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Mobile Fix – June 9

Apple WWDC

The Apple event this week packed lots in, but with the anticipation of the new iPhone, lots of things are left hanging. It’s clear that AR is going to be a focus but until we know how the new device facilitates this it won’t be clear. Their demo was quite impressive though.

For Fix readers a few things are worth more consideration. Cleaning up the app store is long overdue and the new approach looks good. Our friends in the Appstore optimisation space have some new skills to learn. And it is worth watching the new Apple TV show on Apps as context for the changes; though the show isn’t great - a poor mans version of the Voice, for Apps.

We have long been fans of QR codes and it’s great that the iPhone camera will now - finally - recognize them. All the issues with QR codes in the past came down to poor ideas from marketers – we trained people that acting on QR code was almost always a waste of time. We now need to learn from China on how they can be used as a real benefit to people.

The apparent antipathy for ads in the Apple camp is demonstrated by the news Safari will disable autoplay ads – at least on the mobile web - and eliminate tracking. More detail on exactly what tracking is allowed and what isn’t here.

Stratchery was not impressed and runs through the strengths and weaknesses of Apple. We still see one big weakness for Apple – whilst they can inflict some pain on Google etc through their restrictions on ads, they also hurt their developers as many of them rely on ads as their business model. At some point we still think Apple will realise that a well organised ads ecology on Apple could be good for their developers, their users and for them.

Bad Ads

This move by Apple coincides with more details on how the Chrome browser will regulate ads. Using the Coalition for Better Ads as a template Chrome will filter the more annoying ad formats; pop ups, auto play videos, interstitials. You know; the bad ads that people hate and that too many brands still waste money on.

What’s not to like? Some publishers are concerned but we think the smart ones will welcome these moves. Ad Blockers think these developments won’t affect their user base but as the new Mary Meeker deck last week showed, the main growth in ad blocking is in emerging markets, where the main objective is to reduce the amount of data used.

Worth reminding ourselves how important ads are to GAFA and it is in their interest to make the market healthier.

Another promising initiative is the IAB ads.txt file – a way for anyone to see whether the traffic they are buying is legitimate.

Speed

Just about all the big content producers are addicted to Chartbeat – a tool that shows the traffic and engagement with every piece of content in real time. Some even have a live dashboard on their main editorial floor, so everyone can see what is doing well and what is not.

One interesting finding in a new report from them is that AMP pages lead to people spending up to 35% more time on them. Their stats show AMP pages load in a quarter of the time of a traditional mobile web page. Publishers see – on average – 16% of their mobile traffic from AMP pages and 15% from Instant Articles – both growing.

With Instant Articles adopting AMP, some see this as a big advantage for Google and potentially a significant revenue driver.

Amazon

We are not surprised to hear the reports that Amazon are to have another go at a Smartphone – this time called Ice – despite the failure of their Fire phones. Aimed at developing markets these devices will be Android and be fully loaded with all the Google apps – but seemingly not Alexa. It makes good sense to have your own set of devices and Amazon is perfectly positioned to make a success of this. And Alexa will obviously feature at some point. The podcast we shared of Chamath Palihapitiya the other week talked about his work on a Facebook smartphone, until it was shelved as too expensive for then pre IPO Facebook.

Whilst the iPhone has all the most profitable customers – for the moment – the market for everyone else is wide open. Which is why Google have taken the Pixel so seriously. It’s not an easy market but the potential prize is huge.

Still on Amazon, the fact over half of US households have Amazon Prime surprised quite a few of the retailers we addressed at Google this week. We then saw that around two thirds of all US internet users visited the Amazon site in Q1 of this year. So it should not be that surprising that some of their own brand products are doing really well. Talking with retailers confirmed this story that Amazon is now seen as a frenemy

One part of the Apple event that was truly underwhelming was Apple TV - remember when they were going to reinvent the industry? A clear sign of power shifting was that Amazon Prime will be carried on Apple TV. Amazon are in a huge number of homes and win Oscars. Apple TV do remakes of talent shows.

If you want still more Amazon this Guardian profile of Jeff Bezos is worth reading – his net worth has grown by $20 billion in the last few months.

Voice

Gary Vaynerchuck agrees with us that Voice and Audio are going to be huge. We just found that the FT is experimenting with text to voice for some articles and, as we have shared before, you can hack the iphone accessibilty features to get web content read to you.

Quick Reads

Straight after the Mary Meeker opus the smart people at Luma have shared their take on the industry. Another must read.

And as support to this deck this is a good set of comments on the health of adtech from a range of VCs and investors.

The Agency space is evolving – a new model Agency has $150m to acquire interesting firms focused on social, whilst WPP fold Maxus and MEC together

Finally as the industry starts packing for Cannes, the FT point out it may not be quite as jolly this year. The inappropriate and distasteful behavior last year seemed to be centred on the Yachts ,yet Luma tell us that 10 of the companies spraying champagne on yachts had an exit this year.

Maybe a more deserving focus for the champagne is the School for Communication Arts, a wonderful organisation that is a fantastic pipeline for diverse talent into the industry. They have a great promotion where you can get vintage champagne for a better price than in Cannes and help them fund scholarships.

If every Fix reader off to Cannes bought a bottle, and gave it to their poor colleagues manning the ship in London, the SCA could fund scholarships for some really smart kids.

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