When selling virtual products abroad, don’t put prices on autopilot — Joey Conway and Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

From TechCrunch

If you have a physical product that you want to sell in more than one country, determining the price in different markets can be challenging. You might have to open an office in each country, or at least hire a consultant to assess local demand and analyze the competition.

But if you have a virtual product — say an app for a mobile phone — setting the price for it in different countries is easy. Using the individual exchange rate, the app store instantly will convert the price from your home country to any of the world’s many currencies.

This is, very likely, how prices are set for most smartphone applications sold in different countries. As developers prefer to spend time solving technical challenges, it is all too convenient to leave the responsibility of currency calculations and pricing to Apple or Google or some other virtual marketplace.

But is this the best approach when sellinginternationally? Is there a more profitable way to price virtual products sold in different currencies?

We explored these questions in an experiment that was both a real-world business trial and an academic exercise. We wanted to see whether we could boost revenue for a virtualproduct, Root Checker Pro, an app that helps Android users customize their phones. The app is sold through Google Play — the app store for Android devices — in more than 130 countries.

For our experiment, we selected six different currencies — Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, British pound, Mexican peso, Malaysian ringgit and Saudi riyal. Over six months, we charged various prices for the app in each of the currencies to see how sales and revenue would respond.

Read the full post at TechCrunch.

Joey Conway is creator and owner of Android app Root Checker Pro. He received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management in May 2015.

Catherine Tucker is a Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan.  She is also Chair of the MIT Sloan PhD Program.

What Apple’s standoff with the FBI means for your medical records — Zen Chu and Maulik D. Majmudar

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

From Fortune

The data privacy debate is overlooking a very important issue.

The issue of data privacy on mobile phones has been brought to public and judicial debate again with Apple’s AAPL 0.56% refusal to create a backdoor into its operating systems. The debates so far have failed to highlight that granting governments access to mobile phone data opens access to not only sensitive financial and personal information, but also the crown jewels of healthcare: patient health records. Now that the majority of patients and doctors are accessing, storing, and transmitting healthcare information via mobile phones and connected medical devices, smartphone security has become a lynchpin of patient data security.

Healthcare data breaches are a real and serious threat and have already led to identity theft, financial loss, civil rights and employment discrimination, and even a risk to patient safety. In addition to the moral responsibility of protecting these data, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specifically mandates that patient data be encrypted and assigns meaningful fines to violations. These breaches by hospitals, companies and doctors can add up to multi-million dollar liabilities.

Last year saw the active theft of over 100 million health records, as reported in Health IT Security, with the vast majority from malicious hacking. These data breaches involved electronic medical records, which can sell for more than 20 times the value of a stolen credit card. Today, most hospital and medical records systems have created smartphone apps and web portals for both patients and doctors to access via the smartphone in their pockets, enabling smartphones to be the new weakest link protecting personal health information.

Healthcare records contain mission critical and sensitive information, including social security numbers, financial information, diagnostic test results, medical diagnoses, and the correct dosages of hazardous drugs. Dr. John Halamka, a professor at Harvard Medical School and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, wrote about his hospital’s experiences with internet-connected drug infusion pumps, which have been compromised. In extreme cases, malicious hacking also could be used to disrupt the workings of a heart pacemaker or drug infusion pump to deliver the wrong amounts of hazardous drugs.

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Why Apple’s ResearchKit signals a Golden Age for health care — Zen Chu and Maulik Majmudar

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

From Fortune

In a surprise announcement recently, Apple Inc. preceded the debut of its new line of connected watches by unveilingResearchKit, a medical research platform that has demonstrated its powerful potential with the first five applications. The open-source ResearchKit and evolving HealthKit promise new ways for apps and researchers to gather sensor and health data that will enable faster clinical insights at lower cost.

Digital health and mobile health platforms have been emerging for a number of years, primarily in consumer health, but few with clinical rigor or clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As in other product categories, Apple has used thoughtful design and its market strength to create a powerful new platform that lowers the barriers to creating apps. ResearchKit promises to benefit researchers, physicians and patients across a spectrum of diseases, from rare diseases to widespread chronic diseases that make up the majority of healthcare costs.

Apple’s new platform will amplify a broad set of new opportunities we are calling “Digiceuticals” — where software, sensors and apps are standalone treatments for disease and integrated into comprehensive care plans alongside drugs and medical devices. Leading academic groups have already demonstrated that digital tools can improve the effectiveness of drugs and health behavior change. Health platform investments by Apple AAPL , Google GOOG and Samsung KRX are lowering the barriers for reaching the right patient, time and place with engaging messaging customized for each patient.

Rather than threatening to crush the innovators that have blazed the trail in front of previous Apple releases, ResearchKit and HealthKit promise to amplify the efforts of researchers and startups in digital health. One example is Ginger.io., a pioneering MIT venture enabling large scale clinical trials on smartphones. CEO and founder Anmol Madan is expecting his company to use ResearchKit across many clinical trials. And within the first 24 hours of launching, Stanford University’s cardiovascular research app, which promises to accelerate clinical insights and lower the costs of research, received over 11,000 downloads.

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Why Retailers Must (But Won’t) Succeed In Introducing Mobile Payment Systems — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From TechCrunch 

In the digital age, it’s critical for retailers to collect and manage customer data. This information is the key to providing personalization for any kind of shopping experience, as it allows retailers to understand customer preferences and analyze shopping histories.

Smartphone payment systems like Apple Pay are an important method of obtaining this data since they allow data collection across different retailers for the same individual. However, when the data is collected and controlled by a third party like Apple, it is risky for retailers. Read More »

MIT Sloan students meet Bay Area innovators tackling huge problems — Thomas Iljic

MIT Sloan Student Thomas Iljic

Thomas Iljic, MBA ’15

From Xconomy

I’d heard a lot about Silicon Valley, but had lived and worked in Europe and Asia until I came to MIT Sloan School of Management. Passionate about bringing new technologies to market, I wanted to do an MBA program in the U.S. because, more than anywhere else, this is where taking risk is valued as a driver of change. That seems to be especially true in Silicon Valley, and I was eager to see it for myself.

Organizing our Technology Club’s annual Tech Trek to Silicon Valley, I planned visits to a mixture of hardware and software companies. I also requested that we meet with people from different functions, including product management, which is an area many MIT Sloan students are interested in these days.

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