Here It Comes-Android’s Undeniable Growth

Lots of theories buzzing around about Android’s growth, from carrier advertising to economic realities in developing countries, but the data is undeniable: mobile is a two-horse race and Android is just getting started. You can see the numbers (chart to the left) but there’s nothing as powerful as watching through time-lapsed visualization. Here’s a video Google released visualizing phone activations around the world. In fact, some of the spikes you’ll see in traffic come from Motorola’s Droid release in November of 2009 to support the first argument driving adoption.

FWIW, I have nearly all iOS (Apple) devices from ipods and ipads to laptops and desktops around our house. But I keep my mobile Android to keep a close eye on how the OS is driving parity in many areas with iOS and exceeding it in many other areas you’d imagine Google would win in, like visual/speech-to-text/barcode/text/you-name-it search & navigation. As you prioritize market entry in mobile you can’t count out Android. I’ll go as far to preduct that in 6-12 the platform will lead development conversations. What do you think?

2010 SocialGaming Recap

Tim ChangHere’s a Seven-Bullet recap on 2010 for Social Gaming from Tim Chang, Partner at Norwest Venture Partners. Belated posting but it’s great perspective regardless. Tim will be joining me onstage at ad:tech SF on April 12, 2011 for our SocialGaming session. Show up sharp. 🙂

  1. The 1.0 stage of Social Gaming “Train has left the Station.” The explosive growth phase has come, conquered and gone in just about 24-months. To support his point, Chang pointed out:
    • Zynga’s market cap via private placement valuation exceeded that of EA in 2010
    • Traditional, console and PC-based game companies attempted pivots into the SocialGaming space with little success.  Same thing for Social App 1.0 startups that didn’t really have gaming in their DNA (started off as more viral apps, focused on rapid user acquisition)
    • Consolidation happened through studio and game acquisitions (Zynga buying up every sub-scale startup with a good team) as well as larger player acquisitions like Disney’s Playdom catch.  Especially interesting is non-US companies getting more aggressive on the global market: DeNA buying ngmoco, Tencent making many strategic investments in US gaming startups.  Everyone else opening up Silicon Valley-based scouting, BD, and investment offices
    • Two players, Playdom and ngmoco achieved $1.1 billion valuations and exited in barely 2 years
    • There’s still opportunity in social gaming for startups, but if you want to build something more than a small flip to Zynga, then it’s time to innovate Social Gaming 2.0 – e.g. midcore (ala Kabam), new genres (music, social activities as games), deeper gameplay and genres (social MMO RPG? RTS ala Riot Games?  Do some “gaming archaeology” and review the back catalog of great games and mechanics from the golden era of Apple II, C-64, Nintendo SNES for ideas and inspiration for social rewrites…after all, FarmVille was ripoff of FarmTown, which ripped off China’s HappyFarm, which was a social rewrite of the classic Harvest Moon)
  2. Mobile Social Gaming and Rise of Clone Wars—knock-offs abound and mobile becomes a key channel, first with iOS, and next Android
  3. Rise of In-App Purchases (allowing freemium for social gaming) and the Cost Per Install cross-promotion model (e.g. Tapjoy, ngmoco) on iPhone, which never had any of the free virality that Facebook offered.
  4. Death of Free Ride in Virality. Facebook shut off one of the key three legs of the social gaming 1.0 marketing stool (viral invites; cross-promotion; Facebook ads) which increased reliance on the other two legs of the stool which are cross-promotion (favoring those with a giant DAU base already, like Zynga), and Facebook ads (favoring those with huge cash warchests that can afford to spend millions per month on Facebook ads, e.g. Zynga)
  5. Gamification bandwagon. Tim helped to popularize the term and every startup B-Plan now has to have a head nod to the dynamic.  Unfortunately, very few understand the nuances of gamification beyond shallow application of badges and leaderboards, which is already leading to a backlash against the buzzword…
  6. Social Gaming goes global. Countries like Japan and Brazil became hotbeds of development and adoption, as new opportunities for monetization once US Facebook got too difficult to penetrate, and China market proved too fragmented, competitive (Tencent offering you a 10% rev split, or else they’d outright copy you), and small (ARPUs extremely low; top performing social game in China barely able to make $1M USD/month)
  7. Rise of cloud gaming? The “Netflix of Gaming” model didn’t quite pan out per all the hype…initial trials failed to show consumer willingness to convert to subscription…in fact lots of trial users tried out games, and simply went to Gamestop to buy used copies!!

You can catch Tim scribbling these seven points on his notepad and deliver his recap around the 2-minute mark in this clip from “The Future of Social Gaming” event hosted at Google on January 19, 2011.

Other panelists were Kai Huang – CEO & Founder of RedOctane (Guitar Hero–people pretty much bite down on their tongue, wince & thrash an imagined guitar at the mention of his name or in his presence, often uttering “deedledeeedledeerrrr” in homage to this dean); Mike Sego – CEO at Gaia Interactive, Kim-Mai Cutler – Inside Network, and Owais Farooqui – GM at

How are you planning your SXSW calendar? (Work in Progress)

Working on card-sorting SXSW interactive events is a bit of an art. In attempt to put some more science as well as to crowd-source some of the places I should be, I’ve turned to a couple of cloud-based tools. Plancast is a great social event tool that will likely be a breakout at SXSW this year in part due to its relevance for event-goers. It’s incredibly useful and plays nice with all your desktop, enterprise and mobile calendars. You can subscribe to my plans and see what plans my friends have as a way of prioritizing and planning connections. It’s discovery, serendipity and choice-meets-chance in an app.

I’ve also married plans that seem interesting with a Google calendar to see how over committed I am along with what events I’ll prioritize when I bounce from one to another. Here’s a handy peek at that Google calendar which should link to a live version of my plans:


Google Calendar of Plancast Schedule

Google Calendar of SXSW Plans, Agenda Format

Are you going or have had to organize similar complexity at an event with overlapping tracks. Have you found a better way to organize, prioritize and curate?

Look forward to your thoughts in the comments below.

Great Panel for SXSW–“Bubble or Bubbly”

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Illustrator: Gregory Nemec

I’m looking forward to hosting a great panel on Saturday, March 12 from 3-4pm at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive on the PepsiCo Plugged-In Stage in the Austin Convention Center called “Bubble or Bubbly” exploring the topic of froth in Tech valuations from a number of perspectives. We’ll look at root causes, lessons learned, success and horror stories, adaptive behaviors and some thoughts about how to navigate going forward. For marketers, these same questions have to be asked to evaluate bets in emerging platforms with an eye towards leveraging the innovators advantage and disrupting early and often. The panelists are some of the best in the world to address this subject:

Jason Calacanis

Tony Conrad True Ventures

Kent Goldman First Round Capital

Charles Hudson SoftTech VC

Enchantment Going Up

Guy Kawasaki Garage Ventures


Lou Kerner Wedbush Securities



You can RSVP for this panel on Plancast and Like it on Facebook. Ask questions for this panel here or on Facebook. The most liked question by the crowd and by me will be asked on stage. Also, follow this post for updates and links.

Let’s get this party started!

Weekly Round-Up



Tweet of the week:

The Role of Digital R&D and Experimentation

Agencies will thrive in the future and survive the in-house plus commodity services migration path of marketers by developing capabilities allowing them to keep pace with consumers. They will apply these tools, skills and talents to generating superior insights, inspired manifestations and communications born from these insights and  real-time responsiveness to the market reactions to them. We get there through Digital R&D and Experimentation. I think I can end the post here–that’s my belief, thesis and praxis. Looking forward to sharing how we live it over the coming posts. Credit to PepsiCo’s Bonin Bough for inspiring:

Paraphrasing a quote within: “We’re in a state in marketing where..we need to do more [digital R&D] experimentation. Any executive can have a gut reaction to a TV spot. You can argue that’s b/c they buy a lot of media but most likely its b/c they’re a consumer of advertising and have seen and experimented with a lot of spots. Executives across organizations don’t have that gut reaction to digital and social media. We need to know when you mix Chlorine and Benzine it explodes.”

Dirty Brand Secret (video)

for the love of cleanOn Thursday, January 20, 2011 Method Brand Co-Founder+Chief Brand Architect and evangelist, Eric Ryan, dropped by our offices to take on our current theme of Social Mission/Causes. You can’t talk about Method as a brand without punctuating it with their rallying cry “People Against Dirty.” Or, said in the affirmative via their tagline: “for the love of clean.” Slogans that are rallying cries and tag lines that convey passion? These are more than just tools for a company with the stated goal of being “in business to change business.” In the hour or so that Eric spent with us he shared how this inside-out approach to their brand has driven revenues and retail success along with employee and consumer passion to the level of starting a small movement. And, as we’ve seen of late in global news, if you’re taking on established, incumbent power you need a different tool kit and approach. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up 2/14/11

Happy Valentines Day. Last week we talked Egypt, Huffpo and Superbowl. These topics and a few more made the round-up. Here’s an assortment of sweet moments to chew on from the past week:

An alternative take on the role of tech in revolution: People, not things, are the tools of revolution – Thesis-Twitter and Facebook are indeed useful tools, but they are not essential why a revolution succeeds

Pandora gets going on path to IPO and files a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission

RIP Guitar Hero. Activision cancels game that was in development for 2011 after significant industry wide declines in console business overall as well as in the music game business

Groupon gets a “clue-pon” and axes controversial ad campaign in response to Super Bowl spot criticism. I commented on an AdAge article about this development–what do you think?

With so much instant, mobile access to online deals and metadata around products and locations is loyalty to brands is taking a beating? We’ve heard perfect pricing predictions, but will apps kill brand loyalty?

In Digital Era, music spotters feed a machine – As the major record labels shrink, Shazam and other start-ups are thriving by offering people new ways to discover and listen to music.

Rumor mill: Apple reportedly exploring introducing a smaller, cheaper iPhone model

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Weekly Round-up 2/07/11

Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers #jan25

Following Egypt

Despite an Internet blackout, Egyptians still got their word out by combining Google’s speech-to-text recognition and Twitter’s hashtagging

For greater texture about the environment in which they’re doing this, World News blogs on the state of reporting in an uprising. And Wired covers tech at ground-zero in Tahrir Square.

Al Jazeera, who’s been covering developments in Egypt, launched Twitter and Meetup Campaigns to bring broadcast to U.S.

Social Media was key in Egypt and Tunisia for expression and assembly. The question arises then, under a totalitarian, repressive regime – Is Facebook a human right?

AdWeek's "K Cole's Day in a Nutshell"

You’ve probably heard about Kenneth Cole’s poor judgment on Twitter that fueled an appropriate storm of backlash. Here is the top 10 list of parody tweets in response. My tweet take: “this really seems basic, but there are some conversations marketers just don’t belong in: porn, religion & politics are the most obvious.”

Tech & Government

Following the innovation-focused State of the Union Address, Obama announced the Startup Investment Campaign, with Facebook, Intel, IBM, TECHStars and others all pledging their support for the initiative

Startup America. The White House is paying attention to what’s working – tech entrepreneurship.

Super Bowl

BrandBowl2011 Ad Scores

Our friends at Mullen teamed up with and Radian6 to showcase the top TV ads based on Twitter volume and sentiment. It’s a great way to see the real winners and losers from over 1/4 of a million tweets vs USA Today polls of a couple thousand people. Although the sentiment analysis is imperfect, this real-time view and measurement of ad impact is great to experience. You can see the aftermath of the engine at You can also see my #brandbowl tweets reacting to the ads in real time.

Catch all the marketer Superbowl spots at AdAge. And you can find all the spots including Hollywood trailers with ratings on Fox’s round-up site.

Eminem was considered unofficial MVP for the BrandBowl. In addition to the Detroit/American anthem spot for Chrysler where he represents a powerful metaphor for redemption,  Slim landed in a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea as a claymation character. That’s Brisk Baby!

PepsiCo’s Jill Beraud and Ann Mukherjee talk PepsiCo’s return to the Super Bowl with Doritos and PepsiMax User Generated Content this year ; “Crash the Super Bowl

Here are the Top 10 Super Bowl ads with most Twitter pre-buzz–worth noting that several advertisers chose not to reveal their ads until they aired for the Superbowl. And we’ll be tracking other post-mortems for next week’s round-up.

Other News

AOL Acquires Huffington Post for $315m & appoints Arianna Huffington Editor-in-Chief. Long article, but worth the read as it shares a lot of ideas around the future of media including AOL’s 80:80:80 focus–80% of domestic spending is done by women, 80% of commerce happens locally and 80% of considered purchases are driven by influencers. Also, at the end of this article All Things D discloses that the were in talks with AOL as well last year but stayed w/Newscorp’s Dow Jones.

Cause marketing is taking off. Peter Jackson raises $2 million to go after cause marketers at The Experience, a niche site where people who care deeply about a particular topic can share their experiences with others.

Facebook introduces a credibility score with new social commenting plugin

Weekly Round-up 1/31/2011


  • buys ads around the Super Bowl halftime, for animated commercials that were developed with help from
  • Twitter launches Visa-sponsored Super Bowl microsite, aggregating all the chatter about the Super Bowl into one webpage
  • Auto ads to make a Super Bowl comeback, signaling optimism as the automotive industry appears to be buying the most commercial time of any advertiser category during the game
  • I’ll be adding other round-ups of historical Superbowl spots by popular categories on this blog in the coming week. In the meantime, feel free to pop by the PepsiCo round-up from last week and weigh in on your fav there or nominate one for consideration


Speaking of Valuations…

Cyber Uprisings

  • Following in Tunisia’s footsteps, Massive Egyptian protests powered by YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Twitpic (Pics, Videos, Updates
  • Egypt cuts off Internet access – the country’s government has gone beyond just blocking social media sites FB and Twitter in their effort to squash communication amongst protestors