The Apple Social Network

Originally posted on the forums over at

Apple don’t really get the internet. It’s been shown by how terrible Ping was. The seemingly still going iTunes component that let you share what you were listening to with others. This didn’t really work out as people don’t really like sharing what they’ve just bought or listening to as it’s probably Abba or something else along those lines. No one needs to know.

But Apple still has a problem with many its services; No one knows if their friends are on it! The problem usually arises if you have an iPad and you want to iMessage someone. The problem is you must have the other person’s email address attached to their contact details. Even if you have their email you have no idea if they have iMessage enabled. The same problem also rears its head with FaceTime and Game Center.

So what can Apple do to solve this? In my opinion it needs to create some way of people having an iCloud profile that you can search for your friends. Now being Apple it would have to be highly controlled. I imagine that everything would be locked except for your name and maybe a profile picture. Maybe even knows if you have contacts in common to make sure you’re adding the right Jonny Appleseed.

You could then request to be iCloud buddies and the person receiving the request can decide what to share. Say your best friends, then mobile, home email address, permission for Find My Friends, Game Center, maybe even published iPhoto journals. Say it was a work colleague who you don’t want to have all that information, then you could just give access to your work email address. It would be very basic and just and online contact listing. It would not be mined by Google and you can only search if you’re signed up for iCloud.

It could even be an app included in iOS 6 with no real online presence. It would just sync contact details and allow you to find others. Sure it would have to be super secure to try to avoid hacking in some way but I could see it happening. Would you want to have some way to find your fellow iPhone and iPad friends?


Kindle Online – Will it Work?

This is a follow up really to my other post about why I believe Apple are forcing apps out of the App Store.
A few days after that Amazon unveiled their online version of the Kindle reader, which will allow anyone who has Kindle content to read through any web browser.

This is obviously a smart move by Amazon as it still allows them to try and sell books to iPad customers but will the added hassle now put people off?

In my opinion it has never been about existing customers of Amazon Kindle and instead Apple are looking at the people who have never bought an eBook. Therefore they don’t care if there is or isn’t a Kindle store available as an app.

Now for Amazon to get new customers on the iPad or iPhone, the process is more difficult. They obviously have lots of publicity and are known as the eBook leader. Now though, there is no direct link without going through Safari and adding a bookmark to the Home Screen. This is not natural behaviour as the App Store has mind share.

And the first time a user opens the App Store on their iPad or iPhone and even on the newer iPod touch, they are asked if they want to download the iBooks app. How long then until iBooks is pre-installed and becomes iDevice users default eBook reader?

I don’t think this will kill Kindle and the rumoured Amazon tablet may be the iPads first big competition, especially with the HP TouchPad being canned. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you think you’re going to use the Kindle Online or will it soon be ignored?

TechHub Tablets Review

Yesterday I attended an event at TechHub, a creative space in London designed to help creative businesses. The event was called ‘Publishing for Tablets and Monetizing Content – How to Marry the Two?” sponsored by Pearson.

This featured talks from

  • Eric Huang, Publishing Director for Media and Entertainment at Penguin
  • Glynn Hayward, Creative Director of Complete Control, a creative agency who have started publishing their own content
  • Mawuli Ladzepko of Express Reads, a startup hoping to offer eBook rentals
  • and Martin Harris, SVP Strategic Accounts at Bango, a mobile analytics firm
You can also see some discussion surrounding this through Twitter with the hashtag #TechHubTablets and follow @TechHub
So onto my summary of the talks!


Firstly the business of eBooks is still in its infancy and so a lot of experimentation is still needed. I think anyone who went to the event looking for tat magic formula will have been sorely disappointed. With all this experimentation though it does lead to, hopefully, better experiences for the consumer.
My favorite statement was from Eric Huang and below is my best estimation of it:


“We are now in the business of story publishing, not book publishing”


I  think that anyone who is looking to do an app should focus on this. You may not think that a game needs much of a story but look at Angry Birds. It has a compelling narrative, interesting characters, and great artwork. It’s basically a storybook with a game on top.


This only applies to publishing really, productivity apps don’t need much of a story. However, there are exceptions such as Tweetbot which adds character to what is a full market of Twitter apps.


Eric Huang also touched on the area of marketing as did Glynn Hayward. Penguin found that print ads offer no increase in sales as it requires a customer to go a long way just to get an app. Instead they have both found that appealing to blogs and getting the Apple seal of approval is the only real way to get a decent amount of people to your apps.


A lot of what Martin Harris talked about was removing friction for the buyer. He showed a slide where the conversion to sale on a site you have already bought at is 70%, whereas when you had to start putting your credit/debit card details in it was only 10%. Remember that your customer is time-starved.


Thankfully Apple takes away a lot of this hassle because you need to have your Apple ID linked to a credit card so you only need  to enter the details when your card runs out every few years.


This could also be a reason that people buying on Android Market is so low because of the hassle in signing up for a Google Account. It’s definitely worth thinking about.


Another interesting thing from Martin’s talk was on pricing. Obviously apps have seen a bit of a race to the bottom with most apps selling for $0.99. After Apple takes its 30% this doesn’t leave you with much. Martin gave an example of a stock tracking app that was $9.99, pretty expensive in the App Store. the app then went up in price to $17.99 and sales pretty much stayed the same plus your margin has increased. The great thing about the App Store is that you can experiment with price.


Overall from these talks I took away the need to experiment and there is no surefire way to have a success. If you go into the App Store you’re competing against 500,00+ apps that are all vying for people’s attention. If you try to do a web app then you’re seemingly competing against the whole of the internet with millions, probably billions of pages.


I look forward to more debate around publishing on tablets and it is definitely a way to try something new. As we’ve seen with PushPopPress, you may even get bought by Facebook.


So what are your thoughts?

Apple’s Play for eBooks

Unfortunately I have been without internet connection at home and wanted to write about this sooner. Apple have recently just enforced their new rules for publishers. This means if you sell anything through your app you have to do through an In-App Purchase and give a 30% cut to Apple. I’ll put some links at the bottom of this post if you want to read more about it. Anyway my post will focus on why I think Apple are doing this and it’s mainly to do with iBooks.

1.  Apple want to become synonymous with eBooks

Amazon may have the biggest market-share at the moment but that’s not going to stop Apple. Look at how iTunes became associated with MP3 and this is what they will want.

2. Force publishers to let them release in other countries

Currently you can only buy from iBooks in 6 countries; USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Spain. While America is Apple’s biggest market (for now) I’m sure they will want to expand to the rest of Europe, South America and most importantly Asia. Seemingly this is all down to licensing agreements in other countries and this can force their hands.

3. They make 30%!

While eBooks are generally cheaper than their printed counterparts, many of the top-selling iBooks are still $9.99. So Apple get roughly $3.33 for just hosting the iBook and letting customers download it. Sounds like pretty good business to me!

So there it is, 3 simple reasons and for now they want mind about harming a small minority of consumers if in the long run they become the biggest eBook seller. They are looking to get the customers that have never heard of Kindle or downloading a book before. Will it work? I’ll tell you in a year!



I do not work for Apple but do write stuff that then goes in apps for iPhone and iPad and have four iBooks in the store. I try not to be biased.

iCloud and You – A Match Made in Heaven?

As well as iOS5, Apple announced iCloud at WWDC on Monday. While it wasn’t quite what people imagined, it shows the future of Apple and computing in general. So what does it mean for you?

Firstly the iCloud means you will be able to sync your songs, apps, and even iBooks between all your devices. So if you have an iDevice and Mac it means you can keep everything synced automatically. As soon as you buy something on one device it will appear on your other devices. Obviously this relies on you having more than one Apple device, but you do have more than one right?!

The second part of iCloud is iTunes Match. This service means you can take any songs you have ripped from CDs (or any other way of getting music) and iTunes will match it for you from their 18 million strong catalog. You will then be able to download it to all your devices and use it just like you downloaded it from the iTunes Store in the first place. The only catch is that it will cost you $24.99 a year to use this service.

The most useful feature of iCloud though will be the automatic backup of your iDevice. This means if your device goes wrong then all your data will be available to download anywhere you have an internet connection and get it working again.

What most people thought iCloud would bring was a streaming service similar to Spotify and allow you to play a certain amount of music for a monthly fee. While it didn’t appear at this WWDC perhaps the music labels are scared of giving too much away to Apple again and want to see how many paying customers they can get for iTunes Match before allowing open access to all their music.

So what do you think of iCloud? Were you hoping for more?

What Apple Didn’t Show You

Yesterday, June 6th, Apple showed off iOS5 and the improvements it will bring. Sure everyone is excited about Notification Center and Safari Reader but there’s one slide that interested me and it shows up right near the end of Scott Forstall’s talk. If you haven’t watched it yet you can do so for free on Apple.

This slide came up as the 200 other features that will be coming in iOS5 and I just want to highlight a few of them for you.

  • Personal Dictionary
Now the dictionary with the iPhone is pretty good but once it adds a word it’s impossible to get rid of it. This was a feature that appeared in early iOS4 demos last year but never made the final cut. I’m guessing it’s the same and will allow you to edit the dictionary to your liking.
  • Emoji Emoticons
You know those little smiley faces? Well they are Emoji and are extremely popular in Japan and China but people in other countries seem to like them too judging by the amount of Emoji apps in the App Store. It seems Apple are finally going to open it up to all users with iOS5 though.
  • Swipe to Delete Songs
A song somehow got synced over that you hate but it’ll be OK as it looks like you’ll be able to delete straight from your device.
  • Custom Vibration Patterns and LED Flash
While custom vibration patterns seems like a great way to tell what are important phone calls apart from not-so-important you’ll also now be able to turn the LED on the iPhone4 into a beacon. This seems to be an idea pilfered straight from Blackberry, along with iMessages of course. Could this also hint at an LED flash being included on the front for the next iPhone?
It definitely seems like Apple has a lot planned for this update and it seems like a long wait until Fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s released just a few days before the traditional September Apple event so you’ll likely have to wait until then. Also expect the next iPhone to be announced then.