I’ve got 30+ “checkboxes” so far toward my mobile web scorecard. What is critical in your mind for a really well done mSite?
I’ve got 30+ “checkboxes” so far toward my mobile web scorecard. What is critical in your mind for a really well done mSite?
It’s beautifully well done. The Financial Times mobile web app (http://app.ft.com) is really sharp, and the technology framework that invisibly enables it via mobile web rather than from within a native app is exceptional.
Most users would be hard pressed to tell that this app is served within a browser rather than as a stand-alone app, because the experience is that good.
When launched for the first time, the app presents a splash screen just like an app, while it loads data in the background, utilizing HTML5′s browser storage features. The app asks the user to add a link directly to the FT mobile web app to the iPad desktop, slotting it right in alongside all the other apps on the device for quick launch. It then recommends a higher allocation of storage for the app, providing instructions and even a link to the iPad setting that controls this.
The browser header is hidden, and the app window is distinctly separate from any open Safari windows. Pages are easily swipe-able, and content loads quickly since most of it is pre-fetched. This made it simple for this reviewer to read while in flight and disconnected. While the app stays true to its analog’s distinctive pink paper, this version is highly interactive. A drop down menu gives easy access to signing-in and jumping between sections. The paper is searchable, and articles are instantly shareable. Content updates throughout the day, and much of the content is contains interactive elements.
Unlike several other digitized news offerings, this is not simply a port of static content to the web with the demand for a premium over “free” web news. The interactivity creates value above and beyond the paper version, justifying the annual subscription fee, which at the time of this writing, is a deal at almost 200 GBP less than the print version (standard online subscription vs. standard home delivery).
The really interesting aspect is that the Financial Times has circumvented the frustrating subscription mechanism and painful economics of the Apple App Store. By utilizing HTML5 and the browser, this very native-like experience skips the App Store completely. What’s the value of the App Store anyway for content producers like FT? The publisher already has an effective global billing and authentication mechanism. Update management is not necessary in the mobile web world, and the iOS browser provides plenty of functionality to deliver this compelling content experience. With more than 400,000 apps in the App Store, that outlet cannot offer significant discoverability over FT’s sizable web traffic.
The mobile web is perfect for FT, and they’ve done a tremendous job with this one. If you haven’t already, be sure to check it out on your iPad. It’s a great example of what is possible in mobile web apps.
Mobile web is often chosen for its reach and broad device addressability, as compared to the confinement to a single platform for each native app build. However, in this case, mobile web is being used specifically to create an iPad experience, with some unique device hooks to create the experience. It will take some not insignificant adaptation work to extend this to additional tablet platforms. The mobile web doesn’t solve the challenge of device platform fragmentation here, which is a very significant departure from the key goal of most most mobile web app strategies. The FT mobile web app has been thoughtfully architected for a solid delivery. Well done.
Why such an ordeal of MS tying IE w/ the OS but not over iOS preventing other browsers from even being installed?
The ABC rule of international travel: Always Be Charging
FierceMobileContent recently reported on the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. IDC makes projections about smartphone market share shifts to come between 2011 and 2015, which adds further support to my earlier post Microsoft is a Sleeping Giant in Mobile.
IDC predicts that Microsoft’s platforms will grow substantially in market share between now and 2015, while at the same time, iOS and BlackBerry will largely maintain their current market share. The increase in Microsoft’s share comes at the predicted disappearance of Symbian in the next few years.
Current Market Shares (as reported by IDC):
Android: 39%, BlackBerry: 14%, Symbian: 21%, iOS: 18%, Windows Phone/Mobile: 4%, and Others: 4%
IDC’s projection for 2015:
Android: 44%, BlackBerry: 13%, Symbian: 0%, iOS: 17%, Windows Phone/Mobile: 20%, and Others: 6%
If I layer on my own input, I’d suggest some adjustments. Symbian won’t go to 0%, because at the moment, Nokia is not intending to cut the OS from its low-end device offerings, which still dominate the majority of their shipments. Even if they do cut Symbian completely, it will take another few years to wash out to a zero share. I also don’t think RIM will be able to maintain their position as well as IDC projects in the next few years, and I think iOS may increase based on increasing penetration into developing markets with lower price points of legacy iPhones that will linger in the market.
My prediction for 2015:
Android: 43%, BlackBerry: 8%, Symbian: 7%, iOS: 18%, Windows Phone:18%, and Others: 6%
One of the stand out announcements from this week’s Apple WWDC conference was the introduction of iMessage in iOS 5, which serves as an integrated enhancement and potential substitute for SMS/MMS messaging among iOS users. Much fuss has been made over the apparent fact that the iPhone carriers had no pre-warning and learned about this service at the same time as the rest of us, during Steve Jobs’s keynote.
Is iMessage going to kill SMS revenue? No way. (I definitively disagree with TechCrunch’s MG Siegler.)
iMessage is clever for a number of reasons, but it’s nothing quite new really. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is perhaps the largest example of an existing, integrated and enhanced messaging network that similarly competes with SMS, and it hasn’t made SMS any less relevant. Google Voice offers integrated SMS that uses the data channel instead of true SMS too, and that service is available across a wide array of smartphones. There are also a number of apps in the App Store that offer similar functionality with less scale. This talk of mass cancellation of SMS plans is unwarranted. I doubt we’ll even see any noticeable plan downsizing, especially considering all the hundreds of millions of non-iPhones out there in the U.S. alone. In fact, iMessage is good for carriers.
Most active SMS users have bucket plans, many of them opting for unlimited plans at about $20/month from iPhone carriers in the U.S. Depending on your source [WSJ, Finance Metrics], the average SMS user sends/receives between 500 and 1000 messages per month. At $0.20 per message (and remember, in the U.S., subscribers typically pay both to send and receive each message), any user that exchanges more than 100 messages in a month would be better off with an unlimited plan. Considering that even in the most prominent iPhone-penetrated countries, only 5%-6% of users have iPhones, nearly all of these subscribers are barely going to take a dent out of their SMS needs. These users also cannot displace third party (short code) SMS alerts with iMessage. There’s enough economic incentive for individuals to maintain their plan, especially those on the increasingly popular family messaging plans, which may not cover iPhone users exclusively within a household.
While it’s true that transmitting an SMS message is nearly zero cost to carriers and are therefore highly profitable, the idea that it’s costless to provide the service is misleading. It is highly profitable, and it will remain so, especially as most subscribers are awful at forecasting their actual usage and are highly risk averse to overage charges. However, with trillions of messages being handled every year, the messaging support infrastructure does not come cheaply. Carriers have moved masses of their users over to SMS buckets. Once they’re on a messaging plan, each incremental message sent or received to that user cuts into profit margins. REASON 1: If iMessage manages to decrease message bucket utilization, while users mostly stay on the same plans, the carriers win.
Even in the event of a mass exodus from SMS bundles, carriers would find another way to fund it by manipulating propositions. SMS could get bundled into data plans perhaps, which are required for iPhones. REASON 2: Even if iMessage simply contributed to more data transfer for iPhones instead of SMS traffic, with carriers migrating to tiered data pricing models, they win here too. (Subscribers are even worse at forecasting their data usage!)
iMessage is really a loyalty play and a device update play in order to sell more services to iPhone users over a longer term. REASON 3: Like BBM has served to retain a great number of BlackBerry devotees on that platform for years, iMessage could do the same for iPhone users, extending subscriber tenure. REASON 4: Since iMessage is only available in iOS 5, it’s also a great reason for users to update their software. With each upgrade in device software, carriers tend to experience a bump in revenue. It makes sense. New fancy features? Try them out! Loyalty and platform updates clearly create beneficial effects for carriers.
REASON 5: Advanced messaging, along with all the other updates in iOS 5, helps to do even more to compel feature phone users into the smartphone world with a more attractive offering. Since smartphone users spend more than feature phone users, this is another carrier win.
LinkedIn recently went public and its stock price soared on day one from a $45 offering price to an insane closing price just north of $94. Even now as I write this, LNKD stock price is at nearly $78 per share. Is it really worth it?
LinkedIn make money from selling site-wide ads, selling job postings, and selling premium memberships to users. There’s nothing definitively sustainable about their revenue streams. We know there’s nothing especially unique about ad sales, but let’s look at the other streams.
LinkedIn has an okay job board, but there’s nothing particularly innovative about it and content is thin compared to others in the space. I’m not convinced the ability to tell who in your network may be a couple hops from an employee of a target employer proves valuable that often. In fact, LinkedIn partners with a more innovative job board site, SimplyHired, for supplemental content that does not provide the same benefit from the network aspects of LinkedIn. The job board market is hot right now given the current economic situation, but look at the companies that once dominated this space just a few years ago and their withdrawn market shares now. LinkedIn is not positioned any better than Monster or HotJobs to fend off upstart disruptive competitors fueled by the current job market, and this feels like a rather volatile revenue source.
Similarly, the site’s premium membership offering may be inflated by current job market conditions, since many users that buy the premium memberships are looking to connect with prospective employers. For the same reasons as above, this is a risky income stream. The other target segment for premium membership may be sales and business development executives looking to target prospective customers. This could be promising, but I don’t see any evidence that LinkedIn is putting energy behind this focus, and tangentially related networks like Salesforce.com, which has been growing its social interaction capabilities, may be better equipped for this opportunity. There’s just not a lot of value for the premium membership currently offered by LinkedIn outside of these purposes.
Don’t get me wrong. I use LinkedIn myself, but I use it for business networking primarily because it’s “not Facebook,” which I prefer to use for more personal networking than business. However, there are a number of companies that are not Facebook, and plenty that have not even been invented yet. LinkedIn may be the Friendster or MySpace of business networking, dominating its niche until a more useful business network comes around.
Here’s an idea for any upstarts thinking about displacing LinkedIn as the de facto business networking site. Add in the concept of organizational structure/mapping, and maintain a history of how companies are structured. It would be great if a site could better record how employees of a given company are connected within the organization. How about independently linking profiles to mentions and quotes from individuals in the press? How about influence scores to help premium members identify the key decision makers at target companies? How about aggregated employee sentiment scores? There’s value in knowing how people in this industry feel about a company compared to those inside the company in terms of stability, future outlook, or quality of work environment.
I believe if you can amass an huge audience, especially if that audience represents a particular niche or purpose, there are many opportunities to make money. LinkedIn has certainly shown impressive growth in its user base. However, I don’t believe LinkedIn has yet demonstrated an ability to lock in long term revenue streams on top of this network. I’m just not buying it at this point.
I’m not a fan of the upcoming Groupon IPO either, but that’s a topic for another post.