MediAvataar's News Desk
A few months ago, Microsoft surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalisation of USD 851 billion. Microsoft held the leading position as the most valuable tech firm in the 1990s, powering the revolution in PCs with its Windows operating system.
This was followed by a recessionary period, failing in mobile computing as Apple, Google and Amazon saw their fortunes rise. However, Microsoft has completed its comeback thanks to the integration of strong innovation, abandoning failing ventures, smart diversification and thriving in the Cloud with Azure.
In contrast, Apple’s iPhone business has seen slowing volume growth, while its two other major products – the Mac and iPad – saw sales either declining or stagnating. This resulted in the company projecting its services as the next big revenue success. Over financial year 2018, Apple’s Services were the fastest-growing segment.
Microsoft Cloud’s Success and Diversification
Although Microsoft still draws significant revenue from its Windows software, it has become a unique provider of a Cloud computing platform known as Azure to its business customers. It has also learned how to develop a steadier revenue stream from its Office software suite for both consumers and enterprises.
Microsoft is also now less dependent on a single product than in the past, with the acquisition in 2016 of professional social network LinkedIn, steady growth from its Cloud services and revenues from its Xbox gaming business, Surface tablets and PCs, and Bing search engine.
Most recently in November 2018 it partnered with the US Army on a USD 480 million contract to supply HoloLens devices that will help troops train using AR and VR. HoloLens is also now being used in the medical field in a ground-breaking way. A research project at Imperial College London is using the mixed reality headset to help plan plastic surgery in patients’ body parts, identifying which tissue and veins can be used in reconstructive operations. The system allows surgeons to see inside the body parts prior to any surgical intervention.
Where Apple still relies on iPhone sales for the vast majority of revenue and profit, Microsoft is well diversified across a number of different areas. The challenge for Apple, reaching peak smartphone in 2018, will be to manage to transition into services, offering a more stable source of revenue that is less subject to tech fashion.
Back in 2013, Microsoft acquired Nokia but failed to gain a foothold in the mobile business, largely dominated by Apple and Android smartphones. This failure in the mobile business had a positive effect as it required Microsoft to work with competitors in OS. Until now, however, Apple’s own devices have been needed to access and use most of its services, a strategy Microsoft dropped 10 years ago.
AR/VR Impact: Microsoft Looks towards a Mixed Reality Ecosystem
With the launch of AR HoloLens in 2016, Microsoft is looking to combine its business services, consumer electronics hardware and software division, and Xbox users into one ecosystem centred on mixed reality.
The HoloLens is expected become the primary screen unifying business and personal use with what Windows PCs and tablets are currently used for, as well as the screen for entertainment, whether that is playing Xbox video games or streaming media content on television. The medium-to-long term potential of the smart glass is expected to be significant once the price gradually becomes more accessible to consumers.
Microsoft Xbox One Focusing on a Growing 4K Television Market
Microsoft released the Xbox One X in 2017, advertising it as one of the most powerful consoles available on the market and targeting consumers interested in 4K gaming and entertainment. Consumers are showing strong interest in getting high-quality visuals from their home entertainment systems and an increasing number of the new LCD and OLED TVs are 4K capable, in parallel with a fast-growing offer of 4K content. In this way, Microsoft is looking to capitalise on those higher-income households owning OLED TVs and willing to pay more for better-quality visuals.
AR/VR to Have an Increasing Impact over the Forecast Period
Global AR/VR headsets started to pick up in 2017, with 13 million volume unit sales. These sales were attributed to Microsoft HoloLens, Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Increasing consumer awareness, falling prices of premium VR and the wider introduction of AR headsets in the coming years are expected to positively impact on the sales of AR/VR headsets in the forecast period. Volume sales in the category are expected to reach 36.9 million units by 2022 and Microsoft is capitalising on this growth to achieve additional sustainable revenues.
Apple Bets on Services
We have just looked at how Microsoft is well diversified across a wide range of categories and products, so what is Apple’s strategy to tackle the iPhone and iPad revenue stagnation?
The group recently started to move towards opening up its services, allowing Amazon’s Echo smart speakers to work with Apple Music from 17 December 2018. It is also expected that Apple’s strategy will increasingly focus on encouraging consumers to use Apple products as services rather than expecting an entire product replacement. The services category includes Apple Pay, Apple Care and Digital Content and Services. Licensing and other services are also incorporated into the segment, including iTunes, the App Store, iCloud and Apple Music.
Revenues from services have increased significantly over the years and represented the second-largest contributor (13%) to sales for Apple in 2017. Apple Pay is currently available in limited markets, although its reach in emerging markets should allow strong revenue growth in the forecast period. Partnerships between Apple Music and key technology players such as Amazon are also expected to boost Apple Music’s subscriber base.
The iPhone remained Apple’s key revenue contributor in 2017, accounting for 62% of its total sales. At the same time, revenues from services such as the App Store increased 23% over 2016-2017 to USD30 million, showing that while hardware is Apple’s key revenue component services are increasingly becoming an integral part of the user experience.
While iPhone sales plummeted in 2016 – as many consumers refrained from upgrading to iPhone 8 – and sales only recovered slightly in 2017, revenues from streaming picked up strongly from 2015. The acquisition of music discovery app Shazam in 2017 is a strategic move for Apple as it enabled the group to offer some strong competition to streaming rival Spotify. Apple streaming will need to open up new markets as its offer is still limited to a small number of countries
M-Commerce as an Opportunity for Apple Pay
Apple Pay is expected to benefit from the popularity of m-commerce, especially in developed markets like the US and the UK. Chinese consumers were among the first to embrace the multi-functionality of mobile devices and, as many of them do not have bank accounts, mobile payments are sometimes their unique cashless payment option. WeChat (Weixin) started out as a messaging app and has since emerged as the biggest and most popular mobile payment platform.
The large unbanked population in emerging markets, and in particular Africa, represents a strong M-commerce opportunity as these consumers are keen on embracing cashless payment options. However, the price of Apple Pay products will need to fall in order to benefit from this trend.
So, Who Wins the Race?
Microsoft is currently focused on cross-platform technologies – such as the Cloud or AI – and is aiming to secure the future of mixed reality computing with AR/VR headsets. Apple is looking to offset its iPhone revenue slowdown by investing further in services, recently announcing that the segment is expected to reach sales of USD50 billion by 2021.
The company is also building up more momentum in the category with a potential streaming video service slated for early 2019, as a Netflix competitor. However, it should not be forgotten that all these efforts will face fierce competition from key tech players such as Google, Amazon and Facebook – no matter what the next big thing is for Microsoft and Apple, their peers will also be hungry for a piece of the action. Apple has 5G coming up – but AR/VR, AI and the Cloud are here to stay.
Written by Kinda Chebib, Lead Analyst at Euromonitor
Study Used Neuroscience to Measure Consumer’s Unconscious Response to Brands
As the advertising industry has previously noted, ads served on Connected TV devices (CTV) tend to decrease ad overload, and according to a new study, they also create more positive emotions and increase engagement for viewers across all age groups as compared to Linear TV (LTV). The study by MAGNA, the intelligence, investment and innovation unit within IPG Mediabrands and IPG Media Lab, the media futures and advisory arm of IPG Mediabrands, “Engaging the Mind: How Consumers Really Respond to Connected TV and Linear TV Ads” explores consumer engagement with and brand lift generated by short-form video content on CTV compared to traditional ads on LTV.
The study employed advanced neurometric technology to measure participants’ unconscious responses to ads served on CTV and LTV. Eye engagement was measured via eye-tracking glasses and brain pulses from Electroencephalography (EEG) were used to assess emotional arousal and cognitive load. Participants were pre-recruited based on their media consumption habits and participated in an in-lab media experience.
CTV ads far outperformed LTV, generating a retention rate 3.8X higher even when controlling for attention. Additional key points of the study include:
Consumers are painfully aware of higher ad load on LTV and find that the number of ads on LTV crosses the line – but not on CTV
The same ads are generating more positive emotion when viewed on CTV
CTV creates more emotional ad experiences than LTV among younger and middle aged audiences, who tend to have an intense negative reaction to LTV
LTV ads risk boredom in some age groups while CTV does not
“Video consumption continues to thrive and it’s no surprise consumers prefer ads on Connected TVs as compared to Linear TV, because of the content variety, user control and relatively uncluttered environment” said David Cohen, President, North America, MAGNA. “Consumers like to view ads on their own terms, and would prefer less, shorter ads in their entertainment content. Serving ads in Connected TV environments ensures a stronger emotional response and allows marketers to connect to a wider audience than Linear TV does.”
In 1979, Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter launched his Five Forces framework with a powerful statement: “The essence of strategy formulation is coping with competition, yet it is easy to view competition too narrowly and too pessimistically.”
Modern marketers have a number of tools to drive growth in the competitive environment which are supported by data to make confident decisions—like pricing, promotion, assortment and media. But when we talk to marketers about growth, no lever is cited more often than innovation.
The trouble is, innovation is still a mystical artifact of strategy in today’s competitive environment—meaning the same marketers who say it is important also cite a lack of visibility to innovation activity and a lack of basic performance measurement. Unfortunately, this trouble only increases because of constant evolution among competitors, new entrants and substitutes—especially in pools of emerging consumer demand.
So, how can we more effectively invest in innovation as a growth engine? We tend to think it comes down to three seemingly simple things: measure, monitor and manage. Let’s look at each individually.
The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry has access to plenty of hard metrics, where past performance is used to predict the future. But is there a better way to see the future competitive landscape?
In 2016 and 2017, Nielsen reported liquid tea as the No.1 growth category in the U.S., rounding out two straight years of 10%-20% growth. That sounds like good news for anyone in the category, right?
Our 2017 data on innovation in tea found that new entrants flooded the future of the category. Meanwhile, the marketers who controlled 60%+ share in the current category were getting less than 35% share of innovation sales. Smaller players were driving about $70 million in innovation sales, as market needs were shifting. For example, new entrants were bringing new-to-category features like kombucha and exotic flavors in more accessible packaging. Caught off guard and remaining static, several established sub-brands fell almost 25% during that time.
Understanding innovation performance could provide a more holistic view on how the competitive environment is changing in the quest for growth. But it needs to be fast, granular and always on.
Marketers try to understand successful innovations from the past, while conducting ongoing searches for emerging trends. But what can we learn from innovations that are hitting the market right now?
The beer category is a good example of how potential substitutes (across non-alcohol and alcohol beverages) can change competitive dynamics. And it shows: Between April 2018 and July 2018, more than 1,200 innovations entered the U.S. beer category, which was about 2x to 5x more activity than any other major beverage category. Outside of sheer magnitude, how beer marketers were responding provides insight into the trends:
20% of the innovations were less than 5% alcohol by volume (ABV; also lower calorie), but another 20% had more than 8% ABV—providing insight into bifurcation in market forces
65% of the innovations were in cans, offering a number of benefits to consumers like the opportunity to enjoy the beverage during outdoor occasions
20% of the innovations led with fruit flavors, and 59 new flavors entered the category with dessert flavors (“pastry beers”) and multi-flavor combinations, which mirrors other beverage trends
Competitive innovation activity is a source of learning that enables marketers to adapt, respond and/or adopt new trends before they scale. Without facts, fiction prevails. We need a way to see high-level trends, navigate thousands of new entries in the competitive scene, and see real examples in real time.
Most marketers manage launched innovations through a series of tracking mechanisms for distribution, sales, promo, etc. The processes are at varying levels of maturity and consistency, but enable management against pre-launch goals. But is there a better way to manage innovations?
Let’s start with an $8 billion problem. Yes, with a “B.” Our BASES team found that 27% of new product launches were not viable with consumers in pre-market testing. Not counting the cost of development, these launches were supported with $4 billion in marketing spend—and almost all of them failed due to a lack of consumer demand. Meanwhile, another 27% of launches that were viable with consumers failed due to a lack of marketing support. Opportunity cost and irony just doubled.
It’s arguable whether this type of failure is caused by poor planning or poor execution. Nevertheless, few would argue that it is a big, expensive problem. And rather than choose between planning and execution, marketers should strive to address both:
Set goals and marketing plan expectations using data on similar innovations in the market
Track launch performance against internal and external benchmarks, and best-in-class forecasts
Take targeted, corrective actions quickly using consistent metrics and tools
Advancements in any one area of measure, monitor, manage would enable better innovation performance at an organizational level. Each involves taking a broader and optimistic view on competition in order to formulate effective strategy. It also involves keeping the information flow constant in a changing environment to bring agility to strategic decisions.
The real power will come when businesses can harness all three areas, and integrate them into the ongoing decision-making processes throughout the organization.
Written by Matthew Senger, SVP, Product Leadership, Innovation Measurement at Nielsen.
The International News Media Association (INMA) has appointed Madhavi Sekhri as Head - South Asia Division. She will oversee INMA South Asia’s growth strategy and execution.
Sekhri succeeds Priya Marwah, who has headed INMA’s South Asia Division since 2007.
A brand, strategy and product development specialist with nearly 12 years of experience in the media sector, Sekhri’s last assignment was with HT Media Ltd. as head of brand and marketing for the business daily Mint. Prior to that she spent nine years with The Indian Express.
Regarding her appointment and INMA’s plans for South Asia, INMA CEO Earl Wilkinson said, “Madhavi joins INMA at a time when INMA has great momentum in this region. We aim to increase our footprint at an accelerated pace in South Asia. Having Madhavi on board with her experience in this space will further this.”
Rajiv Verma, president of INMA’s South Asia Division and an advisor with HT Media Ltd., added, “In the very near future, we will see INMA members being more actively engaged within South Asia and better connected globally. Madhavi’s appointment enhances our focus on broadening INMA’s reach in South Asia.”
As the nation moves closer to the General Elections, CNN-News18 will be launching two new shows – The Nation@5 and 18 (Degree) South18 (Degree) South. Leveraging News18 Network’s extensive network of seasoned journalists, the shows are aimed at building an all-inclusive discourse on news television.
The Nation@5 will kick off Primetime 2.0 from the CNN-News18 newsroom on weekdays at 5PM and will be anchored by Anand Narasimhan. A fast-paced news driven show, it will bring top stories of the day for the viewers backed by reporter inputs and views from voices that reflect all the opinions around the story. Crisp debates with limited guests, the show will incorporate leading social media conversations, news wraps, etc. for greater viewer interactivity. The show will air from 7th January, 2019.
Deriving its name from Southern India’s geographical start, 18 (Degrees) South, The show will focus on major news from the southern states of the country. Recognising the underrepresentation of this region in the mainstream news, the show will not only bring forth biggest stories from south but also contextualize national stories for a southern audience. The show will be anchored by CNN-News18’s Editor – Output, Zakka Jacob and will air at 4PM on weekdays. Being from Southern India, Zakka will bring a fresh approach to news telling in his inimitable style. The show will go live from 14th January, 2019.
Watch The Nation @5, Staring 7th January at 5PM and 18 (Degree) South, starting 14th January at 4PM only on CNN-News18