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;
(Homer) What does it do?
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.
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.
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;
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?
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.