Rapid adoption of mobile devices such as the Tablets, Smart TVs, Connected Cars and Augmented Reality units are creating a huge impact on the way consumers interact with content, potentially putting billions of consumer dollars up for grabs: cable licensing agreements, advertising budgets, on-demand subscription fees, not to mention the future of the connected home. But despite all of the excitement — or perhaps because of it — there is still a lot of confusion about what the different types of multi screen apps are and how the technology is evolving to support this use case.
Multi screen scenarios imply the instances when the user is engaged across multiple screens – the most notable is that of a TV and a mobile device. Google recently shared that a stunning 77% of users are using a second device when they are watching TV. On the surface of it, a content owner could be upset about this dual activity being a distraction and yet – Dual screen apps present an opportunity to engage the user on more than one consumption platform. For example- watching the Superbowl on TV and tweeting about the event online. Thus, this allows creation of an interactive experience that enhances it with additional information, related advertising, or calls to action. These are the types of experiences that are poised to radically transform the way consumers engage with content.
Social Aggregators of multi screen content i.e Companies like GetGlue, Shazam, Zeebox, and Sidecastr have all created apps that detect what program a user is watching and present social or companion content on their device. Their hope is that they can assemble a large enough audience to become interesting to advertisers that want to target these users
Amongst the bigger players, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are each building enabling technology for dual screen apps into their platforms, as they view content-centric apps as a key battleground in their overall platform war. Also participating are consumer electronics giants like Samsung, Sony, and LG.
Prima Facie, the key here is when fundamental technology architectures are in play, platforms generally win in the long run. If one can successfully deliver the capabilities that enable armies of developers to build vertical or use case-specific applications, the network effects will generally overwhelm any individual competitor that is trying to do everything on its own.
If the early results are any indication, Adobe, has become a model for companies coping with tech’s changing landscape. But the Business transition is easier said – Adobe will have to navigate the rise of cloud, Mobility, social media and highly targeted online advertising. It also pits Adobe against some very well entrenched competition – Microsoft and Apple in productivity programs, IBM and Google in digital marketing.
Adobe’s move into digital marketing- which has its roots in the acquisition of Omniture, a web analytics company in 2009 is an equally adroit move. The second leg of Adobe’s strategy re-orientation includes data driven marketing – real-time bidding on Google search ads, targeting display ads using Facebook profiles, analyzing which Tweets or blog posts drive traffic, testing different site designs to see which generate sales. To make those features possible, Adobe has spent $800 million in the last 3 years on acquisitions since Omniture: Day Software for website-content management, Demdex for ad targeting, Efficient Frontier for search and social media ad exchanges, and Auditude for inserting ads inside streaming videos. According to Gartner, marketing budgets will grow 9% this year, compared with 4.7% for IT. Adobe wants to benefit from that growth by selling marketing services and software simultaneously. Thus, Adobe tools once relied on just for creating a website, have become much more useful as a digital marketing suite.
Still, Adobe’s marketing push means going up against deep-pocketed companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Google — all of which are more experienced in the enterprise software market. The next year or so will be critical for Adobe as it changes tracks and dons a new gear. It is a risk but then its vastly better than waiting for the emminent death of Adobe Flash.Adobe’s post-Flash strategy was announced in November 2011, alongside the restructuring that made digital marketing and Creative Cloud the company’s top priorities Adobe saw the writing on the wall and conciously anchored itself on the Creative Cloud and Digital Marketing as the next streams of business. Now we await the new Adobe!
In the age of Cloud,Mobility,Social Media and altering business models,Companies that simply try to preserve the status quo will fail – Inspired
Adobe is the midst of transition would inspire many a case studies. A company that epitomized Shrink Wrapped High Quality Software is working on complete re-doing of its business and revenue models with an eye on the future. Historically, Adobe has been a productivity suite company with its software being centred around enterprises, film-makers, webmasters and content creators and it has done well till recent times. Not wishing to be caught on the wrong foot holding on to status quo, Adobe has readied and implemented a radical change in its business model- It has embraced the cloud based distribution and digital marketing and is phasing out the CD based version of “pay beforehand $1400-$2400” software distribution to Software in the cloud, monthly subscription service. This sachet service works three ways – It steadies revenue per month, it reduces piracy (Adobe was losing a reported $1bn to piracy of its software) and it also increases penetration (The move to subscriptions is a clever and thoughtful way to lower the price point). This model works on a $20-$50 subscription model – and this would bring 325K subs by end of 2012 as per Adobe. Lready Adobe has a million free memberships on its Cloud.The current onboarding rate is 11K per week. Overall average revenue per user is 20% higher compared with the old product. That number will rise even further, the company says, because it is much more likely to sell support services, website hosting, or server management to cloud customers. Already Adobe is augmenting its cloud product by addition of features and functionalities such as Creative Cloud for teams, making it easy (collaborate effort); Adobe Muse (For creation of Mobile websites); Creative Cloud Connection for desktop synching and collaborative sharing;Creative Cloud Training; and demonstrating the unlimited access to the Digital Publishing technology used by major publishers to create interactive content for the smartphones and tablets.
Sure this audacious moved spooked the stock which lost steam in 2011 but it is back in action and has traced a healthy recovery. The stock is way behind its historic highs of $47.9- however at $35.5 it is trading 47% above its 2011 trough of $24.17. Even while the stock is underperforming as per analyst’s expectations- the 3Q, 2012 profits have reversed a trend of 3 quarters of dipping profits. In the most recent quarter, profit increased by 3.2% year-over-year. Looking back further, profit dropped 2.4% in the second quarter, 21.1% in the first quarter and 35.4% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year. The turnaround seems to be working for Adobe and we would get to know more about this in time. As for the shift from boxed software to subscriptions: It is far from over. In fact, it is the company’s greatest source of uncertainty.
Over the last few months now, Apple has been behaving like the big daddy – reminiscent of Microsoft in the 2000-10 decade. Firstly, there is the push into patent led legal processes with Samsung; then the whole act of reducing supplies of the Samsung chips and then there is the whole maps fiasco for which Tim Cook has also had to apologize in public. Apple’s push to pack all of its eco-system in its walled garden is becoming a bad press issue. The latest being the Map application errors which has led Australian Police to issue a warning on use of the Apple Maps application in North West Australia categorizing the app as “Potentially Life Threatening”. The latest map glitch puts motorists 70 kms off from where they are supposed to be.
Again then – the question that arises- Post the Jobs era, Is Apple lapsing into the ordinary?
Smart-phones are ubiquitous devices globally and it feels funny to write an obituary to such a mega-hype. But as with most and many technologies, there is a lifecycle – and the alternative will come through sooner than later. Disruption is inevitable.
Computing as a consumer activity and behavior is evolving and the interfaces are getting as close to human social behavior, thought processing and sensory valuation as it can. The devices of tomorrow will be a coherent mix of Immersive Internet Media, Inclusive “user centered ”Computing, Portability to the point of ubiquity, based on Sensory Platforms and Always Real time. All this builds up-to a future in devices where the devices will be controlled by Mind and be an extension of the human self.
Coming back to the replacement of Smartphones, the recent developments in Augmented reality, Speech Recognition methodologies and Gesture based controls combined together could spell the next platform in computing – a wearable one at that – the prototype of which is Google Glass. Microsoft also has a product in the pipeline currently code named as Photosynth. As a gadget, the concepts are very interesting and far reaching in terms of harbingers what the next wave in technology –called wearable technology. These devices will overlay data with predictive analytics, Social Media and Digital Illustrations and other commercials application such as payments etc. Predictive analytics, Speech Recognition, Gesture Control, In memory analytics, social analytics and Augmented Reality are already at various stages of maturity in the technology life cycles. The trick is about getting them together and my bet is that Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM and a couple of the technology companies would already be working to get the concepts in place.
Google Glass-How it works!
Google Glasses are in the developmental stages now and have been demoed for LAYAR (Layered Augmented Reality Apps). Microsoft’s Photosynth is still in the concept development phases. Understandably both concepts and the PoCs are in infancy right now with a lot of rough edges, but then these technologies will be truly disruptive once they start hitting the threshold/critical state numbers.
The Google Glass demo!
The disruption will be in the sense that there will be no additional devices such as smartphones and tablets – it will be a wearable unit controlled by human interfaces- speech, motion etc. To that extent it is clearly disrupting the smartphone kind of interface signaling the end of the smartphone era.
The obituary for Smartphones is done and dusted. The key challenge for wearable computing will be the productization of these concepts. Watch this space for more.
Even while Apple TV is on the horizon and Android TV as a commercial product is half baked, the open ecosystem that Android engenders throws up exciting opportunities and devices based around the TV experience. Smart enough as these solutions are not driven by the large CE companies and is rather developed by small start-ups.
The innovation and the wow is the departure from the rectangular TV boxes into dongle sized entities. The pocket-sized dongle connects to the HDMI port of any regular TV and converts it into a Smart TV. It’s basically a fully functioning micro-computer the size of a thumb which runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) much like today’s latest smartphones. Throw in a keyboard along with the remote and any HD television converts into an Android tablet and the accompanying remote (which includes a keyboard on the back) allows users to interact with their television as they would an Android tablet.
So then, we see the birth of a new ecosystem around the TV set, which is no longer controlled by old school parties such as the CE manufacturers, the broadcasters and the TV distribution platforms, and not even by relative newcomers such as Apple, but by a whole herd of out-of-left-fielders. The UI and the usability could be a spot of bother, but then it would eventually catch up in the next quarter or so.
Profiling a few of the leading efforts on the Smart TV Sticks
Infinitec Pocket TV- Dubai based start-up dealing which show-cased Smart TV solution
Liquid TV – Italy based start-up’s USB dongle solution for coverting TVs into smart TV(Android TV)
Real Time, wearable computing, here and now data elements – Google Glass is more than just a smart pair of glasses with an integrated heads-up display and a battery hidden inside the frame. Like Apple’s Siri, it’s technology with enormous potential. The idea is to deliver augmented reality, with information that’s directly relevant to your surroundings appearing in front of you whenever you need it. Google’s business is about making money from advertising, and glass marks the transition from screen to reality with the information layer literally juxtaposed. Many might worry that Google Glass is its attempt to monetize eyeballs quite literally, by blasting ads whenever the user look’s at something. While the initial videos and demos revolve n the photos aspect of the Glasses, the ability to monetize LAYAR through the Glasses is Google’s next billion $ gambit.
Even while wearable computing is not a new idea, but Google’s enormous bank account and can-do attitude means that Project Glass could well be the first product to do significant numbers.
Uncannily common in ad delivery, Glasses is not to be confused by Google Goggles which is an app that can search the web based on photos and scans. Google Glass is hardware doing much the same but on a more integrated scale. Google’s Project Glass glasses will use a transparent LCD or AMOLED display to put information in front of the user. It uses a camera and GPS for location sensing, and uses head movements for movements such as scroll and click on information, something that is apparently quite easy to master. Google Glasses will also use voice input and output. Glass will run Android, will include a small screen in front of the eye of the user and will have motion sensors, GPS and either 3G or 4G data connections. Glass is designed to be a stand-alone device rather than an Android phone peripheral. It should connect to a smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.0. It communicates directly with the cloud. There is also a front-facing camera and a flash, although it’s not a multi-megapixel monster, and the most recent prototype’s screen isn’t transparent.
Currently in a prototype stage, Google Glasses which is expected to be commercially launched in 2014, has key challenges- making a screen that works in darkness and in bright sunlight is tough – and mobile display technology doesn’t offer dynamic focusing, which reads the eye to deliver perfectly clear visuals. Current wearable displays have to be two feet away from your face, heads-up displays can be distracting, and there may be safety issues too. There are privacy implications too. Never mind your web history: Google Glass might record everything that the user is seeing and doing. Also there is this usability issue- Glasses will possibly not be useful in the rain (yet!)
It is expected that the Glasses are expected to cost around the price of current smartphones. Rumour indicate that Glasses may even end up in contact lenses and Google has in works a contact lens with embedded electronics.
An year back, i was blogging how Apps are the next generation of Internet Consumer Experience. Those were the heady days with App stores being launched left, right and centre. The pace has abetted as the app store bubble has gone poof… but the apps story remains as relevant and as dominant as ever.
A ComScore study MobileMetrix 2.0 which measures engagement and behaviour on smartphones puts Applications one up over mobile browsers. The analysis of the share of time spent across apps and browsers revealed that even though these access methods had similar audience sizes, apps drove the lion’s share of engagement, representing 4 in every 5 mobile media minutes. On similar lines, analysis of the top properties also revealed widely varying degrees of time spent between app and browser access methods. In both these metrics, Apps outscored Browsers by a margin and more. The chart below demonsstrates Mobile App usage over Mobile browsers for the most used portals on internet:
As Internet access goes Mobile, the apps are beginning to power more and more access and engagement. Apps outscore mmobile browsers in more than a handful ways- Whether it being a push medium for relevant and timely delivery, or in being API guided content awareness and monetization, all screen presence or alternative solutions or powering the Web 3.0 (Internet of all things). Brands particularly are more keen to take the app route to consumer engagement because of the versatility of the app experience which is so relevant to the brand. Integrated service delivery is the key for applications over mobile browsers. Integrated services are those that work on any delivery medium that the consumer may be using: cable, DSL, wireless, wireline or satellite rather than being tied by transaction to one delivery medium.
WIth the iOS, Androids and WP8s driving usage of apps on smartphones, Apps also have a critical mass backing their growth aagainst mobile browsers.
HTML5 is taking over as the key enabler of Internet on mobile phones. The Internet of all things and cloud based convergence will be a key theme in this decade and it will be powered by a tight integration powered by APIs. The future will be about Platforms on which devices and services will be enabled will be powered by applications both native and web based. This post examines the platform, applications and developer intent.
A recent survey by Appcelerator finds that Apple iOS leads the developer interest charts with 89% intent. iPad comes a close second at 88%. On the Applications side, the loser is a very unlikely candidate: Android (79% on the Android phones,64% on the Tablets and 51% on the ICS platform). Appcelerator in its quarterly survey figures out that Android is gradually slipping down mobile programmers’ priority list, with HTML5 powered Web apps stepping in to as an answer to development difficulties. HTML5 ended up showing 67% positive intent from developers.
The wanning interest in Android platform is being attributed to the Fragmentation of the Android platform. The survey concludes that a lot of developers are unhappy with the fragmentation of the platform as well as the fragmentation of the monetization platform. Fragmentation impedes monetization on the Android platform. Customization for screen size, feature sizes, even skins that device manufacturers have put on top of that eats into resources allocation on the platform.
79% of developers think that HTML5 was going to be a component of people’s apps in 2012. Only 6% developers plan to make all-out Web app that runs in a browser; a much larger 72% plan a hybrid approach that wraps native interface elements around an app that relies on a browser engine behind the scenes. A hybrid has some native code on device, but content will be delivered via HTML.
For developers on open platforms it’s a tough line to walk. They want to have an open OS, but openness means they’re going to have fragmentation.
The good news for Android is that even while it has suffered recent declines it fares much better than Blackberry (16% Developer interest) and Windows (37% developer interest).
The good news for Google is that developer interest is on a rise for Web-App hybrid environment like the one running on its Chrome OS and Chromebooks.