Branded iPhone Apps From NewsGator

We have experienced a lot of success with our NetNewsWire application on the iPhone, and like all good things in business it lent itself to a series of “what if” discussions internally, the result of which was what I am writing about today.

With NewsGator’s native iPhone Apps your brand and content are just a fingertip away from over 7M iPhone users. Launched in July 2008, Apple’s new 3G iPhone and App Store have experienced tremendous success with over 1M iPhones sold and more than 10M App downloads in the first three days after launch! You can reach this large and growing audience with NewsGator iPhone Apps. Our Apps enable you to deliver a branded media experience directly to the iPhone – providing users with one touch, anytime access to your content.

[From Branded iPhone Apps - NewsGator Widgets]

We realized that we could take the very popular NetNewsWire application for the iPhone and strip off the NewsGator branding to make it a dedicated media reader app for our media clients. We also had to detune it from being a general purpose mobile RSS client to a media specific reader apps. All of this stacks up to be an exciting offering for media companies who wish to have an iPhone app that can be used to increase their audience and more fully engage them at the same time.

There are two reasons why this is an exciting development. First and foremost, media brands have an absolute requirement to extend their presence to the places where people are consuming content and mobile is just one of those places. Building a better website is by itself no longer a strategy for expanding audience and advertising revenue, moving out to mobile is a compelling option for any media site, large or small. The iPhone has dramatically reshaped the mobile marketplace and it’s because of iTunes more than any other factor, we now have a merchandising mechanism for moving apps down the pipe to end users and this is hugely important.

The second reason this is exciting is that developing iPhone apps, or any mobile app for that matter, is complex and expensive. Go out and try to hire iPhone app developers today, good ones are very difficult to find and the market is super competitive, all of which conspire to make iPhone app development a steep hill to climb for media companies. They will invariably end up going with custom development that gives them little in the way of content control and then carries with it the risk of alienating their audience with a less than compelling application that they also have to support.

Our branded iPhone application program not only overcomes the challenges that media companies face with mobile app development, but we also host it for them and that removes a big operational challenge from their equation. We host it, provide our proven content management capabilities and all for a reasonable cost of a one time setup fee and a monthly hosting fee based on the number of downloads per month. We also handle insertion into iTunes App Store and have a best practices approach that clients can follow for predictable success.

200810161518.jpg

Apple’s .83% market share

UPDATE: My Monday morning math was off a digit, with 1.2 billion handsets sold on an annual basis, Apple’s 10 million share is .83%

I was reminded about how important perspective is when last Friday I met up with Jackie Danicki, Chris Yeh, and Christine Lu, who had a great quote when she said “I don’t tweet too much, some people just don’t have enough people in their follow list and my tweets don’t distribute out evenly as a result”. Today I read that Apple has sold 10 million iPhones in 2008… or put another way, .0083% .83% of global handset shipments.

Why is 7.6 million significant? Because coming into its fourth quarter, Apple had already sold 2.42 million first-generation iPhones. So if Tommo_UK’s IMEI data can be trusted and if Zaky and Muller’s analysis is correct, Apple (AAPL) has reached its oft-stated goal of selling at least 10 million iPhones in 2008 with three months to spare.

[From Apple iPhone 3Gs: 9,190,680 and counting - Apple 2.0]

If you look just at “smartphone” shipments then Apple’s performance is stellar, however it would appear that Apple is assiduously trying to avoid that label so they may take offense with being measured against that much smaller market segment. At any rate, it would be really interesting to see a breakdown of unit shipments by country.

Obama iPhone App

This is a really smart move by the Obama campaign. Not only does it continue to push the tech savvy narrative that this campaign has earned (although that SMS gimmick for the VP announcement was a little lame), but it also looks like a pretty well thought out set of features to engage supporters.

Politics is a great example of the necessity to appeal not through broadcast mechanisms but by multicasting to hundreds – thousands – of targeted markets and demographics. Media brands need to get on board with this concept as well as politicians.

Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign launched an iPhone application on Thursday that turns the vaunted device into a political recruiting tool.

[From Obama releases iPhone recruiting, campaign tool | Politics and Law - CNET News]

200810021244.jpg

Android & iPhone, Same Thing Only Different

I watched the Android coverage over the last couple of days and quite honestly, I don’t get it.

Mossberg comes out with a column that basically says, to paraphrase, “the Android is a real competitor to the iPhone, here’s all the things that are better on the iPhone.”

“Google’s new G1 phone announced today is the first real competitor to the iPhone. Like Apple’s product, it’s a serious handheld computer with a powerful new operating system (called Android) and a clever touch-based user interface. Like the iPhone, it’s likely to be a major new platform for third-party software. But it’s also very different, and may appeal to different buyers.”

But then he goes on to point out:

1. Tightly bound to Google Contacts, Calendar, and Gmail. No Exchange sync.

2. “The G1 won’t win any beauty contests with its Apple (AAPL) rival,” and “still, it feels pretty good in the hand when closed, although I found it more awkward when opened. ” So it feels good and awkward.

3. “The web browser is based on the same open-source technology as the iPhone’s, but works differently.” Same thing only different…

4. No street view in google maps… which is kind of ironic considering it’s, you know, GOOGLE maps.

5. “The G1’s multimedia capabilities are less polished and complete than the iPhone’s.”

6. No built in video player, gotta go download it. There is a Youtube player but no video player.

7. “And it lacks the iPhone’s ability to change the orientation of a web page or photo by just turning the phone” and no flicking through photos with your finger.

8. The G1 also has much less memory than the iPhone.

On the pro side, the Android does have copy/paste, which the iPhone desperately needs, and MMS, which nobody uses.

Gizmodo came out today with a review that is less generous than Mossberg’s, who typically plays it down the middle. Is Google spiking the packaging when they ship this handset out? Is there halo of sunshine that emanates from the box when it’s opened?

NetNewsWire iPhone Application is Very Popular

Today we released some statistics for adoption and usage of our NetNewsWire for iPhone application. To recap, this is the downloadable and installable version of NNW for the iPhone, not the web-based version we launched last year when the original iPhone was released.

# There are over 200,000 users of NetNewsWire for iPhone
# Over 115,000 iPhone users have signed up in the past 30 days

# The average NetNewsWire iPhone user subscribes to 26 feeds

# One NetNewsWire/iPhone user has over 2,800 feeds — wow!

# More than 130 million items have been marked read by NNW/iPhone users

[From NetNewsWire iPhone Application is Very Popular: NewsGator Widget Blog]

Here are the 2 stats which mean most to me, new users in last 30 days and items marked read. The new users in the last 30 days is meaningful because it indicates strong word-of-mouth traffic and all while the App Store on iTunes has become very crowded. People like this app and are telling other people about it.

The items read (along with another stat that we track showing how many registered users are accessing it daily) is really important because it underscores a very important point, people are installing the app AND actually using it on a repeat basis. I can think of no more important metric to track as an indictor of the value people are getting from this application.

I could read into the average number of feeds subscribed to, but I’m a little hesitant to because this could have many meanings. The 26 feeds per iPhone user could mean that we are reaching into the “mainstream mass market” and not just the RSS geek and early adopter market, or it could suggest that users are actually being very specific about the feeds they are reading while mobile and taking advantage of our “Locations” capability to organize their experience.

These are great numbers that we are certainly proud to talk about, but it also fits with a general attitude we have about being transparent about our business.

Not Upgrading to the iPhone 3G

Thomas Hawk nicely summarizes why I won’t upgrade to the 3G… I’ve had my “original iPhone” for about a year (bought it post price cut) and generally like it but the new iPhone simply doesn’t do it for me and I can’t see shelling out the $$ to get something that is a minor version release.

Originally I was not planning on upgrading to the new phone. But when my old phone was dropped and broken this provided the entry to try out the new iPhone 3G. My experience with the new phone so far is that it is very similar to old phone. But for people with a working first generation iPhone I do not feel that upgrading is worth it after a month of hands on experience and here are my reasons why.

[From Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: The Top Five Reasons Not to Upgrade to the New iPhone 3G]

Hawk points out that the 3G network is less than impressive and having seen my wife’s Verizon Blackberry side-by-side with a new 3G iPhone, I concur. Verizon’s network is simply better than AT&T on many levels… and that’s here in Bay Area, I can only imagine what it must be like on the east coast where Verizon is dominant.

I do disagree with Hawk’s assertion that wifi will be ubiquitous, but that’s really a small point and I don’t think the iPhone on wifi is all that great either when public wifi connections often require you to submit an email or have some other login feature before activating.

NewsGator iPhone App

nnwOnHomeScreen.PNG NetNewsWire is now available on the iPhone. I don’t normally write about every product that we release but this one is really really cool because it takes full advantage of the touch interface to vastly enhance the user experience of a mobile feed reader.

Apple made a couple of really strange design choices, like the headset jack requiring an extension, and the lack of copy/paste, but adoption of the touch gestures really makes this device in my opinion. Ironically, touch gestures may be a primary reason why we don’t have copy/paste…

Brent put a lot of work into this app and it reflects not only his intuitive sense of what is right in a Mac app, or in this case, a Mac app on an iPhone, but also what works for users. I’ve always admired that NetNewsWire has a deep bench of features available to the user, but the user experience doesn’t overwhelm you with features.

Here are some screenshots of the app in action. Go download it from the App Store today.

nnwMainScreen.PNG nnwNewsItemsList.PNG nnwNewsItem.PNG

iPhone = Misogyny

Further evidence that we have become a society of the offended… the iPhone was designed to not use a stylus therefore Apple must hate women. Seriously, at one point did long fingernails become an ADA issue and is Ms. Currie unaware that there are other mobile phones she can buy that function better for her requirements.

Erica Watson-Currie of Newport Beach, Calif., a consultant and lecturer, is among the women up in arms that the iPhone won’t respond to their long fingernails. She states, “Considering ergonomics and user studies indicating men and women use their fingers and nails differently, why does Apple persist in this misogyny?”

[From DailyTech - Women With Long Fingernails, Fat Fingers Complain About iPhone]

Apple’s 45 Million iPhones in 2008

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster took a lot of heat back in June 2007 when he predicted, three weeks before Apple even began selling the iPhone, that the company would be shipping them at the rate of 45 million a year by 2009.

[From FORTUNE: Apple 2.0 Analyst: How Apple sells 45 million iPhones in 2009 «]

It’s not entirely outrageous but the handset market is super competitive and it’s certain that Apple’s leverage will diminish in the absence of another Jesus-phone, and 3G alone ain’t gonna be that. I’ve used my iPhone since last September and am generally pretty loyal to Apple products, but I’m lusting for the Nokia N95. I might even go back to a Blackberry.

Apple is clearly a player in the handset market but to go from where they are to 45 million is beyond aggressive (mind you, as I read this article, Munster was talking run rates and not absolute shipments.) The carriers clearly want this handset and the association with Apple, but the price points are pretty steep and with no subsidies they are capping their market.

Blackberry is the most serious threat to Apple’s ambitions, but they really phoned it in (no pun intended) with the Blackberry 9000. It’s basically the same ‘ol crappy BB with rounded corners and a pretty background image. This surely can’t be the best Blackberry can do, can it? And don’t call me Shirley.

Here’s why I wouldn’t buy another iPhone even though I generally like the one I have:

1) No copy/paste. It’s a small point but incredibly frustrating that Apple didn’t include this cuz it would have screwed up their UI.

2) Battery life. Keep that wifi turned off. In all fairness, most of these uber-handsets have crappy battery life.

3) No video from the camera. The camera is okay, but just okay.

4) Clunky email interface, slow as well. I do like the virtual keyboard much more than I would have thought.

5) It’s heavy and kinda large.

One final note, the SDK will be a big step in the right direction but I suspect that Steve Jobs is only going to go the full distance on openness while being dragged kicking and screaming along the way. I want apps on my iphone and it kinda pisses me off that I can’t have them right now.