Though Miffed, Media Companies See Silver Lining In Apple-Adobe Tiff

 

The Apple-Adobe tussle is heating up to bizarre proportions, with Steve Jobs yesterday issuing a public defense for Apple's anti-Flash stance. Call it a blog-heard-round-the-world due to how quickly Jobs' comments spread, much appropriate focus has been placed on Jobs' technical arguments, including this write-up in The Wall Street Journal that quotes my colleague Jeffrey Hammond

But there's another big story behind this Flash fiasco that has successfully remained off the radar of most. It's the answer to this question: How do the media companies -- you know, those people who use Flash to put their premium content online everywhere from Wired.com to hulu.com -- feel about having their primary delivery tool cut off at the knees?

Answer: Media companies hope to complain all the way to the bank.

First, a bit of disclosure. I'm the one who went on record explaining that the lack of Flash is one of the reasons I am not buying an iPad. So I'm clearly not a fan of the anti-Flash rhetoric for selfish reasons: I want my Flash content wherever I am. But I've spent the last few weeks discussing the Apple-Adobe problem with major magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, and TV networks. Their responses are at first obvious, and then surprisingly shrewd.

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Tabulating The Tablets: Apple Vs. Asus, Dell, HP And The Rest

In the weeks since the iPad launch, there’s been a spate of rumors, “leaks,” and PR pushes around would-be competitors to the Apple iPad. By the end of the year, consumers will be able to choose from an array of multimedia touchscreen tablets including tablets that:

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Why Will Consumers Pay More (For A Mac)?

Product strategists struggle with the issue of value all the time: What constitutes a revenue-maximizing price for my product, given the audience I’m targeting, the competition I’m trying to beat, the channel for purchase, and the product’s overall value proposition?

There are tools like conjoint analysis that can help product strategists test price directly via consumer research. However, there’s a bigger strategic question in the background: How can companies create and sustain consistently higher prices than their key competitors over the long term?

The Mac represents a good case study for this business problem. Macs have long earned a premium over comparable Windows PCs. Though prices for Macs have come down over time, they remain relatively more expensive, on average, than Windows-based PCs. In fact, they’ve successfully cornered the market on higher-end PCs: According to companies that track the supply side, perhaps 90% of PCs that sold for over $1,000 in Q4, 2009 were Macs.

Macs share common characteristics with Windows PCs on the hardware front – ever since Apple switched to Intel processors about four years ago, they’ve had comparable physical elements. But the relative pricing for Macs has remained advantageous to Apple. At the same time, the Mac has gained market share and is bringing new consumers into the Mac family – for example, about half of consumers who bought their Mac in an Apple Store in Q1, 2010 were new to the Mac platform. So Apple is doing something right here – providing value to consumers to make them willing to pay more.

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iPad Delay, European Pricing Opportunities

Today, Apple announced a delay for non-US availability of the iPad due to extremely high levels of US demand.

This is credible. The iPad is a new category for Apple and arguably there is nothing quite like the iPad available from any other firm, certainly nothing with the same high media profile supporting sales. This makes forecasting sales harder than it would be for a new phone or a new computer. If the iPad was just a PC in tablet form forecasting would be easy. It's not.

With iPhone, Apple staggered its multi-country roll-out by five months. For iPad, Apple had ambitiously set out to shrink this lag to just one month - perhaps Apple was simply over optimistic?

However, even with high demand, it's completely possible that Apple is experiencing manufacturing or component problems as well. As a colleague once said about football: an incident can be both a foul and a dive.

What's going to be more interesting than today's news will be iPad pricing in Europe. Apple still hasn't announced prices and now plans to unveil them on May 10th. In the US, the iPad is sold at full retail price for both the WiFi-only and 3G version. Mobile internet data is offered as an ad hoc pre pay addition. In Europe, I wonder if Apple and its European operator partners may go down a different route.

If mobile operators were to subsidise the iPad, as they already do for the iPhone, it would completely alter the sales prospects for iPad in Europe by dramatically reducing the up-front price that consumers pay and increase sales.

Regardless, until Apple announces both the price structure and actual prices, we'll hold off making a call on iPad sales outside of the US (where we forecast 3 million first year sales).

Mobile Advertising: Apple, Google, And The Mobile Operators

Following its acquisition of Quattro Wireless for $275,000,000, Apple has just announced the launch of iAd, its mobile advertising platform (see my colleague’s take here). Adding the $750,000,000 that Google is ready to invest in AdMob (the deal is still under FCC scrutiny), the two most disruptive new mobile entrants have invested more than $1 billion — a clear signal that mobile advertising has long-term potential. The main difference between Google and Apple is that Apple is only just entering the advertising business, while Google’s entire business model simply IS advertising. However, that potential has yet to be realized. Does that mean stakeholders can generate significant revenues in the short term and that operators will be bypassed once again? I have read in various places some strange comments suggesting that Google’s mobile ad revenue share with mobile operators would be a way to finance network evolution. Just compare the cost of a base station and the significant investment required to finance 4G with absolute mobile advertising revenues and you’ll quickly figure out for yourself that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. This is more of an online advertising discussion around the Net neutrality debate (remember France Telecom’s CEO warning that he was not “building freeways for Californian cars”!) but it will crop up later for mobile.

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Adobe's CS5 Ups Ante For Editorial Workflow, Marketing Analytics, And Future Of Flash

Adobe's Creative Suite 5 launched today and offers dramatic advances in supporting creative editorial workflows, bringing together online review and approvals with the help of Acrobat.com as well as marketing analytics capabilities acquired from Omniture. These advances risk being overshadowed by the bigger drama resulting from Apple’s decision last week to ban developers from using rival programming tools like Flash for the iPhone 4. It’s too bad, because in CS5 Adobe compellingly pulls together its design tools to broadly support all mediums across all devices – with added workflow and analytics. Highlights of CS5 include:

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With 4.0, Apple Is Listening To Enterprise Concerns

Apple yesterday announced OS 4.0, it's latest iPhone and iPad operating system. This release confirms what we believed last year: that Apple is actually listening to what enterprise IT needs from iPhones. Let's review the history:

  • July 2007. Apple launches iPhone with OS 1.0 as a consumer device without anything that companies require.
  • July 2008. Apple releases iPhone 3G with OS 2.0 and introduces Exchange support, including remote wipe, but little else that companies need. Even so, some firms allowed their employees to bring their own iPhones and get email support.
  • July 2009. Apple releases iPhone 3GS with OS 3.0 and hardware encryption and enough policy-based control to give IT professionals the ability to more comfortably support the devices, particularly in non-regulated industries. The big remaining gaps in 3.0 from our 100+ conversations with IT pros? The inability to distribute applications wirelessly, to push software and policy updates to the device, and to manage iPhones or iPads in the same way that BlackBerry Enterprise Server (or Server Express, the $0-cost version) does.
  • July 2010. Apple will release OS 4.0 that includes wireless app distribution, better data encryption, more APIs for device management, and a significicant number of enterprise features that are outlined below. For other details, check out these Forrester posts on consumer functions and on mobile advertising.
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Apple's iPhone OS Upgrade Will Make Lots Of People Happy -- And Some Angry

 

Today Apple previewed the next version — 4.0 — of the iPhone OS, the software that powers the company's iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad products, a preview version of which it is unleashing on developers today. Apple will release the product to iPhone and iPod Touch owners this summer, and to iPad owners in the Fall. Apple's customers and partners will largely welcome the innovations in this new release, though there are undoubtedly segments who will complain vehemently. Specifically:

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Why are folks so interested in Apple's ad inventory?

It has the potential to be more valuable than inventory on many phones.

Why?

People who own smartphone devices are more active on their cell phones than your typical cell phone owner. For simpler tasks like SMS, they are moderately more active. For more complex tasks such as shopping, using maps, banking or doing product research they are significantly more active. iPhone users are some of the most active smartphone users when it comes to commerce-related activities.

Advertisers have held back on spending more on mobile marketing for many reasons. One of the primary reasons has been their inability to demonstrate the effectiveness of the medium or calculate an ROI. It gets a lot easier to calculate the ROI when consumers are buying items or using services such has mobile banking to deposit checks. Consumers are spending real money. My colleague Sucharita Mulpuru will be working on a mobile commerce forecast later this year. Anecdotally, we saw consumers spend in the hundreds of thousands of dollars with individual merchants/hotels/restaurants in 2009. We're likely to see run rates in the low millions for a few companies within a few industries by the end of this year.

The more consumers spend, the more advertisers will be motivated to spend. Consumer product and service companies will invest in mobile services such as "find the nearest," consumer reviews, available inventory, etc. to support commerce-related activities. The greater the supply of services (of great services), the more adoption and usage we'll see among consumers. Then consumers will spend more because the experiences will be convenient - it'll be easy to buy books or toothpaste.

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The Ultimate Grocery Shopping App?

Apple iPadGeorge Colony nailed it when he wrote “the iPad signals the future of software”. So where do smart-device app’s go from here? Basically, any application that focuses on saving people time is likely to be a winner but the biggest game changer will come when consumers start to benefit from customized services that save time and money while increasing brand loyalty. For example, here’s a glimpse into how we might see applications for our phones and tablets evolve to make food shopping and preparing meals at home easier…

Let’s imagine the future of a typical suburban home. In our future world we’ll follow Mr. and Mrs. Smith, working parents with little time to spare.

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