Tag: mobile content (Page 1 of 12)

Israel Mobile Summit

How long have I been waiting? It must be a good 5 years since I have last touched down at Ben Gurion Airport. Alas, no more. Tomorrow evening, it will be time again, and how timely it is, too. The Israel Mobile Week is on, and there is tons of super-interesting stuff happening. MoMo Tel Aviv – one of the most active and well-run Mobile Monday chapters – is in full swing, the Israel Mobile Summit, Droidcon Tel Aviv, the Microsoft Ventures Demo Day of its 4th Israeli cohort plus a few parties here and there of course…

I will have the immense honour of delivering one of the opening keynotes at the Israel Mobile Summit. Specifically, I will be speaking on “Capturing Users” – isn’t it all important how you find them (and keep them!)? Without users, you (or rather your business) is nothing. I have had the pleasure (and challenge) to try and have a crack at this challenge a few times in my professional life, and I am hoping to be able to share some of my hard-learned experiences with the audience on Tuesday (10 June 2014). The event will be on at the YesPlanet Rishon, a snazzy new cinema complex.

There will be talks from the leaders in mobile today, including:

  • Facebook
  • Wooga
  • Intel
  • AVG
  • Waze
  • Paypal
  • Amobee
  • Amazon
  • Deemedya (yes, my very good friend Doron Kagan will talk about his 100m+ game downloads; I can only imagine how that must feel)
  • AppAnnie
  • SingTel
  • HasOffers
  • Grow VC
  • Twilio
  • DragonPlay
  • Hunter & Bard (you should not miss Shira’s talk; she is one of the wisest women in marketing today!)

and many, many more!!!

Join us if you can! It will be worthwhile. And if you don’t think so, I’ll buy you a drink! Promise!

Momentum, a Mobile Accelerator in the Valley

Here’s something cool, a mobile accelerator run by people who actually know mobile, namely the good folks from Mobile Monday (disclosure: I am a co-founder of Mobile Monday Manchester). For those who don’t know (and I don’t expect many of the readers of this blog to being that ignorant… 😉 ): Mobile Monday has a global presence in over 140 cities across 50 different countries. As part of Mobile Monday, participants will get greater global exposure with leading brands to help foster business relationships and potentially commercial deals. It works, believe me!

This is a 12-week program (from 23 September – 6 December), run at RocketSpace in Silicon Valley with the aim to help accelerate mobile startups. They will select 8-10 startups from around the globe to participate in each class. If you are not based in the Bay Area, you’d have to cover your own housing and living though (which they say should amount to $2,500/month; also: you need to sort out your own visa should you need one though they’ll help you).

The program is designed for startup founders. It consists of weekly workshops and dinners lead by leaders of “global brands” who will help mentor and work closely with participating companies. You will have the opportunity to pitch their “dedicated” team of VCs and angels. The program will end with a Demo Day attended by industry leaders, VCs, and the press. So it’s pretty much the usual stuff. However, it being run by the MoMo folks, you can probably expect a rather good pick from the mobile world!

Here are the minimum criteria (and you will see from this that you actually have to have something already; this is an accelerator, not an incubator):

  • At least 2 people in the startup (two’s company…);
  • Shipping live product;
  • Angel funding or Participation of a startup program or Experience as a founder in a prior startup;
  • Pre-series A funding.

Each application will be scored on five criteria:

  • Team
  • Product
  • Market viability
  • Traction (clients, users, customers)
  • Fit for mobile industry

All Mobile Monday Accelerator events will be held in the San Francisco bay area. Office space at the RocketSpace Innovation Campus (San Francisco downtown) is provided free to all accelerator class participants. RocketSpace is home to Fortune 500s like, T-Mobile, GM, DoCoMo, Microsoft, ABInBev, LEGO and to 150+ startups including Spotify, Supercell and HasOffers (yup, that is straight from their sales pitch).

The program currently provides 50+ of the best in mobile mentors; Samsung, Sony, Twitter, Facebook, AOL, ESPN, Polariod, PayPal, Intuit, The Weather Channel, Hotel Tonight, Millenial Media and more… (yup, again from their pitch)

Each week, they’ll host a workshop in the San Francisco bay area at our offices or a partner’s office on the usual topics like:

  • Marketing
  • Negotiation
  • Monetization
  • Legal
  • Analytics and Tracking (if you still haven’t got this)
  • UI/UX Best Practices
  • Scaling (under the heading “luxury problems” but immensely important)
  • Selling to the Enterprise
  • M&A How to sell your startup (my guess is they won’t give guarantees though…)
  • Effective Pitching

If you want to get into this (and, hey, it is just about the time when the weather in certain areas get somewhat yucky), you can apply here. Good luck!

Privacy Policy in Apps [ with Infographic]

Developers want to do pretty and cool apps. Tedious privacy policies are often considered “suit-imposed” and not nice. Well, heck, they’re just text, aren’t they? However, not only do 70% of consumers actually want to know what you are doing with their data (this is according to MEF Global Privacy Report 2013). But there also legal obligations, you know. And, since July, there is a revised version of COPPA out (short for the Children Online Privacy Protection Act), which places even more onerous requirements on anyone publishing content aimed at minors.

It is however not only important that you do it at all but also how you do it. Transparency of terms is essential in a world of data (and, yes, I think since a certain Mr Snowden we are all a lot more aware just how significant that can be). If you only link out to a web page with 8,000+ words, you are not doing anyone favours: it doesn’t actually look very good (haven’t we all laughed on the 48 pages Apple wants us to read every time before we accept something? no one in their right mind will believe that even one consumer will do this; shady, isn’t it?). So best practice looks different and I would urgent everyone to follow best practice also for these “little” things.

MEF (full disclosure: I am director of their EMEA Board) has published a neat little infographic highlighting a few dos and don’ts. Have a look and go here for the full thing (and a version into which you can actually zoom into, too).

The Power of Platforms

Mary Meeker has just released her almost iconic annual “Internet Trend” report. In it (on slide 7), she points out that 88% of the smartphone OS share is now “made in USA”. Now, this might be good for the patriotic US soul but it signifies a much more important thing and that is the shift from carrier control to platform control. If you are an EU politician, you may lament that the current winners are from North America, but the fundamental shift does not actually depend on it (there will be Canada on the map next year again, and we may well see some Asia-led one, too).

The forced break-up by Apple

The introduction of iOS by Apple moved the access to the ultimate customer, the end user, from carrier to platform owner. With hindsight, carrier execs are probably pulling their hair out that they allowed this but they were falling all over each other when Apple came out with its shiny iPhone back, when?, in 2007.

This introduced a monstrous disruption in the telecoms industry as it marked a move from where carriers could dictate what they would or would not allow over their networks to being virtually at the mercy of the platform owners. It was, however, less about the shiny devices (though it helped their market cap to untold heights) but more about the platform approach. And therefore, Apple was, of course, quickly joined and then swiftly overtaken by Android. Today, they now rule the roost (though Apple is fast falling behind).

The Power of (Somewhat) Open Systems

Seen from today, a lot of criticism of the early leader, Apple, is centered around closed systems. People complain that iOS is too restrictive and does not allow them to do what they want to do (take any number of services, be it iCloud, iMessage, Game Center or anything else – they only function on Apple devices). Alas, back in 2007, that didn’t sound so bad. Because, you see, back then there was a) hardly any interaction and b) the one there was was restricted in “my” (haha) carriier network. But then, who cares, right? My friends are on any number of networks, and they change frequently, too. The carriers, however, thought that they could tie people in. Hell, some even thought they could become cool (anyone remember Vodafone Live!?). But that should not happen. And therefore the world changed.

Then came Android and, with it, the ability to dip into an even larger ecosystem, namely Google’s. I mean, who doesn’t use them, right? And with their “don’t be evil” motto, they took it up another notch. The Apple users were thenceforth fanboys and irrational, high-spending hipsters. Proper geeks would go with Android. Now though Google also starts showing signs of wanting to rule the world. The don’t be evil thing hasn’t been heard for some time

The Next Step?

And if you go through Ms Meeker’s deck a little further, you’ll find a lot of slides where Sina Weibo, Tencent, Amazon, eBay, etc feature. And you know what? Neither those companies nor their users give a toss whether the service is being delivered on iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10 or otherwise. They just want their service. And this is the challenge the current platform owners have (and it might sound vaguely familiar to the one carriers had): how to keep your users tied into your platform? It started of on the “it’s easier, better, simpler” lure. However, on most both iOS and Android people now start to realise that that might not be so: why does Google force me into a Gmail account (or is it Google+ now?) in order to get the most out of my shiny new phone? Why does Apple not allow me to share XYZ with my friends independent of what handset system they choose to use? This, incidentally, is why it makes insane sense for BlackBerry to release its BBM solution across other operating systems, too… (but this will be the only corporate plug today).

In short, when you look at the overall ecosystem, people want Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Line, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Skype, WhatsApp, you name it. They don’t really care where. Does this sound familiar? The first iPhone users went to AT&T because they were it was the only carrier that had it. Today, they’d scoff at a carrier that doesn’t have it (just ask Sprint, they allegedly struck a [too?] rich deal to get it).

What this means is that, in the (near) future, it will be less about operating systems (come on, who cares about them?) but more about actual applications. So what’s the winning one? Facebook? Twitter, Skype? I’d argue there’s more to come. We’ve heard of Line, Kakao. So what about Alibaba (check slide 69 on Ms Meeker’s deck), or Tencent’s We Chat (slide 65)? It is services and products users crave. These are platforms all right! The only reason they went for the platform owners was that they had better access routes than the (previous) incumbents. Now though they might have called in old Goethe’s Faust:

Do you not see the ghosts I’ve called?
Came in the night when I was asleep.
Here in the dark far too big.
The ghosts I’ve called won’t let me go. 

So then, dear friends, what next?

Facebook’s IPO with no mobile revenues

So here’s the mother of all IPOs then, and it was coming a long way. The web was buzzing, today analysts of any couleur are commenting and reading through the fine print of Facebook’s registration statement (known as the S-1) in order to find valuable nuggets of information that they had not had before and myriads of bloggers and journalists drool over the new wave of young wealthy people in the Valley.

No mobile revenue

Whilst I’d love to join into this frenzy, I want to focus on one point in the S-1 that caught my eye, and which might pose some interesting challenges for the social networking giant going forward, namely the large abyss between mobile use of the site and revenues derived from it. You will likely have read about the huge amount of Facebook users regularly using the site from mobile devices. According to the company itself, 425m active users (out of a user base of 845m) accessed the site using mobile devices; that’s more than 50%. And yet, Facebook does not derive “any meaningful revenue” (quote from their S-1) from it.

Why (these) ads don’t work as well

This is, of course, because it – thus far – did not find a good way to display ads in their various guises to mobile users. The screen real estate is scarce and it would be easy to destroy the user experience by doing so. However, with that growth in usage, they may have to review this approach. The challenge is then to successfully marry user experience on a small(er) screen with revenue-generating activities. And, alas, the latter are so far mainly display ads of various sorts. How successful will those be? My guess is not very much. It is likely one reason why Facebook so far has shied away from using them: it might just destroy the user experience to an extent that its users would be seriously upset.

And yet, it is only the latest case of highlighting one of the common fallacies of migration from web to mobile (and I am not even saying they are wrong to move that way; their user growth and occuption of that space will likely counter-balance that; I think it was Accel’s Rich Wong who said that it is easier to find revenue streams once you have 100’s of millions of users than to find 100’s of millions of users with a (pre-)defined revenue stream). Nevertheless, none of us would watch a TV commercial showing you a static picture and someone reading something out from the off (this is exactly how TV advertising kicked off). We were not overly thrilled by early attempts of online advertising; they were merely an attempt to convert billboards and printed circulars to the digital realm. It was not until Google’s AdWords that online advertising really hit it off. So why would we now be content with a mere port from another form of media?

The Japanese way?

Japan has shown that there are other ways. Japan’s GREE reportedly records similar revenues from about 5% the user base than Facebook does. It does so mainly with virtual currencies and goods (and, yes,  it has moved to a slightly different target market); users can customize their experiences within that social network by buying “stuff” to embellish their avatars, play, use, customize content, etc. Japan has always been something of the Galapagos Islands when it comes to mobile usage: what worked there didn’t often work elsewhere (anyone remember i-mode?). However, we are seeing a similar effect on smartphone applications: 65% of the top-grossing apps these days use some sort of “freemium” feature. This approach might be too late for Facebook now though. Its users would be up in arms would they start charging for features that users have come to see as free.

I am fairly confident that the good folks of Facebook are here to stay but I am still thrilled to see if, when and how they will begin to adapt. With all the very smart people in the company, we may just see the next wave of mobile monetization, and I wonder what it might be…

Angry Birds fly ever higher…

A fresh new year and it is time for the latest numbers of the Angry Birds phenomenon, and they are impressive indeed!

Most mobile game developers would be quite happy if their game would clock more than 5m downloads. Hell, they would probably throw a massive office party for that! Well, Rovio made more than that in a day (OK, it was Christmas Day): 6.5m copies of the various Angry Birds games (paid and free) were downloaded on 25 December 2011 alone. Woah!

The formidable Stuart Dredge treats us to some more background on Angry Birds. To cut it short: by December 2011, Angry Birds had more than 600m downloads. That is more downloads than people living in all of North America – all the way from Alaska down to Panama! About 1/3 of those are monthly active, 1/8 daily.

Given that they also make money (seemingly nearing $100m in revenues) and not only from games but from selling 1m toys and 1m t-shirts per month, too, it is perhaps understandable that they are said to have rejected a $2.25bn acquisition offer by Nasdaq newbies Zynga. I can understand that they may not have been too thrilled to work under the hard-charging (according to some, too hard-charging) “CityVille-ains” but I still wonder if that would not have been a worthwhile cash-in (though it would arguably have been a share deal and Pincus only knows what on which valuation of Zynga that would have been based!).

Rovio has great plans, they are hiring senior entertainment talent (Dave Maisel of Marvel fame for instance), they are diversifying quickly, they execute with adorable flawlessness. But they have not yet shown that they are capable of repeating the creative spark with equal vigour and verve. On the one hand, they are a very, very talented bunch (I published games by them previously: great content and lots of polish). And they have some serious reach now, which gets them a lot of promotional punch. They have also been great in getting out on as many platforms as possible to make sure to fuel the brand as a true mass market proposition rather than contentedly sitting on iOS only and being happy with that niche (bear in mind that J2ME is still many times larger than iOS in terms of reach; for brand awareness of a consumer brand, this is a crucial factor).

However, it is a hit business, isn’t it? And I doubt there is a recipe (or that Rovio has it): Anecdotally, Chillingo, the publisher of the original Angry Birds on iOS (subsequently acquired by EA), uses its Chillingo label for the “premium” games and their Clickgamer for the rest. Angry Birds was published under the Clickgamer label. So did anyone know? I don’t think so.

I would love to see them thrive because they deserve it: they are a hard-working and lovely bunch. So go, my good folks, mighty Eagles, Albatrosses and the whole swarm!

In reply to @scottjenson: Web or Apps?

There seems to be a new round of buzz around the good old HTML5 vs native debate or, in other words of web vs apps. We had a Mobile Monday session in Manchester (@momomcr) on this, debate on ForumOxford is flaring up again, and more… So I thought let’s do this again and see – if anything – changed since I posted about this (for the record: here’s the first post from 2009 and the second one from 2010). Where has the battlefield moved to in the interim?

Mobile apps must die

There has been (as you may have sharply derived from this post’s title) a post from Scott Jenson, the Creative Director of Frog Design (they of much Apple fame – you know, they designed the Apple IIc and such), which he entitled – somewhat combattively – “mobile apps must die”. His argument is, in short, that the mobile desktop cannot cope with the plethora of native apps (or app icons?) and that it would be much better to use dynamic “use it and lose it” approaches for which the web is perfectly suited. He starts of on the value vs pain paradigm: if the balance is less than 0 (i.e. value exceeds pain), the solution wins. And he posits, that native apps don’t do that.

I  am not doing the intellectual argument Scott poses any justice here (and I will pick up on some more points further below), so please make sure to read his post!

One size does not fit all

The challenge is to find a universal solution, I suppose. Jenson focuses merely on apps that – arguably – make a user’s life better if and when he/she is out and about and is looking for utilities to help  mundane tasks/etc. There are tons of fairly one-dimensional apps for that: a retailer app for their catalogue, London tube map, some couponing app, a mobile banking app, apps using NFC, Bluetooth, camera (QR readers) and more. There will also be more complex ones: fancy AR-powered things, things like Foursquare (anyone near?), etc, etc. So, is this painful? Yes, it is. Would it be better if there was a seamless universal (cloud-based) solution that would make it “just so”? Oh, by all means.

BUT… it would not solve all use cases for smartphones (or mobile computing in general). There are tons of applications and use cases that are not the out and about equivalent of a Google search (and, yes, I am fully aware that 40% of Google mobile searches relate to locations), and I would posit that one has to judge each one on its own merits.


The starting point should always be the user experience. Jenson points out correctly that this is not only about the perceived value of the product or service in isolation but it is more of a function: if the perceived value exceeds the pain to use it, it works. If pain exceeds the perceived value, it doesn’t.

But it is this very statement where things with Jenson go horribly astray. There is a reason why Apple has not yet moved Keynote to a cloud-based SaaS solution but keeps selling it as a stand-alone app: because it works better. The perceived value of using the product far exceeds the pain of having to download and install the application.

Tackling the shortfalls

When looking at the UX chain (from product to discovery, maintenance, management and use), there is more than one answer to shortfalls of some of these elements. Rather than moaning about distribution and app management, one can also improve those processes. The OS-based app store model all but replaced the carrier stores for smartphones now, and why? Because the end-to-end solution is less painful (not only for users of the apps but also for its producers!).

It is possible to draw a map of this (and I would if I possessed more artistic skill) where you could derive on what is right for you: if you need access to hardware APIs (camera, 3D acceleration, Open GL ES, etc), native might be your way (one of the reasons why you are not seeing higher-end HTML5 games in large numbers yet). If you capture light-weight information-heavy content that relies on dynamic updates, a web “app” might be good for you, in other cases, a native app with some functionality coupled with a container for web functionality might be the right way.

So there we have it: it still is the old “it depends” answer. Having said that, with webkit and HTML5 adding functionality all the time, ever (?) improving bandwidth and better compliance on the browser side, the usecases for native apps will likely get less over time. Will it happen in full swing in the next 18 months or so? I doubt that very much.

Page 1 of 12

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén