Apple has released their smaller tablet version of the iPad, the mini.  The mini is available today for sale however does the price defeat the purpose?  The mobile and tablet market is thriving and virtually exploding!   In fact, tablets are set to surpass notebook growth in 2016.  Research conducted by Display Search indicates that tablets are expected to be the driving mechanism for the mobile market over the next 4 years.  With this extreme growth and demand for mobile and tablet devices, Apple decided to launch the iPad mini to compete with lesser expensive and smaller sized tablets.  However, many consumers feel the price they offered is a bit too aggressive for the mini tablet.

The full size iPad right now ranges from $499 to $829.  In order to stay competitive in this market and challenge the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (starting at $249), Kindle Fire HD (starting at $199) and the GoogleNexus (starting at $199), Apple released the iPad mini, ranging from $329 to $659.  With Apple’s product priced much higher than the competition, consumers are asking each other if Apple is asking for too much for the mini and furthermore if this is a sign the tech giant is becoming slightly over-confident in their pricing models.

When we look at the market share of the mobile and tablet market, understandably so we acknowledge that Apple has a commanding lead.  This lead, however is slipping away to Android-based devices.  According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Apple had 81 percent market share in 2011 however that has been reduced to 52 percent for 2012 while Android-based devices have climbed to 48 percent for 2012.

The growth in competition has led Apple to release a smaller version of the iPad however the aggressive starting price may defeat that purpose.  Simply put, consumers are able to purchase the GoogleNexus (Android-based device) for more than $129 less than the iPad mini.

We want to know, do you feel the Apple mini is priced a bit too high and are you more inclined to purchase the iPad mini or another mini tablet device?

What do Google, Microsoft and Apple have in common?  A lot, actually; and following their respective developer conferences earlier this summer, several new commonalities have been revealed.  We now know that new tablet devices are being developed by Google and Microsoft and that Google and Apple are both looking to capitalize on their mapping software.  We’ve also learned that iOS 6, Windows 8 and Android 4.1 are going to incorporate more Internet and social media functionality than any previous operating systems.  This enhanced focus on social connectivity will undoubtedly be an important component of these new systems, but its impact on Internet marketing may be even greater.

A More Social Future
Despite Facebook’s apparent inability to succeed on Wall Street thus far, the network is still as popular as ever.  With upwards of 900 million users, nearly 1/7 of the world’s population is using Facebook.  That’s an impressive reach for a social network that began less than a decade ago as a college project.  Microsoft and Apple have both seen potential in Facebook and their confidence in the brand is reinforced by its incorporation into their new OS offerings.  The move to integrate social media directly into the operating system itself will only bolster its popularity, which will significantly impact the Internet marketing industry.

Effects on Internet Marketing
SEOs and SMOs are likely to see a substantial rise in their client base.  Online marketing initiatives will become increasingly valuable as the Internet itself continues to become more accessible.  Today, the role of social media in marketing initiatives is larger than it has ever been and it has proven effective for many companies worldwide.  Search engine optimization and social media are expected to become even more closely related going forward, as well.

The release of iOS 6 and Windows 8 are also likely to impact current social media campaigns and increase their overall effectiveness.  The future of social media looks to be very bright and with the help of tech industry mainstays such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, it may become the very cornerstone of online marketing.

What are your thoughts on the future of social media marketing?  Drop me a line at brymshaw@webimax.com or on Twitter @brwebimax.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed open source mapping and how both Apple and Foursquare dropped Google Maps as their mapping provider. Both have gone to open source solutions with Apple using OpenStreetMap and Foursquare using MapBox. I finished yesterday’s post with the questions -how is the emergence of open source mapping impacting the sector, and second, how would a mapping service by Apple further impact the sector and SEO? Let’s address these.

Open Source Mapping
In a broad sense, open source mapping is making it easier for companies and organizations across sectors to map open data extending what they are able to do with the information they gather. A great piece here discusses the background of the technology and how organizations are putting available tools to use to support their mission. As open data and mapping advance further, tech companies will look to integrate these mapping platforms into their interface and to illustrate their data. As such, more mobile apps that are centered on location-mapping will switch to an open format as an increasing number of these companies may find that the functionality of other mapping platforms fits their purposes better than Google Maps. Further, Google’s API pricing is only pushing these companies away.

Looking at this in international terms, with these open source mapping platforms operating in international markets, they may run into the same trouble that Google did in France with offering mapping services for free as described in this IB Times piece. Before fully expanding operations, these companies should address how their open source model would function within the regulations in place in each context.

An Alternative From Apple?
Addressing Apple, the most valuable company in the world could create a mapping alternative that they would use in all their programs and devices in the years to come (based on recent acquisitions discussed in the previous post).  Such a platform could be used by other companies on desktops, apps, and for mobile, and in time, could take general relevance as well as SEO and local search worth from Google Maps and Google Places. A competitive alternative map platform could grow in importance for supplying local search results. However, the possibility of that happening is made very difficult by the fact that such searches are usually initiated via a standard search engine query which users usually go to Google to do.

Such an alternative platform would have to be sought out in its own right as Google would not likely give a map result from a competitor before a Google Maps one. Thus, it would be difficult for a new platform to gain exposure and use.  As a result, a viable alternative to Google Maps for search engine optimization value from Apple or anyone else is by no means going to happen anytime soon, but it deserves a mention considering the particular strength of the Apple brand and their recent actions toward digital mapping, most notably the acquisitions. In the meantime, the reality is that Google is the dominant player and companies should be optimizing their Google Places and Google+ accounts for SEO gain.

With the announcement about the new iPad officially made, and the well-sought details regarding its attractive new specs and features finally revealed to the eagerly-awaiting public, it only makes sense for everyone to continue their speculations into what Apple will next be introducing to its many offerings of mobile device-related services.

What is the latest item on the rumor mill? It is about a new section in the company’s App Store that will be titled “Catalogs.” The purpose of this section will be to aggregate a host of other apps which in the past have appeared in categories like Lifestyle, according to a TechCrunch article that came out today. The article also reports that news about the App Store’s new category came from a group of developers who had created the app Catalog Spree, which was moved from the App Store due to its similarities with the rumored new section.

Of course, the discovery of new apps in the App Store would be a great main benefit arising from the introduction of a “Catalogs” section. However, what many people are focusing on is the potential avenues for growth in mobile commerce; an App Store section like this could be one more step towards shopping for – and purchasing – physical items straight from a mobile device.

Apple already offers a nicely streamlined and well-managed mobile payment processing service for its own ecosystem, allowing users to make music, app, and in-app purchases on their Apple devices with great ease. Extending this to a service that would allow customers to make all types of purchases through their Apple devices would be a huge step forward in the world of e-commerce. Not only that, if the new iPad sells incredibly well – as it is expected to – this could provide ample opportunities for businesses, as well as Apple, to receive great benefits in profitability.

Of course, this is all conjecture for now. But, it definitely brings one question to the forefront: is your business ready for mobile commerce? With the increasingly-likely advent of the mobile purchasing of goods, all businesses should seriously consider the optimization of their websites for mobile accessibility one of the top priorities in their SEO campaigns.

Since the launch of the iPhone, Apple has enjoyed a large percentage of the US smartphone market continually setting new heights in the sale of the product in this market. Just this past quarter, they sold 37 million iPhones, which is over twice the number a year prior. Like much of Apple’s products, the iPhone has garnered a great deal of attention from consumers and media alike and has cultivated a dedicated fan-base.

One downside of the phone is its cost though, and in taking a closer look, there is a deeper story to the cost structure of the device. The iPhone greatly relies on subsidies from wireless providers which are both a blessing and a curse for Apple; a blessing in the US and a curse in Europe, where Google (through Android-powered devices) eagerly fills the void left by slow iPhone adoption.

Due to the contract system in the United States wireless market, subsidies are a big advantage for Apple who receives roughly $400 from carriers for every customer who buys an iPhone with a two-year contract, according to The Wall Street Journal. The carriers pay the subsidies as a way to make the smartphones available to a wider audience, but the iPhone subsidies are considerably higher than those for any other smartphone. The model is to make the iPhone easier (cheaper) to buy and then make the money back on the 24-month service contracts. This puts the phones in the hands of consumers at a much higher rate (and for less consumer cost) thus allowing the iPhone to be feasible for many.

smartphones in Europe

EU Market
In Europe on the other hand, the “prepaid” rather than contract system is more widely used, and as a result, customers have to pay a higher rate for their phones. In Southern Europe, where the economy has taken the biggest hit due to the debt crisis, consumers are opting for the cheaper Android-powered device which is drawing them away from the iPhone. Apple’s market share could drop lower if carriers decide to stop underwriting a percentage of the device cost as appears to be potentially on the horizon in countries like Spain and Denmark, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the end, Apple may need to restructure their model for the EU market further adapting how they deliver their iPhones on a per-country basis. Apple is not a web search player, but their slow growth in Europe due to economic factors and their cost structuring specifically in southern Europe has opened the door for devices running Google software to gain prominence in the market only furthering their applications such as Maps, Gmail, and Chrome, among others. Most importantly, however, all this makes their search engine that much more widely available and used in the growing mobile search market, affirming the relevance for SEO catered towards Google and mobile search. An SEO company situated to deliver such International SEO services will do well as more and more businesses will need to be optimized for SEO and mobile search across international markets going forward.