to give up act as a barrier to switching to Samsung etc.  Passbook has the potential to be that must have, but only if the right brands are participating.

Phones are a now a hits business and Apple have turned their products into fashion items too – the colours of the 5C owe a lot to the way the Japanese market their phones – with collaborations with designers quite common. Of course fashions come and go, so a key role for this creative talent is to keep the iPhone franchise on track. This look at the way blockbusters drive movies is relevant reading as we see the same trends in mobile.


The news that Google has changed their T&Cs so they can use your name and picture in Google products (Reviews, ads etc) just like Facebook do – has prompted more focus on privacy. Its actually really easy to opt out – but how many people will bother with that.

When you to talk to civilians about Facebook Sponsored Stories – and the friends names you see on them saying they like the brand – you find people don’t mind them. Until they realize their friends are seeing their name ‘endorsing’ brands. Few people think this technique influences their views – although the thinking around Social Proof suggests it probably does.

We think the real advantage of friend’s names being included in an ad is perceptive filtering; we know the brain is good at ignoring stuff it thinks is irrelevant but when a friends name is there the cocktail party effect kicks in and we notice the ad. Which should make it more effective and hence more lucrative for Google.

But the big picture is about who owns your data – you or the platform you are using. Google make it relatively easy to influence the ads you see – which is a way to take some ownership of your data. And this works well for both parties – people (hopefully) see less irrelevant ads and Google have a better idea of what advertising you are interested in – which should make it more effective and hence more lucrative for Google.

We expect other platforms to do more in this area – not least to try and thwart people like AdBlocker who claim 200 million downloads and helpfully suggested that Twitter should sign up for their acceptable ad guidelines. And a TechCrunch writer suggests that people should participate in tools like the Google one as they can help make advertising better - which we sort of agree with but people still need better tools. This is likely to be the next big thing in AdTech.

But adtech continues to get a bad press. An Adweek expose details just how much ‘questionable’ online advertising there is – suggesting that as many as a quarter of online ads are never seen by a real person.

Some of then fault here is with the media agencies who are buying blind in many cases. This sometime causes a  little embarrassment; the same day the Sun ran a  headline condemning the AskFM site over bullying, their ads were seen on the site – it turns out their agency was buying blind through a network.

So some of the large brands have decided to look at going direct and lots of the adtech firms have jumped at the chance to deal direct. One of the smarter thinkers on the agency side has pointed out that it’s actually not that easy to do media even when the computer is doing lots of the work.

New tools continue to emerge, and that Lumascape chart isn’t going to simplify anytime soon – so brands need smart advice on how to get the best out of both the media and the creative. But will they get the best advice from the existing agency networks?

Quick Reads

We continue to enthuse about Google Now in all our consultancy work, as it’s a glimpse of the future of mobile – context driven information and services. This is some good thinking about what an advantage this is for Google and looks at how they could evolve the business model.

We talked about the changes in news and this memo from the FT editor to his staff about reshaping their business is another step in the evolution.

Still more new players and products in mobile money. Simple is very interesting as is Square Cash, the new payment product from Square. Just send someone an email with an amount of money in the subject line, copying in Square – and they make the transfer. A few security issues but these companies are changing how people see money – and traditional financial services firms need to respond.

The competition between Twitter and Facebook seems to be intensifying and this article looks at how Twitter seems to be getting their platform right and matching Facebook product for product. Their issue is that they are so much smaller than Facebook.

Amazon is getting closer and closer to big brands – here they are putting their own people in P&G depots so they can better sell their products.

This is a good look at the culture in Amazon and goes into how Jeff Bezos runs the business. An amazing character.

Facebook have bought a leading player in mobile analytics.

Finally ….the pace of change in tech, media and marketing continues. When we originally planned Fix we thought we would do it weekly to start with and then, when things calmed down, we would go monthly.

Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

This article peers into the future of media and is a good round up of likely change – but we still think our Futurology video (that we did some 10 years ago) is a pretty good take on where we are now, even if a little cheesy.

If you would like us to peer into the future for their business, get in touch.

But next week we are focusing on Cornish beaches and waves, so no Fix next Friday – back on November 1.


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