Google updated its iOS search app today for both the iPhone and iPad. The new app brings some additional functionality to Google Now, which is embedded within the app:
The update also enables hands-free voice searching through the trigger/wake-up word "OK Google." This capability started on Google Glass and has migrated onto Android handsets such as the Motorola Moto X and LG Nexus 5. It's now available to iPhone 4S and above users.
New Google Now cards include:
The combination of voice search and Google Now has turned "Google Search" into the "Google Assistant," without being rebranded as such. The combined Google capabilities rival Siri and arguably exceed it in some respects.
On iOS hands-free voice searching (OK Google) isn't as readily available as on Android. Users must first launch or open the Google Search app, which can be done with Siri, ironically. Then the hands-free searching can be initiated. That sort of defeats the point. On Android handsets voice search is immediately available on the home page.
While probably no single feature launched today will generate massively more Google searches from iOS devices, collectively they may bring more user engagement.
The new hands free search capability may have the biggest impact on the iPad. While users could perviously perform voice queries from Google's iPad app in the past, this new purely speech activated feature may generate more searches for Google from Apple's tablets -- which drive about 80% of all US tablet traffic.
Google is the world's largest mobile advertising company. However after Google there are only a few big players on a US or global basis. Google doesn't disclose mobile revenues as a separate line item.
According to the IAB, US mobile ad revenues in the first half of 2013 were roughly $3 billion. That means we can probably expect between $6.5 and $6.8 billion for the full year 2013.
Online just 10 companies accounted for 70% of total online ad revenue in Q2 2013. In mobile, ad revenues are even more concentrated in a smaller group of companies.
Google's mobile revenues are probably, conservatively, in the range of 15% of its total ad revenue, which will come in around $49 or $50 billion globally for the full year. Let's also assume that roughly 50% of Google's mobile revenue comes from the US market. That would all mean Google would have about $3.6 billion in US mobile ad revenue this year. It could be more, however.
Facebook, Twitter and Pandora all report the portion of their advertising revenue that is generated from mobile devices. Facebook has by far the most mobile ad revenue of the group, which is likely to come in a little over $3 billion for the year. Twitter has said that 70% of its revenue is coming from mobile -- and most of that is from the US market.
The mobile component of total ad revenue for Facebook, Twitter and Pandora collectively will be roughly $4 billion for calendar 2013. It's not clear what percentage of Facebook's mobile ad revenue is from the US; however it's likely to be a substantial portion at this stage.
Accordingly, putting together my estimates for US mobile ad revenues from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pandora takes us to about 90% of projected US mobile ad revenue for the year. Ad networks such as YP, Millennial and a couple of others fill in the rest.
Microsoft will reportedly spend north of $400 million this holiday season on marketing in the hope of selling 16 million Surface tablets. It will likely have trouble because the Surface Pro tablet is neither a true PC replacement nor does it offer as good a tablet experience as the iPad.
Surface Pro 2 also starts at $899, making it considerably more expensive than the entry level iPads and even many Windows PCs. The argument in favor of Surface Pro is that it has Office and offers greater productivity than the iPad. However it's not clear that consumers are seeking a unified device for all their computing needs.
According to data from app marketing platform Fiksu, the iPad Air had a powerhouse opening weekend. The device "is seeing five times the usage the iPad 4 did two days after launch - and more than 3 times that of the iPad mini," explains Fiksu.
Stellar reviews and early momentum indicate the iPad Air may have a very good Q4. The new iPad Mini "Retina" launches later this month, which could either divert some iPad Air sales or simply generate more tablet "shelf space" for Apple. That would be potentially bad news for Microsoft, which is competing directly with the iPad.
On the Android side in the US market it's really Kindle vs. Nexus 7 (Samsung has more of a presence in Europe). Between the two Kindle has the stronger brand and greater distribution through Amazon. But the Nexus 7 is probably the better device overall. In the 9 - 10 inch category the Air really doesn't have any competition from an Android tablet.
In order to see more than token sales, Microsoft will have to truly make the Surface Pro (RT is RIP) a laptop replacement, with a longer battery life and better typing experience. Surface Pro 2 is not that device; so we'll need to wait for Surface Pro 3. That won't be out until next year -- if then.
That means Microsoft, no matter how much it spends on marketing for the holidays, is unlikely to meet its ambitious sales goals for Surface. That is, unless it starts cutting prices very aggressively, with a capital "V."
The iPad Air officially became available around the world today. Supplies appear to be readily available in the US but have slipped in some international markets. In the US the 128GB T-Mobile version now has a 5 - 10 business day wait. (Update: New York is reportedly selling out of some models.)
The new iPad Retina Mini will become available "later in November." There are undoutedly many people trying to decide which one to buy (iPad Air vs. iPad Mini Retina).
Beyond the iPad there are the Nexus 7, Kindle HD tablets and Samsung's Galaxy Tabs. The best of that group remains the Nexus 7. However the Nexus 7 is not as polished or quite as good as the new iPads, though it is cheaper. And lower cost is a meaningful factor for many people.
These three makers form a middle tier of price and quality after the iPad.
However, at the bottom, there are scores of "no-name" Android devices selling for less than $150. Many (as in the graphic above) are selling for under $100.
These super-cheap tablets are likely to have battery life and performance issues. They're not going to last little more than about a year if that (my original Nexus 7 broke twice in the same year with eventual total screen failure). Still, low pricing will make them very attractive to some. Indeed the prices are so low in some of these cases they can even be treated as disposable.
These low-end Android tablets will undoubtedly boost Android's share of the market. In the US the iPad still is responsible for more than 80% of tablet-generated web traffic. We'll have to revisit those data in Q1 2014.
There are a couple of ways to see the potential impact of the proliferation of low-end Android tablets. They're not mutually exclusive 1) they will take share from the iPad and 2) they will expand the market for tablets to more price-sensitive groups who otherwise wouldn't pay a premium for an iPad.
Regardless, the tablet explosion is not going to be good news for Q4 PC sales. People are likely to avoid replacing or buying new PCs in favor of smartphones and tablets.
This morning Google announced its new Android OS update, KitKat, as well as a new Nexus handset, the Nexus 5 from LG (priced pretty aggressively at $349). In addition the company said that it would begin indexing "deep links" to Android apps in search results (on Android devices):
Just like it crawls and indexes websites, Googlebot can now index content in your Android app. Webmasters will be able to indicate which app content you'd like Google to index in the same way you do for webpages today — through your existing Sitemap file and through Webmaster Tools. If both the webpage and the app contents are successfully indexed, Google will then try to show deep links to your app straight in our search results when we think they’re relevant for the user’s query and if the user has the app installed. When users tap on these deep links, your app will launch and take them directly to the content they need.
Here's a screenshot provided by Google:
Google doesn't mention what happens if users don't have the specified app installed. Presumably users would be directed to a download page for the app (or maybe there's some kind of detection and the link doesn't appear if the app isn't installed). There's no word on Apple devices. Technically it's probably not possible for Google to do this on iOS devices.
The other significant announcement to come out today is that Google replacing the unique Android ID (similar to Apple's old UDID) with a new "Advertising ID." The new Advertising ID is very analogous to Apple's Identifier For Advertising (IDFA). Google's new Advertising ID implicates ad tracking and targeting in apps only, not the mobile browser.
It moves mobile app advertising away from the unique device ID and "up" to an anonymous identifier that can be cleared or reset by the user at will:
In addition to resetting or clearing the Advertising ID (like clearing cookies in a brower), Google users will be opt out of "interest based ads" (see graphic above). This doesn't mean no ads, just no retargeted or behaviorally targeted ads.
Advertisers and ad networks on Android must migrate to the new Advertising ID after August 1, 2014: "Beginning August 1st 2014, all updates and new apps uploaded to the Play Store must use the advertising ID (when available on a device) in lieu of any other device identifiers for any advertising purposes."
Separate from Advertising ID Google is increasingly trying to get Chrome browser users to sign in so that it can track and better target them across devices (and later into stores). This is an opt-in system and users can simply not sign in if they have privacy concerns.
Apple's IDFA approach has been very well received and Advertising ID should also be. It seeks to strike a balance between privacy and advertiser targeting interests.
A bunch of smartphone-related data and numbers are out today: Nokia earnings, Nielsen US smartphone figures and Samsung's global smartphone share.
First, Nokia reported Q3 2013 revenue of €5.66 billion vs €7.24 billion a year ago. Sales were off 22% YoY but there was a small operating profit due to aggressive cost cutting.
The company said that it sold 8.8 million Lumia smartphones (vs. 7.4 million last quarter and 6.3 million a year ago). Microsoft is taking over the Nokia handset business. Overall Nokia sold many more non-smartphones; however that market is decline and unlikely to be aggressively supported when Microsoft takes over. Nokia said that it sold 55.8 million non-smartphones vs. 76.6 million last year.
According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung was the big winner of the smartphone derby in Q3. Based on shipments estimates the firm said that Samsung captured 35% of the global smartphone market. By comparison Apple had a 13.4% share, which was down from just under 16% a year ago but still put the handset maker in second place.
The third place smartphone vendor was something of a surprise in China's Huawei. LG was fourth and Lenovo was fifth on this firm's list.
Back to the US, Nielsen is out with new smartphone data for Q3 (collected prior to the iPhone 5s release). Nielsen says that smartphone penetration is now 64.7% (comScore's number is just under 61%) in the United States.
In Q3 Android handsets combined for 52% of the market followed by iPhone with a 41% share. No other company has a meaningful share of othe US smartphone market. And despite the overall sales improvement in Nokia's Q3 results, there's little evidence of momentum for Lumia or Windows Mobile devices in the US to date.
The following is Nielsen's US breakdown of smartphone market share by manufacturer:
Earlier today Apple announced quarterly earnings. Gross revenue was $37.5 billion vs. $35.9 billion last year. The company generally beat expectations on revenue, earnings per share and iPhone sales. Mac sales were in line with expectations. However, iPad unit sales came in slightly lower than anticipated.
Here are the top-line figures from the release:
Regionally Americas sales rose only 1% year over year. Europe was flat. China was up 6% and Japan was up 41%. Here are the revenue numbers by product:
According to Localytics the following is the global breakdown of iPhones in market:
The Future of Privacy Forum's Jules Polonetsky was one of the featured speakers at the inaugural Place Conference. He spoke about indoor location and privacy with Jennifer King from UC Berkeley. We alloted 30 minutes for the discussion but could have easily spent an hour on it.
Privacy is the 800 pound gorilla of indoor location and the issue that challenges and potentially threatens its roll out. Ever since the negative publicity and coverage suffered by Nordstrom retailers have been scared to death of talking about what they're doing with indoor location -- despite the fact that consumers stand to benefit greatly through these innovations.
Hoping to head off regulatory intervention and preempt more ill-informed coverage and negative publicity, Polonetsky's Future of Privacy Forum (and Senator Charles Schumer of New York) announced a code of conduct that will govern indoor analytics and seek to protect consumer privacy.
The companies involved include Euclid Analytics, iInside, Mexia Interactive, Nomi, SOLOMO, Radius Networks, Brickstream and Turnstyle Solutions. Euclide and iInside spoke at the Place Conference.
This list doesn't include all the companies involved in indoor analytics (e.g., Retail Next) but the rest will adopt and abide by the rules announced today. And retailers will follow them. Basically the new rules require clear disclosures, enable consumers to opt-out of indoor tracking, make any tracking anonymous and prevent the misuse of information gained by venue owners.
People always forget that much more intrusive closed-circuit video cameras have been in retail environments for more than a generation.
As our panel on indoor analytics pointed out most of the data aggregated and anonymously captured by retailers will translate into in-store improvements, from staffing to store layouts. However consumers need to be educated about all of this given how new and little understood it is. This is where retailers need to step up (rather than cower) and help consumers understand why and how indoor location will benefit them.
Hopefully this new code of conduct will enable them do that with confidence.
Below is the full text of the press release:
New York, NY – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and a group of leading location analytics companies – including Euclid, iInside (a WirelessWERX company), Mexia Interactive, SOLOMO, Radius Networks, Brickstream and Turnstyle Solutions – today announced that they have agreed to a Code of Conduct to promote consumer privacy and responsible data use for retail location analytics. The companies responded to privacy concerns raised by Senator Schumer and the FPF about the use of this new technology. The code of conduct includes in-store posted signs that alert shoppers that tracking technology is being used, and instructions for how to opt out.
“This is a significant step forward in the quest for consumer privacy,” said Schumer. “This agreement shows that technology companies, retailers, and consumer advocates can work together in the best interest of the consumer. There is still much more work to be done and I will continue to push for privacy rights to be respected and strengthened, but this represents real progress and I thank the Future Privacy Forum and these tech companies for their hard work hammering out this agreement.
“Today, location analytics companies have introduced a comprehensive code to ensure they have data protection standards in place to de-identify data, to provide consumers with effective choices to not be tracked and to explain to consumers the purposes for which data is being used,” said Jules Polonetsky, executive Director of the Future of Privacy Forum. “These standards ensure that consumers understand the benefit of the bargain and have choices about how their information is used while allowing technology to continue to improve the shopping experience. As we quickly approach the holiday shopping season, this is not only the right move – but a timely one as well, adding a layer of trust, choice and transparency onto a shopping experience that in 2013 is more mobile and hi-tech than ever before.”
In July, Schumer warned that major national retail chains were testing technology that would allow them to automatically track shoppers’ location through stores. Following this warning, FPF worked with the technology companies to develop a Code to ensure that appropriate privacy controls are in place as retailers seek to improve the consumer shopping experience. These technology companies use mobile device Wi-Fi or Bluetooth MAC addresses to develop aggregate reports for retailers.
The Code puts guidelines in place to create best data practices that will provide transparency and choice for consumers. The Code calls for the display of conspicuous signage by retailers and for a central opt-out site for consumers.
"We are just beginning to see the possibilities that in-store analytics can bring to shoppers and to retailers, and yet, as with any new technology, there is the chance for confusion about the intent and possible implications of such technology,” said Steve Jeffery, CEO, Brickstream. “We applaud the Future of Privacy Forum for taking the lead in bringing retailers and technology providers together to address these important issues.”
“We would like to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership on this issue,” said Will Smith, CEO, Euclid. "Privacy has always been a priority as we've designed and built our services, and we have been working diligently with FPF to release best practices for the retail analytics industry as a whole.”
"iInside and industry partners have made it a top priority to assure that consumers are well-informed and their personal privacy and identity are protected. The newly announced code is a major step forward in establishing and communicating clear and concise standards across our industry," said Jim Riesenbach, CEO, iInside Inc.
“The release of a Code of Conduct to guide industry practice ensures that businesses and retailers are able to enhance their customers’ experience without compromising their privacy,” said Glenn Tinley, President & Founder, Mexia Interactive. “Business and consumers also can be assured that a company listed on the SmartStorePrivacy.com website has committed to following the code.”
"Proximity and location technology is evolving rapidly, and we want to make sure it’s deployed in an open, responsible and trustworthy manner. The retail location analytics Code of Conduct is a solid step in the right direction," said Marc Wallace, Co-Founder & CEO, Radius Networks, Inc.
“SOLOMO sees privacy as an opportunity for retailers to build trust with customers,” said Liz Eversoll, CEO, SOLOMO. “We’ve collaborated to develop the Code of Conduct to ensure transparency and empowerment for retail customers. Indoor location technology will offer customers new in-store experiences, special deals, and localized services as retailers introduce it in their stores. Everyone wins.”“Turnstyle Solutions is pleased to partner with the Future Privacy Forum in the development of this Code of Conduct. We are confident the code lays the foundation necessary to protect sensitive consumer information, while offering retailers and consumers services that enhance their shopping experience," said Devon Wright, Co-Founder, Turnstyle Solutions.
Later this morning Apple will introduce at least two new or updated iPads. It's widely expected that Apple will offer a 5th generation full-sized iPad that incorporates design features of the Mini and will be thinner and lighter. In addition the company will likely introduce a "retina" display iPad Mini. There are likely to be other announcements tied to Macs and the Mavericks OS update.
However the iPad will be the center of attention.
This update is important as Apple faces intensifying competition from Google, Samsung and Amazon. There are also a host of "no-name" tablet makers pushing the price of smaller tablets down. Intel, for example, believes that there will be reasonable quality $99 tablets for sale this holiday season. Accordingly it will be interesting to see whether Apple adjusts the pricing of its iPads in any way.
According to data from Localytics, the most popular iPad is the iPad 2, which has 38% of the global iPad market. The 4th generation iPad has only 18% and the iPad Mini has 17% according to the firm. Among Android tablets it's a three way race between Samsung, Amazon and Google/Asus.
On a global basis Samsung is the Android leader with 55% market share. In the US however Amazon Kindle tablets have outsold Samsung. Overall, according to Chitika in June, the iPad drives 84% of tablet-based traffic in North America. The ad network is set to update these numbers today.
Gartner and IDC continue to forecast the decline of the PC, with tablet growth continuing. However, thus far, Microsoft has not produced a competitive tablet to stem its falling OS and device market share.
On Friday the Pew Research Center offered new data showing that 43% of Americans over 16 owned a tablet or an e-reader. That makes for a total of just over 100 million people in the US with one or both devices. Among them Pew said that 35% owned tablets, which I calculated was roughly 84 million people.
Yesterday comScore released data about in-store smartphone usage from the EU 5: UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The top in-store shopping activities across the region were:
This compares with our survey of US in-store shopping activities:
Source: Opus Research n=1,050 US smartphone owners (9/13)
There are several US surveys regarding showrooming and what consumers do in stores with smartphones. They show slightly different things. Basically, however, the top three activities are: compare prices, get product reviews, find coupons.
We can't assume the comScore data are the final word on European in-store behavior but it's interesting to note that the top activities all involve asking for input or advice regarding what to buy. That behavior is evident among US smartphone owners but further down on the list. There may be a cultural explanation or it may be a function of the framing of survey questions.
There are roughly 150 million smartphones in the US and between 140 and 150 million in Europe. Penetration rates are comparable. In Europe the leading handsets are Android based, whereas the iPhone is the top smartphone in the US.