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Mobile is here to stay, and publishers are eager to embrace it, even if figuring out how to is not an easy task.
Thus far, publishers have focused much of their effort on building native mobile apps, and it's no surprise why: mobile apps are being downloading at a frantic pace.
According to a recent report by IHS Screen Digest, the top four mobile app stores may generate close to $4bn in revenue this year, and ABI Research has forecast that by 2016, consumers will download 44bn mobile apps.
Mobile applications have taken off in the past several years. Thanks in large part to the rise of the iPhone, millions upon millions of consumers treat their mobiles like computing devices. It's a trend that nobody expects to slow anytime soon.
But despite the rapid growth of mobile apps, when it comes to app sales, there's good news for everyone in the mobile ecosystem: the best is yet to come.
It's no surprise that Amazon is launching an app store for Android. The ecommerce giant has come a long way since it started selling books online. Today, Amazon is rapidly evolving into a content company. And mobile apps are already a big part of the digital content business.
But despite Amazon's brand and size, there's no guarantee that it will become a successful player in the mobile app space. Apple is the 800 pound gorilla, and history isn't exactly conclusive when it comes to Amazon versus Apple. While Amazon's Kindle seems to be holding its own with the iPad, its MP3 store has hardly put a dent in the success of iTunes.
Google's Android operating system may be a prominent fixture in the mobile world, but when looking at the app economy within it, Android is having a hard time competing with Apple and iOS.
One big reason: Android Market, Google's online marketplace for Android applications.
If you work in technology or digital marketing, you probably take it for granted that mobile apps are a mainstream phenomenon. But is that really the case? Sort of, according to a new Pew Internet telephone survey.
According to the survey, 35% of adults in the United States have applications on their phone. That's a fairly big number.
Apple's new iAd mobile advertising platform offers the enticing proposition of advertising seamlessly integrated into Apple's myriad mobile applications. But according to one developer, the acquisition cost on the platform is around $15.
If other users have similar problems, this could spell trouble for Apple.
Developer David Smith of Cross Forward Consulting recently spent $1,251.75 on an iAd campaign that generated only 84 downloads. He documented his issues on the company blog. According to Smith:
Conde Nast may have stumbled upon a new way to digitize its popular brands that can no longer sustain a full magazine publishing schedule. Media companies large and small rushed to get their magazine content on the device at launch, but Conde Nast is hoping to resuscitate the dearly departed Gourmet with a new iPad app that will not rely on sharing magazine content.
Ruth Reichl, the magazine's well-respectd former editor wrote on Twitter this morning:
"They're reviving the brand, not the magazine. Pity."
In fact, it could be just the opposite. But Conde Nast will have to get a lot of things right for the app to suceed.
The internet is growing up. And with that, a cottage industry of web developers and coders was born. While it isn't universal yet that everyone has a web site, many people do have outposts online, whether it's a web site, blog or social profile.
But just as websites become more common, questions are being raised about their long-term future.
When Qualcomm launched a device to accompany its mobile television programming, it was FLO TV Personal Television, "a 3.5-inch touch screen allows users to surf through channels with the swipe of a finger."
This was because:
- Consumers want to swipe their fingers.
- Consumers want a touch screen.
Consumers will spend $6.2 billion this year on mobile apps, downloading 4.5 billion times from app stores. Yet eight out of 10 app downloads won't be sold at all, but rather be free to end users. Advertising and marketing will close the revenue gap.
These findings come from Gartner, which forecasts worldwide mobile app downloads will exceed 21.6 billion by 2013. Free downloads will account for 82 per cent of all downloads this year, 87 per cent three years hence.
Yelp's has cunningly added augmented reality functionality as a hidden feature in its existing iPhone app, for iPhone 3Gs users.
The Easter egg can be unearthed by simply shaking the app a few times (actually, to the amusement of my colleagues, I shook my phone for about five minutes before it decided to work). It's only available for the newer version of the iPhone because it needs to use the compass.
Augmented reality (AR) is an engaging way of combining live video with computer-generated data and visualisations. It is an area that has grabbed my attention lately, and it’s going to be a big deal.
Amazing things will happen in this space in the years to come, but what about today? Are there live applications out there already? Sure there are, although it is early days and many of these examples are alpha demos. Nevertheless, they truly shine a light on the possibilities with augmented reality.
I have collated a bunch of videos that highlight the opportunities with augmented reality. You will be able to use AR to create real-world applications that fulfil human needs in a way that still feels ever so slightly sci-fi. You can try out a number of these AR demos from your desktop if you have a printer and webcam.
I have to say that the possibilities for world-class mobile applications are really exciting, but the upside for brand marketers is also vast, as AR can improve on-pack promotions, point of sale, print and billboard advertising, and so on. And if you think this is all tomorrow's world, it isn't. Take a look at the Glasses Direct interactive video mirror, for an example of how augmented reality can play a role in helping improve your conversion rates today.
So sit back and tune into augmented reality. And have a think about what you might be able to do in this space...