PC Market Continues to Limp Along

The third quarter US PC shipments figures have been coming out. While there was a mild recovery for some of the PC makers, the numbers overall remain very weak.

Both IDC and Gartner see PC shipments off from 7.6% to 8.6% overall vs. last year. In addition shipments don't equal sales. Consequently the actual sales figures may be weaker than suggested by the shipments numbers. 

The market has structurally changed. Smartphone and tablet usage has replaced PC usage in many cases. Smartphone and tablet growth will continue to gain for the next 3 - 5 years, generally at the expense of PCs. We're also not likely to ever see high-end ($1,000+) PC sales at any volume in the consumer market again.

 

While Apple has been able to maintain higher desktop and laptop prices, most PCs now sell at sub-$500 levels (they're effectively disposable). And once consumers make that leap psychologically they'll want to spend even less (hello Chromebooks).

There's also less and less urgency to replace or upgrade older PCs. Consumer indifference to Windows 8 also compounds challenges for the PC industry.

The "aha" about the Q3 Gartner and IDC PC shipments estimates above and below are that the back-to-school shopping season did almost nothing to boost sales. HP, Lenovo and Dell saw modest growth while other PC makers saw significant double-digit declines. 

 

Meanwhile tablet (and hybrid phone-tablet) devices continue to grow. Roughly 34% of the adult US population now own tablet devices according to earlier 2013 Pew survey data. Those numbers are likely to be above 40% and perhaps as high as 45% after Q4 2013. 

Pew tablet ownership 

The thing separating the PC from more precipitous declines is arguably Microsoft Office. If a functioning version of Office comes to non-MSFT tablets or if the cloud based version of Office is more widely adopted, PCs will be even less "necessary" for consumers than they are today.  

Is a Google Smartwatch Imminent?

In the frenzy of speculation leading up to Apple's iPhone announcement last month, there was lots of discussion of smartwatches. Apple supposedly was developing an "iWatch" and would be announcing it along with the new handsets. Samsung, wanting to beat Apple to market, rushed out its Galaxy Gear watch, which has met with scathing reviews as an "unfinished product." 

Google was also rumored to be working on a smartwatch. The 9to5 Google site has some additional information on the potential release of a Google smartwatch at the end of this month: "Details are slim but the person seemed to think that Google Now functionality would be at the center of the product."

The idea is that Google would take its technology and learning (thus far) from Google Glass and put that in a watch. The emphasis on Google Now is interesting and appropriate -- the watch as a kind of notifications center. Samsung tried to cram too much half-baked functionality into Galaxy Gear.

There's considerable consumer interest in smartwatches (much more than Google Glass). Just over 40% of survey respondents in a recent survey we conducted (n=1,024 US smartphone owners) said they were interested in a smartwatch. Not surprisingly respondents were most interested in smartwatches that were made by the same maker as their current smartphones.

The right mix of features and pricing are key here. Undoubtedly Apple will develop an "iWatch." And Google, as the rumor suggests, will probably roll out a watch itself, given its new commitment to "wearables." But these initial products may not get the mix right: simplicity, aesthetics, functionality and cost.  

The optimal price is probably $99 to $199. But $299 would be OK if the watch were a great product. At $299 and above, the Galaxy Gear is simply to flawed and too expensive for what it delivers. Now we'll see what Google can come up with.  

Place 2013 - Agenda & Presentations

Place 2013 brought together the entire spectrum of companies building the indoor location ecosystem. Retailers, technology vendors, mobile developers, data providers, advertisers, agencies, and investors attended this unique, one-day event at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and was the first-of-its-kind anywhere.

Sponsors
sponsor_graphic

Agenda & Presentations

8:45 AM - 9:00 AM
The Consumer Foundations of Place-Based Marketing - The majority of smartphone owners are already using their devices in stores to find product and price information, as well as coupons. Opus Research will present proprietary findings on in-store behavior, privacy attitudes and consumer receptiveness to indoor promotions.
Speaker: Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst, Opus Research
View slides from this presentation

9:00 AM - 9:45 AM
The State of Indoor Location - For the past several years online mapping giants and technology providers have been laying the groundwork for indoor location. What is the current state of the infrastructure? What technologies are already deployed and how accurate are they? What indoor consumer and advertiser scenarios are possible today and what might be possible within three years?
Speakers:
Joseph Leigh, Head of Venue Maps, Nokia
Leslie Presutti, Mobile, Location and Computing Business Unit, Qualcomm Atheros
Zack Sterngold, VP of Americas, Boingo Wireless
Avinash Joshi, Chief Technologist, Wireless LAN Group, Motorola Solutions

9:45 AM - 10:25 AM
Keynote: Why Indoor Location Will Be Bigger than GPS or Maps - The explosion of smartphones with built-in sensors, accelerometers, GPS and WiFi is making indoor positioning not only possible but also inevitable. The emerging indoor opportunity for venue owners, retailers and technology providers is potentially massive. Google’s Don Dodge, an investor and close observer of the space, will explain why he believes indoor location and marketing is going to be huge and potentially larger than GPS and maps.
Speaker: Don Dodge, Developer Advocate, Google

10:45 AM - 11:05 AM
Case Study: Point Inside - Point Inside was one of the early consumer-facing apps in the indoor location space. The company has since shifted its focus to enterprises and enabling retailers to take advantage of indoor location. The company will present a new case study featuring a major home-improvement retailer.
Speaker:Todd Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer, Point Inside
View slides from this presentation

11:05 AM - 11:30 AM
Featured Case Study: Forest City and Path Intelligence - Forest City Enterprises are many years into using mobile device monitoring and advanced indoor analytics to help create a better environment for their shoppers and their retailers. Hear from the project sponsor and partner Path Intelligence on how they have transformed asset management, leasing, and marketing.
Speakers:
Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, VP, Digital Strategy, Forest City
Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, VP, Path Intelligence
View slides from this presentation

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Digital Analytics for the Real World - Using a variety of technologies to identify when and where smartphone shoppers are in stores, retailers can now leverage "big data" previously reserved for Internet companies alone. These "real world analytics" hold profound implications for everything from in-store merchandising and staffing to consumer marketing. Leaders in the segment will offer views on opportunities and potential pitfalls for indoor analytics.
Speakers:
Jon Rosen, Executive Vice President, iInside
Will Smith, CEO, Euclid
Alexei Agratchev, Co-Founder, RetailNext
Michael Healander, General Manager, GISi Indoors

1:15 PM - 1:55 PM
Retail Spotlight: Aisle411 & Dick's Sporting Goods - Aisle411 will discuss current retail deployments and their impact on operations, consumer loyalty and marketing. Dick’s Sporting Goods will share how it’s thinking about indoor location, privacy issues and the overall opportunity. And Bob Rosenblatt, former COO of Tommy Hilfiger Group, will outline the intriguing business opportunities for retailers in develop- ing indoor marketing strategies.
Speakers:
Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & CEO, aisle411
Rafeh Massod, VP, Customer Innovation Technology, Dick's Sporting Goods
Bob Rosenblatt, CEO, Rosenblatt Consulting
View slides from this session from aisle411

1:55 PM - 2:15 PM
Using Store Visits and Data for Advanced Retail Intelligence - Online to offline has been the dominant but largely invisible paradigm of Internet-driven spending. Using mobile to better target and influence store visits is only the beginning. PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall will offer a major retail case study fo- cused on measuring store visits after mobile ad exposures. He will also discuss how to connect online, nearby and indoors for a more complete picture of the customer journey.
Speaker:Duncan McCall, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaceIQ
View slides from this presentation

2:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Ad-Tracking to the Point of Sale - Panelists will discuss the current and future use of indoor location as a way to demonstrate ROI and sales lift on a per- campaign basis. What is the current state of the art in matching store visits to ad exposures? And what are the broader implications of connecting online ads and offline data?
Speakers:
Monica Ho, Vice President of Marketing, xAd
David Shim, Founder & CEO, Placed
Ameet Ranadive, Director of Product, Twitter Ads Team
Michael Shevach, SVP Ad Solutions, Retailigence
Duncan McCall, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaceIQ (moderator)

3:20 PM - 3:50 PM
Opt-in or Opt-out: Indoor Location & Consumer Privacy - Indoor location has already gained the attention of members of Congress and been called "troubling." While not everyone agrees about the level of concern, there are obvious consumer privacy issues raised by in-venue smartphone tracking. How should the companies be addressing these issues today and what might regulation require tomorrow?
Speakers:
Jennifer King, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director & Co-chairman, Future of Privacy Forum

3:50 PM - 4:10 PM
Case Study: Meridian/Aruba Networks - Meridian, who was recently acquired by Aruba Networks, will offer two indoor case studies, one involving a small business (Powell’s Books in Portland) and another involving a major U.S. apparel and housewares retailer.
Speaker: Jeff Hardison, Vice President, Meridian
View slides from this presentation

4:10 PM - 4:55 PM
Microfencing: Targeting In-Aisle Shoppers - Billions of dollars are spent each year by brands and manufacturers trying to influence consumer buying in stores. A percentage of that money will migrate to indoor digital marketing. What conditions must first exist and what will those brand-consumer interactions look like? The panel will explore these questions as well as the contours of the broader indoor marketing experience.
Speakers:
Neg Norton, President, Local Search Association Ben Smith, CEO, Wanderful Media
Melissa Tait, VP of Technology, Primacy
Erik McMillan, CEO, BrickTrends
Asif Khan, Founder, Location Based Marketing Association (moderator)

4:55 PM - 5:30 PM
Reality Check: Assessing the Indoor Opportunity - The other sessions explored major opportunities (and challenges) of indoor location and marketing. Now it’s time for a fun, yet sober assessment of whether and how soon these scenarios will come to pass. Is there real demand and who will own the “indoor channel”? Where will the "place-based market" be next year, in three years?
Speakers:
Jeremy Lockhorn,VP, Emerging Media, Razorfish
John Gardner, Partner, Nokia Growth Partners
Chandu Thota, Engineering, Google
Wibe Wagemans, IndoorAtlas

Report: US Mobile Ad Revenues Up 145% to $3B in 1H 13

This morning the IAB released Q2 and 1H 2013 mobile ad revenue figures for the US market. Total revenues were $20.1 billion compared with $17 billion a year ago. Mobile ad revenues were just over $3 billion vs. $1.2 billion during the same period in 2012. 

That represented growth of 145%. Mobile was 15% of overall digital ad revenue in the first half. 

Total mobile advertising in 2012 was just under $3.4 billion. This year mobile advertising should come in at over $6 billion. The holidays should give mobile advertising a substantial boost however it's likely to remain about 15% of total online advertising for 2013. 

The IAB has stopped trying to estimate subcategories of mobile as it did in 2011. Mobile search is the largest ad sub-category of mobile spending and probably exceeds 50% of the total. Display is second followed by video and other ad categories (SMS based advertising or marketing continues to fade). Search and mobile display represent the mobile ad spending. 

While consumers spend 80% of their time in apps, apps don't represent 80% of the mobile ad spend -- given the dominance of mobile search, which mostly happens via a mobile browser.  

The top three overall online advertiser categories were Retail (20%), Financial Services (14%) and Automotive (12%). 

Android Hits a Wall in US While iPhone Climbs

Yesterday comScore released its US smartphone market share report for August. The interesting thing is that these data do not reflect the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c. Apple was the single most popular handset maker, with just under 41 percent of the market. Samsung was second with 23 percent. 

In terms of operating system share, Microsoft gained 0.2 points while Android lost 0.8 points. The iPhone saw a 1.5 percent gain. It certainly will be interesting to see what the September numbers are, post iPhone 5s. 

  August OS share 

In the aggregate Android devices represent just over half the smartphone market in the US (now 64% of mobile users). However it appears that may be the ceiling for Android -- at least for the time being. 

Depsite this it appears from comScore's data that Google has achieved nearly 100% (92%) smartphone reach in the US through a combination of apps and mobile search usage, though Facebook remains the top individual mobile app: 

top mobile apps August

According to research conducted by investment bank Canaccord Genuity the iPhone 5s was the top selling mobile handset at each of the four major US carriers in September, with the 5c taking second place at AT&T and Sprint and third place at Verizon. 

Notwithstanding its second place finish, the 5c is quite a bit less popular than the 5s. Hitwise (Experian) reported that search queries for the iPhone 5s were 4X more than the 5c in early September.

top-five-iphone-search-terms 

This basically mirrors our survey finding correctly predicting the enormous popularity of the 5s and lesser interest in the 5c:

iPhone survey

Source: Opus Research, n=1,508 US adults (Sept 16 - 19 2013)

Elecontrics retailer Best Buy is offering a $50 instant discount on the 5c, which effectively cuts its contract-subsidized price to $50 for the entry level device. Wal-Mart by the same token has cut the 5c's price to $45 "permanently." This should help boost sales of the 5c considerably in the short term.  

Major Mobile Stats from the Twitter S-1

As you're aware Twitter filed its public S-1 statement this afternoon. There's a great deal of interesting material in it. The company said that in 2010 revenue was roughly $28 million. Last year it was $317 million. This year it could well exceed $500 million, reflecting triple-digit ad revenue growth. 

The following are the important mobile-related stats disclosed in the S-1 filing (mostly verbatim statements):  

  • 75% of our average MAUs (monthly average users) accessed Twitter from a mobile device, including mobile phones and tablets
  • Over 65% of our advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices (through June, 2013). 
  • 218.3 million average MAUs . . . 49.2 million average MAUs in the United States and 169.1 million average MAUs in the rest of the world

In 2010 74% of Twitter's revenue came from data licensing and the remainder from ads. In 2012 85% of revenue came from ads and 15% from data licensing, reflecting a huge shift in the sources of revenue for the company.

Given that Twitter has a still relatively small number of users in the US and internationally there's plenty of room for growth -- domestically and abroad. 

Who Will 'Own' the Indoor Channel: Retailers or Google and Facebook?

One of the questions that we'll be addressing on the "Microfencing" (in-store/in-aisle targeting) panel at Place 2013 is "who will own the indoor channel?" The operating assumption is that the venue owners/retailers will control communications and marketing within their indoor environments. But that may not turn out to be true if retailers aren't careful and quick to embrace indoor location. 

An analogy may be the wireless carriers. Once the gatekeepers of all things mobile, they have largely been sidelined and reduced to "commodity" providers of bandwidth. The handset OEMs, platform providers and app developers dominate mobile. 

Earlier today Reuters reported that Cisco was "working with Facebook Inc to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access to consumers at public places such as hotels or retail stores using their Facebook log-in. A visitor could check in at a hotel without having to line-up at a front desk by simply signing in via the Facebook application on a smartphone, Cisco said."

Google is also contemplating its own WiFi infrastructure. By the same token some retailers are hesitant or cautious about embracing indoor location. For example, JC Penney decided to eliminate public WiFi to save $7 million a year. In doing so it shut down its indoor location consumer infrastructure. While it will save some money it won't stop showrooming and may deprive JC Penney of an important marketing and customer service capability. 

If companies such as Facebook and Google, or other third parties, step in and provide the consumer network, chances are very good that consumers will use the Facebook or Google network rather than the store's. That would likely make the Google and Facebook the new gatekeepers of indoor marketing, giving them a significant advantage over retailers and a stronger position when it comes to selling and delivering indoor advertising and promotions. 

Retailers cannot and should not "wait and see" or they may find themselves, like the wireless carriers, on the sidelines of digital marketing activity in their own stores. I could be wrong and there are a number of unknown variables. But retailers stand to lose much if they fail to act. 

We'll fully explore these questions at the Place Conference on Tuesday, October 8:

Microfencing: Targeting In-Aisle Shoppers

Billions of dollars are spent each year by brands and manufacturers trying to influence consumer buying in stores. A percentage of that money will migrate to indoor digital marketing. What conditions must first exist and what will those brand-consumer interactions look like? The panel will explore these questions as well as the contours of the broader indoor marketing experience. 

  • Neg Norton, President, Local Search Association
  • Ben Smith, CEO, Wanderful Media
  • Melissa Tait, VP of Technology, Primacy
  • Erik McMillan, CEO, BrickTrends
  • Asif Khan, Founder, Location Based Marketing Association (Moderator)

 

Is Amazon's Mayday a New Model for Mobile Customer Care (and Virtual Assistance)?

Arguably the most interesting thing about the new Kindle Fire "HDX" tablets is the so-called "Mayday" button. By pressing a single button HDX owners will see a live human appear in a pop-up window on their screens, as the picture to the right illustrates.

That individual can answer questions and perform diagnostic functions or fixes remotely. And while Amazon Kindle users can see the agent, the customer support person cannot see the Kindle owner (thereby preventing certain unseemly "chatroulette scenarios"). Amazon says most questions or issues are or can be resolved in relatively little time. Live support is free/included and available "24x7, 365 days a year." 

One review of the HDX questioned how scalable this service is. I suspect it's pretty scalable, especially if they offshore the support centers. But given that one can see the person on the other end of the line, offshoring may be less viable for something like this. In his post on the Opus Research Web site, my colleague Dan Miller sees the potential for a speech-enabled, automated personal virtual assistant to populate the agent screen.

My hunch is that Mayday will become a premium service or included with a Prime subscription ultimately. 

What's more interesting to consider is how Mayday might become a new model for customer service and/or sales support for tablet and mobile apps. Think about how much more e-commerce and conversions might happen if live support were available. In a mobile context "chat" doesn't really cut it. 

There are various in-between scenarios possible too, where a static image might be used instead of video together with a VoIP call. That would be the "low rent" version but it could be equally effective if executed properly. 

The success of Mayday and its emulation or replication by others would be a new spin on and give new meaning to the notion of the "personal virtual assistant." 

Report: Windows Phone Continues to Gain Share in Europe

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has released new smartphone market share data showing significant gains for Windows Phone in Europe. The research firm says that Windows Phone is now within a point of the iPhone in Germany and that its growth is outpacing Android across the Continent: 

Android remains the top operating system across Europe with a 70.1% market share, but its dominant position is increasingly threatened as growth trails behind both Windows and iOS. Windows Phone has hit double digit sales share figures in France and Great Britain with 10.8% and 12% respectively – the first time it has recorded double digits in two major markets.

Kantar also says that Apple is continuing to show momentum in the US: "Apple continues to grow strongly year on year and now makes up 39.3% of sales." These data do not include the recent 9 million handsets sold by Apple upon the debut of the iPhone 5s and 5c.

Windows Phone's strongest markets are France, UK, Germany and Italy, where Nokia's brand is still relatively strong. It continues to lag in the US and China, however. 

  

Apple Now Top Global Brand, Followed by Google

Technology and internet companies have supplanted traditional brands at the top of Interbrand's annual "Top 100 Global Brands" list. Apple and Google are number 1 and 2 on the list respectively, beating out perennial winner Coke and others such as IBM, Disney, Microsoft and GE.

Notwitstanding its beating at the hands of investors and doubts about its future performance, Apple was picked by Interbrand as the world's "most valuable brand" for 2013. Google was last year's number 4. 

Facebook is number 52 on the list and Amazon comes in at number 19. Yahoo and BlackBerry dropped off the list entirely this year and Nokia "experienced the largest decline in brand value" in the 13 year history of the report. The top 15 on the list are below. 

Interbrand determines its annual ranking using a formula that combines:

  • The financial performance of the branded products or service
  • The role the brand plays in influencing consumer choice
  • The strength the brand has to command a premium price, or secure earnings for the company

Apple's rise to become the world's most valuable brand is striking. Interbrand says the Apple brand is currently worth $98 billion, which is considerable but much less than the company's overall market cap of $435 billion. According to Interbrand:

Apple has appeared on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking since 2000, when the ranking debuted. In 2000, Apple ranked #36 and had a brand value of USD $6.6 billion. Today, Apple’s brand value is USD $98.3 billion– almost 15 times the amount of its brand value in 2000. Apple’s meteoric rise in brand value can be attributed to the way it has created a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. By keeping consumers at the center of everything it does, Apple is able to anticipate what they want next and break new ground in terms of both design and performance. With 72 million Macs in use and record-breaking sales of both the iPhone and iPad, Apple has made history by unseating Coca-Cola and becoming Interbrand’s most valuable global brand of 2013.