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  • feedwordpress 05:15:45 on 2015/01/12 Permalink
    Tags: , app store, , , , , , , , policy,   

    App Stores Must Go 

    The post App Stores Must Go appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    appstores2014 was the year the industry woke up to the power of mobile app installs, and the advertising platforms that drive them. Facebook’s impressive mobile revenue numbers – 66% of its Q3 2014 revenue and growing  – are a proxy for the mobile economy at large, and while the company doesn’t divulge what percentage of that revenue is app install advertising, estimates range from a third to a half – which means that Facebook made anywhere from $700 million to more than a billion dollars in one quarter on app install advertising. That’s potentially $4 billion+ a year of app installs, just on Facebook. Yow. That kind of growth is reminiscent of search revenues a decade ago.

    But as I’ve written before, app installs are only the beginning of an ongoing marketing relationship that an app publisher must have with its consumer. It’s one thing to get your app installed, but quite another to get people to keep opening it, using it, and ultimately, doing things that create revenue for you. The next step after app install revenue is “app re-engagement,” and the battle to win this emerging category is already underway, with all the major platforms (Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Facebook) rolling out products, and a slew of startups vying for share (and M&A glory, I’d wager).

    Over time, app install revenue is bound to wane, and app re-engagement revenue will wax, to the point where the latter is inevitably larger than the former. Neither will disappear entirely, of course, but as the mobile model matures, it’s likely they will take new form. But the following three steps will remain constant – they were true before apps (when we called Internet services “websites”), and they were true before the Internet itself:

    1. Get people to notice your product or service, and engage with it for the first time. 
    2. Get people to come back, and keep sampling your product or service. 
    3. Get people to regularly give you their money for your product or service.

    We’ve now got a reliable model for #1: It’s the combination of the app store platform and app install advertising. #2 is coming along as well, as I mentioned above.

    But what of #3? It’s one thing to get someone to give you a few bucks for your app, but how can you keep them giving you money (or doing things that make you money, like ordering on GrubHub)? If app makers are spending an unhealthy percentage of their capital on advertising, innovation in product will suffer, and we won’t get apps that people are willing to continually pay for. It strikes me, after any number of conversations I’ve had around the state of mobile, that mobile markets in the US will slowly but surely evolve toward the norms currently in place in Asia, where advertising is a minority of mobile revenues, and in-app commerce of all kinds is the standard. After all, that’s how it is for business in general – advertising is a small but significant percentage of overall revenues.

    But for this to occur, our process of app discovery and engagement has to rationalize – it’s simply too expensive to build a loyal audience in mobile, and the top 1-2% of apps can afford to price the rest of the market out. This is the great failure – or cynical intention – of Apple and Google’s hobbled app store strategy. There simply should not be one app store per platform – they’re what Steve Jobs would call “orifices” – monopolistic constructs created to consolidate control. App stores stifle innovation – they are damage, and the Internet will eventually route around them. 2015 should be the year that becomes evident.

    My other recent musings on mobile can be found here.  

    The post App Stores Must Go appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 04:10:30 on 2014/11/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , policy,   

    Whither the Public Commons? Enter The Private Corporation 

    The post Whither the Public Commons? Enter The Private Corporation appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    uber-protests-europe

    (image) From time to time a piece reminds us that we are in a slow, poorly articulated struggle over what we hold as a public commons. That was the case with Vanity Fair’s Man and Uber Man, a profile of Uber’s Travis Kalanick by Kara Swisher. Swisher deftly captures Kalanick’s combative approach in prosecuting what he calls Uber’s “political campaign” to beat established regulated markets in transportation, a campaign he believes he must win “98 to 2″ – because the candidate is a product, not a politician. In short, Uber can’t afford to win by a simple majority – this is a winner takes all scenario.

    This gives me pause, and I sense I’m not alone. On the one hand, we praise Uber for identifying a huge market encumbered by slow moving bureaucracy, and creating a service markedly better than its alternatives. That’s what I’ve called an “Information First” company.  On the other hand, we worry about what it means when something that was once held in public commons – the right to transportation – is increasingly pushed aside in favor of private alternatives. Messy as it may be, our public transportation system is egalitarian in its approach, non-profit at its core, and truly public – as in, bound to the public commons through government regulation.

    Are we sure we want to outsource our commons to private companies? I think that’s the existential question we face as a society. I wrote about it three years ago in a post What Role Government? From it:

    Over the past five or six decades, we’ve slowly but surely transitioned several core responsibilities of our common lives from government to the private sector. Some shifts are still in early stages, others are nearly complete. But I’m not sure that we have truly considered, as a society, the implications of this movement, which seem significant to me. I’m no political scientist, but the net net of all this seems to be that we’re trusting private corporations to do what, for a long, long time, we considered was work entrusted to the common good. In short, we’ve put a great deal of our public trust into a system that, for all the good it’s done (and it’s done quite a lot), is driven by one core motivation: the pursuit of profit.

    The question of the role we wish government to play seems even more pressing given the advance of largely private services such as Uber. We are in the midst of a heated social conversation around the topic, and we see the edges of it when silly insta-startups pop up to privatize public space such as parking spots. In my longer piece, I identify a series of areas where we’ve outsourced formerly public “features” of our lives to private companies. The trend has only strengthened since, and I don’t expect it will flag anytime soon.

    So perhaps instead of “What Role Government,” or “What Commons Do We Wish For,” the question we need to ask ourselves is this: What kind of a corporation do we want? If we are going to have corporations play a larger and larger role in what we formerly understood to be the public commons, we might want to we spend a few cycles asking ourselves what kinds of behaviors and values we want our companies to exhibit?

    Come to think of it, that’s kind of why I started NewCo last year. It strikes me that we’re just starting to have a conversation about those corporate values. I laid out some of this in What makes a company a “NewCo”?, to wit:

    Driven by capitalism’s central motive – profit – corporations have become one of the most powerful actors on the global stage. Besides government, no other institution in society has amassed as much wealth, power, and control as the corporation.

    But at their core, corporations are just people. And over the past few decades, in parallel with the rise of the Internet, those people have begun a quiet revolution that has redefined what a “corporation” can be.

    The global economy is transitioning from hierarchical models of command and control to more networked and flexible approaches. A new kind of organization – one that measures its success by more than profit – has emerged. We call these companies “NewCos.” As the networked, information-first economy has taken hold, NewCos are building innovative, purpose-driven new ways of doing business.

    A NewCo views “work” as more than punching a clock or doing a job. The people behind these companies believe work can equate with passion, community, and a force for positive change.

     

    It’s fascinating to watch the debate over Uber play out – is it a good actor, or a bad one? Is its CEO a driven role model or a bully? Or is it, perhaps, still figuring out what it really means to have the public trust? Once you’ve won that trust,  well, maybe that’s when the real work begins.

    The post Whither the Public Commons? Enter The Private Corporation appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:29:47 on 2014/09/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , internet slowdown, , , policy   

    A Big Day For The Internet 

    The post A Big Day For The Internet appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    sbodsearchblog

    Today scores of big companies are taking symbolic action to defend the essential principles of an open Internet, and I support them. That’s why, on your first visit here today, you’ll see the “spinning ball of death” up on the right. For more information about the Internet Slowdown, head here.

    The post A Big Day For The Internet appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:56:22 on 2014/05/07 Permalink
    Tags: cable carriage, cable one, fred wilson, , policy, viacom   

    Viacom v. Cable One: A Foreshadowing of Things To Come in The Battle for the Open Web? 

    The post Viacom v. Cable One: A Foreshadowing of Things To Come in The Battle for the Open Web? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

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    Viacom’s rather one-sided POV on why its blocked web access for Cable One providers. Image via @TheLadyH86

    So it’s come to this.

    We’re all familiar with disputes between cable providers and their content partners – it happens all the time. One party claims the other party is demanding too much in a carriage negotiation, and in retaliation, the offended party pulls the programming in dispute. It might be the programmer who refuses to allow its content to run, or the cable company who refuses to put it on the air. The last big one I recall was between Time Warner and CBS back in the Fall, when many major markets looked to be losing football coverage just as the season was starting.

    To be honest I pay little attention to these disputes, just more big old media titans arguing over profits and old business models. Doesn’t affect the Internet, nothing to see here, move along.

    Until I read this story, about another dispute between cable companies and content providers, this time Viacom (which owns CBS) and Cable One, a provider of cable television, phone, and Internet service in 19 US states. The impetus for this particular tussle was the same as all the others – Viacom wanted more money to run its shows on Cable One, Cable One balked, and Cable One (or Viacom, hard to say which) pulled Viacom programming. But this dispute is unique: Viacom retaliated by denying all Cable One Internet subscribers access to shows openly available on Viacom websites.

    Let me repeat that: Viacom retaliated by blocking paying subscribers of Cable One’s Internet services from using Viacom websites. As far as I can tell, Viacom is identifying Cable One subscribers by their IP addresses, and then blocking those IPs from streaming any Viacom content on the web – despite Viacom’s willingness to stream those same shows to anyone else in the US with Internet access.

    Let that sink in for a minute. A US corporation is blocking open Internet calls to the open web because the company providing that access is not paying Viacom enough money for Viacom’s television shows. The old world model of command and control in cable is seeping into the Internet. Ick.

    What the fork**?

    In one short and deeply insightful post this March, Fred Wilson explained the stultifying effects on innovation caused by the erosion of open access to the web by imagining a pitch between entrepreneurs and VCs in an era where net neutrality is rewritten by incumbents in the media and distribution world. Here’s one example:

    Entrepreneur: I plan to launch a service that curates the funniest videos from all across the internet and packages them up in a 30 minute daily video show that people will watch on their phones as they are commuting to work on the subway. It’s called SubHumor.

    VC: Well since YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix have paid all the telcos so that their services are free via a sponsored data plan, I am worried that it will hard to get users to watch any videos on their phones that aren’t being served by YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix. We like you and your idea very much, but we are going to have to pass.

    If what Viacom and Cable One are doing becomes standard practice, I can imagine such conversations getting even worse. We are all reaping the rewards, value creation, growth, and innovation of an open Internet. Let’s not let these practices stand.

    **Maybe it’s time to teach Cable One’s subscribers about Firefox’s Modify Headers plug in….

     

    The post Viacom v. Cable One: A Foreshadowing of Things To Come in The Battle for the Open Web? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 03:12:57 on 2014/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , policy   

    Else 4.28.14: F*ck Policy, Except When I Care About The Outcome 

    The post Else 4.28.14: F*ck Policy, Except When I Care About The Outcome appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    net-neutrality-thumbnail-2(image) This past week saw a significant increase in society’s willingness to have a deeper conversation about what it means to Become Data. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may well supplant the Betamax case in import. And the FCC stepped in it, big time, while pals at O’Reilly opinined for a world where the Internet of Things remains open and transparent. Not to mention, my own ramblings on what it means to truly disappear, and why Google does what it does. To the links….

    To subscribe to Else via email, click here

    Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination : The New Yorker

    The FCC sure as hell stepped in it last week. Let’s see if they clean off their shoe, or just keep smelling like shit.

    Why Do So Many People Describe Aereo ‘Complying’ With Copyright Law As The Company ‘Circumventing’ Copyright Law? – Techdirt

    Meanwhile, we’re quite uneasy with whether our Supremes can grok the complexities of….Barry Diller’s business moves.

    Google, Facebook Fight for Tech’s Future via Acquisitions – Businessweek

    Come on, if you told me five years ago the cutting edge of competition was … drones….well. Anyway. It is.

    Science Fiction: Mining My Own Exhaust – Monday Note

    Yes, we make a lot of data. And yes, it’s time we started to see that fact as more than an oppressive unknown. It may well become a springboard to surprise and delight.

    The revolving door between Google and the Department of Defense –  PandoDaily

    This might scare you. Or you might realize that it’s pretty damn normal in the rest of the industrial world, and will be here as well.

    Toward an open Internet of Things – O’Reilly Radar

    Please, let’s not make this next phase of our industry suck. Please?

    How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other – WIRED

    A bit overstated, but…there’s a point there. Given the right circumstance, we have always trusted each other, it’s just now we have a stronger and more dependable network that allows us to make those bonds of trust quickly and productively.

    The Next Vegas Will Be A City That Lets You Truly Disappear – If Only For A While – Searchblog

    If cities become high-density surveillance sites, then we’ll need cities where we can escape it all.

    Louis C.K. Is America’s Undisputed King of Comedy – GQ

    I’ve always loved his work, which is one beat away from losing it entirely. But his take on tech is worth listening to: “phones are taking away the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that forever-empty thing…that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone…. The thing is, because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone or a jack-off…. You never feel completely sad or completely happy, just kinda satisfied with your product, and then you die.”

    Google+ Won (Or Why Google Never Needed A Social Network) -Searchblog

    I know, two pieces in one week? But this needed to be said.

    To subscribe to Else via email, click here

    The post Else 4.28.14: F*ck Policy, Except When I Care About The Outcome appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
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