What people do on their smartphone is different than what they would do on a tablet. Not surprisingly, people use their phones more for texting and taking pictures, whereas tablets are used more for search and email. Below you will see the top 10 uses for each device. Notice that there is some overlap, but each has it’s own niche items as well.
There’s another startup worth a billion dollars.
Specifically, Jordan praised Zulily for finding a niche where it could successfully compete with Amazon.com, by carrying goods from lesser-known designers who lacked broad distribution.
Zulily also broadened from carrying children’s apparel typically bought by moms to offering women’s apparel and housewares of interest to that customer base. It has attracted 10 million shoppers to date.
A year ago, Zulily raised $43 million in a deal that valued the company at $750 million. The company didn’t disclose its valuation in this round, but Fortune’s Dan Primack says his sources tell him the company’s now valued at $1 billion.
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The bank’s AlphaWise survey of over 1,100 tablet owners also found that over 40% of respondents said they never had Netflix. That translates to over 27 million U.S. tablet owners who have never subscribed and could be targeted for further growth. Also, 19% of the tablet owners said they had cancelled their Netflix, and 3% said they switched to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service.
Two years after the iPad’s launch, sizable opportunities still abound in the tablet market, even in a fairly exploited niche like video. Morgan Stanley’s survey also reveals how new entrants like Prime Instant Video, introduced in early 2011, can quickly begin to nip at the heels of market leaders. Subscription video exploiting more narrow subjects (performing arts or sports, for example) will likely also find room to grow.
Total U.S. ad spending increased just 0.9 percent in Q2 2012, to $34.4 billion, according to Kantar Media, but that marginal increase masked the disproportionate damage suffered by the magazine sector.
Magazine ad sales declined -2.7% percent in the quarter, with across-the-board declines at consumer, business and Sunday magazines. The only magazine sectors to post growth were niche publications like local and Spanish language magazines, according to Kantar.
The report doesn’t say why the declines occurred. The ad economy has been growing in fits and starts for about three years now, and magazines ought to be benefiting from that. But the Kantar numbers offer a clue that mobile phones may be killing the magazine business.
Web display advertising also declined in the quarter, by -5.4%. Kantar only measures display, and not search or other forms of digital adspend. The one thing we know about digital adspend is that money right now is pouring into mobile ad delivery, and lowering prices as it does so. The effect of that is to reduce the total amount of dollars spent on internet display ads — which is probably why you’re seeing web sales declines in Kantar’s numbers.
Now put that together with the way people use their phones and tablets. The iPad and the Samsung Galaxy S III are used by consumers in an almost identical way to how they use magazines: Portable delivery of entertainment and news.
The Kantar numbers also show a continued decline in the newspaper business, where ad revenue sank another -3.1%. The web, famously, killed the newspaper business.
It looks like mobile will do the same for magazines.
It’s the perfect example that doing what you love — and knowing what the market lacks — will eventually pay off.
Alex King-Harris, Craig Kohland and Amani Friend met through the yoga community, but what’s unique about the trio is that they were all musicians making music for those who were terminally-ill or facing chronic illness. King-Harris had been involved in a bad car accident years ago which introduced him to yoga.
As yoga increased in popularity, the co-founders realized there wasn’t a platform for instructors to get recommended healing music or share their playlists with one another or with their students. All three guys immensely believe that the right music is essential for various sequences in a yoga routine.
After initially raising $150,000, YogiTunes, which works a lot like iTunes, but is catered specifically to the yoga community, launched in July 2011. The site currently has around 6,000 artists to choose from and the downloaded music can be played through any medium — unlike iTunes, which requires Apple products.
But people are used to getting their music through iTunes and other popular sources:
“You’re up against people who have really strong habits of consuming through iTunes, or consuming through Pandora,” King-Harris told us. “It takes a little while to shift people’s habitual ways of consuming.”
Eventually, the company wants to grow beyond music and become a community for health and wellness enthusiasts.
“We definitely want to draw people in with the music and then extend to other products, other services, other things that we feel are valuable for people’s lifestyles. It’s kind of taking the Amazon model. They were really good at selling books and now they do everything.”
“We can also scale quite quickly beyond yoga to the health and wellness market. A lot of massage therapists, fitness teachers, tai chi people use our music. I think the yoga market is particularly interesting because, in general, the median income is high so we know we have an broad enough audience.”
For inspiration, the company looks at Beatport, a private company that offers music for the DJ community.
“It’s a similar way that we see ourselves servicing the yoga community. They’re a very successful enterprise, very well-known and well established in what they do. They really know their niche. And that’s what we want to do.”
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Now that we’ve seen the iPad in the light of day, there’s a lot of chatter about what it can’t do. But Apple is now a massive threat to netbooks and ebook readers. Here’s why:
Generally speaking, the iPad’s goal is not to replace your netbook, assuming you own and love one. It’s not about replacing your Kindle either, assuming you cashed in for that as well. We have reviewed plenty of both, and know there’s plenty to like. If you derive pleasure out of using either, then Apple might have a hard time convincing you to switch to the iPad. But for the millions of people who aren’t on either bandwagon, yet have the money and interest in a “third” device between the phone and the computer, the iPad will have greater appeal.
250 Million iPods Earlier…
When the first iPod came out, its goal was not to grab the customers who Creative and Archos were fighting over, with their dueling 6GB “jukeboxes.” It was to grab everyone else. I remember listening to arguments about why Archos had a better device than Creative or even Apple. Lot of good that early-adopter love got them in the long run. The pocket media player market exploded, with Apple eating over half the pie consistently for almost a decade.
When the iPhone came out, BlackBerry users were like, “No flippin’ way.” And guess what, those people still buy BlackBerries. (And why shouldn’t they? Today’s BlackBerry is still great, and hardly distinguishable from the BB of 2007.) The point is, the iPhone wasn’t designed to win the hearts and minds of people who already knew their way around a smartphone. It came to convince people walking around with Samsung and LG flip phones that there was more to life. And it worked.
iPhones now account for more than half of AT&T’s phone sales. You can bet that WinMo, Palm and BB combined weren’t doing that kind of share pre-iPhone. Globally, the smartphone business grew from a niche thing for people in suits to being a 180-million unit per year business, says Gartner, eclipsing the entire notebook business—about 20% of which, I might add, are netbooks. The iPhone isn’t the sole driver of this growth, of course, but its popularity has opened many new doors for the category. Just ask anyone in the business of developing/marketing/selling Droids or Palm Pres.
You could say, “Those were Apple’s successes, what about their failures?” In the second age of Steve Jobs, there aren’t a whole lot. Apple TV is the standout—quite possibly because Apple discovered, after releasing the product, that there wasn’t a big enough market for it, or any of its competitors. Apple TV may be crowded out by connected Blu-ray players, home-theater PCs and HD video players, but Apple TV’s niche is, to this day, almost frustratingly unique.
So how do you know if a market exists? You ask the “other” Steve, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
It’s Business Time
There’s a famous Ballmerism, one he’s even said to me, that goes something like, “A business isn’t worth entering unless the sales potential is 50 million units or more.” 50 million. That’s why Ballmer is happy to go into the portable media player business and the game console business, but laughs about ebook readers. Microsoft may not sell 50 million Zunes, but it’s worth being a contender.
You can bet Apple thinks this way. You can easily argue that, despite its sheen of innovation, Apple is far more conservative than Microsoft. Apple TV is a bit of an anomaly, but with no major hardware refreshes and a few small-minded software updates, you can hardly accuse Apple of throwing good money after bad. Presumably Apple TV was a learning experience for Jobs & Co., one they’re not likely to repeat.
With that in mind, let’s look particularly at netbooks and ebook readers.
Like Notebooks, Only Littler
Netbooks are cooking, but it’s well known they’re cooking because notebooks are not. A netbook was originally conceived as something miraculously small and simple, running Linux with a warm fuzzy interface that dear old gran could use to bone up on pinochle before Friday’s showdown with the Rosenfelds. But instead of growing outward to this new audience (always with the grandmothers, it seems), it grew inward, cannibalizing real PC sales.
The Linux fell away, mostly because it was ill-conceived, and these simply became tiny, cheap, limited-function Windows PCs. They may have been a 40-million-unit business last year, according to DisplaySearch, but they only got cheaper, and the rest of the business was so depressed nobody was happy. (And just ask Ballmer how much he makes on those XP licenses, or even the “low-powered OS” that is Windows 7 Starter.)
Point is, nerds may love their netbooks, but the market that the netbook originally set out to reach is too far away, running farther away and screaming louder with every blog post about what chipset and graphics processor a netbook is rumored to have, or whether or not it is, indeed, a netbook at all. Clearly the audience is cheap geeks, and while that may be a good market to be in (just read Giz comments), it’s definitively not Steve Jobs’ market.
Easy on the Eyes
Now, about that Kindle. Best ebook reader out there. Every time we say that, we say it with a wink. We totally respect the Kindle (and I for one have hopes for Nook once it pulls itself out of the firmware mess it’s in), but we think e-ink is a limited medium.
Its functionality is ideal for a very specific task—simulating printed words on paper—and for that I have always sung its praise. The Kindle is ideal for delivering and serving up those kinds of books, and as a voracious reader of those kinds of books, I am grateful for its existence. But there are other kinds of books of which I am a consumer: Cookbooks, children’s books and comic books. (Notice, they all end in “book.”) The Kindle can’t do any of those categories well at all, because they are highly graphical. E-ink’s slow-refreshing, difficult-to-resize grayscale images are pretty much hideous. No big deal for the compleat Dickens, but too feeble to take on my dog-eared, saffron-stained Best-Ever Curry Cookbook.
So, e-ink’s known weaknesses aside, let’s talk again about Ballmer’s favorite number, 50 million. Guess how many Kindles are estimated to have been sold ever since the very first one launched? 2.5 million. Nobody knows for sure because Amazon won’t release the actual figures. Guess how many ebook readers are supposedly going to sell this year, according to Forrester? Roughly 6 million. In a year. Compare that to 21 million iPods sold last quarter, along with 9 million iPhones.
I am not suggesting that the iPod or iPhone is a worthwhile replacement for reading, but I am saying that, for better or worse, there are probably at least 2.5 million iPod or iPhone users who read books on those devices.
Are you starting to see the larger picture here? I am not trying to convince you to buy an Apple iPad, I am trying to explain to you why you probably will anyway. As the Kindle fights just to differentiate itself while drowning in a milk-white e-ink sea of God-awful knockoffs, you’ll see that color screen shining in the distance.
Sure the iPad may not be as easy on the eyes as a Kindle. But you will be able to read in bed without an additional light source. You will be able to read things online without banging your head against a wall to get to the right page. And, once the publishers get their acts together, you will be able to enjoy comics, cookbooks, and children’s books, with colorful images. Even before you set them into motion, dancing around the screen, they’ll look way better than they would on e-ink. (I haven’t even mentioned magazines, but once that biz figures out what to do with this thing, they will make it work, because they need color screens, preferably touchscreens.)
Tide Rollin’ In
So we have this new device, carefully planned by a company with a unique ability to reach new markets. And we have two types of products that have effectively failed to reach those markets. And you’re going to bet on the failures? The iPad has shortcomings, but they only betray Apple’s caution, just like what happened with iPhone No. 1. Now every 15-year-old kid asks for an iPhone, and the ones that don’t get them get iPod Touches.
We can sit here in our geeky little dorkosphere arguing about it all day, but as much as Apple clearly enjoys our participation, the people Jobs wants to sell this to don’t read our rants. They can’t even understand them. My step-mother refuses to touch computers, but nowadays checks email, reads newspapers and plays Solitaire on an iPod Touch, after basically picking it up by accident one day. That’s a future iPad user if I ever saw one.
Jobs doesn’t care about the netbook business, or the ebook business. He’s just aiming for the same people they were aiming at. The difference is, he’s going to reach them. And the fight will be with whoever enters into the tablet business with him. Paging Mr. Ballmer…
PS – If I’ve gotten to the end of this lengthy piece without telling you much about the iPad at all, it’s because other Giz staffers have already done such a handsome job of that already. If you missed out, here are the best four links to get you up to speed:
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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