Apple's announcements yesterday were mostly focused on iTunes and adding a video camera to the Nano (beautiful device by the way - shape, colors, form factor, weight (lessness) - blew me away). There were a couple of interesting things that came out about the iPhone platform though.
A few of the facts:
30 million iPhones sold to date
20 million iPod Touch devices with about 225 million iPods sold to date in all with 50% to new customers (wow!)
1.8 billion downloads of more than 75,000 available applications
100 million billing relationships with credit cards ... this impresses me the most and is what I consider to be one of their important competitive advantages
You've got to be hating life if you're a videocamera maker like Sony or Kodak and you've just been bested yet again. First, it was the immensely successful Flip video cameras that sold more than 2 million devices without a significant brand name simply because the camera was so darn easy to use. ( Personal anecdote, I recently spent a day at a major CE maker with a group of industry analysts -- they let us try their new Flip camera competitor and one of the smartest guys in the room couldn't figure out how to turn it on. Said a nearby analyst: "Hmmm, no wonder Flip beat them to this market.")
Now the game just got more complicated because Apple has decided to add video camera capability not to the iPod Touch line, but to its Nano iPods. Pause for reverential awe. This was a brilliant move. (see Wired's take on it here).
Not only because it hits Flip in a sensitive spot -- right in the high school and college market where Flip was such a hit -- but because it further disrupts the videocamera market, opening it to more innovation and rapid change. You no longer have the three tiers of videocameras (disc or tape storage, digital decent, and then your lousy phone camera), instead, you have a fourth competitor. A personal media device that is now capable of actual personal media. Oh, and did I mention it's made by Apple? Right, just checking.
Video on Demand (VOD) has been a disappointment. As offered by most cable systems, video on demand should have made it easier for you to rent movies for home viewing than Blockbuster or Hollywood ever could because you never have to leave the house to get a VOD movie. But most VOD systems have failed to delight customers for reasons I won't get into right now other than to say that even if the movie selection is decent, the interface to find the movies is terrible. So most people don't use VOD.
Apple saw this opportunity and assumed its iTunes music business could easily extend into video, first with a pay-per-download model (one I first wrote about in 2007, explaining why it would not work -- I was right), and eventually with a VOD model, once the content owners could see their way to taking that plunge. But the iTunes VOD business relies on people buying Apple devices -- something millions of people do -- and people wanting to watch movies on those devices -- sadly, something far fewer people do.
This has caused me to encourage Apple to port its iTunes video service to non-Apple devices that are connected to the TV. I wrote about this a few times recently, explaining that video services need to connect to the TV to have a chance and that LG and Samsung Blu-ray players (and more recenlty, connected TVs) were doing that quite well. It would be a natural fit for iTunes to deliver content to those devices. But, alas, that's not how Apple rolls, as the Cupertino company prefers to make its money from high-margin devices.
Apple is all of course all about selling devices.But part of that strategy is building compelling user experiences that establish and reinforce the value of usage scenarios of their portfolio of devices.This is the context into which to consider approving the Spotify app, enabling posting of iTunes song information into Facebook and Nano captured video into YoutTube.From that perspective Apple is playing a smart game that builds the social context of their devices as explicit extensions of the value proposition of the iPod an iPhone ranges.
So today Apple announced the long anticipated new ‘music format’ codenamed 'Cocktail', productized as ‘iTunes Albums’. There are some nice features (photos, exclusive videos, lyrics, customized artwork) that deliver a good user experience. It’s a quantum leap from the standard album download.But is it enough?I think it is a useful transitory step, but not the end game.I’d go as far to say I think it it pulls its punches.The bottom line is that music buyers are rapidly falling out of love with buying the album. Downloads from stores such as Apple’s iTunes are predominately single tracks, as are P2P downloads.Little wonder when you consider the fact that the first commercial album release made its way onto the shelves almost exactly 100 years ago in April 1909.Since then it hasn’t changed in any meaningful sense.Sure the actual mediahas changed, as has the number of tracks, but it remains essentially a bunch of linearly programmed tracks.
The BBC recently aired a story that focused on some Forrester statistics regarding the number of people in the UK engaged in illegal file sharing. I’d like to provide more context in order to clarify any confusion about how we arrived at our estimate that the number of illegal file sharers in the UK is 6.7 million.
There are two parts to this issue, so let me take them individually:
Back on August 18th I posted an entry about whether or not youth are recessions proof. The data I examined was part of a webinar that my colleague Tamara Barber and I were working on. In the session, which aired on August 20th, we examined both the general US and Hispanic youth markets. This Webinar is now available for free.You can click here to download the archived version.
It used to be that sales people could hit their numbers by responding to inbound inquiries (leads, RFIs, RFP, etc) from various companies within their territory. Now, however, these same reps are forced to develop opportunities from scratch as go-to-market models are increasingly more account–based than in the past. In addition, most firms are finding their win rates for unsolicited RFPs drop below 25%, a fact that contributes to the growing cost of sales.
I'm really interested in getting readers perspectives on why customer satisfaction research is so hot?
One thing that has constantly amazed me since I became an Analyst at Forrester Research, is the overwhelming interest in all things concerning customer satisfaction research. Easily a third of my inquiries are about how to design such studies, how to improve what they have, what are the issues with multinational studies, and how to deal with new concepts such as NetPromoter.
Even in this dire market, it seems that customer satisfaction studies are one of growth area in market research (according to Inside Research).