Earlier today Google released data from two related studies of US consumer shopping behavior during Q4 2011. The studies were both conducted online and fielded in January 2012. In both cases just over 600 consumers were surveyed. Both studies claim to be representative of their respective populations -- essentially e-commerce buyers who own smartphones (and tablets).
There were a great many datapoints in the material released. However, the bottom line is that consumers are now fully engaged with smartphones (and increasingly tablets) as part of their "online" shopping. Marketers and brands need to reach consumers in appropriate ways in each context -- mindful of the overall movement of users from platform to platform.
As a foundational matter, the internet was used as a shopping tool or research medium more widely than any other according to this research.
However "the internet" is not a single channel any more. Google and its research partner Ipsos found that consumers shopped and purchased via multiple device categories.
Beyond this basic insight the patterns quickly get very "non linear." The slide below reflects multiple categories of shoppers, some of whom start online and finish offline and some of whom visit the store only to purchase online or via mobile ultimately.
Google also said that 42% of respondents used more than one internet device simultaneously, while 68% started on one type of device or machine and then kept going or concluded on another (e.g., tablet-->smartphone). Interestingly, the content viewed on each category of device (PC, tablet, mobile) was basically consistent.
There were some differences in behavior, however. In this sample people used PCs much more than other devices to do price comparisons and to look for deals or coupons. And they were more likely to contact a retailer via smartphone.
Though not reflected above, video was heavily used by shoppers for product reviews/ratings, demos and to generally learn about products. But if you want to make video accessible to mobile or tablet users Flash must be avoided of course.
In addition these respondents used both apps and the mobile web to conduct research and to shop.
I could go on with more but the larger points are made already. People use PCs, smartphones and tablets to shop and buy. Brands must be prepared to interact with consumers at every point in the purchase "funnel," or perhaps more precisely: purchase continuum. That means being aware of how consumers use and interact with devices and offering device-friendly content and user experiences accordingly.
Mobile is no marginal or experimental experience for anyone any longer. Today, Forrester predicted that by 2016 there would be 1 billion smartphones on the planet. At that point the PC will be simply one of several ways that people get online.
And in the not-too-distant future hierarchy of devices and internet access methods it could well rank third out of three.
Is RIM in a "death spiral" or not? It's being widely reported today that global energy concern/evil-doer Halliburton is dropping BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone on a global basis. While this means 70,000 fewer users it's more significant symbolically: a global corp. is shunning RIM.
As recently as a year ago corporations were still a stronghold for the company, but as more companies adopt "bring your own device" policies RIM is seeing increasing losses in the enterprise.
On the other side, RIM's Developer VP Alec Saunders told a RIM-friendly developer conference in Europe that not only are BlackBerry owners using apps, but that there are 6 million daily app downloads. In his effort at "myth-busting," he added that RIM's app world sees more paid downloads than the Android Market and that developers are making more money than with Android.
Regardless, there's a growing stigma associated with BlackBerry usage -- in much the same way that an AOL email address went from being a symbol of tech savvy to tech laggard status. That stigma now exists in the US for BlackBerry users and to a much lesser degree in Europe where the brand and usage still relatively strong.
Recent IDC Q4 2011 data are not quite as grim as the StatCounter data above, but directionally consistent.
New company CEO Thorsten Heins said that not much needs to be changed strategically at RIM. He's thus declined to do what Stephen Elop did upon taking over at Nokia: assert radical action was necessary to save the company. As a consequence, unless RIM's next handset is a blockbuster, we're going to see more erosion and a continuing downward spiral.
According to various analyses of Kindle Fire hardware production costs, Amazon is actually subsidizing the cost and taking a small loss on the sale of each device. This was undoubtedly a contributor to Amazon's "disappointing" Q4. The company said it sold millions of Kindle devices without providing any concrete figures.
However the company's strategy has been to use Kindle as a platform or tool to sell other content: e-books, video, music and apps. These are high margin products for Amazon.
A new survey (including 254 Kindle Fire owners) from ChangeWave argues that the company's Kindle Fire strategy is already paying off. Kindle Fire owners reported that they'll be spending more through Amazon in the next quarter than non-Kindle owners:
The relatively low cost of the device ($199) was shown to be the biggest driver of sales and the most "liked" feature of the product:
The chief "dislikes" were: no hardware volume button and no camera. The short battery life was also a complaint. Generally speaking, however, Kindle Fire users seem to be quite satisfied -- though not as satisfied as iPad owners.
Google has vowed to "fight" Kindle Fire and its bid to control the Android tablet market with its own "higest quality" tablet, which may be even more aggressively priced than Kindle.
Jumptap just released its January 2012 mobile metrics report. There are a number of interesting things in the document. Among them, Jumptap saw a meaningful decline in iOS share of traffic over the course of 2011. This is consistent with what others have reported.
In general Android now has a little less than twice the market share of the iPhone in the US. However, December data show an surge in iPhone growth because of the 4S.
ComScore released the following market share data for smartphones in Q4. Android grew 2.5%, which was nearly matched by the iPhone on a percentage basis.
Here's previously released Nielsen data regarding smartphone share among recent US buyers.
Another very interesting datapoint from Jumptap is the relative CTR rates of ads on Android and iOS devices. According to Jumptap, with successive versions of the OS, CTRs have gone in opposite directions for iOS and Android. Jumptap had no good explanation for the trend.
Jumptap also presented a chart showing the relative usage of apps and the mobile web. In December they saw roughly equal shares of usage:
Compare comScore apps vs. mobile web share for December, 2011 (comparable in share):
Finally Jumptap offered some tablet traffic comparisons on its network as of December 31, 2011:
What this would suggest is that non-iPad tablets have a majority share of traffic (56% to 44%) in the US. This probably calls into question whether Jumptap's network is representative of the US mobile market as a whole.
I was unaware that Quantcast offered a ranking of top US mobile sites as well as PC sites until today. The metrics firm's PC site rankings are credible and generally consistent with other, similar rankings from comScore, Hitwise and Nielsen.
However the mobile site rankings seem completely incorrect to me. I just don't buy them.
First, here's the list of Quantcast's top PC sites: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, etc.
Below are the company's mobile rankings. Clearly Answers.com is not the top mobile website in the US. Where are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo or Wikipedia? These are top mobile sites in the US and globally according to Nielsen and Opera.
Square continues to forge ahead in its remarkably successful run up to either a multi-billion dollar acquisition or IPO. Today, T-Mobile announced that Square credit card readers will be available for SMB customers in select stores in the US. It's the first wireless carrier to offer the mobile payments system to small business customers:
Today, T-Mobile USA, Inc. reiterated its commitment to small business as the first wireless carrier to offer Square credit card readers from San Francisco-based Square, Inc. in select retail stores. When T-Mobile’s fastest 4G smartphones running on America’s Largest 4G Network are combined with Square, small businesses can accept credit card payments in the U.S. nearly anywhere, anytime, with the money from transactions sent for deposit into their bank accounts the next business day. This easy-to-use solution, paired with T-Mobile’s affordable small business plans, aggregated business applications, equipment financing and trade-in services, and in-store support, allows small businesses to maximize their wireless investment and transform their business.
Square has several competitors using a similar smartphone-plug-in credit card reader for small businesses, including Intuit and the newly launched Payfirma. PayPal also targets the SMB market but doesn't offer a comparable smartphone or iPad card reader.
Meanwhile MasterCard's Ed McLaughlin may have spilled the beans on Apple's potentially impending move into payments. The next iPhone is widely expected to support NFC and an eWallet. Nokia, RIM and selected Android phones currently support NFC. Google Wallet has so far seen limited adoption because it's only available on one phone through one carrier in the US.
In an interview with Fast Company magazine McLaughlin said the following:
I don't know of a handset manufacturer that isn't in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready."
So that would include Apple then?
"Um, there are...like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there," McLaughlin says. "Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don't."
Apple has millions of credit card accounts on file. Every iTunes user must provide a credit card when an Apple mobile device is activated. That means effectively that in excess of 300 million people around the world have given Apple their credit card numbers, forming the basis for a payments program. Apple said on its last earnings call that there are now 315 million iOS devices in market, with 62 million sold in the last quarter alone.
Previously Retrevo found that Apple was more trusted than credit card issuers to provide a mobile payments solution.
Source: Retrevo (Q4 2011)
Other surveys have argued that 2012 will be a "breakthrough year" for mobile payments and NFC. I think 2012 will see an acceleration but not yet a consumer breakthrough.
See related: Obama and Romney Campaigns Adopt Square for Funding
Confirming what we've seen from a number of data sources in the past several weeks, Flurry Analytics shows how Kindle Fire has become the leading Android tablet in the space of about a month or so. Samsung has vowed to fight back with new devices, but Kindle's Success is about low pricing, content and the strength of the Amazon brand.
Samsung is outmatched when it comes to content and brand strength (at least with US consumers). It also probably can't match Amazon's loss-leader pricing.
Flurry had this to say about the chart below:
On the left, in November, we see that Samsung Galaxy Tab dominated application session usage on Android, with the Kindle Fire only having recently launched. At that time, the Samsung Galaxy Time was widely considered the only viable competition to the iPad, though a distant second. In January, after the holiday boom in devices and in apps, we see that strong adoption of Kindle Fire, combined with significant downloads driven from the Amazon App Store, resulted in a massive surge in session usage that just edges out the Galaxy Tab.
In some ways the Kindle Fire is less an Android tablet than it is an enhanced Kindle eReading device.
Sales estimates of the Kindle Fire, for Q4, now range from under 4 million to 6 million.
Pew is out this morning with some new survey data on smartphones and shopping. The top-level data, from a survey conducted during the holiday shopping window, are nothing new. They reflect the way in which smartphone owners are using their handsets as shopping assistants. The Pew numbers are low vs. other studies that have been done:
According to Pew, "33% used their phone specifically for online information while inside a physical store—either product reviews or pricing information."
Again, there's nothing new here. Data released by Google, InsightExpress and many others have shown that consumers use smartphones for product and price research in stores. In 2011 Google released survey based data that said the following:
In 2010, InsightExpress found that 82% of smartphone consumers were using their phones in stores.
However the part of the Pew report that's very interesting and relatively new is what happened after the smartphone/Internet was consulted:
What this means, effectively, is that 64% of in-store smartphone users decided not to buy on the spot -- probably because of some piece of information they accessed then and there (price, reviews, etc.).
Pew further explained that "5% of all cell owners who purchased a product online this holiday season [did so] after looking up its price online from a physical store." This practice, now known in the industry as "showrooming," is of increasing concern to traditional retailers, who are trying to combat it with various strategies.
But the big picture is that most of the people in this study took some other action after the in-store lookup: left the store, bought from another store, bought online, didn't buy at all. What we don't know is what they would have done absent the smartphone information.
Several years ago Dan Miller and I built a mobile advertising forecast that factored in display, search and pay per call. We haven't updated it in part because we've been extremely busy but also because the market is so dynamic. Beyond this there are scores of mobile ad forecasts out there, so it just seemed like adding more noise to the cocophany.
Here's what we projected in 2008:
There's a new mobile ad-revenue forecast out today from eMarketer, which upwardly revises to $2.6 billion (2012) the company's previous forecast. It's very close to our number above. EMarketer's number is somewhat larger -- but not by much.
While the eMarketer forecast isn't an "average" of third party data, it reviews and takes into account the other data in the market:
Generally speaking, most forecasts are either too conservative ("contrarian") or overly "optimistic," often in an effort to grab attention and coverage for the firms generating them.
If (or when) we re-do our mobile ad forecast above -- since this year is( the final year of the projection -- our methodology will likely change somewhat, because the market has changed so much in the past four years. Frankly, I'm surprised and pleased that our forecast has so closely tracked the actual growth of mobile ad revenues.
This morning both AT&T and Nokia reported quarterly earnings. AT&T sold 9.4 million smartphones, including 7.6 million iPhones last quarter, but generally missed expectations and posted a loss (partly because of the blocked T-Mobile deal). The company ended the year with 103.2 million mobile subscribers in the US. Verizon earlier this week said that it had 108.7 million subscribers.
Nokia beat the market's low expectations despite announcing a $1.4 billion (€1.07 billion) loss. More importantly the company announced that it had sold more than 1 million Lumia Windows Phones during the quarter in Europe. That was consistent with analysts' projections and has boosted Nokia despite the accelerating decline of its Symbian platform.
Yet data from forecaster Kantar, discussed by Reuters yesterday, reflected that sales of Lumia handsets in all nine markets where the phones are available were "less than 2 percent." Accordingly there's a long climb up the mountain for Nokia to reclaim its former position as a market leader on the back of Microsoft's OS:
Kantar said Microsoft's Windows Phone share in all of the nine key markets it measures remained at less than 2 percent despite the high-profile launch of the Lumia range from Nokia.
Nokia's flagship Lumia 800 model failed to break into top 10 smartphones sold in Britain by the end of the fourth quarter, the researcher said.
Nokia said in November the model was off to an excellent start in Britain, and had seen the best ever first week of Nokia smartphone sales in the UK in recent history.
Microsoft and Nokia have an arrangement where licensing and royalty payments change hands. But basically Microsoft is paying Nokia billions over a period of years to use the Windows Phone OS.
Finally, in the battle over marketshare numbers, Strategy Analytics put out an attention-getting release this morning arguing, "Android Captures Record 39 Percent Share of Global Tablet Shipments in Q4 2011." This conveys the impression that Android tablets have captured substantial marketshare, which is inaccurate.
The chart below suggests that Android tablets sold 10.4 million units -- in part because Apple actually sold 15.4 million iPads.
Kindle Fire, a quasi-Android tablet (quasi because it marginalizes Google and the Android Market), sold perhaps 4 to 4.5 million units. If correct that would constitute nearly half the "shipments" in the chart above. Beyond this Nook, another low-end Android tablet, may have sold quite well in Q4 also. These are the bestselling Android tablets. All others have had negligible sales.
Previously the HP TouchPad was the bestselling non-Apple tablet because it was reduced to $99 by HP to move units.
Let's end talk of "shipments" as a market share metric. Devices "shipped" does not mean devices purchased by consumers. Nor do "shipments" stand as a proxy for purchases, although they do typically in the unique case of Apple devices.
The "shipments vs. sales gap" was most starkly revealed last year specifically in the case of Android tablets (and RIM Playbooks). Millions of units "shipped" but almost none actually "sold" to consumers. Instead they sat on shelves. Effectively then "shipments" is a discredited and invalid metric to measure market share.
Statistically valid consumer survey data would be more reliable as a measure of market penetration.
Apparently Kindle Fire didn't take much wind out of iPad's sales. Apple's holiday quarter solidly beat the most aggressive analysts' estimates. Here are the big numbers:
Across the board unit sales were higher than expected. In short a pretty remarkable quarter. US and Japan were identified as Apple's strongest iPhone markets, although the 4S just launched in China. Demand there is "off the charts."
Tim Cook characterized the iPhone 4S audience reception as "breathtaking." The iPhone 4S was the "most popular" iPhone (vs. the cheaper models) according to Apple.
Apple said that there are now 315 million iOS devices in market, with 62 million sold in the last quarter alone.
Apple reports quarterly earnings today after the US market's close. Speculation about device sales and revenues is feverish. I'm less interested in whether Apple beats expectations than I am in getting a concrete sense of how many iPhones and iPads are in the market. Since earnings are a cat and mouse game in which the financial analysts try to predict sales and revenues and the company tries to surprise it's hard to say what will happen.
Revenues are expected to exceed $40 billion; consensus estimates are about $39 billion. Roughly 30 million iPhones have been sold according to the various estimates. One question mark is iPads. Were sales hurt by the cheaper Kindle Fire? The expectation is somewhere between 13 and 14+ million were sold last quarter. We'll know later today.
Meanwhile over in Windows Phone-land, early sales estimates for the Nokia Lumia line in Europe appear to be promising, with analysts estimating that the company sold more than 1 million phones since launch. Bloomberg averaged the numbers and determined the consensus is that 1.3 million units "shipped":
The Lumia handsets, which went on sale in Europe in November, probably sold 1.3 million units globally to operators and retailers by the end of last year, according to the average estimate of 22 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. The projections range from 800,000 to 2 million and only one analyst predicted sales of fewer than 1 million handsets.
Separately, another source shows that Nokia handsets already dominate Windows Phones that have actually been sold to consumers (vs. shipped). According to data compiled by WMPowerUser, Nokia-made Windows Phones now constitute nearly 50% of the active market.
Finally, as I had predicted early this month, RIM's co-CEOs were ousted or sacrificed to appease investors, who have punished the stock over the past year because of the company's performance and perceived complacency in the face of rapidly declining share. Remarkably, RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins, a company insider, said that no new strategy is required to right the ship:
Mr. Heins has worked at RIM since 2007, most recently as the senior of two chief operating officers. On a conference call Monday, he immediately emphasized that he will mostly follow the path set by his predecessors, co-Chairmen and co-Chief Executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.
He told analysts not to expect "seismic changes" and ruled out splitting up the company. Mr. Heins (pronounced like Heinz ketchup) said he was focused on getting out the company's newest line of phones, to be run off its latest operating system, BlackBerry 10.
RIM and Nokia may turn out to be case studies with opposite outcomes. Nokia, having taken radical action, may turn around and regain momentum (though it's not clear yet). RIM, if Heins merely stays on course, may crash and burn.
RIM's OS and devices aren't competitive with the iPhone and Android at this point. It can no longer rely on the enterprise market and its product line is confused. Developers are also not writing for RIM. It thus needs to embrace the Android ecosystem in one form or another -- probably sooner rather than later.
Indeed, the company doesn't have that much longer to take some dramatic action. But by picking a loyal and apparently complacent insider in Heins RIM may have all but precluded that from happening.
Retailers: if you haven't yet got a tablet app or optimized site, you're behind the curve. Earlier today the Pew Internet Project released data showing that between early December and January the population of US tablet users effectively doubled, from 10% to 19%. This is of course due to holiday gift giving.
If one were to extrapolate these figures out to the entire US population it would mean (by my quick calculation) roughly 45 million people now have tablets (distinct from eReaders). And by some measures Tablet users are more valuable than smartphone and even PC users.
According to data released last week by Adobe, based on an analysis of 16 billion visits to top retailer websites, tablet owners spent more money and were more inclined to buy than smartphone owners and PC users:
Tablet owners had slightly lower conversion rates, however, than PC users. And there is much less traffic coming from tablets vs. PCs. However there does appear to be some "cannibalization" going on.
Here are the top-level findings from Adobe's study (AOV is "average order value"):
There's plenty of other evidence that support's Adobe's finding that tablets are an important new commerce platform:
Several recent studies have shown that retailers in particular are lagging in their adoption of optimized mobile sites and apps. The Pew data and Adobe findings should be a wake up call to retailers that they have to address tablets as a distinct channel.
Yesterday when Microsoft released quarterly earnings the company said nothing specific about Windows Phone sales. It touted its relationship with Nokia but didn't disclose any figures or evidence suggesting "momentum." Nonetheless three hardware analyst firms, Gartner, IDC and most recently iSuppli predict that by 2015 Windows Phones will have greater share than iOS.
Here are the iSuppli handset sales projections (RIM is presumably among the "others"):
According to the firm most of Windows Phone sales will be driven by Nokia:
Although Nokia is not the only seller of Windows Phone smartphones, the company is expected to dominate the market, accounting for 50 percent of all Microsoft OS-based handsets sold in 2012, IHS iSuppli predicts. The company's share then is set to rise to 62 percent in 2013. Nokia's portion of the market will begin to decline in 2014, as other companies increase their sales of Windows Phone products.
The cyan Nokia 900 was one of the big hits, at least aesthetically, of the recent CES in Las Vegas. It's a solid phone and one that Gartner et al anticipate will mark the return of Nokia to North America. Indeed, these Windows Phone beats iOS forecasts are largely based on the strength of Nokia's global footprint.
Despite the near consensus that Nokisoft will power a comeback for the two companies there are skeptics. At the other extreme take Om Malik's thoughtful piece likening Nokia to Kodak, which just declared bankruptcy:
Sure, Nokia has a brand, global presence and a sizable marketshare. So did Kodak. It took 132 years, the last 15 of those spent in constant belt tightening, for the photo film company to sink. Having missed the big wave, Nokia doesn’t have the luxury of time.
Malik anticipates near total failure for the Nokisoft effort. And there are others who agree. My view resides in the middle. I said in my "mobile predictions for 2012" that Windows Phones will see modest but not huge success in North America, greater success in Europe/Asia.
I don't think that Windows Phones will take the market by storm in North America. I believe the two companies will have less than 10% market share here. With lower-cost models in developing countries they will see more success as well as in Europe, where Nokia's brand is much stronger.
However, predicting what will happen in even three years in the mobile market is next-to-impossible given the pace of change. Yet I remain quite skeptical of the Gartner et al "automatic" assumptions of Nokisoft's win over iOS -- largely on the basis of Nokia's historical performance.
Yesterday I discussed a Yankee Group survey (n=15,000) showing 47% of US adults now have smartphones (Android 39%, iPhone 25%). This morning Nielsen released data nearly matching that figure, reflecting 46% of mobile subscribers in the US own smartphones as of Q4. However, Nielsen says, Q4 iPhone sales have "closed the gap" somewhat with Android among recent buyers:
Among recent acquirers, meaning those who said they got a new device within the past three months, 44.5 percent of those surveyed in December said they chose an iPhone, compared to just 25.1 percent in October. Furthermore, 57 percent of new iPhone owners surveyed in December said they got an iPhone 4S.
Nielsen adds that 60% of recent handset buyers are increasingly picking up smartphones. Of concern to Microsoft, RIM and Nokia their relative shares are tiny. RIM's is less than 5% among recent buyers.
Nielsen says among recent acquirers Android still holds a lead but that the iPhone is within 2% points of a tie (chart below). This is a reversal of earlier trends wherein Android seemed to be pulling away. We'll see what the next comScore data release shows.
Overall Android still leads the iPhone 46% to 30% in the US, while RIM has 15% of the market.
PC sales are slowly eroding -- and mobile seems to blame. One could argue that the economy has taken a toll on PC sales, and that would probably be accurate. But mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) are gaining mindshare and sales at the expense of PCs.
Hardware watchers Gartner and IDC both said that Q4 PC sales fell -- somewhere around 1%. Macroeconomic conditions and component shortages are factors. But the big news is tablets and smartphones. Tablets (iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook) were among the most widely requested and given holiday gifts, to the tunes of millions in sales.
EMarketer rounded up third party data and estimates on iPad and Kindle Fire sales. Hardware tear-down firm iSuppli estimated that Amazon sold 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets in Q4. Barclay's Capital estimated the number to be 4.5 million. The reality is probably in-between.
Meanwhile iSuppli argues that Apple "shipped" 18.6 million iPads in Q4. Shipped is a bogus metric, but with Apple products sales and shipments are closer than with other OEMs. The iSuppli estimate is probably high, but we'll find out when Apple releases its quarterly revenues on January 24.
Overall, iSuppli argues that global tablet shipments were 65 million units in 2011. Not only are tablets "sexier" but they're typically cheaper than PCs, notwithstanding price erosion in the Wintel PC market. Take a look at charts from Horace Dediu (the first one above via GigaOM), showing the decline of traditional PCs over the past couple of years.
Separately the Yankee Group conducted a US consumer survey (n=15,000), released earlier this year, which features some striking findings:
What that means as a practical matter is that only a small minority are considering another platform. While survey data shouldn't be taken as definitive, they indicate how people are thinking and, by implication, the challenge Microsoft and Nokia's joint marketing efforts face. Windows Phones are nice but struggling to grab mainstream consumer attention and interest.
In terms of tablets, Windows 8-powered tablets won't be out until later this year. Rumor has it that they could be more expensive than some Windows 8 laptops (to be determined). Windows Tablets face the same "outsider" problem that Microsoft confronts in the smartphone market. By offering laptop-tablet hybrids (like the image above), Microsoft might be able to justify a higher price and grab consumer interest.
However the totality of evidence suggests Microsoft is under intensifying pressure with Windows Phones and Windows 8. Indeed, can Windows 8 "bring sexy back" to the PC market?
There are two recent studies that show national brands and retailers lagging in their adoption of mobile or under-investing in mobile as a platform. Brand consultancy L2 just this week released what it's calling "Prestige 100 Mobile IQ." Basically a survey of top brands' mobile presences and their efficacy, the firm found that most top brands were not taking mobile (and tablets) seriously enough, despite increasing consumer adoption.
Roughly 30% of the top 100 "iconic" brands surveyed didn't have a mobile app and 33% didn't have a mobile-optimized website. According to the study 52% had both an app and a mobile site, while 16% had no mobile site or app -- no mobile strategy whatsoever. Overall 44% of the brands qualified as "feeble" from a "mobile IQ" standpoint.
The top 10 brands with successful mobile sites/apps and strategies, according to the survey, were the following:
In a related set of findings, ForeSee Results measured consumer satisfaction with leading retailer mobile sites and compared those to online satisfaction scores. ForeSee found that most retailers and ecommerce sites' mobile ratings were lower than those for their PC websites. (Apple was the exception, with a mobile rating that was greater than its PC-experience rating.)
It's not entirely clear, at first glance, whether these scores mean consumers found the retailers' mobile sites sub-par or whether they simply preferred the PC sites. Let's assume, however, that it's the former and consumers were expressing dissatisfaction with these mobile sites.
If so, there will be near-term consequences in terms of lost opportunities as well as a negative brand impact among those companies that fail to optimize for mobile. Mobile and tablets are no longer a novelty phenomenon that can be addressed "later." Mobile internet access will eclipse PC internet usage in the next three to five years. Time spent with mobile apps is already greater than time spent online according to calculations from Flurry Analytics.
The "takeaway" from these two pieces of research is that you can no longer simply rely on your PC site. Brands and retailers must have an optimized mobile presence. But it's not enough to have a "mobile presence;" brands and e-commerce sites must deliver a positive mobile experience to their customers, which means all of the following:
These investments are rapidly becoming "tablet stakes" and those that fail to "ante up" will suffer.
Millennial Media is out with its latest SMART report (November, 2011). As always it showcases advertiser behavior and tactics on Millennial's network. This month focuses on the Telecom industry and its mobile ad efforts. What's interesting to me is how advertisers are increasingly and self-consciously using mobile to send people into stores and local dealers.
There are a mix of advertiser objectives on display in the Millennial document:
However Millennial reports growth in the use of store locators and local market targeting:
We're still in a period of experimentation with mobile advertising and best practices have yet to clearly emerge (although there are obviously some). Eventually people will figure out the best uses of mobile and what scenarios are most effective.
I think however we'll see two almost paradoxical things emerge: mobile is great for driving online-->offline visits (a kind of direct response) as well as a great brand-awareness medium.
Last June mobile analytics provider Flurry released a startling statistic: people were spending more time with mobile apps per day than they were on the PC web. The number of people on the mobile Internet in the US is still smaller than the PC Internet (100 million-ish vs. 218 million). But the implications of Flurry's engagement data are both obvious and dramatic.
Flurry recently updated its numbers and found the gap had widenend -- in favor of apps. According to the company Americans now spend an average of 94 minutes per day with apps vs. 72 minutes on the PC.
Here's what Flurry said about its methodology and how it calculated the numbers:
For the web, shown in green, we built a model using publicly available data from comScore and Alexa. For mobile application usage, shown in blue, we used Flurry Analytics data, which tracks anonymous sessions across more than 140,000 applications. We estimate this accounts for approximately one third of all mobile application activity, which we scaled-up accordingly for this analysis.
Since conducting our first analysis in June 2011, time spent in mobile applications has grown. Smartphone and tablet users now spend over an hour and half of their day using applications. Meanwhile, average time spent on the web has shrunk, from 74 minutes to 72 minutes. Users seem to be substituting websites for applications, which may be more convenient to access throughout the day.
Assuming the calculations are accurate the implications are profound for marketers and brands. In other words, if you're not optimized for mobile and not doing mobile advertising/marketing you're going to miss a significant audience. And that audience spending more time with apps may be your target.
People invariably want to get into the apps vs. HTML5 debate; that misses the point. The real comparison is mobile (apps + mobile Web) vs. PC. The PC audience is largely flat and time online isn't growing. But time with mobile and tablets is.
Smartphones, tablets and one day "smart TV" will be where more and more consumer eyeballs go especially for non-utilitarian tasks. It's a four-screen world; get used it.
As you may recall, last April Wal-Mart bought Kosmix for roughly $300 million and turned that into the nouveau social-mobile-e-commerce initiative @WalmartLabs. Yesterday the division of the world's largest retailer acquired a Portland Oregon based mobile agency and app developer Small Society: "A highly respected mobile agency, is joining the @WalmartLabs mobile team. Small Society embodies what has made us successful in 2011 and will help us accelerate that success in 2012."
Stepping back the question is: what is Wal-Mart thinking about its strategy going forward? Sure, it's smart to set up a Silicon Valley shop that incubates social and mobile products. But what is Wal-Mart actually going to do with them?
Wal-Mart could take on Amazon and try to become a better version of the e-commerce pioneer. While that would take enormous corporate commitment and be risky, the company could leverage mobile and social functionality being developed at WalmartLabs. Alternatively or in tandem it could try and build verticals and new initiatives that cultivate new audiences and shoppers.
Building new audiences and expanding beyond its value-conscious/price sensitive demographic is a major Wal-Mart company objective. It sees Target as a big threat in the US, which has much greater appeal to "upscale" and younger shoppers.
This quickly brings us to the Wal-Mart brand. Yes, it's a global brand -- but it's a brand like McDonald's: low quality, high volume. Wal-Mart has also been tainted in some quarters by its discrimination class action litigation with employees. Accordingly, with certain demographic segments (affluents, higher education) Wal-Mart is seen as an exploitative employer that peddles low-quality products.
Wal-Mart is equally often seen as destructive of local communities and small business. It's not uncommon to see grass-roots efforts to keep the store out of communities (e.g., San Francisco). This kind of anti-Wal-Mart outrage doesn't exist with other retailers, and Target in particular.
This negative brand image and reputation is directly at odds with the mission and self-image of @WalmartLabs and will be a major impediment to success -- either via a direct challenge to Amazon or any other "2.0" initiatives that carry the Wal-Mart brand.
However, Wal-Mart could use its own brand and potentially find success over time in a head-on challenge to Amazon and other e-commerce retailers if it did the following things:
If the company were to succeeded across the board on these fonts Wal-Mart might be able to not only appeal to new audiences but it could improve the standing of the brand overall. However, any sort of specialty, vertical or category specific initiative would need to carry a new brand.
While there's great potential in @WalmartLabs I don't think the necessary corporate-level commitment is really there.