Posts Tagged 'Blackberry'

Motorola Xooms itself in the foot?

I was pretty excited about the announcements before and during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. Android was the star of the show, with many many manufacturers showing off hardware that uses the operating system. Forefront in the hype was the tablet-specific iteration, called Honeycomb that will be available on many of the new tablets, a couple that are creating buzz are:

LG Optimus Pad (formerly called G-Slate):

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (10-inch version of the existing Tab)

These tablets will be available for consumer and enterprise use later in 2011, however, more imminent is the Motorola Xoom, which will be the first tablet running Honeycomb available.

It looks fantastic, and represents a viable alternative to the iPad for both detailing duties and for use in a hospital environment. In fact Android, being an “open” platform, means that you don’t have someone like Apple meddling in the types of app that can be produced for the tablet, making it simpler to manage, produce and approve specific apps for specific tasks. In addition, pharma companies and hospitals can have control over how the user interface looks and feels.

The problem with the Xoom is twofold: No Flash integration at launch. Admittedly, this is a minor problem, as Flash is promised for a few months’ time. However, the major problem is the cost of the thing. Even assuming the retail price of $799 can be beaten by bulk purchase, this still leaves the Xoom on a par with its (currently) only rival in the 10-inch category, the iPad – a very well known and trusted device, and I expect that, given the choice based on cost, 90% would go for the iPad.

It also gets worse, rumour has it that iPad 2 announcement will be days away (March 2 anyone?), and if the iPad 2 is launched soon, you can bet that the price of new original iPads will drop significantly, as we saw with the iPhone 3Gs when the iPhone 4 was launched. This leaves Motorola in the position of having an untested device, with a completely new and unfamiliar operating system at a higher price than the iPad. Which will be a problem.

Aside from this, Pharma companies and institutions looking to leverage tablet devices should maybe think about waiting for the choice of devices, as I thought you would also like to see what else is out there too in terms of tablets:

HTC Flyer – a 7-inch tablet that controversially uses a smartphone version of Android and has a stylus

RIM PlayBook (BlackBerry) that runs on a new operating system and is intended to link up with the BlackBerry

HP TouchPad – uses WebOS, developed by Palm (remember them!)

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 7

Here’s my final post on the #DigiPharm narrative. Part 7! Again, I am reporting on selected sessions from Day 2, ones that I found of note or interest. You can read the twitterstream for more information on the presentations not covered here.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Still friends
First up after lunch was John Mack of Pharma Marketing News detailing to us Europeans the new rules for new media: a funny thing happened while waiting for FDA guidance. Waiting on the FDA is ‘Waiting for Goduidance‘; apt, considering the FDA hearing was October 2009. 70 presentations at the FDA hearings came from stakeholders, and interestingly the stats show that industry service providers made a large proportion of those presentations. Mack thinks that they are ‘pushing Pharma outside of the social media envelope‘. In addition, because of the first-come first-served basis, the share of voice for patients and HCPs was much reduced from previous hearings (1997).

From a survey taken by his readership, Mack explains that Pharma parses into different categories what they are accountable for and what they are not according to the way the funds have been given/spent (grants, paid content, display ads). Interestingly, around 45% of Pharma responders said that Pharma should be accountable for the content even on sites they do not have direct control of (funded by grants). There are also mixed views on accountability with regards to correcting third-party misinformation, with 12% of Pharma suggesting that all off-label information should be corrected by Pharma and 49% of Pharma opining that no corrections should be mandated on third-party sites.

Regarding space limitations, most responders to the survey did not know if space limitation is a problem in Pharma online communication, and therein lies the challenge: how do we make 140-character messages meaningful to the patients in addition to fair and balanced? Mack focused one of his infamous ‘Mack Attacks’ on the Race With Insulin Twitter page featuring promotional Tweets from Race driver Charlie Kimball on behalf of Novo Nordisk (although a picture of the two smiling together may indicate they are still buddies – not sure where Kimball’s hands are though!). A big thing for Pharma are Adwords and search results (around 40% of US Pharma’s online spending budget says Mack), and because Google was losing the Pharma revenue, they piloted and presented a solution for prescription drugs that included a fixed warning of 60 characters, a link to more information and a fixed landing page in the headline.

So where is the draft guidance? Mack predicted that we will get guidance by the end of October, but the FDA will produce and roll out draft mini-guidance documents over time, the first of which, he predicts, will be concerning space limitations. However, he says, that hasn’t stopped Pharma diving into social media, although there have been problems around mishandling (citing sanofi-aventis’ VOICES page being assaulted by a patient who suffered permanent hair loss from the chemotherapy Taxotere, resulting in the comments being turned off). He concludes by suggesting that the greatest mistake for an online pharma initiative is to not have a crisis plan.

Following the presentation, Mack sat down for a panel debate with Chandler Chicco’s Sam Walmsey, taking questions from the floor. Walmsey asks why he is so critical of the industry, and he admits that he “…doesn’t make a living by telling people what they are doing well, he leaves that up to awards ceremonies (it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it?). But do ‘Mack Attacks’ help Pharma? Responses from the floor suggest that they do, but it does involve a headache of lawyers (I believe that is the collective noun), Gary Monk recalls individuals who received a Mack Attack and this significantly increased their Twitter following.

The right measurement
A quick note about the presentation from Preston Hennington of PR Newswire on building your brand using multimedia. I didn’t really take much away from this, but when he was talking about using free online tools to track sentiment, buzz and influencers (such as Social Mention, Twitority and Twitalyser), it rang alarm bells. I feel strongly that these free social media tools should be used with caution, especially when interpreting the results. You are better off spending some money and getting it right!

I expect in 2040 we will all have cell towers grafted on at birth
A brief mention here of the Mobile presentation from Hedwig Scheck of GSK. Frankly I found there is nothing new here (considering my avid interest in mobile), but of note some responses from the floor from questions: most of the room are thinking about launching an iPhone app, but only a handful actually have done so. Also of note is that sanofi-aventis has unveiled an iPad and iPhone app glucometer with add-on hardware and GSK have developed an iPhone app for the German market to help allergy patients. She predicts that by 2011, more than half of brands are expected to use between 5 and 25% of their marketing budget for mobile marketing. My thoughts are that Pharma should be careful of focussing too hard on iPhone specifically to the detriment of Android – consider that Gartner predict by the end of the year it will become the number 2 mobile operating system (after Symbian and above BlackBerry and Apple). There are, of course costs associated with Android, considering the breadth of handsets and the fragmentation of the operating system. We should also be mindful of the new operating systems due: Windows Mobile 7, MeeGo (Nokia’s new smartphone OS) and Bada (Samsung), plus the launch of a number of app stores.

Microchips and pills
Next up is connecting patients and physicians to treatment outcomes in the digital era presented by Todd Stephens of Merck Serono. He starts by asking: ‘Which of these three can you do well?

  • Product leadership
  • Operational excellence
  • Or customer intimacy?’

It is difficult to move focus from one to the other, or indeed to get a balance. He says the problem currently is that Pharma needs to choose the technology they invest in three to four years in advance. There is a displacement in timelines between technology development, application of that technology, legal and regulations and roll out. Indeed, the choice of technology is relatively redundant to payors, as they are focused on outcomes, not technology: ‘Drugs are not reimbursed if they are not proven to improve treatment outcomes‘ A question: will we be looking for reimbursement of medical apps? Interestingly, Stephens implies that Merck Serono are working on a mobile compliance tool in endocrinology.

So will adherence/compliance be the next important topic in digital? I say this is one part of the patient story. With the rise of mobile help or hinder this? Will Mobile compliance apps be the way forward or, as Stephens alluded to, will ‘intelligent medicines’ as being trialled by the NHS be the way forward? More questions to debate.

The end? Not by a long run
Here endeth the narrative from DigiPharm Europe 2010, but looking back at the presentations, data, case studies, demonstrations and discussions, I can’t help but think that these are challenging and exciting times in the Pharma industry. I for one am encouraged by the growing effective use of digital technology and channels, and at the same time worried about the potential direction this could take. I think two things have become very clear from this conference:

  • There should be some discussion and agreement on regulatory issues with regards to digital and to social media in particular, and this discussion should focus on the global nature of the internet and therefore consider the cross-boundary nature of how the drug industry should be regulated.
  • To survive in this landscape, Pharma must make inroads into developing a digital strategy – and by that I mean integrate your digital tactics into your overall strategic plan, and at the same time, generate and maintain internal buy-in by developing a corporate digital strategy that integrates digital into the fabric of your organization’s culture and operations.

Thanks for reading!

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 4

And to the next instalment of this series on DigiPharm Europe 2010.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

When is a community not a community?
The session entitled “Community management in Pharma” was presented by René Vvan den Bos and Erik Van der Zijden. They focused on mythical ailment for gamers: nintendonitus, but created little (relevant) residual Twitter activity from their presentations, other than the need for transparency when creating an online community and to make sure you have buy-in from internal stakeholders. Also, make sure that the community you are targeting actually want a place online to call a community. And who will moderate? Patients? Are they objective enough? Do they get incentives? (my response: absolutely not, they should want to be involved to better further the community).

Net of physicians
Carwyn Jones of doctors.net.uk outlines doctors.net.uk’s work with international doctors’ networks. He says that the number one use of the internet by doctors is for professional use. Interestingly, they are sharing customer segmentation with Apple and Blackberry to assist doctors.net.uk to understand personal lives/interests. Indeed, Jones mentions 12.5% of doctors are accessing the site from iPhone, with 15,000 downloads of the iPhone application.

Jones asks: ‘How do you engage with a doctor online?’ – he says UK doctors do not have time to view webcasts, they are notoriously time-poor, but their commute is dead time – podcasts are a good solution. He also mentions that they trust Pharma to give them quality educational products (apparently Roche tops these in the survey) and that they only like to see reps if they are of high quality (my perception here is different – and this is discussed later in the programme).

Online, ‘engagement’ is considered 20% more important than content and there are five potential mistakes to building an online asset:
1. Not working out how to promote to your target market
2. Being seduced by technology (iPad anyone?)
3. Overestimate the importance of your brand
4. Measuring the wrong things (‘Time on page’ doesn’t necessarily relate to ‘impact’)
5. Not identifying the target audience

The mother of all dashboards
We now have Judith von Gordon-Weichelt, Head of Media & PR, Boehringer Ingelheim talking about social media monitoring. She demonstrates the dashboard that they use internally to track sentiment, buzz, news, press and other activity surrounding their brands and corporate communications, it’s very comprehensive! They are monitoring English and German social media in-depth and the next challenge is working out how to engage and develop specific guidelines for 44,000 employees. Not much else to say about this other than everyone was very impressed indeed.

Strengthening communities
We then had a really interesting presentation from Paul Wicks of Patientslikeme on data-driven partnerships between social media and Pharma. He says that good data is getting easier to obtain. At this point (on Twitter) John Mack shares his interview with UCB Pharma and Patientslikeme. Wicks says that Patientslikeme collect reports about treatment from opted-in members and share with all members and partners. He asks Pharma not to create an account to see the user data, but to view the 20% of data that is available publicly.

Wicks says that the more patients engage in Patientslikeme, the more they benefit from it. He uses UCB as an example partner regarding epileptic patients’ unmet needs: providing tools to record seizures: ‘I am not my seizures’ and show how the disease can affect someone’s whole life. Patientslikeme help connect that patients with others in similar positions. He states: “We build communities by helping [patients] manage their condition” and make ‘better decisions through listening to the patient voice‘.

Wicks moves on to the partnership with Novartis on the organ transplant community, where quality of life tracking over the long term reveals rich insight into transplant patients’ experiences, and how to support them. he makes a good point: The keys to maximizing data-driven partnerships is to partner with organisations whose goals align with yours, and, of course, measure something important ‘look for the win-win-win, but always putting the patients’ interests first … always imagine there is a patient in the room with you every time you make a decision’.

Questions from the floor: What is the future for Patientslikeme? Wicks responds that it is to focus on symptom management tools and predictive modelling for a disease. They want to have 3,000+ different communities for patients. And are they planning to provide support to caregivers? Currently caregivers can interact on Patientslikeme on behalf of under-13s, but they are interested in investigating issues with privacy rules to expand this to carers of other communities.

here’s a link to a relevant Patientslikeme study: Sharing health data for better outcomes on PatientsLikeMe

I hope this roundup is a useful resource for readers. Coming soon in part 5: Reportable adverse events and the internet.

BlackBerry PlayBook

So RIM have unveiled the BlackBerry PlayBook, which may give them some leverage in the market vs Apple. It’s the same size as the Galaxy Tab at 7″ and it has Flash support.

As I mentioned in my previous post, confirmed it uses QNX operating system and it seems to have a decent spec.

Its downfall might be that you need to pair it with a BlackBerry handset to connect to anything, and the fact that BlackBerry App World has a very very long way to go to compete against Android Market and it’s more likely to reach the Sun before it overtakes iTunes. Also, the alarming use of capitals mid-word in the name is a huge negative.

Will this work in a hospital setting? I doubt – unless they issue all HCPs with BlackBerry handsets too!

Keeping up with the Jobses

We all wait with baited breath for the iPad killer. Well, I imagine we all do. We know that the Dell Streak is on the market. Disappointingly, it runs the old version of Android operating system – v1.6 currently – although Dell do say it will be upgraded to the all-important 2.2 (Froyo) with Flash support later this year. The device is also some kind of freakish tablet/smartphone lovechild, weighing in at 5″ of screen. This is a problem because there are large pure-bred mobile devices such as the Motorola Droid X, which sports a whopping 4.3″ screen – only a tiny bit smaller than the Dell, plus it has Froyo already – and it makes phone calls without the need for a headset, or looking like Dom Joly.

Regardless, for the uses I have in mind within the hospital environment and for conference demo use, it’s a non-starter. See my previous post: iPad+Hospitals=gimmick?, where I discuss the potential benefits of an iPad or iPad-like device in the hospital setting. The screen on the Dell Streak, I think, is just too small.

So what’s next? Well, Samsung are getting us all salivating for the Galaxy Tab, and indeed, they have a short sequence with a nurse using the Tab in their very slick promo video. The specs look impressive and the 7″ size should actually be a benefit over the larger iPad, which can be tiring and heavy to hold and use whilst standing for periods of time (or even sitting for that matter). I worry about the Android platform here – iOS 4 from Apple was, I expect, designed for the tablet as well as the smaller iPhone and iPod Touch devices, but Android 2.x was built for mobile phones. There are rumours that Android 3.x (Gingerbread) will be a parallel operating system tailored to large-screen devices such as tablets, and if the Tab upgrades to 3.0 as rumoured, I see it as a major contender in the space.

And a word about the BlackBerry tablet (or BlackPad) that is rumoured to be launched very soon. We can only speculate on the size and features (7″, like the Samsung with two integrated cameras for Facetime-style videochat is expected), but it is known that the device will not be using the BlackBerry operating system that the manufacturer RIM uses on its handsets (currently OS6), but will use software developed by QNX, a company it aquired recently. Oddly, there are also indications it will have no integrated mobile, but would require the use of a paired BlackBerry handset. Sounds like the rumour mill to me?

However you look at it, I think these are exciting times and even rabid Apple fans will agree that competition in this sector is a very good thing.


About me

Hi, my name is Paul Jacobs and I write the Medigital blog, as well as being the Director, Digital Strategy at Sonic Boom, a digital and social agency. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about the digital domain in pharma and medical communications/education.
Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are my very own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer, family or pets. Twitter: @PJ_Medigital
email: (click)
LinkedIn profile

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,004 other followers

Twitter grade


%d bloggers like this: