Why Pepsi Has Been Making Branded Smartphones In China

What Happened
Pepsi is experimenting with an interesting method of brand marketing in China – by offering consumers a branded smartphone with decent tech specs at a very affordable price. Rumors about a Pepsi-branded smartphone first surfaced in mid-October, and earlier today the soda brand has launched its first Pepsi Phone. Working with Chinese phone manufacturer Koobee, Pepsi China repurposed the new Koobee H7 phone to create the Pepsi Phone, and is selling the base model for just $78. This is not the first time Pepsi has ventured into branded phones. Previously, the beverage giant introduced a limited edition of Oppo N1 phones with Pepsi’s branding in December 2013.

What Brands Need To Do
Nowadays, the smartphone is arguably the tech device that most people rely on and feel attached to. In fact, some consumers would even experience “separation anxiety” if they were kept apart from their phones for a while. By offering a decently equipped smartphone at a very affordable price, Pepsi showcases a new way that brands can transform their loyal fans into brand advocates with a true value offer, and should inspire brands to think of other ways that brands can permeate consumers’ daily life.


Source: Engadget

Header image is a promotional image from Pepsi Phone’s page on JD.com

CES 2015 Preview: Nine Areas To Watch

With less than a month to go before CES 2015, rumors are starting to swirl about what products will be shown and which will be this year’s standouts. We’ve started sifting through coverage and will be paying particular attention to the following areas when we attend next month:
  1. Automotive. This is the year the car finally takes over CES. With a record 11 manufacturers present, the convention will feature keynotes from Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche and Ford CEO Mark Fields. Everyone’s talking about a new concept car — an autonomous “mobile living room.” Meanwhile, Audi will also announce two “world debuts.” Watch for press events from Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Toyota, and more.
  2. Smart Home. The automated home will have its own marketplace at the Sands, though the entire city will seemingly be dedicated to Smart Home: expect large presentations from Belkin and Philips, and dozens upon dozens of home automation products — including iDevices’ first-ever Homekit-enabled device.
  3. Wearables. LG will reportedly release its successor to the G Watch, which could also incorporate 4G. Breaking into the market for the first time, HTC will debut a not-smartwatch wearable, but no details are out yet; it’s potentially something in the line of a fitness band. Lenovo has a watch on the docket, but we are holding our breath for the not-gonna-be-at-CES Apple Watch.
  4. Smart Garments. Technically a division within “wearables,” but expect the connected clothing market to get interesting, with shirts, jackets, sports bras, and even socks delivering fitness data with embedded sensors.
  5. 3D Printers. Doubling in size from 2014, the dedicated 3D Printing Marketplace will feature over 30 exhibitors stretching over 14,000 square feet. Watch the space for big moves from players like Makerbot and Autodesk, and expect that the crowd-pleasers will host interactive demonstrations just like last year.
  6. Phones. There are many rumors about Xiaomi debuting a Mi5 smartphone as it tries to take on the American market. Expect to hear buzz on LG’s flexible G Flex 2. No Samsung Galaxy S6 this year.
  7. Virtual Reality. With Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus from Sony, and Samsung Gear VR, the augmented reality space is (finally! Really, this time!) set to erupt. Expect to see VR-themed games, apps, and more interesting experiences.
  8. Drones. Expect to see dozens of flying cameras in the dedicated Unmanned Systems Marketplace. GoPro will even debut their own.
  9. Big Shiny Televisions. Finally, the big screens: joining the rapidly expanding, horribly expensive pack of 4K TVs may be LG’s 55-inch 8K display. Codenamed “Mabinogion,” it will have a resolution of 7680×4320 pixels. 

Keep watching ipglab.com as we continue to cover CES 2015.


Surprise! Lenovo Is Selling More Smartphones Than PCs

According to Lenovo’s latest earnings report, the world’s largest PC manufacturer is now selling more smartphones than PCs. The Chinese company reported selling 15.8 million smartphones in the recent quarter, compared to 14.5 million sales in PCs, further proving that the digital world is moving towards mobile. Despite this, Lenovo is still making more profit on its PCs, possibly due to the fact that most of its smartphone sales are low-end handsets popular in emerging markets.

Macy’s Begins Apple iBeacon Testing

Macy’s is the first major retailer to begin testing Apple’s new iBeacon technology in-store. Macy’s will use retail app Shopkick as a form of third-party integration, and users will receive a notification through this app when they walk into Macy’s Herald Square or Macy’s Union Square, San Francisco. The notification directs users right into Shopkick’s app, which will alert them to deals and remind them about product sales they might be interested in. As of yet, the trial is limited to pinging phones upon entrance to the store, but in the future it could work on a much more targeted basis. If customers who use the service are more readily converted into purchasers, expect to see Macy’s, and many other retail stores, run with the new technology.

iPhone 5S & 5C Sales Top 9m

According to Apple, over 9 million iPhone 5c and 5s phones were sold in the first three days that they’ve been available, which is a new company record for the first weekend of sales. Compared to their last release of the iPhone 5, which sold 5 million handsets in the first weekend, it’s a vast improvement, and evidence that Apple created yet another product that consumers want. It should be noted, though, that the simultaneous iPhone 5s and 5c release across Asian markets – like China and Hong Kong – will have given the company a noticeable sales bump, and probably contributes to the extraordinarily high numbers of phones sold. The icing on the cake, for Apple, is that there are also now 200 million apple products that have updated to the latest iOS. 

New iPhone 5S Has Fingerprint Authentication

At its event today, Apple announced the long suspected division of the iPhone line to include the new iPhone 5C as a budget alternative to the existing iPhone lineage, carried on by the new iPhone 5S.  The 5C is offered starting at $99, has a polycarbonate back, and comes in 5 bright colors. The 5S is offered starting at $199, is aluminum, and comes in 3 metallic colors: gold, silver, and slate gray.

The 5S has a full set of improvements including a new processor, 64-bit architecture, an improved camera (it shoots 720p video at 120 fps to allow for some impressive slo-mo shots), and possibly most exciting, “Touch ID” fingerprint authentication. The iPhone 5S is a veritable media machine, but what could be most intriguing about the device is the new security peripheral: the Touch ID sensor. 

While the fingerprint reading is never made available to other apps, the end of the password could be near, as services could issue “trusted device” status to a user’s phone, given the greater security of a fingerprint scanner.  Soon we’ll know if the nuts and bolts of the technology will allow for extended permissions chains to link the device’s master unlock function, driven by a thumbprint, could be used with third party applications without actually revealing the thumbprint to the app as a form of primary authentication.

Flash POV: Do Mobile Devices Have A Blurred Lines Problem?

Earlier this year, Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins questioned the future of tablets in a Bloomberg interview, saying that “in five years, I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.”  Indeed, the release of smartphones with larger screens, such as the Galaxy Note, have given rise to the term “phablet” to indicate a device that is somewhere between a phone and a tablet, ostensibly eliminating the need to have both devices.

So are the lines between mobile devices blurring?

Maybe a little, but we don’t see it having any kind of substantial impact on tablet sales in the near future.  For now, the lines are more distinct than ever—even if the terminology is not.  Here are some key points to consider:

+        Phablet is a misleading term, because it’s really just a smartphone with a bigger screen.  A phablet (defined as having touchscreen between 5 and 6.9 inches) is a replacement for a smartphone.

+        In the early days of smartphones, smaller devices were desirable, but now that touch has become more sophisticated and responsive, screen sizes have got larger.

+        MAGNA currently estimates that there are about 169 million smartphones and 87 million tablets in the hands of Americans—but the latest ComScore data shows that “phablets” only account for about four percent of smartphones (just under seven million).

+        Recent research from Flurry confirms our own findings that tablets are largely an at-home, media-playing device (content, design, gaming), while smartphones are task-driven (navigation, shopping, mobile banking).  We think “phablets” fall into the latter category as well.

+        We agree with Time reporter Jared Newman that “phablets” are a niche, not a fad, and their emergence is simply an indication that consumers are enjoying bigger screens.

+        A recent downward trend in iPad sales has led to speculation that tablets could end up becoming more niche themselves, but it’s not that surprising given the influx of cheaper Android devices like the Kindle Fire.  Tablets remain the fastest growing media machines in history, and we project continued (albeit slower) growth over the next five years.

As the debate continues, what’s important for marketers is to be aware of is how consumers engage with brands on the various devices:

+        Phones = more ownership and more situations

+        Phones = shopping as an activity (product reviews/research, driving in-store, show-rooming, driver of purchase intent)

+        Tablets are used mostly at home, for personal content consumption

+        Tablets generate better video ad recall than other devices (see June 2013 Media Economy Report), and generate more spending per user compared to smartphones

+        eMarketer: In 2013, 63% of tablet users will make purchases vs. 39% of smartphone users


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Yahoo Relaunches iPhone App Summly

Yahoo’s relaunched its flagship purchase, Summly, for iPhone and iPod touch devices this morning. The app uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing algorithms to deliver short summaries beneath story headlines. The new features are prominently on display in the “Visual” mode, wherein headlines and summaries are overlaid atop blown-up thumbnail backgrounds. You can now also specify your section and topic preferences, making your Yahoo news experience more personalized. Yahoo also gave the app a major upgrade to its video and image searches. This is another big app release for Yahoo, who also released Weather and Mail apps last week, and demonstrates their continued effort to penetrate the mobile app market. 

In-App Purchase Revenue Hits Record High

Last January, 53% of all iPhone App Store revenue in the U.S. was generated through in-app purchases (IAP); this month though, that number has reached a whopping 76%. By region, the numbers tell a slightly different story: in Germany it’s only 61%, but in Asia, at least 90% of all Apple app-store revenue is derived from in-app purchases. In the United States, 71% of these in-app purchases came from apps that were free to download but contained virtual goods within them, indicating that putting a price tag on an app is even more of a hinderance to getting curious users to install an app when there are over 800,000 iOS apps to choose from. Even more telling is that the average revenue per app downloaded, even amidst free apps, was $0.99, the base price for all apps. Indeed, the top grossing apps from February 2013 were all “freemium,” indicating that the market share of IAP, particularly free apps, is booming, and that freemium apps are pushing the conventional app business model out of the spotlight.