the iPad and Marketing

the iPad: child's playI picked up my iPhone this morning and thought “it’s just about perfect, except it could be bigger…”

I guess I’m not alone – it seems the good folks over at Cupertino have been on the same thought. And, as regulars on this blog will know, I’ve been a consumer of ebooks on my iphone for a long time.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media about how the iPad may help publishers embrace the digital era – especially this excellent post over at Gizmodo, which identifies that Apple are trying to do what they did with the iPod: not haggle about the early adopter audience who’ve already bought a Creative JukeBox (or Kindle in this case) but rather reach the rest of the world. Those regular consumers who just like great kit that works.

The impact on marketing is huge. The transition of apps from the iPhone to the iPad will be an enormous opportunity for marketers who’ve succeeded in engaging their customers to the extent of committing to a download. This might be content driven – or commerce driven – or other ‘marketing as a service’ approaches. And yes, I’m look at you, fashion retailers, banks and other service providers.

My colleagues at my new employer, Lyris, are working on an app for a fashion retailer that already looks great on the iPhone. If the high net worth customers of this brand do, as I suspect they will, end up with iPads to do their surfing, they are almost certain to use it to do their online fashion shopping.

Are you ready for that?

Why Apple keep winning

Since my last post, two key things that combine to lead to this post:

  • I bought an iPhone (perhaps not earth-shattering news)
  • I’ve been travelling an indecent amount

And guess what? I found myself using the internet en route far more than is normal, even for me. I found myself playing some time-eating games, listening to some music, keeping up with my emails, talking to friends, family and business contacts… all far more than even I did on my previous (extensive) roster of smartphones, PDA’s and laptops.

Apple just have a knack with usability that other manufacturers are miles off matching. I used to like the ability to surf the web on the move – now, for the first time, it’s actually a pleasure to do so.

I’ve always argued that Apple are the best in the business for their marketing and ability to create a ‘wow-factor’. But also that they are rarely actually the best machines (and almost never the best-priced equipment). I think the iPhone ticks all the boxes (well, except best-priced).

Guess I just joined the herd.

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3.2

Google-bye for now, Dream

G1 vs Jesus-phone

G1 vs Jesus-phone

Ah, the mighty battle between T-Mobile’s G1 and Apple’s jesus-phone.

Yesterday morning (having finally made a decision between them) I took delivery of the G1. Tomorrow they’re coming to take it away again.

Now don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot to love about the G1 – but it’s all about the Android platform. The problem is the hardware: there are just too many niggles there to let me feel I’ll be able to stand 18 months of this phone.

Matters came to a head when I had to call T-Mobile’s (excellent) customer service centre… and met with the typical “press 1 for…” numeric menu.

To do this on the G1, you have to take the phone away from your ear, open the keyboard and then hit the appropriate key. Madness!!!

I think Android will win through in the end: it’s early stage, but the interface is intuitive, adaptable, amazingly flexible, powerful and very fast. But it’s a genie trapped in a cracked bottle.

The App Store (Android Market) is a delight to use – even better than the iTunes App Store – and will (I firmly believe) win out when the depth of apps swells to fill it, as it has over at Apple.

Meanwhile, as Martina King, then MD of Yahoo! UK & Ireland, once said to me: “A phone needs just one killer app: it needs to make calls.” Both the G1 and the vast range of windows mobile phones appear not to have picked up on that yet.

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Gadget envy

Samsung mobile unfolds widescreen – watch the vid!

Sandlines, you will not be surprised to hear, likes his gadgets. Always has.

So although I can probably muster a nominal link to a marketing discussion in here somewhere, you’ll know me well enough by now to realise I just wanted to post this link. This is one seriously cool looking development: a folding screen to expand the viewing area in a handy sized mobile.

Those guys over at Samsung are on some wicked coffee overdose.

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3.2

Yell Mobile app: 21st century beckons

Handy?

Handy?

Seems like the nice folks over at Yell have flipped into the 21st Century, having dropped the door-drops like a soggy slab of toast. I haven’t tried this out yet, but I will.

I’m a fan of the Google Maps mobile app, which replaces the (paid for) apps I used to have on my WinMo and Palm OS devices in the past, complete with the benefit of ‘current location’ from the mobile network. I appreciate GPS may be ‘better’, but in London this is quite sufficient… as it was in Brighton recently.

The Yell app will have to be pretty good to better that… though I do see ample places where it could be improved, I’m unconvinced that either Yell or Google will make those improvements any time soon… but I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone else who’s used either/both?

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2.5

iPhone already market leader for eBooks?

Over at Forbes.com, speculation has been raised that the iPhone already has a larger number of ebook readers (people that is, not apps) than Amazon has sold Kindles… this is based on 390,000 downloads of an app called Stanza.

cover flow on your bookshelf?

cover flow on your bookshelf?

Interestingly, this far outpaces the eReader software I’ve been using. I can’t see figures for it, but I believe the number to be around 1/3 of that CORRECTION: about the same (see comment below). I suspect this difference in take-up relates to the choice of ‘free’ books available on Stanza rather than offering access to a paid-for store with a broader range of titles. I will watch with interest to find out if the 390,000 who have tried Stanza stick around with it.

What it certainly reinforces for me is that, as discussed earlier on Sandlines, the future of ebooks is with devices you already carry, not new stand alone devices.

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Book 2.0

This has been brewing in my mind for a while, so it’s about time I talked ebooks – and the devices on which they’re read. And AFullerView’s comments on the subject have nudged me to action.

Book 1.0

Following Sony’s belated entry to the UK market, the likely arrival here of Amazon’s Kindle, and the already available Iliad, there’s been a lot of talk about the future of the humble-yet-mighty book.

Jeanette Winterson wrote an impassioned, if Luddite, piece about why she’s not a fan, though somewhat muddled up with a defence of the importance of spelling correctly… a somewhat linked, but discrete topic. Her main criticism is that ebooks don’t make it any easier to get books into people’s hands.

Well, I do and I don’t agree. Not sitting on the fence: I want to make an important distinction.

I don’t believe the ‘dedicated device’ route is a good way forward for reading ebooks. Particularly via the Sony eReader approach, which (in true Sony style, limits you to buying a proprietary DRM format of books that is at odds with the best range of ebooks available online, over at the excellent Fictionwise.

And there’s good news. If you own a decent smartphone, you can read books in a variety of formats right there – on your iPhone/iPod Touch (by far my favourite ebook reading device to date), on Windows Mobile devices (I’ve had a couple of those) and on old fashioned PDAs. I started reading ebooks back in 2002 on my Palm T3, and I’ve never looked back.

The screens have become gradually more eye-friendly. The range of books is slowly but steadily increasing. The price is appropriate – a little less than a printed book. Reader: this is the way forward. And as the digital ink that makes the Sony device look so good gains currency, the experience can only improve.

And if you go down this path, the green credentials of ebook reading are pretty decent too: you’re simply expanding the value from a device you already have, so no overhead there. And no trees.

Book 2.0 in action

Book 2.0 in action

Crucially, it means that hefty tomes, such as Neal Stephenson’s new 800 page wopper, Anathem, is reduced to something that puts no additional strain on my briefcase for my commute.

So, better screens on existing ‘smart devices’ = less eyestrain, less backstrain, less bagstrain. And removes the ‘barrier to entry’ issue from Ms Winterson et al… it’s not just putting books in the hands of people who haven’t tended to read them, it’s putting the opportunity for entire libraries there.

= result.

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2.5