We’ve been expecting for some time that phones using Google’s Android operating system were going to be serious players in the smartphone market, and sure enough, it’s happening! The number of devices available is set to jump from just one in August to as many as 30 by the end of the year. Three of the four major U.S. carriers are now offering Android devices – can you guess which one is not?
The fact that AT&T is not (yet?) selling an Android device is no accident – it’s almost certainly a concession they’ve had to make to Apple as part of their agreement to remain the sole U.S. carrier for the incredibly popular iPhone. The iPhone has been extremely good to AT&T, driving ARPU to over $60, the highest in the industry, and attracting millions of new subscribers, and they certainly want to keep Apple happy. And yet…are they missing out on an explosive new platform, and setting themselves up for rough times ahead?
The iPhone is unquestionably an amazing device, and it’s transformed the wireless phone market. The application-centric approach, multi-touch interface, and large, bright screen now define the standard for attractive wireless handsets. The flagship devices offered by all carriers now carry most of those characteristics, including Samsung’s Instinct line, Palm WebOS devices, RIM’s Blackberry Storm, HTC’s large-screen Windows Mobile devices – and of course, the first devices out the door with the Android operating system.
And yet – the iPhone’s basic design is now over two years old, a lifetime in the high-tech gadget industry, and Apple’s vise-like control over the platform may be strangling what could be even greater market growth as well as the natural evolution that any device needs to go through in order to remain popular over time.
Limiting the device to a single carrier puts it out of reach of millions who have long-term contracts or just don’t like AT&T’s spotty network coverage in their areas. Limiting the physical device to a single form factor makes it unattractive for people who want a physical keyboard, or a removable/replaceable battery, or a smaller device. And the stranglehold that Apple maintains over application submission and approval works only as long as there are no other alternatives for developers.
But the first-to-market advantage Apple and AT&T have enjoyed for two years is finally about to end.
The second round of Android devices now entering the market offer the same bright screen, application-centric interface and multi-touch manipulation that have made the iPhone so popular. They’re less-expensive than the iPhone and offer greater diversity in form factor with keyboards, removable batteries, and all the other bells-and-whistles that appear when a diversity of manufacturers work to differentiate themselves. They’re offered on multiple carriers, so new users don’t have to break a contract or leave a network that’s working for them.
The extra open-ness of the application platform will also benefit corporations and smaller organizations that want to create and deploy applications without having to hassle with Apple or make the apps available to the entire world. The corporate market is one that Apple has always struggled with, and the Android platform will rapidly squeeze whatever penetration the iPhone has been able to achieve thus far.
All in all – users, developers and organizations interested in a smart phone application should keep an eye on the Android. There will be a substantial shakeout in the market by Spring of next year, and Apple may suddenly find itself in a position it has avoided since the demise of the Macintosh – as a company playing catch-up in the high-tech marketplace.
What do you think? Will Android be as big as we expect, or will it remain just another second-tier device in an iPhone-dominated marketplace?
Here at MTB Mobile our core product is called “NonProfit 2.0”. Our soon-to-be-released product for political campaigns is called “Politics 2.0”. The “2.0” doesn’t mean these are the second release of the products – it means these products are built on the key concepts of “Web 2.0”. But what is Web 2.0?
Anyone who spends time on the Internet these days will have heard the term Web 2.0 many times, but it’s generally used without explanation. Broadly, it refers to a new generation of uses of the Internet that make it more interactive and democratic – more “conversation” than “presentation”. Where a (retroactively called) “Web 1.0” site might just contain information from a publisher to be consumed by a reader, a “Web 2.0” site enables and encourages interaction, user-generated content and sharing within a community.
Broad examples of Web 2.0 categories include:
Social Networks. Sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn provide users with the chance to share information about themselves, find others with matching interests and backgrounds, and participate in a community-generated conversation. Users can be individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, or just groups of people organized around a topic.
Micro-Blogging. Twitter is the best known example of a micro-blog, but others include Friend Feed, Plurk and Jaiku. Micro-blog users post short messages throughout the day, and these messages are automatically published to anyone who “follows” the user. When done badly, micro-blog posts can be frivolous and self-referential. When done well, the posts provide insight and information to a community of interest.
Social News. With the profusion of information on the Internet – much of it user-generated Web 2.0 content – it has become increasingly difficult to find the “good” content, meaning content that is interesting, accurate and relevant. Social News sites allow users to “vote” on content so that the best content moves up the list and the worst ends up at the bottom. Sites like Digg, Delicious and Technorati all make it easy for readers to quickly access the best – as determined by their peers – of what’s online.
So what does this mean for nonprofits? Web 2.0 is actually very exciting, because it offers the opportunity to create deeper and more lasting relationships with supporters.
People love to hear themselves speak, and they love even more to see themselves in print. You probably know from experience that one of the most effective ways to create a positive impression with someone is to ask them to do you a favor. Similarly, a supporter who has written about you or shared your story verbally has invested a little bit of herself in you, and is more likely to support you in the future. Enabling and encouraging supporters to create content about you turns them into advocates and can impel financial support as well.
You also know that the most effective advertising is user-generated testimonials that come across as conversation, not as marketing. The user-generated content of Web 2.0 is a perfect application of this principle, and has the potential to be a major new driver of growing your support base.
So, bringing this conversation full circle, why do we call our products “2.0”? We do it because they extend the benefits of Web 2.0 into the mobile space, facilitating user-generated communications via Facebook, Twitter, Email and SMS and making it simple for supporters to become advocates. And in just the way that every organization today has a (1.0) web page, and most organizations have a presence on (2.0) Facebook and Twitter, it won’t be long before having a mobile presence is a baseline requirement as well. Your increasingly-participatory advocates will demand it.
Some great links for further reading on Web 2.0:
(Full disclosure: I work for a company that creates iPhone applications for nonprofit organizations.)
As of September 2009 there are more than 85,000 applications in the iTunes App Store, with more than 2 billion downloads in just over a year. The Android Store has passed 9,000 applications, the RIM store is well over the 1,500 mark, and even Palm seems to have found its footing with the WebOS store and is adding applications at an accelerating rate. Clearly, mobile phone users have taken to using mobile applications for all aspects of their lives.
And yet…the number of apps launched by nonprofit organizations can probably be counted on my fingers and toes (and no, I don’t have any extras!). Why is that? What’s stopping nonprofits from taking advantage of the connections offered by a truly mobile world?
We’ve seen very strong adoption of social media by nonprofit organizations. A recent study led by NTEN.org shows that over 70% of nonprofit organizations have a Facebook page, 46% post videos on YouTube and 43% have a presence on Twitter. Clearly, nonprofit organizations aren’t afraid of dipping a toe into unfamiliar technological waters.
It also can’t be because they don’t think their supporter base doesn’t use the iPhone. With more than 20 million iPhone and iPod Touch users in the US alone, almost 10% of US mobile phone owners could use an iPhone application, and they tend to be disproportionately wealthy and social — both very handy attributes if you want to spread a message and get contributions!
Is the challenge simply that the trend toward using iPhone applications hasn’t caught on yet? What do you think? What other reasons are there for nonprofit organizations to be missing out on such an important communication channel?
What’s the easiest, most convenient way to make a small payment?
Nope, the answer’s not “credit card” — especially when you have to give that long number, then your billing address, then your “secret” code…
You might suggest PayPal or Google Checkouts. They’re easier, but they still require some setup work before you can make a payment.
What’s the one thing that nearly every person in America carries in a pocket or purse — besides chapstick and pocket lint?
While Americans have been familiar with “premium SMS messaging” for a long time (think voting for your favorite on American Idol), making charitable contributions using a mobile phone is a relatively new concept for most people. But it’s just about the easiest way out there to give a small, impulse contribution.
Here’s how it works:
It’s super-easy, and the method is growing exponentially. Here’s a news story about how the NY Philharmonic is using it to support summer concerts.
Once you’ve established the ability to accept contributions this way, you have a lot of flexibility about where you ask for impulse contributions. Just integrate it into your normal advertising strategy — brochures, billboards, magazine ads, on your Facebook page and your website, in your email signature or in a Tweet, or even in your own iPhone mobile application.
In fact, the Keep A Child Alive foundation recently raised more than $130,000 during the BET awards ceremony, after Alicia Keys made an unscripted comment asking people to donate! Imagine that — an off-the-cuff remark nets $130,000 for an organization!
For more articles about nonprofits benefiting from SMS giving, visit this blog or just search for “SMS Donation”.
If you haven’t learned about Google Grants yet, you’re missing out. The program offers enormous benefits to small-to-midsize non-profit organizations, including up to $10,000 a month in free Google Adwords advertising, PLUS free contribution processing through Google Checkout. The money saved alone is an enormous in-kind contribution from Google, and the extra web traffic you can drive with effective use of Adwords can have a major impact on your revenue.
If you’re not familiar with Adwords, that’s what Google uses to drive the paid advertising that shows up when you do a Google search, and that also shows up on a variety of websites. Basically, you choose a set of words you think people who would support your organization might be searching for, like “advanced prostate cancer”. Then, when someone uses that search term, Google serves up your ad along with the unpaid “organic” search results. If the searcher clicks on your ad, your account is “charged” for the click.
The program requires very little in the way of qualifications – you must be a 501(c)3 registered with the IRS, you must submit some thoughts about your keywords and your ads, you must measure the effectiveness of the ads (which you should be doing anyway!) and you must stay in touch with Google regularly – that’s about it!
Have you seen the iPhone? I mean really seen the iPhone? I’m a mobile technology professional – I’ve worked in this field for more than 10 years – and I can say that I’ve never seen anything more likely to completely change the industry than the iPhone.
First, it’s gorgeous just to look at. Sleek, rounded, shiny – it just shouts “fast, fun, cool!”
Second, Apple took that gorgeous right on into the user interface. Even the fattest-fingered developer can create screens that feel balanced and proportional and transitions that slide like oil on a suntanned back.
And to top it off, the Application Store! It’s a candy store for the iPhone owner, chock full of thousands – tens of thousands! – applications that range from the stupid-but-funny (iFart and all its iterations) to the uniquely useful (UrbanSpoon, a restaurant finder with a personality). The applications turn the iPhone from a cool looking phone and music player into a truly engaging handheld computer.
Now, I know, the iPhone has been out there for almost two years! Why so late to the party? Well…living in Kansas City I have to admit to being a Sprint partisan. I’ve been reluctant to consider a device that Sprint doesn’t carry. Sprint has had a reputation for such a long time as the leader in data and device innovation – surely they’d have the iPhone if it was truly worthy??
Well, friends – I was wrong. (My wife will probably print this and hang it on the refrigerator.) I had a chance to play briefly with some iPhones over the holidays, and it’s just been growing on me since then. This thing is truly incredible.
More to come!