Sunday, March 31, 2013

Integration Within Google+ Drives The Social Platform Past Twitter

The social networking platform from Mountain View's G-plex now boasts of 25% of the world's internet population as active users; more than Twitter's active users.

Since I've been on an integration and convergence binge, I wanted to point out the source of success for Google+. Yup you guessed it...its integration. Rather than re-writing the news post, I've posted two links to blog posts that neatly lay out how the integration of Google products helped its social site overtake Twitter. Products such as Hangouts, Gmail, Drive and of course Search are key to G-plus's growth. Let's wait and watch the impact of integrating Google Keep (Google's latest product; similar to Evernote) in to the Google ecosystem.

Google+'s growth has significantly increased some key social networking behaviors on its site, leaving Facebook and Twitter in the dust.

Read on at:


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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ad Tech in the Year 2015. You Know You Want To Know!

Integration is a word similar to convergence.  On a continuum scale moving from left to right, integration would be to the left of convergence. The reason I mention this is because everything in mobile tech is integrating or converging. Two prime examples are when I wrote about the virtual convergence of the Mobile Operating System experience across multiple mobiles devices and the physical convergence of your smartphone and tablet, although the latter is still some time away.

So what exactly am I foreseeing to integrate today? It's the integration of advertising technology into your mobile experience across all screen sizes. Let me start by providing a 'cocktail napkin' overview of the ad tech industry. Firstly we have the Display Banner Ads that you see on websites and apps. Secondly, the Search Ads, dominated by Google, are the ones you see on search results pages of Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Example of Search Ad: I searched for 'toyota' and I was also served an ad for VW.

Lastly, Native Ads have gained momentum ever since Facebook rolled out their 'sponsored stories' ad offering in early 2012. Twitter has subsequently followed with their native offering in the form of 'promoted tweets' and Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social media sites, is expected to rely on a native offering centered around  its treasure trove of grid-like pinned images. All three ad types rely on user-information tracking cookies to customize the served ad to the viewer.  For example if a user searches for a pair of jeans, she might see ads from Gap or Levis or any other jeans retailer. I've detailed the behind-the-scene workings of the ad tech industry here.

Now that we are up to speed with the different ad types, lets begin with the proposed integration of advertising technology in to the mobile experience. Imagine yourself watching your favorite streaming TV show on your smart TV. At this point it doesn't really matter which OS is powering the smart TV, but lets just say you have Google TV installed. Your Google TV login credentials will be the same as the one on your Android phone. Thus, Google will be able to track your activity across all devices while you use them simultaneously.  Imagine Google being able to track the fact that you are looking up a pair of jeans on your tablet you saw the character wearing on the show you are watching at that moment. Thereafter Google can show you ads about Jeans because its algorithms figured out you are interested in purchasing a pair of jeans you saw on a TV show. Imagine an 'Inbox' of ads on your Android account that you can access from your all your devices. These ads won't be half as intrusive as the regular ads you see because Google will serve you highly customized ads for products you are interested in purchasing. The ad inbox can also help you with price comparisons or deals for the product you've been waiting to buy. Imagine the ad inbox displayed in a grid fashion with images of the product; a layout like that of Pinterest. 

Pinterest Layout for 'Jeans'
The engagement level on Pinterest proves that its layout of crisp clear and beautiful pictures has helped the site to become the fastest growing to have reached 10 million user. 

Source: BizRate Insights via

Source: BizRate Insights via

You control what you want to see in your ad inbox. Think of a slider button that you can move towards 'more customized ads' or 'more generalized ads.''  Yeah you can tell I like sliding scales. An ad inbox deeply integrated with your Android-Google account that displays customized, aesthetically appealing ads with price information in a simple yet elegant design. You definitely don't want the ads to be intrusive, so the ads won't show up on your TV while you watch your streaming shows.  However, you can hit the pause button and the TV screen switches to an interactive ad billboard, featuring the ads from your ad inbox in a pinterest-like layout. Not just on your TV screen, but the ad inbox can be displayed on your smartphone home screen in the form of a auto-scrolling Widget.  In addition to the Widget or the smart TV 'billboard' concept, you could simply open the ad inbox app and view the super-targeted ads. Ad inbox getting too cluttered for your taste?  No problem, delete the ones you don't want or slice-n-dice the ads based on product category, price, retailer, etc.  Make your final purchase based on your perfect balance of product quality and price.  Once you make the purchase, the inbox will be smart enough to auto-delete the ads for that particular product...of course only until the algorithms track that you've searched for that product again in the future. Advertisers can promote their ads by bidding higher on the ad tech marketplace.  The ecosystem will allow 3rd party players from within the ad tech industry to plug in and access device activities which allow 3rd party apps to show super-targeted ads within their apps to users.  All this in real-time. Any other logical integrations in to this concept?  I almost forgot Digital Wallet.  Google Glass integration?  Let's not get carried away for now. 

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Friday, March 29, 2013

'Touch' Is So 2012. Welcome To The Future Of Input Mechanism

Another Hero product from startup incubator Y Combinator. You can pre-order a Thalmic Lab MYO arm band today!  

Control your smartphone, tablet or any other connected device with a snap...literally!  Imagine the integration with Google Glass.  Watch and be amazed!

WSJ reports they have sold 25,000 MYO arm bands at $149 a piece. 

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Watch Out Apple! Android Tablet Market Share Forecasts Amended by IDC

We know that Google's Android dominates the Smartphone OS Market Share Globally. Now Apple has reason to worry about its leading tablet market share position also after International Data Corporation (IDC) released an updated forecast for the tablet industry. As per the data analysis company, Android's share of the tablet market will reach 48.8% in 2013 as opposed to the 41.5% previously forecasted by IDC for the same year.

Tablet Operating Systems, Forecast Market Share and CAGR 2012-2017 
Tablet OS
CAGR (%)
Windows RT
Grand Total
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, March 2013

The gain in Android's market share comes at the expense of Apple's, which is expected to slide from 51% in 2012 to 46% in 2013. Nonetheless, both competitors have a common enemy in the form of the Windows tablet. The Seattle-based OS developer is expected to snatch approximately 4.5% market share from the two Californian natives between 2013 and 2017.

Overall shipments of tablets is expected to peak at 350 units by 2017, a CAGR of 16.3% from 2013.

In my earlier post titled 'The Android Vs iOS Engagement Conundrum' I had mentioned that Android-powered tablets were virtually non-existent as compared to iOS's tablet market share. We needed to give time to Android-powered tablets to catch-up since it's tablet offerings were relatively new compared to Apple's entrenched tablet offerings. It seems IDC's forecast gives a strong confidence to Android's catch-up race, which will also help close the gap in the engagement conundrum between iOS and Android.

On a slight tangent, I think Google's recent re-org, which made Sundar Pichai the head of Google's OSs (Chrome and Android), will aide in converging Google's OS ecosystem across  multiple screen categories and help boost engagement.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Android Activation to Reach 1 Billion by Early Fall!

This is a quick update. As reported by Horace Dediu of Asymco, Google has said that the total WW Android activations is 750 million. 

Source: Horace Dediu, Asymco

Working backwards and using pro-ration to derive a per day activation, Horace Dediu forecasts Android install base to reach 1 Billion by the end of August, 2013.

On another note, Andy Rubin, the founder of Android has stepped aside to let Sundar Pichai head the Google Mobile OS. Sundar has been head of Chrome and now the management re-jiggle has brought two of Google's prominent OS programs under his wings. Best of luck Sundar!

Like I said, this was a quick one!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Phones Getting Too Big To Fit In Pocket? Fold it!

This is my first hardware-related conceptualizing blog post. All my other posts have centered around intangible tech - software, operating systems, ad tech, trends and ecosystems. So when my niece shared this video with me and said "You've gotta write something about this on your blog!" with exuberance and marvel for this wonderful innovation, I caved in (Thanks Nits).

After watching the video, the first word that comes to mind is convergence. Yup I had to use the 'C' word.  I just love that word.  I've used it in a trigger happy way in all my posts and when analyzing or describing a certain tech trend. Yeah its over-used but in this case, no other word came to mind without me grabbing my smartphone and hopping on to Yea yea, I know there's an app for that. If you think 'convergence' is commonplace wait till you know about the second word that came to mind...disruption! I warned you.

Allow me to explain my two very carefully chosen words for the flexible screen innovation. As I mentioned, I used 'convergence' to describe mobile operating systems and the ecosystem OS developers are creating to converge the OS experience across multiple device categories. The convergence from this flexible screen innovation perspective is a physical one as opposed to a virtual one in the case of operating systems. The convergence in this case is of the likes of how the PC converged computing and media / entertainment. This video of Steve Jobs is great viewing to add some flavor to the concept of convergence.  The video is from 1998, which shows the concept isn't new.  The video quality is not great but his golden words are crystal clear.

The flexible screen innovation, similarly, has the ability to converge multiple device categories into one device category or an entire new category. In a nutshell, your smartphone will be your tablet as well. It will have the ability to morph into one or the other at your will. You won't need to settle on one screen size when purchasing your new smartphone. The new flexible screen computing device will be able to increase or decrease its screen size in a couple of ways. You may be able to fold / unfold it to go from a phone to a tablet or vice verse. You may be able to role it out, in which case, the device screen will only be able to increase its length (these methods are apparent in the video). Developers will need to figure out how apps will need to be altered to fit into changing screen ratios, especially with the case of fold-able screens.

Disruption. Well whenever two things converge, one is eliminated. So take your pick. Will the flex-screen disrupt the tablet category or the phone category? Which industry did the convergence of the PC disrupt? TVs are still around and much so as the entertainment hub of our lives. But the PC did disrupt the entertainment industry in a sense. When was the last time you bought a music album on a CD?  In fact the PC was responsible for disrupting several non-digital channels for music, videos, mail, documentation, archiving, storage, etc. Note that we sometimes use the word 'disruption' loosely. It may not be in the exact context that Mr. Christensen described. Clayton's description of disruption was this: When a lower-priced, lower-quality technology starts to gain market-share from the incumbent as the weaker technology increases in quality, finally matching the incumbent's quality. In the case of the flex-screen, the technology may not be an inexpensive alternative to the standard due to its new-ness in the market. However, since it has the ability to converge at least two devices, it will make it cheaper for the people who are in the market for a smartphone and a tablet.  In terms of quality, the flex screen may or may not be able to match the resolutions of the 'Retinas' or the 'Super AMOLEDs' due to initial restrictions in material science. So the 'Disruptive Innovation' concept may be applicable in this case.

I am not saying the first iteration of the flex-screen will perfectly converge and disrupt as I've mentioned above.  The new innovation must go through the curve in order to improve up to the point of delivering a matched or increased consumer experience of the devices that it will eventually affect. In fact the first iteration of the flex-screen may simply be to make your device screen unbreakable.  It will have enough 'flex' to absorb the shock of a drop but may not have the ability to fold or role to morph into a completely different screen size. Subsequent micro-innovations in material science and software engineering will eventually be able to deliver the near-perfect device concept as described above.  For now stay happy with your 3.5 / 4 inch iPhone or your 3.5 / 4.x / 5.x inch android mobile device.

In the next episode of screen disruption, we will talk about what will disrupt the flex-screen: virtual / holographic screens that will project the 'screen' out of your mobile device on to thin air... I am kidding...but it will happen.

Word count:
Convergence / converge - 12

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