What Steve Jobs Got Wrong About the IPhone

The launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus–and the latter’s massive 5.5-inch screen–appear to prove Apple founder Steve Jobs was completely wrong when he said in 2010 “no one” would want to buy a phone with a big screen.

And while this sort of hindsight wisdom feels a little bit tawdry, it actually cuts to the heart of what is driving the $276 billion smartphone market right now: screen size.

Apple launched its new phone with 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens for a reason: Rival companies, particularly Samsung, have spent the past two years building a market in a space that Apple ignored–the market for people who want big, bright screens that are great for consuming media and doing work.

To recap: Jobs launched iPhone and its initial updates with a 3.5-inch screen. When the iPhone 4 ran into trouble because it appeared to drop calls when users held it the “wrong” way, Jobs held a news conference. He was asked, why not just make the phone bigger, so that the antenna might have more space within the device and thus get better reception?

He replied that he disliked the new crop of bigger phones from Samsung et al. “You can’t get your hand around it,” he said, “no one’s going to buy that.” He also derided big phones as “Hummers.”

By 2013, however, executives within Apple began to rethink that. Internal documents from that time show that iPhone sales growth was slowing, even though the market as a whole was growing. All the growth was in the sub-$300 price range and among phones with screens bigger than 4 inches. “Consumers want what we don’t have,” was the title of one slide in the documents.

Another document showed that Apple’s own customers placed the small screen size of the iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S among their top complaints about the devices. The iPhone’s small screen size actually seemed to be a liability for Apple, not–as Jobs argued three years earlier–an advantage.

(The leading big-screen devices in this market were, of course, Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note phones, with their 5-inch-plus screens. The Note 4 now comes in a 5.7-inch size. It’s an interesting exercise to ask Note owners how they like their big screens and whether they would ever consider going back to an iPhone-size 4-inch model. You will find the answer is always “no”–consumers love big screens.)

So it is notable that both the new iPhone 6 models are big-screen phones, of 4.7 and 5.5 inches.

There is no “iPhone 6 Mini,” giving people the option of a Jobsian 3.5-inch screen.

Samsung poured scorn on Jobs in a piece of marketing fluff released to counter the iPhone 6 launch. It produced this graphic, which actually misquotes Jobs as saying “No one is going to buy a big phone.”

The response underlines one of the strangest things about Jobs’ big-screen error. When the iPhone became a huge hit at its launch in 2007, with a 3.5-inch screen, its screen at the time was itself one of the biggest displays on the market.

Consumers were used to candy-bar phones from Nokia, on which most of the device was given over to the keypad and the screen had room for little more than a name and a number. BlackBerry was still huge at the time, one of the reasons being that it had a screen that was a little larger than a Nokia candy bar, and you could type emails onto it.

The original iPhone provided even more real estate than that, letting people consume real media and apps.

In hindsight, it’s not weird that Jobs might have been wrong about consumer preference for screen sizes in the four years following his death. Rather, it’s weird that he didn’t acknowledge that the iPhone’s (relatively) big screen size was actually driving its popularity while he was alive.

The iPhone (at launch) was the biggest screen on the market. Jobs didn’t seem to see that as the key.

Here’s the current lineup, size-wise:

-Courtesy: Inc.com

The Apple Event: What’s Probably Coming

The Apple Event: What's Probably Coming
The Apple media cycle is in full swing. Since the company alerted reporters last week to a “secretive” event coming up on Tuesday in Cupertino, California, there’s been little else to discuss in the world of tech—except for some stolen celebrity photos that were reportedly taken from Apple’s iCloud service. (Apple denied that its system was breached.)

Here’s what we know, or think we might know, about next week’s show.

An iPhone 6 is on the way. The biggest change from the previous generation of devices, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, will be a bigger screen. One version will have a 4.7-inch display (up from 4 inches for the iPhone 5), and Apple will also introduce the iPhone “6L,” with a 5.5-inch screen, as a competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Note, Munster predicted.

From a financial standpoint, Stuart Jeffrey of Nomura Securities warns that the larger device could eat into sales of the iPad mini, which stands almost 8 inches tall. Numerous reports suggest that Apple will double the maximum amount of storage in the new phones to 128 gigabytes.

Apple’s long-awaited entrance into the wearable computing market is likely upon us. The iWatch, or whatever name the device ends up with, has been a favorite topic of speculation for almost two years. The watch will give consumers access to Apple’s iOS operating system on their wrists, taking on Android-powered smartwatches from Samsung and LG.

To help with the launch, Apple recently hired the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer. According to Munster, there’s only a 50 percent chance of a smartwatch being announced on Tuesday, because Apple may prefer not to “dilute some of the attention from the core product.”

Another feature of the iPhone 6 could be a chip for mobile payments based on near-field communication. That’s the technology that Google backed, with too little fanfare to make it successful. If Apple can do it, the company would go from being a major force in digital payments to a viable player in the physical world.

Munster handicapped the odds of Apple announcing a payments feature at 70 percent. Analysts at Barclays view the treasure trove of data that Apple could gather in the payments space and then provide to customers as a big potential boon. Other analysts believe that payments will be a significant feature of Apple’s watch.

“Ultimately, we believe the pivot toward software and services and the rise of a more comprehensive enterprise strategy could help Apple become much more than just a hardware company,” Ben Reitzes and Darrin Peller of Barclays wrote.

As for what else is in the pipeline, Bloomberg News reported on Aug. 26, citing sources familiar with the matter, that Apple’s suppliers are set to start building a new iPad with a 12.9-inch display, almost 3 inches taller than the flagship model. But don’t expect CEO Tim Cook to talk about that just yet.

The big unveiling comes as many analysts are souring on the stock, either because of skepticism about the company’s upcoming products, or because of fears that the recent hacking scandal could permanently damage the brand.

The stock dropped 4 percent earlier in the week after a Pacific Crest Securities analyst said investors should take profits ahead of the product launch. As of midmorning Friday, the stock was trading slightly less than $99 per share.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Snapchat Steps On Twitter’s Toes, Lets You Follow Remote Events Live

Snapchat has just updated its app with a brand new Live section that will incorporate Our Story into everyone’s feed, regardless of location. Our Story is a Snapchat product that lets users contribute snaps to a single Story (or, thread of snaps) from a single event.

The product first launched back at Electronic Daisy Carnival, and then went on to Rio, Outside Lands, and Lollapalooza. The reaction was great and users contributed over 350 hours of snaps over the course of those events.

Today, the feature is going Live (if you will) for all users, letting them “experience Stories contributed by the Snapchat community at all sorts of events [...] around the world,” according to the official blog post.

It’s unclear how events will be chosen to be a part of Snapchat’s new Live “Our Story” section, or whether or not this will one day act as a revenue stream for Snapchat. It’s not hard to imagine music festivals, sporting events, concert tours, colleges, or other ‘location-based communities’ paying for access to a marketing channel like Snapchat’s main feed page.

We’ve reached out to Snapchat for more clarity on just how the company plans to select various events, but for now you can update the app to take a look at the new “Live” section. It can be found under Recent Updates.

Courtesy: Techcrunch

Instagram’s New Hyperlapse App Makes Mobile Timelapse And Steady Video Capture Easy

Instagram is building new apps that aim to do more with mobile photography, and today they’re launching Hyperlapse, which allows you to make timelapse videos using standard video captured with your smartphone camera on the fly. The Hyperlapse app launch closely follows the international launch of Bolt, Instagram’s Snapchat-style photo sharing app, but this one looks like it has more of the ingredients that made Snapchat such a success.

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The app, which is due to be released at 10 AM PT today, offers iPhone users a way to make professional-looking timelapses without expensive photography equipment like pro cameras, steady-mounts or tripods, and takes advantage of image stabilization tech that makes use of movement data gathered by gyroscopes to mimic the effect of ultra-expensive motion stabilization software used by film studios, but using a fraction of the processor power to get it done.

One impulse at Instagram was to build it into its existing app, but doing so would’ve hidden the functionality too much for those really eager to try it, and made it virtually invisible to the average user who might not realize they even want it, per Wired. To me, this sounds like Instagram learned a lesson from Instagram Video and Direct, and wanted to give this cool new tech the attention it deserved as its own app, where it stands a good chance of going viral rather than being adopted by just some of Instagram’s existing user community.

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Instagram’s Hyperlapse is, like its original product, focused on       simplicity – the only thing that you can change about your captures is the speed of playback. You use a slider to control how fast the video you eventually share will play at, from standard 1x speed (i.e. the normal speed at which it was recorded) to 12x.

Even at 1x, you get to take advantage of the advanced image stabilization techniques, but the same video is bound to produce an extremely different final effect depending on what playback speed you combine with the automatic stabilization effects.

This looks to be one of the coolest new mobile apps released in a while, particularly from the Facebook/Instagram crowd. The app is live now for iPhone owners (Android users will have to wait for a later version, unfortunately), and we’ll soon post our impressions regarding this new stabilization tech and its effectiveness.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Roomlia Takes On HotelTonight With Mobile Hotel Reservations App

Today Roomlia has launched into the App Store to provide the fastest hotel booking on mobile.

Started by two former Expedia employees, Michael Reichartz and Jim Ferguson, Roomlia offers discounted hotel rooms up to seven days in advance with only a few clicks to complete booking. Unlike Expedia and its counterparts, Roomlia links you directly with your chosen hotel the moment you book, as opposed to negotiating rates and payments through the hotel site and the hotel itself.

Roomlia links directly with hotels’ operations systems to make sure that the experience is super quick and painless. When you first log in, you’re given an extensive list of cities. You can choose one, or search for one that isn’t on the list, and you’re immediately shown a list of hotels with pictures, ratings, and average prices.

Certain hotel rooms have extra deep discounts, which is displayed with a red flag on the listing. These only last a limited time.

Users can put in their hotel dates on the bottom using a calendar or a slider to show the number of nights desired. Roomlia users have the opportunity to book a stay as long as five nights.

HotelTonight, on the other hand, only gets you discounts on the day of booking.

Once you choose a hotel, you can simply swipe to the left to book, sending you directly into contact with the hotel to complete booking. Everything is done in two taps.

On the hotel side, hotels will be able to handle their inventory and minimize vacancy with greater lead times than traditional last-minute services.

The hospitality industry is aflutter with new technology, with smaller players coming in to streamline back-end operations, and bigger guys launching interesting tech initiatives to keep competitive. For example, Starwood launched a robotic butler, while Hilton Hotels has a new app that allows you to choose your room and check out without speaking to another human.

Roomlia launches today on the App Store with access to over 250 hotels and growing.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Mozilla’s Firefox Marketplace will soon use crowd-curation for apps (exclusive)

Mozilla’s Firefox Marketplace will soon use crowd-curation for apps (exclusive)

But Mozilla has some of the same problems that other app stores do. They need a way to surface the really good apps, and push down the apps that are a little less inspired. DeVaney believes at least part of the answer lies in audience curation of apps.

“It would be giving people a playground, and letting them rate and review apps, letting people vote the best app reviews up to the top,” he told VentureBeat. “It’s creating a space that’s a little less polished than the homepage [of the app store].”I asked DeVaney what this method of app curation might look like to a user. He said it will be a separate space at the app store that has a slightly different look and feel than the home page of the Firefox Marketplace.

DeVaney knows something about curation. Before arriving at Mozilla, he managed a team at Apple charged with creating the promotional language around iTunes, App Store, and iBookstore content.

At the Firefox Marketplace, DeVaney says, there will be a central scroll that will display apps based on the geographic location of the user. The selection of these apps might be informed by what apps other people in the user’s area find useful.

You might also find curated lists of “best apps” by people who have a special interest in a certain class of apps, like productivity apps or games.

The thinking is that the best people to promote apps are not the people who make them, but rather the people who have used them. “We’re really trying to democratize app discovery,” DeVaney said at a retreat for app developers Friday.

Some app stores are looking at using algorithms and automation to identify good apps, and DeVaney says he’s interested in that approach — to a point. “Analysis only takes you so far in predicting the next hit,” he says.

“I could have a staff of 100, but I still wouldn’t know what people in a little village in Nairobi are going to want, or what the people in the village 100 miles away will want,” DeVaney said.

DeVaney said you’ll be seeing the new crowd curation features show up at Mozilla’s app store “very soon.”

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Today is a bit like Christma-Hanu-Kwanz-ukkah for brands that use Instagram in their marketing efforts, as the photo-sharing network just announced three new tools for them.

The new tools, “account insights,” “ad insights,” and “ad staging,” are now available to all Instagram advertisers and are meant to give brands better control over their campaigns and results.

From Instagram’s blog post:

The new tools will help brands monitor their posts and campaigns by providing information on reach, impressions, and engagement. For example, an advertiser will now have access to a real-time campaign summary and data showing how their target audience is responding to each of their sponsored photos. Also, brand marketers will be able to better understand the best time of day to post a photo or video.

We’ve worked closely with several of our advertising partners to make sure these tools meet their needs. We’re now making them available to all Instagram advertisers, whose feedback will help us improve the product before releasing it to additional brands later this year.

Account insights shows brands how their Instagram account is doing, including impression, reach, engagement, and so on, and it appears to be for the brand’s photo activity, not paid campaigns. In fact, it looks a lot like the “Insights” page of a Facebook brand page, which is not surprising, given Facebook’s ownership of Instagram.

instagram account insights

Ad insights provide analytics for a brand’s paid campaigns, including impressions, reach, and frequency. The feature conveniently includes an “Export data” button to enable social media managers to easily use the data in their workflow.

instagram ad insights

Ad staging is where social media managers can create, edit, preview, and even collaborate on paid ad campaigns on Instagram. It’s sort of the sandbox before the ads go live.

Instagram first introduced ads on its network back in November 2013 and has since signed deals with ad agencies (not coincidentally once it introduced videos) and opened up its ad program more widely to brands. Now, it’s adding real analytics and insights tools that are turning Instagram from a fun photo app the teens were using, into a real advertising platform.

Facebook, which acquired Instagram in April 2012, has been beefing up its mobile efforts, and reported a strong second quarter for 2014, largely thanks to its mobile business. Unfortunately, Facebook does not report separate figures for Instagram, so it’s impossible really know how much revenue Instagram’s ads have been generating so far.

Fellow visually-driven social network Pinterest has also been leveraging visual ads amongst its user-generated content in the form of promoted pins.

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

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