iPad Sees First Ever Decline In Growth

When it comes to tablet sales, many have usually considered Apple’s iPad models to be the cream of the crop, mainly due to their convenience and accessibility. However, with an ever-changing market that introduces a number of competitors, it was only a matter of time before someone came along to shake things up.

A report from IDC indicates that, for the first time since its introduction, full-year iPad shipments have dropped in numbers. This is even with all the iPad models that have been introduced to the market, including the new iPad Air 2 that came out earlier this year.

iPads shipped show a total number of 64.9 million, which is a drop of 12.7 percent on the total number of shipments from last year, according to TechCrunch. That’s still a decent portion in the overall 235.7 million units that shipped in this year’s tablet market – a growth of 7.2 percent over last year.

Nevertheless, this is still bad news for Apple, as the growth between 2012 and 2013 in Apple shipments were much greater, to the tune of a 52.5 percent increase. Meanwhile, Android-based tablets are beginning to dominate the market, with a 68 percent hold overall, totaling almost 160 million devices shipped for the year.

Regardless, Apple continues to be the single-biggest brand in the tablet market with a 27.5 percent share overall, although that comes down to 22.1 percent considering the Q3 performance of iPads on the market. This could open up a big opportunity for Android to take over in 2015, if the right models come out.

“The tablet market continues to be impacted by a few major trends happening in relevant markets,” Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, writes. “In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years. What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years. We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks.”

The report also noted other factors in terms of the market, including replacement cycles having an effect on sales. “Significant advancements have been made recently by hardware manufacturers to advance the 2-in-1, or detachable, product category,” IDC notes, along with thinner and less expensive devices. “Despite these advances, shipments of 2-in-1 devices are only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, which is just 4% of the total tablet plus 2-in-1 market,” it notes.

Consumers can also be hesitant when buying a tablet, according to the report, as newer models are released all the time – particularly with Apple’s cycle.

What does this mean for marketers While Apple will continue to have a hefty hold on the tablet market, some may consider shopping around on Android services, especially considering that it’s slowly but surely taking a strong hold of its own. 2015 will definitely tell a big story when it comes to these devices. Still, Apple holds a dominant position in revenue for tablet apps, especially with games. Will Apple find ways to sell more tablets in 2015, or will Android tablets garner even greater market share

Ruffles Dips Into Digital

Ruffles, a popular PepsiCo brand of potato chip famous for its ridges, is on the cutting edge of the marketing world today after shifting nearly one hundred percent of its advertising over to digital platforms.

The stunning move, which makes Ruffles one of a select few snack-food brands in America with an all-digital advertising strategy following a nearly-sixty six percent television strategy just a year earlier, was explained by Frito-Lay senior director of marketing Dana Lawrence as an experiment in making one of their brands completely digital. “We’re really trying to reach our target, 25-year old millennial males, in a more relevant way,” Lawrence remarked, noting Ruffles’ target demographic’s embrace of mobile video.

Despite the move away from television, the folks at Ruffles actually produce more video than ever before; their #RoughLife campaign saw three video series created just this year, including collaborations with online humor network CollegeHumor. The videos are released through an aggressive distribution system that sees Ruffles spots appearing on YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

The move was initially seen as a gamble, as Ruffles’ full-throated embrace of digital moved them into unfamiliar territory.

“Absolutely we were nervous,” Lawrence said. “Any time you make a significant change, you’re always a little nervous about the impact.”

The decision appears to be paying dividends so far, however, as Ruffles sales in terms of dollars spent were 8.19 percent higher in the past fifty-two weeks over last.

Though Kraft’s Nilla Wafers courted big-time success last year after moving their entire ad budget to social, other brands have been hesitant to make the switch, refusing to do so for reasons ranging from sheer traditionalism to immense levels of scrutiny placed on digital advertising campaigns. Still, with Nilla and Ruffles’ successes in hand and increasingly prohibitive television advertising costs driving more traditional brands to reconsider their options, it would appear that mass adoption of digital-first advertising strategies is an inevitability.

 

iPhone 6’s Big Impact On App Downloads

October turned out to be a tremendous month for Apple and app developers, according to Fiksu. The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had stellar sales that drove high levels of app downloads.

As reported by GamesIndustry International, the launch of both of the devices managed to push App Store downloads to record heights for the month of October, with 7.8 million downloads calculated across the top 200 apps per day. That shows a wild 42 percent increase from the 5.5 million downloads from the previous month.

As a result, however, the general cost per install for iOS managed to increase as well, showing a jump of 21 percent to $1.46. That’s on a month-by-month basis, while year-by-year shows an even larger increase by 59 percent. By comparison, as earlier stats showed, Android showed a CPI of just $1.01, up a meager 1 percent from the prior month, and 2 percent from the previous year.

“An important lesson this month for marketers is the value of nurturing user loyalty prior to device launches and gift-giving seasons,” the report states. “Despite the marked rise in advertising costs particularly on iOS, the Cost Per Loyal User Index (CPLU) indicated a slight decline in October to $2.16 from September’s $2.25. This decrease is a result of the tendency of app users to quickly re-download their most-used ‘vital’ apps during upgrades. The first set of apps users download on their new iPhone 6’s are likely to be those they can’t live without, which makes them much more likely to become loyal users of those apps.

“In the coming months, marketers should also look to capitalize on untapped Android opportunities. While the Cost per Launch (CPL) Index, which tracks the costs of driving engagement from mobile users, showed increases across the board on iOS, October saw a 26 percent year-over-year drop in Android CPL. Combined with the slighter increases on Android’s October CPI numbers, this may be a good place for marketers to spend advertising dollars as iOS costs only continue to rise.”

The charts below from VentureBeat also show the fluctuations between Cost Per Loyal User Index, as well as Cost Per Launch Index — and, as you can see, Apple’s increased numbers over Android have just gotten bigger over the past few months. In fact, the last time the two were even was back in January, with a  cost of $.16 per launch.

Image source

Nintendo Dives Into Toys With Amiibo

It’s been a heck of a start to the holiday season for Nintendo. The company has managed to reach a new milestone for the Wii title New Super Smash Bros. Wii, which has now sold over 10 million copies since its release in 2009; and the latest in the series, Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, is gaining both critical acclaim and high sales marks in retailers. The separately sold GameCube Adapter and special edition Smash Bros. bundle (with adapter and GameCube controller) are already completely out of stock at retailers.

However, that isn’t enough, as Nintendo is looking to conquer a different sort of market – interactive toys. In an effort to realize some of the success of both Disney’s Infinity line-up (regular and Marvel licensed) and Activision’s Skylanders franchise (which has generated over $2 billion in its two years), Nintendo has launched its new Amiibo toys. These toys include an NFC (near-field communication) chip which works with the builtin NFC reader in the Wii U’s Gamepad, and an upcoming NFC reader accessory for the 3DS. The toys are automatically recognized by several games on the Wii U, including Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, with further compatibility set to come for new games in 2015, according to Time.

 

 The figurines enable players to “activate” special features within certain games, such as leveling up to unlock new abilities in Smash, or gaining a speedier car in Mario Kart 8.Toys currently sell for $12.99, and the “first wave” includes such popular heroes as Mario, Link from The Legend of Zelda, Pikachu from the Pokemon series and others. A second wave is currently scheduled to arrive in December featuring more characters, including Luigi, Little Mac from Punch-Out!! and Bowser. After that, more will come in 2015, including iconic favorites Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.Activision has noted the great success the pioneering Skylanders interactive toys have had. “By combining the immersive world of video games with the physical connection that kids have with action figures, it was incredibly powerful,” said John Coyne, Activision’s senior vice president of consumer marketing, regarding the power of “come-to-life” figurine sales.Skylanders originally brought forth the model of interactive toys, with figurines placed on an included portal to be included in the game. Disney took it one step further with last year’s Infinity, as well as this year’s sequel, Marvel Super Heroes, which is doing fairly well in sales.”It’s very much about building things in there and kind of telling your own stories,” said John Blackburn, senior vice president and general manager for Disney Infinity.The games also have a way of bringing a child’s imagination to life, giving them literally no bounds to do what they please with them. “It’s really an extension of what kids want naturally, which is to not really have parameters in how they play,” explained Liam Callahan, an analyst for NPD. “It’s about breaking down that barrier.”With both Skylanders and Infinity contributing to $600 million in software sales and over $1 billion in figurine sales this year, it’s a healthy market to get into – one that Nintendo can easily make a dent in considering its recognizable characters.”These characters have tremendous fan bases already,” said Scott Moffitt, executive vice president for sales and marketing for Nintendo of America.While early reviews have been mixed, it won’t be until after the holiday season that we’ll see how well Amiibos have sold for Nintendo, and if they have had an impact on console sales. The future potential for the Amiibo line is tremendous if fans respond well to them, with more than 700 Pokemon alone as potential toys, let alone the rest of Nintendo’s characters. We certainly wish Nintendo the best of luck.

Meet Snapchat’s New Ad Format

While it’s only been a month since Snapchat has unveiled their very first ad with the sponsored promotion for the film Oujia, Snapchat has

looked into other ways to monetize the of-the-moment platform. From reaching out to publishers for content to making way for what advertisers feared would be a swath of untargeted ads, Snapchat knows it has marketers champing at the bit.

Now we have a look at other brand possibilities after last night’s AMAs. While other brands were busily commenting on the proceedings on Twitter, it would be Samsung that would sponsor a stream of posts on Snapchat, giving a fun insider look at the event.

Snapchat is calling the product “Our Story” streams and had introduced them back in June as more of a story curation tool. In this execution, “Our Story” provided a second screen-like experience to the television broadcast.

Now that we’ve seen them in action, the product has obvious benefits for TV brand advertisers and other marketers who want to be part of the conversation around other major events.

Beyond Samsung and the AMAs, Snapchat illustrates the use of “Our Story” around a hugely attended music event below.

Meet Pinc, The iPhone’s VR Shopping Assistant

VR, once the domain of dime-store novels and sci-fi movies, is now a feasible product for consumers. As such, it stands to reason that a horn-o’-plenty of virtual reality experiences from startups the world over would pop up. One such experience is the Pinc, a device from Toronto’s Cordon Development Labs designed to turn your iPhone into a portable VR viewer.

The Pinc (pronounced “pinch”), brainchild of Cordon president Milan Baic, works by attaching itself to the iPhone through an eye-catching 3D-printed case. The wearer attaches the encased iPhone to their head with head straps; viewing is done through a set of aspheric lenses suspended an inch and a half away from the iPhone, projecting a landscape rendered in stereoscopic 3D by the Pinc app. Movement is performed with LED “rings” attached to the wearer’s index fingers.

Baic is quick to differentiate Pinc from the gaming-centric Oculus Rift, stating that Pinc’s primary focus will be e-commerce. “Control, portability, and use case” are the Pinc’s three key strengths, he says, seeing virtual reality as a solution for mobile retailers burdened by difficulties conducting business on small smartphone screens.

Cordon still has a few kinks to work out with Pinc’s hardware and software. Their camera plus LED control system, though novel, encounters problems when the wearer enters a bright real-life environment, leaving them more or less confined to the Pinc’s ideal darkened room. Baic claims that production-ready LEDs will be brighter and wrap their way around the circumference of the wearer’s finger, permitting on-the-go shopping no matter what real-life conditions happen to be.

Time will tell whether Pinc is able to fully realize its goal of transforming shopping into the same kind of immersive digital experience Oculus is attempting for gaming or Jaunt is attempting for concerts. It’s all about generating revenue and attracting a user base for Baic; an Indiegogo campaign launched today, with plans to attract big brands like Nike by ushering them into a “virtual shopping mall” and invoicing them for space equivalent to what they would occupy in a real-life shopping center. “There is something to say about scarcity [ . . . ] Unlimited space is a good thing when you want to create something, but when you are in a commercial environment, you want to create the concept of scarcity.”

What Will Cloud Gaming Look Like In 2015?

Thus far, cloud gaming has seen an interesting amount of growth, between OnLive’s resurrected service and the launch of Sony’s PlayStation Now for its PlayStation consoles and mobile devices. However, according to a report from VentureBeat, its growth could be even bigger in the forthcoming year.

With the expansion of streaming services — and Microsoft supposedly making plans to introduce its own cloud-based channel within the next few months — the cloud gaming market has potential, as it could reach nearly 150 million people. That would increase its current audience by five times.

This is according to information from Strategy Analytics, who believes that the audience for such services as PlayStation Now, Onlive and Nvidia’s recently announced Grid game streaming service would reach those kind of numbers, although certain factors, like pricing and quality of said service, could still come into play.

With the increase of cloud-compatible devices, including game consoles and tablets, more players would come on board to try such services, making them easy to play their favorite titles without needing to “hog” hard drive space.

Cloud gaming has seen its fair share of hurdles in the past, such as Onlive’s near-death experience in 2012 (which led to its recent restructuring with its new CloudLift Steam-enabled service, which now reaches audiences worldwide). However, with increased audiences in other Cloud services, such as streaming channels like Netflix, interest has been drummed up again. And bigger competitors like Sony and Nvidia indicate that there’s more to the market than some folks may realize.

Eric Smith, an analyst of home devices for Strategy Analytics, believes that “hardcore” players could be a key factor. “This puts cloud gaming in the PlayStation Store and the Nvidia Hub platforms, directly in front of some of the most committed gaming consumers as opposed to the average consumer, which are by and large content with mobile-gaming quality and genres, not usually core games on dedicated gaming devices,” Smith explained to VentureBeat.

Network lag issues could play a factor, but a large reach could still more than make up for technical hiccups. Michael Goodman, director of digital media strategies for Strategy Analytics, also stated, “2014 is proving to be a watershed moment with major players putting their credibility and brand names on the line to make cloud gaming work. While broadband speeds and consumer acceptance of subscription models have come a long way, access to content remains an issue for all services.”

He also added, “The major video game publishers have so far successfully managed an incremental transition from physical to digital media, but cloud gaming offers publishers a new revenue stream.”

We’ll see how the next few months play out — especially as Microsoft and Nvidia introduce their respective services to the public. The chart below also shows how well Sony and Nvidia could reach out to a potential market for the coming year, and you can see the increase as clear as day.

 

Apple’s iAd Goes Programmatic

Apple just found a way to make its iAd service a bit more enticing – and convenient – for marketers.

The company has announced that it has opened up a new automated purchasing program for mobile advertising – and with that, it’s also opened up new possibilities through its “move into programmatic channels,” according to 9 To 5 Mac.

Through the deal, Apple will partner with a variety of “demand-side platforms (or DSP’s for short) and ad tech companies,” including the likes of Accordant Media, The Trade Desk, MediaMath, GET IT Mobile, Adelphic and AdRoll.

With this move, Apple will be able to expand its iAd service worldwide, to over 100 different countries, for the first time ever. The company had expanded before to a reach of 95 countries, but have now added more crucial markets to the mix, including Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Grenada, India, Trinidad and Tobago.

With the deal, iAd’s API enables partners to use whatever systems they please to set up certain campaigns across Apple devices, as well as placing bids for ads based upon viewing analytic data, amongst other information.

The iAd program currently supports a number of mobile apps on its devices, enabling advertising with ease across each supported countries, along with iTunes Radio in the United States and Australia (as those are the only two countries that have the streaming service at this time).

“With marketing budgets rapidly shifting towards programmatic, and apps representing the dominant channel of media consumption on mobile devices, iAd brings a powerful combination of global scale, unique and rich data, and a high-quality user experience,” said Ari Buchalter, MediaMath’s Chief Operating Officer.

It’ll be interesting to see what companies hop on board the iAd program over the next few months, leading into what will no doubt be a strong 2015 season. And Apple is likely to expand even further from there.

 

Wargaming Exec Discusses ‘World Of Tanks’ ESports

World of Tanks is one of the most popular games on the planet, and Wargaming has tweaked the free-to-play game to cater to the growing global eSports audience over the last two years. Thanks in part to the launches of World of Tanks on Xbox 360 and mobile devices, Wargaming has added 20 million new gamers over the past year to its collection of 90 million players. The company is entering its third year of eSports, seeing growth over the first two years of both teams and prize money. Mohamed Fadl, Wargaming Global Director of eSports, explains how important pro gaming is for the publisher’s future in this exclusive interview.

Mohamed Fadl, Wargaming Global Director of eSportsMohamed Fadl, Wargaming Global Director of eSports

What have you learned from your first forays into eSports with World of Tanks?

For me eSports is more than just sports or gaming, it’s a culture and the evolution of entertainment. We have no boundaries and we know no politics or borders. ESports brings people together from all over the world with one goal: to play, have fun and succeed.

How have the number of teams involved in eSports grown over the years?

When we initially started our eSports league 2 years ago we had nearly 4,000 players playing in our first tournament. Today hundreds of thousands of unique players compete in our tournaments each month to determine the top 12 pro teams in each region. Wargaming is very proud of what we have built together with our community so far and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us.

How has the game evolved to make for a better eSports title?

World of Tanks is constantly being updated to improve gameplay and balance with a focus on eSports.  In the most recent update we introduced the new eSports format Attack/Defense with a 7/54 point system. This is the biggest and most important improvement that’s been added to Wargaming eSports in the past year. We worked closely with top World of Tanks pro teams to test and implement the Attack/Defense format to deliver more strategic, team oriented and action packed games to make eSports events even more exciting for both the players and spectators.

“For me eSports is more than just sports or gaming, it’s a culture and the evolution of entertainment.”

What are your plans for eSports in 2015?

We aim to create an ecosystem within our eSports world to guide players and teams from casual competition to top pro leagues. We will continue to focus heavily on the grassroots system for eSports and make overall improvements to the Wargaming League throughout the year. We have some major plans in place for 2015 that I can’t share just yet, but we are very excited for what this year will being and be prepared to see some incredible updates coming soon.

How will you be raising the stakes in terms of prizes?  

I can’t share too much about prizing yet, but we are looking into some possible changes to help pro teams invest more time and passion into playing the game they love. We have also nearly doubled the prize pool from the last season which was $100,000 up to $171,000. So there is definitely a lot on the line for our top teams.

What opportunities do you see for North America when it comes to World of Tanks, given its popularity in Europe?

I think North America is currently the region with the biggest potential for growth in eSports. North America is very open for the evolution of eSports into a main media platform.  This region is definitely a leader with this mindset to help eSports to grow and I expect to see a World of Tanks team from North America winning the Global Championship soon.

What impact do you feel having eSports events occur in NBA and World Cup stadiums is having on what fans expect when it comes to spectacle and events?

Those events are very important for the overall eSports scene. ESports is more than just gaming, it’s a culture and the evolution of entertainment. I foresee eSports being broadcast to households around the globe and it playing a huge role as part of major sports and entertainment events. I believe over time this will come naturally and I’m proud that we get to be part of this amazing new eSports culture.

How did hosting the Finals at PAX Prime help connect with gamers and eSports fans?

It’s crucial for the players and eSports itself that we bring tournaments like this to the core audience at events like PAX. Gaming events like PAX are extremely important for eSports and will be play a huge role as it continues to evolve.

We’ve seen sponsors like American Express and Coke connect with League of Legends gamers. What opportunities do you feel World of Tanks opens up for sponsors and brands?

We already have some very strong partners for our League, especially for the upcoming WGL Grand Finals. This however, is not our main focus. We want to focus more on encouraging our Wargaming League pros to find sponsors and partners for their teams. Many of them have already been very successful and have big partners, but there are many smaller and newer teams that we want to support to get to this level.

What potential do you see for World of Warplanes with eSports?

As soon the World of Warplanes eSports community reaches the critical mass and there is a real demand of having a professional WGL for World of Warplanes, we will be ready and waiting.

“ESports gives depth to gaming, it shows the world that there is team-play, skill, strategy, emotion and passion driving players to rise to new levels.”

How big a role does eSports play for Wargaming and its World of Tanks franchise

ESports plays a very big role, not only for Wargaming and World of Tanks, but for the overall gaming community. ESports definitely puts gamers in a different light. ESports gives depth to gaming, it shows the world that there is team-play, skill, strategy, emotion and passion driving players to rise to new levels. ESports brings people from all regions and backgrounds together and shows the world what is possible with the right mindset.

We’ve started to see some activity in mobile eSports. What potential does World of Tanks Blitz have for eSports?    

That’s very possible. We keep a very close eye on all our games to see if we have reached the critical mass of eSports players for that game.

CREATIVE: Holy New Trailer, Batman!

Today Warner Bros. released the first in a three-part trailer series for the highly anticipated Batman: Arkham Knight. This first chapter, “Infiltration” highlights several new gameplay features while introducing the game’s title antagonist, The Arkham Knight. Batman is shown doing what he does best: flying, sneaking, punching, and this time driving his way through hordes of enemies to rescue innocents and halt Scarecrow’s evil plans.

The trailer ends with a teaser for the next installment in the series, coming 9 AM PST on December 2nd, and this little taste is sure to have Arkham fans hungry for more.