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The New York Times explores cheaper digital subscriptions

Digiday

The New York Times is considering a cheaper version of its digital subscription as it continues to look for ways to get more revenue out of consumers.

According to a survey sent to readers this week, the new offering would give users 30 articles a month for $8, over 45 percent lower than the current cheapest offering. Now, for readers who hit the paywall at 10 articles, digital access starts at $15 a month for access to NYTimes.com and Times smartphone apps.

“With the new subscription offer from The New York Times, you would get: Your choice of 30 articles a month on NYTimes.com and the NYTimes smartphone and tablet apps,” the survey read.

The survey also asked people how willing they would be to cancel their existing subscriptions if they could get the $8-a-month plan. A Times spokeswoman said the offering isn’t a done deal.

“We often issue surveys to provide input from existing customers on their level of interest in various potential new initiatives,” she said. “Surveys are not indicative of any firm plans to launch new subscriptions.”

The Times has conducted surveys before on prospective and new products, like NYT Cooking.

The initiative comes as the Times’ digital subscription growth has slowed, and new paid apps have failed to take off in a big way. As the Times revealed in its second-quarter earnings call, itadded 32,000 digital subs in the second quarter, down from 39,000 in the first quarter. Meanwhile, print ad revenue declined a troubling 6.6 percent (after a 4 percent gain in first quarter).

The proposed, lower-priced offer resembles the Times’ new, $8-a-month NYT Now app aimed at young readers (big differences being that NYT Now is an app and the articles are handpicked by Times editors) and dovetails with a truncated version of the print newspaper that it also reportedly is looking into. It’s all part and parcel of the effort to unbundle the Times’ content, with the idea that there’s a market for vertical products (NYT Cooking, NYT Opinion) and a lower-priced, lighter version of the full news product.

There are good reasons to try a cheaper sub-offer. Growth for All-Access may have leveled off, and the Times may have miscalculated the market for NYT Now, said Ken Doctor, analyst with Outsell. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a market out there for less than the full product. “There are people who don’t want a wide range of access.”

The proposed subscription offer is Web-based, which could fit better with news-consumption behavior. People on smartphones are more likely to get their news from a browser than an app, and they’re increasingly coming to the news from search and social. A Pew Research Center report found that 61 percent of smartphone news users got news “mostly” from their mobile browsers versus 28 percent who got their news “mostly” from apps. Getting your app discovered is a challenge, as is getting people to keep using it once they download it — issues that a Web-subscription plan solves.

Still, there’s always the risk that a cheaper product will cannibalize the full-priced option, a risk the Times is trying to assess with the survey. There’s also the risk of confusing readers with the ongoing parade of new offers, which are difficult to compare, said Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter (a problem the Times itself conceded).

“People do the math later, and then you always feel like you never get the best deal … and that’s not best way to get people to subscribe,” she said.

Microsoft still believes in basic phones, launches Nokia 130 for $25

IDG News Service

Microsoft’s Devices Group has unveiled the Nokia 130, a mobile phone that costs just $25 but lacks an Internet connection and apps.

The focus of Microsoft’s mobile device strategy is on building both high-end and low-cost smartphones running Windows Phone, but there is still a need for “ultra-affordable” mobile phones, the company said on Monday.

With the 130, Microsoft is going after people in emerging markets who are buying their first phone. It’s also a good fit for people who want a backup to complement their existing smartphones, according to the company.

The $25 price tag (before taxes and subsidies) is about $90 cheaper than the Lumia 530, which is the lowest cost Windows Phone Microsoft has introduced so far. The price difference with the cheapest Android-based Nokia X — which was recently killed in favor of Windows Phone — is about the same.

For many people in the emerging markets that Microsoft is targeting, a price tag over $100 is simply too much. The company hence feels it needs to offer them a more affordable alternative to prevent them from going to another vendor from whom to buy a phone today and possibly a smartphone in the future.

The 130 has a 1.8-inch color display and will be available with one or two SIM cards. Microsoft also brags about a month-long standby-time, which is a boon for users that live in parts of the world where access to electricity isn’t always a certainty.

The phone also has a built-in video player, music player, an FM radio and a flashlight. It’s expected to begin shipping in the third quarter, and will be available in countries such as India, China and Indonesia.

The choice of this trio is far from a coincidence; they added the largest number of new mobile phone subscribers in the world during the first three months of the year, according to a survey conducted by telecom vendor Ericsson.

There might be a market for products like the 130 today, but the window of opportunity is closing quickly thanks to a continuing decline in smartphone pricing.

For example, Mozilla Foundation and chip maker Spreadtrum have developed a reference platform and partnered with Indian vendors Intex and Spice to launch ultra-low-cost Firefox OS smartphones in the next few months, they said in June. Spreadtrum has said the phones will cost about $25.

That means Microsoft has to continue to work on making Windows Phone available on smartphones that cost well below $100, which is what Google is doing with Android.

The 130 will also go on sale in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apple will ‘set the world on fire’ with iPhone 6 sales

IDG News Service

Apple will “set the world on fire” with “unbelievably massive” sales of the next iPhone, analysts said this week.

“As well as they did with the iPhone this quarter, with all the rumors of a new iPhone [this fall], I was impressed with the results,” Van Baker of Gartner said about Apple’s second-quarter earnings released on Tuesday. “That tells me when the next generation comes out, they’re going to set the world on fire.”

On July 22, Apple reported it sold 35.2 million iPhones in the second quarter, a 13% increase over the same period the year before. The number was under Wall Street’s expectations of 35.8 million, but still surprising to some, Baker included, because sales have tended to droop in the quarter prior to the debut of new models.

Virtually everyone expects Apple to unveil at least one new iPhone, possibly several, in September and the following months, if only because of a rising tide of component leaks from sieve-like Asian suppliers. That smartphone, dubbed “iPhone 6″ by outsiders in lieu of any formal acknowledgement by Apple, will reportedly boast a larger 4.7-in. screen, with an even-bigger second model sporting a 5.5-in. display possible at the same time, or more likely, later this year or early in 2015.

Pent-up demand for a larger screen from Apple will trigger a buying spree, analysts have predicted. Smartphones with bigger displays are increasing their share of the total market, and are especially important in countries like China, where they serve as both phone and tablet substitute. Apple boosted the size of the iPhone’s display from 3.5-in. to 4-in. with 2012′s iPhone 5, but contrary to some expectations, used the same-sized screen for last year’s iPhone 5S and 5C.

And China, as Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said, is the company’s best growth opportunity.

“But there’s a lot of pent-up demand among developed economies for a bigger iPhone, too,” Baker contended. “I think [the iPhone 6] is poised to do extremely well.”

Other long-time Apple watchers were on board, too. “I am extremely bullish about the iPhone 6,” said Ben Thompson, an independent analyst who covers the technology field from his Stratechery website. “It’s going to be unbelievably massive.”

Apple seems to be expecting the same: In the second quarter, it committed a near-record $21 billion to third-party manufacturers for components and equipment as they presumably geared up for a string of new product announcements this fall.

Those commitments, as Apple has regularly laid out in its quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are pre-payments for outsourced manufacturing and the components those companies use to assemble products. As of the end of June, Apple had $15.4 billion in such commitments.

Also off the balance sheet was an additional $5.6 billion in obligations, mostly for acquiring manufacturing and tooling equipment put in place by Apple’s component makers and product assemblers.

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What businesses need to know about Touch ID and iOS 8

CITEworld

Apple introduced Touch ID along with the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 last fall. At launch, the technology was limited to two purposes – acting as a shortcut for a user’s passcode to unlock the device, and acting as an alternative to a user’s Apple ID and password when making purchases from Apple’s iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore.

With iOS 8, Apple is expanding the capabilities of Touch ID significantly by giving developers the APIs needed to use Touch ID as an authentication/authorization method in third-party apps. This is a powerful expansion of the technology, and one that could be applied to a wide range of different types of apps.

It’s easy to see the value of Touch ID in mobile commerce apps, as well as in mobile banking apps - PayPal was one of the first companies to express an interest in integrating Touch ID into its app and services. Password managers like 1Password from Agilebits are also prime uses for the technology. Apps that store confidential or sensitive information — like health and medical apps — can also benefit from integrating Touch ID.

Business and productivity apps, especially those designed to provide secure access to a company’s corporate resources and cloud services, are also areas where Touch ID could be implemented. That raises questions for IT leaders in many organizations to ask themselves:

  • Is it a good idea to build Touch ID into our internal apps?
  • Should we allow, encourage, or support Touch ID in apps from cloud storage and collaboration vendors?
  • Are there reasons to avoid Touch ID, either in enterprise or third-party apps?

Given that it seems almost certain that Apple will expand the well-received TouchID to any additional iOS devices launching later this year, these aren’t hypothetical questions. They’re questions that organizations will likely face as soon as Apple releases iOS 8 this fall.

Touch ID and the Secure Enclave

At a hardware level, Touch ID includes two primary components: Touch ID Sensor, the fingerprint scanner built into the device’s home button, and the Secure Enclave, a coprocessor that is integrated into Apple’s A7 chip. The Secure Enclave is connected to the Touch ID Sensor and is responsible for processing fingerprint scans. Each Secure Enclave has a unique identity (UID) provisioned during the A7′s fabrication process that cannot be accessed by other iOS components, and that is unknown even to Apple.

Touch ID is actually just one function of the Secure Enclave. Additional functions like cryptographic protection for data protection key management were identified in the iOS Security Guide that Apple released in February. Additional details were discussed during the Keychain and Authentication with Touch ID session at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, which can be streamedfrom Apple’s developer site (and a PDF of the presentation slides from the session is also available). Going forward, it seems clear that the Secure Enclave will be a key part of iOS security functions, beyond merely handling fingerprint identification.

It’s also worth mentioning that although the Touch ID Sensor is currently only available on the iPhone 5s, the additional functionality of the Secure Enclave is built into any iOS device with an A7 chip, which currently includes the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display in addition to the iPhone 5c, opening the door for more security features down the line.

Touch ID and a user’s passcode

Apple hasn’t envisioned Touch ID as a standalone biometric authentication system (or part of a multi-factor authentication solution). That means that it isn’t a replacement for a passcode. An iPhone 5s user must supply a passcode to enable Touch ID and once enabled, Touch ID is effectively a shortcut or pointer to a passcode.

The value that Touch ID offers is that it boasts the benefits of a complex passcode without the hassle of typing it dozens or hundreds of times a day – it makes a complex passcode easier to use.

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China has more people going online with a mobile device than a PC

Reuters

The number of China’s internet users going online with a mobile device – such as a smartphone or tablet – has overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time, said the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday.

China’s total number of internet users crept up 2.3 percent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013, said CNNIC’s internet development statistics report.

Of those, 527 million – or 83 percent – went online via mobile. Those doing so with a PC made up 81 percent the total.

China is the largest smartphone market in the world, and by 2018 is likely to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped that year, according to data firm IDC.

The increase in internet users was mainly driven by mobile, which grew 5.4 percent from the 500 million users at the end of 2013. The number of mobile shoppers surged 42 percent from December through June.

Chinese e-commerce is dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N], which is preparing for a mammoth initial public offering widely expected to take place in September.

Alibaba’s biggest competitor is JD.com Inc, which specializes in business-to-customer e-commerce in a similar vein to Amazon.com Inc, and is 17.6 percent owned by Alibaba arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Other online mobile services with rapid growth from the end of 2013 include music, video,gaming, search, and group-buying, all of which experienced double-digit increases.

The fastest growing services were mobile payment, where users shot up 63.4 percent, online banking, with a 56.4 percent rise, and mobile travel booking, which was up 65.4 percent.

But not all internet activity saw growth. Users of microblogs such as Tencent Weibo and that offered by Weibo Corp fell for the second six-month period in a row, by 1.9 percent to 275 million.

They numbered 331 million at the end of June last year before the government in September started clamping down on “online rumors” which it said threatened social stability.

Blockbuster mobile messaging apps such as Tencent’s WeChat have since become venues of choice for users who want to express views without fear of retribution.

CIO.com Enhances Design and Functionality for a Consistent Visitor and Advertiser Experience Across Smartphones, Tablets and Desktops

IDG News Service

 IDG Enterprise—the leading enterprise technology media company composed of Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, CIO, DEMO, CSO, ITworld, CFOworld and CITEworld—reveals an enhanced design and greater functionality for CIO.com.  The award-winning site incorporates responsive design technology to scale editorial and advertising content to the user’s screen size, whether they are accessing CIO.com with a smartphone, tablet or desktop. 
“Technology decision-makers are mobile and want the flexibility to search for information no matter what tools they have access to at that moment,” said Matthew Yorke, CEO, IDG Enterprise. “This consistent experience allows our visitors to get the information they need from CIO.com to keep their businesses agile, no matter when or where a question arises.”
Website Enhancements Include: 

  • CIO.com enhanced through use of responsive design, including HTML5 and CSS3, to ensure usability and consistency for visitors using smartphones, tablets or desktops.    
  • High-quality content remains the key focus, while further showcasing the author. Additionally, hand-curated content pages will be incorporated on trending technologies such as Healthcare and Consumer Tech.
  • Visually enticing design with more prominent graphics and less pagination for a smoother reading experience, while maintaining ad impression impact.
  • Increased integration of social sharing tools for enhanced community building.
  • New navigation tools to optimize reader time-onsite, including lists showing what’s trending at the moment, a drop-down menu showcasing what other visitors are reading, and the top stories as selected by CIO editors.
  • Single, searchable “Resource Library” supporting all types of lead-generation content.
  • Shared functionality across IDG Enterprise sites for seamless execution of banner ads, lead generation and native advertising, making promotions more effective.

CIO.com’s editorial voice, content and design remains unique to the brand, while functionality has been aligned across IDG Enterprise sites including back-end capabilities enhancing search functionality and digital asset management for displaying more images and video content.  Navigation has migrated to a menu icon, next to the website logo, where visitors can navigate to key sections. Ads and promotional units are highlighted in a “deconstructed” right rail optimizing effectiveness and native advertising will be threaded intuitively throughout the site.

“The recent changes support the goals of CIO.com in that it is now more of a community for our readers to engage with our award-winning content as well as with their peers & industry leaders socially,” said Brian Carlson, editorial director/editor in chief, CIO.com. “The new site emphasizes our trusted, expert writers who our audience looks to when investigating technologies for their day-to-day needs.”   

Mobile device adoption forges ahead

Warc

Three-quarters (74%) of consumers now use a smartphone to watch online videos while tablet ownership for business has tripled over the past three years to 61%, a new global study has revealed.

Based on the mobile behaviour of more than 23,500 senior executives and consumers across 43 countries, the latest Global Mobile Survey from IDG Global Solutions also highlighted the extent of change driven by new devices.
For example, in a sign of how the boundaries between business and personal life have become increasingly blurred, 80% of all respondents research products or services for business on a tablet in the evening.

In addition, 40% have replaced either their desktop or laptop with a tablet, a device which 50% of respondents also use to read newspapers.

Multi-tasking, too, has become a regular feature of respondents’ lives – 61% use another device at the same time as their tablet while 58% do the same while using their smartphone.

IDG argued that the evolution of mobile presents great opportunities for brands, although its survey also revealed ongoing concerns about security and mobile access.

Among executives, lack of mobile enabled websites (45%) and security concerns (43%) are the main reasons for them not to make a purchase via their smartphone.

Christina Carstensen of IDG Global Solutions said the “mobile evolution” is having a profound effect on businesses and consumers, and brands needed to develop closer relationships with their customers.

“We have moved beyond media convergence to a convergence of technology and humans, and brands more than ever need to show their human side to communicate in a relevant, engaging and intuitive way,” she said.

This might be reinforced by other survey findings that 91% of 18-24 year-olds and 85% of 25-34 year-olds use social networks and apps on their smartphone while 65% of 25-34 year-olds use another device or screen, mostly TV, while using a tablet.

IDG advised brands that they are more likely to engage younger consumers and stimulate social media shares by producing high quality social content and video.

The great tech lull of 2014

CITEworld

One of the things that really struck me about Google I/O this year was how much of it felt like a retread of old ideas.

Android TV? That sounds like the resurrection of Google TV, which wasannounced at the 2010 show. Android Wear and Nest? Recall the connected-everywhere vision of Android @Home, the big deal of the 2011 show. Android “L” is just the next version of Android — it’s got a lot of important new design elements and promised enterprise security features, but it’s an incremental release of an already immensely successful product. Google’s new attention to providing cloud infrastructure to third-party developers, while useful, is simply following down the same path Amazon pioneered with AWS a few years back.

I had a similar sense watching Apple’s developers’ conference earlier this month. Our writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry drew a lot of flak for his criticism of WWDCand how he thought it reflected on Tim Cook’s leadership as operations guy rather than visionary. I have a lot more admiration for Cook — his reorganization of Apple to be more open and less controlling, and able to concentrate on multiple huge complicated projects at once, are remarkable changes that bode well for the company’s future.

But I understand what Gobry was getting at. What’s the big vision? How does Apple see the future, and what products will it create or enable to help bring us into that future? This is the company whose last three hit products revolutionized the recorded music industry, created the smartphone industry, and threatened the consumer PC industry with irrelevance. (Not to mention, Apple was arguably the inventor, or at least the great popularizer, of the personal computer in the first place.) Instead we got a bunch of disparate ideas and some connective tissue that may or may not be used to construct products that we may or may not want.

Part of the “meh” comes from a misunderstanding of what these conferences actually are. Because Apple and Google have done so much to revolutionize technology for everybody, we sometimes forget that these are conferences for developers — the people who build the next generation of products that will wow and delight us. They’re not for the rest of us, really.

But still. There’s a sense right now that big technology companies and startups alike are casting around for the next big thing.

Everybody seems to agree that the next wave of computing will involve a bunch of previously dumb devices becoming smarter with new kinds of sensors and processing power provided largely by cloud services, and getting connected up in some fashion. This data will be collected and compiled and used to provide custom-tailored services, even to the point of anticipating your desires before you have them.

This is what’s behind Apple’s HomeKit and CarPlay, Google’s acquisitions of Nest and Dropcam its new connected car and TV initiatives, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s talk of “ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence,” and Internet of Things and big data efforts by enterprise giants from Cisco to SAP to Salesforce. Not to mention hundreds of startups.

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Putting the Spotlight on the Mobile Evolution

Digital Marketing Magazine

A new Global Mobile Survey, from IDG Global Solutions (IGS), has put a spotlight on the evolution of mobile in the biggest study of consumer and business’ use of mobile devices.

The survey highlights a dramatic increase in mobile video consumption with 74% of consumers use a smartphone to watch online videos compared with 61% in 2012. Additionally, mobile is replacing traditional media as 50% of respondents use a tablet to read newspapers and 40% have replaced either the desktop or laptop with a tablet device.

The boundaries between business and personal life are becoming increasingly blurred as 80% of all respondents research products or services for business on a tablet in the evening. However, a lack of mobile enabled websites and concerns about security remain the biggest barriers to the growth of purchases on smartphone.

The survey, conducted among more than 23,500 executives and consumers across 43 countries, focuses on four key areas:

Mobile Executives: How executives use mobile devices – especially for business

Mobile Business: How and when audiences research and purchase products on mobile devices

Mobile Millennials vs. Generation X: Differences in consumer behaviour across video, social and commerce

Mobile Lifestyle: How audiences use multiple screens, socialise and buy on mobile devices

The research also reveals that video consumption has become pervasive on mobile devices with 75% of respondents using smartphones and 87% tablets to watch online video. Millennials and C-Suite executives meanwhile are near equal consumers of tablet video with 92% of 18- to 24-year-olds while 91% of senior executive (CEO/COO/Chairman/President) reporting they watch video on their tablet. Both audiences access all kinds of video content, including YouTube, movies, TV shows and training guides, although senior executives are twice as likely as Millennials to watch promotional videos.

Christina Carstensen, IDG Global Solutions, said: “The ‘mobile evolution’ is having a profound effect on consumers and businesses. It has kick-started the ‘always-on’ culture, presenting brands with unprecedented opportunities to develop closer relationships with their customers. We have moved beyond media convergence to a convergence of technology and humans, and brands more than ever need to show their human side to communicate in a relevant, engaging and intuitive way.”

Mobile Executives

For senior executives, smartphones are a critical business tool. The majority of senior executives (92%) own a smartphone used for business with 77% reporting they use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business. While the majority (93%) go on to purchase that product via the Internet using a laptop or desktop, 50% of these executives have purchased IT products for business using their smartphone with 13% reporting making a purchase between $1,000 to $4,999 USD. (£600–2,999; €700–3,499).

Security concerns (45%) and having a website not mobile enabled (43%) were the most common reasons for this audience not to purchase a product via smartphone. Like mainstream consumers, senior executives want an omni-channel purchase environment to seamlessly move between devices to make IT purchases.

Mobile for Business

Tablet ownership has exploded among survey respondents rising from 20% in 2011 to 61% in 2014. In Latin America, 41% of respondents said their tablet had replaced their laptop computer with 59% reporting using their tablet device to purchase IT products for their business, the highest percentage of all regions surveyed. Software and computer accessories were the IT products most frequently purchased for business across all regions, reflecting significant opportunity for IT companies willing to invest in mobile commerce innovations such as shoppable video.

Millennials vs. Generation X

Nearly all respondents aged 18-34 owned a smartphone and 91% of 18-24 year olds and 85% of 25-34 year olds used social networking sites and apps on their smartphone. Only 38% of 18-24 year olds owned a tablet, however. Tablet ownership jumps to 55% among 25 to 34 year olds and 65% report using another device or screen, primarily television (83%) at the same time as their tablet.

To reach these audiences, tech marketers are now competing with mainstream brands on Facebook or trying to grab their audience’s attention during television programs. B2B brands investing in quality social content or video with high production values comparable to television are most likely to engage young influencers and stimulate social media shares.

Mobile Tech Lifestyle: Multitasking

The majority of Global Mobile Survey respondents are multitasking: 61% use another device at the same times as their tablet and 58% use another device at the same time as their smartphone. In both cases the majority of activity on these devices is unrelated.

 

Infographic: The Mobile Executive

IDG GlobalSolutions Color Infographic: The Mobile Executive

For senior executives, smartphones are a critical business tool. The majority of senior executives (92%) own a smartphone used for business, with 77% reporting they use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business. While the majority (93%) go on to purchase that product via the Internet using a laptop or desktop, 50% of these executives have purchased IT products for business using their smartphone, with 13% reporting making a purchase between $1,000 to $4,999 (£600–2,999; €700–3,499).

Security concerns (45%) and having a website not mobile enabled (43%) were the most common reasons for this audience not to purchase a product via smartphone. Like mainstream consumers, senior executives want an omni-channel purchase environment to seamlessly move between devices to make IT purchases.

To download the 2014 IDG Global Mobile Survey white paper and to view other infographics, click here

mobile excutive Infographic: The Mobile Executive