Posted by Tattletech on Jul 13, 2012 in Apps
, Art and technology
, Bio tech
, Cool stuff
, Deep thinking
, Go Bag
, Weird things
In this Go Bag you can find lot’s of Friday the 13th links, but also some really cool inventions!
Another Friday the 13th: Paraskevidekatriaphobes, Beware! – Paraskevidekatriaphobes — be careful not to break your tongue!!
Friday The 13th: 13 Things To Know About The Unluckiest Of Days – The cold hard facts!
Friday 13th: omens of bad and good luck - What to avoid and what to look for!
$13 Worth Of Good Luck: Adopt A Black Kitty On Friday The 13th! – Minus + minus is plus right?! Purrfect deal!
The guy who invented the mouse must be loaded, right? Wrong. – Sometimes it is not so good to be ahead of your time…
Ukrainian Students Develop Gloves That Translate Sign Language Into Speech - Sign to speech… now that is interesting!
“…language can also corrupt thought.”
This quote could very easily be a part of our Monday Jumpstart series with how well it rings true for those of us who write in the digital space. Friend of the blog and frequent contributor Josh Mortensen uses the quote to open a blog post for his own digital home GlibHippo, a post about language we thoroughly enjoy.
Here is an excerpt:
“Two words never used in advertising or media before the rise on the Web:performance and optimize. Not Ogilvy nor Burnett nor Draper ever uttered them. Apple’s 1984, The Man in the Hathaway Shirt, Clairol’s Does she … or doesn’t she?, VW’s Think Small – none of them had their performance optimized. Brand advertising is about story telling, narrative if you prefer academic sounding jargon, not about tuning.
But in online advertising we have a stunted vocabulary. It is a language devised by engineers who have only a binary understanding of what advertising can or should do. And it is confusing. We use the language of response marketing universally to discuss both tactical and brand. But the two are mutually exclusive. Orwell would recognize this immediately. Language shapes our sense of reality.”
Form is function and language is meaning. Read the rest of Josh’s great blog post here.
Friend of the blog, Josh Motensen answered the following questions for Exchangewire.com. You can follow him on Twitter @razzmuzzen
ExchangeWire: Can you give some overview on your sales house proposition in Germany?
Josh Mortensen: GlibHippo operates on more or less the same model as other sales houses in Germany but we do not sell for German publishers. We work with US based companies who have significant audiences in Germany and Scandinavia.
Like other sales houses operating in Germany, we sell inventory only for specific publishers on a very traditional and transparent commission model. We do all of our own adserving and any optimization.
EW: How do you work with local publishers? Why would they use a sales house to monetize their inventory?
JM: Our publishers use a sales house for 2 reasons:
The first reason, specific to GlibHippo, is – for Americans – Europe is really a challenge. It is too fragmented. Way too many languages. Operating an international sales team is often beyond the resources of medium size web properties. Without a sales house, their only way to monetize inventory is some form of automation, networks, exchanges etc.
The second, more important, reason: Publishers, and I think this is true worldwide, don’t really like automation. They tolerate it – but they know offering inventory to the algorithms is the equivalent of “empty calories”. It is revenue with little long-term nutritional value. The economics just never work in their favor. (They don’t really work in the advertisers favor either. Another advantage for sales houses)
Publishers know when their inventory is in the hands of the robots, they get arbitraged in a way that gives shameless a bad name. Particularly in markets where they do not have local knowledge.
EW: Do small-to-medium sized German sales house have proprietary technology – such as audience targeting capabilities? Or is the relationship with publishers more consultative?
JM: Sales houses in Germany have their own technology to varying degrees. Many have built their own adservers, for example, in order to accommodate the specifics of their inventory. But broadly speaking, it is more consultative. If they do use audience targeting or any sort of more sophisticated tech, it is usually third party. Sales houses are not in the tech development business.
EW: There are currently German 400+ sales houses? Is that number sustainable? Will there be consolidation in the sales house space?
JM: I think when non-Germans look at the country from the outside, the sales house phenomena is confusing. Americans and Brits make the mistake of seeing the German auto industry as symbolic of the whole economy. The stereotype is that Germany is a model of scale, efficiency and mechanization.
For online advertising, the automated ad-platform and algorithm gee-whizzery in the US and UK makes the dominance of sales houses a disconnect. They are just so, so analogue. So improbably quaint.
But the sales house is reflective of Germany’s macro economy. Small and medium sized businesses, creating highly specialized products and services, in German they are called Mittelstand. They are the country’s commercial engine. These businesses are not anti-scale. They just prefer focus and quality.
Sales houses are the Mittelstand of online advertising. Each house is quite adept at representing their specific inventory and delivering the sales.
The 400+ sales houses in Germany may prove to be a surprisingly stable number. Some consolidation is inevitable, for example along certain verticals. But I would not bet on seeing the German market develop on the same model as the UK or US. The emergence of two or three dominant players is unlikely. For both cultural and economic reasons, fragmentation and diversity are tenacious with a capital “T” in Germany.
EW: Do all these sales houses fight to get on agency media plans?
JM: Yes. But sales houses are often organized around verticals as well so they are talking to different planners. Sales houses do face the serious disadvantage of media planners’ schedule. It is a problem of limited time however, not a question of inferior product.
JM: If the market moves towards automation how do small sales houses compete with SSPs and exchanges? Can SSPs and exchanges really aggregate supply without working with German sales houses?
JM: Sales houses will compete by creating their own networks much like Forbes or CBS Interactive have done in the US.
Sales houses will remain the gatekeepers, retaining control of the inventory to keep pricing transparent and, more important, maintain comfort for advertisers.
If SSPs and exchanges hope to aggregate supply, it will be through the sales houses. Neither publishers nor sales houses have any interest in the commoditization automation brings.
Do not underestimate the strength of sales houses’ relationships with their publishers. It is very unlikely an exchange could come with a proposal that would threaten a sales house’s arrangement with a publisher.
It is worth noting that German publishers seem hesitant to monetize their remnant traffic at the risk of compromising their inventory. This does not mean they won’t. You see premier German publishers appear on exchanges but only for seriously remnant inventory, cross border IPs for example.
Also worth noting: even über american media companies like Turner Networks have pulled their inventory from exchanges for reasons very similar to why German publishers never joined in the first place.
EW: How critical are sales houses to the growth of automated buying and the adoption of RTB?
JM: Just like the growth of aggregated supply, Sales house will be the key drivers if RTB is to take-off in Germany.
EW: How do sales houses view the data-driven display space and RTB? Is it a threat to their business model? Will they have to evolve model to stay competitive?
JM: In the case of Germany, the whole data-driven display slash RTB discussion reflects an Anglo-American cognitive bias toward technology, scalability, venture capital and exit strategy.
The “platformification” of online advertising is a silicon valley phenomena finding considerable resistance in Germany. And it is not because Germans are Luddites, they are just not driven by the same imperatives as their anglo-saxon cousins.
These companies are not interested in becoming a Techcrunch Series-A Page Three Girl. Their directors do not spend every waking moment so consumed by creating shareholder value that they dare not ignore even a fraction of a cent from a ringtone peddler. They are not building companies whose real purpose is a sale to Google.
For that reason, sales houses are only tangentially interested in data-driven display. Ad-tech is a tool not an end in itself. Data-driven display and RTB will grow in Germany but it will grow slowly and on German terms.
Data and RTB are no more of a threat to the sales house model than Wal-Mart was a threat to Germany’s retail model.
EW: How do you see the market evolving over the coming 12 months?
JM; For the next 12 months, data-driven display and RTB still face two significant challenges.
Despite the hype, they have not reached the penetration and volume needed outside Germany to make them a must-have in Germany.
They remain very much a tool created by and mostly for the American market. Both the German online space and the data RTB industry will have to evolve together for their to be more uptake.
In 2012, I think we will see more serious dabbling in the data-driven space, with the active word being “dabbling”. There is too much attention on this space right now for it to be ignored. Do not expect to see a tipping point, however. Not this year.
“The body is the last piece of information to go digital. Most of your life is already digital – your friends, your music, your bank account – all accessible on-line, but your body is not. Bodymetrics together with PrimeSense is enabling consumers to store and access all their body information online and link this to retailers. Now, body scanning becomes a powerful platform for many retailers to provide the personalized fit and service their customers have always wanted.” - Suran Goonatilake, CEO, Bodymetrics.
In an example of technology that is only beginning to realize its incredible potential, Bodymetrics, a London-based company providing a ‘Body Mapping’ platform, today announced the launch of the world’s first full 3D body scanner developed in collaboration with PrimeSense, the leader in sensing and recognition technologies.
While there are certainly many potential uses for the technology (some of which have been explored by PrimeSense in the gaming market), the new 3D body scanner is designed to revolutionize the way consumers buy clothes. Costumers can use the booth to virtually try on outfits both at retail stores and through online clothing retailers, enabling customers to gauge a more realistic fit before purchase.
The new 3D body scanner with the PrimeSense technology launched at New Look, the UK’s largest high-street jeans retailer, and was used to provide advice by Bodymetrics ‘Fit Stylists’ for the best fitting jeans for female customers (the scanner quickly and accurately calculates 100 measurements, and body-shape analytics are then used to find garments that best suit the customer’s unique shape and size).
So, it seems that for now, digitizing your own body can afford you access to more convenient “fitting” sessions from home as you shop for clothes. But let’s look ahead. What are the other potential benefits of digitizing all things corporal much like we have digitized most things social and cultural? How far does this put us from actual personal hologram messaging (apologies to CNN)? And from there, how close are we to technology that will enable us to essentially inhabit multiple spaces simultaneously? Perhaps existence it just a matter of housed cognition, in which case the house could just as easily be inorganic as organic.
It’s fun to go full science fiction geek-out with the conjecture, but philosophical extravagances aside, Bodymetrics and PrimeSense are at the vanguard of our body’s relationship to the digital universe and it will be fascinating to see the other uses they and others find for this technology.
With all this talk about the future of TV and how video will be getting from publishers to consumers (at events like IBC 2011 among others), we figured it would be a good time to speak to somebody whose job it is to keep up with all these changes and see how they are adapting. Head of Marketing at Videoplaza, Katy Turner was kind enough to sit down and let us know a bit about her perspective on New TV.
Tattletech: Videoplaza has a slogan “Helping media companies to monetize the New TV.” How exactly do you define New TV and is it killing Old TV?
Katy Turner: What has been called “online video” has been our business since we started almost four years ago. We’re dedicated to helping publishers monetize their video content and we first thought our role would be in an almost exclusively in the web environment. But this is changing. We’re entering a time where the PC is just one of many devices where IP delivered video is consumed. We have to look beyond putting pre-rolls on Flash-based video players in the browser and realize we’re building a new category. This is not a new online buzzword or a feature of the web; this is about the evolution of moving images. We are in the middle of the biggest and most disruptive change the world of moving images has ever seen. The “New IP Delivered TV” is here and it has already begun to change all the rules.
We’ve been working hard to push our business and product towards delivery across multiple devices and platforms. We are looking beyond online video and are making all IP delivered video our business. And now we’ve arrived at the point where we’re serving ads on all major devices and platforms including PC (Flash, HTML5 and Silverlight), mobile (iOS, Android, etc), tablets, IPTV (SFR and Free in France, for example), games consoles (PS3), and connected TVs from Samsung and LG amongst others.
Our client M6, France’s leading broadcaster, is a perfect example of the adoption of the New TV. Not so long ago, their content was only delivered to PC via a couple of web-based platforms. Now though, they are present on a wide range of platforms from mobile to PC and tablets. And, with France having almost a quarter of all global active IPTV subscribers (10m), we are now serving ads on their SFR and Free IPTV platforms.
Around a third of our clients are present on multiple devices with some exclusively on non-PC devices and, to judge by what our clients have planned and the volumes we’re seeing today, we expect ten percent of our traffic to be on non-PC devices by the end of the year, and at least doubled by end of 2012.
This all points to a bigger shift that is happening now and “online video” has become a redundant term. With more and more opportunities to distribute and consume video over IP, it is our business is to help publishers monetize those opportunities.
So, is the New TV killing the Old TV? The New TV is really a much wider category, where there are multiple access points to enable the user to consume different types of content in whichever form they choose. Different types of content work better on different platforms–for example, short-form content on the mobile vs. long-form content on the IPTV. Traditional TV will still be a part of this mix, but publishers and broadcasters need to realize they inherently limit their reach if they do not evolve to take into account the multiple platforms that are now available to them, and the changing way that consumers are viewing content.
Tattletech: As attention shifts from PCs and TVs to non-PC devices, how must publishers and broadcasters adjust their content? How does this shift limit and how does it expand their options?
KT: The definition of a “media company” is now quite different from what we understood it to be in the past. Media companies used to be TV broadcasters, or print publishers for example. Now, with the reach of the internet and mobile, almost any business can be a media company and push their content out via a variety of mechanisms.
Now that content can be delivered over IP, the broadcast model doesn’t work on it’s own. Media owners need to monetize their content by delivering ads dynamically and on-demand, rather than to schedule. So media companies need to consider not only how they operate in a multi-device world (what platforms will they target, where and how their audience consume content), but also how to adjust their content strategies to work with current consumption patterns. For example, I am less likely to view a long video on my iPhone, but I would sit down to watch a longer program in front of the IPTV in my living room.
We believe the IP delivered world presents huge possibilities for broadcasters and publishers, as long as they figure out their strategy around content–delivering it and monetizing it. Where a partner like us can help is in delivering a strong monetization strategy, while reducing the technical complexity of managing multiple platforms, and critically delivering a medium like video–which has its own challenges. Platforms like Videoplaza have been built specifically with video (vs. ‘flat’ display content) in mind, so they can handle the concept of time and aim to empower the publisher or broadcaster to do whatever they want to do, while hiding the technical complexity in the back end rather than on the client side.
You can follow Katy Turner on Twitter @KatyT.
It has been less than a month since I decommissioned my Nokia C6 as my principle business phone. After many years of carrying three devices, it felt a weird but slightly liberating to consolidate down to two—my personal iPhone and my backup “warhorse” BlackBerry. Having been a hardcore Nokia user for the better part of *gulp* 20 years, finally letting it go has made me come to a few realizations. Not only have I not missed my Nokia one bit, this will quite possibly be the last Nokia I will ever own. Moreover, I feel no sense of loss whatsoever (I achieved final closure while disposing of the drawer full of now defunct Nokia chargers amassed over the years).
In spite of the many endearing “come as standard” Nokia device attributes (reliability, great signal quality, battery life, camera, maps, general indestructibility etc.), looking through the current Nokia range, I do not know whether to feel depressed, incensed or a little of both that currently there is not a single device that I would be excited to buy. How can this be?
Next to the dazzling array of big-screen smartphones on display at my local Carphone Warehouse, Nokia definitely seems to be the ugly duckling. But are my negative feelings towards Nokia motivated by the quality of the product or something else? Am I just prejudiced? Have I become one of the ever-swelling population of “app addicted” victims of Apple’s Ministry of Spin, smitten with the glitz and glam of the iPhone and all the wonders of the vast iTunes universe? I am really starting to wonder.
Ordinarily I consider myself to be a creature of habit and I do not normally switch brands without a pretty good reason. The problem with Nokia though is that as much as I wrack my brain, I cannot really put my finger on a defining moment when it all went wrong for me. But, obvious ecosystem limitations aside, the fact remains that my love affair with Nokia fizzled out a long time ago.
Thinking back, when I unboxed my C6 a year ago I did get that same kind of sinking feeling you get when you buy an expensive pair of designer jeans, only to discover that the particular brand or cut went out of style five minutes earlier. The feeling got worse every time I used my C6 around my iPhone and Android totting peers.
So maybe my emotional shift away from Nokia is purely an image thing. Is the Nokia brand itself just uncool? If so, Nokia is in big trouble because, like the demise of flared trousers, being uncool is a brutal, unstoppable downward spiral. Being an industry insider, it really has become impossible to ignore the abundant positive media glam surrounding the iPhone and Android. It stands in stark contrast to the overwhelmingly negative media coverage of Nokia’s fall from glory, the demise of Symbian and the huge question marks hanging over the value and viability of the Microsoft collaboration.
It seems Nokia will need a nuclear powered marketing and branding team to reverse their negative image and to reinvent the winning brand needed to restore Nokia’s street cred to its former glory. So until the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and major tech circle influencers start being photographed using the latest Nokia Smartphones as their principle devices and lauding its praises on Twitter, I fear Nokia will continue to slip further into mobile B-List celebrity status.
In the meantime, I will be counting myself among the impatient masses fervently awaiting the launch of iPhone 5.
You can follow Geoff Casely on Twitter @geoffcasely
Posted by Tattletech on Aug 7, 2011 in Augmented reality
, Cool stuff
, Deep thinking
, Emerging tech
, Hep Guest Blogger
, Sexy tech guys
, social media
, Start ups
, What makes good news
, Wise philosophical words
Maisa Dabus, @maydbs
I say “Sweden”, you say..? Yeah, I thought so… Let me stop you right there!
Forget all about the obvious keywords popping up in your mind about this country as you knew: a lot has been happening in Sweden and you might have been missing out!
Many will have this overnight feeling, but the truth is, Sweden has been catching up, in this almost sneaky way for some time, and a city called Malmö (third biggest city in Sweden) is no longer only known as the 30-minute-ride-train to Copenhagen city.
Malmö has a bubble that is about to pop, exploding with creativity, young and fresh talent shaped as entrepreneurs, who are eager to create, deliver and change, at least a little thing or two, in an attempt to make the world better.
I’ve been spending some time at MINC – which I dare to call the hottest spot in Malmö for entrepreneurship – and to meet the cool, creative, making-it-happen kind of folks – and it’s not surprising to find so many interesting projects taking off.
I had the pleasure to hang out with the Media Evolution team this week for a couple of days. Media Evolution is in its seventh year and focuses on the future of media and discovery of new business opportunities. The Conference (formerly known as Moving Images) attracts people from film, games, web, publishing, learning, tech and music. The organizers have been preparing Media Evolution The Conference coming up on August 24 and 25th and I’m nothing but impressed with the quality of the event in every single detail: from the speakers choice to the website design. I briefly interviewed Martin Thörnkvist, in between tasks, great music and crappy coffee, about the so waited event:
Maisa: You’ve been organizing Media Evolution The Conference from scratch. Carefully selecting the best speakers, location and the details together with the Media Evolution team. What can people attending expect?
Martin Thörnkvist: It’s gonna be two days with 40 speakers divided in three tracks. The speakers come from all over the world to share ideas from their technological, behavioral and entrepreneurial experiences. It’s also important to not forget that we there will be 600 participants that will discuss the future of games, TV, music, communication and other forms of media.
Maisa: This year, the conference will offer three tracks: Who’s Next?, Man & Machine and Creation. How will these topics be approached and presented to the attendees?
Martin Thörnkvist: They will all be introduced by a keynote speaker (Moeed Ahmad (Al Jazeera), Amber Case (Geoloqi) and Bill Drummond (The KLF etc)), then there will be four 45 minute sessions led by a curator that has invited two more speakers to dig deeper into the specific subject. Also, for the for the participants that feel like they already know quite much about the topics in the sessions and we will arrange round table discussions that dig even deeper into the subjects.
Maisa: As I understand, for the first time, The Conference will be completely held in English. Why this change?
Martin Thörnkvist: Two reasons. (1) we feel that there’s a lot of Swedish companies and people with great ideas who we wanted to build a platform for; and (2) we felt that our conference, after seven years, was better than many we visited in Europe or in the US and wanted to enable internationals to come join us.
Maisa: Which professionals and from which industries would you consider to make the best out of attending this conference?
Martin Thörnkvist: Most of the participants at the conference are either executives or creatives at media companies. They’re representing all kinds of media industries, everything from games and TV to web agencies and mobile.
Maisa: And last but not least, why Malmö? What is it about Malmö that is getting people curious enough to travel from all over Sweden and Europe?
Martin Thörnkvist: The city is big enough to be home of a great music and art scene and small enough to have a start up scene where you bump into people by accident who are always willing to spare an idea or share experiences. It makes people want to found media companies here. There is a lot of them for a city this size: http://www.mediaevolution.se/en/members
Ready to enjoy all the fun? It’s not too late to register, here!
See you there!
About Media Evolution The Conference – Malmö, Sweden (24-25 August)
For the seventh year we invite you to come to Malmö, Sweden, to explore the future of media and discover new business opportunities. The Conference (formerly known as Moving Images) attracts people from film, games, web, publishing, learning, tech and music.
During two days we will discuss who our future audiences are, the technology we communicate with, and how we create and consume media. These matters will be treated under the headlines: Who’s Next?, Man & Machine and Creation.
The list of speakers include Moeed Ahmad (Al Jazeera) Bill Drummond (The KLF etc), Amber Case (Geoloqi), Naveen Selvadurai (Foursquare), Yancey Strickler (Kickstarter), Björn Jeffery (Bonnier), Luke Williams (NYU / frog design) and Måns Adler (Bambuser).
The Conference puts you right in the flow of the present media evolution and points an inspiring finger into the future.
Register today -> http://mediaevolution.se/theconference/
Our guest blogger is a social media and blogger who hails from Brazil, but finds happiness in Sweden. Maisa Dabus and you can follow Maisa on Twitter @maydbs
Posted by Tattletech on Jul 1, 2011 in Content
, Cool stuff
, Deep thinking
, Internet Stuff
, Mobile apps
, Online ads
, Smart folks
, social media
, Wise philosophical words
Analyst firm Canalys projects that mobile apps will generate $7.3 billion in revenue in 2011 from downloads, in-app payments and subscriptions. And they expect that number to double to $14.1 billion in 2012. As huge as these revenue numbers are, a big opportunity is being missed. With a little more thought and understanding of retail psychology, I believe those numbers could be considerably higher.
In a high tech mobile world it may seem a little dull to draw inspiration from the humble supermarket chain. But if such immensely successful examples of retail genius exist, wouldn’t it make sense to explore the various ways the same strategy could provide a monetization masterclass for mobile applications developers?
There are few companies better at selling physical goods and services than supermarket chains. They offer a vast array of products and services, creating an in-store shopping experience (with seemingly minimal effort) which sells massive volumes of both necessity and impulse purchases, generating billions of dollars in sales in the process. The customer experience has been refined to an art form—intelligent product placement and subtle but precise special offers cater to all demographic groups while still feeling targeted.
Personally, I am the world’s biggest sucker for such deals and frequently end up spending at least 10% more than I plan to when I do the weekly shopping. Over the course of 10 months this could increase my spend by over $1500! Surely it must be possible to replicate this success within mobile applications.
However, a majority of application developers seem to lack even the most basic understanding of retail psychology when they craft their monetization strategies. Limited availability of end user profiled data should not be an excuse for only using the most basic Freemium model.
Supermarkets don’t work that way; in-store sales are driven not by a static model, but by a fluid one—a combination of seasonal events, timed offers, demographic probability, and knowledge of what’s hot and what the competition is offering. Then, the customer journey is scrutinized and high margin products are placed in “sweet spots” which catch your attention from the time you enter the store to the time you leave.
This model stands in stark contrast to the “one size fits all” strategy of virtual goods and other services, propped up with a bit of blind network advertising that seems boring and grossly unsophisticated. The predictability of Freemium services can be annoying and has an adverse effect on the buying mindset. They are boring and often ignored. Perhaps, replicating some of these supermarket upsell techniques could enliven mobile app market.
Even high profile apps like Foursquare are massively short-changing themselves when it comes to monetizating end user eyeball time. They have a great brand persona, a slick and engaging experience, great social and reward hooks (with Mayorships, check-in leaderboards and badges) and now 10 million users, many of whom (like me) are very active. So where is the revenue source to justify the estimated $600m market CAP? Right now it’s via “special nearby” tabs, many of which are next-to-useless unless you happen to be Mayor. Why hold back? The potential to deliver multi-layer value to partners, brands and the user is immense. You have their eyes, now develop some “sweet spots.”
Incorporating the same sophisticated product placement and special offer techniques used by supermarkets, Foursquare could easily apply numerous special deal layers within the user journey, based not only on location but user profile. They could Optimize UI real estate in the same way supermarkets optimize shelf space to deliver a multitude of well-placed promotions based on the age/sex demographics of people who are likely to visit a location. They could even deliver a variety of promotions depending on what time of day a user checks in. The possibilities are endless and, if deployed in a slick and uncluttered fashion, they could have a significant impact on Foursquare’s earnings potential.
Foursquare is a great example, but I am convinced a more tactical approach to app-based monetization can be applied in varying degrees by most developers. By understanding the profile of the user, analyzing the user journey and deploying a smarter variable upsell strategy within the flow of the application (gaming credits, virtual goods, subscription services, special offers, etc.) there is much more profit to be found in the mobile app market.
You can follow Geoff Casely on Twitter @geoffcasely
Posted by Tattletech on Jun 30, 2011 in Cool stuff
, Deep thinking
, Internet TV
, IPTV World
, New things
, Sexy tech guys
, Smart folks
Acentic’s Vice President Business Development, Juan Aguirre, wrote a post on the Acentic blog addressing today’s multi-device, multitasking environment from the point of view of hoteliers. More broadly, his article speaks to a need in every sector to manage around modern technology culture both in our expectations of consumer behavior and in the way we structure communication in the workplace.
In his words, “As our devices connect, share purposes and build on each other’s strengths, so should we.”
Read the rest of Juan’s article here.
Posted by Tattletech on Jun 23, 2011 in Deep thinking
, Mobile Operator
As the battle for the end user rages on, competition and innovation within Mobile OS and Application ecosystems has never been more intense, with Mobile Operators increasingly finding themselves caught in no man’s land.
In this article I will attempt to set out a personal perspective of Mobile Operator VAS landscape which outlines three main discussion topics:
- A snapshot of how the ecosystem is evolving.
- The threats and challenges faced by Operators and why fresh thinking is urgently needed in Operator VAS innovation strategy.
- An objective vision explaining how Operators can address some of these challenges through collaborations with Over-the-Top (OTT) providers. To provide a smart and logical solution to save cost, increasing agility, subscriber value and revenue.
Following Steve Jobs’ announcement of iOS 5, a radical OS evolution that neatly commoditized an impressive array of features and services like iMessenger and iCloud within the OS itself, much debate has surrounded this latest OTT disruptor of the mobile segment, fueling widespread speculation on who will be the biggest losers from the launch of such services.
As you would expect, Mobile Operators were quick to ring the alarm bell demonizing such services as a threat to precious SMS revenues–some felt this was more likely to threaten application and platform service providers like WhatsApp, Camera+ and DropBox, others felt such services would merely threaten the increasingly popular BlackBerry IM market share. With rumors of similar OS based services coming soon to Android only time will tell who will feel the pinch, but ultimately it will be the users who will decide.
Whichever way you look at it, OS platforms encroaching further into the App ecosystem is big news and will have wide-ranging implications for the industry as a whole. Perhaps more worryingly for Operators, it shows how quickly the world of mobile VAS is changing around them and reveals once again their vulnerability to being undermined by OTT players–which further exposes their inability to connect with the ecosystem they power, let alone tap into the vast multi-billion dollars being generated.
Mobile messaging and communications is a perfect example and provides an explosive and controversial flashpoint where Operator’s and OTT services frequently collide. Global fixed line VoIP revenues alone are expected to generate $40 billion a year by 2015 and you can’t help but wonder how much of this and other core IP-based communication VAS will bypass Operators completely.
Three years as VP Global Business Development with Nimbuzz has given me a first hand perspective on the profound changes that have impacted this segment and the challenges faced by the platform developers, Operators, Regulators and OEMs who drive this segment.
If an entire vertical market can change in the blink of an eye through the launch of a disruptive new market entrant, M&A activity, or strategic shift from a major player like Apple, only the smartest, strongest and most agile innovators can hope to survive. So where does this leave Operators whose in-house VAS development programs often have extremely long and complex project life-cycles? How can a program so far removed from its origin possibly expect to have the same impact and relevance when it is finally launched some 12-18 months later?
The classic Operator “Field of Dreams” doctrine (build it and the users will come) may have worked 5 years ago but is a very risky strategy these days. The mobile industry is in a renaissance period–unpredictable and evolving in all directions with alarming momentum. Vodafone 360 proved this in spectacular fashion and showed us how dangerous an Operator’s obsession with “owning everything” can be. You have to respect Vodafone’s ambition, but unless propositions are mass market addressable, are instantly understood, and provide “must have” differentiation to the subscriber, these mammoth initiatives prove to be little more than a hole in the balance sheet into which you pour money.
RCS is another fine example of this. Whether RCS will work (or even happen at all) is a subject for great debate. Stakeholder complexity aside, my greatest concern about RCS is that nobody yet has been able to explain to me how this will be packaged to the user, monetized and scaled. If it is questionable whether a major Operator VAS program like this can compete and achieve the most basic success elements (i.e. differentiation, subscriber value, rapid/viral adoption and ROI, etc.) why commit millions to do this in the first place? Especially when there are already numerous agile, quality, “rogue” OTT alternatives that collectively deliver an equal or greater profile of services, and are freely available App Stores–many of whom have “hyper viral” growth and registered user base’s stretch into the tens of millions! Personally I really don’t believe that consumers care too much about the technology used to deliver these services as long as they are easy to use and reliable. If true, surely infrastructure platform services delivered through partnerships with best of breed OTT’s is a more sensible and cost effective way to go.
Based on this, I have often asked myself the hypothetical question, “If Venture Capital investment was the only way programs like RCS could be delivered, would the business case be strong enough to convince specialist telecoms VC’s like Accel Partners or Bain Capital to bankroll the investment?” The jury is still out on that one.
It is a simple fact that Operator ARPU is declining. Successful VAS innovation and monetization is a vital area that must realize its potential to fill this gap. The problem is that for Operators, the window of opportunity is shrinking fast and if Operators don’t adopt fresh thinking and act now it will be too late and mobile VAS will shift almost entirely to leading OTT players, and Operators will be left behind.
I have heard this same repetitive and rather odious conclusion drawn at almost every mobile event I have attended over the last couple of years, along with this rather cutting footnote: how can we feel sorry for Operators when they own the keys to the castle and won’t share them with the developers?
The outlook for Operators VAS need not be all doom and gloom; there are many positive rays of light out there. But for Operators to provide subscribers with a truly enriched VAS experience, strategic partnerships need to be smart, cool and equally valuable. They need to go way beyond commoditized alliances with the likes of Facebook and Twitter!
The positive news is that Operators shouldn’t have to look too hard for the answer. App Stores provide a goldmine of intelligence for Operator VAS teams as well as providing an invaluable source of information on the hottest apps and emerging global trends based on pure end user democracy. It would make sense for Operators to identify a select group of popular OTT “sweet spot” apps (especially those that reach the most popular Smartphone and Feature Phone OS) and think hard about what Operator resources could be leveraged to further enrich this product as an exclusive differentiated service for subscribers.
Don’t forget that Operators have a great many valuable attributes that developers would kill to get their hands on: distribution, brand credibility, marketing muscle, billing and location API’s to every mobile number in existence. I am pretty sure many larger developers are willing and able to extend their service’s capabilities to evolve beyond their current D2C models to exploit the immense opportunities to be found within the Operator distribution channel.
Such innovative thinking would provide an environment where Operators can collaborate with an extremely broad cross-section of leading, financially stable OTT players to quickly roll out a multitude of differentiated, even exclusive services, localized around current subscriber needs.
By saving money by removing the high in-house development cost and future-proofing product roadmaps (established by way of zero CAPEX revenue share models) and achieving quicker time to market with a high ROI for both the Operator and developer, everybody wins, especially the subscriber. Make sense?
While such partnerships already exist as ad hoc collaborations, I see no reason why this model shouldn’t be extended on a far more ambitious scale, even providing an attractive alternative to large enterprise programs like RCS where currently Operator mandate only permits in-house developed services to be deployed. In theory, the sky’s the limit.
Investment in non-Telco sector personnel who “get” App culture combined with a strategic vision like this would finally allow Operators to target and exploit the many variable revenue streams and communication channels enabled within partner applications (e.g. advertising, virtual goods, gaming, location and subscription services) and deploy these services on a significant scale. This would allow Operators to not only put value back into the pipe but start to cash in on the vast spoils to be had within these channels. The future here may be much closer to reality than many realize.
Telefonica already sees the value in this thinking with the announcement of BlueVia, their global developer platform which opens up a host of valuable API’s (including Location), allowing developers to innovate services to over 100 million Telefonica subscribers based on an API for revenue share model. While still in its early stages, my only hope is that this program will be extended across the group, and that many other Operators follow Telefonica’s lead, embrace this strategy, and herald a new era in OTT/Operator collaboration based VAS.
Geoff Casely is the VP Global Business Development and Nimbuzz. You can follow him on Twitter @GeoffCasely