So $50 billion wiped off the company value and multi quarter underachievement. As an Apple fan boy of many years, I have started to change my views on Apple. The Galaxy and Android combination is becoming evermore attractive. Multiply me by many as well as the younger generation not seeing them as cool and none of this should come as a surprise to Apple.
If Apple did bother to listen to the customer base they would have heard some exceptionally loud and clear sentiment about where people felt Apple was going and what they needed to change. So if they had of come down from the ivory tower and talked to me, they would have heard a few things.
First they would have heard that we were all pissed off with the 4S vs 5 debacle, all the hype and build up that was allowed to swirl before dumping a 4S on the customers. They would have heard loud and clear that the customer base wanted more innovation and not an S. They are also less and less excited every time a new product appears.
If they had spoken to us and done some market research they would have seen that people wanted bigger screens, they wanted bigger screens for sometime but Apple did not listen. The headlines screamed innovate faster, consult with us more, but Apple ploughed on regardless. The new iPads came and went and then we saw the start of the Apple fall. They responded to the ask, but because it was late and a reaction to competition, their halo dropped.
The iPhone 5 was underwhelming above all else. Where Apple have gone wrong is in thinking that a big megapixel number or screen resolution will excite the user, not true, they should be additive. Apple has won on design and reimagining design and in this area they have singularly failed. The iPhone 5 was boring and frankly looked the same as the last two and that was a mistake. They had a chance. The iPad mini is a great product, I bought one, but the shine was taken off it because it was in response to the Nexus and other tablets. I would hold iPad mini as an example of where design was first and foremost and came with less tech spec, but noone really cared.
If they had listened they would have heard the rumblings of discontent about constant need for buying new and different chargers and new and different sims, the rest of the world was standardising and it is what people wanted and yet Apple thought that we would swallow the relentless change over and over. We do of course but the cracks are showing in our patience.
Apple should have read the signs and acted faster. Noone is perfect of course, even Samsung have had to admit that perhaps the S3 screen is too big for most people and have now downsized for those who want it, they listened pretty quickly after seeing the signs.
Overall with Apple my overriding sentiment is boredom. They bore me now, they make good products and I like them, but they have not got me excited for some time and I dont think I am alone, so in my view Apple need to start listening and innvating more if they are to regain their crown.
CES never ceases to astound, not least because the sheer scale is incredible. Over 150,000 people gathered this year to see the onslaught of new gadgets and software, with over 20,000 new products being launched. However this year I was less surprised by the products being launched.
Yes there were bigger TVs, thinner TVs, TVs with the most incredible picture quality, more tablets, more phones, more games and even fridges that talk to you. Loads of great stuff. But not loads of surprises. The focus as far as I could see was in making all of these things talk, connect and share with each other.
It struck me at CES just how much technology enables a seamless, frictionless ecosystem for us and our consumption of content. There were some fascinating examples on the show floor that all point to the consumer being able to do exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it. I can guarantee that our children will be demanding a completely open proposition when it comes to media consumption. They will want and expect it in a non- linear fashion as well.
A prime example of this was DISH, who is trying everything to help us do that. First they allow the recording of every primetime network channel automatically on to your set top box and then they have enabled the transfer of this content to your iPad for later viewing on the go. A brilliant idea which fully utilises the tablet / PC and TV.
Intel and Comcast are working to make sure that the average home can have a number of different devices wired up so individuals can watch and do whatever they like in whatever room of the house they are in. This allows the consumer a seamless movement of viewing / playing around the house.
And with Intel’s Microsoft Windows 8 laptop come tablet devices users can play with based on their mood – laptop for work, tablet for play. There is no one device that has come to the fore here and I am sure the best route will take a while to play out, but it will.
Samsung’s interactive TV’s continue to delight with the ability to talk with friends via Twitter, Skype etc… and indeed there are now competitors challenging the idea that adding these interactive services does not need to push up the price tag so considerably. Hisense is democratising these services and has entered the market with an affordable Smart TV for everyone.
Interestingly, the superstores in the US are also trying to push this out of the preserve of the lucky few. Both Walmart and Bestbuy will now only sell Smart TV’s, trying to drive further adoption of these ever connected devices. Intrinsic to growth in the connected TV area (there are 35 million connected TV devices in the US) is just that, getting them connected.
The Wi-fi revolution has meant that it is now so easy to connect a new device and adoption rates are high in the Smart TV market. All of this means we are very quickly going to arrive at a world where the lines between your TV and mobile devices are seamless.
This is being accelerated by a need to can the wires, a greater desire for social TV and a realisation that the TV can be a great central hub for all content wherever it comes from, and indeed can be the starting point for finding content and sending it outwards. In addition, on demand services and social apps also mean that people will be looking for Smart TV’s as a matter of course. Driving further adoption.
The key issue, however, is that the devices are seamless but the content is not. Broadcasters in particular are trying to manage a market that is shifting rapidly around them. In my home where I don’t have an aerial and the digital aerial does not work I turn to Apple TV. Apple TV is great for streaming to the TV, but who are the people that won’t let you do it – C4, ITV, Sky etc. How limited and short sighted are they? What are the alternatives? I don’t watch their programmes, or I do?
My Samsung TV has no 4oD, the result is I don’t watch this channel as much as I would. Comcast in the US is not letting people stream programming from the likes of HBO Go, it is being artificially restricted. This strangulation by these broadcasters needs to adjust and fast as viewers will not put up with it for much longer.
One huge irritation I have is the fact that Sky won’t let me have unlimited devices to watch SkyGo on – we live in a world where people often have an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod and perhaps even a Nexus 7 – I want to watch SkyGo anywhere I want, at any time – that drives loyalty.
How technology will impact advertising
So, we have a seamless technology ecosystem developing, let’s look on the bright side and suggest that broadcasters do give up their old school methods and let us all do what we want. There will be two implications for the advertising business. The first is that measurement of viewership will become an impossible task without some improvement in the technology tracking it – a big ask. And that leads neatly to the second – addressable TV advertising.
DISH is currently piloting zipcode targeting – basically they download ads to the set top box and then fire them to the appropriate household and hopefully in time, person. How can they do that? Well, if a household is governed by a central console like a Comcast box, then we could be in a position to more easily identify who is watching what content and serve them relevant advertising.
Simulmedia recently released numbers that suggest that as much as 75% of TV ad impressions are reaching just 20% of their target audiences. If this data becomes verified, advertisers will be looking to alternatives and addressability will be paramount.
So, after a few days in Vegas we did not see a great deal of change, more a rapid progression of technology that was present last year – more tablets, more Smart TV’s, interchangeable laptops and tablets, sharing technology, social technology. As a result our industry also needs to rapidly progress. The consequences for the media will be far reaching and affect all of us.
Marco Bertozzi is executive managing director of Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi
Everyone told me that Las Vegas was a crazy city and CES even more so but they did not do it justice. The scale of the city and the event beggars belief. There is a real buzz around the event with every major tech company represented (except Apple of course) and on a scale I have never seen before.
Executives from business, government, entertainment, automotive, consumer electronics and every major industry converged on the 2012 International CES to experience new ways of doing business at the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.
The 2012 International CES was the largest in the event’s 44 year history, with a record number of more than 3,100 exhibitors across the largest show floor in CES history – 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space – and drawing a record of more than 153,000 attendees, including more than 34,000 international attendees. More than 20,000 new products were launched at the 2012 CES, and as we know it has become the second largest event for Agency Groups with Levy, Sorrell, OMG Board and 500+ people turn out from VivaKi amongst others. My boss Curt Hecht comments on this in an article in Adage – read it here.
Although there was an enormous amount covered at the show I wanted today to focus on the converged TV topic and the challenges we all face in this space. Let me start by giving you some of the highlights of the TV space for me and then look at the implications.
The TV is no longer lean back but lean in, it is being designed to draw you in and pull you from your stupor. The TV is being assaulted by set top boxes, App stores, satellite companies, it’s now no longer able to sit quietly in the corner of the room, it has to be your communicator through Skype, your music system, social media entry point, picture frame, cinema etc, it is also on a diet and becoming more colourful! (more on that later). Before looking at specifics, I have to say that above all the point I was left with was that the role of the main broadcasters and channels seems antiquated and slow at this stage and being left behind a very fast moving wave of tech.
The TV manufacturers are all looking for an angle on how to interact with their devices. Microsoft want you to wave at their TVs via Kinect, LG want you to speak to their machines and have created a unique remote control that acts more like a cursor, this worked for me more than waving hands etc. The video below shows the users scrolling around the TV screen between all the apps using the very simple cursor method.
The Rise of Apps: The first thing that strikes you about the LG is that this is now all about the Apps and not about the linear TV stream. These apps remember will hold TV catchup, movie download services, Facebook, Linkedin, games etc, it will be a while before you start turning to your fav TV show at the allotted time, it is this the vast array of other ways of interacting that leaves you with the feeling that the main broadcasters have a big job on their hand. Check out this LG and it’s Apps.
In this screen you have not only the Apps but also the advertising slots available on the left under the screen, in this case Toyota, if you click on these Ads you can be taken through to full video or sites or Facebook pages, the opportunities are impressive and again this raises questions of measureability
All the manufacturers have led with the App approach, take a look at the Samsung picture below, an awesome TV with incredible layout and design, again all driven by voice commands. The Samsung TVs really stood out as being very impressive both in terms of design and functionality. You will notice the social apps in the TVs, previously they have been a little clunky but now they are seamlessly integrated so you can be talking with people, tweeting or on Facebook alongside the TV programming, the second picture below shows an example of that in action. Social TV is going to be huge and will again swing the stats away from dual behaviours / screens whilst watching TV.
Facial recognition and personalisation
Right now if we want to personalise through TV it is down to the very early attempts and basic targeting alla Virgin or Sky, if we want to measure TV viewing in the family we have to press buttons or in some cases in the US people are still filling in diaries that a multi billion pound industry relies on. What about a future when the TV recognises you as you sit down, or whether you are with people, whether you are doing something else as well – are you distracted, advertiser pays less!? All this and more is coming in the new TVs. Facial recognition will be huge, imagine logging in and the TV suggesting the Sopranos episode you missed or show what your friends have been watching or even some Ads based on those you have previously watched all the way through? Facial recognition is going to transform your viewing experience and again will present you with a myriad of entertainment opps before you even get to the first channel you would normally watch!
The battle of the software
So LG and Samsung have built their own platforms for all of this to run on, so has Microsoft and Google of course, Sony was the more open minded of the manufacturers we looked at who were turning to Android to provide their operating system. Apple will have their infrastructure and others will too. So where does that leave us? Well it leaves us with the same argument we have always had – Open vs Closed. In the world of TV that debate favours closed with LG, Samsung, Microsoft, Google and Apple all running their own platforms, this is crazy in reality and a brain fade for advertisers and users. Interestingly this does not stop at the TV. Sony, Samsung and Apple in particular are all trying to wrap up your living room and online experience, trying to get you to link tablets with TV with mobile, thats the big win. What is open is the App and online companies, with all of them working to be available everywhere – email, movies, social etc are common to all, so those companies are having the time of their lives with all this innovation.
Sony went a step further by connecting their PSP to their TVs, tablets and phones, meaning as a user you can get anything everywhere. A gamer who was on the PS at home and had to run could get to the bus and then turn on their PSP and it would remotely fire up their home system and stream all the gaming to their handheld meaning they carried on exactly where they were, its a cool piece of work from Sony and needed. I felt their TV and tablet experience was behind the competition.
We have a problem. In one TV set or should we just say large screen we have social media, photography, communication with tools such as Skype and Facetime, we have movies through all the Apps, TV shows through the Apps, the weather, an ecommerce hub and so on and yet somewhere in there people are watching TV in a linear fashion..or are they? Then on top of that we have all this on top of different platforms and players and across thousands of TVs. How as an advertiser can you a) be expected to navigate this and b) measure it in current methods. Lets face it the panels as we know they are over, they are basic and cannot fully give the advertiser a faith that they are paying for the right information. There will be ways of consolidating advertising by companies such as YuMe but on top of that everyone will be selling advertising in their Apps or via video resellers and exchanges and we have to add all this up? We need ASAP a universal tracking initiative such as online adserving etc to at least pick up a big chunk of those metrics, but outside of that the role of the TV panel either needs to reinvent itself and fast or die.
Oh my the TVs look amazing, they are getting slimmer and slimmer and brighter and brighter, see some of the images below, they dont do the reality justice but you get the idea. The colourful images are from the 4K. The 4K from Samsung basically means 4 x HD, the pictures were so real you could barely tell and check out the TV as slim as a card! The innovation is incredible and mind boggling, but I am so glad I got to see it first hand, the world of TV is an exciting one!
It’s not the Samsung. When the iPad was being launched and everyone was discussing whether or not there was a place in the world for such a device (I think we have the answer to that!) the most common phrase in reviews was..’if I have an iPhone and a Mac, why do I need one?’ At the time people were not sure of the answer, in the Apple way, the iPad created the need rather than answering one.
Since then the competition has fired its responses and some of them I think have missed the point. Lets take the Samsung example:
The fact is the Samsung is just too small, it’s as close to a phone as an iPad and that is the issue for me, that is where I am left asking – where does this fit? I have seen them in the flesh, they are oversized phones, the screens neither big enough to enjoy gaming, reading, web pages or apps but too big to be convenient like a phone.
The iPad has succeeded because it is big enough to have an experience, it did not set out to be a phone with a slightly larger screen, its build quality and slickness all add to this experience, something else that the competition seem incapable of replicating. I suspect the Blackberry offering will be nice, they are quickly realising that quality of finish both technically and physically is important and I have no doubt it will be a market winning execution, next to the iPad. Here is an example of some people’s interpretation of it