Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Sirius Radio App for the iPhone...Who Cares?

I was an XM Radio subscriber for a couple of years but I shut it down in 2008. I was getting more enjoyment from my own music selection of MP3's and felt XM wasn't worth the ~$14/month I was paying. Now I see the Frankenstein company Sirius/XM (or whatever they're called) is planning to offer a Sirius app for the iPhone.

I already enjoy plenty of free radio stations through the iheartradio and AOL Radio apps. If I'm able to pick up a satellite radio signal (i.e., not on a plane) I'm also able to get a cell signal. This app certainly wouldn't cause me to consider renewing my old subscription. In fact, if you have an iPhone I don't understand why you'd bother with satellite radio at all. Nobody listens to Howard Stern anymore. I'm surprised Sirius/XM is still in business.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The iPhone's Secret Sauce

It's all about the AppStore and the ever-growing number of new applications, right? This recent BusinessWeek article does a terrific job explaining how Apple's approach has completely turned the cell phone market on its head.

A few interesting tidbits/excerpts:
The average iPhone owner has downloaded at least 15 applications in the past six months.

Research firm Evans Data says 20% of wireless developers now create software for Apple, up from 8% six months ago.

TD Ameritrade hired an Argentine developer to crate its mobile software -- and paid nothing upfront. Instead, the developer gets a cut of commissions from trades using its program.
I love that last point the most, especially in the midst of such brutal economic conditions. It's nice to see you can develop an app without a lot of upfront investment; it's also great that both parties share the risk as well as the potential wealth.

Monday, January 26, 2009

When Will Apple Create an AdSense Model for the iPhone?

Will advertising be ubiquitous across iPhone apps one day? Not in-your-face ads, but simple, unobtrusive ones that are highly relevant to what's currently on the screen. I'm describing the AdSense model as it would be applied to the iPhone and I believe it's a huge opportunity for Apple.

A good example is what The New York Times app does at the bottom of the screen. Right now it's featuring a "Find movie showtimes" banner, which isn't exactly relevant, but shows how the ads could be implemented. Imagine a model where the bottom 10% or so of the screen was always reserved by Apple to feature a context sensitive banner ad.

Annoying? Perhaps. But what if this led to new service plans? Today's model would be the most expensive because it doesn't feature this always-on advertising. A less expensive second option would display the ads in that bottom area of the screen. An even cheaper option would be one where you see the ads and you agree to let Apple capture your every move on the iPhone so they can sell the info to market research organizations. Yes, the privacy advocates hate this sort of thing but I've never understood why. Go ahead, watch what I do all day on my iPhone -- if it means I pay less for service each month, sell the data to anyone you can!

On a related note... I was on a flight recently with a fellow from AT&T. I mentioned this idea to him and he said this is something AT&T plans to aggressively pursue. I figured Apple would have first dibs on it, but I guess not. Think of all those ad impressions AT&T/Apple could capture on the iPhone. It's staggering. And besides, they need a model to somehow monetize all those great free apps, don't they?!

P.S. -- The AT&T guy also mentioned they're working on improvements to the 3G network, which should be implemented later this year. He said it's not clear whether existing phones will be able to take advantage of these improved speeds because it requires a firmware upgrade and Apple hasn't decided whether they'll push the upgrade out wirelessly or make you buy a new phone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It Was 25 Years Ago Today (sort of)

Way back in 1984 I forked over $2,500 for an original 128K Macintosh. Actually, it was more than $3,000 with tax because the purchase also included a $499 ImageWriter (dot-matrix) printer.

I was the first in my neighborhood and probably one of the first in the entire state to own a Mac. I bought it to write a book, Using Your Macintosh: Beginning Microsoft Basic and Applications. Go ahead and Google the'll still find several references and even a few used copies for sale.

I used the Mac for a couple of years but soon realized I was destined for the PC platform. In fact, it was only recently that I made my very next Apple iPhone.

I've owned an iPhone for a couple of months now and I'm totally hooked. So much so, in fact, that I'm putting my Kindle on ice for a bit while I spend more time using and evangelizing the iPhone. I find myself wanting to experiment with and talk about the iPhone much more so than the Kindle, and this is coming from someone who was a huge Kindle advocate, at least initially.

My goal for this blog is to use it as a platform to share my experience as both an iPhone user and a publisher who sees the iPhone as an enormous opportunity for the entire content industry. I hope you'll stay tuned for future posts. More importantly, I hope you'll weigh in with your own comments along the way.

P.S. -- The picture included with this post is a shot of that original Mac from back in 1984. It stopped working about 15 years ago so I decided to take it apart and look inside. My hope is to one day convert it into an aquarium...a MacQuarium.