29 Mar 2012

Event Round Up - 19th March - Tablets Come of Age

MoMoLo volunteer Valentina Ciolino (@MissFog) has written up the proceedings from Monday 19th March - also do be sure to check out the interesting posts from MoMoLo regulars Simon Judge and Adam Cohen-Rose.

With many thanks once again to our sponsors - Barnes and Noble.

Over to Valentina:

We said goodbye to the winter and greeted the spring with an amazingly crowded Mobile Monday event: “Tablets Come of Age”.  

A wide range of viewpoints on the panel offered us a range of perspectives on the current state and possible future of tablets: journalist Stuart Dredge, mobile product manager Hesham Al-Jehani from ComScore, the creative director Ben Scott Robinson from WeLoveMobile (pictured), Claudia Romanini from Barnes & Noble's Nook Developer, providing the point of view of an hardware-selling and app-store-managing company, and finally the panel chair: Marek Pawlowski from MEX, the well-known user experience conference and consultancy.

And tablet user experience was indeed one of the main topics for the evening, the others being the user demographic, tablet usage and the infamous in-bed horizontal position. Not joking.

So how many types of tablets are there on the market? We can at least divide them into reader’s tablets, which includes both the e-ink devices and their little colour-touch-screen brothers from Nook, Amazon, Sony, and multi-purpose tablets, such as the ones powered by Apple, Android, RIM and Windows OSs. They have different uses and purchasing reasons: the reader’s tablets focus on the best reading and book purchasing experience, and appeal to not necessarily tech-savvy people (Nook’s target are mainly women 25 to 45 years old); the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy and RIM PlayBook fight for the same market as the smartphones, laptops and hi-tech gadgets.

Both Marek and Claudia offered us an overview of the market: Apple sold 40m iPads in 2011 in US, an amazing number of users that took smartphones 7 long years to reach. And while iPad now hold on 70% of the tablets market worldwide, its share will shrink within 2013-2014, giving space to the other brands. Nook is already the second best-selling tablet in US, and as for the others readers tablets, people buy it to read and buy books and then discover other functions and apps and games, and start buying them too. 

The forecast is that the devices sales will increase more, tapping into the PC sales. People who today have a PC but use it only for content consumption and maybe sending a couple of e-mail will soon buy a tablet instead. The business opportunity here is clear: tablets will become a mass-market product soon and good apps and content are required!

But software houses can’t make the mistake of just porting their smartphone or web apps to tablets without customizing them. In fact, there are some peculiar use-cases for tablet apps that sounded very interesting, and each of our panelists explained one. 

Ben told us about his 70 year old mum, who immediately understood how to open and use tablet applications, while she refuses to try the same with smartphones due to their small screens. Elders can approach tablets as a tool to read books and then maybe use them for some of their health-related applications (especially when you can plug other simple medical tools and send the results to your GP). Icons are big and the interface can be very clear and user friendly.

Claudia and Hesham reported about their families sharing time on tablets; use them to read tales and novels or to watch cartoons and videos and your children will be with you to enjoy the experience. Claudia’s 7 years old daughter taught herself to read with the help of a tablet used to register her voice and listen herself again, while Hasham’s 18 month old toddler prefers tablet time to TV.  And Stuart pointed out that his kids play with tablet apps in the same creative way as they do with Play-Doh, sometimes asking for help and proudly showing the results to their parents. 

Stuart’s wife also involved him in some collaborative shopping, from easy Christmas gift orders, to the potentially much more expensive selection of houses. Some ecommerce companies and brands are in fact already working on tablet-compatible versions of their Web sites, as well as video distributors, magazines and newspapers or TV firms such as Sky; while other companies are also going the other way, like the publisher Penguin which, as Marek reported, bought the rights to create a paper version of the Whale Trail app from UsTwo.

Will the entertainment industry be affected by tablets rise? The panel agrees that’s not the case. Some companies are even using tablets as sales tools (like Netflix increasing its use-base via iPad), and newspapers and magazines especially, noted Claudia, can play with the tablet features and create customized content for subscribers, where every article and picture is animated or triggers a video.

Tablets are perfect for entertainment and work well with TV, making advertisers very happy. In fact, Ben stated that TV and tablets are complementary just like web and radio, and Marek confirmed that 30% of tablet usage is in front of TV. 

Tablets are an interesting kind of portable device - despite being not heavy and not that big (so truly portable), they mostly stay at home, their mobility being limited to being taken from one room to another. This is confirmed, as Hesham noted, by stats showing that 92% of usage is over wi-fi (in the US) and content consumption happens while sitting at one location. 

21% of US tablets owners use them in bed and the above-mentioned horizontal position (which Hesham noted he has personally tried many times) is one of the most common for tablet use. It’s a market of couch potatoes and lazy night owls.

While during the day people use their PC and in the morning the check mails on their mobiles, the traffic peak for tablets is between 9pm and 11pm. People use tablets to browse the web, read books, check a recipe while cooking, watch movies and videos and play games. And there’s even an artist that uses his tablet to paint some digital drawings with his fingers.

Apart from that case, though, the content production on tablets is quite difficult due to the absence of a keyboard and that’s why they still struggle a little to enter the enterprise world. Tablets today are not very good for writing and not good enough to type, despite some good external keyboards on the market and some software to improve the use of the digital keyboards. The stylus seems to be making a come-back in this area – Marek noted that this was the accessory-du-jour at the year’s MWC, though he also noted that a stylus works better on old-fashioned resistive touch screen technology rather than today’s capacitive touch screens.

So what’s in the future of tablets then? The panel had a round of telling us what they would like to see on the future devices: some tactile experiences, easier connectivity with other devices or with PC, more focus on good and customized content, maybe a new generation of tablet apps that don’t mimic the user interface of other devices. Hopefully that will be happen soon!

Thanks Valentina and I'm so glad that Stuart got in that point about hating skeuomorphism, right at the end there!

26 Mar 2012

Line up for April 2nd Demo Night

Yes, Demo Night returns on 2nd April in partnership with ICT KTN (http://ictktn.org.uk)

We had a tough time choosing from the many people who applied to demo - many thanks to all who did.

Here are those to made it through the hoops of fire to demo next Monday - as usual a highly eclectic mix representing all aspects of the ferment that is mobile in London - and resisting all temptation to further purple prose - here goes:

  • We Love Mobile - Nestea Desktop AR Racer - multiplayer AR driving game
  • LocalSocial - proximity rewards, vouchers, offers
  • Six3 - Video Messaging
  • Pearson plc - LangAR - AR Phrasebook - no more "My Hovercraft is full of Eels"
  • Go-myLife - Social aimed at older demographics
  • KO-SU -  Mobile Learning Platform
  • Movellas - Authoring and publishing for mobile
  • Franklin Heath - Enigma Machine Simulator
  • Impossible Mobile - the one man MVNO
  • Intellidzine - Dtouch Android - "mixed reality" application prototype
  • Tone Push - another take on ringback tones
  • Sooqini - mobile marketplace

As usual attendance at the Mobile Monday London demo night is free - registration is now open on EventBrite - this should be a really interesting and entertaining evening!

As usual this event will take place at the CBI Conference Centre at Centre Point, the very tall building immediately above Tottenham Court Road tube station, on the Central and Northern Lines. Please use the entrance at street level under the bridge formed by the building itself.

5 Mar 2012

19th March - Tablets Come of Age + NOOK Developer Workshop

A year ago, more or less, our event on tablets looked forward to emerging trends and exciting possibilities. Here we are a year later, and with many thanks to our kind sponsors Barnes and Noble we get the opportunity to look back on what was thought to be coming then and see what's coming next. Not only that, but there will be a NOOK developer workshop in the late afternoon, before the evening event - see below for details.

It's a timely moment to look at the market given Wednesday's much heralded "expected announcement" and the recent triumph of Morris Lessmore at the Oscars. With 73 million tablet devices sold in 2011, this means that tablets accounted for around 25% of mobile PC shipments last year. Although this was still still dominated by iPad a lot of the excitement and commentary seem to be around the Kindle and the Nook - combining as they do a content ecosystem with the delivery of that content.

So our focus for the evening will be to ask what kinds of content are especially suitable for the tablet format - are we really seeing a significant emergence of tablet only content?  For a start the tablet offers the opportunity for multi-person interaction in a way that a mobile phone doesn't.  What are the other distinguishing properties? With all kinds of applications and all kinds of interaction possibilities, what is the right mix for any particular content type? What kinds of skills are needed for content creation?

And talking of content creation, last year we talked about using the tablet as a platform for content creation in its own right - where has that story got to today? It's said that there's a female skew in tablet app purchase and in follow-on sales - is this right, what are the demographics?

The ever important question, of course, is who is making money out of this and who will make money going forward? App creators have been known to express some scepticism about how satisfactory the returns are. Is this like mobile phone apps with only very small numbers of developers making a viable return? Check out the NOOK Developer Workshop announcement below for some apparently quite compelling figures. But let's find out, in short, how much money is there to be made?

To help us make sense of all this, Marek Pawlowski will chair the panel. Marek is extremely well known for the highly regarded and thought provoking MEX mobile user experience series of conferences and his mobile industry consultancy.

Joining Marek on the panel will be:

Claudia Romanini - Director Developer Relations, Barnes and Noble
Ben Scott Robinson - Creative Director, We Love Mobile
Hesham Al-Jehani - Product Manage, Mobile, ComScore
Stuart Dredge - Apps and Mobile Content Journalist

NOOK Developer Workshop

Developers, remember, Barnes and Noble would like to tell you about developing for the Nook platform at the workshop that will precede the evening event.  Here's what they say about it:

Join NOOK Developer for a workshop on NOOK Apps.  We will deep dive into all the technical aspects to help you distribute your apps on NOOK tablets and cover the entire development process -- from app creation to app submission.  Learn how to quickly monetize your business in a storefront where, in the US, top-selling apps gross more than $100,000 in the first 30 days of sale.


Nook Developer Workshop

4.00 pm Nook Developer Workshop Arrival / Registration
4.30 pm Workshop Starts
5.30 pm Workshop Breaks for Tea / Coffee

Tablets Come of Age

6.00 pm Panel Session Guests Arrival / Registration
6.30 pm Session Starts
8.00 pm Networking
9.30 pm Close


As usual the venue is CBI Conference Centre at Centre Point. Please use the entrance at street level. Nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road on the Central Line and Northern Line.

The event is free to attend, RSVP is required for both the workshop and the evening event separately at http://momolondon-2012-03-19-mw.eventbrite.com