Avot Mobile Video Survey Findings

Avot Media conducted an online consumer mobile video survey (sample size not specified). According to the press materials "Survey takers were asked to test-drive Avot Medias mobile video delivery service. After watching a video they answered 10 short questions about the overall experience."

It's not at all clear how well these findings can be generalized beyond the respondents themselves. But there's clearly a "half empty" or "half full" story to tell from the results. Avot tells the half full story.

Here are some of the findings (for those 29 and younger):

  • 32% would watch American Idol performances
  • 36% would view movie trailers
  • 31% would access instructional 'how to' videos

On the half empty side, depending on your perspective, the following respondent percentages expressed "concerns" about:

  • 32% image quality
  • 33% download time
  • 33% freezing/stuttering

Without specifying any numbers the release also says: "The study uncovers users' concerns and interests regarding mobile media quality, start-up time, costs, and content choice."

Mobile video still has a long way to go (mobile TV in particular). But I must clarify my remarks about the recent Nielsen Mobile study about video viewing. I was told that the 3+ hours of mobile video included downloads/sideloads (not just TV subs) and was a median number not an average.

VirginMobile in Upbeat Media Profile

Though it's tiny, USAToday presents a mostly upbeat profile of VirginMobile, which recently bought Helio's business for roughly $39 million in equity. The company has some innovative marketing and retention programs and is focused squarely on the youth market.

Here's an interesting tidbit in the USAToday piece about the company's ad subsidized minutes/texts program "SugarMama":

Its "Sugar Mama" service, aimed at fusing ads into the mobile experience, rewards customers — with wireless minutes — for watching ads. So far, about 750,000 customers have signed up, earning 23 million minutes overall. (Customers are limited to 75 free minutes a month.)

Blyk in the UK reports phenomenal success with its program, which is more central to the overall value proposition.

Report: Korea's SK Telecom to Invest in Sprint

Reuters and others are reporting that Korea's SK Telecom, one of the two partners in the now defunct Helio MVNO (acquired last month by VirginMobile), is going to make another run at the U.S. market with a potential strategic investment in Sprint. Some outlets had reported that SK Telecom was seeking to acquire Spint outright; however, that outcome is highly unlikely.

Alternatively, the discussions could be exclusively about technology collaboration.

Sprint, the number three U.S. carrier (52 million subs) lost just over a million subscribers in Q1, but has said sales of "iPhone Killer" Samung Instinct have exceed expectations.

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The Guardian UK is reporting that SK Telecom has denied that it's interested in a "controlling stake" in any U.S. carrier. That doesn't preclude an investment of some sort however.

UK's Yell Introduces Mobile Maps Application

Built with mobilePeople, Yell has introduced a mobile mapping and local search application:

Yell Maps 1

Yell Maps 2

From the press release:

Yell.com mobile maps, a downloadable application that offers a range of market-leading product features, enables consumers to locate any address in the UK, get walking or driving directions displayed right on the map, and search for any of the 2.3m businesses available on Yell.com.

Features unique to Yell.com mobile maps offer consumers the ability to save business names, addresses and phone numbers directly to the phone's contact list and also to share this information with others via text messaging – ideal, for instance, when organising a night out. People can also contact businesses directly from the application with a simple click to call.

Walking directions is a nice feature. Yell also offers a more "traditional" WAP-based search tool. According to Nielsen Mobile, the UK is second to the US in terms of mobile Internet usage:

Mobile Internet penetration

Where Rises to Top 20 of iPhone Apps

Where

Where (uLocate) put out a press release today to promote its early success as one of the more popular iPhone applications. On the top 100 list of free applications, it comes in at number 19:

WHERE, is among the most popular applications on the new iPhone App Store pulling in as many as 100 activations per second. Since the launch of Apple's new App Store on Friday, WHERE has received over 125,000 downloads, surpassing all other GPS applications on the App Store.

Among the location aware iPhone apps that we cataloged, only WeatherBug, the Google Mobile App (partly local) and movie finder BoxOffice were ahead of it.

Where/uLocate marketing VP Dan Gilmartin just indicated to me in email that the service had 135,000 downloads this evening.

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The New York Times writes at length about the Urbanspoon iPhone app.

Twitter + Summize = Social DA

When the "Twitter buying Summize" rumors first appeared I wrote this post:

Twitter is a service that I do not use, but others love it. However, Twitter (or Twitter plus Summize) could become a very useful mobile search engine (for recommendations) or real-time “mobile social DA.” What I mean by social DA, as in directory assistance, is a distributed base of users who substitute for the function of directory assistance.

Rather than the self-indulgent string of “tweets” (I’m in the car, I’m now getting out of the car, I’m now opening the front door . . .) one could ask the community for local recommendations. Alternatively, if an engine like Summize could filter out the “noise” among the tweets it might create a very valuable database of content that could be accessed on the go.

Now that the acquisition has been confirmed (for an estimated $15 million), this is the path that I believe the company must pursue to really become useful. In addition, a searchable archive of recommendations would enable the service to broaden its appeal.

There are several advertising scenarios, but that all probably revolve around contextual and geographically targeted ads.

New Mobile Usage Data from comScore

Bolstered by its recent acquisition of M:Metrics, comScore put out new mobile usage figures for May 2008:

Picture 6

Note the discrepancy between the iPhone population and the general market. Competitor Nielsen says that 40 million U.S. mobile subscribers (15.6%) access the Internet on mobile phones at least once per month.

Picture 7

Survey of Local iPhone Apps

Apple announced today that it had sold a million iPhones in three days (globally). It also announced 10 million applications downloads since last Thursday.

We've cataloged more than 55 applications (roughly 10%) that leverage the iPhone's location awareness capability. But we're just at the beginning of these services We've grouped them into the following categories:

  • Restaurants & Entertainment
  • Social Networking & Friend Finders
  • Yellow & White Pages
  • Movie Related
  • News & Weather
  • Transit & Travel
  • Miscellaneous

This is just a survey and not reviews of all these applications. However, it's interesting to see what's there and what's missing from this initial group of LBS apps.

Click here to view the findings. Note: this is a very large file (9 MB).

What's Real in Renewed Talk of A 'GPhone'?

There have been so many stories since the Friday release of iPhone 3G it's dizzying: the lines, the European sales, the software update glitches, the rapturous reviews of the Apps Store and so on. Even as they curse the iPhone all Apple's competitors owe the company a debt of gratitude for helping to build awareness of the mobile Internet and giving the industry the kick in the pants (and shock) it needed.

Lines for iPhone in SF

(Lines at the Apple Store in SF on Friday)

Amid all this TechCrunch and GigaOm are speculating about the potential (re)emergence of a branded Google phone or "GPhone," based on a snippet of a quote that appeared in an article from MediaWeek/Hollywood Reporter this past week:

The trio of Google execs also used the opportunity to talk about the inroads the company is making with its own branded mobile phone as a replacement for the iPhone, as well as the Chinese market and how they're treated there -- and even Google's inhouse educational programs and the salaries and potential of teachers.

The writer was probably talking about Android and not a GPhone. But there almost certainly will be Google branded phones in the market after Android phones finally make their debut. Now what does "Google branded" mean exactly? It could mean one or both of two things. The Google software is prominent enough that the phone is primarily identified with Google (something akin to how Micorosft promotes Windows Mobile). Alternatively it could mean a specially designed handset (as TechCrunch posits) that bears the Google name. (This latter scenario is probable but more complicated for Google from a competitive standpoint.)

Google developed Android and brought together the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) so that it could help move the whole industry forward and indirectly advance its own position in mobile (see, "Will Google Dominate the Mobile Web?"). If mobile usage and search rise, so will Google is the logic here. That is a fair assumption.

Android is fundamentally about scale on a global basis, which is one of the primary values and drivers in Google's thinking about products. But the company, recognizing the success of the iPhone, has always also considered its own branded phone. It has never shut the door on this possibility. Here's a summary of Google CEO Eric Schmidt's remarks during the conference call held to announce Android and the OHA in November, 2007:

ES: Imagine not just one Gphone, but a thousand Gphones as a result of the partnerships … the many other people who will be joining the open initiative. We forgot to tell you that it’s available next week, and the terms are the broadest in the industry.

Q: ………..Gphone?

ES: We are not announcing a Google phone.

Q: Eric, I want to go back to the Gphone–what’s the deal?

ES: The deal is we don’t pre-announce products… if there were to be a Gphone, it would run Android…”

Thus I would imagine we'll see varying degrees of "GPhones," depending on the prominence of Google software and Google services. But I would also image the company will bring out a phone that has the word "Google" on the plastic casing that houses the chips and software.

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A GPhone and Carriers: Verizon and AT&T have "opened up" to allow third-party phones on their networks. This would permit a GPhone, which almost certainly wouldn't be sold by Verizon -- although potentially by competitors such as T-Mobile, which has already promised Android phones this year -- to operate on the major U.S. carrier networks.

Recall that Google bid in the US 700MHz spectrum auction to help "unlock" the U.S. carrier grip on wireless spectrum access. Google continues to work on mobile broadband access through the "White Spaces Coalition."The company is also an investor in the Sprint/Clearwire WiMax initiative. All these efforts to gain direct access to mobile broadband further point to the possibility of Google-branded hardware devices.

A branded GPhone is thus be all but guaranteed a home on U.S. carrier networks or alternative networks. In Europe a GPhone could be immediately introduced across networks.

Google Makes Bid for Broader Role in Mobile

Google is making a bid to be the "front door to the mobile Internet," at least on the iPhone, with the launch of a new Google Mobile App. It provides search suggestions and is positioned as a navigational tool on the iPhone, with one-click access to other Google products (e.g., GMail, Calendar, etc.). It also employs Google's "My Location" triangulation feature to enable faster results without the need to enter a geographic keyword/modifier.

In our recent report, Will Google Dominate the Mobile Web?, we speculated about whether Google and search would become central to the mobile Internet user experience or whether alternative experiences and applications would render search a "secondary tool."

Clients can see the report here.

Google Mobile App