Is it really mobile vs. social or mobile + social = commerce?

Mobile vs. Social Commerce

As soon as the black Friday commerce data was published with a thumbs up to mobile commerce and a hard beating to social commerce, people started doubting all the hype surrounded social commerce! In a way this thrashing can be justified, as businesses are now expecting significant return on investment after spending substantial amounts of money on social media marketing, from paying consultants to running guerrilla campaigns to engaging people via this medium.



Black Friday Commerce Stats

On the other hand, an introduction of smartphones and tablets has hugely boosted the mobile commerce numbers and if you believe the pundits, by 2015 every 3rd online transaction will happen via mobile device and every second offline buyer will check goods prices on a phone before buying it in the shop!



And as a result of this, every online and offline retailer is vigorously competing to introduce apps with all the latest technologies, such as voice recognition, Image and barcode scanning, to win mobile-savvy customers and to support mobile payments; meanwhile, all remittance suppliers are surging ahead with one-click mobile payment technology!

Which means, if John Smith wants to buy a tie he’s just seen in a magazine or website, he will scan that on his phone to check best available price and buy in one click to be delivered next or same day to him! i.e., the convenience at the best for price sensitive customers!!

So the question is – in this mobile and app commerce world, where does the social commerce fit, or is there any room for the social-verse when all swords are out for Social ROI? And the answer is – definitely social commerce is going to prevail due to simple reason that, we gradually start spending more of our online time on social media networks,those have become our second point of contact when we are watching TV, dinning at restaurants, shopping at mauls or even spending time with friends.

However, there will be a transition, or perhaps it’s already happening, from finding information (or products) on social media to eventually buying the product from that medium! Currently even social media networks from Facebook to Twitter to Google+ to Pinterest are positioning themselves as information gateways, so that when it comes to finding the best shopping trends, images, ratings and reviews, many look at their social universe but still buy on at non-social network platform ranging from Amazon to eBay.And for businesses social media is the place to collect data as thousands of people around many platforms are talking and sharing views continuously about their products!



I think the next stage would be, or perhaps already is, that we will be able to buy desired products from purely social networks rather than using them just as pre- and post-sale discovery tools.


However, I am not a firm believer in an app economy i.e. I don’t believe that apps running on social media will be the main tool of its transition from discovery to transaction tool.


But, if Facebook, Twitter and especially Pinterest can become pure marketplace for both suppliers and consumers, yet maintain consumer privacy and business identity, than they have a winning formula.
And, to a certain extent, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest brand pages, widgets and APIs are gradually building social interest and knowledge, and professional graphs, which are the right steps in social commerce directions, where both businesses and consumers can interact and know each other. However transactions with payment are still a stumbling block as these networks don’t have their users’ credit card info, which means that to make payment on social networks, both suppliers and consumers needs to seek third party help.

I think here Apple, Amazon or eBay, with millions of consumers’ credit card details, are in very advantageous position, and if they somehow manage to amalgamate social media to their platforms, then we have winner too! But Apple, with Ping, has already burnt their hand in this area – eBay is currently going all image driven (like Pinterest)– results are yet to be seen! And Amazon reviews remain one of the most prominent places to find product information, but not the place to hang out with friends!

Overall even, if we know the winning formula for Social Commerce is eBay + Facebook, there are still a few very hard yards to cover to reach this stage. We all know that just as we don’t hang out with friends in shops and don’t buy goods in restaurants or bars, it would be a humongous task to mix social and ecommerce sites, but I am sure we are not far now from a time when we will have the technology to mix these two, leaving buyers’ privacy and business identity intact. And while this transition will take place, mobile will become (or has already become) the prime device to find and buy products and services. Which means the formula for successful monetisation would be mobile device + social network = commerce!

Is the threat of Apple’s demise real?

Lately Apple has taken lots of flak from various areas of life. It all stems from their on-going patent battle with Samsung and apology fiasco on their website, workforce issues in China; then the IOS Map debacle, fluctuating share prices, delays to the new iTunes version, cutting staff hours at Apple stores, Ping (social network) closure, brand depletion, and the final nail into the coffin was the bad PR they got for publicly firing two very high-profile executives. In addition, many experts believe they are running out of ideas (or products) as both iPad and iPhone have already peaked.





To a certain extent, I agree that this $100+ bn dollar cash-rich company is now running toward a cliff-edge, where their blunders could snowball and roll them down into a very deep valley, with no prospect of climbing out again. I think an analogy with Yahoo, Nokia, Blackberry or Intel might offend some diehard Apple fans, but these companies were at the top and vigorously pioneering their respective industries, and whether it was their misjudgement of customer needs or inability to innovate, they all ended up in a very sorry state and are now struggling to survive.

Let’s go back to the original topic – is the threat of Apple’s demise real, or are people just panicking because they have never before seen such bad PR coverage of their beloved company? Or have tablets, laptops, desktops and phones already peaked, leaving little for Apple to milk? We all know Apple is very tight-lipped about its future products i.e. we don’t know what the company has in its pipeline to keep their revenue stream flowing, but looking at their immediate competitors, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung, it can easily be anticipated that Apple’s near-future product development focus would be around phones, tablets and maybe TV.

So how can Apple possibly keep its supremacy in the tablet, TV, and phone market, when both Google and Microsoft, along with Samsung, who after playing catch-up for a while now seems to be looking confident and in control of its product range, are making good commercial progress? An obvious answer would be innovation: coming up with a completely new product range that can catch consumers’ imaginations; however, is it conceivable that Apple still has the necessary extraordinary talent, content (such as exclusive music , movies or TV programs), leadership, showmanship (don’t forget the charismatic Steve Jobs) or technology edge to carry on innovating the way it did before.

I know all the above analysis makes one think that the peril of Apple slowing down is real, but we should not forget that this cash-rich company with a $550bn market cap is still very agile, with an engineering focus, a loyal customer base and a very stable top management. They are very capable of turning the company around with a new product range as fast as, or maybe faster and better than, their competitors.

Apple still dictate their publicity terms, with no official Facebook, Google+ , Twitter or Pinterest Channel. In Tim Cook and Sir Jonathan Ive, they have one of the most trusted and talented leadership teams. iPhone and iPad are still the fastest selling products in the world! The Apple App economy has created over 466k jobs;



And don’t forget, Apple has yet to fully leverage their popularity (or cult following) in the biggest consumer markets (China and India = Chindia) where another platforms like Google android and Samsung failed to make mark specially among non price sensitive consumers!


And, as they have done with tablet and phone, if they can break into TV App market, where most of the content is consumed, Apple will remain the king.

Also, if Apple can come up with product diversification in the same way as some of their competitors (e.g. Google, who are venturing into driverless cars and social media integrated glasses; Jeff Bezos (Amazon), who is investing in a private space travel program; Microsoft, who are now introducing music on their XBox games console) then who knows. Apple may already have a surprise in store?

Last but not the least, another unthinkable yet very possible  thought comes into mind, what about, if Apple starts selling iPad at £99, iPhone £49 and iPod at £29? I think we will have riots on streets to grab remaining stock at any part of the world and Apple market share for all gadgets will sky rocket at supersonic speed!

Overall, still there are many factors such as Chindia market share, Apple TV, Price war,Tim Cook, Sir Jonathon Ive  and/or most likely another gadget disruption-those can help Apple to keep their lead over competitors!