Mobile Fix - The iPhone cometh

21 Sep 2012  |  Simon Andrews 

Simon Andrews, founder of the full service mobile agency addictive!, on the new iPhone5 - from Google maps to iO6...

The reviews are in and pretty much everyone loves the new iPhone. Five star ratings abound and we're told pre-orders are breaking records. So undoubtedly Apple has done it again.

But as the new Samsung ad suggests, the iPhone is a mainstream product now. While this is great for the share price, the door is now open for someone to come up with next hit phone and steal the early adopter market - but Apple has set the bar very high.

While the first deliveries of iPhones in the UK are due tomorrow, we can already play with iO6 and this gives us a good look at the new experience, as most of the features of iO6 work on the 4S and lots on older iPhones too.

Techcrunch has a good round up of all the new features - but the one that's hard to judge is Passbook, as there only seems to be a Lufthansa app for the UK. Why aren't BA, Virgin, Tesco, Odeon etc in there? Hopefully these deals are being done now.

The big changes we expected were the loss of YouTube and Google Maps as pre-installed apps. The new Apple maps app that replaces Google Maps has caused most concern, with lots of dissatisfaction. A very amusing Tumblr is already collecting the best examples of mistakes and omissions - our favourite being a farm in Ireland called Airfield, which is now marked as an airport.

While we wait for a native Google Maps app, going to maps.google.co.uk gets you a really good HTML5 webapp that does pretty much everything you want from Google Maps. Add it to your home screen and you can ignore the Apple maps until they get it sorted, which they inevitably will do.

The big issue for Google isn't really whether users choose to use the default Apple maps; what developers do is a much bigger issue. Right now the vast majority of mapping apps use Google, but the recent changes to the way they manage their API has led people to find alternatives. Foursquare moved to Open Street Map a while back and now we hear that Amazon is switching to Nokia Maps.

If all the iPhone developers choose to migrate away from Google, they have a problem. Of course this is mitigated by the need for a solution that works across all platforms - so maybe Nokia can get some love - and justify the price Nokia paid for the maps company Navteq, that was higher than the whole companies current value.

GAFA Advertising

Just as Google fight that battle, its dominance as an ad business is coming under pressure from Facebook. As we have discussed before, search is a quick win for Facebook - especially if they did a deal with Google or Yahoo! to monetise the billion searches they have everyday. But Zuckerberg is looking at this opportunity in a more strategic way and that was a major factor in the share price turning around in recent days.

The other big opportunity we have discussed is how Facebook could leverage all their data to better target ads across the web, which they are now testing in third party mobile apps. This could be a huge play for Facebook - if they can manage the privacy issues.

The good news for Google is that they are getting stronger in display - and are now ahead of Facebook as the biggest player in the US market

Increasingly search and display are no longer separate silos. As data drives more and more precise targeting they are starting to blend - and a new approach to search from Facebook will accelerate this. Some new capabilities within adwords, that allow for smart re-targeting based on specific behaviours, show the way clever brands are using digital media for performance marketing.

Creative work is also being celebrated with the launch of the Google Sandbox - quite similar to the Studio launched by Facebook last year.

Location

Knowing precisely where someone is right now has to be one of the most exciting factors in mobile - and while the most prominent current use is in search, we see huge potential going forward.

One driver of location has been checking in and Foursquare is looking to woo back lapsed users with some new products and functionality - and a renewed emphasis on partnerships with brands. A couple of recent planning sessions with the Foursquare team and clients has been very interesting.

This tweet from the Olympics digital Czar was interesting; checking in is still used by lots of people. And given the comparative user bases, the numbers for Foursquare are impressive.

Alex Balfour @AlexBalfour2012 This just in. 623,957 check ins to Olympic venues during the Olympic Games on Facebook. About 10% of that number on Foursquare.

Just as Google Maps power lots of apps, so too does the FourSquare API - wherever we have been in the world we have found that just about everywhere is on the Foursquare database. And as they focus on discovery with the Explore function, we think they will be a strong competitor to Yelp and Google in local search.

Retail disruption

This week we have being doing lots of work on retail and the stats continue to astound. Deloitte's new research estimates that around 6% of UK in-store retail sales were influenced by smartphones in Q2 this year - that's over £15 billion.

And comScore research in the US shows that 80% of US smartphone users visited a retail site / app - with Amazon (47%) eBay (31%) and Apple (17%) the top destinations. Shopkick reached over four million people - just under 4%.

The CEO of US department store Nordstrom, sums things up: "Companies were in control even up until 2000. But now the customer is in the driver's seat. If you embrace that, you will thrive. If not, then by 2020, you will not survive."

Finally...

The latest session of mobile training that we run for ISBA is taking place next week and there are a couple of spare places.

Click here for your full Mobile Fix (complete with links to background articles).

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