With the epic battle between Apple and Adobe reaching new heights with Steve Jobs' 1,700-word anti-Flash broadside Thursday, where do media companies and stand in this take-no-prisoners struggle? Of course, both online publishers and ad agencies have squawked about Apple's lack of Flash support for the iPhone, iPod and now especially, the more video-friendly iPad. After all, the Adobe format powers most of their high-end digital content and advertising from music videos to rich media units. But compared to Jobs' high-profile crusade against Flash, the response from the media industry has been rather muted-grudging acceptance rather than open war.
News that Apple is seeking commitments of at least $1 million for ad campaigns on the iPhone and iPod touch through its new iAd platform had the mobile ad community buzzing Thursday. That's because to date only a handful of brands are budgeting that much for mobile advertising of any kind.
As their mobile war broadens, Apple and Google aren't just slugging it out with competing ad networks, operating systems and devices. They're both also stepping up their push into mobile applications through respective new acquisitions in the space.
TV broadcasters made a splash this month at the NAB conference in Las Vegas when they announced plans to create a new mobile video service. The ambitious effort backed by a dozen companies including Fox, NBC Universal and Gannett Broadcasting would use existing spectrum to power news and entertainment programming to up to 150 million U.S. cell customers.
With the launch of Oprah Mobile, the daytime TV queen appears to be laying the groundwork for a bigger push into digital media in advance of the debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on cable TV next year.
The iPad has already become a key platform for at least one magazine's mobile site. Only three weeks after launch, the Applet tablet accounts for more than a quarter (26%) of the mobile devices accessing Wired.com. Overall, mobile devices account for between 2.3% and 3.5% of the site's traffic. For the past year, the vast majority of Wired's mobile visitors have been iPhone owners, with 10% using the iPod touch and 15% to 18% using other devices.
AT&T and Verizon may be bitter rivals, but first-quarter earnings from the telco titans this week showed both are now deriving a third of their revenue from wireless data services. Nevertheless, both companies have suggested this year that a shift toward tiered pricing on data services is inevitable to curb usage by the heaviest bandwidth-users.
At least initially, Apple doesn't appear to have grand ambitions for iAd taking over mobile advertising. During the company's conference call Tuesday, when asked how the financial community should view iAd -- as potential profit center or a break-even business like iTunes and the App Store -- Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer voiced modest expectations for 2010.
The saga of the "lost iPhone" that burned up the blogosphere Monday before leaping to the national media has naturally sparked speculation that the 4G iPhone found in a Silicon Valley watering hole and delivered to Gizmodo may in fact have been a plant.
Wireless companies will spend a total of $126 billion this year to upgrade their networks and information technology to cope with a coming "data tsunami," according to a Wall Street Journal story today. But you'd never know wireless operators have had problems even handling ordinary calls from watching their recent commercials. In ads touting their services as the gateways to the world of on-the-go Internet, media and business nirvana, not only are there no dropped calls -- but everything is in reach with the click of a button.