Oh, hello friends, it's been too long! But I couldn't let today's news stay this far under the radar. With a relatively small announcement on its blog, Google announced that the first Instant Apps have gone live! As a reminder, Instant Apps are Android apps that are internally compartmentalized into individual views (atoms) that your users can interact with from web search results. For instance, if a customer only needs to find the nearest bank ATM, they shouldn't need to download your app (and use precious device storage) to do that -- now they simply interact with the appropriate screen within the existing app delivered via the web! This immediately changes how companies deliver mobile experiences. Why? Because it knocks down 3 major stumbling blocks of mobile experience development:
App discovery is hard. Users find content with web search engines. Instant Apps brings that same power to finding app experiences. Getting people into an app store is hard. Finding your app once there is hard (Our recent data shows that only 26% of smartphone users find new apps through app store searches). Ensuring their device has enough free space, and that no angry reviews scare them off is hard. Deep linking was a bandaid for some of these ills, but Instant Apps will solve them all by delivering a complete native experience as the result of a web search.
Retail is experiencing substantial change because consumers are now empowered by the web with information about price, availability, and merchandise features.
The retail industry is still served by solutions that are too fragmented to adequately balance the asymmetry introduced by radical price transparency. There are solutions for transactions, web site, stores, and so on but little to empower the cross-channel retailer to really meet the consumer’s needs.
I’ve recently been looking at IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative and its portfolio that integrates:
1) Store applications. IBM has well-established high-volume store apps appropriate to high-volume, low-touch retailing but correctly identifies these as inappropriate for fast-growing specialty retail with low-volume “high touch.” This is why it acquired the “asset” of Open Genius.
2) Web metrics. IBM acquired Coremetrics in order to bring the discipline of measuring traffic, conversion, and average order to cross-channel retailing. It’s only by monitoring such metrics that retail can understand which marketing strategies are really successful and which market segments are most receptive.
3) Direct-to-consumer initiatives. IBM acquired Unica as a platform for integrating automated direct-to-consumer marketing with its cross-channel offering.
Yesterday Apple announced its intention to tighten its hold on the payment for and the delivery of content through its successful iTunes platform. (I’ll leave off the I-told-you-so; oops, too late.) Apple will require that all content experiences that can be paid for in an Apple app must be purchasable inside the app, with Apple collecting its 30% fee. The app can no longer direct you to a browser or some other means for completing a transaction. Crucially, the in-app purchase offer must be extended at the same price as the same offer made elsewhere. Though the announcement of the subscription model was the triggering event, the policy extends to all paid content.
I do not believe this is where Apple will stop – I personally expect them to eventually deny the delivery of content paid for outside of the app without some kind of convenience charge. But my personal expectations are irrelevant here, because what Apple has done already is sufficient to make providers of content aggressively invest in alternative means to reach the market.
Subscription content services are the lifeblood of the content economy. A full 63% of the money consumers spend on content of all types comes through a renewable subscription (I’ll be publishing this data from a survey of 4,000 US online adults as part of a bigger analysis next month, hang tight). Most of that subscription revenue goes to pay-TV providers, but 17% of it goes to newspaper and magazine publishers, including their online or app content experiences.