A weekly update on the world of digital media and technology. This week, rumours of the Amazon Tablet turn to reports, which should contribute to the rapidly growing mobile application inventory- while one premium publisher pulls out of the paid-for app model. And Channel 4 strengthen their 4OD platform, as they move towards better demographic targeting, while Facebook pull out of the Daily Deals market, and strengthen their music connections.
First glimpse of the Amazon Tablet
Many of the details are confirmation of earlier rumours; it has a 7", full colour touch screen — similar to the Blackberry PlayBook in terms of form factor, with no buttons on the surface, and no camera. But although it is internally running Android, it has a very different user interface and applications to those Android phone or tablet users. Apps include a Kindle book reader, Amazon Cloud Player for music, Amazon Instant Video player, and the Amazon Appstore. In other words, no Google apps, or Google Android Market, and no trace of Google's services.
As MG Siegler puts in in his TechCrunch post;
They are not working with Google on this. At all.
With plans for a launch targeting the end of November, the initial device will be WiFi only, with plans for a larger 10" version and one with 3G next year. And the price? $250- half the price of the base iPad model. Additionally, users will get a free Amazon Prime subscription (regularly priced at $79 a year.)
Perhaps most interesting is the branding; apparently, it will simply be called the Amazon Kindle, just like the current black and white eReader device (rather than a more descriptive "Kindle Colour" or "Kindle Touch.")
No news yet on plans for a UK launch, but I would hazard a guess that it would come in early 2012, with a launch focussing on Amazon's core US market, where Forrester analysts predict it will sell between 3-5 million before the end of the year — assuming supply can meet demand. All those cheap TouchPads from HP's recent clearout seem to have sold well, and the presence of a market for cheap tablets shouldn't come as a surprise. But if Amazon can manage to successfully cross-subsidise cheap tablets with an increase in sales (whether virtual goods delivered to the devices, or physical goods delivered through the Amazon store), then it will certainly have an interesting impact on the market — and don't forget that Amazon aren't afraid of advertising, having sold ad-supported Kindles at a discount, as well as partnering with a DSP in the last few months…
FT retreats from iOS
As I recently mentioned, the changing of Apple's rules about publishing on iOS devices has led to some changes in the way Amazon are approaching the device. Whether the new Kindle's development is a direct result of this friction is hard to say — but they aren't the only ones changing tactic. In June, the FT launched a web app targeting Apple's devices, giving them a way to sell content to iPhone and iPad users without the 30% cut on payments that go through Apple's own systems.
This week, the FT completed the transition, pulling their apps from Apple's app store.
Mobile advertising inventory growing
A report from Flurry looking at the growth of mobile advertising inventory in applications is growing rapidly — fast enough that available inventory could absorb the entire online display advertising spend (at a CPM of $2.50) by the end of the year.
The first thing that needs to be noted is that inventory is the total number of slots which could potentially be filled with advertising, at a potential value of $2.50.
The second point is that while there is undoubtedly a fast growing opportunity being created by the growth of smartphones and app usage, there might just as well be a downside. If the available inventory is filled with cheap advertising (that is, advertising that feels cheap to the consumer), then it leads to a devaluing of the medium. (In much the way that online advertising 10-15 years ago often being associated with irritating pop-ups and flashing images led to problems with the image of online advertising as a whole.)
The growth of mobile app inventory is a sign of the growth of mobile as a medium, and good thing for anyone interested in the potential that mobile has to offer — and particularly for Flurry, whose business lies in selling it. But the value lies in how effectively and profitably that inventory can be filled.
Reports of a service that puts music into Facebook's home page are coming through, with some specific details from Reuters, with an announcement expected at the end of September.
Music will come from a number of Facebook partners (including Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker and MOG.) Although the services can already be used on Facebook, the move to integrate more deeply with the site expected to lead to an increase in engagement with the services (sharing songs and playlists, seeing what friends are listening to etc.)
The development seems to be a case of Facebook sticking to what its users want from the service — unlike the Daily Deals service it launched earlier in the year, which is being shut down after 4 months of testing.
The news will probably be welcomed by Groupon (a prominent competitor in the "deals" market), although reports from Hitwise about declining levels of traffic may be a more pressing concern.
Meanwhile, BP has launched a daily deals scheme of its own, aiming to drive footfall across its petrol stations. The deals will offer discounts from 10 FMCG partners, with a mobile-optimised website at the heart of the project to collect data and customer insight.
Channel 4's online developments.
As Channel 4 relaunch 4OD with a focus on personalisation, they have also released their online programme ratings, with 242m programme views this year, and
3.4m monthly views for July (9m of which were in the Entertainment genre - the most popular for the site.)
Correction- 3.4m average monthly viewers, and 29m monthly views for July (9m of which were in the Entertainment genre - the most popular for the site.)
The news comes as they prepare to offer better demographic targeting for advertisers.
The approach highlights a significant difference in online strategies for the various broadcasters, with Channel 4 focussing on building a strong advertising platform for targeting users, while (as Jessica Davies points out at the NMA), ITV, Channel 5, Sky and BBC WorldWide are more aggressively pursuing a payment-based model.
The advantages to aiming for value in scale could give them some other benefits - such as the ability to recruit game show contestants via the online version of the game.