Minecraft for Education, WhatsApp’s New Business Model, Billionth iPhone in 2016

Minecraft For Education

When Microsoft bought Minecraft, the underlying theme in their description of the fit for the product in the Microsoft family was “productivity.” Minecraft certainly fits this concept but does so within a creative productivity theme. Which is more interesting as a productivity theme than typing Word documents and Excel Spreadsheets. By acquiring Minecraft.edu, Microsoft is looking to push Minecraft even deeper into educational environments. Several interesting things stand out to me with this move.

My wife is a teacher and has been using Minecraft in a number of ways and sees the benefits firsthand. First, kids are very familiar with Minecraft and, more importantly, they enjoy playing it. My wife uses Minecraft both in lesson plans and as an option for choice play, which means they get to play it when rewarded with good behavior. However, teaching in a public school, there are few resources and training as to how best to use Minecraft in the educational process. This is an area where Microsoft needs to be more aggressive.

This also could help Microsoft in their battle against Chromebooks. Chromebooks have been the best selling product in educational environments the past few years largely due to price. While you can certainly use Minecraft on Chromebooks, it is not ideal. My wife uses Chromebooks in her class, as well as an iPad, and the kids all say they prefer the PC version.

What hardware and software is used in mainstream education is very strategic for many companies. Which is ultimately what makes this move and the interplay between Microsoft, Apple, and Google in education so interesting.

WhatsApp’s New Business Model

WhatsApp is officially dropping their $1 per year subscription fee. While $1 was trivial and, in many emerging markets, that cost was bundled into the overall carrier plan and rarely paid by the end user, it signals Facebook’s intent to layer messaging in the middle of the transaction-based economy.

Facebook’s ability to grow revenue significantly with ads alone has peaked. This is a fundamentally important observation about markets where marketers are willing to spend money to advertise to consumers and where they are not. It seems only Western markets are where advertisers will spend big money to advertise. Hence, both FB and Google will compete vigorously in Western markets to grab more ad dollars, likely coming at the cost of the user experience. In emerging markets, they must inject their services into the transaction layer.

Yet this is no slam dunk for revenue. China is the only market where a reasonable revenue per user exists within the transaction layer of messaging apps. WeChats average revenue per user is over $7 per quarter. Contrast that with Facebook’s global average of under $3 and well under $1 in markets like India and Africa where WhatsApp has the most users.

Facebook’s ambition here makes sense and adding services for businesses to do customer support, find leads, engage in commerce, etc., is useful. However, the kind of revenue scale necessary to keep growing profits is going to be quite tricky in emerging markets.

Apple’s Billionth iPhone Sold in 2016

My friend Horace Dediu of Asymco tweeted this and I decided to look at when this may happen. By my estimates, sometime in calendar Q3 2016, Apple will sell its one billionth iPhone. This is an incredible achievement.

While McDonalds has sold more cheeseburgers than Apple has sold iPhones, there is no other single consumer product that has hit this scale. In many lists of best selling products, Rubik’s Cube is mentioned and the last sales number is over 350 million. The Sony Playstation will be in second place with over 400m sold.

With the iPhone installed base now likely over 500m active devices, it means that, since 2007, more than half of iPhones sold are still in use in some capacity. The last observation is the iPhone is the only consumer tech product to span the diffusion of innovation curve. I can think of no other single piece of consumer electronics that satisfies early adopters all the way to the laggards on this curve. The laggards being the hardest to satisfy of all due to their demands on simplicity. So Apple’s iPhone caters to both the most demanding group technologically and the most demanding group of ease of use. Remarkable on many levels.

Lastly, Apple actually has another product on the top 10 selling products of all time with the iPad with now over 300 million sold. Having two products on this list by one company is impressive. However, I also believe a third will enter the list before this decade ends — the Apple Watch.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

3 thoughts on “Minecraft for Education, WhatsApp’s New Business Model, Billionth iPhone in 2016”

  1. Wait, almost everything I read says the iPad and Apple Watch are dismal failures! How can a device be in the top 10 products of all time, cost north of a hundred US dollars, and be a failure? Totally baffling.

  2. So Apple will join the “billionth” club. Good for them, impressive. Surely McDonalds and Apple aren’t the only members of that club. Are they?

    1. When you’re talking about single vendors with a high touch relationship re: customers, I would think there can’t be many in that “billionth” club. You can add many companies together and get over a billion (Windows PCs, Android) but those aren’t a single company serving a billion people. A billion iPhones sold is interesting, but more interesting is that Apple may reach one billion active users in 2016. That would be interesting, to know how many single companies have reached that mark. Android wouldn’t count, and neither would Windows PCs, those are the sum of many companies and involve indirect relationships with consumers. I would guess more than one restaurant chain is in the club. Hmm, who else? Amazon I would think. Facebook. Conglomerates like Unilever, but those probably don’t count, there’s less focus of ‘needs served’ and less of a high touch relationship. I don’t think Apple can grow much past a billion customers (I said that years ago and people thought I was crazy, that Apple could even get close to a billion), that’s a lot of people to serve.

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