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Mobile Marketing

App Developer Conversations: What to think about new devices from Amazon and Nokia

Robi Ganguly  //  September 8, 2012  //  5 min read

In this week’s App Developer Conversations with Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ and Ryan Morel of PlacePlay we discussed the new devices from Nokia and Amazon and talked about if app developers should care.

We had a couple key observations:

  • Microsoft and Nokia continue to be poor at sharing specifics: where are the dates and prices?
  • Amazon’s always been aggressive about pricing, now they’re being even more explicit that they don’t care about margins on their devices

The Transcript:

Robi: Hello. Welcome to another edition of App Developer Conversations. I
am here with Ryan Morel of, PlacePlay, and Ian Sefferman, of
MobileDevHQ. I am Robi Ganguly, of Apptentive. This week we are
going to talk about various introductions on the platforms, from
the hardware perspective, and how to think some more about
platform decisions.

To kick it off, a couple of new devices have come out this week,
that are a big deal, one from Microsoft/Nokia and one from
Amazon. Do you want to talk a little bit about the new Lumia
device from Nokia and what it means for Windows Phone 8?

Ryan: I think it is clearly a really nice device, they look great, and
obviously, they take good advantage of Windows Phone 8, which is
a beautiful operating system. It is still the same problem that
Microsoft and Nokia have had for the last year, they announce
something, there is no pricing, no distribution, or no date, so
it is much ado about nothing at this point. For them, that is
the last thing they can really afford. They have to make an
impact and make an impact quickly if they want to be meaningful
in the market.

Robi: What are your thoughts?

Ian: I think that is exactly right. It is such a beautiful platform and
they are such beautiful devices, but nobody cares so what is the
big deal? It is not going to affect anybody’s lives at this
point. I think that Amazon’s announcement was way more
interesting for virtually everybody, certainly in this room, and
probably watching this. Kindle is on fire, and the new Kindle
devices are awesome and really intriguing, and Amazon’s strategy
as a whole is really interesting. I just like the fact that they
have changed up the business model to the whole
hardware/software platform. I am super-excited about those.

Robi: I think that just over the last 48 hours, watching the way that these
two companies approach their announcements, what they are doing,
and how they are executing is really instructive. On one side we
got Microsoft/Nokia having this huge event and saying, ‘These
great things are coming. Look at it. Wow. We got no date, no
pricing, but hold your breath. Then we got Amazon that says, in
the same way that Apple does, ‘Here is this awesome stuff. Let
us blow you away with some stats on how it is working, and how
many people are now reading books on these devices versus
actually buying books, and you can order it this afternoon. Here
is an email and here is a link to do it.’ It is just a very
different delivery.

Ian: It is clear that Jeff Bezos is the heir to Steve Jobs’s throne, in
terms of anybody else in the world who has the presentation
power and celebrity status, Jeff is the only one out there, I
think.

Ryan: Yes, and rock star presentation, I would agree. I am not sure that I
would agree, in terms of strategy and what the product produces.
Amazon has done a fantastic job, there is no question about
that, they are the only company that can compete with Apple, in
terms of distribution, but I don not look at any Amazon device
and say, ‘I want that.

I think the services are nice, but it does not necessarily blow
me away, from a hardware perspective. Maybe the new Kindle Fire
will be that way, but I do think, to your point Ian, it is a
fascinating flip of the business model and following the app
market’s [inaudible: 03:43]. ‘We are going to give this stuff
away for nothing,’ not nothing, ‘And try to make money on
services.’ I think the question for them becomes, can they
really make enough money on content to get their margins to a
place where they need to be in order to scale that to big
numbers? I do not know. How much content do people really buy?

Ian: The interesting thing is that Amazon does not care about margins.
Unlike almost every other company, Amazon says, We are OK with
2% margins as long, as we do it on $100 billion of revenue.’

Robi: That is right.

Ryan: They are going to have to start caring at some point though, it is
inevitable. Right now, their stock price is heavily inflated, so
unless they start showing margin growth, that is going to go the
other way. Maybe they can keep selling the story to investors,
‘All these online services are going to make money over time,’
but as you move down the timeline, it becomes a harder sell.

Robi: I think they think of themselves as Walmart. If they are the next
generation of the store that everybody goes to, which it seems
in many ways, online, they already are, then margins do not
matter as much if you got the breadth and the coverage,
globally. I think as an app developer, what is really
interesting is that not only are they bringing you this stuff in
a way that is similar to Apple, in terms of saying, ‘Here it is.
It is ready and you can order it,’ but they are also saying,
‘And we are awesome at taking credit cards. We are going to make
you a lot more money.’ That is not a piece that is coming in the
Microsoft/Nokia story about new devices, about how many people
are making money. Steve Ballmer’s comment about the next big
game is going to be on Windows 8 seems to ring hollow when you
look at actual numbers of how many people are buying things on
these various platforms.

Ryan: I think, just in my head as we are talking about this, there are two
big announcements: Nokia/Microsoft and Amazon. We have spent all
of our time so far talking about Amazon. That shows how little .
. . we just do not know anything about the Nokia/Microsoft
stuff. No developer, do developers even have the SDK so they can
start developing for Windows 8? The Lumia is going to come out,
and people say, ‘It is a beautiful device.’ There are no apps,
other than ones that Microsoft paid hundreds of thousands of
dollars for, and there is a new iPhone, and all these new great
Kindle devices.

Robi: I think that wraps up our first piece, talking about the new devices
and stuff that has come out this week. Stay tuned for our next
segment, where we discuss platform decisions and how you should
be approaching it.

Ian: How does a developer choose which platform they should go for first,
between iOS, Android, Amazon, Microsoft, and even in there
perhaps between . . .

The Mobile Marketer's Guide to App Store Ratings and Reviews

About Robi Ganguly

Robi Ganguly is the Co-founder and CEO at Apptentive. He is passionate about giving customers a voice via mobile. Follow Robi on Twitter @rganguly.
View all posts by Robi Ganguly >

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