Tag Archives: App Store

Digital Upgrade At Your Own Risk – Brand Be Damned!

It seems that many apps and digital offerings have been updated since the beginning of the year – and an interesting trend has taken shape. What once was so wonderfully free – with few ad breaks and just slightly more privacy – has turned the corner and has become, well… less. Additionally, a huge sector of mobile users that excitedly upgraded to Android 4.3 before the end of the year have only further lamented the multitude of issues they’ve encountered since (with battery life reducing drastically being a consistent theme).  All of this leads to the question – To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade?  Unfortunately, in many instances, the consumer never gets the chance to question and the brand is damned to stumble.


The gray area is meant to have content served within.


In the case of ESPN, they chose to re-brand their scores and news app to be more aligned with their colossal SportsCenter brand – changing it from Scorecenter to SportsCenter. That change makes sense – as does the twitter feed from their on-air personalities.  What’s more challenging is that the app is much more volatile (see above) with nothing showing much of the time.  Even more annoying is the fact that users now have to log in or register in order to automatically keep track of their favorite teams. For most, this might not be an issue, but for those trying to hold on to the last piece of privacy, that component might be a deal breaker. The fact that there’s now far more advertising with page overlays and in-feed ads only adds salt to the wound.

Diminished revenue generation is definitely an issue for all content providers, but it will be interesting to see how conversion plays out as more and more previously free apps move into the paid model. Since the new year, at least 4 of my news apps have moved behind a paywall – with only headlines available for free – rendering it useless. Hopefully, we’ll soon see the ramifications – one way or the other – on this change soon. We’ll definitely see if people have an appetite for paying in multiple places for content.

Even in the free realm, questionable choices have been made:

  • ABC force upgraded the app leaving users with a lot less content choices and a lot more ill will. Checking the ratings on the App Store and Google Play shows a very large distaste for something that was the standard bearer for innovative video presentation. With the previous usage and inability to skip through commercials, it made sense.  Who knows what will happen now.
  • Yahoo! changed their mobile product to supposedly simplify their content delivery. The only problem is that the UI leads one to believe that if they click on search, they’ll be able to search within the category (i.e.,Entertainment, Sports, Life), only to find that it takes them out of the app environment and to their general search interface.
  • Sporting News is struggling to keep from crashing as they deal with issues stemming from iOS 7 in their newest update. The fix might come with the supposed release of iOS 7.1 in March, but that brings us to the next issue.

With all of the concerns users have with upgrading already – and the worries of what they will have to learn or not have access to – is the update to iOS 7.1 or Android’s 4.4 KitKat one that people will venture into widely or quickly?  Microsoft is having it’s own issues getting consumers to upgrade Windows OS – especially as people realized how much was still left to be done with each release. Is the same lack of concern for the user experience – and the interest of meeting ambiguous deadlines worthwhile for consumers who are quick to pull the trigger and move elsewhere? A concern is that, among developers, there is an excuse permeating that everyone expects issues. How sad is that?

The debate can continue as to whether it’s human nature to always want the new bright and shiny object. But, it is pretty clear cut that when forced to the new, something good should be delivered.  If companies/brands keep forcing the issue, they might be damned to losing the loyalty of those who just want to keep interacting the way they always have.


Free (or Reduced) at A Price Consumers Are Willing To Pay?

Last week saw an announcement and a study that show very interesting option for monetization of mobile content – and how it affects consumers both positively and negatively.

First off is the piece in Mashable about the rise of Mobile In-App Ads.  This was not anything new as we had seen ad support or incentives shown in free mobile apps and social gaming for some time.  The article’s pointed mention about Angry Birds fans being outraged was also old news since they started placing ads in the environment back in March.  It really comes down to perceived value that is generated from the ads or opportunities for currency that can come from those placements in all forms of media – mobile gaming, apps, social gaming, etc.  And, we’ve already covered in the entry – The Growing Currency – Feeding the Social Gamers’ Hunger – how users were gaining play by interacting with advertising content. The trade-off has always been there, and the general belief is that there is a stronger acceptance (and recall) of these consumer benefits of advertising.

The piece from last week that really struck me was Amazon’s introduction of a new Kindle with Special Offers model – with 3G connectivity provided by AT&T.  At $139, this version is $50 cheaper than what the ad-free version goes for.  (The $114 WiFi-only ad-supported version was released in May but it was not serviced through AT&T.)  What makes this so striking is that while the benefits mentioned in the paragraph and related story above – Facebook Credits for watching videos and the other benefits of brand interaction – are all in the software, this is one of the first hardware propositions.  Could it be the start of offering cheaper – or free – hardware as a platform for ad-serving where there was none before?  As economics get tighter, it could be a good solution as a trade-off for consumers and added promotional inventory for hardware manufacturers.

It seems like a strong move for AT&T as it tackles a concern that all Telcos have regarding getting their piece of the pie as competitive coverage plans are capping (or even diminishing) revenue for just the communication services.  They were effectivley cut out of the equation for app monetization when Apple launched the App Store and iAds, and Android did the same with the Android Market.  By offering this Special Offers model, it allows AT&T to make the money off of advertising on the screensavers where they had no option for it before. 

Only time will tell whether that makes any difference for consumers who are purchasing the hardware.  With the current environment and concerns about privacy and invasiveness of digital advertising, it will be interesting to see if consumers spend more to not deal with the hassle.  Personally, I would spend more as shown by the fact I pay Yahoo! an annual fee to have ad-free email for my personal email.  At this point, it seems like they are providing the ads in a non-invasive way by only showing the offers on screensavers.  It remains to be seen how much targetting will be found in the Kindle.

The acceptance of the ads as a way to get free or cheaper content has proven to be popular and special-priced ad-revenue hardware could be a wave of the future, but the beauty is in the fact that the people will be able to make that choice themselves.  If it is successful, an obvious development might be for the carriers to start programming their smartphones so that there were som hard-coded ad inventory so that they could offer the same options as opposed to tiered data pricing.  For those entering that higher data tier, much of it is from video usage.  Would it be that different for them to trade some ads or commercials to go back to that unlimited environment?

Either way you slice it, it will be interesting to see whether enough people bite and set a new paradigm for added revenue streams.