Yet more moves in the gradual blending of old TV and newTV. For ages rumors and speculation of Apples move into TV have been swirling around. Whilst some people expect Apple to develop a range of TV sets, we don’t. The economics aren’t that attractive and the replacement cycle is pretty slow.
We think the set-top box and the software is the sweetspot for Apple and it seems they are about to do a deal with Time Warner Cable to stream all their content through the Apple TV box. The 12 million people with the Apple TV would still need to be Time Warner subscribers but this sort of arrangement helps move Apple TV up the list of options –on the way to becoming a gateway.
One company already committed to the TV market is Samsung and they too are making waves – this week they bought Boxee to help them improve their connected TVs. Boxee started as a software business focused on streaming video then launched their own hardware – a settop box.
With bidding for Hulu coming to a head we may have a better view on the likely shape of this market in the next few weeks.
One of the players with most potential to disrupt TV is Tesco and the interview with their CMO that we featured last week sparked a few interesting conversations this week.
McKinsey have a very good interview with the CEO of retail giant Ahold – who are big in Europe and across the US. This interview has a biog focus on multichannel and its fascinating to hear how they see online as complimentary to supermarkets. And their ideas around remote pick up points are really interesting. Of course, they are very focused on mobile.
Still on mobile this is a good look at how Amazon have put the band back together from dotcom boom and bust Webvan. The Webvan experience of building the first online grocery delivery business (spending $800m before closing down) is proving very useful as Amazon expand their grocery business. Lots of learning for the UK players here.
Old tech players still contenders
We have been pushing the GAFA theory for a while now – how nearly all tech innovation either starts ( or ends up ) within Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Of course there are exceptions; Twitter has resisted temptation and Yahoo are buying people like Tumblr.
But the old guys are still pretty influential. Microsoft have now got 100k apps developed for Windows phones and they continue to support Bing. One area where Bing is having some success in battling Google is social – where both Twiter and Facebook have partnerships with Bing
And this is a good look at all the things IBM are up to and how that could give them a strong position in mobile. The transformation of IBM is remarkable – back in our Modem days they were a client, partner and a competitor – and they have divested their hardware business and become a major player in consulting.
Old tech still contender
We should also recognise that old tech still has a bit of life. Fix is a great example; back when we were doing mobile, social and content at Big Picture in 2005/6 ( not a very lucrative business model then) we used our blog to air our thinking. It was highly respected and with RSS we got a pretty good readership – it’s still there and at least some of the thinking still stands up.
But for Fix we went back to email because it works incredibly well. Wired point out that for ecommerce businesses email outperforms social and the core part of any digital service remainss the email address
And Bluetooth is about to get another day in the sun – it is starting to look like one of most disruptive things in iOs7 is AirDrop – which uses Bluetooth and WiFi.
Whilst the new new thing is always appealing clever ways of using old tech can be just as interesting.
End of advertising?
Rei Inamoto of Akqa has written a good piece on the End of Advertising as we know it. He sums up his well thought through argument by saying;
Brands should aim to solve real problems by providing connected services over 365 days and by inventing new businesses that benefit people, not just the brand.
The sort of thinking that inspired our Skratch project.
On a similar topic there is an interesting deck on Slideshare on the evolution of advertising – it’s really long with over 470 slides, but is interesting. It ends up promoting the idea of brands creating their own content. Which we agree totally with – the question is where they go help to do that properly.
Book of the week
Book of the Week
Whilst we talk about tech, mobile and social we are still really looking at advertising. Most of the tech firms are essentially ad businesses in that their revenues come from brands looking to influence peoples behaviour. And if we want to get good at advertising that makes the most of these new opportunities, we should have a good sense of whats been done in the past.
The History of Advertising is an update of a book that came out 5 or 6 years ago and it’s a pretty comprehensive look at the key players and their stories. It is also a rewlly good read and we think its the perfect book for the beach – and ours will be read on Porthmeor in a couple of weeks time.
Forbes have a good round up of the trend we have been focusing on for the last year or so – how tech and consultancies are annexing marketing services. As mentioned earlier IBM scores well here too.
Mobile operators are (finally) getting better at launching mobile focused services. Orange have their TVCheck app. Vodafone have invested in VoucherCloud and now O2 have launched an interesting travel related service called JetSetMe. This uses location and the wonderful IFTTT – “If This Then That” – to allow their customers to automate useful services like send a tweet when I arrive in a new country or update Yammer so colleagues know not to call as you are in different time zone. Well worth watching.
The CEO of Groupon who was sacked earlier this year (and wrote this great resignation letter) has a new career – singer songwriter. His album Hardly Working is apparently management hints delivered as soft rock. All sounds a little David Brent for our taste. Maybe that’s the idea?
Finally….. if the tracking and privacy issues we talked about last week concern you at all you should check out this MIT project – where linking the service with your gmail account allows you to see your own metadata. It’s a very good demonstration of how much can be gleaned from not much information.
Back in the 1980s when Coca Cola launched New Coke then quickly withdrew it in the face of consumer reaction, Pepsi ran an ad in the New York Times showing this letter; saying “The other guy just blinked”
Tim Cook Phil Schiller say “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass,” on stage at the Apple developer conference we thought of that line.
Clearly the criticism is getting to Apple. The Samsung ads seem to be working – in at least they are rattling the Apple team. And a lot of the new features for iOS7 seem to be inspired by other apps and by Android.
With iOS7 having little real substance we wonder if this is a similar moment for Apple? The redesign seems to be insufficient to appease the critics and perhaps enough to discomfort users.
The much trailed iTunes radio looks good and leverages the huge amount of data that iTunes gives Apple. With 8000 tracks burned into in my iTunes, Apple are better able to serve up music I will like than Amazon Google or Pandora. But essentially it’s a version of Pandora.
Whilst there will clearly be a new device announced to coincide its the release of ios7 in September, there seems to be a real loss of momentum at Apple. And with new Android devices due from Motorola and others (probably at a much lower price point) the new iPhone is going to have to be pretty special to regain momentum
The significant change in user experience will be a key issue. Years ago we worked with Motorola when their key problem was the fact most people were very familiar with how a Nokia worked, so were reluctant to start and earn a new operations system
Come September when your experience on your current iPhone changes, making the shift to a Samsung or other Android may not seem such a leap.
We keep saying we expect Apple to switch search away from Google at some point. It’s the one piece of Google still baked into the iPhone (now that Google Maps and YouTube are no longer pre installed ) and we know Bing (and Yahoo) would love to get the search volume that the iPhone delivers
So we were fascinated to see that search in Siri now defaults to Bing. Will the default for Safari on ios7 still be Google or will they switch the 3 choices (Bing, Google and Yahoo) to alphabetical order with Bing as the default?
Whilst on search, one of the best sessions at the econsultancy Future of Digital Marketing event we spoke at last week, was on search. Neil Perkin has done a good write up on this and the deck from Will Critchlow is worth a read.
Apple maps didn’t get a mention at the WWDC event, but other news dealt a further blow. Google are to pay more than $1bn for Waze who Apple were rumoured to be buying last year for $500m. A key reason for Apples interest is that Waze supply data to Apple Maps – and that must be in some jeopardy now.
Not everything at Google is going well. There some well documented problems with Google Wallet and this interview with a rival gets into some of the issues. His company Braintree is a big player in digital payments, handling money for Airbnb, Fab, Angry Birds and many more.
One technology in the money space that isn’t doing so well is NFC. For some time now the promise of iPhone support has kept NFC as the next big thing. But in talking about AirDrop the Apple team seemed very uninterested in NFC and it seems unlikely that it is going to feature in the next Apple device.
Weve – the UK partnership between the mobile operators is extending their offering to ads in mobile apps. Having built a strong business in permission SMS, they will shortly start using their data to target ads within 3rd party apps. With good relationships with media agencies they are well placed to have real impact, but is their data any better than the other ad networks they will be bidding against? They talk of 17 million people agreeing that data on their location, gender, age, device, district address etc can be used –we wonder how many of those know they have given this permission?
We all know the old notion of the purchase funnel doesn’t make much sense anymore. The McKinsey rethink on the Decision Journey seems more realistic, but this HBR article argues that, with mobile, people are shopping constantly.
The hashtag is an idea who’s time has come and Facebook now concedes and enables them.
As the ad world schlepp to Cannes we are seeing some of the promotional ideas. Deutsch are supplying late night pizza (…us neither) but our friends at Clearchannel are adding some value by facilitating a debate on Twitter –which then culminates in a mural on an outdoor site.
Finally we get some good feedback on Fix, so we guess most readers enjoy it. Can we ask a favour, then?
The Drum is running an online poll to find the most influential people in mobile and, given there is no such thing as bad publicity, we’d appreciate it if you voted for me.
The list has all the usual subjects – many of whom are Fix subscribers – so you can support others too.