Update: My post below created a great deal of discussion about Twitter Auto DMs and whether they are welcome and worthwhile or unwelcome and damaging to senders' reputations. Because of the diversity of opinion, I created a brief 10-question survey and invite you to complete the survey and then share it with your followers on Twitter. The survey should take less than 3 or 4 minutes to complete, so please visit: http://blogs.forrester.com/augie_ray/10-11-02-please_complete_a_brief_su... or http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CFSTQ3D. I'll share all of the data here on the Forrester blogs in a week or two!
On Thursday and Friday of this week, I'll be attending the Forrester Consumer Forum. I hope to be updating blog readers and Twitter followers on interesting news and information. I'm not quite sure which speakers I'll be able to hear, since the analyst experience at these forums can be busy and unpredictable, but I hope to attend presentations by the following folks:
Larry Bruck, Senior Vice President, Global Media and Marketing Operations, Kellogg
Perry Cooper, Senior Vice President Of Digital Media, National Hockey League (NHL)
Robert Katz, Chairman and CEO, Vail Resorts
John Kosner, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Media, ESPN
Kevin Krone, Vice President Marketing, Sales, and Distribution, Southwest Airlines
Tim Suther, Chief Marketing Officer, Acxiom
Various Forrester thought leaders including Ted Schadler, Josh Bernoff, Charles S. Golvin and Carrie Johnson
MySpace has seemed passé ever since Facebook lapped MySpace two years ago, but the news of MySpace’s demise was always a bit exaggerated. While Facebook catapulted to international success, MySpace continued to chug along with tens of millions of unique visitors each month. It’s still the 40th most popular site globally according to Alexa, and when Forrester published our report on Peer Influence Analysis and Mass Influencers, many were surprised when the Q4 2009 data demonstrated more influence impressions on MySpace than on Twitter. But while MySpace perhaps wasn’t getting the due it deserved, there was no doubt its importance to marketers and its influence in the social media world was on the wane. Change is in the air — soon a new MySpace will launch that will help it regain some of that lost luster.
Make no mistake — the days of MySpace as a general-purpose social network taking on Facebook are long gone, and MySpace recognizes this. Instead, as has long been rumored, the revitalized MySpace is focusing on entertainment, and this means connecting with Facebook and Twitter rather than competing with them.
Today, Barnes & Noble announced the release of NOOKcolor--beating Amazon to the punch of releasing a color eReader that's really a multimedia tablet. Billed as "the reader's tablet" by B&N, the 7-inch device has an LCD screen, weighs less than 1lb., and runs on Android. Though it won't connect to the Android Marketplace, it will run reading-specific apps as well as games like Sudoku and eventually Netflix. At $249, the NOOKcolor fits comfortably in the price range of dedicated eReaders, but it's half the starting price of the iPad--which raises the question, will consumers be comparing the two products? I think they will, especially if they are a current B&N customer or if they want a device primarily for reading that also has other media consumption and Web browsing capabilities. If reading is secondary to accessing other media and the broad Apple or Android app ecosystems, consumers will be better off with a more multifunctional tablet like the iPad or future devices from RIM, Samsung, and others.
Earlier this week, HP quietly released the Slate 500, an 8.9-inch tablet running Windows 7 that's marketed exclusively to businesses. According to HP, 400 customers are currently evaluating the device, which will be sold through HP's direct sales force and through its Web site for SMBs. The Slate 500 is literally just Windows 7 on a slate form factor; the idea is that businesses that run their systems on Windows 7 will be able to use the Slate for enterprise applications (the device doesn't sync with a user's HP PC).
Rewarding people for "liking" a brand on Facebook has created some eye-popping headlines. Bing offered FarmVille players three units of "Farm Cash" for friending the search engine on Facebook, and the outcome was 400,000 new fans in a day. Einstein Bagels offered a free bagel to new fans and increased its fan count from 4,700 to near 350,000 in three days. It's hard to argue with success, but could tactics like these come back to haunt brands as the next generation of search evolves in the coming years?
Bing recently launched a new social feature on its search engine. If you're logged into Facebook when you conduct a search on Bing, you will see specially highlighted search results of links or brands that your Facebook friends have liked. The "Liked Results" feature makes sense--it's as if your friends are beside you as you search and chiming in with their personal recommendations.
Facebook owns spectacular portions of its users’ time and has the right to use their data; this is the basis for Facebook’s significant revenue potential and is a great reason why we should hold Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to very high standards. But Facebook’s success is not nearly sufficient cause for the level of demonization that occurs today in popular media and among social media insiders. Facebook deserves the scrutiny it receives, but the excessive reputational lynching that is underway could result in outcomes that are contrary to the interests of both consumers and marketers.
How bad has the Facebook scaremongering gotten today? I opened my latest issue of Maxim to find “The 12 Most Dangerous Men in the World: Meet the Dirty Dozen who very well could be the last people you see before you die.” And there, stuck between the Mexican drug lord who uses severed heads as a warning to rivals and the Jamaican drug lord responsible for street battles, is Mark Zuckerberg. To be fair, the magazine was being comical, citing as a threat “annoying people from your past ‘friending’ you” and including Brian Austin Green in the same list; still the casual and easily accepted association between Facebook and evil is not without repercussions.
The league is leveraging digital media in many ways to produce benefits for fans, sponsors and the NHL. One such program was #NHLTweetup, which saw the league sponsor fan tweetups in locations such as Chicago, Nashville and New Zealand. The program was run at minimal cost to the league; the investment included 250 man hours, 13 pieces of autographed merchandise and gift bags with a total value of just $1,000.
The power of combining Twitter and real-world events is pretty easy to recognize, but the NHL took the time to quantify it. This program created results for the NHL in at least three ways:
Reach and impressions: Out of 150 people who attended one NHL tweetup in New York City, 100 of them had Twitter personas that could be analyzed. The NHL found out each fan had an average of 213 followers per person. Extrapolating this across all of those who attended the international events, the league estimates that the program created impressions on more than 230,000 people via Twitter. Of course, the social impressions didn’t stop there — the tweetups resulted in the most blog posts the sport had seen since the NHL Winter Classic.
Today Apple announced the new version of its iLife software, the new version of its Mac OS ("Lion"), and two new MacBook Air products. (I recommend PC Mag for great live blogging coverage.) I'm seeing five takeaways for product strategists of devices and content:
Software rules. It’s notable that Apple started off its conference talking about software, not hardware. It’s what you can do with the device that matters. Also, software is now officially known as “apps.” Software doesn’t come in boxes anymore, which make initiatives like HP’s new Download Store look outdated already.
Synchronization drives affinity across devices. Apple is smart to launch the App Store for Macs with apps that sync with iPads and iPhones. In doing so, Apple is trying to maximize the value consumers get from buying more than one Apple device. Companies that are trying to figure out how to compete with Apple on tablets should use their strengths in other product categories to drive their tablet strategies forward. RIM is already planning to do this, by creating the PlayBook as a Bluetooth-tethered device to a BlackBerry. Companies like Toshiba, Lenovo, and Sony should do this as well, bundling tablets with PCs (and TVs and game consoles, in Sony’s case) and have content sync across devices.
The next wave of PC design will be inspired by mobile devices. This isn’t just about apps, it’s also about the experience of using the device. Including a solid state storage drive (SSD) in new Macs give the devices the nearly instant-on, long battery life that consumers have come to expect from mobile devices but struggle to get in a PC.
Yesterday, Apple announced that it had sold 4.19M iPads in its fiscal Q4 2010, up from 3.27M in Q3. That means it sold more iPads than Macs in Q4, even though quarterly Mac sales were the highest they've ever been: 3.89M, a 27% unit sales increase from the year-ago quarter. Given that calendar Q4 sales typically account for 35%-40% of consumer electronics sales, we could be looking at 15M+ iPads sold globally for Apple in its first, three-quarter year. I am not the only analyst saying "Wow" right now.
There were tons of interesting tidbits in Apple's earnings call yesterday but I want to focus on a two points that I know are plaguing product strategists in this area. In particular, Steve Jobs attacked:
To help consumer product strategists and executives answer this question and benchmark their mobile consumer strategy, Forrester fielded a Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey in Q3 2010. We interviewed more than 200 executives in charge of their company’s mobile strategy across the globe (40% in the US, 40% in Europe, and 20% in the rest of the world).
First, only a third of respondents said that they had had a mobile strategy in place for more than a year. Companies in this situation are from many different industries, but online players, media companies, and financial institutions are often more advanced. Forty-five percent of respondents are just waking up to the mobile opportunity and thinking about integrating mobile into their overall corporate strategy — just like they did a decade ago with the emerging online channel.
For the majority of respondents, mobile is mainly seen as a way to increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. Mobile is less useful as a way to acquire customers and generate direct revenues — just 2% expect to generate more than $10 million in mobile revenues for 2010. While companies are assigning clear objectives to the emerging mobile platform, 23% of respondents still consider their primary objective with mobile to be to “test and learn.”