Capitalising on Popular Culture


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My talk from Mobile Web & Applications 2009, Capitalising on Popular Culture: The interplay between apps and society

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Capitalising on Popular Culture

  1. 1. Capitalising on popular culture The interplay between apps and society Mobile Web & Applications 2009, 21st October 2009 Who am I Who is FP Fantastic title!
  2. 2. We’ve come a long way... Mobile has changed society in obvious ways... ...and in non-obvious (Mimi Ito - landmarks to converge -> rough arrangements call/text) Bridging geography as essential to evolution?
  3. 3. ...but there’s life in the old dog yet. I don’t mean to suggest there isn’t plenty of mileage in text, voice and cameras Did a straw poll of most popular apps, people said “text, voice, camera” G20 protests -> forcing debate on police and protesting Iran SMS failing -> blocked or overused (110m/day in runup, Tehran Times) 7/7 bombings -> cameraphone photos into broadcast media More locally, tube worker & Jonathan MacDonald: sousveillance or mob rule? Lots of mileage in this. But not talking about it today
  4. 4. There’s nothing new about apps... Talking about apps: nothing new, Psion 3 in 1991 (pictured), Psion 2 in 1986 Palm/Newton in 90s. Apps been through ups and downs - small active niche ecosystems normally Mass market, not so well - some successes (clients), lots of apathy, “customers don’t buy apps”
  5. 5. ...but we’re getting better at them. To be charitable to the “customers don’t buy” crowd, maybe they don’t buy crap expensive apps if it’s tough Admob: iPhone and Android 9-10 apps/month (iPod touch 18) = it’s not magic Apple gravy, it can be replicated Ovi not as successful, but if they can plagiarise they’ll get there. Apple owners more likely to spend (19% monthly Androiders spend, 50% iPhone, 40% ipod touch) AppsFire: iPhone users spent $45 on apps, avg user d/l 65 of them I’d echo comments from getjar: we launched a product on getjar for trutap: 700,000 downloads to date. I don’t think anyone could argue that things haven’t improved for apps, massively.
  6. 6. All of this has happened before But apps are still not mass market. If we’re to look for how to make them mass market, let’s examine precedents. This is a set of Kodak cameras from the 1920s, marketed at women: striking similarity to iPods. Cameras>iPod>Camera I think we have 2 precedents, 2 places where apps insert themselves into lives. I’d like to look at these.
  7. 7. All of this has happened before But apps are still not mass market. If we’re to look for how to make them mass market, let’s examine precedents. This is a set of Kodak cameras from the 1920s, marketed at women: striking similarity to iPods. Cameras>iPod>Camera I think we have 2 precedents, 2 places where apps insert themselves into lives. I’d like to look at these.
  8. 8. “Daddy, what was it like to get lost?” Photo: The first one of these places is mapping. If I told you that you had to be in a certain room of your house in order to make - or receive - a phone call, you’d probably get the sense that this is quaint or old-fashioned. In 10-20 years time, I think the idea that you don’t know where you are will engender a similar sensation. I can only offer anecdotal evidence for mapping as a key hook: my dad gets it. My mum gets it. Asked Google for figures, organise worlds info and make it available, but not that. No Nokia. So, concentrate on...
  9. 9. Who’s doing it? The other industry I’d like to look at is personal fitness, and I’d like to look at a couple of examples here. I’ve examined them in a very unscientific way: by using the products online, interviewing the individuals behind them, and researching them online. The first one is pretty obvious: two huge brands, Apple and Nike, brought together by digital agency R/GA, in the Nike+ product. If you don’t know what it is - it’s a personal fitness tracker. Your ipod tracks how far you’ve run and how fast using a sensor in your shoe, it records this information and uploads it to a web site.
  10. 10. Who’s doing it? But actually that’s just the beginning. Once it’s on the site, you get to see your history - here’s mine for this year. You start noticing patterns and getting competitive with yourself. RGA call this “Branding by numbers” - oodles of data that can be scraped, manipulated, rendered, etc., in a number of different forms and the trick is to work out what's meaningful
  11. 11. Who’s doing it? And then you start noticing that you’re part of something bigger - a global community of runners who’ve together run more than 278 million kilometers
  12. 12. Who’s doing it? And then you see that your friends are there too, and they’re challenging you to run - with them, against them. I can tell you from first-hand experience that all this radically alters your behaviour. You’re encouraged to do more, whether to compete with others or with yourself, through a variety of mechanisms, some quite subtle (for instance, you’re rewarded with a voice message from an athlete like Paula Radcliffe if you get a NPB There’s lots of ways to play - best times, furthest distance, accumulated distance, and so on). Widgets, maps, RSS, getting more open with an API
  13. 13. Who’s doing it? And I think it’s gone beyond early adopters. Nike+ has >2 million members, half of them doing a challenge, market share grew 48% to 61% since launch (correlation is not causality but hey). Comparitively small spend for something this size: Nike spent $480k on media in 2008. This fits with comments they’ve made publicly about not being in the business of keeping media companies running, but building and owning the space where customers will be, and spending to attract them to those space. But we don’t all have the resources of 2 of the worlds largest brands behind us...
  14. 14. Small ones are more juicy This is GymFu. It’s a little UK startup that has a suite of iPhone apps to help you improve your fitness, doing pushups, pullups, squats and situps. They use the accelerometer in the iPhone to track where you are, so all you need is the (downloadable) app. Very much see themselves as building on work Nike+ and Wii have done educating people about physicality of gaming, use of tech in gyms, and trend to be continuously networked.
  15. 15. Small ones are more juicy Built it themselves, tested it on friends. Kept the app expensive initially to encourage people through that tricky first-time use. They do have a first-time course for players. 60-80% of users use app as gateway drug to other forms of fitness. App has training and competitions. Lots of users go straight to competition. They have users who regularly do 900 squats against each other. They gather lots of metrics on usage, and encourage users through use of the Fu-bot - who emails them to tease them into playing again. They’ve encourage 2-3000 users at a time to do situps with Fu-bot - the power it holds is quite scary :) As a small company they’re very personal and responsive - active and enagegd on Twitter, FB, etc. Release early and often.
  16. 16. Learning from canaries No coincidence all apps had a physical tie-in Michael Bull: “We get the technologies we deserve and incorporate them into existing patterns of behaviour” So I’d be looking for other places where physicality can be brought to bear. The 0870 app on iPhone? Dopplr for air travel?
  17. 17. Learning from canaries Fitness services: repeat use and churn thru competition with self or others, social capital (100km certificates, badges), rewards (voice msgss) GymFu: viral spread through voice packs Competition widespread, tho activities were solo Puzzle league to double plays RGA surprised by how keen people were to use and play with data. EcoDrive (AKQA, for Fiat) is another example of this - become a better drive.
  18. 18. Learning from canaries All iterate: release early, release often, observe. Absolutely as Mr Mippin said earlier. Google Maps: downloadable, add cell ID, latitude Nike+ criticised for closedness, fixed it, 2nd version of site. Don’t see it as a product, but as a system stemming from behaviour
  19. 19. Learning from canaries GymFu don’t see App Stores as being enough alone to sustain them. Nike sold 1.3m sports kits and 500k sports bands, tiny % revenue - comms channel “We make mistakes every single day. Plus is a constantly evolving solution combining product and marketing innovation: treat it like it's a software build such that you never exit beta. It requires investment in how you consider marketing as well.” - Craig Craig and Rob of Google: “Remove barriers.” and Craig: “Try and make it as meaningful and simple as possible for the person at the end of this experience, so that they immediatley get the value and can participate.”
  20. 20. Thank you. Thankyou very much for your time. Plug: we take mobile applications from concept to launch, across all major platforms and a few minor ones We spend a lot of time taking playfulness and social principles and applying them to build this sort of loyalty. Grab me if you’d like a chat, or catch up with us here.
  21. 21. “In our hearts, forever” Tariq Tamuji 1984 - 2009