2011 trends in apps that AppCarousel embraced in 2012

A case study highlighting the power of good market research

In the summer of 2011, Wmode, a leading provider of digital media solutions to wireless carriers and telcos, decided to launch a new business targeting the new wave of organizations getting involved in the app space.  That business is AppCarousel, which is going from strength to strength in 2012, thanks in no small part to intelligence provided in industry reports such as VisionMobile’s annual research report series entitled Developer Economics (get a copy of the 2011 report here).

As part of the formation of AppCarousel, Wmode undertook extensive research into the changing nature of the app economy, the trends that were shaping the market, and the needs of brands, publishers, media companies, developers and enterprises. One of the reports that Wmode accessed was Developer Economics 2011, VisionMobile’s seminal research report on apps, developers and brands going mobile.

There were several themes in the 2011 report that AppCarousel embraced, and which have become widely acknowledged in 2012 as key industry issues. The list that follows is extracted from the Key Messages section of the 2011 report;

  • “Use of mobile web accelerates” – AppCarousel designed its platform from the outset to be content agnostic, so that as mindshare moves from native apps to web apps, AppCarousel’s platform can continue to showcase all manner of content types in a single store.  This is particularly relevant for the TV sector where HTML5 apps present new opportunities in 2012.
  • “Experimentation on the rise” – AppCarousel was built from the ground up to be fast to deploy, with maximum flexibility in both the back-end and the user interface, enabling AppCarousel’s partners and customers to experiment in the market to see what resonates with their increasingly savvy end-users.
  • “Commissioned vs. direct monetization” – Developers that realize there’s more to life than putting a paid app in a big store and hoping for the best are increasingly getting involved in merchandising, bundling and affiliate models. With this in mind AppCarousel was architected to embrace these changing business models as they emerge in 2012.
  • “Role of operators” – While operator app stores remain popular, there is an increasing need to get those stores – and the unique content within them – discovered alongside the handset stores from Apple, Android and BlackBerry. Therefore, AppCarousel was designed to showcase great content in one place, wherever that content happens to reside, which is proving to be a great way to drive traffic to operator stores in 2012.
  • “App stores are a one-way street” – AppCarousel realized that in any market where there are two or three giant players, including the dominant Apple and Google, new entrants emerge that don’t want to rely on those distribution options. Instead they want to differentiate themselves and retain control of their brands and supply chains.  This has created a whole new wave of smaller app stores, in markets including TV, where their needs are different, and where AppCarousel can address their specific needs.
  • “Developer segmentation” – As with any maturing market, specialization takes shape, and with that comes the requirement to group apps more logically and to target those groups of apps more effectively to the right users.  AppCarousel set out to address that opportunity via its niche showcases of highly focused apps and associated content.
  • “Brands go mobile” – A brand cares about one thing over and above everything else; its brand. VisionMobile’s report predicted the rise of branded apps, so AppCarousel adopted a white-label approach, allowing brands like CBS Interactive to brand their showcase experience and to rise above the app stores where their content is hosted.
  • “Multi-screen future” – One of the big takeaways from the 2011 report was that 2012 would be more than simply developing apps for smartphones and tablets; industries like TV would become ready for apps.  Much of AppCarousel’s 2012 activities are centred on helping companies in the home entertainment sector to make apps a part of their solution.

Now for the 2012 report – and how you can get involved

Because AppCarousel benefitted from the insight provided by Developer Economics 2011, the team decided to support the 2012 edition by becoming a VisionMobile Media Partner at the request of the VisionMobile team. In this role, AppCarousel is encouraging all developers in the mobile ecosystem to get involved by completing the 2012 survey, which is open until the end of April. In addition to prizes for taking the survey, the biggest prize – in AppCarousel’s opinion – is access to Developer Economics 2012 when the results of the survey will be published as a free report in late June.

Terry Hughes, AppCarousel’s Managing Director, commented: “With so many reports and so much noise out there, it’s great to look back on the predictions made in Developer Economics 2011, and review AppCarousel’s founding principles, and see that they were broadly accurate as the app market plays out in 2012.”  Hughes added: “We encourage all members of the development community to give their input and take the survey, and to leverage the 2012 report in their strategic planning.”

To take part in the Developer Economics 2012 survey before it closes on April 30, to win prizes for completing the survey, and to be sure of receiving the report when it is published, go to www.visionmobile.com/appcarousel or click the image below.

The 800 lb gorilla and the elephant in the room

While having cocktails yesterday evening after a great day at the Open Mobile Summit, we started talking about phrases such as “the elephant in the room” and “the 800 pound gorilla”.  So I thought I would research those sayings, and see what they tell us about the mobile / app world today.

The elephant in the room

Here are a few good definitions;

From phrases.org.uk;

An important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn’t discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable.

From Wikipedia;

is an idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.  It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

And there’s an example or two at idiomeanings.com;

There was an elephant in the room when I spoke with my mother, because she hates my new boyfriend.

So, here at the Open Mobile Summit, if there had been a real elephant in the conference room I think people would have had a hard time ignoring it, but there were a few elephants in the room in the idiomatic sense.  Here are three that I picked up (well, I didn’t pick them up as such, because they weren’t said, but that’s what makes them elephants in the room!)

  1. Is the mobile and app industry truly comfortable with letting Google start to dominate via the Android OS, search, apps, content (e.g. YouTube), videos, books and movies (in Android Market), cloud, billing, Google Wallet, maps and navigation, and on and on?  Everyone talks about how open the new mobile world is, but are the traditional players (operators, OEMs, software vendors, LBS mapping companies, etc.) feeling comfortable right now?  One person at the conference said to me “At least when Nokia were trying to dominate via Symbian, people knew where they stood because Nokia is a proper company, whereas does anybody really know what Google might do next?”
  2. Are the wireless carriers already dumb pipes, but they just haven’t realized it?  I actually don’t agree with that elephant; I think the carriers are halfway through reinventing their place in the value chain, and it is the carrier networks that still power the mobile digital revolution, and will continue to do so via LTE.  Because the carriers are strong consumer brands (in the US who hasn’t heard of Verizon and AT&T?), they will still play a vital role in curating content that they recommend and deliver in a compelling manner, because their customers trust them and pay them every month
  3. Are we in another dot-com bubble where all that VC money that is sloshing into tech companies will vanish into thin air just as it did a decade ago notably in this very city, San Fran?  Now this is a good example of an elephant in the room, because while the startups are being funded, and while the app economy feels rosy, nobody wants to spoil the party by saying that silly money is being poured into silly ideas that have no chance of generating a 10x return on investment.  It’s a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes, another great idiom that has stood the test of time.
An Emperor who cares for nothing but his appearance and attire hires two tailors who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.
In your opinion, which of those is the biggest elephant in the room, or are there others that you would like to share?  Add a comment at the bottom of this email.
The 800 lb gorilla
When me and my colleagues starting this whole discussion, we were a bit confused … is the gorilla meant to be in the room alongside the elephant, does the gorilla pretend he can’t see the elephant, how much does the elephant weigh, is the elephant scared of the gorilla, is a gorilla really 800 pounds in weight, is the gorilla outside the room waiting to come in and scare the elephant, is there only one gorilla or an entire family, and on and on.  (The discussion was over cocktails after all).
So I set about researching what the expression “the 800 lb gorilla” means;
Unfortunately the first thing Google presented me with was a picture of an 800 lb woman.  Seriously.
I needed to refine my search.  I then found a picture of an 800 lb gorilla, and he was certainly in the room as you can see.
In the picture it appears the attendees are ignoring him, so isn’t that the same idiom as the elephant?
So I then dug up a definition, thanks to Wikipedia … very interesting.

800 lb gorilla” is an expression for a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the desires of others or the law.  The phrase is rooted in a riddle:

“Where does an 800 lb. gorilla sleep?”

The answer:

“Anywhere it wants to.”

This highlights the disparity of power between the “800 lb. gorilla” and everything else.

The term can describe a powerful geopolitical and military force, or, in business, a powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors. (The metaphor includes an inherent bit of hyperbole; the highest weight yet recorded for an actual gorilla is 600 lb).

The metaphor has been mixed, on occasion, with the metaphor of the elephant in the room, as in TV advertisements by the financial firm AXA Equitable broadcast in 2010. In 2011 former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee referred to the healthcare plan instituted by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as “the 800-pound elephant in the room”.

So I decided to see whether I could think of any “powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors“.  Now that’s an interesting question in an industry with major carriers, Apple, Google, Samsung, Oracle, and others.

My opinion is “no”.  After all these years where Symbian and Microsoft threatened to dominate the mobile industry, there is still no clear leader, in fact it’s not even a clear 2-horse race (as my previous blog article discusses).

Perhaps one gorilla is ARM, the silicon chip IP design company, which has 95% of the smartphone market tied up until Intel takes another run at it in 2012.  However I don’t see them as a gorilla because they don’t leverage their dominant position or try to crush anyone.

So, in the interests of following up on our discussion over cocktails, I will now invite my colleagues here at App Carousel (who also attended the Open Mobile Summit conference sessions) to wade in and give their opinions … is there an 800 lb gorilla in wireless, or a family of gorillas, or a gorilla riding on the back of an elephant, or ……… ?

Feel free to roar your own opinions too.


Managing Director


Vodafone kills 360

There’s nothing like a dramatic headline to get your attention, is there?!

Those three words “Vodafone kills 360” are all over the internet this morning.  When I saw them I wondered whether it was a reaction to last week’s news about how mobile phones are harmful to us all (here we go again).  Here’s that article if you didn’t catch it http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/10/report-claims-fcc-underestimates-cellphone-radiation-hazard/

I then wondered whether it was because of people using their cellphones while driving.  That has definitely killed 360 in its time.

Or did they kill 360 staff?  As an ex Voda employee myself, I sincerely hope not.  There are better ways of letting people go than killing them.

So I dug further, and found that Vodafone has decided to kill Vodafone 360, their operator-branded cloud service.

The best article I found on it was this great analysis on Rethink Wireless, which discusses the role that carriers play (and will play going forward) with respect to cloud services.  A good read.


In the article it mentions that Vodafone is asking all users to download their stuff and make a copy before the service is turned off.  That reminds me of the article we posted the other day about cloud services, the need for 99.999% availability, and that awful T-Mobile Danger Sidekick fiasco where they lost all their customers’ data.  Check it out here.


So, Vodafone 360 does a 180.  Is that tomorrow’s headline?  Not quite as catchy as “Vodafone kills 360” is it?



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