Digital media industry executives from firms including BBC, BskyB, Google, Orange and others met last night at a packed invite-only event – mashup* – where they discussed the commercial opportunities of the iPhone and similar devices.
mashup* is a membership-based discussion community of executives, entrepreneurs and investors affected by and working within the digital technology sector.
Hosting the event, author Tony Fish believes introduction of the iPhone and Android platforms means the industry is entering an new and open phase of the mobile. “Devices, applications and services such as those offered by iPhone, iTunes, AppStore and Apple (Mac) appear to offer consumers what they need – simplicity.”
Fish thinks that focus on simplicity is key to success in the market, and a message for brand marketers (small and large) worldwide, “those that understand and develop strategies to facilitate customer, supplier and employee communications and management using these new tools will win,” he said.
Tom Hume, Managing Director of Future Platforms, a mobile software company observed: “For all the talk of Google, Apple or others stepping in to fix the fragmentation which afflicts the mobile industry, the problem is getting worse, not better. Mobile isn’t a single medium: it’s a bewildering range of opportunities: SMS, MMS, mobile web, J2ME, Symbian, Flash, Silverlight, Android, iPhone. How can we cope with this increasing complexity?”
Delegates at last night’s event were presented with fresh research from Wavemetrix, research which explored customer reactions to the iPhone – and the results appear overwhelmingly positive.
iPhone users want applicatons that entertain, help them socialise or improve their lives, with Tuner, Remote and Shazam winning a lot of praise among UK users spoken with for the survey.
Value matters, too, with most customers saying they are seeing good value from the applications they do download from the App Store. About the only negative that most agree on is that it sometimes takes a while to learn how to use the accelerometer to play ‘Super Monkey Ball’.
iPhone applications ARE addictive, the research confirms, citing one user who said: “I generally check for new applications daily and end up usually buying at least one a day.”
Another said in July: “I’ve got to say, gaming on the iPhone is a pleasure. I can only describe the gaming experience as like a cross between Nintendo’s DS, Sony’s PSP and the Wii. If this is what developers are pumping out in the first few days of the App Store, imagine the quality apps that are going to be made in a few months time!”
With that kind of reaction, it’s not overly surprising that games discussions account for a third of the buzz and clamour about the iPhone – but music and productivity applications are also driving interest among users.
What the analysts considered most interesting about all of this is that it marked a mobile gaming sea change between 2006 and 2008. In 2006, a study on mobile gaming found most users didn’t like what was available, saying games were boring, buggy and had awful sound quality.
iPhone gamers, however, are more receptive to casual gaming, so long as they look nice and work well. And the lack of complaints about in-game bugs suggests the platform is much more stable than prior platforms.
Music is impressing users, too – they like the Apple Remote application, think Shazam is “very impressive”, Tuner turns them on, social networking features also cheer users…basically, perception in every category is at the very least 85 per cent positive, the survey shows. And that’s a good user experience.
If Apple does have a chink in its armour at this stage of the evolution of the iPhone industry, it is with developers.
Speaking to developers the survey showed that many were unhappy they didn’t have complete access to the deep core of the iPhone, saying other platforms are more open. And recent weeks have seen growing developer dissent as regards the manner in which Apple vets applications, attracting criticism for being cavalier and inconsistent in its decisions.
Google has a catch-up position with Android here, and developers have reacted badly to the company’s decision to reserve the SDK for a small selection of developers.
Future mashup* sessions will explore Govt 2.0 – a look at what Govt does with our data and how that data could be made available for commercial use and the essentials of cloud computing. More details here.