Archive for March, 2009

pre-CTIA event summary 31 March ’09

Here are interesting happenings from the halos of CTIA Wireless site in Vegas (the event starts tomorrow but there were interesting pre-event conferences/announcements)

  • Skype released on iPhone and BlackBerry. We downloaded it and really like what we see. Only issue : it works only on WiFi networks. For now TruPhone wins on this one as TruPhone works on operator network also using its AnyWhere service. We are sure Skype will provide that later. Skype for BlackBerry to be made available this summer.
  • RIM to unveil the BlackBerry App World (mobile app store). Nokia Ovi Store comes this summer. MSFT Windows Mobile App Store called Sky Market is later part of this year.
  • Handango, one of the initial mobile app developer, launches App Store Accelerator, yet another app store for mobile.
  • MSFT thinks that mobile devices are fashion accessories. As such it is teaming up with top designers for designing mobile phone colors and schemes.
  • MSFT is collaborating with AT&T for its PlayReady triple-play content management software for synchronized content delivery on three channels – TV, broadband and mobile.
  • Go2 Media to create app like experience in mobile browsers like Safari
  • AT&T to launch in-vehicle satellite TV service called CruiseCast. If you have seen Uverse from AT&T, you know what AT&T has mastered TV
  • Samsung launches first WiMAX device for ClearWire. It is an internet tablet PC.

Stay tuned for more from CTIA as the conference kicks off tomorrow in Vegas.

March 31st, 2009

What is bit.ly ?

http://bit.ly is a URL shortening service. You can go to http://bit.ly website and type any URL and bit.ly creates a mapping to a much shortened URL of the form http://bit.ly/18l5h which is a simple HTML redirector to the actual website.

Eg we typed http://cellstrat.wordpress.com in http://bit.ly  website and bitly translated it to http://bit.ly/18l5h. The shortened URL leads to the CellStrat wordpress blog.

How this helps : We use twitter and twitter has a 140 character limit (same as a regular SMS). The shortened bit.ly URLs can be referenced in tweets without taking too much space needed by classic URLs.

Innovative, shall we call it..

The major competitor to bit.ly is http://tinyurl.com/

March 31st, 2009

twittering

We started twittering today. Amazing experience. Quite a service. Of course we are twittering from our iPhone using twitterific app also in addition to twittering directly on the twitter website. We immediately got 12 followers and we started following 12 interesting personalities.

Follow us on twitter at : http://twitter.com/CellStrat

More on this as time goes on.

March 31st, 2009

CellStrat on twitter now

We are pleased to announce that CellStrat is on twitter now. So if you are really really interested in checking what we are doing at the moment, feel free to follow us on twitter.

http://twitter.com/CellStrat

We will be providing tweets as they call them. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 bytes in length. Twitter is an interesting micro-blogging service to post one liners – it is what they are now referring to as “Real-time Web”. A web which changes by the minute and people publish their thoughts on the go. Other people can follow the tweets by a person whereas that person can follow other peoples’ tweets. It becomes more relevant from a mobile perspective as one can post tweets while on the go. So we downloaded the twitter client “twitterific” from iPhone AppStore. This has been created by a firm called “the iconfactory“. Twitterific is fabulous as is twitter.

This is a new model which has evolved over last one year. It has been adopted by one and all around the world from celebrities to businessmen to evangelists.

So chase us on http://twitter.com/CellStrat …

March 30th, 2009

App Store wars, predictions by CellStrat and suggested strategy

There is an excellent article in Business Week (April 6, 2009 print edition) this week on Mobile App Store wars by Reena Jana and Peter Burrows. Below is a summary with some additional comments by us. At the end we make some mobile app market share predictions for 2011 and suggest some strategic ideas :

Business Week article (“An All-Out Online Assault on the iPhone”) :

RIM, Nokia, Microsoft and Palm are planning an assault on the Apple’s Red-hot App Store by launching their own App Stores for mobile phones. Mike Lazardis, co-CEO of RIM is set to launch BlackBerry App World at this week’s CTIA in Vegas. App World will have minimum pricing of $2.99 per app and will provide 80% of the dev revenue to the developer vs Apple’s 70% rev sharing. This is bound to entice more serious App Store developers who like the higher cut in case of BlackBerry. Moreover the latter is more prominent in the corporate circles so is likely to get corporate-minded developers. Mike McGuire of Gartner estimates that there will be significant threat to the Apple App Store with these plethora of App Store offerings. No wonder then that Apple has released an enhance iPhone 3.0 with tons of new functionality for iPhone developers. Rumors abound of a new iPhone device come June – Apple WWDC conf is around that time so a likely point for new hardware announcement.

Apple has created a new business model which these other Apple wannabe mobile firms want to copy now. While the simple mobile phone continues to take a hit from recession, the smartphone market is expected to jump from 139 million last year to 295 million in 2010, per Gartner. This will exceed the 300 million-unit PC market in due course. If not for netbooks, PC market is set to be outpaced by mobile phones in few years.

RIM is not a newbie to mobile app market. It has seen download of its application kit 100,000 times and there are BlackBerry apps for QuickBooks and clinical apps. However BlackBerry does not have a consolidated site strategy where the applications are hosted and distributed leading to Apple being a first in the most intuitive delivery strategy.

Well, Apple is way ahead for now. It remains to be seen if others can catch up in Mobile apps or Mobile Web world. Nokia, RIM and others sell far more phones than Apple but iPhone growth continues to defy gravity giving a shiver to the other entrenched mobile players. Who imagined that a formidable and innovative firm like Nokia would have to worry about a new-to-town cellphone maker ?

Apple App Store has 25,000 apps which span the spectrum of uses. Santoshi Nakajima, president of photo editing startup Big Canvas claims that they don’t even bother with non-iPhone App stores. iPhone is that strong in hearts and minds of developers. Many developers say that Apple’s real edge is in providing the tools to help them build cool, innovative programs. Mark Woolen, an Oracle VP claims that they make apps for both BlackBerry and iPhone but iPhone offers a more elegant approach to app development over mobile phones.

The good thing is that this competition is great. It is bound to fuel innovation among mobile phone developers. Microsoft strategy is to offer Windows mobile phones which work seamlessly with its Windows OS (yawn!@), Nokia Ovi Store, scheduled to open in May, is adopting a creative approach – it will offer content based on user’s tastes, location and friend’s recommendations. Nokia is trying to offer personalization in app search and delivery. Interesting.

It is all good. We look forward to these app store wars. May the best win and may innovation thrive…

Now some predictions from CellStrat for next 1-2 years :

- iPhone will maintain the market leadership in mobile web and mobile app store. Others will struggle to come close to iPhone App Store penetration.
- RIM BlackBerry will provide significant competition in corporate world to iPhone. We feel BlackBerry is behind in consumer segment in spite of being a top smartphone maker. They need to bring out some more compelling consumer devices.
- Nokia and RIM will be the strongest after Apple iPhone and pose the maximum threat to iPhone App store. Nokia may come out a good second ahead of BlackBerry due to its massive global footprint. We believe Nokia will have 10-20% of overall app market and BlackBerry might in the 10% range on strength of its corporate connections.
- Microsoft, Palm and all others will be third in Mobile App Store strategy. We still have to see what effect Palm Pre has on marketplace but its app store may continue to lag regardless of Pre adoption (due to developer apathy). All these other mobile App Stores combined might be limited to less than 20% of overall Mobile App Store market share.

 

Mobile Applications Market Share Prediction - 2011

Strategy for success for Mobile App Stores :

- Developers, Developers, Developers – Focus on developers and making their lives simple by providing tool systems easy to use and deliver. Develop vibrant developer community around the App Store and its tools.
- Focus on devices – Get in the bed with the best devices – your own or third party.
- Focus on usability – how to make the user experience with the apps simple and intuitive. Hire some usability experts (Sorry, Steve Jobs is not available).

 

We believe with these ideas, non-iPhone App Stores can cause some dent in iPhone App market.

March 29th, 2009

CTIA Wireless start next week in Vegas, Skype on iPhone and more

CTIA Wireless starts next week in Las Vegas and we will be tracking the happenings there. Should be interesting. Also more on Mobile App Store war soon. Plus Skype is releasing a client for iPhone (finally!!) – Skype CEO may announce this at CTIA, we hear. Earlier there were other VOIP clients for iPhone which were providing the Skype interface. Finally Skype decided to go direct on iPhone. We are excited. We intend to check this service out. Tell you more about it later. But we suspect that Skype on iPhone works only on a WiFi network similar to TruPhone. That will be an ongoing problem as cannot use VOIP client while on the go (in TruPhone, one has to incur a domestic calling charge with their AnyWhere service to use TruPhone on a regular wireless network – need to check if Skype on iPhone will offer service over operator wireless network).

March 29th, 2009

BSNL to add one million lines by next year

State-run telecom operator BSNL will add one million lines through advanced generation switches technology by next year and will shortly finalise bids for the purpose.…

March 28th, 2009

TV Episodes on BlackBerry soon

RIM is planning to announce a full-episode television service for BlackBerry users as early as next week at CTIA. The service is part of RIM’s effort to turn itself into an attractive multimedia option. It will be on a monthly subscription based model. Multiple broadcast and cable networks have licensed content for the service. Read More here.

March 27th, 2009

ROI on Mobile Marketing Campaign

BMW presented a case study at the Mobile Marketing Forum in London. BMW shared how a MMS campaign in Germany, promoting the use of winter tires sent to 117,000 mobile consumers, generated $45 million in sales – or a return on investment of approximately $750 dollars for every dollar spent.
This makes a strong case for any and every kind of company in product or service space to add mobile to their marketing mix.

 

March 26th, 2009

Attended Atlanta Interactive Marketing Assoc Seminar on Ad Networks and Exchanges

I attended a very interesting session at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AIMA)’s March event. The topic was “How businesses can leverage Ad Networks and Exchanges to drive sales in a down economy“. Four leading ad networks were present to show how their customers are using their platforms in unique and creative ways.

The panelists were :

Lexi Reese, Director Google Ad Network
James Fellows, VP Product Management, Platform-A (AOL)
Marc Grabowski, Executive Director, Yahoo Network Sales
Jay Sears, EVP Strategic Products and Business Development, ContextWeb/ADSDAQ
Moderator : Joel Lunenfeld, Chief Innovation Officer, Moxie Interactive 

 

It was an interesting discussion with lots of insights on internet ad networks and the success factors in internet advertising. Here are some key discussion notes from the panel discussion :

Ad Networks are growing much faster than the overall display market. Advertising is at an all time low but this offers opportunity for advertisers in various ways. The merger and acquisition market is going wild with all sorts of media, tech and ad firms buying each other across industry categories and business verticals. The ad network exchange is now called the super network.

The three pillars of the ad ecosystem are :

Technology, audience and data. All three interplay to provide a compelling ad offering.

According to eMarketer/ComScore, the highest ad network inventory is with Platform A (AOL) although this may be disputed by Google and Yahoo. The latter two follow close behind according to eMarketer.

Lexi’s (Google) presentation :-

With merger with DoubleClick, Google has seen acceleration in display ad category.

Savvier customers are turning to web. 54% customers researching products online before they make buying decisions. Reach is a key factor. With perspective to Reach, Long Tail (vast customer base) drives engagement.

Lexi mentioned that 2x more customers look at niche ad sites. Providing user with choice drives value. Transparency and Flexibility drive ROI.

Lexi gave an example where a major retailer drove down cost of online card redemption by 77% by reviewing Google reports on ad placement and success. Google is also using tools like Conversion Optimizer to determine what price leads to most conversion.

James (Platform A/AOL / advertising.com) :

According to James, the challenges for an advertiser include Fragmentation, Reach, Lack of trust, Quality, Need for ROI and Results. James mentioned that ad market is highly performance oriented now and pays for performance. Platform A’s predecessor Advertising.com is the leading web display network. It has #1 reach, experience and high quality to serve advertisers. Platform A has tools like AdSonar for premium placement targetting. It also offers self-service management for advertisers which is a popular concept.

Marc (Yahoo) :-

Marc mentioned some ideas from perspective of Yahoo :

- It is a matter of reach vs frequency. Frequency is important in advertising.
- Context makes difference.
- Place where an ad is exposed matters. Yahoo ranked within top 3 in 26 vertical categories (eg Sports, Finance etc)
- Specialization is key. This is where Yahoo’s extensive partner network helps.

Jay (ContextWeb) :-

We are in Media Buying 2.0 phase. There is a concept of Fat Tail vs Long Tail of Ad audience. While most eyeballs are spread across Long Tail, 77% of dollars are in Fat Tail. Audience are leaving portals and search is becoming the default portal. There are 100,000 blogs created everyday (wow!). There are 160 million registered web domains today.  As to how marketplace is reacting to the media world now :

Google bought DoubleClick
Yahoo bought RightMedia and BlueLithium
Microsoft bought aQuantive and adECN
AOL bought Tacida and Quito to create Platform A
Agencies are busy building “demand platforms” for ads. 

 

As to what is the way these ad networks differentiate from each other :

Google – targetting
Yahoo – data. Has user attributes and their web behavior stats.
Platform A – Technology and Complete Package plus the ability to act on these factors.

 

All panelists agree that emotional aspect needs improvement in ad business. Eg Video Advertising brings up human emotional aspects.

On Mobile Advertising (the topic we love) : the panelists said that it is a new area yet to be cracked. There are massive liquidity and technology issues in mobile. Although personalization is more advanced in mobile. But really mobile is another channel for advertisers to reach their audience.

March 25th, 2009

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