As we’re all well aware, Apple introduced the “new” iPad yesterday. And, while I’m still not quite sold on the tablet form factor, I did place a pre-order. Primarily due the iPad 3’s integrated voice dictation capabilities and much heralded “retina” display — likely featuring more pixels than anything else in our homes. Although, I do wonder how long it’ll take app developers to maximize its potential.
During the marketing spiel Apple made several fascinating and dramatic proclamations. I’m not prepared to classify any as dubious, but it looks as if some could be comparing apples & oranges. For example, I was initially stunned when they said, “This new device has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3.” Yet, after thinking about it, the factoid isn’t so surprising… and what exactly does it mean?
Free VOD is where it’s at. According to Comcast, 70% of the nearly half a billion video streams that subscribers watch on demand comes from the free section of its VOD library. And, leaving subscription fees aside, Comcast thinks that content should be bringing in cash. So get ready for more ads with Comcast VOD, and, quite likely, with every other cable operator.
At a Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News event yesterday, several cable and programmer folks got together to talk about “advanced” advertising. The term covers everything from interactive ads, to dynamic ad insertion, to cross-platform campaigns, but there was significant focus yesterday on VOD commercials. That’s because a cableco consortium known as Canoe recently ditched efforts to create a national platform for selling interactive ads, and instead decided to spend all of its resources on video on demand. (Canoe laid off 80% of its staff in the process too. Ouch.) With all of the flexibility on the web, the cable industry has been fighting to catch up in the advertising revenue game. Operators have all this premium, time-shiftable content, and yet with little ability rotate new ads in an out of on-demand programming, they’ve felt hamstrung. In 2012, they’re finally ready to do whatever it takes to change that. Continue Reading…
Last night, while watching live TV (*gasp*), I inadvertently caught the commercial above. And what was I thinking? As “the new Ultrabook [was] inspired by Intel”… not Apple’s Macbook Air. It’s a cute ad and Windows users also deserve both better style and substance in their computing hardware. Further, Microsoft’s hardware partners would prefer higher margins than their dying netbook initiatives provided. But let’s keep it real. This sleek design originated at Apple. Ultimately, what’s most interesting about the advert is the collaboration between Best Buy, Microsoft, and Intel (who owns the “Ultrabook” trademark and powers these devices) attempting to communicate as a single entity.
While watching TV last night, I caught what may be Amazon’s second Kindle Fire commercial. As I’m fairly well acquainted with the 7″ Playbook tablet, what struck me was the amount of reflection and glare from the LCD. Which is perhaps somewhat ironic given Amazon’s earlier e-Ink Kindle spot that took a shot at the iPad by pointing out its “Easy to read even in bright sunlight.” Of course, glare is not unique to Amazon LCDs… although there seems to be much less shown in Apple’s promotional videos (versus Real Life™) and Barnes & Noble attempts to reduce its impact on the Nook Color/Tablet utilizing some sort of coating for “minimal reflection & glare.” Ah well, if Verizon can retreat from their Land of Misfit toys commercial after releasing the iPhone, we’ll cut Amazon some slack for eradicating this prior YouTube entry.
Google has rather quietly launched a catalog app for the iPad. After it’s last ill-fated attempt to digitize catalogs bit the dust two and a half years ago, the new tablet app (coming to Android devices soon) seems to be the right move at the right time. Even if you don’t enjoy shopping – or feel, like Engadget, that catalogs are best suited for starting fires in the fireplace (fair enough) – the new app has relevance. This is what retail and magazines should be like on a tablet. Digital periodicals have had a rough road so far, but there’s still a lot of potential in the medium, and if you add in an easier way to make money, the business should get a boost. The click-to-buy function gets at that powerful instant gratification impulse, and by couching it in an experience that’s fun, interactive, and playful, catalogs and publications should have an easier time drawing consumers in.
From a purely personal and frivolous standpoint, I love the new Google app. You can page through a range of catalogs with a swipe of the finger, zoom in on images, click to purchase, save favorites to a single location from different stores, share stuff with friends, and even create your own collages pairing together items from all over the place. It’s way cooler than the analog alternative, and much easier than opening up multiple windows on your PC to compare products. There are still a limited number of catalogs available in the app, but that will surely change. I expect we’ll see a big jump before the holiday shopping season. In the meantime, I’m happy with what I can get. It’s about time the tablet shopping experience got a makeover.
In the category of “not dead yet,” Engadget has caught word from the Yahoo Advertising blog that the Yahoo Connected TV platform still has life left in it. According to a post from last week, the Yahoo platform will be embedded in TVs from Sony and Toshiba by the end of this year, along with a D-Link media player. More hardware from Samsung, LG, Vizio, and others will hit in 2012, and the former search giant also says it will “soon” roll out its own app store for the TV, a plan that was delayed back in March. Apps will range from 99 cents to $99 (?!).
As I said at CES, I’m fascinated by Yahoo’s “broadcast interactivity” technology that it’s planning to use in its Connected TV platform to enable interactive advertising. I’m not entirely convinced Yahoo can be successful with it, but clearly the company has hit on a valuable concept: the idea of “listening” in on a TV program and providing relevant commercial information. Shazam is working on the same thing, although it has raised money for a platform that centers on the mobile phone, which you can use to “Shazam” content on your TV for more info. The whole idea is far more interesting to me than just another app store for the connected TV. It’s something the cable industry has been trying to get off the ground for more than a decade, with little success. Perhaps Yahoo and others can succeed with platforms that are over the top, and over the air.
Amazon has launched a new Kindle initiative and product, whereby they run full screen screensaver ads and homescreen footer banner ads on e-reader hardware in exchange for a $25 discount. The WiFi-only “Kindle with Special Offers” runs $114, versus the original $139 ad-free Kindle 3. As Harry McCracken points out, the one time savings runs only about 18%; he wonders if this product might more appeal to those interested in the deals themselves rather than the small discount.
Like Harry, I suspect this is a bit of an experiment on Amazon’s part. And why we’re not seeing this Kindle rev launch at the $99, or lower, price point. Can Amazon generate a large enough stable of advertising partners to keep this going, will a sizable percentage of readers take action on the ads, assuming an even more sizable quantity of Kindle purchases. Continue Reading…
I’ve been an online group buy participant as long as the World Wide Web has been a viable tool of commerce. Heck, I picked up one of the very first DVD players at a steep discount on uBid back in 1998 and did time on Paul Allen’s Mercata before they folded in early 2001. As far as I can tell, solely focused group buying branded sites never really went mainstream. Woot’s probably come closest with a large draw amongst of geeky and their $110 million exit (thank you, Amazon). Mercata once proclaimed “The more people who buy, the lower the price.” And even if most sites featuring that particular hook haven’t found long term success, the trend is in full effect as large retailers such Best Buy and Amazon demonstrate on a fairly regular basis.
As ZNF readers know, local, but still online, group buying has taken off in the last year via Groupon and LivingSocial. Yet, for me, it’s been a mixed bag. Instead of actually buying physical merchandise, these sites essentially sell coupons or vouchers to local businesses. In my experience, most haven’t been conveniently located or particularly compelling. But we’re always on the lookout for a deal, and have purchased three dining-related Groupons in recent months.
First off, the lack of instant gratification has been an issue… because, beyond cyberspace, I’m not the most organized. Specifically, I purchased a $50 food and beverage voucher for $25 (to Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro) and forgot to put it to use before it expired. The other two Groupons were to Chicken Out, a local chain similar to Boston Market. The first dealio was redeemed with no problem, just beating the expiration date. But the second experience was kinda bizarre. Much like Groupon’s Super Bowl commercials (above). Continue Reading…