Friday, September 3, 2010

Android's Most Popular App is Problematic

I have no doubt in my mind that Android will be a successful platform. It already outsold Blackberries, stealing shares from iOS, and mobile companies are jumping all over the Android ecosystem.

With the App Store, Apple brought native app back to life. It's the app world now. When consumers buy an iPhone or iPad, one of the first destinations is to check for interesting apps. Angry Birds, LogMeIn Ignition (yah, shameless plug), Twitter, and Fruit Ninja are all great apps. Great user experience, awesomely fast. In fact, I spend so much time within the apps on mobile devices that browser acts like just another app. I'm pretty convinced that Angry Birds can never be so much fun on a mobile Safari.

There comes a report from Quantcast.

iOS is losing it's browser market share. Android is going up to the right. Bad news for Apple. Not!

If I was Steve, I'd be thinking, "This is awesome. App Store is growing like weed, we're distributing more and more money to developers, and developers are excited to make more apps". As an app developer, Android's upward trends in browser usage makes the Android platform less attractive.

Is this is sign that Android's most popular app (i.e. browser) is problematic?

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thoughts on iAd

I just watched the full video of Apple's latest iPhone OS 4.0 announcements. Most of it seem to be the obvious ones - multitasking, foldering, Mail, etc.

iAd is probably a more controversial announcement. Apple hasn't traditionally been an advertising company until the recent acquisition of Quattro Wireless. For those even remotely interested in digital interactive advertising, iAd really is a game changer. Whether it will be successful or not is a question, but definitely a revolutionary approach to mobile advertising.

Even though many claimed to have done innovative creatives around interactive advertising, I really haven't seen anything close to what Apple demoed in this event. You basically stop what you're doing to interact with.. basically a promotional content.

For free app developers, the only way to monetize on their sweat and effort is by selling advertisements. (actually there are others like sponsorship. Let's get down to those minor categories later) The irony is that all those cool, free apps are stuck with banner ad impressions (okay, what about CPC? Points taken, but it's still static). From the consumer point of view, we can either simply ignore or click the banner to make a purchase. This is a crappy buying experience. The big missing piece here is that banner ads suck at marketing products. They just ask you to get your credit card number out.

This is where iAd comes in. Okay, I'm sold on this cool banner. So, I click into it. Rather than showing me the "Buy Now" button, show me something else. A well-made iAd can be a full-fledged platform to experience the product and brand. The Toy Story example had gaming component, free wallpaper.. things that I can interact with. Yes, there's a "buy now" component, but it's not the only thing in there.

Some iAd opponents argued that this is a stupid idea because people just don't want to stop what they are doing to get into an ad. This is true, because mobile ads really suck now. Think about Super Bowl ads. People expect good stuff, and the value of those ads go up proportionately. If advertisers, as a whole, can serve high-quality experience through iAd, maybe this is something that consumers don't mind giving up leaving the app for an ad.

Of course, whether there'll be good iAds or not is a big hole here. Apple created the platform. Now it's up to advertisers and marketers to make iAd successful.
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Monday, April 5, 2010

What's that "+" sign in App Store?

If you are like one of the millions people getting the first look at the App Store this past week, you probably realized that the App Store looks dramatically different now.

My early question about the iPad App Store, "Oh no, do I have to buy another app for my iPad?" This is partly true. Look for the "+" sign. This mean that the app is a "universal binary".

To the ordinary people like me, universal binary means nothing. What it means is that the app would work for both iPhone and iPad, and users get the optimized experience from the same app. Some developers went the route of selling a "HD" or "for iPad" app, requiring the new iPad owners to shell out more for the same app that they own for the iPhone.

For those of you who are more frugal, look for the "+" sign. You'll easily find some developers more kind than others.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cracking the App Store

Phew, I've been away for a while. For those of you not aware of where I've been since my last post, I've been deep in my neck doing iPhone app marketing. I'm managing the product marketing of LogMeIn Ignition. It's been a blast and challenging experience at the same time.

I spent more time than I ever imagined browsing, trending out, and building models to crack the App Store Code. Yes, I cracked it all.... would be a straight out lie.

What I come to realize is that there are at least thousands of developers and marketers trying to crack the App Store code. It's the out-of-the-box marketing, both on-deck and off-deck integrated marketing of iPhone app to find the customers who buy into the iPhone apps.

In the future, I'll put up some thoughts around what I find interesting about the App Store. For the starter, here they are:
  • Ranking is not the most important thing. Yes, ranking gives additional visibility. If you're in the top 50, you are in the first page on iPhone App Store. If you're in the top 100, you're placed in iTunes App Store. Think about the cause and effect of ranking? Are you getting boost to sales because of ranking, or is it the other way around?
  • App Store economy is evolving. It almost feels like I'm back to the 90s when Yahoo! created an internet directory. App Store is just that. It's got its own kinks and will need to improve.
This is a starter.

Thoughts for today - focus on the customers. Not ranking. Not competitors. Just customers!
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Thoughts on Winner-Take-All Businesses

Startup Boy pointed out in a recent post that consumer internet is increasingly becoming winner-take-all businesses and that every bit of advantage over competitor means you own the market.

Though his blog makes a case for why you need to be in Silicon Valley, that got me think about the non-compete agreement prevalent in MA. With the non-compete in place, employees can oly jump over ship to unrelated industry and are forced to forego the relevant experience built over time. This seems to be a big inefficiency in loss of productivity especially in the startup community.

What if Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo are all headquartered in MA? One of the most attractive talents may have worked at Yahoo in the late 90s, Google in early 00s, Facebook after that, and Twitter now. If they were in MA, non-compete clause would've required them to work on something else that they cannot capitalize on previous experience.

Whenever I talk to my buddies in the Valley, they are saying, "We need another Google", "We need another Facebook", etc. while folks elsewhere waste too much time thinking about "how can I keep my guys from working for a competitor?" There's no winner-take-all in this situation.

So the real question is.... could we have built uber-successful consumer internet businesses in lieu of non-compete?
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