Earlier this year the Pew Internet Project published data that showed people in the US would hold onto their cellphones after they had given up other technology/electronics:
Today research firm OTX published results of a survey with teens that echoes those findings. Asked which they would rather give up, teens said the following:
These data immediately above seem in conflict with the Pew data above.
Loopt, a revolutionary social-mapping and communication service, announced today that the location- based service is now available for free to BlackBerry users on the Sprint, Alltel, T-Mobile and AT&T networks. BlackBerry users can now share their location information with friends across multiple devices and carrier networks.
The company also has an iPhone version coming out. Right now there's limited usage among mobile subscribers of mobile social networking. But we see this (or social features on mobile apps) as a category with significant potential.
Source: LMS/Multiplied Media, 2008 (n=862)
The questions revolve around whether the companies can rise above the noise in the sector and/or can hold out until the users show up. There's also the question of whether these firms can monetize their usage effectively. For the near term they'll have to tap into ad networks or other sources of locally targeted ad inventory.
However, the agencies and advertisers haven't yet caught up to the technology and its targeting capabilities. So the "inventory" doesn't yet exist for the super-targeting that mobile phones with GPS allow.
BIGResearch just released (via Marketing Charts) another of its Simultaneous Media Surveys (n=15K+). What the research found was that the influence of text messaging as an ad vehicle was relatively low, but highest among 18-24 year olds (US only):
The study also found the following:
So clearly if the target audience is younger, text can be a highly effective ad medium.
See related data on teens and text messaging below.
One of the success factors for the iPod was the fact that it emerged is the only "brand" in the MP3 player market. Despite the fact that there were many MP3 players that predated the iPod, Apple created the most user-friendly device at the time and then, when an eco-system grew up around it, the only brand in the segment.
Putting aside the third-party accessories, feature for feature there weren't so many things that were unique about the iPod vs. rivals like Creative's Zen player. But in the eyes of consumers there was really only one device: the iPod. Competing MP3 players became imitators or "wannabes" in the mind of the consumer. The iPod has about 70% of the market share for MP3 players in the US.
The iPhone appears to be heading in the same direction. A significant caveat in the U.S. is the AT&T exclusivity that could limit sales somewhat.
A BusinessWeek article this morning broadly and speculatively explores the impact of the iPhone on competing handset makers and carriers. We've already seen the market respond with various "iPhone killers," both in the market and yet to be released. On the growing list are the LG Voyager, HTC Touch (and Touch Diamond), Samung Instinct, Blackberry Thunder, Nokia Tube and so on. So far none have lived up to the promise of the label.
Sprint is running a Cinema/TV campaign in which the Instinct is favorably compared with the iPhone in quotes that appear on screen at the end: "An iPhone killer;" "Zippier download speeds than the iPhone." But that was the previous version of the iPhone they're talking about.
Recently, Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal posted a mixed review of the Instinct that basically condemns it to "also-ran" status.
The more "iPhone clones" there are in the market the more the brand of the iPhone is reinforced as authentic compared with rival offerings, which become perceived as inauthentic or imitators in the same way that happened to MP3 players competing with the iPod.
There are devices in the market that feature touch screens and better cameras, browsers with flash support or other features not found on the iPhone. But nobody has yet developed the ecosystem around their phones that the iPhone has. This further differentiates the device and helps it stand out. Blackberry and Android, in particular, are very focused on creating an apps ecosystem. However, they've yet to bring them to market. The iPhone will likely have a lead of at least 6-8 months on rivals in that regard.
The only way for rival handset makers to shake off this growing "imitator" or "wannabe" perception is to actually build devices that outperform the iPhone across several key categories or present a next-level of innovation comparable to what the iPhone offered when it came into the market a year ago.
Both will prove very difficult indeed.
Related: T-Mobile to offer the iPhone for 1 Euro in Germany.
Samsung is making phones from plastics derived from corn; this could add a "green" cool factor that might appeal to certain market segments.
Nike is launching a very innovative campaign across Europe that prompts users to take photos of brightly colored images, send (MMS) them to Nike and be able to buy shoes featuring the two main colors in the image. It will be likely be a big success.
It targets the youthful audience that represents Nike's demographic and it will create tremendous buzz for the brand. Right now much of mobile advertising is about PR for the brand rather than actual results from the campaign.
Nielsen (via Ars Technica) reported Q1 2008 mobile search market share (U.S.) as follows:
Here's the Nielsen desktop search breakdown (4/08):
In several proprietary surveys we've done over the past 6 months, we've asked people about their mobile search usage and we've seen widely varying results. We've seen Google score anywhere from 47% to 80% in terms of usage. We've seen Yahoo! at 20% to 40% and Microsoft score between 10% to 25%. These are people telling us what they use, not a market share calculation per se.
Basically our data shows the hierarchy of usage breaks out in the same order as on the desktop, which reflects how search brand affinity and familiarity on the desktop is translating into mobile.
We expect to see some aggressive competition taking shape as mobile voice specialist Yap Inc. receives venture funding to fuel its application and market development efforts. It joins the likes of Nuance, Vlingo, V-Enable and Microsoft to build speech-based methods to enter information into wireless phones. Yap's funding is led by SunBridge Partners and the funders include Harbert Venture Partners and Pittco Capital Partners, as well as individual investors.
One of the things that will differentiate the various "platform" competitors in mobile are the third party applications built for the respective devices. That's why Blackberry has started its own version of the iFund and is seeking to cultivate a developer network.
The Android universe is totally open and should produce many interesting apps as well as some garbage. On the other end, Apple has to approve all the apps that show up in the Apps Store for the iPhone. Out of a reported 25,000 interested, only 4,000 were accepted by Apple.
But what's interesting is about the iPhone (and presumably this will occur with some of the other devices) is that third-party applications are extending or potentially will extend it well beyond its original, contemplated uses. Two cases in point:
While the iPhone was always conceived of as an iPod, these cases and others start to push the device even further beyond its status as a phone. Along those lines, I'm hopeful that we'll start to see many other mobile consumer devices on the market that take this evolution farther and initiative and era of true mobile computing.
Coupons.com, which recently launched coupon syndication through a new service called Brandcaster, has just done a mobile coupons distribution deal with Yahoo!. According to a piece in MediaPost (registration required) this morning:
The initiative would create a national platform for large brand advertisers to distribute mobile coupons, which so far have mostly been tested only in local markets or niche categories . . . Quick-serve restaurants and retailers are the most likely to be early adopters because they potentially offer the most direct way for people to redeem mobile coupons.
As the article points out, redemption is the big challenge and obstacle. These are not printed so would have to offer a unique code (which can easily be done) and then that code would need to be recorded or captured at the point of sale, which is somewhat more difficult. Some smartphones have good enough screen resolution to allow conventional scanners to work with an image of a bar code.
What's interesting here is that the content could be served up in a potential variety of ad forms: banners, text ads, etc., all of which would allow tracking at the point of sale.
Cellfire has been the leader in mobile coupons to date, but Yahoo!'s distribution is so much greater that Yahoo! could quickly obscure it.
Google has had iGoogle (its personal start page) availability in mobile for some time. However the company has recently made it easier to configure and use iGoogle in mobile and is tying the mobile experience more closely to the desktop.
Changes in iGoogle on the desktop are automatically reflected on the mobile version when users are signed in. The Google.com WAP page now also looks more like Google on the desktop. These changes are intended to leverage the desktop-mobile connection and translate Google loyalty there into mobile.
It's also philosophically reflective of Google's assumption that eventually the mobile Internet and the desktop will be more similar than they are different.
In an interview this week with Ken Auletta of the New Yorker (reported by Reuters), Google CEO Eric Schmidt said a few things about mobile in the context of a broad discussion on a range of topics:
Schmidt said the vast majority of Google searches on mobile phones were done on Apple Inc's year-old iPhones, which prominently feature a Web browser.
"Mobile looks like it will ultimately be the highest of ad rates," because ads can be targeted by user location, he said.
Similarly, DoubleClick's Rob Victor (now part of Google) spoke at the MMA show about mobile being a "premium product," at the moment, which may keep many advertisers away until rates come down. Fifty dollar CPMs are not uncommon.