Tag Archives: Apple

It’s All Local: Why Apple Has to Get Maps Right

As the New York Times noted this morning, Apple’s initial iOS6 foray into mobile maps has been greeted with a thumbs down by iPhone 5 reviewers, who prefer the polished Google Maps experience that was the prior default.

But maps –and by extension, local — are strategically important to Apple’s future. You can bet Apple will push hard to get them right. This is no Ping-like exercise, where Apple launches something and then discontinues it.

Apple first signaled its interests in maps in October 2009 with its purchase of PlaceBase – an API company that let developers map locations and services with pushpins.

Where can Apple go with maps – and for that matter, Google, Amazon, Microsoft/Nokia, Yahoo and AOL? Our take on maps is that they’re part of a tandem with data, and the integration of maps, geo fencing techniques, proximity search, and data such as public transit info and listings creates rich opportunities for targeted advertising (“Mapvertising”) and services.

Maps, of course, have come along way from simple store locators, which were the first online application. Just as store locators today are widely integrated with listing data, coupons and other information, you can expect to see the same trajectory in other segments. Deal mapping, for instance, has already had an impact with such companies as The DealMap (now owned by Google), 8Coupons and Bargain Babe LA making it easy to see where the deals are.

Other map concepts have been out there as well, including public transit maps (HopStop), garage maps, jogging maps (Trails.com) and wedding maps (weddingmapper.com.) With the rise of mobile, the key is that they not only provide citywide vertical info for a number of localities (i.e. Zillow maps), but also provide national seamlessness.

It has been noted that maps are the top part of the data pyramid and that if you can map it, everything else is easy. That’s probably true. It’s also true that some of the map centric activity has been premature or out of context. Some of the map-centric directories, ad networks and map-centric SEO efforts have been a little ahead of their time, and also, not always easy enough to use.

MapQuest’s efforts to monetize as a directory showed promise but wasn’t an instant hit. More recently, ABC News got rid of its interesting-but-unessential iPad app, which featured a spinning globe of news stories.

Despite some false starts, Apple has figured out that it has to be in the middle of maps to compete in the next generation of mobile services. We’re excited about Apple’s validation of the power of mapping in local online media and commerce, and expecting to see great progress in short order.

Citysearch iPad ‘Magazine’ Debuts Fling Away Coupons


Citysearch has debuted “cityseries,” a new digital “best of” magazine for the iPad that allows users in key cities to quickly find “best” bars, shopping, spas, breakfast and other top categories.

The attractive online magazine, which will be promoted on other iPad sites, relies on Citysearch’s editorial staff and combines reviews with business profile information. Initial monthly editions have been launched in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Washington D.C. and Seattle.

What’s especially unique is that Citysearch combs its coupons database and presents “popover” coupons that appear when the iPad is held horizontally, below the text. Users can either save the coupons to their photo albums or fling away the coupons with their fingers — iPad/iPhone/iTouch style — before continuing. Currently, there are five on a page. There are no additional charges to advertisers for inclusion.

It isn’t really clear what users will do if they save the coupons. Show it to the merchant? Confirm discounts via word of mouth? Email it to themselves and print it out? But they do represent a unique touch screen advertising option we hadn’t seen before.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect Citysearch’s fix of the coupons.

iPad’s Impact on Newspapers: Too Little, Too Late?


Wired on the iPad, via All Things D

Next month, Apple’s iPad comes out (and I will buy one). But what will be the impact of iPads and tablets from other companies on traditional media? Many are considering it to be the new magazine form factor. In theory, the iPad would make online ads compelling, and better enable digital subscriptions and a la carte buys. Wired Magazine, for one, has been showing off a good- looking prototype. I highly recommend this video from the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D site.

Newspapers will look great, too. Look at The New York Times iPad demo. My guess, however, is that the iPad’s impact on newspapers’ bottom line will be marginal for several years – and then, it may be too late. While the iPad should have excellent introductory sales, most sales will likely be low end units without communications, so their usage will be mostly home and coffee shop based. Low end units, limited to WiFi Internet, are $499. Wireless Communications adds $130, plus $30 a month. Wifi-only won’t provide a big lift to newspapers, because it doesn’t get the product onto commuter trains.

Newspaper companies, of course, are better positioned to participate in the mobile revolution than a year ago by virtue of their vertical properties, such as Classified Ventures’ Cars.com and Apartments.com. Both are “on the go” media sites that allow users to get information on a 24/7 basis, but more importantly, while they are out and about shopping for their category.

Other newspaper niche sites, like The Envelope from The Los Angeles Times , bring newspapers into an entirely new domain with the addition of online App games based on news and entertainment. These might ultimately play a role in the transformation of newspapers.

For now, I’m not counting on significant advertising or circulation revenue to develop for newspapers directly because of their investments in tablet devices, or mobile generally.

Outsell: Digital News More Cannibalistic Than Complementary


Digital media is more cannibalistic than complementary, and seriously eating into the demand for traditional news sources such as newspapers, TV and news magazines, according to the third annual survey of news users done by Outsell, Inc.

The survey findings, based on almost 3,000 consumers and fully detailed in Outsell’s “News Users 2009” report, written by former Knight Ridder executive Ken Doctor. It essentially pours water on hopes that online traffic from Google and other news aggregators represent new growth opportunities for traditional publishers that ultimately outweigh any cannibalism. In fact, 44 percent said that news headlines on aggregator products such as GoogleNews suffice in themselves.

Indeed, such aggregator products are increasingly competing with traditional news products as primary “morning” news sources. They’re tied with newspapers, and catching up with TV, which leads with a 30 percent share, a drop off from 36 percent three years ago.

Long-term trends may be worse than the broad numbers suggest, as a segmentation analysis by Outsell found that “Power Users,” which represent slightly less than half of the market, are increasingly relying more on digital products. These users have “omnivorous” appetites for news, simultaneously serving as core newspaper subscribers while relying more heavily on news aggregator products.

Outsell, however, found they are spending less time with print publications. Moreover, they are increasingly inclined to drop their newspaper subscriptions.

“It’s worth watching the trends set by power news users – they tend to foreshadow where all news usage is moving,” notes Outsell. “The daily newspaper and news magazine habit is quickly ebbing.”

The survey also suggests that paid content may not be a panacea – something that The New York Times is betting on, as it implements plans to move to paid online models in early 2011. Analysts (like me) would argue that The Times exists in a class of its own as a news source and may prove the exception. Another industry hope –shared by Apple, Amazon, HP and others — is that large computer tablets might entice people to pay for a la carte or subscription content.

Without thinking about the exceptionalism of The Times, or the future of tablets, 75 percent of news users told Outsell that they would get their local news from a different source if a paywall was put up. Only a small minority said they would be willing to pay for some type of paid content (i.e. online access included with print subscription, online only access, or some other type of “press pass.”).

When the time comes, however, many users will surely reconsider. Just look at the evolution of pay per call, and more recently, paid iPhone apps. None of this, however, undermines the challenges that traditional media face with/and against Google and other digital sources.

IPhone 2.0 Video Apps from AP and TypePad


Among the developers of iPhone applications is The Associated Press. Featured during the relaunch of iPhone 2.0 today, AP’s Benjamin Moss, Director of Mobile Products, said AP developed an iPhone app for its Mobile News Network in “just a few weeks.” Consumers can use the iPhone to send in news and photos.

More importantly, AP’s 5,000 press members can contribute and use news, sports and entertainment. The iPhone’s high resolution screen is ideal for photopgraphy and video noted Moss. “We love working through the iPhone,“ he said.

TypePad, the blogger service, also showed off a nifty application for uploading picture blogs. Representatives from the company suggested that its members can use the iPhone to snap photos, upload them to blogs, and provide a simple caption (i.e. “Wow!”)

The iPhone’s relaunch is especially noted for its higher speeds via 3G, better battery life, cheaper price ($199) thinner form factor and built-in GPS. Apple head Steve Jobs said that with GPS, “Location-based services are a really big deal on the iPhone.” 3 G services, however, will be $30 a month, instead of $20 a month.