The App Internet: What It Means For Tablet Product Strategists

My colleague John McCarthy just published an excellent report sizing the "App Internet," a phenomenon Forrester defines as "specialized local apps running in conjunction with cloud-based services" across smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Tablet devices alone will generate $8.1 billion in global app sales in 2015, up from $300 million in 2010. This is a huge number, but as the report explains, it's only a fraction of the total spend on apps when you factor in the cost to develop the apps and reinvent the processes behind the apps. This is no surprise to companies like News Corp., which will have spent $30 million through June 30 on "The Daily" iPad app. That $30 million included major process reinvention such as building an entirely new content management system to handle the all-digital production of The Daily's newsroom.

I recommend that product strategists developing experiences for tablets read John's report. Some key takeaways:

  • Apps are a source of dynamism and innovation for tablets. What we've seen with tablets is that even on the iPad, consumers report spending more time using browsers than using apps, but apps are an important part of the experience. iPad owners in Forrester's January 2011 consumer survey report downloading, on average, 20 apps for their iPads since getting the device, and spending an average of $34 on tablet apps. 
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Motorola Xoom: Cool Product, Fatally Flawed Pricing Strategy

The Motorola Xoom went on sale today, the first tablet to ship with the Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system. I've been testing the Xoom for the past few days, and here's my take:

  • The Xoom is a solid, sexy product. If the Xoom were a guy, he'd be the quarterback who occasionally flashed a GQ-style fitted suit and pocket square. The device is plenty powerful and has some nice design flair. When you use the camera, for example, it anticipates that you'll be holding it in landscape mode with your right thumb on the screen, and it simulates the radial control dial of a real camera under your thumb. There are no awkward moments, as there were with earlier Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak--it's slick and fast and feels like a tablet rather than an oversized smartphone. It has all the features you'd expect from an iPad challenger (cameras, ports, Flash support, etc.).
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HP webOS TouchPad Tablet: In The Race, But Apple Still Leads The Pack

Today HP unveiled its new line of webOS phones and the HP TouchPad, the first of a family of tablets HP is planning to launch. Here's our take on the TouchPad product strategy:

  • Product: The TouchPad marries the best of HP and Palm with features like Beats audio, printer compatibility, and nifty applications of Palm's Touchstone technology. Just as important, they've chosen a 9.7-inch screen size to make it as easy as possible for developers to port over their apps from the iPad, which will help them build their app ecosystem quickly. The device is thicker than the iPad and lacks the cool aluminum casing, but it has features the iPad doesn't (yet) have, like a front camera and multiple ports. There's still room for future improvement, like jazzing up the black hardware with a Vivienne Tam design as HP has done with its netbooks and notebooks to give the TouchPad more personality--and of course, launching 3G and 4G, which they plan to do later this year.  
  • Place: In a Forrester survey in January of 4,000 US online consumers, the No. 1 place consumers said they'd prefer to buy a tablet was electronic stores like Best Buy--40% of consumers considering buying a tablet said they'd prefer this channel, compared with only 11% that said they'd prefer to buy from a mobile service provider like Verizon. Here, HP has a huge advantage over Android tablet-makers like Samsung who are primarily relying on carriers to make the sale. HP has a strong relationship with Best Buy and the Touchstone technology will play well on retail shelves; however, Apple still has a stronger play on distribution since it's not only in Best Buy, Target, etc. but also owns its own channel--the Apple Store is a laboratory for teaching consumers about the iPad (and how to buy content on it).
  • Price: An unknown. HP is not announcing price at this time.
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