A wall of apps – the “app wall”

Here at AppCarousel we try to keep abreast of who’s who in the zoo, and it really is a zoo in this crazy mobile app business, with so many players, fueled by the following three trends;

  • it’s easier than ever to start up a company and build something related to mobile / apps, because the tools are more readily available, many are open source, and you don’t need a ton of dollars to get started (but you eventually do need money and traction to survive, and we are starting to see some of the new entrants give up or change tack)
  • VCs have been piling money into new deals.  In fact they invested $21 Billion in the first 9 months of this year.  There’s a great analysis by GigaOm on the state of VC investments at http://gigaom.com/2011/10/19/venture-capital-startup-funding-slowdown-2011/, and what it tells us is that it’s starting to slow now.  That’s because the VCs have gone heavily after mobile, social and content plays, and are now in that phase of sitting back and watching what’s starting to happen to those companies
  • most existing players have moved into mobile and apps.  SAP has an app store for their solutions, Intuit has the Intuit App Center http://appcenter.intuit.com/, even SoundCloud the music hosting site has an app gallery http://soundcloud.com/apps.  Almost every “bricks and mortar” company has – or wants to have – an app story
So, in summary, we have start-ups, VC backed companies, and existing players that have moved in to the space.  What we have also seen is a growing trend towards specialization.  This is normal with any burgeoning market such as mobile / apps, because as the market gets bigger, solutions get more sophisticated and certain companies decide to go deep into one area.  An example is Zuora, they are a very large company focused on handling the complexities of subscription billing and recurring user accounts.  That’s all they do, and they do it very well.
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So what we decided to do was to track all this activity on our “app wall”.  In my office, there are a bunch of green post-it notes across my wall from left to right, each one capturing a segment of the market such as;
  • mobile advertising
  • enterprise mobile apps
  • app stores
  • app discovery
  • app merchandising
  • billing
  • app social media
  • loyalty services
  • app building companies
  • etc. etc.
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The pic below is deliberately cropped and blurred, after all we have worked hard on tracking all the companies and we wouldn’t want to share all that without at least a beer in return ;-)
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There are around 30 such categories, in fact we have run out of horizontal space now, which shows that it’s getting more and more specialized (did you ever think there would be a load of companies doing app analytics, well there are).
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Then, under each green note, there is a post-it note for each of the companies we have come across in that particular space.  For some of them, like mobile advertising, we have run out of space vertically and are having to stack the post-it notes 2 deep!  Enterprise app solutions is getting pretty long too.
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The good news is that Vision Mobile, the leading mobile analysis firm, has gone one step further and has produced the Mobile Industry Atlas wallchart, a far more professional effort than our post-it notes, and you can buy one and put it on your wall.  More details are at http://www.visionmobile.com/research.php#atlas
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However they have also realized that the market is changing so fast that a printed wallchart isn’t enough, so they launched the Atlas Interactive, http://atlas.visionmobile.com/, which is an online version with a superb database of all the companies in the space.  Not quite as much fun as moving post-it notes around a wall though!
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I am sure we will be updating our app wall after this week’s Open Mobile Summit and Apps World conferences, and next week’s GigaOm Roadmap conference.  I also figure we will be updating the wall in the coming months as some of the startups disappear, more new entrants try their hand, and as another wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) takes place in the apps space – hey that rhymes, but these are crazy times.  Oh, that rhymed too.  But it really is a zoo.
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Terry

Buzzword bingo for apps

What is a buzzword?

The app world, mobile world and software world are going through a period of tremendous change and growth, just as they did in the dot-com days a decade ago.  And whenever that happens, there’s buzz and noise … and whenever that happens there are buzzwords.  As AppCarousel gears up for launch, and as we head to yet another conference next week, we sat down and identified all the great buzzwords in our sector, and there are lots because AppCarousel is into app discovery, app merchandising, app showcasing, and even more techie things like HTML5.  So we then decided to have some fun … but first, let’s understand exactly what a buzzword is.

Wikipedia has a page on buzzwords, and they say;

  • A buzzword (also fashion word and vogue word) is a term of art, salesmanship, politics, or technical jargon that has begun to see use in the wider society outside of its originally narrow technical context
  • Buzzwords differ from jargon in that jargon is esoteric but precisely defined terminology used for ease of communication between specialists in a given field, whereas a buzzword (which often develops from the appropriation of technical jargon) is often used in a more general way
A-ha!  So does that mean that HTML5 is jargon, while the derivative of it, “web apps”, is a buzzword?
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Why people use buzzwords
Wikipedia goes on to explain why people think they are being smart by using buzzwords …
  • Thought-control via intentional vagueness
  • To inflate the trivial to something of importance and stature
  • To camouflage chit-chat saying nothing
When I read those I was LMAO.  We have all been in meetings with the buzzword junkie, who reels off one after another, and thanks to Wikipedia we now know why he/she does it!
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Buzzword bingo
Many of you may have heard of buzzword bingo, also known as b***s*** bingo, where you and your colleagues go to a meeting where there is a buzzword junkie and you arm yourselves with a bingo card of all the buzzwords that he/she might say, and the first among you to get a line or a full house shouts out loud “bu**sh**”.  This is such a common thing in business these days that Wikipedia have dedicated a page to it, at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzword_bingo
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Just as you would expect, there’s an app for that.  Yes, someone has removed the need for you to print a bingo card before that meeting, you can simply download the buzzword bingo app and keep track of those buzzwords on your phone.  http://www.windowsphoneapplist.com/buzzword_bingo-a6108.html
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Buzzwords are often used by politicians to pad out their speeches, so they are often the subject of bingo games too.  Here’s a bingo card that you can play along with at home next time you watch a David Cameron (UK Prime Minister) speech.  Click the pic to see the card and one that was actually completed after one of his speeches.
What’s more amusing is that the bingo game was developed by the opposition political party, Labour.  How cool is that?!
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AppCarousel bingo
So, that led us to our idea for AppCarousel Bingo, which we will be playing next week at the Open Mobile Summit.  Instead of me telling you all about it, click the two images below to see the front and back of the bingo card.
     
We actually have a list of over 50 buzzwords in our space, but we couldn’t get them all on a card ;-)
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So if you are at my presentation next week at Open Mobile Summit, come and grab a card from us and play along.  Please, just don’t shout out “bu**sh**” halfway through my presentation though.
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My challenge
My colleagues said to me last week “Terry, I bet you can’t say a single sentence that has all 16 of those words in it … can you?”
OK, here goes.
AppCarousel addresses the need of the app economy [whoa, app economy is a buzzword and that's not even on the card!] for better discovery and promotion of apps, including not only Android and Apple apps but web apps,Flash videos, Java apps, and any other type of digital content, whichever app store or website that content might reside in, by selectively curating groups of content for specific types of users then by leveraging the power of personalized targeting of that content, via the rich HTML5 based AppCarousel showcase, resulting in a superior merchandising experience for the brands that care about that content and those users.
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Yahoo!  I did it.  All 16 buzzwords in once sentence.  Hey my AppCarousel spinning team, you owe me a beer at Open Mobile in Frisco next week.  Wait, did I really just call it Frisco?  Deadly sin committed, as anyone in the Bay Area will tell you.  Just as a bit of fun, click the image below to read an Urban Dictionary discussion about the use of the buzzword Frisco, for example it says
2 fugitives hiding out under a bridge in The City got caught by police when asked where are they from and one responded “Frisco”. The cop stated that “no one in The City calls it Frisco”.
See ya in Frisco then.  
Terry

Being opinionated is okay…

Hi from “into the spin” AKA Arleigh,

So this is my first post to the newly minted AppCarousel blog as I wanted to wait until I had something interesting to share… So far we’ve been talking about carousels and all kinds of great app economy and tech innovations – such as ‘HTML5: the holy grail …. or not quite?’.

Today I want to draw your attention to another aspect of innovation that I find interesting – the PR side. This recent article, Back to the future: Is media returning to the 19th century?, from GigaOm was intriguing as it highlighted the details from an in-depth series that was written by The Economist about the evolution of media in a digital age and how it has impacted the distribution of information. Or as Om Malik, the founder of GigaOM Network, likes to call it “the democratization of distribution.”

Here are a few highlights of the interesting stuff:

“Looking at the evolution of media in a digital age, The Economist comes to the conclusion that new media — and in particular the explosion of blogs and other social media tools like Twitter and Facebook — is taking society back to where it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, before the development of newspapers and other mass media platforms.”

“Up until the early 19th century there was no ‘mass media’ in the sense that we think of the term now. Newspapers had not really been invented yet, and news still travelled via word-of-mouth, or via hand-printed pamphlets written by people like political theorists Thomas Paine and John Locke. And even when newspapers as we know them started to be published and distributed, they were opinionated — and often gossip-filled — publications that catered to a tiny audience, much like blogs did when they first appeared.”

Says The Economist:

“In many ways news is going back to its pre-industrial form, but supercharged by the internet. Camera-phones and social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter may seem entirely new, but they echo the ways in which people used to collect, share and exchange information in the past. ‘Social media is nothing new, it’s just more widespread now,’ says Craig Newmark.”

And more from GigaOm

“Whether we like it or not — and whether traditional media can figure out a way to take advantage of it or not — The Economist is right when it says we have in many ways returned to the coffeehouse era of the early 19th century, when all news was social and most of it was opinionated. And while some worry that media consumers are going to get caught in an ‘echo chamber’ and filter out any opinions they disagree with (something author Eli Pariser argues in his book The Filter Bubble), the main benefit that we have over our counterparts in the 19th century is we have hundreds or even thousands of different sources and voices at our fingertips, if we want to make use of them.”

“That is an incredibly powerful force both for journalism and for society as a whole — as the events of the Arab Spring have shown, despite the skepticism of some pundits like Malcolm Gladwell — and it is one we are still only beginning to understand.”

What I like about the GigaOm summary is how they highlight the importance of opinions and how being opinionated is okay… In theory having an opinion and not being afraid to broadcast it can help with the distribution and consumption of your ‘news’. This concept can definitely be applied to all the content that is generated for, on, and about the app industry and the mobile sector, but also to the current app discovery challenges everyone in the space seems to be coming up against.

There is also the flip side, such as with one of the news tidbits that came out on CNN yesterday, to consider where being too opinionated and voicing these opinions isn’t always OK. I guess the moral is be opinionated, but in a ‘smart’ fashion.

This, of course, is just my opinion that I thought I’d share with you all via the AppCarousel media source we set-up… food for thought.

Into the Spin (aka Arleigh)


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