In the past year, social data has continued to wend its way into organizations of all types, from large enterprise to small business to media and entertainment and the public sector. We’ve seen use cases far past marketing into product and service quality, entertainment programming, customer service, fraud detection and a host of other examples. [Read More]
Last month, we published our report, The State of Social Business 2013, based on data and analysis from four years of Altimeter’s annual digital strategists’ survey. Today, we’re happy to release the data charts from that report, in a downloadable, easy to share PowerPoint presentation that you can take and inject in your own presentations. [Read More]
Distimo continues to do great work in making the apps’ scene more transparent. It is amazing to reflect that this sector is probably worth around $26 billion, not including the many billions spent on creating free apps. It hasn’t come about exactly overnight – in the pre-Apple mobile business music apps, ringtones and games’ sites were also coining billions. Apple created a new openness, momentum and transparency around products, market and growth.
Yet our knowledge of apps as a business is still flimsy compared with, say, our knowledge of the food category or health. Distimo’s latest report covers the use of apps stores and app strategies by major brands – those that make the Interbrand Top 100 list. It adds a little more color to this substantial and growing market.
Not surprisingly in this prestigious group the top brands by app downloads are the born digital, social network Facebook and the two Gatekeepers Apple App Store, but not in Google Play.” Brands looking for customers who buy products with high margins turn to Apple.and Apple. Distimo also points out however that “the most notable difference is the presence of luxury brands like Cartier, Hermès, Porsche, Prada and Smirnoff in the
There’s clearly a strong sense of brand affinity there. Of the ten top most downloaded apps on the App Store two belong to Google (YouTube and Maps).
Overall 92% of the top global brands have apps in the App Store compared to 75% in Play. Amazon is a big laggard with only 28 brands having a presence in its app store.
Sectors such as retail have a very poor showing. Of the top 100 brands retail accounts for only 8% of downloads in the App Store and in Play whereas FMCG brands are absent altogether.
There is an interesting distinction between brands that accrue revenues from App Store and Play and those that are very active. Top revenue earners include Apple and Disney on the App Store and Disney and Samsung in Play. Disney is big in apps but yes – there are Apple and Samsung again. In terms of sheer activity volume, though, there is a surprise leader –.
Sony has the most apps in the App Store (287), among the top 100 brands, and the second most apps in Play (216). Here is an interesting development. Apart from its own apps Sony has been promoting a new kind of openness in its smartphone and smart watch platforms. I’ve been interviewing Karl-Johan Dahlström (Sony head of developer relations / Developer World initiative) about that over the past ten days (by email).
Karl-Johan reports that enabling app development at the core of Sony products is part of a long term strategy to grow consumer experiences via third party innovation at a deeper level within the device.
“…. our “Xperia Camera Add-on API” allows developers to either create or integrate their camera apps into “Smart Social Camera”. As a few examples; Wikitude Places, FxGuru and Evernote have integrated their Android apps into “Smart Social Camera”. It all falls under “Sony’s Add-on SDK”, giving developers access to native Sony software, hardware (or both), blending their creativity for fresh, unique experiences. It extends the work we’re doing, and further grows the ecosystem around Sony products – we see this as something pretty powerful in end-user experience terms.
Ok, there is some PR-speak in there but Sony has also opened up its headset and its smart watch not just via an SDK but also by providing options to use the hardware in different ways, “developers can use the hardware functionality (screen, sensors, bluetooth) as they wish.”
There are, already, over 300 third party apps for the Sony smart watch. In an industry where Apple and Samsung dominate profitability and where the OS is dominated by Apple and Google, every new advantage counts. It is still early to say what the long term benefits of a holistic app strategy will be for Sony – the recent Cannacord report on smartphone profitability had them about breakeven – but at the very least they have differentiation.
Apps are here to stay, says Distimo, referring to their use by major brands. In some cases they are already the focal point of strategy.
If you’re a marketer who has evaluated native advertising offerings, then you’re likely already familiar with Facebook’s suggested posts, Twitter’s sponsored tweets and hashtags, or sponsored content on any number of online publications. But what IS it even? What are the benefits? How do you prepare? And what are the considerations along the way, as [Read More]
Each year, Altimeter surveys social strategists and executives, and shares our findings and analysis in Open Research reports. In our most recent report, we looked at our survey findings from the last four years, 2010 to 2013, to share our analysis of the state of social business. Overall, we found that investment in headcount and [Read More]
The concept of using game mechanics to achieve desired outcomes may not be new, but to many brands, the use of gamification across the enterprise to drive business value is gaining speed. In our latest research, Altimeter has found that gamification is quickly evolving to become an important component in many organizations’ internal and external [Read Full Article]
Sometimes it looks as though the whole of the Google Glass project is one big experiment. It’s hardly experimental technology. It’s an experiment in how to use a consumer-grade heads up display. But the experiment goes much deeper than hardware and apps. It goes deep, in fact, into Google’s crowd-based future.
Yes, we know the glass itself has strong experimental elements. What would a perfect consumer-centric heads up display look like? What would it be capable of?
These are the questions Google began to ask a few months back when it offered up Explorer versions of the product.
8,000 people jumped at the opportunity to find out and share the usage patterns with Google, plus of course 2.000 developers who got the chance to build applications before the product launches.
Now Google has asked its Explorers each to bring in 3 new Explorers to broaden out the test bed for the Glass experience.
We’re counting on you to get Glass to the people you think will make great Explorers. More Explorers means more feedback, and more feedback means better Glass.
The new generation of Explorer will be asked to pay $1500, just like Gen 1 were. Gen 1 though is about to get a new version of the hardware – the UK website The Register interprets it as a subtle way for Google to recall the first consumer version of the product.
Google is gently recalling the first iteration of its Glass product by offering to swap out the head-mounted camera of doom with a new version of the hardware.
So while Google has been quietly testing Glass and not saying a whole lot about the results, it has also been testing a new way to fund and market a new high tech product.
Go back to the old days of high tech marketing and often you would see a new product in the market with a very high price target, inaccessible to the eventual intended market. Look right now at Samsung’s OLED TV for example. It can cost $9,000 – $11,000 depending on where you are.
That’s a hard sell. But imagine if Samsung’s pitch had been “come and invent the future of television with us”. The entry price might still have been $10,000, maybe it could be less without a distributor and retailer margin. But it would stand a strong chance of appealing to the ultra geek and the wealthy who want to be at the cutting edge and a part of something new. The wealthy who want to be engaged.
Google is managing this process exceptionally well with Glass. And if all goes according to plan, its product development process will have earned about $50 million, on top of earning the company a huge amount of kudos.
In essence Google has crowdfunded Glass and has shown big business how crowdfunding can be done. In essence it is a giant Kickstarter campaign in all but name. But there is also an element of double-incentive marketing about it. It’s not that Google will offer discounts to newbies and to existing Explorers when they bring a newbie in, but they are offering a replacement piece of kit and access to the cool of being a Glass Explorer.
The pattern of crowd-based funding and marketing is writ large if you look long enough. It’s a giant experiment in crowd decision making and crowd marketing.
Inevitably Google Glass comes into the picture but somewhat under the radar lies a more interesting adversary, Intel. Intel has built out or acquired a number of new capabilities that signal it wants to be a force in the consumer space, or at the very least to shed its “ingredient” status.
Intel is becoming very adept at building adjacencies, many of them quite radical in the sense that they should transform the company’s identity. It is now an interesting niche player in professional services after acquiring Mashery, the API manager. As of next year it will take its first steps into consumer robotics with the 21st Century Robot project. It is also a substantial investor in Recon Instruments, makers of Reconjet, the first consumer-grade glass computing product.
Recon puts the computing into branded sports eye-wear like Ski and Snowboarding Goggles, and has its own cycling glasses, and heads-up displays for athletes. Intel, then, is buying into sports wear, the precise area that Samsung wants to target with its Glass product. The Samsung product is likely to be called Sports Glass. Its specifications look a lot less advanced than Recon’s but with the benefit over Google Glass of a cable linking phone and eye wear (that will help battery life).
At the time of the investment, Intel talked of Recon as a lever in its overall device strategy::
“Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that re-defines how we use and interact with information,” according to Mike Bell, Vice President and General Manager of the New Devices Group at Intel Corporation. “In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space.”
The devices group is new at Intel. It is run by Mike Bell who, according to PC World, “formerly co-ran Intel’s mobile unit—most notably in the push to bring x86 to Android.” The Wall St Journal reports that Brian Krzanich, the new CEO at Intel, was chosen because of his affinity with mobile. The strategy gives Intel a start on ultra-low power chips for embedded devices, embedded also meaning pervasive in items like clothing and everyday objects.
It’s a reality of today’s fast moving markets that nobody’s turf is safe. By moving up the food chain, out of its ingredient status, Intel also gets to know a huge amount more about consumer preferences in the emerging tech market. Samsung could already claim to be there. Google must also be looking around thinking, how come we don’t have a product out there yet?
Adobe Marketing Summit and Oracle OpenWorld both took place recently. It’s another month until Dreamforce, but I expect similar announcements to be made there. These giants are all building “suites” for cross-channel customer engagement through a series of acquisitions and integration with their existing offerings (see Figure 1). Among the pieces, each has bought [read more]
As Clare O’Connor pointed out here on Forbes, Apple’s hire of Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts signals a desire to evolve the way Apple products are sold. It will undoubtedly be on the back of a big store opening program because that’s how Apple can best retain margin as competition intensifies in devices.
At Samsung, the Korean company has taken another step towards the flexible screen. Samsung has been touting flexible displays now for a couple of years. The problem lies in the longer life-cycle made possible by an unbreakable device. How do you design for, like, ever?
That’s becoming a very relevant question. Smartphones have a serious negative environmental impact. According to Wikipedia:
“Cell phones can contain dangerous chemicals such as antimony, cadmium, copper, lead, arsenic, nickel and zinc.These chemicals have the potential to run off into surrounding water bodies or seep into soil causing harmful effects to wildlife and even the human population. Chemicals running off into surrounding water bodies could make their way into drinkable water systems and contaminate this supply.”
The other major problem with the smartphone though is its short life. According to the Environmental Literacy Council the average lifespan of a smartphone is about 18months. This year Samsung launched dozens of new phones, 4 in the S4 category alone.
Mark Ragoswsky offered the opinion a week or so back that the flexible screen is not yet a viable technology. I’m not so sure of that. I think it presents a non-viable business model. Flexible, unbreakable displays on phones present a serious design challenge to companies like Samsung simply because they will last.
In this sense it is possible to see Apple as a pioneer of longer life-cycle phones. Earlier this year critics of Apple complained that the iPhone had barely changed since its launch in 2007. That’s not necessarily true but where it is true we need to start seeing it as a virtue.
GigaOm back in April quoted a CIRP study that showed consumers were tending to congregate around the iPhone 4 and 4S.
“The iPhone 4S sold 33% of all iPhones in the survey period (just prior to the 5S launch), while the iPhone 4 represented 14% of all iPhones. In contrast, in the similar period following the launch of the iPhone 4S, the lower-priced iPhone 4 represented 22% of sales, and the free iPhone 3GS represented 5% of sales.”
In other words, while people do upgrade to newer models, more people are buying into older models, and that will increase as Apple powers up its buyback program.
What that also means is that the iPhone has embedded itself as a classic design that does not need to change much. Of course buyback schemes take iPhone 4s out of lucrative markets where people have enough disposable income to buy an iPhone 5S. But that is not the only point.
Talking recently to Danish designer, and former World Economic Forum, Young Global Leader, Jens Martin Skibsted of Skibstead Ideation, Skibsted pointed out that the next frontier for designers is design for longevity.
The model of continuous obsolescence , Skibsted points out, typified by smartphones, and which Samsung is dependent on, is vulnerable now that more of the added value lies in the Cloud. Google too has become aware of this and is offering its tablets as basic access points. The problem is the design and price makes them too disposable.
Skibsted’s latest projects are centered on durable fitness products and on his Biomega bike designs. The bikes are based on classic designs tied to new technology, and are about to incorporate electronics that mimic the connectivity of the car. They sell at over $3,000 each. They are, in sense anti-recycling as they emphasize very long design relevance, something that Apple has clearly hit upon with the iPhone.
That trend could explain why Ahrendts is so important to Apple (as she joins former Yves St Laurent CEO Paul Deneve). These are two heavyweights of high value but classic fashion retailing. The challenge they face is probably a curious one, but one that challenger Samsung will have to face if it dares to go with flexible and unbreakable displays. How to sell less Apple products while boosting profits by creating and maintain a combination of access and exclusivity.