Friday, March 29, 2013

Android's killing it globally: Why we're building our app in iOS and not Android

I have been working with a client company on building a product that is essentially controlled by a mobile phone so a more robust user experience can be created. Like many companies, there’s a real concern that this may not resonate with their core audience (it will) and the requirement of smart phone ownership will be needlessly constraining (it won’t – their core audience is higher income and mid-30’s age-wise. Smart phone nirvana). The key will be making the engagement truly engaging, easy to use, and on-brand for the platform on which it’s being used.

Android is taking share, so what's the obvious choice?

We have decided to build our product app solely in iOS.

Here’s why:

1. Platform consistency. No guarantee that Android phones will stay up to date. All iOS phones are routinely updated with latest software releases. But there are constraints as hardware becomes more sophisticated. An iPhone 3 will not have iOS6.1 for example. Still iOS6 is 83% of all iOStraffic. According to the Android Developer Portal 3/5ths are running on outdated versions of Android. Here is a great article on the topic from the Economist.

2. Device predictability. An article a few weeks back talking about how Nike has decided not to pursue an Android version of the FuelBand mobile software touches on the challenges that are parallel to ours. Essentially it comes down to something called “BLE” which is Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and what we are looking to use in our product. The net effect is that Apple have committed to having this hardware component in their phones, but Android let the handset manufacturers decide what they will put in the phones, meaning that a low-uptake early technology like BLE will not be consistently available in Android phones. A comment from the Economist article sums it up nicely:
The lack of more specific hardware requirements [for Android] appears to provide the perverse incentive for handset makers to scrimp on kit, too—at least on all but premium smartphones.

3. Revenue Generation: The way that the iTunes store links all Apple devices has created a massive amount of stickiness for their users, and the curation that the iTunes store does has folks generally more confident in spending money on iPhone apps than Android apps. By many accounts it looks like there is about a 5:1 index of apple revenue versus Android. In fact the most stable component of Apple’s revenue stream is the app store so expect it to remain an important strategic priority for them. That said, this is a fast-changing landscape, so we may start to see more revenue come from Google’s app store, and I'm betting that Samsung's commitment to the platform and their great products will yield progress on this front. But, it’s a ways away, so spending extra time and money today in anticipation of the ‘what if’ is not best use of resources for us.

4. Globally consistent. My client has a global footprint. This iOS dominance is consistent throughout Europe even though Android is outpacing through lower priced handsets, and increasingly in Japan, where the iPhone is now the topseller according to Kantar Media

5. Native – not HTML5. To get the most from the phone’s onboard ecosystem, you need to build in the phone’s OS. IF this were a simple app that didn’t require access to social, location, or the Bluetooth LTE we could easily build a multiplatform app. and some folks think HTML5 just "isn't ready"

This is a topic with a lot of passion around it - especially once the term 'fanboy' gets thrown into the mix... wondering what sort of feedback this will get...

Friday, April 3, 2009

See the Big Picture

I subscribe to a newsletter from an ex-recruiter named John Lucht. I’m a fan, though I know he is controversial to many; the message is spot-on regardless of your view of the messenger.

I wanted to share the note I received yesterday that talks about seeing the big picture in a business setting because it extends past business and can apply to many situations. See if you agree:

“So you're not yet the CEO. Nonetheless, if you want to get ahead, you'd better begin today to think as if you were. Indeed, always observe and think as if you were already managing the larger entity into which your unit fits.

If you were managing the larger unit, what approach to your unit would you take? Would you pour on the resources because it represents a superior growth opportunity? Or would you short-change it in favor of another more promising unit? How would you view its requests for capital? Would you make strategic acquisitions? Would you invest in long-term R&D?

Perhaps you would divert investment away from your unit. Perhaps even starve its promotion. You might even increase its short-term profitability in order to dress it up for divestiture.

Nothing more clearly and indelibly marks an individual as bush league and unpromotable than if he or she demands resources and attention for a business unit merely because he or she is in charge of it. Don't make that mistake. Offer creative suggestions that can maximize shareholder value. Always think of the big picture and fit your area of responsibility into it."
[Excerpted from Insights for the Journey]

I have always run my career this way. I have learned to use this thinking granularly - I even approach meetings this way: Who is at the table and what are their needs? What impact will our decisions have on them or their departments and what does that mean for their own currency?

I have also always thought this way as a marketer. What job is my product being hired for? What else is going on at home or at the First Moment of Truth (those precious seconds when the consumer is deciding what to buy) that I need to acknowledge and either accommodate or neutralize? And, what degree of interaction does my consumer want to have with my brand? I want to be just as engaging as I can be without crossing her line and alienating her.

Try this thinking out at your next meeting regardless of whether it’s Staff, Client or PTA. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A great application of Twitter to a local business model

I know where the waffle truck is.

For background, I believe the future of online is to build stronger local communities. As we grow larger networks online, it ironically empowers us to get closer to the people and businesses that operate offline by enabling more targeted communication within an increasingly wired world. Back in the very old days (you know, the eighties), the best your local pizza place could do was get a couple ads in the high school sports program or pennysaver, maybe spring for a radio spot if they were somehow flush with coin, and hope you showed up…. Now my local pizza guy can hit me with geotagged text ads, will soon be able to pop ads on my mobile browser via GPS location (say, when I'm doing a search on local pizza…), and so on.

I live in New York City and the density of the town allows for experimentation that can only happen in urban environments (increasing the urban is another back-to-the-future concept that I believe in). There are mobile food purveyors that have developed cult-like followings while selling food from old fashioned concession trucks like you see at a job site or a fair, just parked there on the street. I love that.

The waffle truck is often in my neighborhood, and I always know exactly where and when because of their daily Twitter update. They tend to go to Brooklyn on the weekend. sigh.

And, as a Twitter follower of the Waffletruck, I have the inside scoop on specials for the day via a secret code:

Except on international waffle day, where all were able to benefit, which seems right and just...

What are your favorite uses of Twitter for local businesses?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Emotional Brands, Functional Brands

I often think about brands along two fundamental axes: Emotional vs. Functional.

When I get asked "how do we get a better premium for our brand?" one of the first things I look at is the emotional connectedness the consumer has to the brand and ask what the brand is doing to foster the ongoing connection. I have found that functional advantage can garner a premium in the marketplace so long as the functional advantage is unique, well articulated, and (obviously, or not-so) valued by the consumer.

A number of years back I learned a great lesson on this when we tried to leverage a premium for the Honeywell brand of room humidifiers. We had had great success on Vicks-branded humidifiers and thermometers in pharmacies through a combination of answering consumer problems (check), consumer friendly design (check), concise and persuasive packaging (check), and, of course, the Vicks brand.

Applying the same checklist into the room humidifier category under Honeywell yielded very different results vs. Vicks – a much smaller premium. Why?

Nothing is more important than the health/recovery of your child – the key job of pharmacy-bought humidifiers (emotional and functional benefits), whereas a room humidifier has a specific role where only your degree of discomfort is at stake (very functional, much less emotional).

We pondered. Our CEO brought it to earth: "There's a big difference between Mom rubbing Vicks on your chest and Dad turning a thermostat on the wall" in terms of your connectedness to the brand.

How are you connecting with consumers? How are you relevant to the things that matter to them emotionally? It is only when you connect with consumers on an emotional level that you can win in a functional category, and it can work in all categories. Perhaps my favorite example of a functional offering that drives emotions is Zappos, the mail-order shoe company that many people just LOVE. Read up on it – my next blog posting will be about familiarity driving emotional attachment which drives brand loyalty.

Friday, February 27, 2009

“Crowdsourced feedback” (like it or not)

Tropicana is changing their package back to its previous incarnation after six short weeks. The strength of digital media and social networks may have fanned these winds of change.

Those of who know me well have heard my "gentle rants" about the Tropicana Orange Juice repackaging launched earlier this year. Why the vertical logo placement (I have never had a single piece of research support vertical logo placement, as efficient as it can be for big branding of primary panels)? Why on EARTH would you walk away from the strong visual equity of the straw-in-orange conveying freshness? Why the generic sans serif font... are you trying to make it look like a TESCO or Sainsbury's package ? They made one structural change as well - changed the cap to a half-orange which, while cute, smacks of premium packaging on a consumable which is a no-no in this conservationist age. And completely, utterly, unshoppable as all product-to-product differentiation was buried (no doubt for the sake of art).

I wasn't the only one thinking this way; the blogosphere agreed. This article in the NYT from earlier this week acknowledged the massive backlash Pepsico encountered acknowledged massive direct feedback via phone and email, but I have seen numerous blogs with innumerable comments all addressing the topic which I imagine carried equal sway as I imagine they no doubt helped create the 'push' needed to get consumers more vocal.

Kudos to Pepsi for listening to the consumer (doing so prior to launch would have been way cheaper) and moving swiftly to backtrack. And if anyone would like a little schadenfreude (Thank you John Gapper for that one) tune here to see Peter Arnett waxing poetic about all the psychological mumbo-jumbo reasons why this packaging is a winner at its launch. Five months from conception to in-market means there's a very senior marketer at Pepsi with egg on their face… And, next time you hear marketers speak like this, short the stock.

Leveraging Old Media with New

Originally posted here on 28 Jan 2009:

Often we focus more on how digital is supplanting traditional media and less on how a nicely integrated campaign can leverage the best (or worst) of each. One area of TV advertising that has to-date remained more or less sacrosanct is the good old Super Bowl spot. While no longer breaking price records year-over-year, in an era of fading revenue the spots seem to be holding their own. But these costs create a new demand: in this austere media environment, how to maximize and measure the productivity of these budget-busting ads?

This short article
(non-subscribers) in the Wall Street Journal discusses a number of innovative means of creating stickiness and/or measurability being tested by several of this year's advertisers. New (to me) is a product in the Canadian market that allows consumers to use their digital cable remote to watch a longer version of an ad or bookmark that longer version for later viewing; the revenue model is decidedly new media: cost-per-click. A simpler tactic among several being used by Castrol is the purchase of keywords related to their ad to assure primacy in post-ad search. Doritos is likely going to take the prize for a second year with their viral ad contest:

“…offering $1million to anyone who can create a Super Bowl commercial for its Doritos tortilla chips that scores No. 1 in USA Today’s …ad competition.”

And, finally, what marketing opportunity would be complete without yet another brand attempting to create an online community, (this one is about Pedigree dog food under guise of pet adoption) which lets you download a barking dog ringtone for your iPhone....

My bets? Simplicity wins. Harnessing true consumer passion for your product wins. Forced community, maybe not so much.
Posted by Chris Craig at 12:42 PM
Labels: advertisement, digital marketing, marketing, new media, Online Advertising, social networking