Music to Your Inbox!

In an effort to increase increase conversation rates, popular music may soon be making it’s way into your inbox via email marketing campaigns.

DMI Music and Media recently announced a program called Engine 1 that pair majors brands with popular music artists.  The first partner brand is the nutritional supplement maker, Mead Johnson which is testing the program with music from a variety of artists including Bruno Mars. The program aims to leverage music’s emotional impact on people and create brand loyalty.


Here’s a bit on how it works from AdWeek:  

The songs play when recipients click a button within the message. In a preliminary campaign, 75 percent of openers listened to the music, and 43 percent of those that did came back and listened to the music two or more times.

Why I’m Curious:

While this is an interesting idea, I am curious to see how it actually plays out.  Email marketing is very much dependent on getting someone to open the email in the first place. Unless the subject line of the email states that there is music I wonder if anyone will notice (given that they may just delete the email).  Also, given that music rights are so pricey to obtain, I wonder what the ROI will really be when all is said and done.


Diesel Launches New Home Collection Website:

Diesel recently launched a new site for their Home Collection.  The site is parallax but unlike many other parallax sites—while they are very interesting—the motion of Diesel’s website feels like the farthest thing from a linear trajectory.   The site immerses the user into an experience that feels like they are seeing products up close and personal, whilst getting to see the whole experience from several different viewpoints.  As the user scrolls through the site/rooms they can stop at any time to click on products to either find out more about them or find out what store has them in stock.


Why I am Curious:

I am curious for 2 reasons. (1) eCommerce continues to rise and shows no signs of stopping.  For consumers, online shopping is convenient and takes away the burdens and hassle of buying things in store.  However, the online shopping experience has a long way to go—i.e. how many times have you ordered something online and it looks nothing like the picture?  I am curious to see how online shopping across all categories will evolve to feel like you are seeing things in person.   Will people crave sites that let them see product up close with a 360 view? Will technology eventually allow us to for instance see our actual produce that will be delivered to us? (2) A site like this is really mind-blowing and as a result, I’m curious to see how Diesel will integrate this idea across their other platforms.

Target’s New E-Commerce Effort in Facebook is Incredibly Complicated

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David Geller

Target has launched a huge new e-commerce effort on Facebook called Cartwheel.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Go to Facebook.
  2. Then search for Target Cartwheel, because it’s on a separate page from Target’s own Facebook page.
  3. Once you’ve logged into Cartwheel, you might want to go back to your Facebook privacy settings to prevent the app from automatically posting about everything you’re checking out.
  4. Then, browse the discounted collections on Cartwheel and select the ones you like. (I’m greatly simplifying this process — there’s a whole thing with “collections” and “badges” that Target wants to you to go through.)
  5. After that, get into your car to drive to a Target store.
  6. I’m serious, this is how it works.
  7. Then find the items in the store and take them to the checkout.
  8. At the checkout, call up your Cartwheel page on your phone and tap the “redeem in store” button.
  9. That generates a barcode, which is then scanned by the checkout staff.
  10. Hey – you just got 10% off!

Why I’m Curious

Target took something with real potential (Facebook has a wealth of shoppers and Target has a ton of Facebook fans) and turned it into a trainwreck of a product that’s so complex that no one will use it.

Google Opens Trial for Same-Day Delivery Service in San Francisco

Confirming rumors that it was to launch its own delivery service to rival Amazon, Google has begun testing its new “Shopping Express” service in the San Francisco Bay Area. Partnering with Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle, and Toys”R”Us, as well as local coffee shops and independent stores, Google will offer early testers six months of free, unlimited same-day delivery.
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Google’s Shopping Express indexes the products available at participating retailers and makes them available to order via Google’s own website. Testers can then book a delivery slot and have their products delivered to them by one of Google’s delivery partners on the same day. There was news about Google Shopping Express earlier in the month, when it was reported that Google would seek to charge a $69 yearly subscription, $10 cheaper than Amazon Prime. Leading the project is Tom Fallows, Google’s e-commerce product manager, who is working to combine Google Wallet and Shopping with offerings from bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Why I’m Curious:  Amazon prime is one of the best inventions I’ve encountered in my daily life, so I’m excited to see how Google will step up to the plate with its innovation. Throughout the year we will begin to see a trend of how the big names, Facebook, Google and Amazon will fight for domination of the e-commerce space, and it is interesting to consider how financial service brands can leverage this changing purchase behavior with possible “Add to Earn” opportunities.

“Making Cities More Usable” – Dennis Crowley on Foursquare at SXSW

A lot of people might think of Foursquare as that checkin app with badges and leader boards and finding out where your friends are. But it’s a lot more than that now, thanks to all the map data and information that they know about places people are going to.

In a conversation onstage at SXSW with Anil Dash, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley discussed the company’s evolution from an app that was primarily focused around helping people to find their friends, to finding out more about the world that they live in.

Crowley said that one of the underreported stories is the number of companies that rely on Foursquare’s map data and what developers can potentially do with that. The place database has more than 50 million places of interest in it, and it changes frequently. Users enter new places as soon as they open up, and signal places that have closed down.

When talking about the map data that it has, Crowley compared Foursquare’s check-ins to Google’s web crawlers scanning the Internet for new websites. “People tell us about the places that are interesting, the places that are no longer interesting,” he said.

More importantly, the company isn’t entirely dependent on just its users anymore for a lot of its data. Thanks to the Foursquare API, the company gets location data from lots of different apps. For instance, every Instagram picture that has a location attached to it sends a data signal to Foursquare about that place of interest.

At the end of the day, the data that Foursquare has is the ability to provide more personalized maps than what is available today. Crowley said that maps haven’t really changed that much since people started making them, but now that we have certain amounts of trending data or interest data, Foursquare could help make the places that people see more meaningful to them.

Crowley likened that to Harry Potter’s “Marauders Map” and how it provides Harry with details about the people and places around them. “There is enough data that we should be able to make that Harry Potter map and give it to everyone in the room,” Crowley said.


Why I’m Curious: The relationship between Foursquare and its API partners is kind of symbiotic: Foursquare has one of the best map data sets out there and makes it available. In exchange, it finds out more about the places that its partners’ users go to. It’s interesting to see how powerful data can be when combined with contextually relevant partnerships. It’s obvious most of these apps are created with the user in mind, the user experience as the priority, and they are becoming more and more valuable as complementary apps emerge.

Barneys Takes A Walk On The Wild-Side

Animation, designer duds and the power of instant purchasing come together in Barneys’ latest endeavor—a shoppable spring film called Wild Things.

Barneys Wild Things


Created by filmmaker and photographer Barnaby Roper under the direction of Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman, the film stars Kinga Rajzak and follows her through a black-and-white cartoon land while she wears looks by Isabel Marant, Acne, Carven, Rag & Bone, and beyond. Viewers can point, click, and buy as they watch the short, thanks to Liveclicker technology.

Why I’m Curious: 

The new video, besides being classic, quirky Barneys, puts a twist on the standard shopping experience by curating collections so users can easily click, shop and share without having to navigate through the site.  In addition to the main videos, mini-videos, designer interviews and other content will be part of the mix.  The only downside – the shoppable capability is only available on, where the video is shown, so it does have limitations.

Barneys is a great example of a traditional retailer who has made digital a core initiative and isn’t afraid to test and learn.  After redesigning their site in 2012, they moved their iconic Warehouse online permanently, have been promoting The Window, an editorial site with a heavy e-commerce tie-in and launched Twitter/Instagram scavenger hunt in partnership with Disney during the 2012 holiday season.

What other brands are doing a good job of integrating their business model with entertaining and engaging content in the digital space? Who is truly embracing the idea of test & learn to  discover the best ways to engage their audience?

Esquire Integrates Shoppable Content Into Its December Issue

From PSFK:

Esquire magazine plans on trying something new for its December issue, which is set to hit newsstands November 20th. Using the smartphone app Netpage, readers will be given the option to scan individual pages of the magazine, which can then be viewed on their phones in PDF format. Users can then save, share and in some cases, shop the PDF pages right from their phone’s screen.

What makes Netpage so unique is the fact that unlike many other 2D-barcode and augmented reality apps, it doesn’t require barcodes or watermarks in order to initiate a page scan. Instead, it’s able to recognize images and pull up high-resolution duplicates on users’ phones. What’s more, the PDF’s that are uploaded to the phone can be saved in pieces, whether you want a specific photo, or a full page. If users find something they want to share, they are also given the option to upload the content to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or send it to colleagues via email or SMS.

Esquire has also partnered with to come up with a page of goods titled “Great American Things Collection.” Through integration into the Netpage app, the December issue will be completely shoppable, linking the Made Collection store into the content of Esquire’s pages.

Why I am Curious?

In an era where most of the headlines are talking about print as a dying breed, it is  quite innovative how Esquire is trying to expand the lifespan and engagement with the print magazine further into the digital world. There are obvious concerns around making premium print content so readily available online even though a lot of it already exists on However, given that Esquite is planning to make this Netpage add-on an ongoing feature of the magazine, it will be interesting to see if they try to keep it as a feature to support to enhance print experience or try to take advantage of monetization opportunities that can be through brands/advertisers and consumers.

Behavioral story telling integrated with shopping…

A few Curious Fridays ago the topic of selling products within a video experience came up…Here’s a site that hit Europe a few months ago.  It’s interesting because it takes a catalog and combines it with music and a story (through behaviors not spoken word) of the people wearing the clothes.  You can click the clothing people are wearing, pausing the story.  They used to have it so you could seamlessly shop right within the experience, but they now make you click through to their e-commerce website.  Anyways, an interesting evolution of the “J. Peterman Catalog,” except instead of telling the story of clothing items in written word, they are showing it…

Hot sub-culture meets e-commerce:

Here’s another somewhat old, but award winning example of sub-culture story-telling (again through behaviors not spoken word):

The real shopping experience is no longer available, possibly due to to the items no longer being available. Watch the case study video and review the stats when you scroll down.

Here’s an example of a J Peterman catalog posting from the 1960’s:

"Old Skool" J Peterman catalog, telling stories of garments.

“Old Skool” J Peterman catalog, telling stories of garments, back when “telling” was all they could do. Fortunately, we live in an era where we have the opportunity to “show.”

Remember that point, with digital we have the opportunity to show, not just tell.

Wish I was there to talk about this in person!  🙂

– Roshen

Crowdsourced Fashion Design


Cut On Your Bias is a new website that invites shoppers to vote on clothing designs during pre-production, allowing them to determine which fashions are created.

From PSFK,

After logging onto the site via Facebook, consumers can browse the weekly designs that are up for vote. Users can alter the piece in terms of its color, size, silhouette, material and more. Final combinations which receive the most votes are made in limited editions for pre-order the following week. The platform allows designers to skip the sample process, producing clothing for an enthusiastic fan base straight from the drawings and digital renderings stage.

Why I’m Curious

It’s interesting to see the various approaches to the fashion industry. Some designers and influencers believe fashion is an art, and designers like Coco Chanel and Alexander McQueen have just as big of an impact as the most well-known artists.

It seems that having consumers designs clothes takes away so much of what the fashion industry is (or at least used to be) about – an eye for a silhouette, colors and trends.

I’m interested to see the reactions from designers who believe in the “art” of fashion and wonder when UGC becomes a money saving strategy rather than an engagement strategy.

Groupon goes IRL with Kiosks


One of the original deal-of-the-day websites, Groupon, is taking to the streets with interactive kiosks in Chicago. Pedestrians have the opportunity to find deals online, on mobile and on the streets.

From PSFK,

Groupon deployed a few multi-touch displays around Chicago. Passerby have access to all the local offers on Groupon Now at the touch of a button. The geo-targeted deals include discounts on food, drinks and entertainment.

Why I’m Curious

Currently, so many stores are seeing a negative impact on their business due to online shopping, and now Groupon is creating their own spin on brick and mortal locations. Groupon is not only one of the original flash sale sites, but also one of the most successful. People would buy everything from groceries to clothes and even laser hair removal, but the thrill has definitely died down.

I’m curious to see if this is just a stunt for Groupon or a way to increase revenue or both.

Pickie, the Flipboard of E-Catalogs


Pickie is an iPad magazine that utilizes social data to create a personalized catalog. In short, it’s a bit like Flipboard for shopping. It creates curated content based on brands and items that friends and people users follow on social platforms have mentioned, shared, liked or pinned on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

When joining Pickie, the user is asked to indicate their gender as well as categories (home goods, arts, gadgets, clothing…etc) and brands they’re interested in. Then, Pickie creates four different streams of content. Social Content shows brands and items friends have mentioned. Trending Content displays the most popular items in each category. Editorial Pages shows items compiled by the Pickie Team and the Discovery Page helps users find new items. As Pickie learns more about the user, the better the Discovery Page gets.

Any product that is clicked on will display price, availability, what friends have said about it, as well as relevant editorial content. For example, a couch may be accompanied with an article from Apartment Therapy and a book may come with a New York Times review.

Why I’m Curious

What’s interesting about Pickie is that though it to combines many elements from popular platforms we already know about, it could still offer a new approach to e-commerce. Much like how Flipboard helps users discover new, relevant content, if Pickie can work as well as Flipboard, users have a one-stop hub for online shopping and wish-list discovery. The biggest concern is how sponsored products will be displayed, and whether advertisers can utilize the platform to push sales in a way that isn’t as intrusive and obvious as sponsored tweets.

Online Start up Offers Personal Shopping Experience through Pinterest

Nearly Newlywed is a newly launched startup that lets women rent gowns and bridal wear by highly coveted designers, including Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Rodarte and Carolina Herrera. The social media-powered online boutique lets women pay a fraction of the usual price tag — $10,000 to $15,000 — for designer wedding dresses. The dresses are guaranteed “nearly new,” meaning they have only been worn once or twice.

The small team based in Brooklyn, N.Y., connects with customers nationally. Utilizing Pinterest, Nearly Newlywed founder Jacqueline Courtney offers personal shopping consultations with soon-to-be brides. Courtney gets to know the brides through their wedding inspiration boards, from which she makes dress recommendations on Pinterest.

Dresses — both in-season and unique styles — are 50% to 80% off. The Nearly Newlywed rental price covers the cost of the dress. Meaning that if you fall in love with the dress, you can keep it. You can choose to return it for 30% of the final sale price with the “Nearly Newlywed Guarantee.”

Why Am I Curious?

Women have always been planning their weddings — gathering inspiration, tearing things out of magazines, and now, with social media and especially Pinterest, everybody’s tastes and inspirations are out in the open, Nearly Newlywed takes advantage of this phenomenon and uses Pinterest to offer a fun, unique and seamless way to have a dialogue with these women and provide a service that bridges the business’s offering and the women’s tastes.

We have seen concierge services offered through other social media platforms, but the Pinterest application is new to me, and I find it highly relevant and useful. As I mentioned, I tend to get tired just looking at the gorgeously curated Pinterest boards because they remind me how long it would take to find those items and to look like that. I love that Nearly Newlywed is actually providing brides to be with suggestions. I wonder if other brands, like Saks’s or Neiman Marcus’ of the world, that are retail giants but try to offer a personal  level of service to their customers will follow suit.

Kaleidoscope, An App for Curated Street-Style Fashion, Arrives on iPhone

Between Pinterest, Fancy, Have to Have, Pose, Fashism, Lucky Shopper,, Snapette and about three dozen others, it’s fair to say the world is not in dire need of another fashion inspiration or social shopping app.

However, all that aside, there are a few things that make Kaleidoscope different. For one, its high-quality feed of street-style images. Instead of depending on user-generated content for fashion inspiration, Kaleidoscope displays thumbnails of photographs pulled from or produced on its own. Between 30 and 50 new images are posted each day. The startup is currently forming partnership with select bloggers to bring their content to Kaleidoscope’s feed as well.

Kaleidoscope also brings quality curation to another key part of its service: product recommendations. The app uses ShopStyle‘s API to locate products that match the clothes in each photograph, and internal staff — i.e., the startup’s interns — filter through the options to offer users the best fit.

Also, it is integrated with third-party networks which makes it easy to share looks straight to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The app only has a few thousand users at present, but the expectation is that the number will multiply quickly now that it’s available on iPhone. The company is also doing a big marketing push around Coachella, including a partnership with Details magazine.

Why I am Curious?

I am curious if this app will be more successful than its earlier counterparts that do not have the aforementioned features. It seems as though they are fixing the things that tend to go wrong with other fashion inspiration based platforms. There is something to be said about engaging users via user-generated content. However, the flipside of this is the quality of the content. The street-style photos may not always be high quality or form a cohesive content pool. I like Kaleidoscope’s model of not depending on the user for content but forming partnerships with an already established content curation sites or bloggers with an existing following.

However, the most interesting thing to me about this app is their integration with the ShopSytyle API to make product recos. I like looking at inspirational “real-people” fashion photos but I do not  have the time or the patience to figure out where to find the pieces to put together a look that I may like. I hope that through this API integration, Kaleidoscope will be able to point people to where they can purchase a piece they see on the photo but also make recommendations for similar looks at different price points. Because for some reason it so happens most things that tend to grab my attention on these curation platforms tend to be at the “aspirational” price point.

Kinect-powered shopping cart helps you shop

Microsoft has demonstrated an early prototype of a Kinect-powered shopping cart, which is being developed for Whole Foods by Texas-based company Chaotic Moon. The project is called the “Smarter Cart” and it uses a tablet and scanners to read the items you place inside, check whether they’re on your shopping list, cross them off and ring them up.

The motorized cart can follow you around the store and has voice recognition and speech so you can give it instructions and it can let you know if the item you added wasn’t on your list or is the wrong type of item. The “Smarter Cart” has a Windows 8 tablet and uses a UPC scanner and RFID to read the items. All you really need to do is upload a shopping list and place the items in the cart. It will cross them off your list and you won’t have to wait in a long line at the checkout because your items are rung up as you go (via PSFK)

Why I’m Curious:

While the shopping cart, like Siri, leaves a little to be desired, I think this is an interesting trend of making our tools smarter to better serve us. I like the idea of making it easier to shop by checking off your shopping list and ringing you up and I think this could have larger implications for marketers in the retail space in terms of gathering additional information for targeting.

Quirky & Bed Bath, and Beyond Collaboration

– Sarah

We’ve all had ideas on how to make a product better. More efficient. Less frustrating. More user-friendly. But where do you start? How can you  make a difference?

Quirky just might have an answer.

Quirky, a product subsidiary of BB&B, allows for anyone to submit a new idea for BB&B to actually make. Cost of entry is $10 per random design, and free for particularly commissioned products (this month is an outdoor gardening product), which allows the community to vote on what’s made next. The selected submission is then vetted through Quirky’s staff for scoring in 3 areas: design potential, marketing potential, and viability. If selected, Quirky’s designers and engineers get to work in making the design a reality. And even better, the inventor gets a share of the profit from the completed design’s sales.

A little video to help explain:

But wait, there’s more. Influence. Influence is calculated via “real-time measure of your contributions to a product.” By becoming a Quirky influencer, you can also earn cash by promoting Quirky products to your friends via social sales (yes, social currency is at play here). And if you support or influence an idea during stages of development, you’ll get paid for your contributions, too.

Oh, and Quirky is now the subject of a TV show on Sundance:

Why I’m curious

Crowd-sourcing continues to mutate in many ways, some good, and some bad. In this case, it seems like a great way to open up design and development to people who may or may not come from traditional product design or engineering backgrounds. There is an inherent risk of a submitted design not being selected, and later copied by someone (anyone) else, but that’s the risk you take. And if you just like or want to have influence in refining an idea, the profit model works in your favor, too. The profit sharing payout is a solid reward for sharing your ideas (although, I can’t speak to whether or not it’s truly a decent payout in the end) – some people have made as much as over $39,000 in profit!

Allure magazine adds e-commerce to its product website


Under a new partnership, Quidsi-owned will power e-commerce on, the online arm of Conde Nast’s Allure magazine. The integration will allow users to buy health and beauty products featured in articles and reviews throughout the site through rather than linking to manufacturer sites.

Pricing information and a “buy it now” button will appear on product pages that come up when users click on branded items mentioned within articles. These pages include basic information, including what it does, key ingredients, and why it is recommended. All are collected under a tabbed section on the home page.

Users can save products to a favorites list or click the “buy’ button to begin filling a shopping cart that will follow them through the site. At checkout, they will be taken to a co-branded page on, which sells high-end brands including Bliss, Philosophy and Dermalogica. It will also offer mass-market beauty products through its sister site. If they are not already registered on,, visitors have to do so before making a purchase.

Why I’m curious:

I’m not curious, but more appreciative. Finally, a publication taps into direct sales. Smart. It’s about time. The gap between browsing and buying is real, and with this approach, it minimizes the gap further. This is especially smart for products intended for self-conscious users (e.g. acne medication, dandruff shampoo) where the consumer might not feel comfortable going through a real-life store to purchase. The anonymity of e-commerce is an advantage in this situation (as it is for the armchair shopper, too).

Pay with a Tweet: Real Social Currency


A year ago, a new way to trade content online debuted as a simple idea to sell a book. This week, it took home a Cyber Lion at Cannes.

Pay with a Tweet is the first social payment system where people use the value of their social network as legal tender.

Cooked up by the creative wonder-duo known as Innovative Thunder, Pay With A Tweet was created to help build buzz for the book “Oh My God What Happened And What Should I Do?“. And then heavily supported by the good folks at R/GA to bring home hardware from The Webby Awards, The One Show and Cannes.

Why I’m Curious

Sheer ubiquity. Anyone who has something to sell can scrape and add a Pay With A Tweet button to their site. Likewise, anyone who wants something can have it with a simple shout out.

In a world where everyone’s talking NFC payments and virtual wallets, words may very well prove to have the highest value and widest acceptance.

Trend Alert: The Comeback of The Wine Club (on steroids)


As consumers’ lives continue to get busier, massive opportunity exists in curating and then selling via subscription. What called–Life: Subscribed.

Check out: 

Hoseanna delivers a new pair of pantyhose to customers’ doors every month in the US.

Men are Useless sends essential grooming products to customers every month in the UK, while new-on-the-scene GlossyBox allows beauty-conscious women to sample luxury product miniatures.

Amazon Mom: Diapers delivered to you at discount prices.

Launched in January 2011, Not Another Bill sends customers a surprise gift on a monthly basis.

Why I am curious:

When the challenge to be solved is not one of awareness but of frequency of purchase/usage occasions, subscription-based models can offer a clever solution.

A Vending Machine that Lets You Gift Drinks to Friends Via Social Media


PepsiCo’s Social Vending Machine lets users send free soda to their friends. To do so, users select a beverage and enter the recipient’s name, mobile number and personalized text message with a code redeemable at another vending machine.

Consumers can personalize the message with a short video recorded by the machine. There’s also an option to send a free beverage to a stranger.

Why I’m Interested:

In a world of cheap, fast and always on Wi-Fi, an unconnected device is unusual. Technology is helping brands move from messaging to digitally-enabled, increasingly live, real-world experiences. From mobile phones to cars, and subway tickets—now is the time for vending machines.

This idea represents an evolution in the possibilities for digital sharing/physical getting, low cost e-commerce transactions, etc.

Coming soon, a Facebook or Twitter tie-in.  Stay tuned.

Where Does Your Mobile App Come From?

On Tuesday March 22nd, online retail giant Amazon became a new contender in the mobile application market with the launch of Amazon Appstore for the Android. The Appstore allows mobile users to purchase applications through their Amazon account, of which, according to media reports, Amazon will take a 30% cut.

Compelling incentives, personalized recommendations (based on Amazon’s product recommendation algorithms) and existing account billing position Amazon is a strong new competitor in the Mobile App Market.

Amazon is taking full advantage of its marketing muscle to promote its new product and incentivize return visits. On arrival at the Appstore customers immediately see a banner with the promise of “a paid app for free every day,” including Angry Birds Rio, a new movie-inspired version of the popular game that was featured with the launch of the Appstore. Amazon also has plans to offer an online “test drive” of some apps, allowing users to try them out for a limited time via an Android phone

Despite these advantages, Amazon faces initial barriers to entry including “sideloading” challenges and a lawsuit with Apple over the “App store” trademark.

Why I’m Curious

With the online retail giant’s entrance into the app market, this could be an opportunity to loosen Google’s hold over the Android, but do the majority of customers even think about where their apps come from, or care? Do mobile users even realize that with Apple they are using a closed platform completely controlled by Apple, but that on Android, with increasing fragmentation on the device, they wll increasingly have access to different App stores, and therefore potentially better incentives? Would you switch to Android for free Apps?