Sticky Smartphone

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The rise of Trojan Horse Platforms, KakaoTalk, Wechat, Line

UPDATE 20th Feb 2014: Since this article was written, Rakuten acquired Viber and Facebook acquired Whatsapp

They start off as apps, apps that we use daily. They add service after service as they slowly evolve into an ecosystem of their own and before we know it. It becomes one of the de-facto places we visit on a daily basis to get all the things we need. 

Conquering Asia

You may have heard of KakaoTalk, Line and Wechat. Kakao dominates Korea, Wechat is the de-facto chat app in China and Line is massively popular in Japan, and most of the rest of Asia. You may be mistaken in thinking they are messaging apps, similar to whatsapp and Viber, but you’ll be mistaken. They have evolved past that point and are now platforms in themselves.

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I’ll look at each app to see what they are providing and to see where they are potentially heading.

KakaoTalk

Kakao is dominating the South Korean landscape, 130 Million users, topping the revenues and download charts. Starting off as a messaging service, it is also a game platform and will begin rolling out a content platform. With an expected $200M in revenues for 2013. With its game publishing platform, it is dominating the games section and becoming one of the main places to go to find new games (in Korea) which gives them a huge element of control over their userbase.

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Line

Line has around 280 Million users worldwide, with hugely impressive revenue figures, 31.3 Billion Yen  2013 revenue numbers up to Q3. That’s around $300M USD for 3 quarters last year.

Besides all the games they release, Line services include sticker shops, birthday cards, even extending out to create their own episodes of content - Line Town. 

WeChat

Wechat have approx 270M monthly active users, with their main growth in Q3 last year increasing when they started to focus on revenues by adding games and payments services into their messaging app. Raking in $82M USD in revenues on singles day alone, Wechat have been adding multiple services such as a taxi service which reported 100,000 rides in 9 days, investment services accruing $130M in its first day. You can blog on wechat and use it store articles to read.

Becoming a Platform

The evolution of these messaging apps into full fledged discovery, content, games platforms makes these apps into a platform ontop of a platform. Effectively a Trojan Horse Platform. They work because

  1. Sharing and network effects are built into the app from the start, it’s designed so that recommendation are easy to send, particularly because people generally do not ignore messages as it is to blank out news feeds from social media. It’s a lot more personal.
  2. Messaging apps is something that people will look at multiple times a day, adding additional services gives immediate access and more reasons to visit the app making it a de-facto location as these services complement your daily usage.
  3. As an app, you can be cross platform, Line exist on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Mac OS and Windows, it doesn’t tie you down to a specific OS or to a ‘higher tier’ platform. 
  4. Control over the userbase, since many people tie their network (contacts) it becomes a switching cost to move to a competitor messaging app… but not hardware device or OS. This gives the trojan horse platform direct access to the user. Especially given that (wechat for example) own some of the payment and financial aspects of the user.
  5. Ecosystem development, wechat are working hard to integrate services from many providers such as LinkedIn. Kakao publish games from other developers. They are creating their own ecosystems on top of their platforms and are becoming a gatekeeper to their userbase whilst adding these complementary services.

For now whatsapp and Viber are still messaging apps, but they will have seen the developments in asia and are likely looking at a way to assume this type of control as a Trojan horse platform in the markets where they are dominant,.

What does this mean to everyone else?

For everyone making apps or services, it means there is now another channel to tap into users and means that there is another layer of controllers in the mobile ecosystem as a new set of gatekeepers emerge to plant themselves into the value chain and control access to users.

It’s all about owning the wallet of the end user.

Filed under whatsapp viber wechat line kakaotalk platform trojan horse

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Kissmetrics vs Mixpanel : Start-Up Metrics

You’ve tried Google Analytics (GA) and now you’re looking for a tool which provides you with other ways to provide more actionable insights. Mixpanel and Kissmetrics are the tools you’ll likely come across. Both have a free version based on the number of events you’ll likely use, so they are ideal to test out, but which one is best suited for you?

2 of the main reasons that you’d want to try Mixpanel or Kissmetrics are because you want to perform Cohort Analysis and/or you want to track individual behaviours. There are a couple of articles out there that already cover some of the differences. This one from March 2011, and this more recent one from November 2012. In brief the first article rates the tools based on -

  • Documentation
  • Live Data
  • Interface
  • People Tracking
  • API

Personally, although useful to some extent, they don’t really explain to me how to get the types of answers that I’m asking. For example, If I want to know how long on average it takes for people to hit a certain event, and I want to compile a cohort analysis to see if the actions I’m making are improving this goal, which tool is better?

On that basis, I’ll use Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates AARRR and see how Mixpanel and Kissmetrics can be used to extract the metrics you want. These are all personal opinions and you may have a different preference based off how you apply your metrics.

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Acquisition

Both Mixpanel and Kissmetrics allow you to plug in campaign data into your pages.

For Kissmetrics, when looking at funnel reports, you can select the campaign properties as check the effectiveness of each campaign source to see which channel/websites are the most effective at  bringing in traffic that is most efficient toward achieving your goals. This means that if you were to put marketing dollars into a particular channel/website to acquire users, you should know where to place your bets.

For Mixpanel its pretty much the same, set up a person property called campaign or use utm configurations and when you pull up your funnel reports you get the same display as in Kissmetrics.

Activation

Both tools are pretty much equal here, using funnels, you select which events you expect people to perform to go down your activation funnel and you get your conversion and see at which events do people drop out.The main differences between the two is what other data is available in from the funnel report.

In Kissmetrics, you can hover over an event and “view people in this step”. This provides you with a list of people who reached this point in the funnel, allowing you to individually click in and see what events and properties you’ve recorded for them

For Mixpanel, you are provided with trend charts, you can see what percentage of people passed this part of the funnel in a day to day map (or week or month if you so choose).

Which one is more useful? For me, Kissmetrics provides an easier way to see who has performed this part of the funnel which lets you dig down into the behaviors of individual users.

Retention

Retention graphs by both tools are similar but have enough differences for you to be able to pick a preference. 

Kissmetrics power is the ability to create retention tables beyond grouping by date. You can select advanced options, and group people by their properties or events they have performed, this can provide some powerful insights, such as figuring out which campaigns provide higher retention. Kissmetrics also let you see the absolute figure when you hover over the retention chart, this can make processing the data easier to digest.

Mixpanel’s power is the ability to segment. After selecting an event, you can choose which properties that an individual can possess and the retention chart is filtered this way. In some ways similar to Kissmetric’s advanced options, but a bit fiddlier because you would have to create a report for each segment to be able to compare.

For me, in terms of the retention tables, Kissmetrics is better than Mixpanel, But Mixpanel also provides a retention tool via their engagement mailing tools, this is useful creating retention actions. Intercom.io is a better solution for this at the time of writing.

Referral

Configuration will allow you to track referral. One way would be to set up a persons property to have a referral variable and if they are referred by another user, attach their id to this property.

Kissmetrics provide a dashboard where you can compile different metrics to see how things are going. You can use this to determine how ‘viral’ your app is. A way to do this is to create a referral event, so when someone signs up to your app through a referral, the event is created and attached to the referring user. You can then track how many times a single user has successfully referred someone and use the “Average Number of Times Event Happened Per Person” metric

You can use the same technique for mixpanel. To display the data, use formulas where you can select the number of times the event has been and divide it by the number of people who visited the site and see how viral your app is. 

Both metrics are slightly different, but as long as you understand what you are measuring and create actions to drive these numbers there shouldn’t be a problem.

Revenue

Both tools have dedicated revenue functions. 

Mixpanel has this embedded in their people section, you can segment revenue by sources, and other properties and figure out where the revenue come from.

Kissmetrics uses events which you can map to their standardized revenue events, after which you can then see your revenue reports y referrer, lifetime values and other customer data such as churn rates.

Other

One useful function that Mixpanel provides that Kissmetrics doesn’t is the ability to increment properties. This means you can keep track of variable for users such as credits, if someone spends or buys credits you can increment/decrement that variable. This can be really useful, but unfortunately, where it would provide most value is if you could use these properties easily in a cohort table. Thus this feature is most useful when combined with Kissmetrics cohort table which can be grouped by property. Unfortunately, It’s not possible to combine the tools .

It’s important to remember that both tools are still iterating and developing so this is merely a current state of the play.

Photo Credit: Double Faced Matter Horn by Gabriel Zech

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The Evolution of the First Waterproof Phones

Sony recently announced the Xperia Z, a phone that can be used in the shower and recoverable even when dropped in the toilet. But is it the first waterproof phone? No… is it even the first waterproof smartphone? No.. the first waterproff smartphone was made in 2006 but previous waterproof phones needed extra bulk to keep the water off, did this make them undesirable?

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So above we have the Sony Xperia Z, but waterproof phonesa are not new to Sony, they’ve tried waterproof phones before, in fact most of these phones were made for the Japanese market.

2005 saw the first major wave with the Casio Canu 502S / GZ’One with a 1.3MP camera and 256MB RAM.

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2006 saw the arrival of the Sony Ericsson SO902iWP+. It sported a QVGA display and a memory stick duo slot.

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Nokia first dabbled with water resistant phones in 2006 with the Nokia 5500 Sport. This ran on Symbian, so is the first ever waterproof smartphone.

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Japan continued to lead the way and Fujitsu created a whole series of phones from 2007 onwards, the Fujitsu F703i, F704i and F705i 

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By 2008, US company,.Sonim released the XP3 Enduro, not content with water resistance, they tried to make this phone as shock proof as possible.

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But by now, underwater photography and the megapixel race was heating up. Back in the japanese market, Casio released the W61CA, a 5.1MP water proof phone camera

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Samsung’s first dabble into waterproof phones came with their Marine B2100 in 2009 with 7MB of memory, it’s still in the dumb phone territory.

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and so waterproof phones continue such as the Fujitsu F01B, a 3.4 inchtouchscreen devices with a 12.2MP camera.

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The first water resistant Android phone is released by Motorola, the Motorola Defy, a 3.7inch Touchscreen and 5MP Camera

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We’re still waiting for the nanotech super-hyrdophobic layers that companies such as Nokia are working on. Then waterproof p[hones will really be at the stage where they are fully waterproof and don;t require extra bulk.

Filed under first waterproof phone waterproof smartphone

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How Football Manager Can Get You a Real Career

That’s right, a computer game about football management can help you to develop skills that are useful for your career.. and I don’t mean getting a job as a Football ManagerFor those who don’t know what it is, Football Manager (FM) is a simulation game, developed by Sports Interactive (SI), that puts you into the hot-seat of managing a football club.

So how can you weave ‘Playing FM’ into an interview? What is the skill that FM can help you to develop? It’s Analytics, that’s why it fits in this blog. If we look at what skills are currently in demand in the workplace it’s Big data. Companies, everywhere, are looking for people who can analyze the data that they generate.

  • Marketing companies are increasingly analytical about their campaigns
  • Product companies need deep analytics to improve and iterate their products, 
  • Retailers have all sorts of data that can help them to optimize things from the positioning of their products on their shelves through to the data on all those loyalty reward cards.
  • Web Design is much more metrics driven to increase results.

So how does Football Manager help you develop valuable career skills?

I started playing FM under its previous carnation (Championship Manager), One of the common complaints were that after playing the game over many seasons, some of the newly generated players looked odd and the game appeared unbalanced, e.g (defenders were no longer brave). So I built a tool in my spare time that analyzed player attributes to see if there were differences in how players evolved over time to check for big differences. This taught me to code a little and how to analyze data.

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It’s a simple tool that spat out a text file that showed you the differences between the data at 2 different points in time (e.g. do all defenders lose the ability to be aggressive in 20 years time?). SI used it at the time, however, I eventually became too busy to be able to do this, and I’m pretty sure SI developed their own tools to do this much much better than the buggy code I created.

The later versions of FM makes it possible for anyone to develop analytical skills - I’ve purposely selected some screenshots below that show you what Football Manager is all about.

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This screen shot shows you how well a player has improved.

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This one shows you their training regime.

One aspect of improving any product is testing. This means changing variables and checking the results. For example, in a web page you may want to improve the % of people who sign up. You usually do this by split testing, or A/B testing. Then you analyze the data set afterwards. 

Look at those 2 screens… it’s the same principal. You tweak the training program, you assign different players to each program and then you compare the results to see which is more effective. There are a lot of people who are doing this already and unaware about the skills they are developing and how transferable they are to the real world. Take a look at the Tactics and Training Forum and you’ll find a lot of deep analytical talk where people discuss how to tweak training programs to improve players the most. It’s a hotbed of statistical analysis, A/B testing, spllit testing, metrics, measurement… no different to a professional analytics group on LinkedIn.

If you’re looking to develop your skills using FM, I recommend you use FM Genie Scout… some people may call it cheating… but it’s the ability to use it for data analysis that makes it so useful. Look at this screenshot - 

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It could be Google Analytics. The history function let’s record multiple data points. Here’s how you would perform a split test playing the game and using this tool -

  1. Create 2 training programs, 
  2. Split your players up into those 2 program 
  3. Play the game over several seasons,
  4. Periodically saving a history point. 
  5. Analyze the data to see which program was more effective.
  6. Tune your programs and repeat.

It makes it easier to discover what changes are more effective for which player attribute, not much difference to optimizing a website or product… the fundamental skills are the same. For those who are more advanced, you can spit the data out into a spreadsheet. Once you’ve done this over several data points, you can plot any graph or create pivot tables to analyze player progression.

And that is how Football Manager can help you to develop real skills that are needed today.

Filed under football manager analytics split testing career

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Why it doesn’t make sense for Google to be a carrier

In 2008, Google bid in spectrum auctions in the US prompting speculation that they wanted to become a carrier, actually this was focused to unlock open-access rules which allows any device or application to connect to the spectrum used by the carrier, effectively enabling OTT applications (Google voice, Skype, Whatsapp etc. However, rumours and speculation have continued to be persistent about Google becoming a carrier. Here are some reasons why it doesn’t make sense for Google to be a carrier

1) Current Carriers Hate Competition

The idea that Google might enter the carrier ring would make current carriers think twice about subsidizing Android devices, why subsidize the competition’s devices? You don’t see vodafone branded devices on other carriers. Carriers won’t take kindly to Google encroaching on their turf. Carriers still have some power in making or breaking devices. One of the reasons for the fall of Nokia could arguably be because carriers refused to take their devices and promote them because they remain one of the main sales distribution channels for phones.

2) International view

If Google were to successfully gain spectrum in the US, the rest of the world would instantly stand up and notice. Will Google try something similar in the future in different countries? This would lead to an Android ‘backlash’ as more and more carriers restrict sales channels

3) Hardware sales is not Google core

Google would have to sell their Android devices through their own stores. Google just don;t have the DNA to do this. It would take time before they can do this effectively. They could try online sales, but the failure of the original Nexus when it was boycotted by most of the carriers demonstrated how physical sales channels still dominate when it comes to phones. Android has gained traction now, so there may be more success via online only sales, but most people still like to physically compare phones unless they have already have made their purchasing decision. This would still affect effectiveness of sales.

4) Customer Support

Ever tried getting customer support from Google? There’s no easy direct way to contact them. Support for the Nexus was terrible, providing only email and forums. Supporting customers with their carrier issues is on another scale, and something that Google has never experienced.

5) Infrastructure

Owning spectrum is one thing, building out the infrastructure to support an entire country is another, and it would take a lot of money and time to build out a decent network. Sure, they could be a MVNO to begin with, but i wouldn’t bet on many other carriers wanting to help Google unless they were required to by the FCC. Secondarily, Google is a software company and not experience in the rollout and upgrades of network infrastructure to the scale that AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have.

6) What are the advantages?

There are very few benefits for Google. The main one is the customer relationship. Rather than sharing that with the carrier, it would give google direct ownership of the customer, which means they can better lock people into their ecosystem creating hurdles for people to switch out, effectively creating a switching cost that many people won’t bother with. However, the costs and lack of expertise is likely to cost them more than the benefit gained from running this type of strategy.

Given the above, it just doesn’t make sense for Google to traverse down the carrier route. They would be better off utilising their market power with Android as a negotiating tool with carriers.

(Photo credit wallshq.com)

Filed under google carrier android nexus

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4 Ways That AT&T Screwed All Carriers with the iPhone

The iPhone was a ‘great success’ for AT&T initially, but they made a couple of crucial mistakes that changed how all carriers are perceived and all the carriers negotiating power. Pre-iPhone, carriers were in control, they could accept and reject any phone, push out requirements to manufacturers and control the whole process.

  • Want VoIP in your phone? AT&T the carrier could ask for custom software.
  • Want WiFi enabled on your phone, the carrier can ask for it to be disabled.
  • An App Store? No Thanks, the carriers were trying to build their own app stores following the successful Docomo model in Japan. 
  • Update your phone software… sorry, that’s controlled by the carrier too.

In fact, if the manufacturer wanted a phone to be subsidised by a carrier they usually had to customise the phone software in some way, otherwise a Vanilla version meant the customer would have to pay full price. If a phone was ‘in demand’ negotiations over customisations may be easier. Effectively, the carrier wanted to own the customer, afterall, they held the customers billing details, and importantly their phone number.

So what did AT&T do wrong?

  1. Mistake 1 is the well documented unlimited data at $30. This effectively anchored a whole industry to a price point that was not sustainable. Before this offer came about, it was not possible to get an unlimited data plan. It caused an ‘arms’ race between carriers which meant increased capital expenditure costs in building up enough bandwidth to cater for unlimited data usage and half opened the door to over the top services.
  2. Mistake 2 is subsidising the iPhone too much. The subsidy for the iPhone ate into their profits and their profits increased after sales of iPhone decreased from 4.3M to 3.7M units from Q1 to Q2 2012. The subsidy and corresponding price that AT&T agreed with Apple, and the success of the iPhone anchored the expected price customers would pay for the iPhone. This affected all carriers.
  3. Mistake 3 was giving control of software updates to Apple. Previously, all software updates were controlled by the carrier. AT&T gave this control over to Apple. The original iPhone did not have an App Store, “Web Apps would have done”. But Apple could upgrade all iPhones and push an App Store that they controlled. All carriers who were trying to build their own app ecosystems were pushed out of the way in one fell swoop. AT&T gave away app store control and made that decision for all carriers. Over the top services (such as whatsapp, Line, Wechat) took advantage of this because no carrier owned App Store would ever approve these type of apps. 
  4. Mistake 4 was ceding activations to Apple and ownership of the user. Previous to this, who “owned” the user? The carriers effectively controlled the user because they had their phone number, and they had the billing relationship. Activations and the App Store ecosystem ensured Apple could move in and take ownership of the customer away from carriers.

One of AT&T’s requirements for the iPhone was am attempt to control media sharing by locking down Bluetooth. Ring tones were big profit earners and they didn’t want people to be able to easily share music files and make them into ringtones. With control of iTunes, this was not important for Apple.

These main strategic errors by AT&T affected all carriers and led to, price anchoring for unlimited data, over the top services, profit reducing subsidies and the battle of ecosystems that is all about who owns the relationship with the end user.

Filed under iphone att carriers app store user relationship price anchoring unlimited data app ecosystem

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How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value with Flurry and Apsalar

I was looking around the web to see how people calculate Customer Lifetime Values, one thing became painfully clear. Most websites have an assumption that you already know your customer lifespan, or the customer lifetime… aka How long an average user will use your mobile app (or website or service).

Well, there’s an easy way to calculate it, and I’ll show you how. You can even get more advanced with segments. Here’s the simple way first.

First off calculate your Expected Average Customer Lifetime

Using Flurry

Open up Lifecycle Metrics and you will see retention rates over different time periods in the rolling retention.

(*Data is for illustrative purposes)

Usually the first month will have a large drop off (the people who try your app only once and decide against using it again). You can either factor this is and use this as your worst case scenario, or average it out over the months. In the above graph. The worst case scenario is a monthly retention rate of 60%. Averaging out would give a retention rate of around 75%.

The calculation is Lifetime Expectancy = 1/(1-RR) 

= 1/(1-.75) = 4 Months  (for 60% retention rate it is 2.5 Months)

*RR = Retention Rate

You can do the same for different time periods where necessary (e.g. weeks) and can get more accurate results when you use segmentation.

Using Apsalar

(*Data is for illustrative purposes)

This is the section you need to get your retention rates.  Apsalar cohort your data into weeks/days, so you will have to average out each column ( in the example table 34.18+37.59+36.47+33.83+31.4 / 5) = which is around 34.7%, with following rates of around 90%, (so for this 5 week period it’s around 78% retention rate average and 34% worst case scenario), and do the same for all other weeks. Then you will be able to calculate the average retention. Compile the same calculation as you did for Flurry and you will get a lifetime expectancy. Be noted that Apsalar will only let you do this for daily or weekly retention.

In Apsalar,  because you will have already created cohorts for your tables, you can create lifetime expectancy for every cohort group, which means you can compare the different groups for their different retention rates.

Lifetime Value

Calculate your monthly revenue, divide it by the number of active users that month, and that is the average revenue per user. If you have other variable costs per unit sale (e.g packaging), then deduct that from the average revenue to work out the average marginal profit per user. Multiple the average marginal profit per user by the expected lifetime and that is your customer lifetime value.

*If you had marketing campaigns to retain or acquire users, you need to deduct it from your average revenue per user.

NOTE: Pick with care, each analytics tools define and measure retention in different ways. e.g. For Apsalar, ir depends on the ‘cohort’ event you pick. For Flurry it’s an active session. Frequency also matters, someone who uses an app 2 times a month will appear in monthly retention figures, but will not appear in some of the weekly retention figures.

Segments

Both Apsalar and Flurry allow you to create segments, this means you can create lifetime expectancy and lifetime value for each segment that you create. Each segment may produce different amounts of revenue and have different lifetime expectancy. This means you can focus down on the segments that create the most value for you. Be careful though, different segments may well have different acquisition costs, so you need to calculate that to make sure you don’t spend more than the lifetime value of the customer.

Filed under lifetime value flurry apsalar lifetime expectancy customer lifetime value customer lifetime expectancy

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Does a facebook phone make sense? How about a platform instead?

INQ Facebook Phone

Rumours a plenty that there will be a facebook phone with claims that they are hiring ex-Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone. Other suggestions that they should acquire a hardware arm in a similar way to how Google acquired Motorola.

The reason for these rumours are that Facebook users are increasingly moving to mobile with almost 500 million people using facebook via mobile. Whilst saturation rates are high in the developed world, extension to developing countries would likely be via mobile as the phone increasingly becomes the first access point to the internet and web.

With all the momentum moving mobile, Facebook lose out on potential ad revenues and currently have not monetized from their smartphone apps or mobile presence. This leaves a huge potential revenue stream untapped and a Facebook Phone is one way that could be realised.

Analysts have generally been negative about the rumour -

“I don’t see a huge demand for a specific Facebook phone, for the single reason that Facebook is already available on every smartphone,” said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC.

“It is a hugely intensive undertaking to develop phones, because life cycles are extremely short particularly in the Android world; there is an awful lot of margin pressure; and you have to ensure that you are competitive every release. It is absolutely relentless,” said Blaber.

Whilst the hardware play is not in facebook’s realm of expertise, making a platform/OS may make sense here’s why -

  • No need to create, sell, distribute phone hardware. Rely on manufacturers to use the platform
  • Facebook already have an App Store. It’s a potential monetization route
  • They already have in-app purchases in the form of facebook credits. Tying it into mobile payments makes sense
  • PIM (Personal Information Management) apps already exist. Contacts, events(Calendar), messaging, photo gallery
  • Camera is already taken care of.
  • No one owns or drives HTML5 app development, or owns a store to make it easily monetizable or accesible. Facebook could lead this charge and own it.
  • A developer and app ecosystem already exist and it gives their developers who have not created mobile apps, and easy way to move their audience mobile without adding complicated hurdles that exist when using another platform.
  • Does not alienate other manufacturers, which provides potential access to more carriers.
Bring that all together and you have a potential way to go mobile, but who would be the manufacturers? As with any new entrant in the mobile world, it’s best to align with companies that are in a similar situation. A struggling manufacturer, a local manufacturer looking to break through internationally, a hardware company looking to move into mobile, a carrier who wants differentiation. 

It’s certainly food for thought.

Filed under facebook facebook phone facebook platform HTML5 Mobile

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What was the strategy behind the Nokia 808 Pureview’s announcement?

Technology

The technology used for oversampling, and the inspiration taken from satellite imaging techniques is the main innovation. It needed a 41MP sensor to be able to create high quality 5/8MP photos. Strategically, this makes perfect sense, where everyone else in the smartphone battle has been focused on screen size, CPUs and other iterative minor improvements, this implementation has made people stand up and take notice. 

We must remember that this is a Technology innovation, therefore it can be carried forward to any of Nokia’s future portfolio, as such, if they have ringfenced the IP around the tech, it bodes well as a competitive differentiator.

Focus on Camera

In terms of people not buying this because of the current OS that the tech sits on, this only affects one part of the mobile phone purchasing market. This is about targeting a certain niche. In terms of buyer preferences, different segments have different critical choices. If the rest of the package is good enough (Speed, Social, connectivity), those who hold a higher purchasing priority for camera will go for the camera capabilities. Likewise, those who prioritize apps will go for iOS or Android (or Windows Phone). In this respect the rest of the phone just needs to be good enough to capture the target camera market, which Symbian Belle seems to be (not outstanding but good enough).

Marketing

This has been a mixed bag. Many initial reports focused on the 41MP headline. and failed to read further into where the real innovation was. For example, this is the first time i recall digital camera fanzines reporting about a smartphone camera. However, many tech ‘blogs’ have dismissed it due to the headline marketing number.
But! The headline marketing is essentially “linkbait”. To market pureview as producing super-high quality 5/8MP photos wouldn’t have the same marketing impact. Therefore, to get more eyeballs, and to attract the correct niche market, the headline MP count was the most effective. The con is that people report about the MP rather than the technology. The major pro is that it grabs headlines.

Timing

The technology has been in development for 5 years, waiting to release it on Windows Phone would mean delays. The technology is almost ready, and the window to announce was good. Amongst all the quad-core CPUs and high resolution screens, this announcement clearly grabbed mindshare for Nokia. Therefore it was important to announce the capability that Nokia still has, and the value they add as a manufacturer (irrelevant of platform) to smartphones. By announcing now, any future product’s camera by any manufacturer will be compared to the pureview. It has become the ‘de-facto’ comparison. Effectively giving Nokia some long-tail marketing.

Setting up the pipeline

Hidden amongst all the messages is that Pureview technology is that it will be released on future devices in different configurations. Effectively opening up an ‘upgrade’ path for people who want the camera tech. Want it now, buy the Symbian device, App ecosystem too important that you want to skip it for now, wait for it on another platform. Announcing it now builds up anticipation for future releases of pureview, essentially giving people a different reason to buy a Nokia Windows Phone. It also give Microsoft impetus to ensure their platform is capable of handling the hardware requirements for this tech.

Target Sales

Releasing on Symbian means that sales expectation can be lowered. If this was released on Windows Phone, expectation of sales would be higher. This gives Nokia a leeway for sale figures, allows the to gauge initial demand with lower risk than delaying, potentially 1 year, and then announcing it to an unknown market situation for Windows Phone. I would expect Nokia would use sales of the N8 as a benchmark for sales of this device.

Summary

The fact that it was released on a symbian phone is irrelevant. The technology is not binded to Symbian only, it is Nokia IP and means whatever platform they develop on, potentially has this technology differentiator. It has now become the de-facto comparison that smartphone cameras have to aspire to and ensures Nokia remain relevant, so strategically, it was absolutely the right thing to do. The cons are minor (negative press about it being released on Symbian, the 41MP headline vs the technology implementation) when compared to the longtail benefits.

Image from http://conversations.nokia.com

Filed under nokia pureview nokia 808 pureview marketing strategy mobile strategy cameraphone Symbian pureview

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Evolution of the Cameraphone: From Sharp J-SH04 to Nokia 808 Pureview

Nokia recently announced the 808 Pureview in Barcelona at the Mobile World Conference and have drawn excitement to their pureview camera technology. They’ve re-imagined how zoom works by working backwards from a large Megapixel picture and focusing in on an area of the sensor. Zooming in expands the area of the sensor which you are looking it, which means a bulky optical zoom mechanism is not required. This works also for video recording. How have cameraphone evolved to reach this point? 

The very first commercial cameraphone

In 2000 Sharp produced the J-SH04 for J-Phone (now softbank) in Japan. It cost $500 and produced 110,000 pixel images (0.1MP). It was followed by J-SH05 which used  a 65,536-color semi-transmissive TFT LCD on a flip phone. By 2002, Sharp had sold 5 million camera phones covering 40% of J-Phones users.


Out of Japan and turning international

In 2002, Vodafone picked up the Sharp cameraphone and remodelled it into the GX10 for European release. One of the few times that a Japanese phone manufacturer successfully sold their mobile phone offerings to a non-Japanese carrier.

 

Sprint brought the Sanyo 5300 to the US market in November 2002. 

By 2003, KDDI released the first CCD 1 megapixel cameraphone, the Casio A5401CA. 

In 2004, Sony Ericsson released the S700 with a 1.3MP CCD Camera, Nokia, Motorola and Samsung quickly followed suit,

but in 2005, Samsung went a little crazy releasing the SCH-V770…. a 7MP camera phone with 3x optical zoom and autofocus. Take a look at the picture to see how ‘ridiculed’ it was. 


Nokia vs Sony Ericsson enter the battle

By 2004, Nokia had become the worlds most sold “digital camera” brand, but did not have the “best” camera phones. Sony Ericsson took that mantle when it released the S750 in 2005 which could be considered the first ‘regular’ camera phone that had autofocus… with a 2MP sensor added.

Nokia’s attempt to take the lead came via the N90 which used Carl Zeiss lens with their 2MP auto-focus phone with a rotatable barrel.

But Sony Ericsson’s response was the K800, the first with a xenon flash. Released in July 2006


Nokia March On

First the N73 with 3.2MP, followed by the N93 with 3x Optical Zoom and the first camcorder phone with Carl Zeiss lens both in the Autumn of 2006. (photo is of the N93i)

Than in 2007, the N95 with 5MP and the N82 with 5MP and Xenon Flash were released. By now the megapixel battle was in full swing, but we all know that Megapixels are not the only equation in cameras. Sony Ericsson released the K850 with a poor 5MP camera.

Samsung Enter the frame

With the i850 and M8800 Pixon the 8MP phase of the camera phone battle opened up. Nokia upped the technical capabilities by introducing variable apertures with their 8MP N86 in 2009.

Samsung released the first 12MP camera phone with 28mm wide-angled lens and Xenon with the M8910 Pixon12.


The current best camera phone was released in 2010. This is the Nokia N8, with a very large 1/1.83” sensor.

Nothing was released in 2011 that could beat the camera quality of the N8, but 2012 sees a quantum leap with the release of e Nokia Pureview.

Filed under nokia 808 pureview J-Sh04 Sharp GX10 Sanyo Sprint Casio A5401CA Sony Ericsson S700 Sony Ericsson S750 Nokia N90 Camera Phone Evolution of the Cameraphone