“What if your tablet or phone knew what you were watching on TV and presented bonus features without you having to lift a finger?” asks Microsoft. To kick-start the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft yesterday unveiled the Xbox SmartGlass, an application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and other portable devices that connects phones, PCs and tablets with the Xbox 360 console “to make your entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun.”
Users will, for example, be able to use a tablet to call up a play in the game "Madden NFL" and then play it on a TV screen, or, control websites on a TV using the tablet's touchscreen.
This solidifies Microsoft’s “head start in the battle for every screen,” describes The New York Times. Apple’s iPhones, iPads and and computers are well connected, but Microsoft has sold 67 million Xbox 360 video game consoles and has more than 40 million active Xbox Live members. The company claims its video consumption has grown by 140 percent each year on the Xbox since 2008.
Forbes calls Google and Apple “wild cards” in the connected TV race. “Google’s first connected TV got lots of attention, but little sales,” but it will try again this summer with models from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio. Apple’s smart TV may or may not be out by the end of the year: Apple has been shopping hardware providers and contract manufacturers, but rumor has it the Apple TV will cost in excess of $1,000. The Xbox allows you to keep your old one.
IE for Xbox
Microsoft will launch Internet Explorer for Xbox this fall in all countries where Xbox and Xbox LIVE are available. Between the Xbox, the Kinect gaming platform and Xbox SmartGlass, Microsoft claims users will be able to surf the Internet voice control, and navigate using mobile devices for “an incredibly easy Web browsing experience on the television.”
Entertainment Via Xbox
Adding to the current catalog of customized sports, TV, movies and music apps from TV and entertainment providers, Microsoft is claiming that Xbox will become “your home for sports,” with NBA Game Time, NBA.com League Pass Broadband (U.S.), NHL GameCenter LIVE and ESPN, including the "SportsCenter" and "SportsNation" properties, plus NFL, MLB and NBA coverage.
Finally, Microsoft announced 35 new content partners (both audio and video) launching on Xbox over the next 12 months, which include Comedy Central Stand Up; Nickelodeon; Paramount Movies; The Weather Channel; and Univision, the Spanish-language channel (and the first Spanish-language channel on Xbox Live).
comScore, Inc. has released data from its MobiLens service, reporting key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry for the three months ending in January. comScore surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found that Google Android continued to grow its share in the smartphone market, accounting for 48.6% of smartphone subscribers. Samsung with its Android platform has 25.4% of the market share.
The Apple iOS platform is hardly dead or suffering; in fact it is the only mobile maker to have gained in the period in share of subscribers, up 2% for the three-month period.
Smartphone Platform Market Share
Still, Google leads the pack in platform share, up 2.3% while Apple is up 1.4%. Google now holds 48.6% of the platform market share, followed by Apple with 29.5% market share (up 1.4%). RIM ranked third with 15.2% share, followed by Microsoft (4.4%) and Symbian (1.5%).
Mobile Content Usage
In January, 74.6% of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 2.8%--useless to advertisers, of course, who’ll find more joy in apps, browsers, social media and games.
Downloaded applications were used by 48.6% of subscribers (up 4.8%), while browsers were used by 48.5% (up 4.5%). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 3.4% to 35.7% of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 31.8% of the mobile audience (up 2.6%), while 24.5% listened to music on their phones (up 3.3%).
A mobile application with in-app purchase capability is an advertiser’s dream. In one well-designed app, a company can both brand and sell. But, believes eMarketer, those who make in-app purchasers are not consumers at large, but a segment of power users who are ultra-comfortable with mobile applications.
eMarketer quoted a study called the “Mobile Application Business Model,” released in February by Boston-based intelligence company ABI Research. ABI projects that overall revenues from mobile applications, which include in-app purchases, pay-per-downloads, in-app advertising and subscriptions, will reach $46 billion by 2016. That is a greater than 300% jump over the $8.5 billion earned in 2011.
ABI expects 2012 to the year in which revenue from in-app purchases surpasses pay-per-downloads, fueled by greater availability of in-app in applications other than mobile games.
So far so good.
Media researchers and consultants IHS Screen Digest made their own projections in a January report called “Mobile Media Intelligence Service,” and predicted that in-app purchases will ultimately garner the majority of revenue from smartphone apps. In-app purchases worldwide reached $970 million in 2011, for 39% of total smartphone app revenues, and will reach $5.6 billion or 64% of those revenues by 2015. Smaller figures, but ABI included subscriptions and ad sales in its forecast.
But a third firm, Localytics, discovered that the majority of in-app purchases to date are made by high-level or “power users” of applications—chiefly games. In January, Localytics (a mobile app analytics provider) found that 44% of those users who made an in-app purchase did so after their 10th session in the app. Only 22% did so in their first session.
eMarketer remarks that to capitalize on in-app purchasers, developers and marketers must “get non-power users interested in making purchases,” and include in-app purchase options in applications besides games.
But developers, advertisers and marketers have already done so. The way Localytics describes its own research, “Although it may seem like getting users to the sale proposition quickly is ideal…building relationships with app users and fostering long-term usage are more important.” Loyal customers generate 25% more in-app purchases. Games are not the only type of application that generates multiple visits. Loyalitics' own customer base includes publishers Bonnier, National Geographic, The New York Times and The Boston Globe, as well as Hulu and Rhapsody. Presumably, apps for newspapers, music download and streaming media sites generate repeat and loyal customers as well.
The takeaway may be to cease to define the "power app user" as a mobile-game-addicted millennial, but to include the daily news reader or music enthusiast. He or she may not make a purchase immediately, but this research suggests, they will in time.
Advertisers are finding that banner ads in mobile games are viewed as an annoyance, reports Digiday. Companies like Kiip and Appsavvy, and San Francisco-based Gimmie, have found an alternative: rewarding game players with coupons or points toward a purchase.
Advertisers using Kiip applications offer what Kiip calls “Real Rewards for Virtual Achievements.” A player who, for example, achieves a high score in “Slam Dunk Basketball” may receive congratulations and an offer from such consumer brands as Sephora, Carl’s Jr., Dr. Pepper and 1-800-Flowers.
Thusfar, no market research exists to quantify the benefits to those advertisers, or to the game developers who incorporate Kiip, AppSavvy or Gimmie (now in private beta testing). But Kiip CEO Brian Wong estimates the number of mobile game players in the U.S. is 15 million, and growing; and increasingly female. But in addition to those top brands, in-game reward developers are attracting heavy investment. Kiip was incorporated only in July 2010, and has since received $4.4 million in funding from True Ventures, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and Crosslink Capital. Appsavvy has received $3.1 million in first round funding, also led by True Ventures, and a private investment by About.com Founder Scott Kurnit.
Mobile devices mean “More touchpoints for marketing messages,” observes eMarketer in some just-released research. The online journal/industry thinktank projects that revenues from ad-supported mobile music, games and video will grow 52.7% in 2012 to $433.8 million. eMarketer expects that revenue to top $1 billion by 2015.
eMarketer believes the double-digit growth is fueled in part by audience demand for advanced mobile content like games and music; and because mobile content providers are leaning more heavily on advertisements. Nearly 30% of their revenues will come from ads by 2015, versus the less than 20% of 2011. The remaining 70% will be from paid revenues like subscription and download fees.
Still, the dollar amount of those paid sources will leap from $1.16 billion in 2011 to $2.52 billion by 2015. All told, mobile music, gaming and video content should bring in revenues of nearly $3.59 billion in 2015.
- Sony's PlayStation Network is getting creative with in-game ad opportunites, reports Online Media Daily. In the battle for in-game ad dollars with Microsoft Xbox, there are about 35 Sony partners building content for PlayStation Home. About 20 million players worldwide have access to 8,000 virtual items in the site. The average time spent in home stands at 70 minutes. Popular spaces in Home have about 900,000 engagements per week. Brands such as Ford, Spring, Unilever, Toyota, and Wrigley are advertisers across PSN. In June, Ford became the first U.S. automaker to develop a "space," similar to a virtual area in Second Life, for PlayStation Home.
Research by two assistant professors of marketing at the London School of Business and MIT Sloan School of Management suggests that customized online ads are often ineffective. The study looked at whether it is always optimal for advertisers to provide more specific ad content based on consumers' earlier product interests, as well as when increased specificity of information in an ad is effective, writes Gulf News. When online shoppers were simply looking at a product category, ads that matched their prior web browsing interests were ineffective, the research shows.
Beginning in September, online video ad network Tremor Video will feature the privacy icon on virtually all of the ads that appear on its network, mostly 15- and 30-second commercial spots common to TV. Tremor is the largest video ad network, serving more than 700 million ads to more than 20% of the internet audience acccording to comScore’s May report, writes Ad Age.
Skype has released an updated version of its Skype for Android video calling app – Skype for Android 2.0. With the new version, users will be able to make and receive 1-to-1 video calls over Skype between their Android phone and other Skype contacts on the iPhone, Mac, Windows PCs and TVs.
Facebook will announce it is adding support for 32 additional currencies to Facebook Credits, including the Brazilian real, the Korean won, the Malaysian ringgit and the Russian ruble. That brings Facebook to 47 currencies supported. Games that don’t make the transition to the new Credits system will soon be warned that they’re violating the newly updated terms of service and face standard enforcement procedures, Rose said. Meanwhile, Facebook has also released incentives and case studies showing that usage of Credits encourages more in-game spending, writes All Things Digital.
Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a visit to Facebook's Seattle office on Wednesday that the company planned to "launch something awesome" next week. He said the project had been developed at the 40-person Seattle office, Facebook's only major engineering center outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters, Reuters reports, speculating that it is possibly something new for the mobile or tablet arena.
Local news forum platform, Topix released findings of a recent survey about the market for geo-targeted online advertising, with 90% of advertising professionals surveyed stating their clients are buying more geographically-targeted online ads in 201. Of those seeing growth, roughly 33% say the growth is in the double-digits with another 13 percent seeing their spend on local online advertising more than double as compared to last year.
Barnes & Noble is kickstarting the digital book collection of any customers who bring in an old ereader and upgrade to a new NOOK reading device. The company is giving away 30 digital titles valued (estimated value $300).
The two companies — Specific Media and Golden Gate Capital — are named as potential buyers of MySpace in an acquisition deal that News Corp. hopes to complete by Thursday, its fiscal year end, reports All Things Digital. The price is in the $20 million to $30 million range.
FinancialForce.com launched a new solution, FinancialForce for Media, to enable media companies to integrate Salesforce CRM, ad servers and FinancialForce Billing, bringing together the processes of selling, tracking and billing for online advertising campaigns. The solution works between Salesforce CRM, ad servers like Google's DoubleClick for Publishers and FinancialForce Billing.
Consumer Watchdog has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that the virtual currency system "Facebook Credits" used to play games on Facebook's social network violates antitrust law. New Facebook Credits terms are scheduled to take effect on Friday, July 1, 2011. Under the new contract, game developers using the Facebook platform must exclusively use Facebook Credits in the operation of their games; must agree not to charge lower prices to consumers outside of Facebook; and must pay a 30% service fee for all Facebook Credits purchases. The complaint, released today, asks the FTC to issue an injunction that would stop the anticompetitive behavior. It also asks the FTC to investigate a deal between Facebook and Zynga Inc., the largest game developer in the United States, as a possible "unreasonable restraint on trade."
Google has 19 new media partners worldwide who are implementing Google’s +1 button their news articles and pages, including The Telegraph, Independent.co.uk, NME and Last.fm, reports Paid Content. Google has been working with publishers to introduce the button, many of whom expressed concern about how much access they would have to data collected by Google from readers who “+1” content.
ICANN’s recently unveiled plans to sell new .brand domain names for about $185,000 apiece has some considering the what-for, according to BtoB Online. Esther Dyson, a digital entrepreneur and former chairwoman of ICANN, expressed doubts: “I think it's kind of a useless market; and, if I had $185,000, I'd spend it on something else.”
Microsoft's advertising division is collaborating with Nielsen to measure how effectively online advertising for TV programming leads desired viewers to actually watch the program. The Television Online Effect pilot program will begin some time in July, and use aggregate profile data from Nielsen's TV/Internet Fusion panel, an integrated database of more than 250,000 people. From that data, Microsoft will create a target audience, and then run a campaign across multiple Microsoft properties, reports MultiChannel News.
Monster Worldwide, the parent company of job search site, Monster, has launched BeKnown, a professional networking Facebook app designed to enable users to establish a professional network and search for jobs, writes BtoB Online. BeKnown is available in 19 different languages, and aims to give Facebook users a separate, more professional place to collect work-related content.
Vancouver, B.C.-based gaming studio Silicon Sisters, female creators of content targeting the girl-gamer audience, is gearing up to release their second girl game. The studio released its well-received first game, School 26, in April, and the next School 26 game -- Summer of Secrets – is due in July, writes Media Shift.
Microsoft intends to bring voice and gesture controls to ads on the Xbox through the Kinect game controller. The platform will allow users to share ads through social media, get more information about products, and communicate with others through voice commands, writes Online Media Daily.
AOL Autos, a resource for new and used car buying information, car culture, consumer tips, maintenance and repair, has launched Best Deal Auto Buying Program. The new feature provides AOL Autos users access to a car shopping experience with upfront vehicle pricing from local dealers, and a best-price guarantee.
The digital reader from Barnes & Nobles, Nook, has increased its market share has to 26-27%, up from the 25% that the company reported in February. Nook-related business grew to over $250 million in the fiscal year ending April 30—close to 300 percent growth over the same period last year, reports PaidContent. As well, the company now sells three times as many digital books as all formats of physical books combined on BN.com.
DealsGoRound, a company active in the daily deal secondary marketplace space, has launched Deal Wallet, a virtual wallet where users can import, store and manage their daily deal purchases across deal providers. IDeal Wallet users receive a weekly email update of their deal inventory, including expiration date. If a user can't use a deal or no longer wants it, they are able to list the deal for re-sale. The tool can be accessed via the DealsGoRound website, with support for iPhone and Android apps being added in coming weeks.
The Recording Industry Association of America spent $2.1 million in the first quarter to lobby the federal government on protecting intellectual property rights in various countries and on a proposal by radio station owners to impel cellphone makers to include FM radio chips in handsets, Bloomberg reports. The group spent $1.4 million in the same period and $1.5 million in Q4 2010.