Mobile Fix: Building brands and smartphone development

Mobile Fix: Building brands and smartphone development

This week Simon Andrews, founder of Addictive!, takes a look at building brands and the development of smartphones across the globe…


The smart people at Harvard Business Review have a model showing which brands should use mobile ads, based on some research into which ads change purchase intention. They suggest;

If a product is both utilitarian (practical) and high involvement (expensive enough to demand deliberation), it’s in the sweet spot where a mobile banner ad can sway consumers.

Backing up our firm belief that mobile advertising can – and does – build brands, this sort of research is welcome. But we do worry when research says some brands and categories don’t belong in a particular medium. There was a time when it was accepted by agencies that TV wasn’t appropriate for cars; where would Moby be if that sort of thinking hadn’t been stamped out?

We think that pretty much any brand can use mobile, social and digital effectively – as long as they have the strategy right and an appropriate idea.

For obvious reasons app download advertising is a significant proportion of mobile spend and Facebook has given a glimpse of how important it is to them.

The Facebooker that developed app download ads for Facebook told a conference that 175 million apps had been downloaded via these ads. An analyst used her figures to estimate that mobile app installs are around 25% of Facebook revenue. No surprise then, that Twitter are trialling similar units.

And maybe Snapchat won’t be too far behind; they have just hired the Facebook exec who had been leading the ad programme for Instagram.

One other (non) story this week is that Facebook has admitted the organic reach of brand post is declining – so they suggest brands buy ads to increase their reach. Whether this is a natural result of more content on Facebook or a cynical attempt to boost ad sales, it’s clear that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Just like viral and iPhone apps, Facebook fans can seem like a silver bullet for brands – cheap, on trend and really effective for some. But for most brands, a combination of great content and a smart use of media to accelerate reach is still the best combination.


The fact the Android logo is a robot doesn’t seem quite as random anymore. The man who led Android until earlier this year has popped up with a new division within Google focused on robotics. They have been secretly buying companies with the tech knowledge of robotics and are focused on selling products sooner rather than later.

With Amazon talking of droid deliveries and Google investing in Uber – who would be the ideal customer for driverless cars – the idea of Robots no longer seems that big a step for Google.

Apple & Topsy

Apple has bought Topsy, a big player in social analytics, and left most people perplexed as to why. Given it’s likely Twitter will restrict the access Topsy has to its data (given its new owners) what else do they have to be worth $200 million.

A couple of people suggest their abilities in search are a key attraction; they need to improve the appstore and we keep pointing out that Google, as the default search engine on iPhones, now seems like an anomaly.

But John Battelle thinks they will use it to improve the iOS interface. Just as Topsy interpret the huge volume of Twitter data, they could apply the same tech to understand all the data on how people use iOS and start to use context to deliver the sort of service Google Now does. Another interesting move which reinforces our view that it’s naive to underestimate Apple.


Last week we talked about how much innovation is coming out of Asia and Europe. China is a great example of this – the Wall Street Journal highlights 10 very interesting Chinese apps which all have some elements that could influence western developers and entrepreneurs.

Of course most are Android apps, as the iPhone hasn’t made that much impact (yet). It is reported that there are around 270 million Android users in China – so around 30% of the total market. But that’s not as rosy for Google as it sounds, as a local appstore believes 70% of these don’t have the Google Play services – so little or no data goes back to Google.

Local handset manufacturers tend to pick and choose which parts of Android they want to use and this is one reason Google is using KitKat to try and tighten its control – but for China it’s probably too little, too late.

The next big device brand to come from China is probably Xiaomi, and whilst they use Android, they update their proprietary flavour every couple of weeks – usually responding to what customers have asked for.

The big change in China is – like everywhere else – 4G. The Chinese version of 3G doesn’t work on iPhones so all those with grey market imports in Beijing and Shanghai manage on 2G. But China Mobile is now to get a 4G license and it’s only a matter of time before they announce a deal to sell the iPhone.

As Ben Evans tweeted;

The iPhone is so expensive that only a couple of hundred million Chinese people can afford it.

Few are more focused on China than Martin Sorrell and his latest thoughts are worth a read.


Around 80% of the population of Africa have mobile phones with very fast growth projected, and already 20% of the population has smartphones. The full report can be read here.

Some new research on messaging from our friends at OnDevice shows the impact WhatsApp is having around the world – and we are starting to see it in the sharing options of smarter sites already. The full research shows that WeChat is growing really quickly too.

And ex Facebooker turned VC Christian Hern makes some good points on how Tencent of China – the people who launched WeChat just a couple of years ago – is poised to become a global player.

This is an edited and abridged version of Mobile Fix – click here to read the full article on Addictive!’s website

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