Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Apple's Fourth Screen, the HDTV?

Terrific article today in on speculation that Apple will manufacture and sell Hi Def TV sets. "At $328 billion, Apple’s market capitalization is the second largest among U.S. companies. How much higher can it go? Plenty — particularly if the company launches that Internet-connected HDTV it’s rumored to be developing." An Apple TV set would stand with the Mac, Ipad and iPhone as a fourth screen for the consumer. The key, as the article notes, is differentiation. Unlike the other devices, an Apple HDTV set would have to manage TV viewing in a whole new way. And it is hard to imagine a big screen set with touchpad technology, so important in the other three devices.

What I would love to see from Apple is more of their Airplay and cloud technology incorporated behind the TV set enabling any TV to easily share content from numerous sources, the mac with iPhoto slide shows or iMovie videos, from the iPhone with recently taken pictures, or from the cloud with iTune theatrical movies and TV shows. Some might call that the essence of the Apple TV. Where Apple excels is the simplicity of connection, the easy of use, and the mobility across devices. Why build a TV set when so many other manufacturers are already selling at many different price points.

The article contends that the lack of cord cutting may make an Apple HDTV a non issue. I believe that more innovation and marketing of the AppleTV, currently available, is the connection Apple needs to own the fourth screen and the home.

Foursquare Adding New Partnerships

In a move that seems to have great appeal but little profit, Foursquare is partnering with Groupon, Living Social, and Gilt to provide daily discounts to costumers who check in at certain stores. "Through these accounts, merchants are able to deliver specials, including discounts and freebies, to users who check in at their locations." For a Foursquare user who "checks in", these surprise savings are sure to please. But as a marketing tool, I question the motive.

Coupons and deals are meant to drive consumers, some not previously planning to shop, to stores to take advantage of a special program. It seems to not make sense for the merchant to provide a savings to a customer already in the store, when other marketing tactics are available to drive purchase behavior, without resorting to discounting. Hopefully there is more to this program than meets the idea.

I could imagine when you open Foursquare you might be instructed to first check out the deals and that might then encourage you to travel to the store to take advantage of the discount. It might prioritize discounts based on location so that the nearer ones are highlighted first. Merchants might pay for better positioning and Foursquare would highlight them first, similar to a Google or Indeed listing. "Foursquare recently passed the 10 million user milestone." And that base could be useful for geographic marketing.