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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RIM's Mobile Collaboration Platform Gets A Big Boost

I stopped down to RIM's WES (5,000 enterprise mobile pros, ISVs, and carriers) conference in Orlando yesterday. The company's been taking heat lately from Wall Street analysts who seem more interested in watching iPhones rise than tracking BlackBerry units shipped. What you as an information & knowledge management professional should care about is if RIM will be a strong partner in the future. At the conference, I saw six things that give me great confidence that RIM is future-proofing companies' investments in the BlackBerry platform:

  1. BES Express is basic BES for $0. And it's good enough for most employees in most industries. RIM says it's taking off, with 55,000 downloads of the server software since March. And according to RIM, it's designed to scale out to enterprise levels.
  2. BlackBerry 6 is the OS that you've been waiting for. While the mobile world was going WebKit browser, RIM was still Java-only. They've fixed that in the next version of the operating system, due out in Q3 2010. See the video clip for a sneak peak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlO8KMv7Bx4. It has a much better browser, better touchscreen features, and a cleaner interface. And with RIM's participation in Adobe's open screens initiative, I expect to see Flash support as well, something iPhone doesn't have.
  3. The Pearl 3G and a new Bold prove that RIM understands fashion and usability. Frankly, these devices are gorgeous. I've always loved the Pearl, but I got tired of the Edge network. With the Pearl 3G, and its optical track pad, 3G, Wi-Fi, better screen, it's a beauty with brains. And it fits into my pocket in a way that the iPhone just doesn't.
  4. RIM's carrier-focus means it will get the attention that you need in every market. 175 carriers. Enough said.
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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).

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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Raising The Bar on Mobile Advertising: Apple's OS 4

Apple announced iAd today as part of their OS 4 program today. I speculated in this post on why they purchased Quattro Wireless a few months ago, but now we have more details. This post is on iAd only - my colleague Charles Golvin has a more complete analysis in his post.

First, looks like Apple will leverage Quattro's business model and use their sales force to sell ads. This should work early on for large buys.

They are continuing to be very supportive of their developer community with 60% of the ad revenue going to the developers. Not a lot of details now, but this could be generous. Part of the revenue needs to go to the sales team as well. There will be less leftover for Apple. Models such as Admob's have more of a self-serve model that have the potential to be more cost-effective especially with smaller buys. The types of companies that will have the budgets to develop interactive ads that take full advantage of the platform - accelerometer and location plus rich media - will have the budget to spend on media as well - not just on the creative.

Beyond developers, Apple is continuing their focus on the consumer experience. They are looking to protect the quality of the user experience by controlling the ad experience. Steve has raised the bar on quality of mobile ads by keeping consumers within their existing application or experience. He anticipates that the ads will be engaging enough to be considered entertainment.

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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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Stop the Madness! Payment Apps are on the iPad too soon.

Even though the iPad is barely birthed, there is already a push to provide payment applications for the device. It's time to pull the emergency brake on this trend. Are these applications PA-DSS certified? Do they have swipe devices with crypto hardware built-in? Has the Pin Entry Device been rigorously tested and meet all the PIN Transaction Security Guidelines? There are so many things consumers should know about the security of these new methods of payments *before* they allow their credit card to be captured by an iPad or iPhone. Is the card's Personal Account Number (PAN) encrypted at the moment it is swiped by the device? Does the device establish an encrypted tunnel to transport the transaction to the payment gateway? Doe the iPad store the PAN? Is that storage encrypted or unencrypted? Does the processor support a tokenization scheme to keep the iPad out of PCI scope? Is the payment app the only thing running on the iPad?

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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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