It’s Not What You’re Selling, It’s How You Sell It

MocoNews has a post on a new report from In-Stat about Google and Apple’s efforts in mobile:

First, he said Google is primarily using Android to push its agenda of doing location-based search, and second, the two Bay Area companies are implementing change by marketing and merchandising better, not developing more advanced technology.

Let’s focus on the second part of that, about the marketing and merchandising. I’d agree overall with this sentiment, though the two companies are clearly doing some technological innovation. The iPhone’s multitouch interface would certainly qualify as “more advanced” (though you balance that with things like no video recording, etc); the Android platform looks like it could do some cool stuff (though the proof will be in the pudding, aka the actual devices).

Interesting sentiment…I interpret it to mean that despite having largely the same products and services (painting with a broad brush, I know, but at their heart, they’re all handsets and data services), Google and Apple do a much, much better job of selling them. So the problem isn’t necessarily what operators and device makers are trying to sell, but how they’re selling it, from top to bottom, from when the services are envisioned and designed, to how they’re delivered and/or sold.

For instance, compare Apple’s App Store to Nokia’s Download! service. On a technical level, they perform the same task: the browsing, sale and delivery of mobile applications. Both are competent in this regard. But compare the user experience: which service is easier and better to use? App Store. Which does a better job of selling and delivering third-party content? App Store. See All About Symbian for further explanation of Download!’s myriad shortcomings.

Apple’s service itself is far superior, and it does a much better job of delivering on its intended task, hence the 10 million app downloads it saw last weekend. In both regards, it’s far outpacing the old guard with its new way of thinking (and yes, it’s a sad indictment that “things should be easy and fun to use” qualifies as a new way of thinking). Meanwhile, on the operator side, you’ve got a bunch of them talking about this new BONDI standards initiative to — get this — minimize fragmentation in app development. Fragmentation’s been a long-running problem in the industry. But what about changing things around to actually help sell these apps people develop?

Technical competence really isn’t a problem for the mobile industry. There’s no shortage of powerful devices and services that can do a lot of cool things. But technical prowess simply isn’t enough for continued success, particularly when new competitors that do a much better job of marketing and merchandising are lurking.

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