WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT APPLE

Breaking News: iOS App Store Hit by Malware

This morning, alongside speculation about a certain public figure’s student days, the mainstream media was awash with news of a malware intrusion on the iOS App Store. “Rotten Apple” begins the Sky News headline, while the Daily Mail speaks of “…hundreds of millions of iPhone users at risk…”

So what’s happened? Well, in a nutshell it looks like a number of legitimate developers – mostly focused on the Chinese market – were duped by hackers into using a counterfeit version of Xcode, Apple’s app creation software. With the so-called XcodeGhost in place, the potential for users to fall victim to phishing scams via the affected apps is increased significantly – a rare occurrence in Apple’s ultra-secure world.

Indeed, the Sky News report points out that only five malicious apps have ever been found in the App Store due to its strict vetting. The latest news is that Apple have removed the affected apps from the store and are working with developers to reinstate them with the correct software.

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Apple Pay – How is it for You?

Like we said above, there’s no doubt about how seriously Apple takes security… but the XcodeGhost headlines will have been less welcome than ever during the infancy of Apple Pay. Let’s face it, after family and friends the one thing people are most protective about is their bank account and there are lots of people who have an issue trusting even “old-fashioned” contactless cards.

So this train of thought got us thinking how have things been going for Apple Pay since it launched?

Anecdotal evidence to date has been mixed – in one weekend I saw one Facebook friend proclaim “never again” and radio personality Sara Cox wasn’t doing much to endorse the product on Twitter:

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But on the positive side it seems that many people are desperate for more. A recurring theme on social networks is that of customers calling out the small number of banks which are yet to embrace the service to get a move on. It could be a game changer for many retailers too – Morrisons supermarkets aren’t often seen as trendsetters but their checkouts are all proudly displaying the Apple Pay logo now, whereas the superpower that is Tesco is looking increasingly isolated with its clunky old chip and PIN devices (they don’t even accept regular contactless payments!)

For more on the early days of Apple Pay we recommend this article in The Drum, where guest columnist Andrew Darby trialled the service for a week.

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All Eyes on Uber

We liked the cheeky wee remark about Uber that appeared in the latest update of The Simpsons Tapped Out app – see it at the bottom of this post.

It’s funny, but Uber seems to have become one of the most talked about apps on the planet. Here in the UK alone it’s been hitting the headlines as a hero (the go to when the London Underground goes on strike) and a villain (the scourge of the hackney taxi driver). Many people now just talk about “booking an Uber” instead of “booking a taxi”.

For a full picture of the scale of this phenomenon, check out this round up of Uber’s usage statistics and revenue that appeared in Business of Apps last week. Just one of the awe-inspiring figures to feature in the article: “Uber is expected to process $10.84bn in bookings in 2015”.

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THE UNITED STATES OF APP-MERICA

A few headlines jumped out at us over the past week, and they all had an American theme to them. App development and usage may be global movements but the US of A is certainly not taking a back seat.

Spend, Spend, Spend

First up are some figures from eMarketer via mobyaffiliates. The market research company was looking into digital spending and – just six months after a previous forecast – has increased its estimate for US mobile ad spend.

The March forecast was predicting a 49% market share for mobile in 2015, but the revision now sees mobile set to account for over half of America’s digital spending this year at 51.9%. The report points to consumer demand, with the average adult American spending 2.51 hours on mobile devices for non-voice activities.

eMarketer is also predicting that – in terms of American market share – print advertising will bow to the might of mobile this year. Visit mobyaffiliates for the full story.

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Good Morning America (and Good Morning Britain)

If The Weekly Noise was a Hollywood movie, this story would open with a montage of morning rush hour traffic, shop shutters being rolled open and a paperboy flinging the day’s news on to well-manicured lawns, while a radio DJ talks about it being another beautiful morning in the bay area.

Sadly we’ve not conquered Hollywood yet, but if you keep that image in mind the morning rush hour bit in particular is quite relevant here…

In another story via mobyaffiliates, this time from mobile advertising platform StartApp, there are interesting findings about click through rates in relation to the time of day. StartApp found that Americans seem to be morning people when it comes to responding to ads – click through rates see their highest engagement there (18.17%) between 6am and 9am.

The Brits have a similar approach, albeit within a surprisingly earlier and shorter timescale – apparently the 20.98% peak for UK in-app ad engagement occurs between 5am and 6am.

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The Favourite Child?

Our last shout in this week’s Noise stems from a story at Business of Apps. The article was primarily about Europe, but once again the USA’s role in the story caught our eye.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech released data indicating that Android has been losing market share to iOS in key European markets. This is indeed a big story, but with our American theme this week we were drawn to these words from Carolina Milanesi, Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech:

“In the US, performance was more of a level field between the two leading operating systems, as the iOS market share decline and Android share gain both decelerated”.

There will be a number of factors influencing this “level playing field”, and one example given in the article is that Americans enter into longer term contracts and therefore don’t replace their smartphones as frequently as Europeans. But we can’t help taking into account the USA’s unique position in this story – as the home of both operating systems. With Americans apparently divided over who is the favourite of these two home-grown success stories, is this simply a case of the new Coca-Cola versus Pepsi?

Read the whole story here.

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FROM MGE TO RWC

Big events are the theme this week. Two very different events – one that’s just happened and one that starts next week – but both relevant to apps and app marketing in their own ways.

Mobile Growth Europe

We begin in one of our favourite cities, Berlin, which hosted the Mobile Growth Europe conference last week. By all accounts this was a top, well organised and well attended event.

We’ve rounded up some of the interesting Tweets that we saw emerging from the conference:

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Join the Scrum

2015 has been one of those odd – and for many people, welcome – years in which there’s not a big summer sporting event like the Olympics or World Cup to occupy the media and large parts of the population. Not even a Commonwealth Games (last year) or a European Championships (next year).

Here in the UK at least though there is a bit of hype building about the Rugby World Cup, kicking off a week on Friday and going on until 31st October across England and Wales. So we thought we’d have a look at some of the RWC-related apps out there…

Naturally there’s the Official Rugby World Cup Mobile App – a pretty comprehensive display that includes quizzes, news, fixtures and a social buzz from all the competing teams. It’s available for iOS and Android and comes in English, French, Spanish and Japanese. The marketing minded will spot the prominent presence of the sponsor logos on the home screen.

Sponsorship features heavily and unsurprisingly on UK commercial broadcaster ITV’s own bespoke app for the tournament. Land Rover and SSE sponsor ITV’s Rugby World Cup 2015 App while a bit of fun in the form of the inbuilt Kick It! game comes courtesy of Specsavers. Once again both iOS and Android users can download this app.

Meanwhile some of the rugby unions from the competing nations, such as Ireland and Wales, have their own apps. England has some gaming for younger users in the form of the mascot-inspired Ruckley’s Tryfest.

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BIG NEWS FROM THE BIG GUYS

Two of the biggest names in social media and apps made notable announcements last week…

Facebook’s Personal Touch

For a while now it seems like there’s been a constant bombardment of new messaging apps – some that have become household names, others that faded away as quickly as they arrived.

Facebook sent the messaging world a message last week when it unveiled “M” – the latest twist to its popular Messenger service. Currently in beta testing, M throws the concept of a personal assistant into the messaging mix – although we thought that was more Miss Moneypenny’s role (ba-dum-tssshh).

As TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) point out in their coverage of the news, M is effectively combining the scale of mechanised digital assistants like Siri with the personal touch of smaller outfits such as Magic. It’ll use real live humans like the latter does to help millions of users book restaurants, buy products and more.

We see huge marketing potential here, and we wonder if the human element will help win the hearts and minds of any app-phobes out there…

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YouTube Ups its Game

We’ve spent many an hour enjoying gaming-related content on YouTube – from getting all nostalgic at footage from old Commodore 64 games to laughing at the latest crazy mods someone has come up for on Grand Theft Auto V. None of that was live content though, and for serious gamers content is very much about the here and now.

So YouTube have responded to that with the launch of YouTube Gaming – a standalone site and app that’s exclusively for the gamers. There’s live streaming of gameplay – some gamers offering up their commentary and others letting the viewer just soak up the atmosphere – as well as other features such as chat and of course advertising opportunities for the gaming industry.

Read more about YouTube Gaming on iTech Post.

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Deutschland Liebt Mobile Gaming

Finally, with that last link to gaming and Mobile Growth Europe coming up in Berlin this week, we thought these stats about German mobile gaming were nicely timed.

Business of Apps (@BusinessofApps) highlighted the study by Deloitte, which said that 37% of internet users polled indicated they played a mobile game once a week, with 14% saying they played a game on their smartphone or tablet every day.

The year on year increase of German smartphone ownership from 68% in 2014 to 75% in 2015 is significant, as is the decline of mobile gaming consoles (remember them?) from 26% to 14% over the same period.
Read more about this story at Business of Apps.

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ANALYTICS AND INVESTMENTS

A few things caught our eye this week via Peggy Anne Salz (@peggyanne), Chief Analyst at Mobile Groove.

How to Build a 5-Star App with Mobile Analytics

First and foremost was Peggy Anne’s recent TechBeacon article in which she highlights the use of mobile analytics as being key to user experience. With good UX comes the increased chance of success for your app, so if you’re a developer check the wise words on this article out.

There’s an interesting case study on SpeechTrans and some golden rules to follow (Think proactively, not reactively; Make data part of the daily routine; With great power comes great responsibility). Check out the full article here.

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Selfie Service?

We also spotted via a RT by Peggy Anne the news on Business Insider UK about the announcement of “Selfie Pay”. Sounding like a really weak attempt at an April Fools’ joke by a selfie-obsessed tabloid newspaper, this is in fact a real thing.

The verification process, which will involve the user taking a quick snap that is then mapped against a stored image in order to help prevent fraud, is currently being trialled by MasterCard with First Tech Federal Credit Union in the USA.

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Invest, Invest, Invest

Elsewhere it looks like people have money to spend, as a couple of stories featured by Business of Apps (@BusinessofApps) showed.

Sports app GameOn is a name that keeps popping up in app news recently, and the latest headline is about its relaunch following a $1.5 million seed funding round. Among those contributing to the funding were American Football big names Joe Montana and Lawyer Milloy. It’s definitely one to watch – sport’s such a big passion for so many millions of people that a dedicated app connecting fans around the world makes a lot of sense.

And the people at Snap Fashion, which gives its users a visual search engine for clothes, will be celebrating after receiving an “undisclosed sum” of investment from publishing giants Time Inc. Time Inc. owns the likes of Marie Claire and Look magazines so this is a real vote of confidence from the fashion media.

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TIME TO MOBILISE

Lots of interesting news over the past week, and there’s a recurring theme… mobile is King!

A Little More Than Ten Cents…

We start with some heavy financial stats from China, where investment holding company Tencent recorded a second quarter profit of 10.3 billion yuan ($1.6 billion/£1 billion) – nearly half of which was generated by online advertising revenue. Dig deeper into these figures and, as ZDNet reports, over half of that online advertising revenue came from mobile platforms.

Make sure you check out the story on ZDNet as there are lots of interesting points. Like the quote from Tencent CEO Ma Huateng that “Operationally, we made notable progress across our portfolio of mobile utilities, with our mobile security solution, browser, and app store moving into industry leadership positions.” And their plans to develop mobile versions of popular games like FIFA Online 3.

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YouTube Changing the Channel?

A few weeks ago we were talking about the big part that photo and video play on the app scene. We mentioned YouTube in passing as one of the big online success stories, but the household name has been a little quiet when it comes to app accessibility.

That looks like it’s about to change. According to a report on CNBC YouTube is well aware of the challenge it faces from mobile-dominating social platforms like Facebook and isn’t ignoring the fact that last year nearly half of its users were logging on via tablets and phones.

How does YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki regard mobile growth? “Superimportant”.

We’ll be watching to see if YouTube starts to offer more for the mobile user. Don’t forget it’s a massive advertising platform.

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A Nation of App Users

Completing our round up of facts and figures this week are some stats from right here in the UK.

Communications regulator Ofcom has reported that 33% of UK internet users identify their smartphones as the most important device for going online, now surpassing laptops at 30%. With two thirds of UK adults owning smartphones that’s a huge audience to tap into. Yet there’s a feeling that this opportunity is not being taken up as it should be. Mobyaffiliates quote Mark Haviland – managing director at Rakuten Marketing, Europe – saying “It’s crucial that marketers respond to Ofcom’s research and change their approach to match how people are consuming the internet.”

Read more about the Ofcom report and what Haviland and others had to say about it at Mobyaffiliates.

Complementing this news – like a tasty starter from your favourite takeaway – was news from Just Eat, via this article on BusinessofApps. The food ordering and delivery service reported a 50% increase in pre-tax profits for the first half of 2015, with 60% of orders now coming via mobile devices and well over half of these being made directly from the Just Eat app.

WINDOW SHOPPING

It’s a bit like sales time at the big stores this week as we’ve been drawn to some colourful window dressing and some big and bold TV advertising… and more importantly some interesting stats to go with these.

Matt Lacey (@mrlacey) gave us a shout about some research he’s been doing on ASO for Windows and the results make for interesting reading. He took the icon for his demo PhoneBook app and tried it out in different colours from its usual distinctive pink.

Each colour was given a week on the store and the increase and decrease in downloads related to each colour is worth taking note of. Blue saw downloads increase by around 23%, followed closely by green. Red on the other hand saw downloads fall by about 19%. Other – more modest – increases were achieved with yellow and purple, while orange recorded a bit of a drop. The results in all their colourful glory are below – you can read Matt’s post here.

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So is this a psychological thing? Blue and green – colours of calm, of the sea and the earth – appealing to us more than aggressive red of stop sign and blood fame? Maybe this is why the big players – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – choose blue; or maybe it’s because of them that we’re drawn to blue…

Bridge Building

Windows has been on our minds in other ways this past week too. Engadget reported that Microsoft had released an early look at its iOS bridge, which is designed to make it easier for developers to reuse already written code in new Windows apps.

As Engadget states in the article “…Microsoft needs more apps on Windows 10…”. We couldn’t agree more – in the past 10 days I’ve had my bank recommend I download their app, only to find that it’s not available on Windows, and had to explain to a friend that a well-known social app is not available on my phone. Hopefully the bridge will make Windows more accessible for developers and users alike.

From Windows to Screens

Other interesting news this week came from Quaid Media via mobyaffiliates.

It was reported that in the first half of 2015 the company booked 10 times as many TV advertising spots as it did in the whole of 2014. That’s 12,000 appearances in six months compared to last year’s 1,200.

Factors like reasonable pricing for campaigns and the ability to join up with digital campaigns are cited among the reasons for the increase.

We’ve watched app ads featuring well known celebrities and cinema quality animation and for us they’re proof that apps have been established as a mainstream industry.

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