Smartphone users are smart – but not loyal

With smartphone penetration sky rocketing in the Middle East, there's a democratization of brand loyalties that's altering the marketplace. We've always had Apple fanboys who would never move out of the orchard. And android geeks have stuck with Samsung in a big way. But that's changing.

A survey conducted by Qriously on a panel of 2400 smartphone users, loyalty in the smartphone zone is fast disappearing. The study shows that across the US market, for example, current Apple and Samsung users are not likely to upgrade to  their brand's next new flagship phone.

You thought Apple had iPhone users locked in? 36.7% of iPhone owners said they wouldn’t upgrade to an iPhone 6 when it's released, compared to 32.82% who said they would. A majority of Samsung users said they would not consider the new S5 when their contract expires (39.26%) with just 32.42% saying they were likely to and 28.32% saying they were currently undecided.

With HTC's new M8 coming in strong, many users in this market are now looking for features and form factors rather than sticking to their brand of phones. LG, though yet to make huge impact, is also trying to break into this pool. And with no positively heart warming news or models coming from the regional favorite Blackberry, users are now open to new products as they roll out.

This is changing the media planning landscape, and targeting across platforms via apps and platform-specific content is also becoming a harder game to play.

Top Ten Handsets in the UAE

Scared of MERS, but advertising inaction

I don't work at a hospital. I'm not scanning people from Saudi Arabia at the airport. My only face to face contact with people from the kingdom who may have close contact with camels or with people who have been exposed to the MERS virus is through television. So why am i running scared?

MERS is a deadly disease and is no denying that. What is scary is how the entire advertising industry is completely dormant and almost unaware of the threats that loom. I don't see how most brands who work in Saudi Arabia for example can get away this summer - worth this huge threat looming on the horizon and not engage on it. Really?  It's all about washing hands and you as a hand wash brand is not there? Or a serious, informative public service campaign? Simple tips, what to do, what to avoid etc.

And with World Cup around in a couple of weeks, what's all this talk about sheesha tents? Really? Get a whole bunch of people together, in a closed environment and let a virus run amok? The advertising industry knows better that, and inaction is not going to help anyone. Not them, not their clients, and certainly not their mostly uninformed, and up to now, uncaring audience.

Facebook wants to Move Fast but be Stable

Facebook is moving fast towards changing their mantra. From "Move Fast and Break Things" to "Move Fast with Stable Infra". Huh?

Essentially, Facebook is saying, yes, moving fast is important, but it's important to get it right, to fix those bugs quick, to be stable.

This is what Mark Zuckerberg said at the F8 conference: "We used to have this famous mantra ... and the idea here is that as developers, moving quickly is so important that we were even willing to tolerate a few bugs in order to do it,". So no more bugs on the way to breaking bad?

"What we realized over time is that it wasn't helping us to move faster because we had to slow down to fix these bugs and it wasn't improving our speed."

This is actually good news for us. With so many trends like social gaming happening on Facebook at warp speed, this will do both the general Facebook population and brands good. "A firm commitment that we'll be able to fix all major bugs within 48 hours," he said, He did not forget to mention that with more than a billion users on the platform, this will also pose challenges.

This is post-IPO Facebook. Zuckerberg growing up, deciding kind of still to jump  but with parachute nicely tucked in backpack. Now brands are going to ask a few questions along the way. We know that organic results are down on Facebook. And mobile is up. Facebook have 1 billion active users monthly on mobile. And mobile ad revenue is up 30% from last year. That's fast. But is that stable?

Loyalty in automotive: Why I stuck with Audi – and will...

What makes a driver loyal to a car brand? Great driving experience? Got what you paid for and more? Or is it the after sales experience at the Service Center?

I've been in Dubai for a while now – and have had the good fortune to own and drive several different nameplates. Range Rover, Infiniti, Pajero, VW Touareg, BMW X5, Prado. Then I got a Q7, and now a Q5 3.0 S Line Turbo. Don't get me wrong – I love the way the Audis drive. The Q5 is a rocket on rails. And, yes, I did like the whole in-showroom, during-sales experience. But the real reason, and perhaps the lead reason I give Audi a lead 'share of garage' is after sales. The service experience at Al Naboodah on Shk Zayed Road for me has been legend.

Attention to detail, on-time delivery, the courtesy car-wash are all givens I guess in the segment. But it's the courtesy, the way their service team works – even though under pressure – is really world class.

I recently had a problem with a sun-roof blind on my new Q5. Called my old favorite Service Manager – Steven, at Al Naboodah in Dubai last evening. This morning, my car was taken in, and it should be fixed this evening. The responsiveness, him remembering me by name, recalling my plate number by heart. That's what sells me a car.

Not pre-sales, not sales, not driving experience (all of which are good). It's the amazing after-sales! Service team at Audi Dubai – Steven, Benny, Roshan (the team leader) – #Respect! Keep it up!

The service team leader Roshan told me that it's going to get even better with their spanking new facility that's coming up – and I look forward to that. I work closely with a few leading car brands in my line of work – and when we discuss loyalty, re-purchase, advocacy and all those grand marketing ideas I use one example. Audi. And I hope that marketers, ad agencies and social specialists are taking note. This is not a trend. It's a given.

Vorsprung durch Technik? Yes. But more Vorsprung durch Quality People. Technology without people means nothing.