Apple

Siri – Is anyone still using you?

Is anyone still using Apple’s Siri?

Upon release Siri was the application that was highlighted as the reason to get the iPhone 4S, indeed, in a way it had to be – the rest of the phone was just pretty much the same, so goes the old adage ‘if you got it, flaunt it’ – There was little else to flaunt so Siri got pushed out front and centre. But is anyone, on a regular, or even semi-regular basis using Siri? I asked people across two social platforms, and search one more and the results weren’t encouraging.

This isn’t to say that Siri is a terrible idea, a bad piece of innovation, or a reflection on the technology itself, quite the opposite, Siri is fantastic – just that while it’s a useful feature, perhaps talking to your phone in a crowded restaurant, train carriage or at your desk isn’t the most endearing of  ways to look to complete strangers (think bluetooth units, clipped to your ear).

is anyone still using siri

But perhaps what Ben Gulak, of Dragon’s Den fame, said when discussing his Uni-wheeled motorcycle and comparing it to the Segway – the reason why the Segway wasn’t popular is that people ‘need to look cool using it’, and they didn’t.

It may be a an unscientific poll, but I recently asked on Twitter, Facebook and searched through Reddit to see if anyone that had Siri on their phone was still using it.

The results, were… well they weren’t positive. Twitter: Zero responses, Reddit…. nothing good. and well, look if the good people of Reddit aren’t having a great experience you know where this is going already, right? And Facebook: nearly a dozen responses – not one of those people were still using Siri.

Amongst the complaints from the Facebook respondents was that Siri was slow, didn’t understand what you wanted, and that “it’s too embarrassing to use in public”.

So is Siri a lost cause? Is Siri doomed to the distant memories of Apple Fanboys, and consigned to the become the Betamax of the mobile age?

Not at all.

One comment from the Facebook feedback that did get me thinking is all the other features and places, and Apple  units that it Siri could be useful for. The same person that same it’s too embarrassing to use Siri in public, said it would be great to be able to use it at home – and that, if you think about it, is where Apple should have put this feature off off the bat (although maybe that wouldn’t have gotten them enough people using it).

For a smoother, richer experience, the ability for one to be at home, by oneself, or with family, and have voice activated starting and stopping of television programming, internet searching, and music playing, well, I honestly can’t think of anything more convenient. There are dozens and dozens of scenarios where in-home usage would be more convenient – everything from ‘how do I get chilli out of my eye’, to ‘how do I get red wine out of the carpet’ – (seconds after it happens) right through to just being too lazy to move from the couch to the computer, and asking Siri a question, or getting ‘her’ to turn on iTunes. (Being too lazy to move from the couch to the computer, is such a firstworldproblem, but I digress) So the next place for Siri, could be the home – especially if Siri is bundled with AppleTV.

But where to next for this piece of software? Even if we asked, we’d be unlikely to get an answer out of Apple, so at the risk of sounding trite, has anyone asked Siri?

Smartphone’s – who’s winning, and who’s using what

 

Own the hardware or own the software, or own both? Tough choices.Tthe battle-lines have been drawn and the three major players, Apple, Android and RIM Blackberry are optimizing their paths.

In the top graphic we can see nearly even market share between Android, Apple and RIM, but despite being even at the moment there are different growth and threat opportunities for each company.

 

For Android:

– Their growth may well take chunks out of RIM and Apple as more people embrace more open networks and devices, and it also allows them to tap into Motorola’s, Samsung’s and HTC’s individual marketing, distribution and other distribution networks. But,

– Android’s growth depends on its supply networks of hardware manufacturers. While this is good as it allows Android to get across more markets quicker and appeal to a wider audience it does mean that other competitors such as Microsoft, or new OS competitors could cut into the volume of units available. It also means that Android’s growth is tied to hardware popularity, which they don’t control.

 

Apple:

– Strong loyalty and market leadership make it the natural leader. ‘iPhone’ is practically synonymous with ‘smartphone’. The moderated app-store and consumer lethargy which are tied to iTunes music and app purchases, will ensure a heavy-user core-database now and in the future. But,

– The closed off nature of Apple products, and Apple’s unwillingness to license their software to non-apple hardware-units means that Apple will face increased pressure from dozens of competitors as smartphones gradually take over the mobile industry.

As Apple’s competitors are adopted by new consumers to the market, Apple’s natural front-of-mind dominance becomes less pronounced, as a whole new generation of smartphone consumers first experience isn’t an iPhone. They are able to make a broader and more informed choices when choosing which hardware they’re going to, and, in fact, Apple units require greater consumer dedication, as Apple works in a more closed environment than their main rivals – switching to a rival in the future could be seen as unnecessarily challenging. For those unwilling to commit, there are easier, and cheaper, alternatives.

 

RIM Blackberry:

– Instant and unlimited email and internet with no data fees is an appealing prospect for many consumers and businesses. Coupled with Blackberry’s perception in the marketplace as a ‘serious business phone for serious business people’, Blackberry’s are still seen by many as a convenient ‘no nonsense’ communication device.

– One of the last dominant bastions of smartphones with actual keys to press, Blackberry will face challenges on a few fronts:

* More open networks will challenge its proprietary systems,
* Data will become cheaper making their unlimited email and browsing less of a draw card,
* As more people, especially those in business and leadership roles, adopt Apple and Android smartphones the ‘serious business phone for serious people’ perception will change. Why can’t ‘serious business’ be done on a device that it functional as well as fun to use?

– As adoption rates slow in younger generations, so to will their growth in future years and, as older mobile users want to keep up with what the young are doing, they will no doubt embrace those platforms too.

– As more OS competitors enter the market with newer OS options, slippage may occur, as RIM Blackberry faces the same situation as Apple: an unwillingness to license out their platform to non-proprietary Blackberry hardware.

 

All this leads us to the following question:

Who is using which device right now, and to what degree?

Nielsen research has produced this outstanding graphic (below) which demonstrates the breakdown of users by 10-year age bracket.

What we can see is that younger users, those between 18-24 and 25-34 are indeed shifting to Android and Apple, over RIM Blackberry and other OS providers, such as Symbian.

In fact in those crucial two bands, Android leads both Apple and RIM Blackberry. Android only just leads Apple, 14% to 12%, but crushes RIM Blackberry, which holds 11%.

Apple, Android and Blackberry are all holding steady at 6% each in the 34-44 age group, and Blackberry leads by 1% over Android and Apple in the 45-54 age bracket.

Note also that these numbers don’t indicate which generation of any of the systems the individuals are using, so aberrations about the roll-out of individual products like the  iPhone 4, or HTC Desire, or Blackberry Torch are minimised, as it takes into account current users, not users upgrading individual units..

There aren’t any firm conclusions to draw in this ever-moving battleground, what can be said is that all three dominant providers have their own challenges and opportunities to remain competitive and draw in more customers. Open networks v Closed networks, Hardware Agnostic v Proprietary Hardware and the threat of new and seriously innovative entrants could still see a dominant player quickly go from market leader to playing catchup.

Mobile, mobile banking and tablet movements

Mobile

Smartphones and mobile development is set to grow in a major way over the next few years according to recently released Forrester Research.

The report, as cited in the NYTimes, states in part:

“The business opportunities associated with apps were just beginning. Forrester estimates that the revenue created from customers buying and downloading apps to smartphones and tablets will reach $38 billion by 2015.”

The author of the research report, Mr McCarthy, estimates that the revenues from both mobile applications, and the business management and services in the industry to support the growth “will reach $54.6 billion a year by 2015”.

What’s particularly interesting in this report, but not touched on too much in the NYTimes article, is the percentage of people who download and use their phone as a banking device. As seen in the table below, when asked “Which of the following activities do you do on your primary cell phone or handheld wireless device at least monthly”, 23% of users responded they “check financial accounts”. How significant is this? Well, it’s actually very  signficant. That checking ones financial accounts is twice as high as something as normal, less security conscious and far more ingrained in to our collective behaviour as checking the status of flights, buses, and train services, it is remarkable.

Mobile banking

Just how big will mobile banking get over the next three to four years? According to Juniper Research – it’ll double its current volumes, which they estimated would be 200 million be the start of 2011, to 400 million by the end of 2013. Their whitepaper “Mobile banking goes mainstream” (which is just a snippet of their full report “Mobile banking strategies”) says “the technology is proven”. So now it’s just a matter of development.

What does this mean for the industry?

Well, at a glance, and a best guess, it means that mobile banking applications across – at the very least – Apple, Android and Blackberry – will become the norm for personal use, if they aren’t already, but the real growth will be in SME, wholesale and corporate banking. Why shouldn’t a trusted company employee, with specific and secure access to the company’s finances be able to access and manage things like a businesses loans, current accounts? And further, why not give them access to wholesale products like the company’s forex, debt lending, risk management and hedging, other capital raising products?

If anything, from an employer point of view the company’s accounts are more, not less, secure on a mobile device as there would undoubtedly be security checks and balances in place, as well as GPS through the phone’s default location tracking. Once the business rules are set in place about what can and can’t be done via the wholesale mobile app, voila – highly secure, highly useful and useable experience. All in the palm of the customers’ hand.

And it’s not just a win for the consumer. What could be better from a banks point of view: being seen by their client(s) in a trustworthy, convenient, cost-effective way?

A wholesale banking app would provide great online benefits – being able to pull up   in real-time, packaged in the convenience of the mobile format and is the perfect convenient environment for up-selling, cross-selling, content dissemination and product education through text, voice and video. And best of all, depending on how the app is built and the systems in place behind it, booking a discussion with a consultant, or sending the individual more information about product(s) could be as easy as a quick ‘swipe” of mobile glass.

The wholesale banking frontier must surely lay, in-part with mobile as an element of an integrated, multi-channel digital marketing product package.

Tablet update

In case you’ve been hiding under your soon-to-be obsolete iPad, you will have no doubt have heard that the iPad2 is coming out, and should hit Australian shores in the next month or two. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, because you can just click here, or here, other than to say it was worth the wait and it looks very cool and the new features, particularly the HDMI plug, will be very useful.
Competitors have also been streaming into the market and will continue to do so this year.  In July 2010 Forrester Research released a report detailing their expectations of the Tablet market. With Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps being quoted as saying  she expects 3.5 million tablets (including the iPad and other tablets) to be sold this year, growing to 20.4 million in 2015. Ms Rotman Epps also expected desktop sales to drop from 18.7 million units in 2010 to 15.7 million units in 2015.

Techcrunch, citing the research report said “as a percentage of overall PC sales, tablets will grow from 6 percent this year to 18 percent in 2012 (when netbooks are estimated to account for 17 percent of sales. The next year, in 2013, tablet sales are projected to outstrip desktop unit sales, 21 percent to 20 percent. By 2015, tablets will make up 23 percent of PC sales in the U.S., while desktops will be 18 percent and netbooks will be 17 percent. Only laptops will sell more in the U.S., with a 42 percent market share.”

Will Apple maintain its lead through 2011 and into 2012 and 2013? Probably, but its competitors are coming thick and fast and are unlikely to be as sluggish off the mark as they were with the original touch-screen phone market. The tablet market will be fought by some on design and high-end specifications by companies like Samsung, while companies like Asus and Acer will, should/when they enter the market, will fight on a basis of price.

Does all this mean Apple can expect less of a honeymoon period for the tablet? Quite possibly, Apple is already seeing its dominance in the touch mobile market being challenged by the more ‘open’ Android market. The difference between its former computer offerings and its current mobile and tablet offerings are the marketplaces the company has rolled out with each new product.

All this of course is great for digital marketers and companies ranging from Nike, Burton and Ripcurl, to games co’s, sporting event organisers such as the tennis and F1, right through to insurance, legal and banking.

Please, please don’t go

In a tight / tightening market, it is easy to draw a correlation between slowing sales, and losing market share and running to safety. Brands can easily focus on what they do best, and do more of it. After all, that’s why the brand has the market share it has to date.

The problem with this attitude though, is that this doesn’t address the principle question: Why are they losing customers in the first place?

Taking the most recent campaign for a well known Australian beer, for example, the notion being put forward is that beer is a real man’s drink, and that they’re manliest one of all, they may as well run the tag line: stop being a latte sipping nancy boy and wrap your hand around a bottle of our stuff.

But will that really address the problem of them losing market share? What is really being said here is “we’re great, you’re the problem”.

Rather than defensively trying to hold their current position they should be reaching out to new markets. Perhaps the solution lies with a new design of their cans and bottles – after all new designs has worked for companies such as Apple, and the Dutch Boy paint company, or perhaps, no matter how much they try their market is shrinking – can you imagine any reasonable level of marketing inventiveness working for a typewriter producer at this point?

If a brand is seeing its market share shrinking the very worst thing they can do is retreat or simply try to tread water. Companies should take some time (not so much the market gets away from them) to assess where to go, and do something strategic and bold to find a new market.

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” ~David Friedman

A measure of the desire for an iPad.

It’s been hard to escape the fanfare that the iPad has generated over the past few weeks. And with good reason. The iPad is devastatingly pretty. It is, as you would expect very easy to use and well it has been a hotly anticipated product for over 12 months.

In celebration of the release of the iPad Mashable created a whole new section, media worldwide gave it broad and favourable coverage and all over the world pictures and video were streamed across the web and our televisions of individuals who lined up and waited for hours just to be the first to get one so they could have their images streamed across the web and our televisions.

Rupert Murdoch has claimed that the iPad may well save newspapers, well, save the media company that produces them anyway and there was outrage from some quarters about the ‘rich kids’ that bought them just to destroy them, (didn’t want to promote that stuff though so here a link to ‘will it blend’ blending an ipad.

But beyond all of the hype and the media’s reporting of the iPad launch the burning question is: what’s the demand from the consumers? How much do they want them? Are people as excited as they are about, say, an iPhone, or an android, or even just searching for Facebook, or Oprah or Coca Cola, or a really mundane product like .

The answers are below.

iPad vs nothing (a benchmark):

iPad vs iPhone

iPad vs Facebook

iPad vs Oprah – the really interesting thing here is that Oprah as a search term looked like it did better in the United States and (was massive in) Canada but then got outpaced in the rest of the world.

iPad vs Coca Cola

iPad vs Ebay

Amazing eh? Good to see the buzz build up, but perhaps a little disappointing to the Apple crew to not see the second ‘hump’ of iPad buzz be bigger than the first. Of course, this doesn’t take into account tweets and Facebook postings, but neither nor does it do that for any of the comparison companies.

What the Apple team would be particularly pleased to see though, and perhaps one obvious reason for Google searches not being higher, is the mass of media coverage. If it’s everywhere in the media then maybe there just wasn’t a need to search that much. Read three articles about it and you don’t really need to find out more about a flat, touch, tablet device that does less than an iPhone.

Will it be a huge seller like the iPhone? Perhaps, but it’s less about the products themselves and more about how you use them. An iPhone is a communication tool as much as a diary, social and consuming content device. The iPhone by Steve Jobs own words is a ‘great device for consuming’. He didn’t mention anything about connecting, communicating, talking etc.