The Changing Flow of Story Telling: The Potentially Large Impact of the Second Screen

Today there is a tremendous amount of focus on the proverbial “second screen.”  But today when most refer to the second screen they mean some screen adjacent (and subservient) to the television.  I think this relationship is changing.  As I’ve outlined in other places, ownership rates of connected devices has increased significantly in recent years. …

An Integrated Hardware/Software Approach

Over the last few weeks both Google (see Nexus Tablet and Nexus Q) and Microsoft (see Surface) have announced major hardware initiatives.  In both cases, these hardware initiatives have been primarily focused on the mobile/tablet ecosystem.  Even Microsoft’s recent software announcement – Microsoft SmartGlass – is targeting the growing tablet ecosystem.  Both companies are taking a more hands-on approach to the growing tablet ecosystem as they seek to more closely integrate their software strategy with a hardware component.  These moves are partly in the hopes that a hardware component will spur software demand and help buoy their entire platforms respectively.…

On Apple’s 1Q12 Numbers, iPads and other Apple-related Musings

Apple surprised to the upside (though it really shouldn’t be a surprise) with their quarter results today.  Here is a quick overview of what they reported for fiscal 1Q12:

  • Revenue: $46.3bn (+64% q/q +73% y/y) v. consensus of $38.9bn and company guidance of $37.0bn.
  • Gross margin: 44.7% for the quarter (up 440 bps q/q) v. consensus of 40.8%.
  • Operating margin: 37.4% (up 660 bps q/q) v. consensus of 32.5%.
  • Earnings Per Share: $13.87 v. consensus of $10.08 and company guidance of $9.30.
  • Mac sales: 5.20M (+6% q/q +26% y/y) v. consensus of 5.16M.  This figure includes 1.48M (+16% q/q  +21% y/y) desktops and 3.72M (+3% q/q +28% y/y) portables.
  • iPhone sales: 37.04M (+117% q/q  +128% y/y) v. consensus of 30.2M
  • iPad sales: 15.4M(+39% q/q +110% y/y) v. consensus of 13.9M
  • iPod sales: 15.4M (+133% q/q) v. consensus of 13.6M

There has already been much written on the results so I’ll just add my thoughts (in bold) to the commentary below:

Tablet and eReader Ownership – How to Read Apple’s Numbers

Later today, Apple will report Q1 figures.  We know much has changed in the tablet market over the last three months.  Earlier this week, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reported tablet and eReader ownership (unsurprisingly) surged during the 2011 holiday season.

This is consistent with what I expected (and subsequently reported) following Black Friday and the (unofficial) start of the holidays. Starting with Black Friday (but really through the entire holiday season) several things too place to help drive tablet sales.  First, prices came down significantly.  Prices for many of the “high-end” tablets were marked down significantly and lower priced tablets entered the market in calendar Q4.  A declining price helps up-take.  Secondly, both devices have been in the marketplace for 18+ months and are moving quickly into mass market appeal.  We are moving into the fat part of the adoption curve.  Finally, tablets were the loss-leader for many retailers on Black Friday.  While the volume wasn’t high on a single-store basis, in aggregate there were a plethora of tablets (from a variety of OEMs) bought during the weekend across a myriad of retailers from Best Buy to Big Lots to Radio Shack to Staples, to ToysRUs.  CEA estimates 14 percent of those who purchased tech over the weekend bought a tablet – up from six percent in 2010. eReaders also did well over the weekend with an estimated 15 percent of tech shoppers buying an eReader.  This figure is up from 13 percent in 2010 and two percent during the 2009 Black Friday weekend.

According to Pew, both tablets and eReaders are now owned by about roughly 1/5 of the US population.  More than a third of those living in households earning more than $75,000 (36%) now own a tablet computer and almost a third of those with college educations or higher (31%) own tablets.…

Why the Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet are Good for Traditional Retail

This month Amazon’s new tablet the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet go on-sale this month.  While both products are technically the house brand of competing retails, they’ll be widely available  in a variety of retail channels.  One would typically presume that a consumer interested in the Kindle Fire would just go to to…

Why the Future of Tablets Isn’t in Apps

Pudits like to point to apps (and importantly the availability of apps) as the deciding factor in the success (and failure) of tablets and other app-oriented devices.  Most developers have the bandwidth to support at most two (and sometimes three) development platforms.  The largest app developers – the Pandoras and Kindles of the world – will allocate resources for…

Understanding “Mobile” Shopping

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on a study by Forrester.  The key finding: “Even though just 9 percent of shoppers own tablets, sales from tablets already account for 20 percent of mobile e-commerce sales and 60 percent of tablet owners have used them to shop.”  Certainly tablets are set to have a disruptive impact on a variety of services and devices, but it is important to frame “mobile” in the correct light.

The term “mobile” is being thrown around too loosely.  Mobility is a relative term, but it is frequently being used in the absolute sense.  There are several device attributes that influence the degree to which a device/experience is mobile. These include device size, power or battery life, and availability of content. Size and batter life are self explanatory. The smaller a device the higher degree of mobility it affords users.  This of course assumes some constant level of usability.  One could easily imagine a device so small it isn’t useful to the end user. In this way, size could have asymptotic characteristics.  Size influence on the device’s degree of mobility can also be general (applied to the entire size of the device) or it can be specific to an attribute of the device like screen size, antenna, etc. For power and battery life, the great the longevity of power the greater the degree of mobility provided by the device.  Power longevity also doesn’t necessarily mean battery life. The in-vehicle experience readily provides 12V power to devices used in and around vehicles, but these are still mobile devices in the general sense for which we are using it here.

The degree of mobility a device provides is also a function of the content it provides the end user.  This content can take many forms and can be delivered in many ways.  Content includes video (ie Portable DVD players) and audio (ie portable tape players to MP3 players).  It could include maps (ie GPS) or other information (ie data available on the Internet).  It can be delivered to the device physically (ie tapes, CDs, DVDs) or digitally.  Content delivery influence on mobility is also a function of time.  It can be delivered before the device moves into a “mobile” state – this is generally the case with devices requiring physical media.  But content is of course increasingly being delivered while the device is in a mobile setting using spectrum.  This use to be only really applicable to radio and some TV, but is increasingly applicable to all forms of content. The greater the access to content, the greater degree of mobility the device can provide. …