The iPad Impact

"What is unique about the iPad is they are truly the most tactile device, with a larger screen where you are actually moving the content with your hands, not a mouse or keyboard," she said. "This is a more immersive experience than the lean back of TV or the lean forward of the PC. You are part of the content."

Great quote from Catherine Spurway, Pointroll VP Advertising and Marketing.  I've been using an iPad for about a month now and my expectations and early hypotheses have been shattered.  When Apple announced the iPad I felt it would be mostly a media consumption device - a large iTouch.  I believed it would be hard to use for productivity based work apps.  I under valued this revolutionary product and the great opportunity for touch interfaces.

The iPad experience is so superior to the PC or Mac model.  I now refuse to travel with my Sony notebook (which is quite small).  I am typing this blog from my iPad while the person sitting next to me on this AA flight watches a movie on hers.  I brought my notebook on this business trip but haven't booted it up - just thinking about that makes me queasy!  For now on, the Sony will stay in its dock in my office.  I feel so liberated and know my travel life will be better, easier, more productive and more entertaining.  A wise colleague has a great blog called "Death of the Mouse".
 Through my recent iPad experience, I now understand the paradigm change to touch interfaces.  As the mouse dies, so will the hardware and software that work with mice and support the PC paradigm.

This is possible due to the beautiful Apple design and user experience plus cloud computing, easy low-cost apps, and improved and pervasive mobile broadband.  This iPad experience will only get better as more apps are released and integration between apps, device and cloud services improves.  There are a slew of new business productivity iPad apps hitting the market including apps for viewing, editing and saving Microsoft office files.  The NY Times reviewed a couple of these new apps today. 

The Puppy Effect
Many of us have experienced the magnet effect of walking a puppy in NYC (free tip for singles out there). Well, my new puppy is my iPad.  Everyone wants to see it, touch it, play with it.  I am having more conversations with strangers (do I really want/need that)?  And once someone tries it, they must have one.  I have seen this with a few friends already with their wives contacting me with questions so they can order the iPad for Fathers Day.
Naturally, being the digital marketing consultant and competitive freak that I am, I need to make a bunch of predictions about the winners and losers from the new iPad paradigm so here goes.

The Winners
  • Apple, naturally – the stock broke 270 today…all time high.
  • Smart advertisers (and agencies) who will test this platform before it reaches scale – test, measure, refine…
  • iPad app developers – the smart ones will develop “universal applications" (iPad, iPhone, etc.)
  • iPad accessory makers – the iPad needs a lot of accessories to connect to devices, to enjoy media, etc.
  • Desktop makers – much cheaper than laptops.  More will ask “do a really need a laptop and iPad?”.
  • Cloud services – as local storage goes away, demand for the cloud increases.
  • Digital Content producers – the iPad is the best digital content device ever.
The Losers
  • Apple, again - do we really need both iPad and iPhone?  There are better phones and networks.  Plus, there's little app synergy yet.  Time will tell...
  • Notebook makers – see above.
  • Software incumbents – see above.

So, what do you think?  Please comment below.

A New Decade Finds Google Under Assault

In an earlier post, I referred to the prior decade as the "Google Decade".  For digital marketers, the big story last decade was paid search and organic SEO.  Google grew search market share every quarter and expanded their AdWords program to many sites and countries.  They also established a culture of innovation that resulted in numerous new products such as Content (display ads), Earth, Print, TV, Gmail, Analytics, Apps, etc.  Despite this new product rollout, Google still derives the vast majority of their revenue from AdWords, leaving them vulnerable to changing user behaviors and other advertising options.  After dominating the last decade and proving a great ability to innovate and execute, Google finds itself being attacked from all sides.  The recent news and announcements from Apple, Facebook and Microsoft tell the story.

  • iPhone - despite their closed approach, single carrier strategy and Google's aggressive Android push, the iPhone continues to gobble up smartphone market share.  For the quarter ending March 28, Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones, representing 131% unit growth year over year.  Users don't search as much on their iPhones as they do on their desktop or laptop PCs. iPhone customers, instead, depend on Apps to find and enjoy digital information and content. Apple's App ecosystem and superior user experience are key to the success of the iPhone.
  • iPad - 500,000 units have shipped in the first week or so.  This new device type, which runs on the mobile, iPhone OS, is changing the game in terms of how we consume and interact with digital media.
  • iAd - introduced on April 8, this program greatly benefits developers, publishers and advertisers. All iAds will be hosted and served by Apple. More about this can be found here and here.  
  • iTravel - on April 21, Apple filed a patent for iTravel - their travel-centric App for the iPhone and iPad. Apple is getting into the travel transaction (full user experience) business according to the filing.  This is consistent with their iAd strategy to allow advertisers to reach iPhone and iPad users without making them leave the App to respond to or buy from the iAd.
  • Implication for Google:  For the first time, Apple is now in the digital advertising business and they have the mobile OS and platform to grow their advertising market share at Google's expense.
  • 400 million active users - also, it was announced on March 19 that Facebook eclipsed Google and became the largest website in terms of page views.
  • Social Plug-ins - last week, Facebook announced their new distributed "Like" program which will significantly grow their rich user data and provide earned media value for commercial websites of all types.  This valuable profile data will yield greater advertising value (ROI) and quickly grow Facebook into a digital advertising powerhouse.
  • New Graph API and platform - this simpler platform is designed to add value for developers, users and commercial websites.  This should result in more "social graph" data for advertisers to target.
  • Implication for Google: Facebook is innovating quickly and solidifying itself as an extremely large and valuable advertising platform where precise targeting can occur - sounds similar to how we described Google 5 or 6 years ago.
  • Yahoo Search Partnership - this deal will allow the #2 and #3 player to join forces to battle Google.
  • Bing launch and share growth - for the first time in memory, a search engine besides Google gained search market share.  Microsoft has shown a great ability to innovate with Bing.
  • Facebook Partnership - last week, Facebook and Microsoft announced their social collaboration through the launch.  This site, which leverages Office, cloud computing and Facebook,  enables users to create and share Microsoft office documents with their Facebook friends.  
  • Implication for Google:  Microsoft has a war chest of cash and is spending it to gain market share in Search and cloud-based Apps - two strategic markets for Google.
Google is firing back:
  • Android mobile OS and Nexus One phone - launched on multiple carriers with numerous headset models including Google's Nexus One phone.  Early results suggest these phones are selling and allowing Google to gain smartphone market share, at the expense of RIM and Palm.  Android phones make "searching" the web a lot easier than iPhones.
  • Bazaarvoice partnership - Last week, an interesting partnership between Google and Bazaarvoice was announced.  Bazaarvoice provides private label user review technology to many major manufacturers and online retailers.  Google will index these reviews and aggregate user scores and include them in search results and sponsored search ads.  This exciting integration of earned media with paid media and search results will be interesting to watch.
  • ITA acquisition - just a rumor, but the strategic thinking behind this potential travel acquisition shows that Google is now willing to risk their AdWords revenue and compete with some of their largest advertisers (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) in order to dis-intermediate the travel supply chain and bring more efficiency to the travel market.
What's your take on my analysis?  Will Google withstand this attack and continue to grow at the levels we've all become accustomed to?  Please comment below and keep the conversation going.

    A Post That's Not (really) About the iPad

    In choosing “Digital Street Smarts” as the name of our blog, Jack and I wanted to emphasize that we’ll be providing thoughts on social media, mobile, and digital marketing from a practical, “lived it,” point of view. This kind of work ethic led me to unexpected places this week when I took a short vacation to my parents’ house so that they could spend some quality time with the grandkids. It was good to get my head out of my laptop (and phone), and I found myself making note of events that really brought to life all of the stats and trends that we read/write about on a daily basis. Stepping back like this allowed me to focus on real-life social media + mobile experiences for a few days. Here's what I saw...

    My 60-ish Year Old Dad: Dad is a champion of traditional media consumption. In addition to going through a new novel and several magazines each week, he reads an actual local newspaper every night while simultaneously watching movies/sitcoms/news on TV. On my first night there, he said to me “If this isn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what is,” and showed me the local newspaper. It was a thin, flimsy thing. I’ve seen junk mail that’s thicker. We all know that newspapers are going out of business, but to see a newspaper that serves a metro area of over one million people in such a weakened state really hit me. I could almost hear it gasping for breath over the background noise of the TV...

    My 22 Year-old Sister: Like most people her age, my “baby” sister silently texts to friends constantly, even as she engages in conversations that are right there in the room with her. No surprises there. The poignant moment came at night however, when she passed out on the family couch (she had generously given up her old room so that my kids would have a quite place to nap and sleep at night). For four nights in a row, my sister literally fell asleep with her phone in her hand. In the same way that she dozed in and out of late night conversations with her siblings who were in the room with her, she also talked to friends via text – that’s how fundamental her phone is to her life experiences.

    My Three Year Old Son:  My older son just turned three and has been spending increasing amounts of time online. It has recently evolved from simply watching videos (robots or construction videos on YouTube) to more interactive content related to what he watches on TV (Sesame Street and Sid The Science Kid). At first, he needed more time than I expected to learn how to use the trackpad and mouse. As intuitive as we think these devices are, the truth is that using a mouse is an unnatural and learned behavior. He repeatedly reached out to touch the screen when we first started using my laptop and still occasionally does so. His behavior certainly makes sense and is probably influenced by his use of my Droid phone.

    The part where I talk about the iPad: So where's all of this lead? In light of the iPad, I’ve been talking a lot with colleagues about the death of purpose-specific hardware, and you can easily see how a tablet device would serve each of the above users extremely well (and upend a few business models in the process). Today’s post was initially about the iPad device, but instead, I want to make this point: You can’t learn everything from a book. Or even an ebook. Or even from As our relationships with our technologies become ever more intimate, remember that some of the best learning re: media/social media/mobile/internet can occur right under our noses. Our modern lives play out in a rainforest that is rich with technology; playing Jane Goodall for a few days and getting in the weeds can really bring to life and add context to all of those statistics and numbers.

    Starting tomorrow, we'll be hit with another deluge of iPad related announcements and commentary. As you wade through that, remember this: Steve Jobs allegedly delayed development of the iPad for several years because the experiences (via the larger iTunes ecosystem) were not yet in place. Jobs knew that if he couldn't replace Dad's newspaper, the iPad was just another thing.

    We can all learn from this. Social Media is not about the thing (the platform or the device) itself. It is about enabling and improving experiences. I encourage you to get in the weeds and make some observations of your own and to think about towards where those signposts are pointing. Share in the comments!