Category Archives: Events

Mobile Fix – January 13

The ‘unlucky for some’ issue

NewTV + new advertising economics

This week Las Vegas is full of people gambling on what new tech products are likely to take off. The Consumer Electronics Show is now the tech trade show and most of the big players – other than Apple – are there.

But the hot area this year isn’t mobile, although Nokia have made a big impression with the Lumia there.. It’s all about connected (or Smart) TV, with Samsung, LG and Sony pushing new hardware and coming out as Google TV partners.

As background to the emergence of newTV – connected TV, 2screen and TV delivered over mobile devices – some new research heralds the decline of traditional broadcast TV.

Research from Accenture suggests that less than half the population watch broadcast TV on a TV– down from 72% in 2009. Instead people are watching TV on other devices – 33% on PCs and 10% on smartphones.

And new Neilsen data shows that 145 million people watch video online in the US, compared to to about 290 million who watch traditional TV. Of course much much more time is spent watching on traditional TV but Netflix is getting 10 hours a month and YouTube almost 3 – which is only going to grow.

Of course there is a way to go here – some data suggests that 25 million US households have internet connected TVs – but only around half are actually connected.

But around a third of the people who watched Downton Abbey, ITVs most popular show over Christmas, did so on timeshift – using Sky+ of ITV Player. And as we reported last week people are being weaned off cable subscriptions to find content online.

We continue to believe that traditional TV is losing the war for attention – and that mobile devices are capturing that attention. And the interesting thing about this theory is economics – as the attention shifts from one device to another does the money follow?

This week Sky made a big investment in 2Screen pioneer ZeeBox.  As well as adding social functionality to their already impressive range of mobile services Zeebox gives Sky a lever to disrupt the TV ad market in the UK. Right now advertising is a relatively small part of Sky revenues – they make most of their money from subscriptions – and as most of the audience is watching channels other than Sky, they only get ad revenue for a small portion of their customers viewing.

But now they can go to big advertisers and offer what they call Synchronised Ad Inventory– which means that when the ad appears in the middle break of X Factor on ITV, Zeebox will know which ad is on (by using the soundtrack to identify it) and can offer advertisers a way to offer additional content – a response mechanism or a part 2 to that ad. And that deal doesn’t involve ITV at all.

Sound a little futuristic? Shazam is already offering a similar service in the US where their app (now on around 175 million smartphones) recognises the ad from the soundtrack and serves up related content. Around a third of all the ads in the Superbowl are expected to use this service.

Our key prediction for 2012 is that smart brands will use mobile to deliver participation opportunities, where TV ads act as the invitation to participate.

New economics for Mobile Network Operators?

A business in France has launched a new service that is being lauded as the future for operators. Having ran a successful broadband business, Free combines 3G, WiFi, Femtocells and it’s own fibre network to deliver a fast mobile service at a very competitive price. One very smart feature is that each of the 5 million set top boxes in customers homes share a proportion of their bandwidth with other Free customers over WiFI – meaning they have one of the biggest WiFi clouds covering Paris and Lyon etc. Ewan Macleod has looked at Free too, calling it the most exciting announcement since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone

And a good article on Twilio also suggests that innovation from new players will disrupt the operators business model.

So as operators prepare to bid for the 4G Spectrum, in the UK – with the auction rules published today – they have to factor in how tech players are going to change their business. And the auction rules Ofcom have published are a little surprising as they don’t feature the expected guarantees for Three and Everything EveryWhere

Managing Social

Some of the smartest thinkers on Social work for Altimeter and one of their people has shared a good report on how to manage the proliferation of social media.

Still on social Booz & Co have produced a new metric for measuring the success of social – likes per $million of revenue.  Whilst the industry desperately needs some smart thinking around the real value of social, we’re not sure this makes much sense. The data would probably be more interesting if they used number of customers rather than the revenue.


John Battelle has produced a very interesting chart looking at how the GAFA companies (and Microsoft) compare across product categories.

Quick Reads

As the UK waits for the Kindle Fire, in the US people are starting to develop apps for it. We were invited to a developer event at CES focused on how to sell apps on the Kindle and US bank Wells Fargo have launched Kindle apps.

Clay Shirky has some typically clever thinking on newspapers and paywalls.

Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik has some good thinking on why companies are not getting real value from analytics.

We’ve had a number of conversations with clients about how email marketing needs rethinking given how many people are now reading emails on their smartphone. This data puts some numbers against this – a rise of 20 million in the US

The new edition of the Google Think Quarterly is out – well worth reading.


We’re on the board of the MMA and wanted to tell you about the next event. It’s taking place between 8.30 and 11 on February 1st  in Central London and features speakers from Groupon, Nielsen and Evans Cycles.

If you work for a brand we can get you a free ticket – just let us know.

Mobile Fix – January 6

All they wanted for Christmas was a mobile company

The news that Walmart has bought a mobile agency this week has been widely reported, as has the news that the Financial Timeshas bought the firm that developed their highly successful HTML5 webapp. But we also see that the Mirror Newspaper has bought a mobile focused agency and Deloitte have bought a Seattle app development firm called Ubermind too.

People who get really mobile (and can develop smart thinking and doing) continue to be the exception rather than the rule and smart companies are recognizing the competitive advantages that can be gained through the strategic use of mobile.

The FT and Mirror news confirms the trend we are seeing for marketing services offered by people other than traditional agencies. US publisher Meredith bought mobile agency HyperFactory a while back and Adobe bought search firm Efficient Frontier late last year.

Mobile payments solving the wrong problem?

Being in startup bootstrapping mode we don’t get taxis that often, but the other day we found ourselves in one of the Vodafone enabled Black cabs where you can pay with your mobile. But when we asked the driver if anyone had paid with their mobile he said no.

Paying for taxis isn’t a problem. But often finding a cab is. Why doesn’t Vodafone solve the real problem by launching a version of Uber or Hailo? Knowing that your operator can help you get a cab would be a great service and could perhaps drive loyalty better than the chance to win tickets to events. This type of service provides a context for mobile payments by solving a real problem.

And the news that Brits can now pay for coffee with the Starbucks app prompts a similar thought. The problem with getting a coffee at Starbucks isn’t paying for it – it’s ordering the coffee and waiting for it. In New York Starbucks employ people to work the queue asking what you want and shouting the order to the barista. Of course it doesn’t quite work and it’s really annoying.

So why doesn’t mobile solve the real problem – recognize you’ve entered the store, asking whether you want your usual and transmitting that to the counter. Quick, efficient and pretty easy to do.

Solving the real problem creates the context for the mobile payment. And is much more likely to drive usage.

Apple to bid against Sky for Premiership rights?

As the speculation about Apple making a big play in TV builds there are rumours that they will bid for the TV rights for the Premiership. As Sky have proven, making big investments in very attractive content can pay off and the additional opportunities to use the content on mobile and digital makes the investment even more attractive to people like Apple. Especially as Sky are already seeing some success with sport on mobile. And we have seen YouTube provide live coverage of the IPL cricket with considerable success.

Could they also drive some new business models? There is a lot of thinking around the idea that (some) clubs would make more money by selling to fans direct. Could Apple use their learnings from iTunes etc to facilitate this?

The availability of must see content on digital drives the decline in cable that Deloitte report in the US – with 11% saying they are considering cancelling a paid for TV service because most/all there favourite shows are available online – and 9% already have. Smartphones and tablets are a small but growing part of this.

New York VC Fred Wilson has started to use the hashtag #screwcable to reflect his frustration with old media thinking being made redundant through digital.

And Sky say that they think 2012 is the year of the tablet so we can expect more developments in this area.

Apple to relaunch iAds?

With a new guy running the iAds team and a mysterious event announced for later this month we may be seeing a rethink on iAds from Apple. Could they open up the format to other people to sell? Or even extend the service to non iOS devices? Would the data they’d get on Android etc (plus the revenue) make that worthwhile for Apple?

Quick reads

John Battelle has some good thinking on how Facebook could monetise their reach across the web by launching an ad network. His other predictions are worth reading too.

Forbes have a great article on Amazon – hailing them as the best strategic player in tech.

This is a good summary of stats on US mcommerce over the holiday period. We’re looking for similar data for the UK so if you have anything let us know.

The Consumer Electronic show opens in Las Vegas next week and these are some of the hot devices expected to be launched.

Lots of people are doing predictions at the moment and two of the best are the JWT deck and one from our friends at Carat. Of course a key topic is mobile.


we spent Christmas in Sri Lanka and got some first hand experience on how mobile is impacting emerging markets. The guy who ran the surf shop is also a fisherman and told us that when someone spots a large shoal of fish they now ring their friends and tell them to launch their boats. The President sent a New Year message to all the population by SMS. And smartphones are being pushed hard too – at the coolest new restaurant in Colombo the waiter takes the order on an iPhone.

We also saw that FourSquare has amazing coverage – everywhere we went was on their database, with mayors and tips; they are a truly global business now. And we used Path a lot to document the holiday and share with friends – and without the use of the FourSquare API the service just wouldn’t work.

Back in London, we have some spare desks at the moment in our very cool offices on Clerkenwell Green. If you’re interested get in touch.

Mobile Fix – December 16

It’s almost the end of the year and still the pace of change is relentless.

Facebook have just announced that timeline is now available on mobile. Over the coming months we’re going to see lots of developments in how Facebook use mobile and that’s going to have a big impact on the whole ecology.

And Amazon have broken with their usual secrecy to release sales figures for their Kindle. In the US they are selling over a million Kindle devices each week with the new Fire the topseller. UK data is less specific but Amazon tell us they sold over 3 million items on just one day (December 5 – Cyber Monday) with the Kindle the top seller.

Facebook are rumoured to be ready to jump into mobile advertising early next year and given the wealth of targeting data they have access to they should do very well.

And this week we heard that Apple are struggling with their iAds product – dropping the minimum buy to just $400k (down from $1million at launch) and allowing a cap on the cost per click they charge in addition to the cost per thousand for the campaign reach. As George in Seinfeld was told, Double Dipping isn’t popular.

Still on mobile advertising, new data from a good Ofcom study showed that the UK is doing pretty well in mobile advertising compared to some – but there is still a way to go. Looking at mobile ad spend per head of population, the UK is at £1.33 compared to the US at £1.25. But Japan shows the potential with £6.52.

And eMarketer gives us a clue why we are lagging; whilst mobile gets around 10% of peoples time in the US, it only gets 1% of adspend. The UK figures are probably similar. As Mary Meeker points out there is a $50 billion opportunity as this gap between time spent with digital and adspend closes. All the data and charts are on our blog.

Money always follows audience and we will eventually see mobile take its deserved share of adspend – specially as brands start to be able to close the loop between ad exposure on mobile and actual transactions.

We’re not that far away from campaign measurement that links exposure on the mobile device with someone checking in at a retail store, redeeming a mobile coupon and buying the product with their mobile wallet. When this happens we’ll see huge shifts in budget.

But one issue that needs work is understanding how mobile advertising works. Right now mobile is hampered by the disdain for banners and buttons that plagues online advertising. Whilst mobile is unlikely to emulate the clutter that mars online we need some thinking about how and why digital advertising works.

Ignoring clickthrough for a moment we see some advertisers like P&G buying mobile and online ads for reach. Studies from all the research companies show that online can and does affect brand metrics. But we need to understand how it works and we think its time to think about how low involvement processing works in digital. This theory from Robert Heath is well respected amongst marketers and is accepted as one of the ways that TV advertising works. The basic thought is that whilst we don’t consciously pay attention to a message, our sub conscious processes it with low involvement from our brain.

We suspect that’s how digital banners work and we’re keen to explore if we can prove this in mobile. Years ago we invented a brand (YesSirNoSir) and advertised it online, to see what the effect of pure digital was. One of our plans for 2012 is to replicate this on mobile and we’ll be looking for partners; if you would like to get involved get in touch.

Quick reads

Booz Allen have looked at which brands are getting organised for social

Our friends at Infectious are nailing the emerging space of exchanges and have shared a great case study showing that this approach works for brands as well as response advertisers

The smart people at WeAreSocial point out an interesting new opportunity for brands in Facebook – Private Messages.

Amazon have upset some people with their aggressive push on mobile price checking – whilst Google point out that retailers need to improve how they use mobile instore.

Google+ is building out the features and now has facial recognition. Maybe we’re being slow but couldn’t you hack this security with a photo of the person?

And the Google answer to FlipBoard has launched in the US. The skunkworks name was Propeller but its launch name is Currants. Reaction is generally good but its lack of social features seem to be an issue.

The Adobe Investor presentation is – as you might imagine – a little dry . But it’s worth reading as what they offer sounds very like what a digital agency might offer.


its Christmas and we’re out of here.

Rather than cards we thought we’d share some of our collection of soulful Christmas music we’ve been building over the years. In the past this has been a CD and a YouTube playlist. This year it’s a Spotify playlist.

This will be the soundtrack as we enjoy Turkey and Pinot Noir on the beach in Sri Lanka. However you spend your Christmas we hope you enjoy listening and that you have a great time.

By the way if you still haven’t sorted New Year, our place in St Ives is available.

Mobile Fix – November 25th

The market is tough. The consumer is spooked. – Philip Green

Today is Black Friday. The day when US retailers traditionally open very early and offer big discounts to lure people into stores on the day after Thanksgiving. Many of the big ecommerce players are using mobile to try and disrupt this tradition.

Some retailers like BestBuy are trying to fight the tide of mobile savvy shoppers by not displaying manufacturers barcodes on products, so people can’t scan them to read reviews or check online prices. But they do have QR codes that lead to Best Buy mobile pages

Others like department store Nordstrom are offering free wifi;

“The shopping landscape is changing very rapidly, and so we want to evolve with our customers,”

IBM are keeping a close eye on US retailers and have just released this data;

* Early results for Thanksgiving 2011 indicate that it is going to be a strong online shopping day.
* Thanksgiving 2011 sales are up 20 percent over Thanksgiving 2010 for the same time period.
* Mobile shopping is also off to a very strong start:
- Mobile Traffic: The number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site reached 15.8 percent.
- Mobile Shopping: The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase reached 10.1 percent.

Here in the UK the news that Philip Green is to close over 260 shops supports our thinking that retail is going to get shaken up with mobile and this Christmas is going to be the first Mobile Christmas. And with data suggesting people are getting more comfortable buying more expensive items on their phone, it won’t just be the stocking fillers that get bought on mobile.

But with around 80% of sites effectively shuttered for mobile buyers some retailers are going to miss out. A review of 22 retailers shows that most have lots to do to maximize sales from mobile shoppers.

Amazon – any phone for 1 cent

If you were thinking of launching a phone in a years time how would you try and prepare for that? How about you offer such an amazing deal you get loads of people to buy from you now, in the hope you can sell your new phone to them when their deal is up for renewal? is selling most of the best smartphones for 1 cent in a promotion with AT&T. Just as rumours about their own phone surface. Coincidence?

Oddly don’t sell smartphones on their mobile site?

And as if not wanting to be left out, there are more rumours about a Facebook phone.


Googles Tom Uglow has produced some smart thinking about modern marketing.

One key thought is a build on the Jacob Neilson 1-9-90 theory of social – that whilst 1% of people produce content, 9% share it around and the other 90%.

Tom expands this to;

Engaged user // community // spectator // passive consumer (at a ratio of 1 . 10 . 100 . 1000?)

This feels a bit like how TV works when done smartly. Rather than chase passive consumers, brands like YeoValley are choosing to focus on those places where the spectators are, in an attempt to build community and engagement.Of course great TV ads are very powerful – as part of the team that brought you Howard from the Halifax we know just how effective TV can be. But even back then, we were looking for a way of having a Part 2 to the TV ad, just as the YeoVally ads drive people to Facebook

Various conversations with smart agencies and smart brands over the past few weeks have reminded us that marketers are looking for engagement rather than merely reach. So the big question is how do you use TV to drive your community to a deeper more engaging experience?

In a must read article Shiv Singh of Pepsi argues that TV ads have to become trailers;

When TV ads become teasers for digital experiences, the ROI on the investment will improve significantly as the digital experience will stretch out the brand experiences beyond the 30 second clip.

Our clever friends at Collaborate talk eloquently about how connected TV is about to disrupt the cosy world of trad TV. And point to interesting thinking on how video is finally becoming professionalised.

In this new world, it feels like mobile has a huge role to play. People are using their devices whilst watching TV so it’s the natural place to try and build the digital experience. But we’re convinced that the mobile/digital expertise needs to be involved at the start of the thinking, rather than bolted on at the end.

And Seth Godin reminds us that reach isn’t always a good thing – and that long term engagement is what’s really valuable – if you can turn it into permission.

Quick reads

Apple are to start publishing weekly charts of their best selling apps. This is slightly different to the list within the appstore and seems to be a way for Apple to try and own the space. Given how disorganised the Android stores still are, there seems to be little chance of a meaningful Android version.

Perfect proof that there is life outside the app store – the FT have announced a million users for their HTML5 app. They have produced a good infographic with all the data.

Good thinking about GAFA – and Microsoft.

Google new iPad app is very interesting.

Still on the iPad some good data showing how conversion tends to be higher than on the desktop.

John Battelle has written a good piece pointing out some of the problems with mobile advertising. Even Martin Sorrell is disappointed by the slow take off of mobile.
@sienneveit: Very disappointed in take up of mobile : 0.5% of budgets but 8% of our time #ebg (Martin Sorrell)

Last nights London Standard had 9 ads featuring QR codes. NFC is never coming to press and whilst Google Goggles is cool, we’re convinced that QR codes are here to stay.The challenge is to make them work really well.


two videos you must watch;

Whilst everyone must have has seen Fenton by now , it’s turning into a meme.

And the new ad from Samsung is a much watch.

I could never get a Samsung, I’m creative.
Dude, you’re a barista.

Mobile Fix – November 4

The Fireworks issue

Privacy Matters?

It’s clear that the battle between Google and Facebook will be one of the biggest themes of the next 12 months at least. They are battling for talent, the time spent with them by users and for advertisers cash

A key skirmish is going to be around privacy. In a very entertaining presentation at the IAB engage yesterday new Google Chief Dan Cobley talked about everything going digital. And towards the end points out that society has a role to play if digital is to grow – and states – quite forcefully that Privacy Matters. Followed by Mark Zuckerberg Law of Information Sharing. You can see the presentation here – well worth spending 10 minutes on.

It is clear that Google see Google + as a different way of sharing information – even denying that it’s a social network.

They are promoting their Why These Ads programme – to explain why people see the ads they see and allow people some control over the data used n the targeting.

And even their ads around online safety ( in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau) seem to promote the concept of privacy.

With Facebook facing more scrutiny over its tracking of users when they have left the site – this time in Germany, where privacy is a really big deal – are we seeing Google attempting to paint Facebook as cavalier with their users privacy?

In a conversation with Eric Schmidt a couple of years ago we were told that Google felt legislators in Europe were more likely to investigate Google than in the US or Asia. Will we now see Facebook facing real problems from regulators over here?

Another problem for Facebook is that, whilst smart brands now see Facebook as strategically important, most of the ways that brands use Facebook don’t involve spending much money with Facebook. In an eery echo of ‘traditional’ online, direct response advertisers spend money on Facebook advertising, but brands tend not to. The WSJ has a good piece on how big brands are underspending on Facebook. And Scoble looks at the money Facebook are leaving on the table, with some thoughts on how their ad model could develop.

Waiting for NFC

Despite all the hype NFC doesn’t seem to be moving that fast. Given Apple chose not to support it with the 4GS and relatively few Android devices have it – yet – the installed base is still low.

We have yet to hear a convincing argument of who is going to pay for NFC readers instore. Chip and pin terminals were introduced everywhere because the banks wanted to reduce credit card fraud – and pass the responsibility to the consumer at the same time. There seems to be no similar business case for NFC so we will have to depend on the replacement cycle for chip and pin terminals etc, with the next generation likely to have NFC capabilities in the chips – as Intel are developing.

So in the meantime smart brands are focusing on technologies that do have mass reach now. We continue to see QR codes being used more and more widely, even seeing them on a Circus poster last week and Unilever have put them on every pack of their Tony & Guy haircare range, opening mobile friendly videos with hair styling tips. This sort of smart use will build consumer usage. ( Unilever rather than the circus)

But there are other alternatives. Square is morphing from a neat payment solution into a platform for dialogue between merchants and their customers. Their new iPhone app – called Card Case – uses the geo fencing capabilities of iOS5 to open a tab whenever the customer is within 100 yards of the merchant. This means that to buy a coffee, or whatever, all they need to do is give their name and the merchant can see a tab is open on their iPad.

And Amazon have just launched Flow – an app that uses image recognition (similar to Google Goggles) to identify products and open the relevant page on the Amazon site so you can buy it. It’s not available in the UK yet, so we haven’t tried it, but we struggle to see what the Augmented Reality element is.

First Mobile Christmas

Nearly half the UK population now own a smartphone – and 70% of all current phone sales are smartphones, so we can expect that figure to keep rising. People who get smartphones quickly adopt the new behaviours that exemplify the mobile opportunity; they use the internet on their phones to search and access content, they start to play games with apps, take pictures etc.

So one area we think we’ll see huge changes is retail. Whereas we have seen an online spike at Christmas before, this year we will see mobile commerce spike. Remember those Booz Allen figures we shared a while back? – mobile will influence $110 billion of sales, this year in Europe.

That influence – checking review sites, comparing prices, look to see who has what in stock etc – is going to create winners and losers this Christmas. Against a worsening economic climate people are going to be very careful how they buy. In the US they are being termed smart shoppers and research suggests;

27% of US smartphone users will use the device during in-store holiday shopping: A new Deloitte survey (Oct 26) of 5,000 U.S. consumers says of the 42% of consumers who own a smartphone, 27% will use the device while shopping for the holidays. 67% of these shoppers will use the devices to find store locations, 59% to compare prices, 46% to check product availability, 45% to shop at online stores, and 40% will scan bar codes.

Consequently we believe the big online players will do very well – at the expense of those retailers who just don’t get it.

Liberty – an amazing retailer –are buying mobile search terms that go to their desktop site. Selfridges don’t have a mobile optimised site. Neither does Primark or Top Shop. Fenwicks have a flash intro so their site is just blank on a mobile.

We expect that, come January, these may be amongst the brands Mary Meeker talks of; wondering what just happened.

Quick Reads

Google providing more resources as they encourage brands to GoMo. Read the full story here.

Music giant EMI is opening their vaults of content to app developers to see whether there are new business models for music and mobile. We intend to have a play around.

Two of our current projects are focused on Responsive Design – where we are building sites that automatically optimise for the device being used. So rather than have a desktop site and then a mobile site, you have one that works beautifully on all devices. This is a good summary of resources and tools for this approach. (And because this approach uses HTML5, it’s relatively easy to turn out a Facebook app at the same time)

PayPal are looking to protect their strong position in mobile with their own mobile wallet

Google are tweaking their algorithm to give more recent results in the 25% (ish) of searches where this will be relevant.

There are some videos here of interesting mobile sessions from the recent Omma event in the US

And Google are pushing Google TV – just as the buzz on Apple iTV – Steve Jobs final project builds. (We wonder what ITV will have to say if that is the name Apple choose to go with?)


we got the chance to do some reading over half term and thought we should share our reading list with you – as well as Seth Godins latest list.

Mobile Fix – October 28

Don’t call it a comeback

This has been a big week for some of the device manufacturers who have suffered as Apple and the Android first division (Samsung, HTC & Moto) have grown over the past couple of years
Nokia have launched the Lumia – the first fruit of their partnership with Microsoft and initial reaction is that they have made a good job of combining Windows Mobile OS with their hardware skills. There is an in-depth look here.
Coupled with good results last week – largely due to the continued success of Nokia featurephones in some emerging markets – Nokia are now back in the game. But they have a lot to do.
The other people back in the game are Sony; as predicted a couple of weeks back they have bought out their partner Ericisson and will now produce devices under the Sony brand. Can they get their mojo back? – there was a time when Sony was just as influential in design as Apple is now. And with products like the WalkMan, PlayStation and the PSP they have disrupted before. But their past success has been hardware based, whereas the smartphone sector is all about software – though we should remember they do get content much better than any of GAFA.

TV disrupted by tech

One area where Sony should have some advantages is connecting TV with mobile – and one benefit of the deal is that Sony now have access to patents that help here.
In the US, Simon Cowell has now seen the light on Twitter and US viewers can now vote on XFactor using Twitter. With new UK data suggesting that 75% of TV viewers watch whilst multi tasking this sort of partnership is going to become more comment as screens fight the war for attention. And when Ofcom tell us that amongst 12-15 year olds the mobile is now the tech they would most miss – 28% versus 25% for the internet and only 18% saying they would miss TV most. Of course this is due to the programming now being available on mobile and the internet. And once we have apps on the TV imagine how that will change behaviours.

Facebook Mobile

“A Few Years From Now, Most Every Single Person At Facebook Is Going To Be Working On Mobile”
In more interviews the Facebook CTO stresses just how central Mobile is to Facebook. And at the London f8 developers conference this week Facebook Head of Partnerships Christian Hernandez talked of mobile being key for all web companies.
And we’re now seeing Facebook trial the use of Facebook credits as a payment mechanism for websites outside of Facebook. As the only currency permitted within Facebook, they have a strong chance of becoming a major player here

Quick Reads

Finally – our smart friend Glyn Britton from Albion has been channeling Jamie Reid and produced a cool logo for GAFA – which we intend to use lots. All these planners are just frustrated creatives really.

Mobile Fix – October 7

This video of Steve Jobs making his commencement speech at Stamford seems like an appropriate tribute to a great man.

We should also remember that he was a family man, who died at just 56. Cancer is a cruel disease and we’re proud to work with Trekstock; a very cool charity focused on raising money to fight cancer. If everyone who had been moved by Steve Jobs made a donation to a cancer charity maybe someone else’s life could be saved.

This sad news rightly overshadows the launch of the iPhone 4S – and perhaps explains just why it felt a little underwhelming.

The empty chair on the stage now makes sense and geek blogger Scoble speculates that some of the announcements due for this event – in particular the Facebook iPad app – were pulled at the last minute.

Having said that the new spec is good – and software innovation like Siri really does move the market forward. And looking at how Apple are using Siri, they create a little advantage of Google in that Apple will now know what their users are searching for – another chess move between the GAFA.

As the smart people at Splatf point out the Apple product roadmap tends to work in 2 year cycles – so next year should be huge. It seems likely that Apple have some more good stuff to come and we should expect more product news in the coming months.


Older readers might remember that – before Apple took the mantle – there was another consumer electronics company that was lauded for their innovation and excellent product design. Sony had a great track record but have never been able to nail it in mobile. Many think the tension between Sony and their JV partners Ericcson has thwarted their plans for mobile – and rumours of a break up are back.,/p>

It would be interesting to see what a really focused Sony could do with mobile devices. They have lots of advantages – they get design, they really understand content – as big players in the development of music, movies and games – and have a strong user base as their success in this analysis of who has really engaged Facebook fans shows.

Samsung / Google

But it looks like the big news in mobile devices over the next couple of weeks will probably go to Samsung/Google with their new Nexus Prime or Galaxy Prime. The leaked specs look really good as does the design. Official launch next week.


We’re still waiting for news on what Facebook plan to do with mobile. There are more details emerging of Project Spartan and how HTML5 will be central. Maybe some or all of their plans were to be announced at the Apple event?

Online advertising

As the recession bites we see UK brands are increasing their investment in accountable media, with online ad spend up by 13.5% – putting online as the biggest ad medium in the UK with 27% of all adspend. And given this data excludes the two fastest growing areas ( mobile and Facebook) the true figure is higher still.

Quick reads

More interesting thinking around HTML5

Pepsi have chosen 10 European startups to support with marketing partnerships

A good summary of a good event around 2 screen TV

Google are pushing HTML5 creative for mobile

And Google have published a new research resource around mobile, in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association and Ipsos. This lets you build your own charts from the global data- really cool.

Mobile operators move into Silicon Valley. AT&T, Vodafone and Verizon all opened R&D centres to get closer to innovation and talent.

Chinese digital giant keen to buy Yahoo

Another week. Another Walled Garden – Mobile Fix – September 30

Following F8 last week, where Facebook described a future where you never need to leave Facebook, this week Amazon described a future where you don’t really ever need to leave them.

With 4 new products, the Kindle range is pretty audacious – and very keenly priced. What the Kindles do isn’t quite what the iPad does, but they do a lot for the money.

As we have discussed over the last 18 months each of the GAFA* giants is trying to build a vertical ‘stack’ where they control every aspect. Apple have been in the vanguard, launching great hardware and then developing an ecology ( and the software) that enables them to capture the value of the content consumed using that hardware.  So selling music, books, movies, games and apps becomes a very profitable way of enticing people to buy new hardware that lets them use the content they have bought.

Of course all these eyeballs inside an Apple ecology worries Google, as they are the dominant monetiser of eyeballs through search. And new research on the success of Facebook in terms of time spent online has to concern Google too. So they have started to build their vertical stack – they key difference being that they started with the software (android) before recognising they needed to be involved in the hardware too – buying Motorola.

When we first started including Amazon in the GAFA, many people questioned it. But we should remember that Amazon have built a big business outside of ecommerce, with Amazon Web Services powering a huge proportion of web businesses. And don’t forget things like crowd sourcing pioneer Mechanical Turk, measurement company Alexa; or their search engine A9. They closed the standalone search engine in early 2010 and concentrate on search for commerce players. We wonder who is going power search on the Fire?

As the dominant player in selling content, they have most to lose as other people enter the market. So whilst Amazon has a huge advantage in physical content (CDs, DVDs etc) iTunes hurts them with MP3s etc.

So yesterday Amazon went a step further in building their vertical stack. They have built on the huge success of the Kindle (look at the graph below showing how Amazon now sell more Kindle books than paper ones) with new products. The Fire looks like a great way to listen to music, watch movies and yes, read books. And with their own Silk browser they are also positioning this as a great way to browse the web too. So at around half the price, this does what most people use the iPad for. Game on.

One reason for the low pricing is that Amazon expects to make money from content sales to subside the devices  - and (this wasn’t made very clear) these devices will also include Special Offers – unless you pay another $40. Just as Amazon launched an ad subsidised version of the kindle a while back, they will us this model to get great headline prices. This probably explains why the UK price looks so expensive – that media play hasn’t reached the UK yet so the UK

This is probably the key weakness of the Amazon launch – much of the sizzle depends on Amazon services like their cloud drive and streaming movies which so far are US only.

NextWeb have a good round up of the Amazon announcement here. And the Guardian look closely at how it matches the iPad.

Apples turn next week

Confirming all the rumours, Apple have announced an event for next Tuesday. The key question is whether this is just about the iPhone5 or whether we’ll see some new products.

On the iPhone 5 we think a big focus is going to be around voice control – with a feature rumoured to be called Assistant. Since Apple bought Siri last year there have been talk about Apple want to develop the iPhone into more of an assistant and voice control seems central to this. Announcements around the work Apple have been doing with Nuance were expected at the launch of Ios5 but didn’t happen. 

We also expect that NFC will be supported in some way, making sure Apple get to play in Mobile Money, rather than letting Google et al take a lead. Given that research suggests Apple have an 89% retention rate, whatever they announce will have queues out of the door.

Our other bit of speculation is that we see the iPod rejuvenated. We’ve mentioned stories of Apple buying 9 inch screens before and we wonder whether Apple couldn’t take some of the wind out of Amazons sails with a iPod Touch tablet that is designed for consuming media. Using the tech from the first iPad with this smaller screen would give Apple something at a lower price point and leave the iPad as the premium product.

The other thing we suspect might happen is a bit more love for iAds. No-one at Apple will have been very surprised by the Amazon launch – given the deep relationships Apple have with all the component manufacturers they will have had a good idea of what Amazon was doing. But the pricing may have given Apple cause to think – and we wonder if all their dealings with content companies will have reminded them just how good advertising can be at subsidising products and services. If Apple could rethink their ad proposition and scale it, they could use that revenue to reduce the cost of hardware. That’s what Eric Schmidt has been saying for years.


Like us, you will have read many articles looking at the new features from Facebook. You might even have seen Don Draper presenting it. This summary from John Battelle is probably the best thinking on the subject we have seen.

The one thing that everyone seems to have missed is the mobile element. Every time a feature was shown Zuck stressed this was going to be available on all platforms. And if you watch the videos the mobile experience is going to look a lot more like the desktop one than it does now.

There are over 7 million apps and websites integrated with Facebook – and all these potentially are now going to be delivered on mobile. Except all of them that use Flash that is. We mentioned Project Spartan, the rumoured Facebook mobile platform using HTML5 last week and we expect that HTML5 is the way forward.

We await some word from Facebook on what is going to happen with mobile and apps, but we’re convinced this is huge news as brands can use the same technology to develop their presence on Facebook and mobile – as well as desktop web.  TechCrunch think that Monday is the day Project Spartan gets launched so we’ll know a lot more then. Screenshots of Spartan here

This interview with their head of mobile is worth reading; Within another year or two, we’ll be a mobile company, with 1/2 mobile users.”

Quick reads

The new edition of excellent Think Quarterly from Google is now out.

Google launch an MVNO in Spain. Turns out not to be true but do they want to disintermediate operators? We looked at that back in 2006

Smart thinking on how to use Twitter as an ad medium from @PeterKim at Dachis

Cool new Android phones from Japan. How long before they arrive here?

People are quick to unlike brands on Facebook

Not that quick but this video about HTML5 is a good summary of a hot topic.

Good interview with Zynga about mobile gaming

Everyone knows that integration is essential. Some new research from Google measures the additional impact of adding digital and mobile to TV.



One of the biggest events in the mobile calender is talking place next week in London. The MMA Forum has an excellent set of speakers – including experts from China, Japan, Africa and Indonesia sharing a truly global view of mobile. We’re part of a panel on day one, looking at one of our passions – Permission Marketing. This is a great chance to supercharge your mobile understanding. It’s just £200 for brands – and we could probably sort a deal for Mobile Fix readers. Let us know if you’d like to come and we’ll see what we can do.


*GAFA – how we describe Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon. – the people who boss this market – like the Gaffa in cockney slang. Eric Schmidt calls them the Gang of Four. We suspect he doesn’t know that much cockney slang.

What a waste of money – Mobile Fix

We were going to add this fascinating infographic (showings the 20 most expensive keywords on Google) as a quick read at the end of Fix.

But we decided to try a little experiment – we searched for the first 3 keywords on our mobile. And guess what? The lead advertiser for each (Insurance – GoCompare, Mortgage – Moneysupermarket, Loan – Sainsbury’s Bank) is paying to drive people to sites that are not optimised for mobile.

How much money are brands wasting by not going mobile?  In every project we have done, the cost of developing mobile friendly landing pages has been more than covered by the value unlocked in mobile search. What are people waiting for?

Twitter – Mobile Fix

With some big numbers – 100 million active users - Twitter have been talking about their plans for the future – including advertising. Their CEO Dick Costolo spoke last week ; this live blog of the speech is worth a read – not least to get a flavour of how ubiquitous Twitter is now.
Some of the smartest thinkers have built on this news. John Battelle has a typically well thought through piece on twitter advertising.  One key quote;
( I think) Twitter will adopt a model based on two familiar features: a cost-per-engagement model (the company already uses engagement as a signal to rank an ads efficacy) and a real-time second-price bidded auction 
Fred Wilson shares some thinking about the different ways people use Twitter, reminding us that lots of people just treat Twitter as a place to get news and views – essentially a broadcaster that aggregates people you’re interested in.

It is this scale – the constant broadcast – that sums up Twitters greatest asset but also its key problem. There is so much content how can users get to the good stuff? Other media have solved this problem – print lets you tear out the good articles and search back issues online. The reason Sky+ is so popular because it lets people organise their TV viewing – saving the stuff you really want to see whilst the on demand services like iPlayer and 4OD let you access stuff you missed.

But on Twitter that’s just not possible – so we get a degree of Twitter anxiety if we don’t check every few hours; worried about what we might have missed.

If Twitter can solve this problem and highlight the good stuff, they make themselves even more valuable. And advertising could prosper if it can be that well targeted. But advertising that merely adds to the noise it will be resented – and have little purpose other than perhaps motivating sign up to a premium ad free service – a la Spotify.
We were interested to read that the YouTube founders who have bought delicious from Yahoo are thinking on similar lines and see the potential to evolve the bookmarking service to focus more on social discovery.