Two of the key themes that we are currently working on within the Consumer Product Strategy role at Forrester are the concepts of Disruptive Product Strategy and Elevated Product Strategy.
Disruptive Product Strategy addresses how new consumer technology completely disrupts existing business models and product ranges, forcing an unprecedented degree of reactive product innovation. Think about what eReaders and the iPad are doing to publishing, think about what the iPhone is doing to traditional mobile phone companies.
Elevated Product Strategy looks at how the challenge of this disruptive consumer technology compels the most senior elements of companies to take an active, leading role in the organization’s product strategy. Think about how CEOs of book publishers and newspapers are making statements about what the future of their products will look like and empowering their organizations to implement their vision.
And this isn’t a dynamic that just affects media and technology companies; it applies equally to financial services, retailers, FMCG firms, etc. Consider how telephone banking transformed traditional banking, about how Internet retail impacted high-street shops, about how social tools changed brands' relationships with their customers. And now, of course, all these sectors are being impacted again by the rise of mobile, of app stores, of the 24x7 connected consumer.
Today, we are kicking off a major global executive survey to complement our programme of research and we’d love you to take part!
At Nokia World, I’ve had the opportunity to get some detailed updates on Nokia’s music product strategy but also to observe some changes in its positioning within Nokia’s broader strategy. Nokia has made commendable progress, establishing the largest global footprint of any digital music retailer and bringing a much-needed focus to emerging markets. But it also comes across as a lower priority for Nokia this year. At last year’s Nokia World, music was at the centre of everything, from the CEO’s keynote through to background images on presentation slides. Of course the intense level of expansion and investment of 2009 couldn’t be sustained and wasn’t ever intended to be. But music no longer occupies centre stage at Nokia; instead it sits as one among equals in the suite of Ovi services.
But there are some impressive milestones:
Ovi Music live in 38 markets.
Ovi Music Unlimited (more on that in a moment) live in 33 markets.
#2 OTA service in Europe (though of course volumes will benefit heavily from the fact Comes with Mu….sorry…Ovi Music Unlimited users can download unlimited numbers of track without paying incrementally, thus boosting volumes).
Ovi Music is now the #1 source of digital music revenue in Russia, India, Finland, and South Africa. In these admittedly challenged markets, Nokia has become the main digital music game in town.
Can marketers create great content? Can they bridge the gap between an appealing 30-second viral video and TV comedy? Because that’s the competition in the emerging Web landscape — where media companies and marketers are competing for the same eyeballs.
Company creation of original video content to promote its products and services isn’t new, but this week, I was intrigued to see Philips trying something different. It launched a new “online sitcom” — Nigel and Victoria — that follows a love-struck marketing manager (a bumbling twit and therefore, naturally, English) and an actress (playing an actress) who hosts a Web series about Philips products. It’s amiable, knowing, and reasonably amusing, and a presence across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter ticks those social media boxes. It’ll be interesting to see if it finds a larger audience than the other video content — some of which is actually decent — lurking unloved in the recesses of Philips' own Web site.
The notion of Web-specific video content, or Webisodes, as a new format for content — somewhere between lo-fi UGC and broadcast-quality TV — took a hit in the economic downturn. The budgetary gap between TV and the Web was a difficult one to straddle. The sums didn’t add up, and the likes of Kate Modern, though effective at generating buzz, hinted at a future that never quite happened.
Yesterday Sonos and Spotify finally announced a partnership which has been long overdue. Sonos’ high quality all-home audio hardware and Spotify’s high quality streaming music service are natural bedfellows.
The partnership also comes at an interesting time for Spotify. Their meteoric momentum has slowed somewhat of late (both for reasons of their choosing and also due to factors out of their control such as the labels’ apparent distaste for a US launch). Spotify is also beginning to prioritize breaking free of the chains of the PC and CEO Daniel Ek is more than smart enough to understand that any sort of mass market future requires getting off the desktop and into people’s hands and into their living rooms. The various mobile apps were a first step, this Sonos partnership is another.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been calling for Apple to up its music service game for a few years now. If the iTunes music experience had been upgraded as frequently as the iPod range has been then we’d be looking at Apple as being the driving force in digital music that it was in the early years of the iTunes store. Instead Tunes has trodden water, squeezing the momentum out of what should be a dynamic digital music market.
Apple has never been in the business of selling music for its own sake. Apple sells music (apps, movies and the rest) to help sell devices. iTunes music sales are an artifact of iPod, iPhone and iPad sales, little more than monetized CRM.
So it was always most likely that Apple’s next step in digital music was always going to focus on enhancing the music device experience first and foremost. And so the stage is prepared for Ping, positioned as ‘a social network for music’. It is in actual fact music discovery functionality built into iTunes. Steve Jobs cited the 160 million iTunes accounts as a rich addressable market for the ‘social network’. At risk of sounding over cynical this sounds very similar to Microsoft and Yahoo citing their massive installed bases of email users as a social network simply waiting to be connected. Similarly Nokia with their handset customers. Apple now appears to be joining the ranks of multinational companies who mistake large installed bases of engaged customers as a dormant social network.