Digital media are stuck with bad economics resulting in relentless deflation. It’s time to wake-up and make 2015 the year of radical—and concerted—solutions.
Talking New Media
New Year starts, as always, with CES – but Macworld has been put on ‘hiatus’ and the value of big trade shows is being questioned by tech firms
Welcome to 2015! Here in Chicago it is -6F (-21C), here is hoping it is much more pleasant where you are!
The New Year means iTunes Connect is open and new and updated apps are being released into the App Store. It also means that CES is about to begin in Las Vegas. CES used to be an important event (it is still a big one) but many tech companies have long since learned that these early year trade shows may not be the best time to launch new products. Apple, for instance, pulled out of Macworld long ago and realized that if they are going to have a blow out fourth quarter of the year (their first quarter) they need to introduce new products in September.
CES isn’t the only big early year trade show, of course. Mobile World Congress is in early March (in Barcelona, of course).
But 2015 will be a year without Macworld as IDG announced last year that the show would go on ‘hiatus’.
“The show saw a remarkable 30 year run that changed the technology industry, provided an important forum for Apple developers to bring new companies and products to market, delivered world class professional development to Apple product enthusiasts, and fostered the development of one of the most dynamic professional communities in the tech marketplace,” the IDG World Expo wrote.
Macworld was hurt not only be Apple’s decision to pull out, but also by the decline overall of the personal computing business. IDG tried to adapt, of course, but the excitement of the PC business has gone, not to return.
The problem for these shows remains that trade shows often are scheduled for the early part of the year, no matter what industry you are talking about. As the publisher of a transportation construction magazine, January through March was the busy time for trade shows, generally held in Las Vegas, New Orleans or Orlando. There were (and are) trade shows later in the year, but they often feel more like conferences (such as Adobe MAX).
For those who write about digital publishing, there is really no trade show or event that can’t be missed. The year remains filled with breakfasts, lunches, and award events created by the trade publications in lieu of making a profit on their trade magazines. Publishing pros like to network, eat and drink, and so there is no stopping these things, I guess.
Wall Street Journal
Recent reports have suggested the Web is dying. That’s largely because data from analytics firms including comScore and Flurry say mobile device users now spend more than 85% of their time in apps instead of Web browsers.
But according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for Web publishers, the relationship between mobile apps and the mobile Web isn’t that straightforward. It’s easy to look at comScore data and to reach the assumption the mobile Web is in decline, but what looks like app time may actually be mobile Web use in disguise, the online ad trade body said.
Many apps, including news aggregation and social media apps, include browser capabilities within them. If a user opens the Facebook FB -2.46% application and taps on a link, for example, they are technically operating within an application, but are actually consuming content from the mobile Web, too.
To understand users’ mobile Web habits better, the IAB commissioned Harris Poll to survey 2,030 adults in the U.S. in December, and found 52% of smartphone owners in that group said they click links within apps that take them to content on mobile websites. The research also found users actually value apps in part because they enable the discovery of webpages.
The IAB said it believes this type of mobile Web browsing inside non-browser applications represents a significant volume of traffic. In other words, mobile app use isn’t replacing mobile Web usage, it’s driving it.
The programmatic ad industry’s 2014 predictions were hit or miss, and it’s time to once again break out the crystal ball and peer into the new year. From ad fraud and viewability to programmatic TV and private marketplaces, these predictions touch on some of the most popular topics today.
M&As will continue to trump IPOs. I took this space yesterday to note how mergers and acquisitions in the ad tech space trumped IPOs in 2014 — especially over the back half of the year — and it’s a trend that will continue in 2015. That’s not to say there will be no notable IPOs in the programmatic space next year, but more companies will find their “exit” in buyers rather than public offerings.
Ad fraud will remain a major issue. Marketers are relatively split on whether ad fraud will decrease or increase; The 614 Group and AdMonsters found that 58% of marketers believe ad fraud will decrease next year, while 42% believe it won’t.
Count me as one that doesn’t believe ad fraud will decrease next year. In fact, “ad fraud” is a relatively new phrase.
Some form or another of fraud has existed for years (see “click fraud”), but programmatic technologies have ushered in “ad fraud.” And now “ad fraud” is the second-biggest concernmarketers have heading into 2015, thanks to the fact that it threatens to cost marketers worldwide $6.3 billion next year.
There will be two ad tech players that will rise above the rest by the end of 2015 with a full compliment of offerings. The frontrunners must be Google, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, but perhaps new major players will emerge rapidly — including Apple. Each of these companies made strides to better their programmatic offerings in 2014, although those plans may not come to full fruition until 2015.
Yahoo and Facebook both bought video ad platforms in the second half of 2014, AOL has a multichannel ad platform prepped for launch in early 2015, Apple has geared itself for a programmatic push and Google continues to have a hand across the board. The “data and tech” arms race will never truly cease, but with 2014 serving as a major prep-for-the-future year, 2015 is when we can expect to see most of those plans in motion.
Viewability will rise, but not to 70%. The IAB wants marketers to aim for 70% viewability in 2015, but the programmatic ad market sputtered through 2014 just trying to crack 50%. 2015 has been dubbed a “transition” year for viewability, and while I think a renewed interest in ad quality will help rates rise, color me 70% skeptical that the goal will be met.
After Apple and Samsung, which companies are selling the most smartphones around the globe?
If you guessed a growing group of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, you would be correct.
Most Americans know little about the emerging Chinese smartphone makers, let alone how to pronounce some of their names. Most of these handsets are unlikely to be seen in use by U.S. customers, at least for now.
Yet, these Chinese companies, with names like Huawei, Xiaomi, Coolpad, Lenovo, ZTE, and even Alcatel (which is now part of TCL Corp., a Chinese electronics company) are having a big impact both inside China and in emerging economies.
These companies mostly sell unlocked smartphones that run the Android mobile operating system. They usually charge much lower off-contract prices than Apple and Samsung, and they’re beginning to challenge some of the world’s traditional smartphone makers.
Globally, Huawei of Shenzhen, China, was the No. 3 smartphone maker in terms of revenue in the third quarter of 2014. Huawei was well behind Apple and Samsung, but in a virtual tie with LG Electronics of Seoul, South Korea, according to Infonetics Research.
Meanwhile, market research firm IDC reported that newcomer Xiaomi, which is based in Beijing, shipped the third-most smartphones to retailers in the third quarter. Xiaomi was just ahead of Lenovo, also based in Beijing, which was in fourth place but virtually tied with LG. Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments jumped an amazing 211% year over year, reaching 17.3 million units, according to IDC.
Out of the top 17 smartphone makers globally in the third quarter, 10 were based in China, according to Strategy Analytics. Xiaomi ranked third in total production, and Huawei ranked fifth. The rest of the Chinese group in Strategy Analytics’ top 17 included Lenovo, ZTE, TCL Alcatel, Lenovo (formerly Motorola under Google), Coolpad, Oppo, Vivo, Micromax and Tionee.
“The Chinese vendors are absolutely having an impact on many smartphone brands that have to compete with low-cost Chinese smartphones,” said Ken Hyers, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.
“People in the U.S. don’t even know who these Chinese companies are,” added John Byrne, an analyst at Infonetics.
“I was just in China recently, and you see phones in use with labels I’m not even familiar with,” Byrne said. “It was an eye-opener. Especially in Asia, there’s a much larger variety of phones in use and not the duopoly of Samsung and Apple that we have in the U.S.”
One of the things that makes Apple so successful is that it’s not afraid to abandon/kill popular technologies in the interest of something new. In doing so, the company often creates a bit of controversy, even if in the long run it seems to pan out well. At the same time, Apple’s revolutionary products have helped bring down entire product categories. Here is a rundown of technologies and products that Apple has killed (or is in the process of killing) over the last 17 years.
The first product released during Steve Jobs’s second stint at Apple was the Bondi Blue iMac. The all-in-one design was an immediate hit with consumers, and the machine was notable as much for its iconic look and performance as it was for the features it didn’t include. Specifically, the first iMac shipped without a floppy drive. At the time, back in 1997, this was a huge deal. To some critics, Apple was running a huge risk by completely doing away with what was then a common storage medium. Jobs and Apple, though, had the foresight to realize that computing was rapidly becoming Internet-centric, thereby eliminating the need for old-fashioned floppy drives.
For over a decade, iPod, iPhone, and iPad users alike relied on Apple’s tried-and-true 30-pin connector for charging and to connect their devices with computers and accessories. But Apple said goodbye to the 30-pin connector in 2012 when it introduced the Lightning connector, a superior standard for a number of reasons. In addition to being smaller and more robust, the Lightning connector is reversible, which makes for a more efficient user experience. Naturally, abandoning the 30-pin connector on new iOS devices caused temporary problems for individual consumers and even large companies who had spent lots of money on older iOS accessories.
Remember Netbooks? A few years back, these hyper-small laptops were poised to be the next big thing in computing. In fact, back in 2008 and 2009, netbooks were flying off the shelves. As a result, there was a lot of pressure for Apple to enter the netbook market. Apple, however, went a different route when it released the iPad. Rather than opting for a compromised device, the company entered a new product category entirely with the iPad. The end result was a rather quick demise for the netbook, and in parallel, a reinvigorated market for tablets.
FireWire was a proprietary Apple technology which allowed for incredibly fast transfer speeds between devices. Indeed, it was one of the features that made the original iPod so compelling. Beyond that, FireWire was, for a time, the de-facto standard for transferring digital movie footage to Macs.
Unfortunately, Apple ultimately began phasing out FireWire on Macs in 2008 as transitioning to USB expanded the company’s pool of potential users. It’s a shame, though, because USB 2.0, while decent, was vastly inferior to FireWire. The staggered abandonment of FireWire ultimately gave way to Thunderbolt.
Apple’s release of its new mobile operating system last month came with an overlooked gift for marketers: the ability to retarget ads based on users’ in-app browsing behaviors.
According to ad agencies, Apple is actively pitching the new capability as a way to effectively solve the mobile cookie problem.
Say, for example, a visitor to a retailer’s iPhone app adds a pair of shoes to his cart but ultimately decide not to buy it. In this scenario, the retailer will now be able to retarget that user with an ad for that exact pair — even in another app on his iPad. When tapped, the ad would direct him back to his abandoned checkout page and automatically add the shoes to his online shopping cart.
“One of the big limitations of not just iAd, but the entire iOS ecosystem, is that cookies don’t work,” said Eric Franchi, co-founder of cross-device ad network Undertone. IOS is the operating system on which Apple devices run. “If Apple can bring very advanced targeting combined with e-commerce, it will be incredibly powerful.”
E-commerce companies are a particular focus for the new feature as it enables them to retarget users across Apple devices based on items they have previously expressed interest in. E-commerce apps can also track the items shoppers add to their digital wishlists and send ads for those items when they go on sale, and target ads based upon a person’s shopping history.
Improving employee productivity, business agility and customer experiences are the top three reasons companies are supporting enterprise mobility. However, despite the relatively low increase in cost, IDC sees that more organizations testing mobility management are opting for Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions rather than more holistic Mobile Enterprise Management (MEM) ones. IDC examines the state of place in Asia/Pacific.
For more IDC infographics, click here
When Apple CEO Tim Cook took one of many regular trips to Beijing in January, he wasn’t surveying the company’s many Chinese factories or hobnobbing with government officials. He was at a China Mobile retail store to mark the launch of the iPhone on the world’s largest wireless carrier. The two companies were joining forces to “deliver the best experience in the world,” Cook said.
The iPhone 6 will test how interested Chinese consumers are in the Apple experience. The newly announced phone, along with its big brother the iPhone 6 Plus, has already crashed the servers of Apple’s online store and are on back order for multiple wireless carriers in the U.S. But the launch of the devices is being delayed in China, and it’s not yet clear how the new iPhones will compete with a cadre of homegrown competitors which have rapidly gained market share over the last year.