Viewing entries tagged
iPhone Apps

Klout's Clever Use of iOS's App & Badge Icons

I talk about Klout all the time and encourage marketers to integrate / leverage the service as a way to engage quality users & customers. This has implications for advertising, customer service, product experience, etc. This is an entirely unrelated point - but I think it's extremely clever and unique. Klout has released a new iPhone application and they are using iOS's "Badge" system to display your Klout Score atop the app's icon. Terrifically simple, smart idea and a way to bring users back into the application (which is the single most important and challenging aspect for most applications).

I love it and expect / encourage others to think about how this relates to their service and their users.

ESPN's Mobile Application Strategy (and Ad Campaign to Match)

ESPN's Scorecenter iPhone App is the top sports application in iTunes, alongside several other successful ESPN apps: ESPN Radio ($2.99), ESPN Fantasy Football ($2.99), ESPN Zoom ($2.99), ESPN Streak for the Cash, ESPN 2010 World Cup, and so on.

Paid mobile apps are a key part of ESPN's digital strategy:

“I think we are evolving into a mobile applications world, which offers much more personalization, and we’re moving towards more paid content in mobile,” said John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at ESPN, Bristol, CT. “We take it for granted that content is free on Web sites, but I think you’ll see something different evolve on mobile. “We’re committed to multiple revenue streams, and Apple’s iTunes billing and carrier billing makes it easier to do paid mobile content,” he said. “Advertisers want scale, and we’re able to provide that by delivering want fans want.

“It’s all about value—fans will pay for content that they value and they can’t find other places, and we’ve also been able to reach scale and have enough of an audience mobile so it interests advertisers.”

The focus on mobile applications is evident from the advertising and cross-promotion online, on-radio, in-print, and even on-air. Listen to an ESPN radio broadcast and you will hear several personality-driven promotions of the new ESPN Radio App... and, if you visited ESPN.com yesterday, you surely noticed that the homepage was taken over to promote ESPN's Scorecenter application:

Traditionally, ESPN saves the homepage for high CPM, rich ad units; here, they are promoting a free application for mobile users. That app is then used to promote ESPN's paid applications (average of $2.99 per download) through overlays, interstitials, etc. It is an interesting move considering that the holiday shopping season just concluded and that iTunes is seeing record traffic post-Christmas.

The ad unit is terrific: it takes over the entire background of the page and features a 'swiping' finger. As the finger swipes between iPhone screens, ESPN's background synchronously shifts. It is great looking and does an excellent job showcasing the slick UI on the iPhone.

click to see each 'stage' in full size

Electronic Arts has Seven of iPhone's Top 25 Grossing iPhone Apps

It's no surprise that big brands represent a significant share of the iPhone's top grossing iPhone applications. Here is another proof point: Electronc Arts itself represents seven of the iPhone's twenty-five top grossing applications... each of which is priced similarly ($4.99 is the common price-point) and carries a big brand name (either a gaming staple like Madden / The Sims or a board-game staple like Battleship / Scrabble):

#3. Battleship ($2.99) #13. Dragon's Lair ($4.99) #14. Tetris ($4.99) #18. The Sims 3 ($6.99) #20. Need for Speed ($4.99) #22. Madden NFL 10 ($6.99) #23. Scrabble ($4.99)

EA iPhone Apps

First Batch of Free iPhone Apps Show Up in Top Grossing

Before Apple enabled in-application purchases, the hot debate was whether or not revenue maximization came from charging for downloads (and limiting distribution) or through in-app advertisements (and hoping for continued engagement). For game and music applications in particular, there is another option that seems to be finding success: free applications that have in-app micro-payments (either to improve / advance your character, access unique levels / tracks, etc). While it is clear that this has been successful in larger environments (ie Zynga and Facebook), it is the first time that I have noticed the model breaking into Apple's "Top Grossing Apps" category... which is usually reserved for applications that cost $0.99 - $9.99.

The two applications are Papaya Pro 3.0 (#21) and Ngmoco's Eliminate Pro (#28). The purchases are coming from in-game improvements - papayas or power cell packs - which are used for advancing inside the game. Imagine a separate scenario: the popular T-Pain application becomes free (currently $2.99) and most/all tracks are $0.99. As other apps find success like Papaya and Eliminate Pro, I suspect that more game and music applications will test the power of free distribution - after all, popularity and mass adoption is a great motivator to pay to improve your status / ranking / reputation (read more here).

papaya free iphone app ngmoco eliminate pro iphone app

Apple's Latest iPhone Advertisement: All About Big Brands

In March, I wrote about Apple's full page advertisement in the New York Times touting the iPhone as a weekend tool: "Getting the most out of your weekend, one app at a time."

In yesterday's New York Times, they ran a continuation of the ongoing campaign - but with a slight twist: promote the branded apps (I wrote a post this week about seven of the best branded iPhone apps):

"It's pretty amazing who's on the iPhone these days. From CNN to Nike, Starbucks to FedEx, there are over 100,000 apps for just about anything. Only on the iPhone and the nation's fastest 3G network." It is a poor photo, but you can see that each of the applications comes from a very recognizable name: Nike, Starbucks, eBay, CNN, Gap, ESPN, Facebook, Target, Bank of America, Whole Foods, CNN, USA Today, Avis, eTrade, Pizza Hut and Barnes & Nobles.

Also of note, other than CNN's $1.99 app, all of these applications are free. In many of Apple's advertisements - and certainly in their app recommendations - they tend to promote paid applications... but here, the brand names are intended to sell hardware and reputation rather than micro-purchases.

iphone apps new york times ad

7 Great iPhone Apps from Big Brands: From Paint to Coffee to Sneakers

I spend a lot of time using mobile applications - in part to experience what is going on and in part to experience how brands and top players are thinking about mobile. There are plenty of unexciting and uninspired examples, but here are a few great ones. I am highlighting each for a different reason:

Sherwin Williams: Color Snap

A paint company going mobile... and making it fun and useful? I wouldn't have guessed - but this application is simple and provides clear, immediate utility. Whereas most applications struggle to be more than their .com experience on a mobile screen - Sherwin Williams allows you to snap a photo, select the interior / exterior to be painted, and receive a matching color palette. Like other commercial applications, it also includes a store locator which is location-aware.

sherwin williams color snap sherwin williams color palette

Gucci

Gucci is brand that oozes exclusivity and style... and the application embodies that terrificly. From the photos to the user interface - everything is beautifully done, highly visual and quite innovative: rather than the standard three or four button footer, navigation is controlled through horizontal swipes.

The application also features exclusive products, deals and content - in effect, this is how Gucci attempts to provide utility to the end-user. For instance, the below pair of shoes are an iPhone exclusive style. Additionally, Gucci provides an interactive store locator.

gucci iphone app

Showtime: TV at its Best

More digital media than e-commerce, but Showtime's application is good looking, useful (has scheduling and reminders) and unique (exclusive content about their top shows and episodes):

showtime iphone app

Walmart

Another innovation from a big brand. The application lets you take a photo of your wall or available space and Walmart determines how large of a television you can accommodate. Walmart of course then suggests the best televisions to fit in that space. Clever, useful and unique:

walmart iphone app

Starbucks

Easily the brand application that I use most frequently: Starbucks "Mobile Card" app allows you to pay via your iPhone, manage your account balance, find the nearest store, etc. Starbucks also has a more social and informational application called "Starbucks" which allows users to find stores, create custom concoctions, access nutritional information and – most importantly – share the experience with friends (your favorite drinks, location, Starbucks meeting times, etc). The UI is terrific and consistent with the Starbucks brand and environment.

Starbucks Mobile Card

Starbucks App

Nike ID

I love Nike ID and have ordered a couple custom sneakers in the past... my major critique when it first launched, however, was that it was not social. You could share your creations by email - but when creating unique shoes, collecting feedback is as fun / important as sharing the finished product.

Nike solves that with the Nike ID app - sharing is inherently easier and you can view public creations (which can be starting points for your own shoe style).

Furthermore, there is something more natural and enjoyable about being able to design through finger swipes, color palettes, etc:

Nike ID App nike style shoes

Amazon

Any surprise that Amazon's application is simple to use, innovative (take photos of products and they email matching suggestions) and highly useful (I have bought food, books and music directly through the app). Furthermore, it is the ultimate price checker - before checking out at Best Buy, run a product search on Amazon and you'll realize that you're probably overpaying (by a lot!).

amazon mobile app amazon remembers

Top 20 Grossing iPhone Apps: Dominated by Brands and Games

Apple recenly added a new sort / finding path for iPhone apps: Top Grossing Apps. It is far from perfect and not at all based on your habits or your friends' (it should be Facebook Connect enabled)... But it sure is revealing. Take a look at the top twenty grossig apps and we learn a few key things:

1. 12 of the top 20 apps are games. And most of the games are well known branded games like scrabble, UNO, madden football, etc. People want to game on their devices and are used to paying bigger dollars on other devices or formats.

2. Per the above bullet, brands dominate the top 20. 16 of the apps are prominent brands... users are more likely to pay for familiar names - as though it includes reliabilty among a crowded space with a failed rating system.

3. Pricing is not the much talked about 0.99. While there are a few sub dollar apps, only 8/20 are under 4.99 (which is the most common price point in the top twenty).

4. Other than games, content (family guy videos, Espn radio and CNN news) and applications (like tweetie) make up the remainder

Yelp's Augmented Reality Easter Egg: An iPhone App First

While you might disagree with Yelp's method of getting their new iPhone Application upgrade through Apple's review process - the fact remains that Yelp has innovated and pushed the boundaries from a consumer, development and process perspective.

To access the Yelp's Augmented Reality mode, download the new application version and shake your iPhone three times. The "Monocle" mode will activate as an easter egg:

monocle Once Monocle mode is enabled, the application combines the iPhone's camera, compass, GPS and Yelp's content. So depending on the direction of where the camera is pointed and where you are located, Yelp overlays the camera with nearby restaurants, bars, stores, etc. It is an interesting experience that is as much a novelty as it is useful... but there are applications of this experience that certainly do make sense: social, commercial and informational. The challenge will be threefold:

1. Simplicity: the user experience can be overwhelming. Presenting it in a clear, user-friendly (aimed at more than early-adopters) is critical for adoption and sustained usage.

2. Content: presenting the right content in the right format is challenging considering the screen size, the actively changing background and the need for geographically relevant content.

3. Technology: The battery, screen and device-size all pose various issues.

yelp-augmented-reality-iphone-app yelp-augmented-reality

iPhone is Flickr's #1 Camera; Soon to be Facebook's #1 Video

Mashable is reporting tonight that the iPhone is set to replace the Canon Rebel XTi as the #1 source of photographs on Flickr:

That smartphone, with its weak 2 MP camera and its lack of zoom, is now set to overtake Canon Rebel XTi as the #1 camera on Flickr. This is according to Flickr’s Camera Finder graphs. Actually, as the LA Times has already caught, the iPhone has already passed the Rebel XTi on a few occasions as the two duke it out for the top spot.

flickr-stats This shouldn't come as a surprise (price differential, convenience and ease of mobile uploading) - but it is noteworthy. As an owner of both the iPhone 3GS and the Canon Rebel - I can say that I too have found myself opting for convenience and mobility over artistic and picture quality.

As we all await Facebook's new iPhone App (which is setting in Apple's approval queue and enables mobile video uploads), we should expect the iPhone to quickly become the #1 source of video on Facebook - which is currently the tenth largest video provider on the web. It will be interesting to see just how much activity the iPhone / video integration produces and whether it is enough to advance Facebook beyond #10 (#9 AOL is 50% larger and #8 Hulu is over 2x).