Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in the holiday season (Part 2)

Hope you are enjoying Thanksgiving and have had a great Thanksgiving meal (I know I did! :-)!

A few observations from this Thanksgiving (and from earlier in the week) when it comes to specific retailers and their sales/policies:

Best Buy: Had the iPad Mini 4 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) from Monday through Wednesday, then had the IPad Air 2 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) on Thanksgiving.  (Note that Best Buy had the iPad Air 2 for $75 off this past weekend).  Thus, they were the same price, yet, the iPad Mini 4 only sold out of all versions at that discount very early this morning (about 12 AM ET, with the 128 GB Gold being the last one to become either “Check Stores” or “Sold Out.”)

However, the iPad Air 2, only at a $125 discount since about 1 AM ET, has sold out in all versions.  Just before 5 PM ET, the 128GB Space Gray and the 32GB Space Gray were still available, but the 128GB version became “Check Stores” instead of “Add to Cart” about 5:15 PM ET, while the 32GB Space Gray just became that since the time I went to eat dinner in the 5-6 PM hour.

Thus, you can see how the iPad Air 2 at $224.99, $274.99, $324.99, and $374.99 sold out much quicker than the iPad Mini 4 at the respective same prices.  (Note that the Mini 4 128 GB version are back in stock at their usual price of $499.99; the 32 GB Silver version being available for $399.99 – its usual price – but only by “Checking Stores” – this seems to indicate that there was a certain allotment of iPad Mini 4s at the respective price of $374.99, being that I mentioned that the 128GB versions did all sell out by very early this morning.  Thus, it will be interesting to see what occurs the rest of this holiday season in terms of both when Best Buy has iPad Air 2s and Mini 4s at sale prices and if those sale prices are as low as $125 off the normal prices or only $75 off the normal prices).

Reportedly, Target had the 128GB Silver iPad Air 2 for something like $379.99 early this week, plus a 10% off TECH coupon code, but it was reportedly out.  The other colors in the 128GB version, plus the 32GB version in all three colors (Silver, Gold, Space Gray), were all there, able to use the 10% TECH coupon code, but not the 128GB version.

Then, as of Wednesday, the 10% code was gone.  As of Thanksgiving, all versions – including the missing 128GB silver version – were in stock at full price ($499.99 for the 128GB version), with NO coupon code whatsoever.

Thus, scarcity is being used to encourage purchasing right at that exact moment, a major key in digital marketing, ecommerce, and mcommerce.  It’s often difficult to convince a consumer to buy, especially without a salesperson there to answer his/her questions, but giving the scarcity of only so many items in stock at a specific price is often enough impetus for a consumer interested in such an item to purchase right then and there or to potentially miss his/her opportunity to get that item at the lowest price possible.

In an upcoming post- likely on Friday – a retailer that still charges an in-store pickup fee in 2016. Yes, unbelievable as that may sound, there is still at least one retailer that does.  I will mention who that is and why that is likely not helping business in an upcoming post.

Until my next post, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

 

Why ecommerce & mcommerce are important in holiday season (Part 1)

I hope all of you are having a great Thanksgiving!

I know it has been a while since I last wrote; this has been due to multiple circumstances and situations, both regarding family and business. My sincere apologies for this: I hope to write much more regularly for this blog in the near future, including this upcoming holiday weekend.

The theme for this weekend’s blog posts will be why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in this hoilday season.  I will expand on this further in a blog post tonight.

For now, I will say that an ecommerce site that is mobile-friendly (making it a mcommerce site as well) is essential for every retailer and industry doing business today.  Why?  The key reason is because, there is a dilemma over whether retailers should be open on Thanksgiving.

While there are notable retailers still open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Best Buy

Target

Walmart

etc.

 

There are other notable retailers that are not open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Jo-Ann Fabrics

Lowe’s

TJ-Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods (all owned by TJX Brands)

Even the retailers that are open this year didn’t open earlier as they have over the past few holiday seasons.  The earliest any of them are opening is JC Penney at 3 PM ET, with retailers like Best Buy and Toys R Us opening at 5 PM ET, then ones like Target and Walmart opening at 6 PM ET (and staying open throughout the night into Black Friday).

Thus, the trend where retailers were determined to be open on Thanksgiving has died down to the point where only the most prominent retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, whereas others have decided to remain closed, give their employees the holiday off, and reopen on Black Friday (often as early as 12 AM ET, and certainly no later than 5-6 AM ET, much earlier than usual opening hours).

But, what must be realized nowadays is that if you have an ecommerce site (and especially an mcommerce site) in today’s digital age, you are NEVER really closed, even if your brick-and-mortar stores are closed.

In fact, on my Twitter feed @jchengery about four years ago, I advocated that retailers would be better off staying closed on Thanskgiving and allowing their websites to operate as normal and get the sales that can be had just as easily (if not easier) than people going to the store and picking up items.

Yes, there are about 29 million people estimated to shop at the stores on Thanksgiving, and while that certainly sounds like a lot, that is still a very small percentage of the overall American population.  And, while some will say that retailers who choose to remain closed while competitors are open on Thanksgiving are under pressure to choose to be open as well, if they have a capable ecommerce site and the infrastructure to handle orders, then the advantage those competitors get from being open is mitigated to a large degree.

Sure, some competitors may benefit from those consumers who want their purchase right now, but if retailers who have capable sites offer special pricing, special add-ins, and/or special discounts/perks, it’s likely that many of those consumers will be willing to wait for their packages for a bit, being especially that we are still a month away from Christmas Eve.

Before the advent of the Internet age and the rise of ecommerce and mcommerce, yes, retailers who went outside the norm of what their competitors were doing would often be at a disadvantage, but that is no longer the case with a capable ecommerce site that can handle mobile ordering as well, something that is clearly on the rise in 2016.

I will have more to say on this topic in the coming posts, along with some observations I’ve seen in regards to retailers and their sales this Thanksgiving holiday- stay tuned!

Again, I wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous Thanksgiving!

The Apple Watch Is Just Another Example of Apple’s “Smart” Marketing Funnel

By now, you have probably heard at least some of the details regarding Apple’s new smartwatch.  I’ll mention a few of the highlights below.

1. Its battery life is 18 hours.

In comparison to some Android smartwatches, that’s actually an improvement.  However, when it comes to some notable smartwatches, including Pebble, that’s actually unremarkable.  There are some smartwatches on the market that can go as long as 7 DAYS between charges; Apple’s only comes in at 3/4 DAY, which means that you will have to charge every night at least.  Keep in mind too that that 18-hour mark is likely its maximum; the actual time will vary depending on your activity and will likely be less than the stated 18 hours.

As you would expect, Apple touted the features of the Watch in an attempt to mitigate any disappointment that may have been felt by the fact that the stated time of the battery life was just 18 hours.  Tim Cook stated that the “Apple Watch is the most advanced time piece ever created.”

2. The starting pricing tiers for the three types (Sport, Watch, and “Edition”) are $349, $549, and $10,000(!)

I think many equally wondered what the top-tier pricing would be for the “Edition” version, and I think some were amazed that Apple would go that high, thinking Apple would sell at a lower price than $10,000.  Of course, Apple is trying to market it as a luxury jewelry item, a major reason why they’ve promoted it in two Vogue magazines (U.S. and China), including a recent 12-page ad in the U.S. version.  Combined with the materials used to construct the watches (especially the Edition version, which has 18-karat gold) and a high profit margin, that’s why Apple is charging the amount that it is.

It still remains to be seen if the luxury market will open up its arms and wallets to the Apple Watch, being that this is new territory for Apple, never mind the fact the smartwatch industry has not taken off as many experts thought it would.

This September 9, 2014 New Yorker article, “Does Anyone Want a Smartwatch?“, shows the issues surrounding smartwatch makers to this point, and I think Apple will come across similar issues, especially when it comes to whether people actually feel they NEED one.  Yes, there will be devoted Apple fans who will want to get one just as they did the iPhone and iPad, but as that article mentions, those items replaced something before them and did it better.  The question is, “What is the smartwatch replacing?”

Some people don’t wear watches of any type, while others wear a $9.99-$29.99 timepiece that they like, think it goes well with their attire, and tells time (what a concept! :-).  These timepieces can easily last 5-10 years or longer (I’ve had watches work even beyond 10 years, and that can be without changing the cell battery; if I change the cell battery, I’ve had some watches work 15-20 years without an issue).

This brings me to my point about Apple’s “smart” marketing funnel once again being at play with its Apple Watch, and why getting 5-10 years or beyond of use with this current Apple Watch may be a period of time that never occurs due to the way Apple and virtually all tech companies operate.

If you’ve followed along with Apple products in recent history, you know that an iPhone or iPad model is released every year (give or take a few months).  It will often have the latest specs (or close to it) at the time it is released, then it quickly becomes outdated, just as virtually all technology does.  Apple will then release the next updated model with updated specs.  You’ve seen this with its smartphone: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c & 5s, iPhone 6 & 6 Plus; you’ve seen this with its tablet: iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2; you’ve seen this with its mini tablet: iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3.

In the not-too-distant past, many Apple fans were determined to get every updated version, just because every model seemed so new and innovative.  However, as time has gone on, I know of many Apple users who don’t get every version of the iPhone, not seeing the need to update because the newest model wasn’t that much different from the one they were currently using.  In addition, people were more willing to upgrade when their 2-year contracts run out, thus leading to them often skipping one model upgrade, at least.

The iPad has been similar, being that the technology upgrades weren’t that much different from the previous version, especially over the past few years.  Plus, in the iPad’s case, the full-size tablet has started to witness declining sales due to the smaller-sized tablet (iPad Mini line) and, most recently, the phablet-sized smartphone (iPhone 6 Plus).

Still, even with Apple users skipping some updates, they still were willing to upgrade their products, and in many cases, they had to.  Some of the newest iOS operating updates and/or current apps don’t work or work as well with older hardware versions (that have older operating systems or memory limitations- those who own an iPad 2 like me know this, especially when it comes to updating to iOS 8, which can take up over 25% of a 16GB iPad 2).  Thus, it was necessary to upgrade your hardware in order to continue receiving the benefits and conveniences of that technology.  This is true of Apple (as it is pretty much of every technology company).

Apple has also integrated this into its smartwatch as well, and that could be a potential deterrent for those who expect their timepieces to last a long time (i.e. 10 years or more).

On Apple’s part, it’s smart marketing because, this will encourage (and even force) users to upgrade their timepieces in order to continue gaining the benefits and convenience from the Apple Watch.  Apps that are used on the Apple Watch will likely need an updated operating system (either the most current or close to it) in order to continue functioning properly and giving the Apple Watch its greatest value.  Those who want to keep their Apple Watch version for a long period of time (say, 5+ years or more) likely won’t be able to upgrade the iOS operating system after a while either due to technology incompatibilities, lack of storage space, or some other reason (much like the issues with the iPad 2 and even with the iPad 3 and iPad 4).

Thus, I suspect that after two to three years (maybe five years, max), the current Apple Watch won’t be able to handle the iOS updates and/or the updated apps needed to give the Apple Watch its greatest functionality.  Thus, users will be faced with one of two choices- either purchase the newest (or at least newer) version of the Apple Watch or stop using the Apple Watch altogether.  For diehard Apple fans who like the watch and have grown accustomed to its features and conveniences, that may be nearly impossible to do.

Thus, Apple has employed its marketing funnel again in order to get Apple Watch users to become paying customers AND remain paying customers (and that doesn’t even include utilizing iTunes and Apple Pay, two more ways to keep these customers as RECURRING paying customers).  That is really what you want to see in a successful business- the ability to get AND KEEP paying customers in your funnel- that’s how you can make residual income long term, which is why Apple is doing so well in terms of revenues and stock price, as well as why it has so much cash on hand.

Therefore, if you really want to learn about marketing strategy and employ that into your own business and your own marketing methods, pay close attention to Apple’s product development and launch strategies – you can learn a great deal of how to set up your own product development cycles and marketing strategies in order to get customers to pay you and to keep paying you over a long period of time, while boosting and promoting your brand in the process.

 

Why Apple Should Delay The Apple Watch- Updated- Better, But Still A Wait and See

I’m writing this updated post to my Apple Watch post yesterday due to the fact that there are reportedly two main updates to the Apple Watch prior to the event on Monday that were just revealed today:

1. The Apple Watch will reportedly have better battery life than was reported before, supposedly up to 5 hours with fairly moderate app use (via this 9to5Mac article).

2. The Apple Watch WILL be able to monitor heart rate (beats per minute) via its Heart Rate Glance (via the same 9to5Mac article).

Both of these bode well for Apple Watch’s immediate success, particularly #2.  That is because this should help to make the Apple Watch more appealing to millennials and for them to see it as being valuable enough and useful enough to where they’ll want to buy it sooner rather than later.

Thus, I do think the prospects for Apple Watch’s immediate sales are better with these developments and previously unannounced capabilities, though I still think there is enough uncertainty there in regards to battery life (how much do specific apps drain the battery, for instance), limited apps, limited capabilities, lack of general enthusiasm in the smartwatch industry, and phone users who are not Apple users (Android, Windows, etc.) that it will likely cause the Apple Watch to not quite have the impact some are predicting when it comes to the smartwatch industry.

Will the Apple Watch do enough to move the smartwatch industry and the wearables industry in general? Over time, and with better advancements and capabilities, it’s possible, but I still don’t think this first rendition will move the industry as much as some are expecting.  As I said yesterday, there will be Apple fans who will go out and “have to have it” right away either because they want to be part of the “in” crowd or because they want to be one of the first who had the very first Apple Watch, but I still think that expectations might be out-of-whack, even with these two positive developments for the Apple Watch.

There are still questions on how popular wearables, particularly smartwatches, will become overall- it still comes down to how useful these devices will be, especially in regards to the relatively high cost (especially with the Apple Watch).  The health monitoring will especially be the key, particularly when it comes to the Apple Watch (as I said yesterday, don’t expect the Apple Watch to replace your iPhone- Apple can’t afford that, so that’s not happening, certainly not in the foreseeable future)- if that health monitoring feature is useful enough, that may be the biggest key for the Apple Watch and for the smartwatch industry in general to take off and become as part of mainstream society as the smartphone and tablet (or is that “phablet”?) has become.

Why Apple Should Delay The Apple Watch

As you probably know, Apple is planning to unveil its Apple Watch to the world this coming Monday, March 9.  This will be the final version that will ship in April.  Via the Wall Street Journal, at an event earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “… one of the biggest surprises people are going to have when they start using it is the breadth of what it will do.”

The Breadth of What The Apple Watch Can Do? Or What It Can’t Do?

However, there have been several developments since that statement that seem to indicate that the Apple Watch is underwhelming tech experts and the public at large, thus hinting that the public may not be so amazed at what it can do, but MORE AMAZED at what it CAN’T do.

1. Apple Watch will not have advanced tracking of health signs (via PCMag article), including ability to measure blood pressure, heart activity, or stress levels.

2. Apple Watch apps will be extremely limited, especially in the early going, because Apple wants a successful launch and wants to preserve battery life of the device (via Business Insider article).

3. Speaking of battery life, even with the limited apps and their capabilities, the battery life of the Apple Watch may only provide up to 3.5 hours of app usage between charges, and just 2.5 hours if you are constantly checking sports scores, stock quotes, or social media accounts (via PCMag article).

All of those limitations, and the starting price for the Apple Watch will reportedly be $349?! Why am I not surprised that most are less than impressed or are concerned about the longevity of the Apple Watch?

Here’s what the Apple Watch will reportedly be able to do when it’s released in April:

1. Provides quick, easy-to-read notifications from your iPhone.

2. Enables you to make mcommerce purchases right from your Apple Watch.

3. Tracks your daily activity (such as how many steps you take, but as mentioned, no advanced health metrics, including blood pressure).

Who Is The Apple Watch For?

Most Apple experts and tech insiders are even confused over what market Apple is going after and what problem it will solve with the Apple Watch (via this Business Insider article).

This is probably why there was great debate within Apple itself to even create and release a smartwatch, as it does not seem everyone is in agreement with CEO Tim Cook, Head of Design Jony Ive, and Apple executive Bob Mansfield on the success and longevity of the Apple Watch.

As that last Business Insider article mentioned, this is an important product launch for Apple due to the fact that it’s the first new product line for Apple since the iPad five years ago, as well as the first new product line since the death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs.

Thus, it makes sense for Apple to proceed cautiously in terms of what the Apple Watch can do right off the bat.  However, the fact that Cook mentioned that “people will be amazed by the breadth of what it can do” seems to be at odds with that cautious approach, being that it implies that the Apple Watch will impress in terms of its features.  That is especially true when you consider that other smartwatches have those advanced health tracking capabilities the Apple Watch will lack at a much smaller price point.

This is all the more reason why I really think Apple should have held back the launch of the Apple Watch.  Of course, that’s likely not going to happen, being that the event is just four days away, but it will be amazing if the Apple Watch can really be the hit it is expected to be at this stage.

Let’s look at why the Apple Watch COULD be a hit at this point:

1. Apple made what I consider a smart marketing move (but with a caveat I mention below) to have it appear in Vogue in an effort to have it appeal to affluents (via this Recode article).  This was after it appeared on two notable models, Liu Wen and Candace Swanepoel, in both Vogue China and Self Magazine, respectively.

2. It is the first wearable product created and marketed by Apple, which is synonymous with tech.

3. It is an Apple product.

While the third reason is a cited reason by many Apple Watch supporters who think it will be a hit, it may take more than Apple’s noted reputation to ensure its smartwatch will be an actual hit and stand out from the increasingly crowded smartwatch market.

Let’s look at the many concerns of why the Apple Watch may not be a hit in the smartwatch industry, and why it might not even have that long of a life:

1. I mentioned that it was a smart move by Apple to have its watch appear in Vogue in an effort to get affluents interested in it and see it as a “must-have” item.  However, this also shows what might be Apple Watch’s greatest weakness: What is Apple Watch’s target market?

Personally, it seems to me that Apple is trying to target everyone who is the owner of an iPhone and get him/her to buy the Apple Watch.  This approach, what seems to be the “let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” marketing approach, rarely ever works to great success.  Even a company like Apple has to have a solid marketing approach in order for its products to be successful, and, truthfully, the marketing for this product seems haphazard and all-over-the-place.

What was originally being marketed as a “product that will amaze people on the breadth of what it can do” (i.e. the mainstream crowd) and that will have great health tracking abilities (i.e. the millennial crowd, especially), now is being marketed in a very prestigious magazine in two different countries to appeal to the affluents.

Granted, there are three different versions of this watch: Classic, Sport, and Luxury, but I have serious questions on the “need” for this product.  As I mentioned in my post, “The Lack Of Perceived Value: The Missing Link in Smartwatches” what will a smartwatch do that a smartphone can’t do? Why would the mainstream public want this item when the smartwatch does nothing more (and far less, actually) than a smartphone can do?

This is the major reason why the smartwatch industry hasn’t taken off as many experts thought it would, and based on the lack of features and the higher cost of the Apple Watch, I can’t see where Apple’s entry is going to have more success either.

Yes, some of the diehard Apple fans will probably buy it because it’s Apple.  Yes, some affluents may have to get the Luxury version to show that they have the “latest and greatest device” from Apple.

But, it’s not likely that the Apple Watch will be deemed a “success” or a “mover” in the smartwatch industry if it’s just some members of those two groups, as it doesn’t seem there are a great majority in either category that are convinced they must have that Apple Watch.

2. Most of the mainstream public is not fond of the price point (especially when an iPhone is anything but inexpensive, costing $300+ to $400+ to start), nor are convinced they need it (especially without the advanced tracking features, a key importance to millennials in particular).

3. As for the affluents, I think many are not convinced that Apple is elite or chic enough when it comes to the watch industry for them to just buy the Apple Watch immediately when it is up for purchase.  This is why, though, Apple was smart to introduce the Watch to the affluent group by advertising in Vogue in both the United States and China, to at least give themselves the chance to gain more of this market.

Still, the lack of groundbreaking features, the high price point, and the uncertainty of how affluents will perceive the Apple Watch all indicate that the Watch will likely fall below expectations rather than meet or exceed them.

Apple’s History Suggests You May Be Better Off Waiting To Buy The Apple Watch

Plus, a few things about Apple’s history that indicate why waiting may be a good idea if you are considering purchasing the Apple Watch:

1. The Apple Watch will likely never be able to handle phone calls on its own (something I mentioned in my “Missing Link in Smartwatches” post); to do so would take away from iPhone sales, something Apple can’t afford, as it’s the one product line that is really doing well for them. The iPad line has fallen for four consecutive quarters now, and while Macs are holding their own and even growing slightly of late, it’s not expected that that trend will continue, especially since Macs can’t double as tablets due to the lack of touchscreens.

2. Speaking of lack of touchscreens, Apple has a tendency to never have its products multi-task.  In other words, Apple will not (or rarely) add another feature to a product that will hurt another product line.  This is a major reason why Apple was against increasing the size of the iPhone for so long; to do so would hurt the iPad line, and trends suggest that part of the reason why large tablet sales are falling off is because of the presence of phablets, something Apple only got into with its recent iPhone 6 Plus model, a few years after other smartphone manufacturers (including Samsung, HTC, Google, and others) had released phablets.  Having their Mac laptops have touchscreens and become hybrids like Windows’ PCs would have also hurt iPad sales, a major reason (in my opinion) that they were (and are still against) having their Mac laptops become hybrids.

(And, Windows hybrids are becoming more plentiful on the market because there IS a demand for them- this again shows that Apple has a tendency to keep their product lines separate from each other when it comes to features so they don’t eat into the respective revenue lines from each product line, even when there is a demand for such a “hybrid” product).

3. Based on #2, if the Apple Watch stays around long enough, chances are strong that the Apple Watch will only be able to do the advanced health tracking features in a future Apple Watch model.  It seems unlikely that they would add the necessary software and apps for it to be able to track those features on this specific model, as the hardware doesn’t seem able to withstand many apps running at the same time.  Thus, it would seem likely that Apple would create a newer, more robust Apple Watch within the next six to twelve months (just as they do with their iPhones and iPads) that is more energy-efficient and more capable of tracking advanced health statistics.  Thus, that means the consumer would need to shell out ANOTHER $350+ to get the Apple Watch he/she thought he/she would be getting with THIS Apple Watch version.

It remains to be seen if I’m right on #3, but the history of Apple product launches, releases, and cycles would suggest that that is the path Apple is going to take with the Apple Watch.  Thus, getting the Apple Watch now when it is largely devoid of the main selling points the public was waiting for would only be for those who want to say, “I was one of the first few to own the very first Apple Watch.”  In other words, it would be a status symbol, which would be fine and enough for some affluents to purchase, but probably not enough for other affluents.  The same would hold true for the mainstream population: The most diehard Apple fans that camp out for hours and days at a time might be willing to go for it (though, as I’ve said before, the Apple Watch would not do what the iPhone does, so maybe they won’t even be willing to camp out for the Apple Watch), but the vast majority would probably not be convinced to shell out enough money that would purchase the next iPhone model with a 2-year agreement on a smartwatch that really can’t match other smartwatches in the industry when it comes to advanced health tracking features or even apps.

Why I Would Have Waited To Release The Apple Watch And Why I Think This Model Will Underwhelm And Even Disappoint Analysts And The Public

Thus, if I were Apple, I would have delayed this product launch until later this year or even early 2016 to ensure that the watch had long battery life, had the ability to measure and track advanced health metrics (one of the main selling features that was either mentioned or strongly rumored to have), and had a more defined target market in terms of what problems or issues it would solve.

Yes, it’s a common practice to deliver a product that is short on features in order to gain traction in a marketplace and to get feedback to make improvements for future releases (this happens often in the digital software industry), but those added features are usually offered for free or at reduced cost to customers who help to iron out those “bugs” and provide that feedback for added features that are missing.  As mentioned above, based on Apple’s history, it’s more likely Apple will present an upgraded Apple Watch within six to twelve months from now with those features (provided the Apple Watch gains enough traction in the marketplace to achieve longevity to necessitate a more advanced version in the first place), features that were either mentioned or strongly hinted at when the Apple Watch was first presented and promoted.  In essence, a person would have to purchase the Apple Watch twice if he/she purchases the Watch now in order to get the Watch he/she thought he/she would be getting based on the publicity surrounding the product when it was first announced.

In addition, I am not convinced about the clarity of Apple Watch’s target market. While the Apple brand name carries a lot of weight and has a lot of fanfare and publicity behind it, when the product itself is relatively expensive to much of the population and doesn’t provide a defined solution or benefit to most of the population, the odds are against it that it will be considered a “hit” or a “mover” in the smartwatch industry.

It’s possible Apple could create a smartwatch that could do that, but from what I have heard, read, and seen, this Apple Watch is likely NOT that revolutionary smartwatch experts and the public expect to see from a noted tech company like Apple.  That is why I think this Apple Watch will likely underwhelm and “surprise” us by the breadth of what it CANNOT do rather than by what it can do- thus, I think it may “surprise” some on how much it underachieves compared to Apple’s previous product launches, including the iPhone and the iPad.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on Apple, its upcoming Apple Watch,  and if you’re eagerly anticipating it or not below.

 

 

Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry (Part 3 – Amazon)

This is Part 3 of the continuing series, “Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry.”

To read Part 1 (Google)

To read Part 2 (Samsung)

Apple has gotten rotten (or “stale,” if you prefer) in the tech industry from many competitors who have not only been able to match Apple’s ingenuity, but overtake them in many areas.  We discussed how Google and Samsung have been doing so in the areas of smartphones and tablets.  Well, Amazon has been doing a pretty good number on Apple as well.

As you know, Amazon is the giant online retailer that is causing a major problem for many retailers the world over; even behemoths like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have had to make adjustments to their sales processes and develop their online selling systems more in order to try to hold off Amazon from taking more of their market share.   Even online food retailers like FreshDirect are having to make adjustments in the anticipation that AmazonFresh is preparing to expand to other areas of the nation (only in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco at the time of this post).

Suffice it to say, Amazon is branching out into other areas, more so than Apple has been doing of late (more on that in parts 4 and 5).  Against Apple, Amazon has also made inroads with its popular Kindle tablets.  In fact, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) has made Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite tablet the official reader, and the two organizations are working together to help America’s children read more often to boost reading comprehension and proficiency.

This is significant because, at one time, it was only Apple that was getting the accolades and the contracts with organizations for its iPads, but that is no longer the case.  Additionally, Amazon has solidified its position as being the e-reader of choice with its Kindle tablets, not the iPad.  In addition, when most think of digital publishing, they think of Amazon’s Kindle Store, not Apple’s iBookstore, another important victory for Amazon in blocking Apple’s dominance in the tech industry.

Now, some might argue that Apple’s iPad wasn’t really made to be an e-reader (even though many do use it for that very purpose, and happily so), but to be a productive entertainment and work tablet.

Fair point, but consider that the latest version of the iPad, the iPad Air, was highly touted when it was released on November 1, 2013.  There was much fanfare (as there often is with Apple products), and there was much publicity and commercials about it when it first came out.  However, you may have noticed that those commercials didn’t last too long.  Why is that?

One main reason is because Amazon effectively countered that publicity with an effective counter-ad of their own.  It involved their Kindle HDX 8.9 tablet, which itself boasted impressive specs (including having the fastest processor – 2.2 GHz – of any tablet at the time of its release on September 25, 2013, over a month earlier than the iPad Air, powered by a SnapDragon 800 quad-core processor).

The main way that Amazon countered Apple’s publicity about the iPad Air and largely rendered it mute was by turning Apple’s own features against it, a clever use of “counter marketing.”  Where Apple proclaimed the iPad Air to be lighter than the previous generation, the iPad 4, yet more powerful, Amazon countered by saying that the Kindle Fire HDX was 20% lighter than the iPad Air.  When Apple proclaimed that the iPad Air would not cost anything more than the iPad 4 did, Amazon countered by stating that the equivalent Fire HDX would cost $120 less than the iPad Air: $379 vs. $499. (In fact, at the time of this post, Amazon was discounting the Fire HDX by $40, so it’s actually $339 vs. $499, a $160 difference).

As you can see by the link to the Apple Store, they remark about how incredibly light it is and how incredibly powerful it is, yet Amazon effectively countered these points by directly putting its tablet up against the vaunted iPad Air.  In many respects, the Fire HDX held its own or even beat the iPad Air, even though the Air came out about five weeks AFTER the Fire HDX did.

Two other points where Amazon effectively countered Apple’s iPad Air:

1. Apple proclaimed with the Air that it got 10 hours of battery time, same as the iPad 4, even though the Air is more powerful than the iPad 4.  Yet, Amazon countered this point by stating that the Fire HDX 8.9 could get 11 hours of surfing time and other activities, one full hour more than the iPad Air.  Amazon also proclaimed that its Fire HDX could reach 17 hours for e-reading, as it was “smart” enough to turn off non-critical power systems, a feature that the iPad Air did not have.

2. Apple touted that its Air had the Retina display; yet, Amazon countered that its Kindle Fire HDX actually got more pixels than the Air did.  Thus, Apple’s Retina display technology did not remain on top for too long, as Amazon was able to match and outdo it.  This was something that hasn’t happened to Apple in the past (its technology being outdone), but it has here.

Thus, I haven’t seen too many Apple commercials about the iPad Air itself after the first week or two; I have seen many Amazon commercials where it emphasizes the Fire HDX being lighter than the iPad Air and being $120 less than the iPad Air.  Essentially, Amazon took the air right out of Apple’s flagship tablet.

It was a similar story with the iPad Mini with Retina display.  In fact, I didn’t see much direct advertising promotion with the iPad Mini Retina display at all.  This is why Amazon really didn’t promote the Kindle Fire HDX 7″, even though it costs much less than the iPad Mini Retina.  In fact, the Fire HDX 7″ costs 50% less than the equivalent iPad Mini Retina ($199 vs. $399).  Again, Amazon outdid Apple in terms of the display, an area that Apple dominated in for a while.

Even in the product lines, Amazon has outdone Apple when it comes to tablets.  Consider that Apple is discontinuing the iPad 3 and 4, but continues to produce the iPad 2 as a cheaper alternative for those who don’t want to fork over $500 for the cheapest iPad Air.   (An iPad 2 costs $399 from Apple, though some retailers will only charge $299 or $399 with a $100 gift card to their establishment).  Yet, as revolutionary as the iPad 2 was when it came out, some consider it to be a bit “old in the tooth” nowadays.  It’s still a solid tablet, but can’t even match up to the specs of the previous Kindle Fire HD series that was released in 2012 (the iPad 2 was released in March 2011, versus the Kindle Fire HD released in September 2012).  The Kindle Fire HD series is harder to find than the iPad 2 (as Amazon is slowly phasing it out), but still can be at the time of this post, and it’s only about $189 for the 8.9″ equivalent version of the iPad 2.

Even if you consider the iPad Mini (1st generation without Retina), it’s $299.  Yet, Amazon re-released a newer version of the Kindle Fire HD that costs just $139, thus upping the ante in terms of specs over the iPad Mini AND charging less than half the price.

This signifies two things:

1. Amazon is outdoing Apple in many areas of the tablet marketplace, both in terms of coming out with equivalent or better tablets at a cheaper price, even using Apple’s own iPad Air features against it.

2. The tech marketplace has changed; people want powerful, easy-to-use tablets at cheaper prices, whereas at one time, Apple was really the only game in town. (We will discuss more about how this important change in the tech marketplace will make things more difficult for Apple in the future in Parts 4 and 5).

You may have noticed also how Apple added the MIMO antenna to its Wi-Fi in the iPad Air. Yet, Amazon was the first one to utilize the MIMO antenna in its tablets, including that distinctive feature in the Kindle Fire HD tablets it released in September 2012.  The MIMO antenna allows a tablet to utilize multiple channels in order to obtain faster speeds via the WiFi network it is using.  Thus, this is further proof that Apple has lost some of the innovativeness it once was known for, as it was again outflanked by a competitor in not being the first manufacturer to come out with an innovative new feature first.

One other area that Amazon innovated with its tablets that no other competitor has to this point, including Apple, is with its revolutionary “MayDay” feature.  This is where you push a button on an HDX tablet and a helpful Amazon associate will appear on your tablet screen to help you out with whatever problem you’re dealing with on your tablet, whether it’s with finding and activating a feature, conserving power, and more.  It helps that Amazon is involved in the retail sector, as they understand that having real-time help is vital to understanding and utilizing technology, especially for those not as savvy with tech.  This helps those not comfortable with tech to utilize Kindle Fire HDX tablets as well.  This is what they introduced with the “MayDay” feature.

There are reports that Apple will rush the next generation of the iPad (iPad 6), iPad Mini (3rd edition), and the new iPad Pro (between 12.9″-13.0″).  The main reason cited is because of Samsung’s new line of tablets, including a larger 12″ version, but certainly Amazon (as well as Google) have also caused Apple to have to speed things up, thus showing that Apple is feeling the heat of its competitors, showing that it has lost the advantage it once held in the tech industry.

Odds are that it can be up amongst the leaders in the future, but it will no longer be out in front.  The real question now: Can Apple match the new leaders? Google, Samsung, and Amazon all appear to be outdoing Apple in the tech industry when it comes to smartphones and tablets.  We will explore the future of Apple in the tech industry, why it’s struggling with its competitors, and how it can regain some momentum in the industry in Parts 4 and 5, both of which will be published soon.

“Apple’s Gotten Rotten In Tech” Series Will Continue This Week

I hope all of you are well!

My apologies for not continuing the “Apple’s Gotten Rotten In Tech” series last week – I had some business to attend to that couldn’t wait.  However, I have learned more interesting things about Apple just over the last week where the wait will hopefully be worth it.

To refresh your memory, here is Part 1 (Google) and Part 2 (Samsung).

In fact, I am planning on making this at least a five-part series (for now – I may revisit this topic periodically over time).

As mentioned before,

Part 3 will be how Amazon has made life harder for Apple.

Part 4 will be how Apple’s efforts have fallen short in regards to the increasing tech competition.

Part 5 will be a continuation of Part 4, since there is a lot of information to cover, including some new information I have learned just over the last week.

Tentatively, I will attempt to post Part 3 either Wednesday or Thursday of this week, Part 4 either Thursday or Friday of this week, and Part 5 Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Therefore, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for this continuing series; again, I apologize for the delay and hope the wait is worth it.

A Strategic Example To Differentiate Between Omnichannel Marketing And Multichannel Marketing

If you followed me on Twitter, @jchengery, you’ll have seen a tweet about this article on iMedia Connection: 6 tech trends you can ignore in 2014.

The author, Eric Anderson, Vice President of Marketing at People to People Ambassador Programs, claims that there are six tech trends digital marketers can safely ignore in 2014.  One of them is “omnichannel,” as he believes that “multichannel” is a sufficient-enough word to encompass the idea that all marketing channels should be integrated and provide the same seamless experience for a customer, whether he/she shops in a store, via a desktop/laptop, or via a mobile device (such as a smartphone or tablet).

While I can certainly see his point about where “omnichannel” is a bit redundant, I think it does have its place in the marketing world.  A good article that showed this was this one from eMarSys, presented by New Markets Sales Director Alex Timlin.  In it, there are some great photos of the concepts of multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing.

Essentially, omnichannel marketing is where the marketing process to a person is consistent and seamless across all channels, whereas multichannel marketing is where the person is marketed across multiple channels, but the message and experience may not be consistent across all of them.

You may know that the prefixes of those words indicate a great deal about the relevant strategies.  Both come from Latin (for the record, I was a Latin major, so I’m very familiar with these prefixes):  “Omni” stands for “all,” while “multi” stands for “many” (which is where the word “multiple” comes from).  Thus, omnichannel marketing refers to having a strategy across all channels, while multichannel marketing refers to having a strategy across many channels.

Anderson believes that the word omnichannel isn’t even needed if multichannel marketing strategies are properly set up, but as Timlin points out, many industries are just learning about the need for proper integration across channels to ensure there is a consistent marketing message and experience across all of them.

It got me thinking on what would be a good example to clearly illustrate the differences between omnichannel marketing and multichannelmarketing.  I think (and hope) the following example will help.

Imagine a military army that has four different divisions in it.  These divisions consist of tanks, jeeps, planes, and troops. (If you’ve ever played a strategy game on your computer, or on any of the popular gaming systems, such as Nintendo, PlayStation, or XBox, it may be helpful to picture that game or games in your mind.)  Each division has a commander.  The mission is to infiltrate the enemy’s land and take the enemy’s headquarters, which is heavily fortified.  The enemy knows that the army is coming and has four divisions of tanks, jeeps, planes, and troops to counter.

Here are two scenarios:

Scenario 1 (Multichannel approach): Before the battle, the commanders decide to attack from each direction (north, south, east, and west), figuring that they will defeat the enemy divisions and surround the headquarters.  The attack proceeds, but before each army division can defeat the enemy, the enemy divisions retreat and becomes a unified force surrounding the headquarters.  The commanders and divisions are cut off from each other, so they continue trying to plow ahead, with only marginal success.  While they make some headway against the enemy, casualties and fatalities are high because the enemy is unified and able to utilize all of their resources (jeeps, tanks, planes, and troops) against the army, while the army’s divisions are separated, thus not matching up the best resources to attack the enemy. Thus, the division’s tanks are being bombarded by planes, while another division’s troops are being thwarted by the enemy’s tanks. They suffer heavy losses against the enemy.

Scenario 2 (Omnichannel approach): Before the battle, the commanders discuss attacking from the north, south, east, and west, but they also discuss the possibility of the enemy divisions combining into one unit before the separate divisions are defeated.  Thus, the commanders decide that they must be on the same page with their attack strategy if the enemy does combine into one unit.  As a result, they choose to integrate each division so that there are an equal number of tanks, jeeps, troops, and planes in each division from the start.  The battle commences, and the enemy does combine into one unit.  However, the army was prepared for that possibility and starts to combine  its resources strategically against the enemy (using planes to bomb the tanks, using jeeps to overrun the enemy troops, etc.).  There are few casualties as the army is able to overtake the enemy and take over the headquarters.

Just as in the example, there are several divisions (commonly referred to as “channels”) on the same team.  This is the case in any company in any industry:

– Product Creation

– Product Distribution

– Marketing

– Social Media

– Management

– Etc.

The channels of the company all want to make the company more successful and profitable, just as the army divisions want to achieve victory.  With a multichannel approach, the company channels don’t really know what the other channels are doing and aren’t allocating the resources together in the most effective manner to make the company successful.  Thus, much of the effort isn’t as optimized as it could be with an omnichannel approach.  With an omnichannel approach, each channel is aware of the other channels’ efforts to help the company be more successful and profitable, and integrates its own resources and abilities to help the other channels’ efforts to be more unified and successful.  As a result, the effort across all channels is more optimized, and, thus, more effective in promoting the company’s main message and marketing strategy to its target market, resulting in greater success and profitability.

While it would seem that companies would want their multiple channels to coordinate with each other in order to make their efforts more successful on a unified front, it’s not as easy as just going out and doing your best for the company (much like the army divisions just plowing ahead with their individual resources).  If your channels aren’t on the same page, much of the effort is duplicated and isn’t optimized for maximum effect.  This is why it’s critical to have your channels on the same page, knowing what each other channel is doing, and working together in order to achieve that symbiotic approach that will fully maximize the efforts of each channel and provide the best results for the company.

This is why I believe that the term, “omnichannel marketing,” came to be born. It is to remind companies that just having many channels working as hard as possible toward the goal of making the company more successful and profitable will often not lead to the best results.  There needs to be coordination amongst all channels to ensure that every product test, every marketing campaign, every distribution channel, and every social media platform is on the same page in regards to how the company wants to be perceived in the marketplace by its target market, how the company will go after that target market with its products/services, and how the company will respond to any feedback, complaints, and interaction with that target market.

What do you think?  Do you think “omnichannel marketing” is a necessary term in digital marketing today as Timlin and I think? Or, do you think that “omnichannel marketing” is not needed and that “multichannel marketing” is sufficient, as Anderson thinks?

Vote in the poll below, and let me know any further thoughts in the comments section- thanks!

Apologies for being out-of-touch – new blog posts this week!

Hello everyone, I hope 2014 is off to a great start for you!

Apologies for being out-of-touch; I’ve been copyediting two books that I just finished with on Friday. Barring any last-second changes from another party on the project, they will be published soon.  I am in both of them, along with 44 other contributors in the one book (about Overcoming Adversity) and 28 other contributors in the second book (a How-To book, largely dealing with business and digital marketing, but on a few related topics too).

I appreciate your understanding – I’ll have more posts this week, including one that should be up today regarding an article that I will be tweeting about later today.  It’s on “omnichannel” versus “multichannel” – I’ll provide some thoughts on the article, including a way in which you can differentiate between the two marketing terms, and why I think the “omnichannel” term came about (and why I think it is a good thing).

See you then – take care!

A Happy New Year Resolution And Message From Joe

Hello everyone,

We’re counting down the hours until the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Did 2013 go the way you thought it would?

What did you like most about 2013?

What do you think you could have done better in 2013?

Do you plan on the above being a New Years’ Resolution for 2014?

Please take a look at the following two photos:

Banji resting on the morning of March 11, 2012.
Banji resting on the morning of March 11, 2012.
Teddy Bear stretching out in the early-morning hours of August 9, 2013.
Teddy Bear stretching out in the early-morning hours of August 9, 2013.

These were my two cats; I say “were” because over the last 18 months, I’ve lost both of them. Banji was lost on July 3, 2012, while Teddy Bear was lost on December 6, 2013 (less than four weeks ago).  You’ll note by the dates of the photos above that each of those were taken less than four months before their respective deaths.

I think you’ll agree with me that they look very happy, content, and healthy in those photos, no sign of what was to come less than four months later.

That’s exactly the point I want to make.  We have no idea about the future; our time is fleeting and limited.  Hopefully, you spent time with loved ones (2- and 4-legged) over Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, and you will do so again over New Year’s and in the coming year.  You never know when they may no longer be here, or, when you will no longer be here.

This is also why it’s important to make the most of each day and to do your absolute best to achieve your goals each day.  Whether that’s to be the best business owner, the best employee, the best spouse, the best significant other, the best son/daughter, the best parent, the best friend, or any or all of the above, you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to give your best effort always toward your goals.  You never know when you won’t have the chance to do it again, or for them to be here to appreciate your efforts.

That is why I encourage you to spend time with your loved ones (2- and 4-legged) when possible, and also to strive toward your goals in 2014. Perhaps 2013 didn’t lead to the results and successes you wanted, but you can make your New Year’s resolution a determined and renewed effort to let nothing stop you in 2014 from achieving those goals that escaped you in 2013, as well as achieving new goals.

In fact, I believe my New Year’s resolution will be to learn from the successes and failures I’ve had in 2013 and to use that new knowledge to improve my efforts toward reaching all of my goals in 2014.  In addition, I will take more time out for my loved ones, as I was reminded by the aforementioned events that time is fleeting and that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Therefore, I encourage you to look back at what you did and didn’t accomplish in 2013, learn from those successes and failures, then take that knowledge and improve your efforts to achieve further successes in 2014.  I also encourage you to not spend all of your time working toward your goals, but instead to spend some time with your loved ones, as our lives are finite, and the time our lives end is never known ahead of time, no matter how much we might try to predict that end.  When that time is here, it’s here, and there’s no going back and redoing things you wish you would have done.

I hope this post helps to provide you with some inspiration and hope toward the coming new year and that you will make it your best year yet.

To all of you: Thank you for reading – I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!  Make it your best year yet!

Joe Chengery