Through various initiatives run out of its Paris-based Cultural Institute, Google has been extending its reach into the museums sector by building on the infrastructure of projects such as Google Art and Open Gallery, as well as core platforms such as StreetView and YouTube. On December 10, Google announced their latest offering, inviting galleries to take advantage of a museum-specific mobile app platform. According to Google
The platform allows museums to create a simple but powerful mobile app, based on Google’s technology including Street View and YouTube. Without resorting to expensive technical help, museums now can tell their stories.
The press release concludes
The Internet no longer plays just a minor role in diffusing museum knowledge. It has become a major force, allowing museums to expand and strengthen their reach. We look forward to deepening our partnership with museums that see digital media as core to their mission of education and inspiring people about art and culture.
The motivations behind the ‘partnerships’ offered by enormous technology companies such as Google are often called into question. In a 2013 Wired article (See Some Art While You Can — Google Will Eventually Replace Museums) artists João Enxuto and Erica Love put their concerns as follows
Google is single-handedly redefining the public sphere of art spectatorship in much the same way that it is redefining the mapping of public space. As screen interfaces become a primary means for the disembodied spectator to access artworks and as museums give up the responsibility of digitization (of the commons) to a centralized database, Google Art Project will in turn dominate the search for art in the way that it dominates internet search.
This latest venture may be low risk for smaller institutions wanting to experiment in the mobile apps (for Android) space. Google already has a tightly integrated “content ecosystem” (see John Blossom’s 2014 Google update below) and it’s only going to get tighter as Google recoups its investments through monetization. Potential museum partners would be well-advised to pore over the small print and ensure any partnership includes a clear exit strategy.
Today, Sotheby’s formally announces its eBay partnership, and both companies flesh out some detail on their future strategies. Intriguingly, Sotheby’s is described as “a preeminent anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace” – a description which will worry those who consider this move a risk to the Sotheby’s premier brand. Continue reading
In recent years Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report for Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (@KPCB) has become ‘an event’ in the technology world. This year’s report was published today at the inaugural Re/code Code Conference. Packed – as usual – with a bewildering range of statistics and graphics, the report is required reading (or more likely skimming) for any technology company developing internet-based services.
Some trends and statistics from the report: Continue reading
In their Q4 and full year 2013 financial results cover note, Sotheby’s detailed the company’s continued investment in digital services, emphasizing mobile, increased engagement times, reach (particularly in Asia) and language localization:
- Sotheby’s continues to invest in its digital media strategy via the sothebys.com website and its iPad and Android applications to facilitate Sotheby’saccessibility to clients on mobile platforms.
- The website and BIDnow live auction bidding platform were both redesigned in 2013 to enable each to work across all tablet and mobile platforms, resulting in a significant increase in client usage, including
- a 45% increase in online bidding,
- a 50% increase in Asian client traffic, and
- a 25% increase in time spent on mobile devices.
- In addition, clients in the Sotheby’s Preferred client loyalty program have doubled their visits to sothebys.com over the past year, illustrating both the reach of mobile technology and the impact of a more engaging online experience with multi-lingual (e.g., Chinese) content.
Stephen Tanenbaum (@sltbaum) President & Co-Founder of the San Francisco-based online art sales platform, UGallery, writes in the Huffington Post (‘How Mobile Technology is Accelerating Online Art Growth‘) that not only are digital technologies transforming all aspects of the art market, but that change is being accelerated by the adoption of mobile devices.
Just as online art went mainstream with the general shift towards e-commerce, browsing art through smartphones and tablets will likely see substantial acceleration over the next 5 years, creating a massive sales opportunity for the industry while making the buying and selling process easier than ever.
UGallery has seen increases of 100% in both mobile traffic and mobile transactions, and many platforms now offer iOS or Android-specific apps, alongside mobile optimized web platforms. Larger smartphone screen sizes, the rise of the tablet device, and integrated e-commerce all combine to provide a better user experience which facilitates the online sales transaction.
Interestingly, Tanenbaum also cites the ability to research or share an artwork with friends through the user’s mobile device as an aid to completing the sale:
the prelude to purchase often involves a deliberation period, sharing the artwork with friends, family and/or designers, before the collector ultimately says yes. Mobile shortens that traditionally longer purchase process for both sellers and collectors and makes it easier and more enjoyable.
Read more: How Mobile Technology is Accelerating Online Art Growth (Huffington Post 9 January 2014)