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May, 2011

Introducing The Appconomy Version 2

by Steve Guengerich

When we launched The Appconomy earlier this year, we started with a popular blog engine and simple theme.

The real goal was to get something up and running so that we could begin to develop a body of work, experiment with different subjects, and generally find our way to a distinctive voice.

While we are still early in the process, the feedback we have received is that we are on the right track, but that it is time to “raise the bar” for both content and capabilities.

To meet the challenge, here are highlights of what you will find:

  • chances are, you landed on a newly redesigned home page for “The Appconomy” providing more information and options
  • a major emphasis is a new Community capability, with an activity feed in which we hope you will participate, as well as follow what others are saying – it’s a modest start, but we are eager to grow it in a meaningul way, so we look forward to hearing your ideas, either in the stream or privately to us via email
  • there are new sections providing directories for Events and apps, the latter labeled “Store” – these too are modest beginnings which we are eager to shape in the most useful way for you, our readers

In addition to these new capabilities, you should begin seeing new coverage, with more original feature articles, interviews, and other new content each week and during the day.

Thanks for your support so far.  And, if you are new to “The Appconomy,” we hope you will return and look forward to sharing ideas with you in the Community.

-Steve Guengerich, Executive Producer

What Apps Mean to an Agency Man

We realized something about halfway through assessing brand strategist Faris Yakob’s answers to a set of questions that we had posed to him recently in an e-mail interview about mobile platforms in advertising and marketing.

This will seem like the wrong thing to say, given our forum, but in the worldview of the “agency man” mobile platforms will be, increasingly, just another medium. People will manage to adopt smartphones and tablets and progressive waves of lighter, shinier, faster devices without throwing away their televisions and burning down newsrooms.

Advertisers and advertising agencies will integrate mobile into the mix and, after a little more turbulence and many gimmicks and flops, continue on. Advertising will be a little different in the post-mobile era, just like it was post-TV and post-Internet. And the main way it will be different is that it will probably involve more gadgets and more games.

Image: courtesy http://www.mdc-partners.comYakob is the Chief Innovation Officer at advertising network MDC Partners(@MDCPartners). Before that he was the first Chief Technology Strategist at venerable McCann Erickson (@McCann_NY) and prior to that he was “Digital Ninja,” arguably the first “Digital Ninja,” at strategy and planning shop Naked Communications (@NakedLDN).

Five years or so ago, he was one of the early influential post-digital evangelists for a kind of advertising strategy which, rather than carpet bombing the mediasphere with the same set of “brand disciplined” images and messages, took into account the different ways in which audiences engage with the rapidly proliferating media channels available to advertisers and agencies.

Yakob has dreadlocks. He is British. He appears to wear t-shirts and sneakers religiously. He uses the word “grok”in a credible way in interviews, as in “I think everyone needs to grok digital or social or the world as it is now.”

In our interview, despite the fact that we posed loaded questions that sometimes ran to 200 words about the paradigm shattering power of mobile platforms for advertising, he was comfortable enough about both the value and the limitations of mobile platforms to not freak out about them. He made very short work of describing what mobile apps can be for brands and their customers.

“Apps are applications,” said Yakob. “They DO things FOR you. Sometimes just once, sometimes ongoing – but in essence utility is the key.”

Yakob’s agency team recently produced the BMW EVolve app as part of “BMW: Activate The Future,” a campaign for the automaker which promotes the rollout of 700 leased ActiveE electric cars.

“The core of the idea is simple,” said Yakob. “It is a solution to a specific barrier we identified around electric vehicle adoption – ‘range anxiety.’ Will it get me there AND home? Where can I charge it? The app shows you how far you can go, mapping your existing driving patterns and showing you if you are right for a EV.”

The app does one thing and one thing very well: it allows users to monitor their driving habits and then helps them assess whether they are a good fit for an electric car.

The BMW app was developed inside of the MDC network. “It’s an iterative, collaborative process involving lots of people and lots of disciplines: clients, strategists, creatives, UX, design, technology, development, production and project management. One of the differences in our system is that we built the whole thing inside the agency.” That process diverges from the current norm wherein specialty development shops team with global agencies to create programming for mobile platforms, similar to agency web efforts in the early dotcom era.

What’s interesting about the BMW app is that it’s a productive, supporting player in the BMW electric vehicle campaign, rather than, as branded apps so often are, either a stripped down adaptation of a browser interface, a one-off, or a gimmick. The BMW campaign website features a slick documentary series about technology and mobility. It also features a browser-based dashboard that expands on the iPhone app.

“An integrated strategy,” said Yakob, “is simply how do we allocate finite resource – money, time, people – to achieve specific objectives. Everything we create, all the ‘cool stuff’ is simply in service of that, and being aware of all the other elements and how they fit together is a crucial part of any strategy.”

“It’s not about spending money – it’s about having robust business reasons to allocate investment. If you are recommending advertising, or tv, or print, or apps, or packaging, you have to tell me what, what is it supposed to achieve. If you have budgets, you should experiment. Even in basic media terms, you follow eyeballs – and that means mobile. But not necessarily mobile advertising.”

Yakob’s sharp focus on the business rationale for allocating marketing dollars to mobile is a result of an uptick in media spending on mobile campaigns, balanced by a hesitance to engage too deeply in pure mobile without a tighter grasp on a campaign’s ROI. In support of this cautious optimism, the UK’s Campaign magazine recently cited an industry study that found:

  • Of the 46 media agencies surveyed, all agreed that spending on mobile campaigns would increase over the course of this year.
  • Nearly 60% of those same respondents said “unique user tracking was the barrier that needed to be overcome” to increase media spending on mobile platforms.
  • The same study also found that mobile was still considered a test medium for most brands.

We asked Yakob about agencies and app development shops, other than his own, that he thought were doing mobile particularly well. The two shops he highlighted – New York and San Francisco’s MIR (@mirnewyork) and Silicon Alley game developer Area/Code (@AreaCodeInc) – were both app specialists outside of the agency model. Area/Code was recently acquired by game giant and CityVille developer Zynga (@zynga) as part of a rolling acquisition spree.

Yakob’s favorite apps of late were both solidly in the category of engaging, “enhanced reality” games. For branded apps he singled out Heineken’s StarPlayer by digital specialist agency AKQA (@AKQA), a “dual screen” app that allows soccer fans to use their mobile device to place live “bets” with virtual dollars while simultaneously watching Champion’s League matches on a standard television.

In non-branded apps, Yakob likes the innovative audio-only game Papa Sangre by cross-platform multimedia production studio Somethin’ Else (@VoiceOfSE) “because it re-imagines the interface metaphor as an audio thing.” Somethin’ Else recently brought the same brilliantly simple and unsettling audio interface to branded content when it rolled out The Nightjar for Wrigley’s 5 Gum.

Follow Yakob on twitter @faris or on his blog Faris Yakob’s

GetJar and AppCentral: “Let’s Talk about App Stores”

by Steve Guengerich

One subject that was on everyone’s mind at the Mobile Enterprise Summit was app discovery and management.

The panel Enterprise App Stores: Open for Businesscovered this subject quite well in an energetic conversation led by Mike Wolf, VP of Research, GigaOM Pro and featuring Ken Singer, CEO of AppCentral and Patrick Mork, CMO of GetJar.

Videos of their remarks and the accompanying audience Q&A, divided into three parts, are below, along with written highlights of the discussion. Enjoy!

IT departments are just now ‘waking up’ to the onslaught of apps being used for work in the enterprise – yet, they still tend to approach the phenomenon from an event horizon perspective. In other words, they are tackling each issue as confronted: first issue was distribution and discovery, next was firmware updates (certificate on every device expires every year), next is data management… clearly, they need better solutions to handle the totality of app-related issues.

It’s hard to say where platform proliferation /fragmentation ends for apps – multiple native-developed apps seem to be the norm. And yet, Facebook’s mobile app is quite successful – the app has had 110 million downloads – even though, for all practical purposes, the “app” is just a shortcut to the Facebook website and not a ‘real’ app, per se.

There are 1.8 billion web-enabled phones today, but only 110 million smartphones. While the number of the latter continues to rise at a greater pace, the fact is that web-enabled apps will continue to present an attractive alternative in many instances and enterprises need to think about this in their app management strategy.

In a way, apps have created a “back to the future” moment, where we seem to have moved to a client/server model again with mobile, providing a thick client with little-to-no control for IT over the client, i.e., phone or tablet

There are a number of entrants in the third-party app store market – with Appcentral being one among them – each with a different strategy and positioning. Appcentral’s focus is providing companies – especially firms with 200,000 employees or more, including employees, consultants, integrated supply chain partners, etc. – with a solution and deployment alternatives is priced to allow for the diversity of large company and IT needs.

  • They offer both a SaaS and an on-premises deployment model, as well as a VAR option.
  • Healthcare is a good example of the VAR option, with an Appcentral-powered solution, called Apptique, is in the process of deployment, which represents the first hospital app store for doctors, employees, etc., which will be available in the New York area

While data seems to be showing that people increasingly rely on each other’s social recommendations, the ironic thing about discoverability of apps is that IT is often among the least mobile group of people in an enterprise, yet is responsible for developing an app store solution

GetJar 3.0, released on Apr25, provides a cloud-solution to app discoverability, with a much heavier dimension of social recommendations built-in that before, powered by connections with an individual’s Facebook friends and other social media

Both Ken and Patrick had lots more to say about:

  • the ability for VARs to monetize their work in the era of apps, as compared to prior generations of software,
  • bulk licensing of apps
  • predictions for the freemium models of apps, advertising, sponsored downloads, and more
  • the present and future suitability of Android as a development platform for enterprise use
  • the demand for IT/ integration consulting assistance in the transition to significant use of apps inside enterprises
  • and much, much more…

For more fireside chats and panels, please check our complete list of videos from the 2011 Mobile Enterprise Summit.

10 Minutes with QRANK’s Rodney Gibbs

by Steve Guengerich

We recently caught up with Ricochet Labs‘ co-founder and CEO Rodney Gibbs to talk about their flagship gameQRANK and the mobile industry.

Rodney and his co-founder Michel Baird founded Ricochet Labs and began work on QRANK in 2009 and haven’t looked back since.  QRANK is perennially among the top 50 Free trivia Game apps and has frequently appeared in the top 100 for All Free apps.

There is a lot of actionable, business-to-business data acquired in games that will increasingly allow brands to customize offers or launch new products to precisely targeted affinity groups

There is much to learn from Ricochet about cultivating a loyal following for your app – from the design of the user experience (applying “some design skills from our days producing Nintendo games” according to Rodney) to tolerating but discouraging a small group of cheaters (“you’ll always have them” at some level, Rodney claims) who vie for the daily top scores.


Among Rodney’s interesting remarks in this interview are:

  • how he and his co-founder saw QRANK on the mobile form factor as a great combination to deliver a mainstream game that would appeal to grandparents and “your next door neighbor” while also appealing to “my geek friends”
  • that QRANK is really a business-to-business model app delivering value to companies while appealing to an end-user/consumer game player
  • QRANK is architected to produce engagement and actionable data from its installed base of players, that they expect to use in a variety of ways in the future to promote and reinforce brands
  • new ways to aggregating meaningful sets of QRANK players will gain importance, through specific subjects domains (like sports) or the ability to organize groups of friends and colleagues

Rodney is especially fascinated with the opportunity for QRANK and the game playing software layer that powers it to be used for public and private education in the future.  In that way, he shares similar feelings to those expressed by Disney’s Starr Long at last month’s GameOn Texas conference, where Long spoke of making fun games that kids prefer to play, that also happen to be educational.

Apple & Pizza: Mobile Headlines, May 14-20

by Tom Parish

This week there were a number of articles on how and why you want to be crafting a mobile strategy for your company.  Here is a place to start: “6 Steps for Building a Mobile Strategy” with some background on this trend here: “Enterprise Mobility – It’s real and It’s Happening now.”

Looking into the future as far as 2020 for mobile strategies is clearly a guess at this point given the speed of change, but that’s ok. Here is a slide presentation based on a number of collaborations to provide some thoughtful insights into the future.

If you’re still not convinced a mobility strategy is important let’s look where AT&T is placing a $1B investment in their enterprise mobility infrastructure. If you’re curious about mobility from a marketing perspective then be sure to read Shaheen Kazi’s “Why marketing Programs Should Begin with Mobile.”

Let’s talk about the App Economy for a moment. That’s a fairly new term that I imagine gets people wondering -huh? You’re going to be hearing more about this notion sooner than you think. These two pieces help reveal what this trend is about: “What the App Store Future Means for Developers and Users” and this paper from Bill French iPad CTO – “The App-Centric Enterprise.”

Of personal interest to me are the app trends in the airline industry which is only recently getting on board with testing out various mobile strategies. Even if you don’t use an airline app yet, there are a number of airline travel apps that are big time savers when traveling through airports. My favorite is TRIPIT.

RIM’s Playbook is still receiving some criticism around the lack of apps, problems with batteries, and a sudden recall of a 1,000 tablets. David Pogue of the New York Times gives more on the woes of the Playbook.  That said, the Business Insider reports that 250,000 have been sold since mid-April and 500,000 may sell in the first quarter.

So it’s Friday and the evening is near. Start thinking about what movie you want to stream into your living room and, hey,  let’s order a pizza and not have to mess with dishes.  Pizza Hut is expanding it’s mobile offerings with applications for the iPad and the Android so check those out. Now you don’t have to make a telephone call and worry about understanding the person on the phone who always seems to be in such a hurry while you’re figuring out what kind of toppings everyone wants.

Enjoy your weekend!


-Tom Parish, lead curator – Enterprise Mobility news

Customer Viewpoint on the Mobile Enterprise

by Steve Guengerich

The final session of the Enterprise Mobile Summit was Customer Panel: The Buyer’s Perspective, moderated by JP FinnellGigaOM Pro analyst, and led by David Patron, Head of Mobile Initiatives for Pepsi and Roger Hale, Head of IT Security for Brocade.

Roger and David each led off their comments with a short slide presentation and talk, describing the mobile situation at their respective companies.

They then answered questions by JP and the audience on how they dealt with issues from vendors, to internal strategy, to managing user expectations.

Below is the 3-part video of their panel.

In addition, you can read a more descriptive profile describing Pepsi’s approach to managing the transition to mobile for the enterprise.

For more fireside chats and panels, please check our complete list of videos from the 2011 Mobile Enterprise Summit.

Mobile Headlines: May 7-13

by Tom Parish

To toot our own horn some this week, Appconomy hosted a Mobile Enterprise Summit in San Francisco. To pique your interest, check out this session from on “The Age of Vertical Tablets.” This is an intriguing fireside chat between Mike Wolf VP of Research, GigaOMPro, and Sean Whiteley, SVP of Product Marketing, Salesforce.comThere are eight other sessions.

AT&T is investing $1B in enterprise mobility. They are going to allocate this to mobile and cloud services for business expanding their connected devices program. Caroline Gabriel says this is a “…strategy for emerging devices, in which it aims to connect millions of non-phone gadgets to its 3G and future 4G networks, generating additional data revenues but also the opportunity to create new value added services.” is giving consumers the ability to search from more than 130,000 hotels to book their travels via iPhone and Android applications. The result – an increase in bookings. Makes sense if you consider nearly everyone that travels has a smartphone and finding a hotel quickly while on the road can be tricky, especially when plans change suddenly.

If you’re like me you’ve been hankering to start using your iPad for presentations but you just haven’t quite made that step. Here is a review of 9 presentation apps for the iPad that might help you over the edge on this one.

It seems like this week retail executives are stepping forward with their opinions about mobility. A Target executive says mobile is the ultimate connector for retail success, yet an Ebay executive as a contrarian perspective saying that iPad consumers are only a small group of upscale and affluent. I’m curious what others think of this. Seems like if you can afford an iPad (and millions are being sold) then you are likely affluent enough to be buying products and services for other purposes – especially online. What do you think?

One of the key issues with adopting the iPad in the enterprise is security. Are the iPad’s security features robust enough? Kurt Marko from InformationWeek talks about this in his article “How secure is iPad?

That’s all for this week. Be sure you check out all the curated news on Enterprise Mobility on a daily basis or subscribe to the RSS feed for consumption on your own ‘mobile device.’

See you next week!

-Tom Parish, lead curator – Enterprise Mobility news The Age of Vertical Tablets

by Steve Guengerich

Another intriguing fireside chat during the Mobile Enterprise Summit was “The Age of Enterprise Vertical Tablet” between Mike Wolf, VP of Research, GigaOM Pro, andSean Whiteley, SVP of Product Marketing,

The following are a few highlights of Sean’s remarks, along with the videos from his fireside chat – enjoy!

Tablets have forced Salesforce to rethink the way customers use the software. Salesforce is very committed to using personas they have developed for different customer types; they give them names like Jesse, Tom and Ted, and use them firmwide as a shorthand way to refer to customers with specific attributes; their Salesforce personas have become very mobile over the past year

Salesforce’s approach has been to try to design the app specifically for the experience of the new device; they are resisting the urge to take an existing application and do a straight port of it to an iPad; Sean feels the bar for user experience with mobile apps is much higher.

In terms of tablet best practices, Sean admires twitter calling its iPad version one of the best tablet apps he’s seen. Aspects he likes in the experience: you don’t lose context or place as you navigate around the app; likes the move to filters, instead of tabs; the multiple panes contribute to efficient navigation and context

While Chatter was the first major app Salesforce created specifically for the tablet, the company has been engaged in mobility for awhile, more from the back-end, with contributions like Salesforce’s cloud app dev platform,

They continue to push mobile, not just through but also their platform, with the goal of providing SDKs for mobile developers to build mobile apps on their platforms.

That’s among the big reasons why they acquired Heroku late last year: to give the app development community more choices to build on their platforms – JavaRuby, wrappers for web developers who want to make apps mobile, etc. Sean says Salesforce’s view is that it needs to be accommodating to all sizes of companies and “flavors” of developers

In terms of Salesforce’s own apps, Sean said that the approach a developer takes to entering mobile space should ve very customer-driven. In their case, they focused Chatter development to work on the iPad first, then the iPhone. Then, moving to other OS platforms like Blackberry and finally Android. With the release of Chatter on Android, they’ve seen heavy mobile user adoption; they expect a Salesforce CRM app on Android by the end of 2011.

For more fireside chats and panels, please check our complete list of videos from the 2011 Mobile Enterprise Summit.

RIM’s TA McCann on User Provisioning

by Steve Guengerich

One of the early sessions at the Mobile Enterprise Summit was a great fireside chat between Mike Wolf, VP of Research, GigaOM Pro, and TA McCann, VP for Research in Motion (RIM).

RIM acquired TA’s company Gist just over two months ago, in particular to lead the process for RIM of re-imagining the social user experience.

Here are a few highlights from TA’s remarks – enjoy them and the videos!

Even though Gist was a strategic acquisition for RIM, TA’s team was relatively small with 20 people. Nonetheless, with that small, hard-working core, they produced an amazing amount of product, including apps for the iPhoneAndroid, and RIM OS platforms, that also work well, reliably within GmailOutlook, and handful of other cloud-based apps

The self-provisioning model caught everyone by surprise – it began innocently enough, when people began working without any help to activate their phones, synch to their PCs, and then install apps

But, now that its entering the enterprise in big waves, it’s critically important that models to provision and manage be better understood. In TA’s background, he used to run the Exchange business at Microsoft, so he feels he understands this IT point of view with regard to device management

TA thinks browser add-ins are an under-appreciated “big deal” – he personally runs 7 different Gmail plug-ins. He believes the same is true of the Chrome OS as well, which enable users to customize their experience

TA believes the tech disparity will always be somewhat generational – it’s just the way of things. With the younger generation presently, what’s ‘new’ is the social discovery of new apps, new technologies, new work styles

For the new generation, the whole idea is to try new things out and share the experience with friends – leverage social graphs, blending process and products; the de facto process changes driven by this cultural shift will impact centralized buying – the typical enterprise has to keep a lid on it, or at least ve very watchful, because this change has serious potential implications for budgeting, hardware/software turnover, etc.

Overall, TA expects (hopes?) to see more month-to-month, subscription-based offerings for services; some of the best-in-class of these apps, presently, in his mind are a number that plug-in to Gmail, including:Reportive, Taskforce, Gist, TextExpander, Tungle, and Evernote

TA’s bottomline: Things will get a lot ‘messier’ before they get cleaned up when it comes to self-provisioning and device/app management – which leads to a very big opportunity right now

For more fireside chats and panels, please check our complete list of videos from the 2011 Mobile Enterprise Summit.

Raj Nathan of Sybase / SAP: Fireside Chat

by Steve Guengerich

Among the topics at the Mobile Enterprise Summit was a fireside chat titled “Create Your Apportunity” between Summit emcee JP Finnell of GigaOM Pro and guest Raj Nathan, EVP & CMO, Sybase and director of the Mobility Applications Group for SAP.

We hope you enjoy the video of the fireside chat, as well as the highlights we summarized from their remarks, below.

Sybase is extraordinarily active in app development, with an estimated 2,300 enterprise applications being developed by customers.

In general, these apps tend to cluster around four broad categories:

  • Rich UI or graphically intensive – examples include mobile service management, or trade promotion and pricing, involving multiple process steps
  • Personal engagement with consumers or other end users – an example would be a legal app or other professional services
  • Enhancing general productivity of employees – an example is an app that enables employees to accomplish HR-related tasks, rather than require an HR staff member be available physically or by phone
  • Executive information – examples are apps that provide KPI (key performance indicator) reporting and other dashboard summary information. NOTE: refer to Appconomy’s In-depth article on Retail Food & Beverage

When considering app strategy, it’s worth the effort to consider apps that can be transformative for the operations of the business. At the same time, note that transformative doesn’t necessarily require excessive technology risk; for example, Raj believes that 60-75% of app development in the future will be suited to HTML5.  NOTE: refer to our podcast with James Pearce of Sencha

Mobile best practices advice for which Raj has the “scar tissue” to show for it, drawn from his IT leadership role at Sybase / SAP, includes:

  1. Lock in strong device management capability – only 35-40% of mobile devices are company owned, so it’s imperative to have both the written policies and the technology to manage mobility,
  2. standardize platforms of choice – it’s fine to multiple standards, especially when there is a developer class of employee, whose needs will be different than non-developers,
  3. acquire the expertise for in-house app development – SAP has 13,000 people who can build apps in the company; this provides them a tremendous competitive advantage, in Raj’s opinion, for both internal app development and work with customers

We welcome your comments and questions.