Friday, 26 November 2010

Conference Notes - Launch48 Mobile - London, 26/11/2010

This post is out of the usual context on this blog. For people who have attended (or missed) the Launch48 mobile conference in London on 26/11/2010, you can review my notes from the talks below. The notes are by no means complete and there is no guarantee of validity. However, any comment is welcome - especially about things I missed or "misnoted".

Content in the Mobile World (Darren Goldsby)
  • But the digital world brought the customers much closer to the newspaper (as they can analyse how people interact with the content)
  • Culture of free content on the web was disruptive for news paper industry - move to mobile sphere (where paying for content is still more usual) was/is one of the only opportunities left
  • Ads don’t sell in mobile content (or significantly decrease the user experience), hence the apps have to make the money
  • Had to completely rethink “What is a newspaper on an iPad” - without even having an iPad at the beginning (the fun of being part of a big product launch).
  • Although the Times app gets charged $9.99 and Sun $4.99, the apps hit the top of the download charts - selling content on mobiles works. Thought: Potentially because the average early iPad adopter is wealthy and wants to leverage the potential of the pad.
  • Adding crosswords to the app increased app downloads massively
  • True innovation was the new Layout out content and making the user experience better (than e.g. on the web) with the convenience of a tablet.
  • But: Business model still relies on “Times readers want to read the Times”. Thought: No aggregation / syndication of content planned?
  • Once an app hits the Top 10, it gets downloaded constantly, because “people want what’s hot”.
  • Lessons Learned by Darren when developing the apps for News Corporation:
    1. Define your vision early
    2. Recognise the difficulties in a new market
    3. Work differently
    4. Choose your battles
    5. Gather support
    6. Look at competitive landscape
    7. Be careful how you sell your products
    8. Seek forgiveness, not permission (Thought: like facebook)

    Mobile Apps vs Web on Mobile (David Erasmus)
    (apologies for the few notes - very quick talk, hard to catch up with taking notes)

    • Apple does allows in-app selling of digital content, but does not allow in-app donations
    • Switching from apps to browser (e.g. to make donations) disturbs the user experience
    • Sees the way forward in building wep services to build native apps on top (instead of just having mobile websites - which load slow if your signal is low - and isolated apps)

    Supermarkets – Why focusing on just one outlet means you’re missing out (John Chasey)

    • Focus on Apple equals loosing money: Just 3% of all mobile devices
      • Now Android is catching up rapidly (and Windows Phone 7 is coming up as well)
    • But: Apple defined the market, all app stores copied Apple including the terms (e.g. 70/30 revenue share)
    • Platform independency became important on desktops once there were platforms with a somewhat equal user experience. Same development is happening on mobiles now, but platform independency is becoming important much quicker.
    • Technical strategy for a product should base on platform independency (make use of independent technologies)
    From 0 to 1.5 million downloads (Hermes Pique)

    • Publishing apps for android in early 2009: On launch day, you got 1000+ downloads no matter what. Today: 100 downloads if you're lucky (because there are too many apps released now)
    • Product quality crucial now - and the team behind the product is crucial for the product to be great
    • For the right applications, there are still hughe opportunities in less saturated markets (Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, ...), although install base might be slightly smaller
    • To find apps, always include direct app market links / QR codes everywhere you talk about it
    • Don't get stuck in web-app-style thinking (e.g. first screen = login/password/signup) - let your users just use the app and give them tools to share the app & what they think about it
    • Make your way into rankings (by popularity, price, ratings, ...), because searching markets is not perfect yet
    • You might have to spend money on Adwords or other ppc campaigns - but stop right when you are in the rankings (might increase app downloads by 2000%). Thought: Consistent with first talk by Darren Goldsby.
    Mobile payment experience (John Lunn)
    • Percentage of free apps on Apple and Blackberry: 25% - Android: 57%
       (because they take an open approach)
    • BlackBerry is giving people money to develop apps
    • By 2012, most money from m-Commerce is by selling physical goods (about 50%)
    • Worst apps: Maceys (when not having an account, you have to create it using a computer), Trainline (not have an account? Call this number) and other which just disturb the user flow.
    • Paypal app: Took step away from 1 click buys, because people tried the button without the confident intention to actually buy - now added "Are you sure" dialog. But no login required (if purchased once, phone is authorised to make further purchases
    • Advocates Titanium, because apps are native and look native

    New opportunities Windows Phone 7 offers (Will Coleman)
    • If users use apps, they still want to be sure their data is secure - apps which ask for too many permissions or might send data to somewhere unknown are perceived as suspicious. Thought: Heard before an official bible app got criticised for collecting/sending all sorts of data (e.g. location, user data, ...) - can anyone confirm? References?
    • Microsoft advocates customer interaction from a push perspective with their tiles screen (e.g. If the weather gets bad, then a tile updates and notifies the users, or if a train get's delayed) so users do not have to start the apps all the time but also don't have unimportant stuff taking up the screen (and disturbing the user experience).
    • Microsoft allows software trials (without publishing 2 separate apps), trials based on time or other factors
    • In-app purchases possible without restrictions - and without revenue shares
    • Aims to publish apps within 7 days - and if the apps do not get published, you get a full report what policies your app did not make, so you can fix and resubmit the apps as quickly as possible.
    • Advocate cross-platform experience (e.g. take content from xbox/pc to phone and back through web services)

    Taking advantage of big corporations: some tips from startup spawning to exit strategy (Ricardo Varela)
    •  To get resources from big corporations, get in touch with their "developer marketing team" (who make sure developers use a given technology) or "partners team" (for tighter integration with existing systems for mutual benefit)
    • Build a great product that works well with theirs - and get free
    • Start consulting for the companies technology - and get hired from them to do talks on it
    The reality beyond the hype – building VouChaCha (Ben Brown) 
    • Also seeked big partners at first, to build up credibility and get a number of small businesses (because they pitched to 500 small businesses and just had 15 signups). Interesting link to Strategic Networking: Getting a big partner through your network can build trust with companies which don't know you but the brand you signed up)

    The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission (Andrew Scott)
    1. Don't choose a crap name (find out what your name idea stands for in different countries, cultures or languages)
    2. Build amazingly on one platform first (building on too many platforms makes your forget about the user experience) and then target other platforms (when you know how people want to use your product and what works)
    3. Location, location, location (go to silicon valley, meet as many people as possible and bring back all the contacts and learnings home) Thought: Just heard of a story as well where people went to the valley just to find funding, because of the better evaluations - flights, visa and accommodation turned out to get paid off by the better investment terms
    4. Hire slow, fire quick 
    5. ?
    6. ?
    7. Beware the bubble (Just 25% of the internet users use facebook, twitter even less - find out what people really really want)
    8. Stop guessing & measure (you need to know when you run out of money / when you hit your project targets / when you make your first million)
    9. Time flies (it always takes twice as long to build what you need than you think - funding 3 times as long. Never get near to running out of money - investors will take their time to get a better deal)
    10. Practise, no really
    11.  Help others, it's circular (helping others also helps you to think about your own situation - and you might get good tips / feedback on your ideas)
    12. Time out (to avoid burn-out and get inspired)

    Flash Platform for Mobile and Devices (Mark Doherty)
    • Now that HTML5 is coming to browsers (and is a potential thread for flash), flash is moving towards providing a consistent experience on mobiles 
    • Future flash solutions for macs/pcs will enable playing fullHD videos and high res video games with 0% cpu usage

    Mobile apps – less is more (Andy Munarriz)
    • 14% of total mobile operator revenue is generated from call termination - therefore voicemail is important to revenue generation
    • Within 3 years 70% of mobile phone market will be smartphones
    • Dont shy away from not being perfect or even having problems - engage with your users
    • User experience is key - "less is more"
    • Mobile data is not broadbend - test your data transfers under real (and especially slow) conditions, not with wifi !
    • In your design, think about people using one thumb to use the phone ! Testing the interface in emulators in your development environment doesn't help much
    • Don't get infected by "featuritis" - do 3 features really well instead of 150 features being just about acceptable
    • Think of left / right handed users and put important thigs (e.g. the play button for a video app) in the middle - and big
    • Strive to make your app intuitive / obvious - and cut non-essentials
    • Use designers that are not developers
    • "Eat your own dog foot - and give it to everyone you know". You are not "normal", so watch other people using your product. It's good enough if your wife/granny can use it straight away. Thought: If you don't plan to make money from training corporates to make their employees use their app, make it dead simple.
    • Recommendation: 1 app, 1 platform - because "One size does not fit all". All platforms have their own screen sizes, culture (e.g. menu button vs touch screen) etc. - and you have to keep the platforms in sync as well
    • "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler" - Albert Einstein

    Will mobile make me rich? (Raja Saggi)
    • Follow the money: App store: 7bn downloads of 300k apps = 1.4bn in sales
    • Top 10 grossing apps: 70% are games
    • Digital Local Advertising is rising - even local microbusinesses will shift their money to this space soon (as it's more effective)
    • Microbusinesses highly dependent on location, and still the right target group (i.e. no point giving vouchers out for chinese food to people who don't like chinese food) - mobile advertising can solve this.
    • How to get rich:
      • Focus on a USP
      • Add a great UX
      • CPA or commerse oriented business model
      • Target space which is new but not a complete gamble
      • Partner where possible to fill in product and distribution gaps

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