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Mobile Fix – September 16

Modern Media

For all the noise around how big publishers are dissatisfied with the power of Facebook and Google, some argue now is a great time to run a media business. Ex Huffington Post founder Eric Hippeau is an active investor in media start ups and this interview is really insightful.

Netflix is probably the poster child for media businesses and Katzenberg was an early supporter. New research shows that around half of UK Netflix subscribers also use Amazon Prime. Does this mean that the users are dissatisfied with the service or do the exclusives just drive multiple subscriptions?

As with music streaming, no one service provides all the good content and the battle between the players drives some promiscuity – which must tempt new players? Apple hired a senior Time Warner exec this week fueling the rumours that they plan to enter the fray. In the UK the Sky Buy and Keep service is now used by over 20% of their customers showing new thinking can drive scale really quickly.

The sweet spot for Modern Media brands is a knack for creating and /or curating great content blended with the skills to maximise distribution – and hence attention - across all the platforms

We remain convinced that GAFA will get into the content business in a big way and making the content fluid between screens will give them a foothold in the TV world.

Twitter

Twitter get this opportunity and are going for it. Their deal with the NFL is the canary in the coal mine for everyone else and new apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Xbox are designed to make it easy to get their content on to the big screen. I think Facebook will do something similar in due course – the amount of music shared across Facebook (usually in the form of a YouTube video) wrapped in some sort of TV app would make them a big player in music straight away.

Whilst Twitter focus on their product, everyone else focuses on the rumour they are up for sale. Now Yahoo is off the market everyone speculates Twitter is next. This is a good summary of the possible buyers – with arguments for and against. They have so much cash that there is no need to sell and some of our smartest analyst friends think Google essentially control them all ready. With a former Google consigliere (Omid Kordestani) running things as Chairman and a deal that means Google have access to the Twitter firehose they enjoy most of the benefits of owning Twitter without having paid. So they will be reluctant to let anyone else get their hands on it.

Music

The content play where GAFA have already stepped up is Music. It’s important as an Anchor – the possibility of losing the music you have accumulated in iTunes is friction when considering an Android phone – and as a revenue source. The launch of Apple selling MP3s was the first shot in the war between Apple and Amazon, who were making huge revenues selling CDs.

As tech formats change, the opportunity to profit changes too and GAFA see streaming as a chance to drive this change. Both Amazon and Pandora plan to launch cheaper streaming services – probably at around $5 versus the current norm of $10.

Given Amazon has a history of selling music they really want to win in this space and with the Echo now available in Europe they have a compelling ecology. Sure we use our Alexa to play Spotify mostly but their auto rip service gives Amazon Music an advantage as much of the music you bought on CD is now available to you digitally.

Whilst Apple and Tidal have pushed exclusives the feeling is that is running out of steam. Having just been scalped for a month of Apple to get the Frank Ocean album I have no qualms about going back to Spotify now they have it too.

But maybe Amazon is the natural home for Tidal now that Apple have ruled out an acquisition.? If anyone can persuade Universal and the other labels to keep doing exclusives it would be Amazon who have the (still quite substantial) CD sales as well as streaming revenues.

Beacons Location & Proximity

Knowing where someone is – and where they have been i- s a powerful tool that only mobile can exploit. The tech is evolving fast and a good MediaTel event on beacons this week shared some of the latest ways they are being used in the OOH space. The balkanisation of location tech isn’t that helpful – for a brand to know someone is a football fan because they spent Saturday afternoon at Elland Road – is useful whether that knowledge is derived from a Beacon, WiFi or LiFi.

But Beacon tech is moving fast and the latest development is a Beacon that can deliver video onto a smartphone app or an adjacent screen – so lots of potential instore. As with Beacons generally the tech is running ahead of the use cases, but smart brands working with smart developers will find great ways of delivering better experiences. As well as our work with Tamo.co we also have some friends doing great location based content around trains and stations, so if you are interested in this type of thing get in touch.

Apple Watch

Whilst the new Watch was announced along with the iPhone 7, a new software update accompanied iOS10, adding more functionality to the Watch.

We notice more and more people wearing them and it’s a probably a $Billion business – which for most companies it would be a huge success but for Apple that doesn’t really move the needle.

The Wall Street Journal sum sit up well in their review, - it’s not a need but it could now be a want.

Faster Mobile Web

Following our piece on Accelerated Web Pages and Progressive Web Apps last week a number of our Google readers kindly stepped up with pointers to more info on these technologies. The official blog is here and this discussion is also worth reading

It’s really hard to see why you would build a mobile site any other way – especially when new research shows people abandon sites that load too slowly. After just 3 seconds some people are ready to click the back button.

The other benefit is the usual Google bonus – sites built using AMP tend to do rather well in search results. And remember Facebook now favour ads that lead to fast loading mobile sites.

VR&AR

Apple are apparently more focused on AR – this Tim Cook interview gets into his views on AR and VR but no hints if what they are up to. Google have a new Cardboard app that access the camera to take VR photos.

Ad Blocking

The nice people that brought you ad blocking are now ramping up their extortion business model and selling ads that reach the people who want to block adsGoogle etc have been quick to say they won’t allow this, but they and others have previously paid for whitelisting with the same people.  The IAB have been quick to condemn the practice and the ad blocking industry. We agree but there doesn’t seem to be much happening to try and improve the ads.

Quick Reads

Our friends at Infectious are amongst the smartest at Programmatic and this profile of them is fascinating

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