In my last post on Crisp Voices I was talking about the inclusion of mobile components in superbowl advertising, which seems to have only further cemented the need for a mobile solution as part of a complete offering for advertisers and publishers, and kicked off a banner year for the industry. Despite the global economic downturn, things here at Crisp have been busier than ever. In general mobile has faired much better than other industries in these hard times. A lot of this is due to the overwhelming success of new platforms and the popularity of more direct channels for users to get content.
Obviously iPhone is the golden child, in just one year, they have seen over 1.5 billion downloads and 65,000 apps are now available to users. While that seems insurmountable, Android has been steadily growing and is now up to 5000 apps. Pre, Nokia and Blackberry all recently launched their stores so it will be interesting to see how much traction they are able to gain, not to mention Windows Mobile which is still waiting in the wings.
The proliferation of all these app stores (all with different requirements and approvals) only succeeds in further fragmenting the development landscape. The whole appeal of the iPhone from the developer’s point of view was that it was a single platform for which you could write one application and reach a huge install base. Apple managed to one up the carriers by offering a bigger piece of the pie (70% of revenue versus the 50% or lower) and actually spend some money on marketing the apps thus helping to inform the user base about the products. But the real draw was the ease of development. Why deal with the hassle of trying to develop apps for all the phones a carrier supports (which they mandated you must to do to get on their deck) when you can spend less effort on the iPhone and make more money.
The iPhone has been a runaway success , but it’s store is getting saturated with apps and soon content providers will turn their attention to other less crowded platforms. Rather than try and build (or contract) an app for each device in each store, why not consider a mobile web presence instead?
Take it from a project manager whose whole focus is on delivering as efficiently as possible, mobile web is significantly easier to support than a plethora of apps. Just to make one change for an app (assuming you did it all in-house) requires you to recompile all builds. Then you need to get it recertified and hope your end users all upgrade. If these weren’t in-house, you have to contact the contractor(s) and coordinate this whole process with them. Alternatively with web, you can fix the issue once, roll it out to all devices at the same and since you do your own quality control, this can all be done much quicker. Not to mention with the web, the user is presented with the latest version every time they visit, so there’s no need to upgrade.
Reasons to consider mobile sites:
- Portability – easier to develop for all devices (even ones that aren’t out yet)
- Upgradability – you control when and how often, and aren’t encumbered by store approval
- Scalability – You can make use of you existing advertising/reporting/streaming/hosting solutions for PC web on your mobile web site.
- Cost effectiveness – the reasons above equate to significant cost savings and an easier, more manageable pipeline.
- Cross linking – the ability to link from one site to another. This is a big issue when it comes to sending the content from a PC user to a mobile user, or sharing links with your friends, or taking advantage of social media.
- SEO – we have mentioned it here before, but I will reiterate. Search is going to be huge. The content on an app is not searchable. How will your users find your content?
- Getting better every day – mobile web browsers are gaining new features all the time, some of which are users only associate with downloadable apps (we’ll be highlighting just how Crisp is using these in future posts).
Alternatively for Apps
- Hot - They are currently what users are gravitating towards. Not necessarily what they want.
- Best performance – of course on device apps do have direct access to the processor and can push the limits of the hardware, but assuming you aren’t building a 3D game, chances are your app doesn’t need this anyway. Pretty soon even 3D games will be in browsers
As you recall, mobile web apps were all the rage until Apple stopped hyping them and instead focused on the downloadable apps. You can’t really blame them considering they do get additional revenue from the downloads (vs. nothing for web apps). Had they given equal billing to each, I assure you things would look considerably different. All it will take is one of the big guys to stop supporting apps, and start pumping some marketing into mobile web and this will begin to gain traction with consumers. Considering that even Google is now saying they don’t have enough money to do apps on all devices, maybe the time is now for you to evaluate your long term mobile strategy and weigh the options.
News, weather and sports continue to be the top categories of mobile web content and Crisp Wireless continues to be the company powering the efforts for some of the biggest sports brands on the mobile web. Today, Pro Football Weekly joins the ranks of SI Mobile, NBC Sports, and AT&T’s March Madness coverage, launching its mobile site to kick off the NFL Playoffs. The Pro Football Weekly site, found at http://m.profootballweekly.com, or redirected from http://www.profootballweekly.com on your mobile phone, helps fans keep track of the most up-to-date football information for fans leading up to Super Bowl XLIII and kicking off the 2009 season with the NFL Draft. The Pro Football Weekly mobile site is an extension of their industry-leading online content, including the most recent NFL headlines, behind-the-scenes reports on trends and rumors around the league, in-depth game previews and predictions, and expert analysis for fantasy football players. The mobile site also will feature top blogs including Around the NFL, Road to the Draft, Super Bowl XLIII, Finding Paydirt (fantasy football) and Covering the Spread (handicapping). On top of the great content offered by PFW, the mobile site offers another avenue for mobile advertisers to reach the attractive sports channel. Crisp Wireless, with the largest premium mobile publisher network in the U.S., will help Pro Football Weekly sell and manage their mobile inventory to monetize their mobile content.
In case you haven't heard around the blogosphere (like here and here and here), today is Mobile Tuesday. Kudos to Mobigosee, the company behind this event for their great PR. I hope the results of the campaign are as successful. Given the current economy, they are launching with fewer advertisers than hoped, including McDonalds, Finish Line and Red Tag.Over 18,000 people have signed up, mostly through sites that promote Black Friday deals. That is good because I visited all three of these companies' online sites and didn't see a thing about it. Some went so far as to promote their social media initiatives like McDonald's podcasts, Red Tag's blog, or finding Finish Line on Facebook or MySpace. I became a fan but still don't see any mention of how to opt-in for coupons or mobile alerts. Other retailers such as Gap and Sears have also created mobile campaigns. Gap put together an iPhone app that allows you to put together outfits, generate a wish list, and find nearby stores. Ok, that is cool. But I'm a frequent Gap shopper, Gap card holder, Gap online shopper, and iPhone user who frequently visits the App Store, but this is the first I've heard of it. Why? Why are these companies investing in mobile if they don't integrate it into their marketing mix. As a marketer, it drives me crazy when I see companies doing really cool things in mobile, but not promoting it. Even if it is a test, how can you effectively test a medium if you put it out there but don't tell anyone? We have a really great case study about a recent mobile site launch that has done an excellent job promoting its mobile presence and it has resulted in one of the most, if not the most, successful mobile launches ever. Stay tuned for details.