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Winning in “The Cloud”

Microsoft Office and Apple iWorks

Wedged in between the adulation and excitement that surrounded the latest iPhone during Apple’s media event last week was the technology giant’s latest shot across the bow in the battle for the Cloud: a territory that’s been identified as critical in winning the hearts and minds of the ever-mobile consumer.

As the faithful line-up outside Apple Stores to get snag an iPhone, we’ve had a chance to reflect on less hyped part of the announcement; and one that’s just as important as both brands build their respective eco-systems.

What happened? In effect iWorks (Apple’s answer to Office, with Pages (Excel), Keynote (PowerPoint) and Pages (Word) will be integrated into all new iOS devices, free. Apple previously sold the individual apps at sub-£10 price point (well above the psychological £0.99 threshold), and so by bundling it has removed the greatest barrier to adoption and at least experimental usage. iWorks most likely going to be available also to access as a web app, effectively also making it available on desktop PC’s (depending on the browser).

Why it does it matter? “Acquiring with the intent to retain”: Starting early, really early.

It’s no secret that loyalty begins early, and with that in mind, Apple has made a huge push in the younger teen and pre-teen audience through accounts tied to educational institutions which effectively allows them to start their CRM with this audience incredibly early.

Their device usage is also a key component feeding into this thinking. Over a third of teens own a smartphone (41% for the college educated – the largest pool of future enterprise users), yet 81% rely on a shared computer at home. This means that teens, competing with the rest of their family for big-screen time, become “mobile-mostly” internet users (Pew Centre Teens and Tech report), who given the current market-share breakdown are are more likely to be iOS/Android, and therefore exposed first to iWorks, and second to Office 365 (counter to the dominant trend of using Office as the primary productivity tool with occasional competitor usage. Notable too is that mums, who also control the younger audience’s pursestrings over-index on adoption of iOS tablet devices(vs. competitor devices) as well as downloads productivity apps.

While Apple has effectively guaranteed a much larger user base for iWorks, its market penetration for productivity apps remains low, and retention for productivity apps is below the 50% mark after a mere 30 days (compared with weather and news apps that hit the 70% threshold), which means that the short-term outcome for iWorks is far from certain.

iPhone

Previously Apple’s principle marketing effort was the aura, anticipation and excitement that was generated through its media events, at which devices such as iPhone and iPad were launched. A key element to the show was the element of secrecy.

The latter meant surprise. Without that element Samsung, was effectively able to develop strategy, concept and execute their successful “The Next Big Thing is Already Here” campaign in 2012, championing its Galaxy III, against the to-be -announced iPhone 5. Surprise meant yesterday, that Nokia’s teams were able to develop content strategy, talking points, and plan media (including a series of promoted tweets) with almost complete knowledge of the main features of the upcoming Apple devices. In addition the widespread audience knowledge of the event (with mainstream media coverage in the preceding weeks) also lays the groundwork for the conversation.