Will Apple soon also partner with TV service providers?

The time may soon come when TV service providers are also going to compete for the rights to exclusive distribution to the Apple Tablet...

There are long running rumors that Apple will soon launch a new device that will look like the iPhone but with a much bigger screen and with great capacity: the so called Apple Tablet. Whether Apple launches such a device or not, there appears to be a market opportunity for a mid sized touch screen, media focused device.  It seems that there are also lively debates around where consumers would actually fit such a new device into their daily life.

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Remembering MySpace

Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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Chatting with board members at a major apparel company last night, a few mentioned a story on NPR's Morning Edition about the social divide between young Facebook and MySpace users. I've been skeptical before, but am converting.

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What Google Could Bring to Digital Music

 There are numerous reports that Google is about to launch a music service.  Whether the rumours have foundation or not I think it is worth reflecting on what role Google could play in digital music and their various assets.  Here are some initial thoughts:

 

  • Google is already a major player in the online music space via YouTube (in Europe, the home of Spotify, more people watch music video online than listen to streaming music)
  • Google shouldn’t (and probably won’t) try to be an ‘iTunes killer’.  The bottom line is that the iTunes / iPod / iPhone ecosystem is successful within that niche, but it is just that, a niche.  The 99 cents download model isn’t a mass market proposition
  • Google has its Android asset to leverage, potentially ensuring it is a truly cross platform music play
  • Google is in a unique position to target music demand at the earliest possible stage i.e. when consumers start searching for music

 

The last point is where I think Google’s core value proposition for the music industry comes in.  Apple can do little about iPod owners downloading from BitTorrent (and our survey data shows they are very likely to do so).  But Google on the other hand can.  Just imagine if when a consumer searches for a song, alongside all of those Torrent results is a heavily integrated Google music offering.

 

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Spotify: Comes With Music's Latest Threat

As I referenced at the end of my previous post, Spotify – the European streaming music service – has struck a deal with UK mobile operator 3, bundling the cost of their premium subscription into the phone tariff.  I’ve done a few press calls on the story today and the recurring question has been “where does this leave Nokia’s Comes With Music”.

 

Although the business model and value proposition are very different in many respects (thus suggesting risk of direct competition is low), there are also many similarities. Both offer unlimited music free to the end consumer, and now both are mobile. The distinctions between streaming and downloading is becoming increasingly irrelevant to end users (though rights bodies will continue to obsess about the distinction). The differences the consumer feels are of course what matters.  Given that CWM and Spotify have comparable catalogue, the key differences between fully subsidized mobile offerings will be:

 

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Music Subscriptions wherefore art thou?

With paid music downloads falling far short of offsetting the impact of declining CD sales, next generation subscription services need to succeed if recorded music sales are ever going to come out of their nose dive.  There is certainly lots of supply side activity, with services launched or announced in the last year from, Nokia, Spotify, TDC, Sky, Virgin Media to name but a few. And the incumbents have been busy reworking their offerings (cf Napster’s new 50%-price-cut-with-MP3s play).

 

Music subscription services have a lot of history but not a huge amount of success, so what gives the current new crop any chance of survival, let alone success?  The key will be hiding some or more of the cost to the consumer and adding real value.  The bottom line is that many consumers are simply unwilling to pay for music and even fewer are interested in paying a monthly fee for it.  So success lies in making the services free or ‘feel like free’ to the end user, subsidizing the costs through savings to, or increased revenue from other core products.  TDC, the Danish telco, has pioneered this approach with its free-to-consumer service that is available only to its customers.  (A cynic might argue that Spotify is doing the same, subsidizing its free offering with VC funding!) 

 

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What Does Windows 7 Have to Do with Showtune Parodies?

Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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As usual, Microsoft gets no love from the commentariat. It's sponsoring a branded content variety show on Fox created by Seth “Family Guy” MacFarlane that will feature Windows 7 integrated into the programming. What does Windows 7 have to do with bawdy animated show tune parodies? I guess we'll see. Pundits are arming for bear.

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Why mobile could reinvent social computing

Many innovative start-ups have pioneered mobile social networking in the last few years: BuzzCity, Peperoni, Fring, Nimbuzz, eBuddy, Zyb, Plazes, Loopt, Foursquare and many others demonstrated the potential of the market.

 

In the last few months, a bunch of announcements clearly showed that the convergence between mobile and social computing is gaining traction and attracting the largest stakeholders:

 

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Sky Songs: First Take

Finally we get to see some fruits of the labour of the protracted negotiations between the UK music industry and the ISPs.  Sky’s long mooted service - Sky Songs - will go live on the 19th October with content from all the majors, powered by Omnifone  In doing so Sky brings three major assets to the table:

  • a scale of marketing clout and expertise that other music subscription services could only dream of
  • proven and deep understanding of packaging and marketing entertainment products
  • a large installed base of premium customers to target

 

At launch the service is to be marketed to all UK broadband customers rather than explicitly to Sky customers. This gives a wide addressable market, but it does mean that two other key assets are currently untapped:

  • bundling this offer with Sky TV packages
  • integration with Sky’s hardware

 

Sky does though, leave these as distinct possibilities on the road map, which is very wise as they could prove to be the secret sauce that could make Sky Songs a success.

 

Sky also do one other very smart thing that will stand them in good stead: they enable customers to ‘dip in an out’ rather than locking them in to a year’s commitment.  This is added to competitive pricing:

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Coolhunting with Teen Social Networkers

Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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Two-thirds of online teens surveyed said they tell friends about
products — that's almost twice as many as adults — and more than 70% of
teens use social networks regularly.

So it's critical for marketers to
understand how to best use social networks to reach teens and to help
them spread the word. Forrester created a new audience analysis framework based on what teen social network users said were their motivations for using them. It turns out they use social nets for both communication and entertainment. (For teens, communication is entertainment.) Compared with adults, there are more entertainment-driven teen social networkers.

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Help Shape Our Upcoming Marketing Leadership Research!

One year ago, our panel of Marketing Leaders told us they were dissatisfied with their current media strategies: 71% had a hard time measuring the effectiveness of their media allocation, and 52% were struggling to drive a fully consumer-centric media plan.

 

How have those trends changed in just one year?

 

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