Monthly Archives: May 2011Blog

Amazon Now Selling More Kindle Books Than All Print Books

This is interesting. Back in the ’90s it was being said that, “all things that can be digital will be digital.” This makes perfect sense in an Internet world since “bits” are said to be “weightless” when compared to “atoms.” There are little marginal costs in their production, they are cheap and easy to ship, they can often be sold without typical intermediaries, and information (text, photos, audio, video and movies) can easily be converted. It would be the “democratization” of information where anyone could be a publisher / movie producer / rock star, with direct access to audiences.

And of course, in a large way we’ve seen this come to pass, with blogs, YouTube and social media leading the way, along with a great deal of consternation, too, eg: Napster leading to lawsuits against music consumers, the decimation of newspaper revenues, and Hollywood’s foot-dragging as it clings to antiquated business models despite Apple’s best efforts to coral them into the iTunes store.

Add to this today’s revelation that, at least for Amazon’s Kindle, digi-books are outselling paper ones. This should not be surprising as we’ve already seen the same shift from physical product to digital in the music industry. But it’s telling that consumers are preferring digital in a growing way across all media. The prophecy is coming to pass.

But also telling is that this conversion is not always consumer driven. Online banking, digital tax filing, medical records and more are also proliferating because businesses understand the cost savings that digital provides. Whether consumer like it or not (think phone menus and computerized customer service — “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that …”) we’ll see more and more of our lives going digital, especially with smartphones making it possible for almost everyone to be connected relatively cheaply. If you are looking to leverage these advantages for your business just be sure to look past the bottom line. Implement digital in ways that benefit — make that delight — your customers, as Amazon has done with the Kindle. But beware of saving money at the expense of the customer experience — the other side of the two-edged digital sword.

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Apps 6 Times More Popular than Web on Phones, Less Popular on Tablets

The debate among mobile developers is on. Are apps the sure-fire way to consumers wallets, or is it mobile websites? On smartphones, apps have proved hugely popular. These tiny programs that usually do one thing really well have clicked with consumers to even Apple’s, the company that first brought apps to us, surprise. Apps have made some developers rich, and for others provide a viable income stream. But the fact is apps are not an efficient way to deliver functionality. Each app must be developed several times — once for each smartphone platform — in order to reach the widest number of users. They must also be maintained and updated across these platforms, and in order for people to get them they have to be found and purchased, or provided free, through an app store.

On the other hand is the mobile web. Functionality that can be developed for delivery through web browsers only requires one vector of delivery and maintenance, and the programs are automatically accessible to all. Browser technology is great for almost all of the functionality that apps now deliver, and there’s no app store policies for developers to deal with. Typically consumers follow the easiest route, right? Well, not according to the following recent data. Maybe it’s the shiny icons, cool names or flashy home screens, but consumers greatly prefer apps on their smartphones (although not quite as much on tablets).

The study, conducted in April 2011, found that on smartphones, apps were used 85% of the time, but the Web browser was used just 15% of the time. On tablets, apps were still popular, but were used just 61% of the time as compared with Web browsing, which was used 39% of the time.

Says Jing Wu, from Zokem’s research team, “it can be speculated that for tablets, the bigger screen and the better overall user experience in browsing contribute to the relatively higher face time for Web browsing. On smartphones, on the other hand, a smaller screen and of course, better availability of apps, contribute to the apps’ dominance.”

It makes sense that the smaller the screen the more likely a consumer would prefer an app. It’s a shame though to have to lose your collection when changing phones, or borrowing one.

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The State of HTML5 Video

Look like the promise of standardizing video delivery with the advent of HTML5 is going to take a little longer to fulfill. As usual, no one cares to agree on how to best serve users.

HTML5 added the <video> tag, theoretically freeing us from using the current de facto standard for video playback, the notoriously crashy Adobe Flash. The reality is sadly, much different. Of all the major browsers, not one of them fully support the tag. Firefox and Chrome can only play HTML5 video if it uses the WebM codec, while IE and Safari will only play back H264-encoded video. When you throw mobile browsers into the mix, things get even more confusing. Most mobile browsers use Webkit, the open source browser platform on which Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome is based. This would be great, but different mobile devices support different profiles and aspects of the highly complex H264 codec, which means potentially more encoding for those devices.

Instead it’s much more important, in the minds of people who should know better, to promote opposing standards and hope to win. Hasn’t anyone learned yet that no one can own the Internet, at least for very long. In any case, be prepared for more workarounds for both users and producers of video.

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Figuring Out Twitter

Twitter is one of today’s biggest and most important, as well as most talked about, social networks. But how do we use it in business? That one escapes many people who expect social media to provide instant access to customers and an immediate flow of orders. The fact is, Twitter is a town square, or water cooler experience. You go there to talk, listen, share and learn. Social media is where connections are made. The business that derives from those connections takes time, and typically goes to the people who’ve learned how to communicate in the medium. That’s why many are having a hard time figuring out how to actually use Twitter in a way that helps them.

The advice for marketers is simple. Make sure you’re ready for a long Twitter tenure (that is, don’t sign up today and complain about not many followers tomorrow). Participate in specific discussions and with target groups by using hashtags and following lists. Reply back to people who you find interesting and compelling. Twitter is made for talking, but everyone likes to hear something back. Pay very close attention to trending topics and engage the moment you see something at all relevant to your brand.

There’s a lot to learn about using Twitter. There’s also a sense that if you’re not using social media in some capacity you may soon be somewhat left behind. Check out the following article for more information, and then think about what you need to do to ramp up your social strategy.

Read full article: Why @garyst3in Is My New Online Home