AdMob, which still hopes to be acquired by Google, issued its March 2010 Mobile Metrics Report. The report focuses on the Android ecosystem --34 devices from 12 manufacturers -- and the different Android OS versions in the market. While AdMob is not synonymous with the mobile Internet, its traffic reflects tremendous Android growth and is likely directionally consistent with the rest of the market.
The iPhone remains the top device, however the cumulative traffic on AdMob's network generated via Android handsets now appears to exceed the iPhone in the US market.
According to AdMob "Motorola and HTC were the leading Android device manufacturers with 44 percent and 43 percent of respective traffic." In particular the Motorola Droid was the single leading Android handset in the US, generating "32% of Android traffic" on AdMob's network in the US.
Now for the charts:
Compare AdMob's US data from March 2009:
Note the that RIM (22% of smartphone traffic in March, 2009; 7% in 2010), Palm and Windows Mobile are either gone from the charts above or trending aggressively downward. Palm as it stands is dead; Windows Phones will come out in Q4. But RIM must be concerned.
The company has the second largest share of smartphones globally, after Nokia, and the largest in the US. It seems to be growing subscribers at a heatly pace, although it's last earnings report missed analyst expectations. However RIM's share of Internet usage lags -- a leading indicator of future sales in our view.
RIM is working on an improved mobile browser and Internet experience. Consumer demands are changing and RIM will need to be more competitive in that arena going forward in order to grow -- or even maintain -- its handset share.
Related: I was careful above to qualify the Android vs. iPhone remarks by saying that these data were reflective of AdMob's network. This post from Business Insider takes issue with a TechCrunch characterization that generalizes too much from the AdMob data: No, Android Did NOT Just Pass iPhone In Mobile Web Traffic
While I've never said that AdMob and the mobile Web are the same, I've seen them as "directionally consistent" in terms of trends. But here's a key point about the potentially changing composition of the AdMob network that I had not thought about carefully:
While Android's user base -- and Web traffic consumption -- is growing and could eventually rival Apple's, AdMob's ad request data is NOT a proxy for mobile web usage in general.
Why not? Because AdMob's statistics include an important variable that can cause significant fluctuations: AdMob's publisher relationships with web sites and apps, which cause different types of ad requests over time as the publisher network changes.
For example, if AdMob were to add more Android apps -- and therefore, more Android ad requests -- to its publisher base, or if it were to lose iPhone apps from its publisher base, that would affect its ad request statistics. In other words, Android and iPhone ad request stats could shift significantly from quarter to quarter with nothing else changing but AdMob's publisher relationships.
And to some extent, that's what's happening.
After speaking with AdMob, we understand that AdMob is seizing a big percentage of the new Android-app ad market. At the same time, it is likely losing share of the iPhone ad market, which is becoming much more competitive as other ad networks like Millennial, JumpTap, and Google catch up to AdMob's early lead.
(emphasis in original)
News is a very popular category on mobile devices, with more than 50% of mobile users accessing some form of news content on their handsets. And now with the iPad and its competitors (Kindle, et al) there is a serious mobile-news consumption device, the tablet.
Wired magazine says that already 26% of its mobile traffic is coming from the iPad.
Now mobile platform platform provider and local-mobile ad network Verve Wireless has teamed up with the Audit Bureau of Circulations to capture more "granular" data on news consumption via mobile devices. Here are the metrics the partnership will help generate and monitor:
Wired says that its iPad users appear to have substituted the device for the iPhone so the magazine preliminarily concludes the audience hasn't necessarily grown. However it implies that Pad users are more engaged.
The Verve-ABC release offers some Verve-specific metrics on mobile news consumption:
Verve operates a local-mobile ad network; so do LSN, Where, IAC/CitySearch and LocalAdXchange.
The Mobile Marketing Association has released some pretty compelling survey data about location-based services and advertising. The survey was conducted among 1,071 US adults in March; 91% of the survey sample had a mobile phone. Here are some of the top-level findings (nearly verbatim):
(Emphasis is mine.)
As the iPhone user numbers point out, smartphone owners are much heavier users of these services. In a 2009 AOL survey, for example, 73% of smartphone owners were users of maps and directions. The new datapoints are the following:
According to new mobile metrics provider, Ground Truth, "social networking activity comprises more than half of the time spent on the Mobile Internet." These data are drawn from "a census of 3.05 million U.S. mobile phone users," based in large part on mobile operator data.
It's not clear what the handset breakdown is. But the larger US market looks like this: about 20%-22% smartphones and just under 80% non-smartphones. Here a couple of charts provided by Ground Truth to illustrate the data:
I have no trouble believing that people are spending huge amounts of time with mobile social networks. However, the company argues that these lesser known mobile-social networks are dominating Facebook and MySpace. There's not much context provided but it raises the question of the demographic and handset breakdowns behind the data. Who are the people that are on MocoSpace and MobaMingle? What is the hierarchy here?
I have to believe that most of these companies aren't going to survive over time given Facebook's aggressive march into mobile. Even MySpace is at risk.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has put out an extensive report on teens and mobile phone behavior. It's based on a telephone survey of US teens and their parents. There's lots of data and nuance but the big (and already familiar) takeaways are these:
Many teens are going online with their phones (27%). This generally mirrors some of the figures for mobile Internet access in the broader population.
Many teens from lower income households or where there is no computer in the home use their mobile phones as a way to get on the Internet:
Who pays the bill?
According to the report, 26% of teens "live in households that do not have a land-line phone, and 29% of all families say they receive all or almost all of their calls on a cellular phone."
The implications of studies like this are fairly obvious:
There's considerably more to the report, which can be accessed here.
Glympse is a simple and elegant mobile app that allows "real-time location sharing" via mobile devices. Users who receive a "Glympse" (via email or otherwise) can see the movements of the person in real time on a map, as he or she travels to a destination. We wrote about it when the company launched a year ago. It has versions that work on the iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Windows Mobile and of course now the iPad. Glympse continues to build out its offering and service and today announced real-time location sharing on Facebook:
Glympse goes beyond static "check-ins" or a simple map showing your location, and allows iPhone™ and Android users to quickly update their status via their mobile phone so their Facebook friends can follow their real-time movements on a dynamic map, for a set period of time.
It also works via Twitter too (although you only get the link via Twitter and must click away for the rich media experience).
The person receiving the "Glympse" doesn't need any software online or on a handset to see the map and movement. That functionality has now been extended to the Facebook news feed so that Glympse user movements and the related map can be viewed in the Facebook news feed like you might view a video in-line.
Here's a screenshot:
Glympse users can share their location and subsequent movement with one person or many depending on whom they choose to notify. (What's not entirely clear to me is whether, when I send a Glympse to my wife or friend, all their Facebook contacts get to see my movements too. I supsect there are controls and that's not the case.)
The video below shows a demonstration of how it works and how it operates on Facebook:
Glympse has lots of privacy controls so its not a stalker app. Even if someone forgets that Glympse is on -- it requires multitasking support to work "in the background" so won't work continuously on the iPhone until OS 4 -- it will expire after a limited duration.
I also find it interesting that, from a positioning standpoint, the company is now trying to ride the "check in" wave, which makes sense: "Glympse . . . goes beyond static "check-ins" or a simple map showing your location . . . "
I think the Facebook application and integration will drive considerable awareness and growth for Glympse. There's tremendous utility here for people, but the new Facebook integration adds a novel and "fun" dimension as people can now post their movements to their networks (e.g., trip across the country, etc.).
Google announced financial results from another very strong quarter yesterday. Here's the top-line:
Google reported revenues of $6.77 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2010, an increase of 23% compared to the first quarter of 2009. Google reports its revenues, consistent with GAAP, on a gross basis without deducting traffic acquisition costs (TAC). In the first quarter of 2010, TAC totaled $1.71 billion, or 26% of advertising revenues.
Google didn't give any specifics around mobile revenues (which are right now minuscule) but there was a fair amount of talk about mobile on the earnings call. Below I've excerpted several relevant parts of the transcript of the call.
Susan Wojcicki – Vice President of Product Management
We want to make it easy for advertisers to extend their existing campaigns to mobile rather than having to start from scratch. When advertisers run on desktop and mobile we enable them to separate their campaign staff by desktop or mobile to understand their mobile performance. Many of them are surprised by how much mobile activity they have received. Based on this information they can decide how to customize their mobile campaigns going forward.
We also rolled out new formats and targeting options specific for mobile. This quarter we launched a Click to Call feature that automatically puts the phone number in the ad that is running on a Smart Phone. So if you are looking for auto insurance and do that query from your Android or iPhone the ads will include a number to call.
Jeff Huber – Senior Vice President of Engineering
Our open platforms, Android and Chrome, are gaining a lot of momentum. Android is now powering 34 devices which is up 70% quarter-over-quarter from 12 different OEMs and over 60,000 Android devices are sold and activated every day. Our whole mantra with Android is “open.” First the Android OS itself is open for partners to modify and extend on their own. Then the Android market for apps is open for apps is open for all developers which is driving a lot of growth and great apps. We are now at over 38,000 apps, up 70% quarter-over-quarter. The net effect is to make web-ready Smart Phones more widely available. It is helping drive a lot of mobile search and apps usage . . .
We are not disclosing the specific number of Nexus One devices sold. We are very happy with the device uptake and the kind of impact that has had across the industry of raising the bar and people’s expectations of what a great Smart Phone can do. I did earlier mention that across the Android landscape we are seeing more than 60,000 devices sold and activations daily. On stores, sorry we can’t comment anything about that right now.
Patrick Pichette -- CFO
On the Nexus One it is a profitable business for us.
On the mobile component I will say we do give advertisers the option. The default is for advertisers to be on search, content and mobile and the reason we do that is because we want to make it as easy as possible for advertisers to get as much reach and reach as many potential users as possible and we try to do the right thing for those advertisers.
So the default is for them to be opted into both. However, we do offer the ability for advertisers to run a mobile only campaign and under that mobile only campaign we give them the option to target, for example, a specific mobile OS. We give a lot of options within the mobile category. But I really think about that more for advertisers who have the capabilities and are advanced enough to know these are the capabilities they want to do and customize their campaign in order to make it worthwhile for them.
There are a few interesting things being said above. Google is trying to grow mobile revenue and advertiser participation by removing friction from mobile ad buying and combining it with the PC. It's also saying that analytics will drive more mobile advertising and that's a big area of focus for that reason: "When advertisers run on desktop and mobile we enable them to separate their campaign staff by desktop or mobile to understand their mobile performance. Many of them are surprised by how much mobile activity they have received."
Advertisers can run mobile-only search campaigns by "unchecking" the "desktop and laptop computers" box in the AdWords UI (Google has also added the ability to target the iPad since I took this screenshot):
On Android and the Nexus One . . . The latter is "profitable," according to Google, which was widely reported yesterday. Google also said there were "60,000 [Android] devices sold and activations daily." That sales pace would equal roughly 20 million devices annually if it holds. By comparison, Apple has sold roughly 28 million mobile devices on an annualized basis (including the iPod Touch) in the three years since the iPhone became available.
And there are now 38,000 Android apps, which was also explosed widely yesterday.
Google's now-aggressive push into mobile (as a growth driver) will add further "credibility" and greater momentum to mobile advertising bringing more more marketers into the medium. Apple "made" the mobile Internet and apps market with the iPhone and Google is in a position to "make" mobile advertising -- certainly mobile search -- because of its visiblity and footprint.
Borrell Associates put out its mobile ad forecast, which seeks to be comprehensive. The forecast includes mobile "advertising" and all forms of what the firm calls "mobile promotions," which include coupons, SMS and other spending that doesn't involve actually buying ad inventory in a traditional sense.
The report is highly bullish and the numbers are massive:
Last year online marketing captured about $44 billion in spending; mobile marketing reached $2.7 billion. We expect total online marketing to grow at about 13 percent compounded annually, to around $80 billion by 2014. Mobile, by contrast, will grow at 84 percent per year and hit $57 billion by then.
A subcategory of mobile marketing is mobile advertising – and local is where the action is. We foresee “local” growing at an unusually brisk pace – doubling every year for the next three. Local mobile advertising totaled $285 million in 2009; we’re expecting it to double this year to $586 million, then spike upward to $11.3 Billion by 2014.
Here are a couple of charts that illustrate the forecasts and the growth they envision in the mobile market:
Borrell is right to try and capture this broader universe of mobile spending because SMS, couponing and other mobile marketing will comprise a big chunk of the pie. However these numbers are really really big and the timeframe is aggressive. They're also US only figures and estimates.
I would potentially also quibble with the "national' vs. "local" distinction because many companies that are "national" will be sending mobile users into local outlets, stores and dealers. However it refers to the interest and category of the advertisers, not the "location" of the eventual consumer spending or action in response to the ad or offer.
Indeed, many otherwise "national" campaigns will include a local component (e.g., find a dealer, find a store) to make them more "actionable." Fewer ads on mobile devices will be pure awareness campaigns, although there will be some of that.
Most companies in the mobile space will welcome these aggressive numbers as validation of the mobile opportunity and fodder for their pitches to the market. Expect to see these data in a great many slide decks in the future.
When I first saw this GigaOM post about Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker's mobile data I thought it was simply a rehash of the Q4 discussion she put out about the mobile Internet. But it's apparently based on some updated projections in a new "Internet Trends" slide presentation.
Below is the "money slide," showing that the global crossover point for the PC and mobile Internet is 2014 in the firm's estimation. In other words, when the two switch places -- when more people (on a global basis) will access the Internet via mobile devices than on PCs.
Given that in some developing countries this is already the case, it's quite a safe prediction to make. In the US or EU the crossover is unlikely to happen quite as soon, though it likely will happen at some point in the next decade and maybe earlier rather than later.
Right now companies like Google say that mobile devices complement and don't cannibalize desktop PC usage: night and weekends vs. during the day. In addition the iPad has emerged as something of a "weekend" device, at least at this early stage. (I use mine daily.) It might be more accurate to say it's something of a "lesiure" device, at least more so than smartphones and PCs.
We agree however with Meeker's conclusion that mobile devices will be primary and PC devices will become secondary over the next decade. And, as faster networks kick in, that will only accelerate the trend.
US mobile-only households are now 22.7% of the total population according to the US CDC. Arbitron has compiled an interesting map showing what that actually looks like geographically (in Arbitron radio markets). We'll continue to see landlines disappear to the point where by 2015 roughly 40% - 50% of US households may be mobile only.
This trend has a number of implications, including for the directory assistance (DA) industry. Increasing percentages of 411 calls come from mobile phones. As people adopt smartphones, DA calls decline -- because people have access to the mobile Internet and specialized apps that provide more information and greater control over information.
Below is a graphic of the Arbitron map:
You can download the map from the Arbitron site (linked above).
Here are the numbers Apple released during its iPhone OS 4 event yesterday . . .
iPhone/iPod Touch (85 million devices):
Mobile browser usage (Net Applications Feb data):
ComScore released a bunch of European mobile usage data earlier today that shows the UK leading the five major countries of Europe in mobile Internet access (30.8%). If we consider apps to be "mobile Internet" the numbers go quite a bit higher.
The data also show dramatic growth in smartphone adoption across Europe, especially in the "low to mid tier" of the market:
The U.K. market strongly leads in growth of smartphone adoption over the past year, growing 70 percent to more than 11 million subscribers. France ranks second in growth with the number of smartphone subscribers up 48 percent to 7 million. Meanwhile, Italy boasts the largest number of smartphone subscribers overall (15 million) but showed the softest growth in this market at 11 percent.
Here are the charts:
Smartphone ownership is synonymous with mobile Internet access; however the groups that do access the Internet are broader than simply smartphone owners. However engagement and frequency are much greater among smartphone owners.
Nielsen has predicted that smartphone ownership will cross the 50% threshold in the US in 2011 by Q3. I believe that to be too optimistic a prediction. However it could happen with aggressive pricing on handsets and plans.
Experian released top-line results of a mobile consumer survrey as part of its "Spring New Media Study." There's nothing strange or startling here but the findings are interesting and worth reporting nonetheless.
The study finds that 87% of US consumers now own mobile phones and 31% have accessed the Internet from a mobile handset in the past 30 days (or roughly 78 million people). CTIA says mobile penetration in the US is now at 91% by comparison.
Another Experian finding is that mobile users engage with other media at the same time. Or, perhaps more precisely, users of media simultaneously engage with mobile devices: "TV is the most common media distraction with 21% of mobile phone owners watching TV while using the phone."
Here are a few graphs illustrating some of these findings:
Opera released its State of the Mobile Web report for February. The data reflect usage of the Opera Mini and Mobile browsers, the handsets using them and the sites visited by Opera's users. Below are a few data points from the report and several of the charts for China, UK and the US markets:
Compare data from the same time last year:
As you can see there's not a huge difference from February 2009 to 2010 in terms of sites visitied.
Nielsen is saying now that "21% of American wireless subscribers are using a smartphone as of the fourth quarter 2009 compared to 19% in Q3 2009." That would mean that there are currently almost 60 million smartphones in the US, if the number can be extrapolated to the entire mobile subscriber base.
While I believe that we're very close to 20%, the Nielsen figure is slightly too high when considering the entire market. Nielsen also projects that by Q3 2011 smartphones will become the majority of handsets in the US market.
I think this prediction is also a bit aggressive, at least a year too early. While an increasing number of feature phone owners say their next handset will be a smartphone -- "in the last six months and 45% of respondents to a Nielsen survey indicated that their next device will be a smartphone" -- it won't be until 2012 or early 2013 when we cross the 50% smartphone threshold.
AdMob put out its February data early this morning. Among the things its shows -- as an indication of future industry trends -- is:
First it must be repeated that the data AdMob gathers is from its network and it does not represent an objective view of the mobile Internet as a whole. Still the trends are going to be broadly consistent with the mobile market and Internet more generally.
To that end, I see several things that are interesting about where the market is headed. First: the overall traffic trends on the AdMob network; smartphone share growing (48%), so is the share of MIDs:
Smartphones are now approaching 20% of the installed user base in the US. Smartphones and quasi-smartphones will likely come to be dominant (51%) in 3-5 years. In terms of MIDs, here's what AdMob says:
The mobile Internet devices category experienced the strongest growth of the three, increasing to account for 17% of traffic in AdMob’s network in February 2010. The iPod touch is responsible for 93% of this traffic; other devices include the Sony PSP and Nintendo DSi. In absolute terms, mobile Internet device category traffic increased 403%.
If the iPod Touch is the proof of concept, the iPad will spur growth in this category. There are probably going to be 10 relatively high profile tablet devices in the market. All of them will offer browsers (ultimately) and fall into this MID category. The iPad is likely to be the leader but we'll see.
The challenge with these tablets is how to count and account for them. Are they like laptops without the physical keyboard or are they more like smartphones? Do ads on the iPad, for example, count as "mobile" or will they be counted as Internet ads? It will probably depend on whether the ad is in-app or mobile Web. Even then there will be new ad units for these devices. The use cases for MIDs/tablets will be varied and interesting to watch develop.
Here's market share data for February 2010 and immediate below AdMob data from a year ago:
Here's the breakdown:
Among other things what these data show is a three or four way race for smartphone dominance among iPhone, Android, RIM (in the US) and Nokia (internationally). Look in particular at the traffic declines for Nokia, as a percentage of overall AdMob traffic. Palm is dead unless there's a miracle of some sort. And the new Windows (7) Phone isn't out so we can't assess its prospects yet.
According to a new survey (n=1092) of US BlackBerry, iPhone and Android users, by Crowd Science iPhone and Android users display almost comparable levels of loyalty to their devices. The firm said "Android users [rival] iPhone users in loyalty, with about 90% of each user group planning to stick with their current brand when buying their next phone."
BlackBerry users had comparatively weaker loyalty with "nearly 40% of Blackberry users ... prefer Apple’s iPhone as their next smartphone purchase, but a third of them would also switch to the Android operating system." The survey also found that more iPhone and Android owners use their handsets for personal use vs. BlackBerry owners:
Here's the graphic depicting the answer to "Which phone would you purchase tomorrow?":
What the chart shows is that 92% of iPhone users would buy the iPhone, while 87% of Android owners (small sample) would buy Android handsets and 39% and 34% of RIM owners would buy an iPhone or an Android phone respectively vs their current BlackBerry handsets.
The Android sample was quite small but it indicates that Android is delivering satisfaction levels that have the potential to blunt the iPhone's future growth. This development also suggests that Apple's own loyalty to AT&T has become strategic mistake as more consumers become comfortable with Android handsets that they can obtain from their existing carriers.
RIM, for its part, needs to boost the consumer appeal of its devices fairly quickly -- something the company already clearly understands.
Android has seen some impressive growth over the course of the past quarter, according to new numbers out today from comScore. CTIA counts over 270 million mobile subscribers in the US; comScore argues there are 234 million ages 13 and older. Here are the subscriber figures for the four largest US carriers:
There there isn't likely a causal connection, Android's gain is just a little greater than WinMo's loss.
Here are the big data points from a usage standpoint in the chart below:
You can see in these numbers very directly the caparative reach of each of these "platforms."
If we use a compromise figure of 250 million mobile subscribers, then number of mobile Internet users in real terms would be 71 million people in the US.
Top US handset makers:
Recent ChangeWave survey data shows considerable demand for the forthcoming iPad and, interestingly, a wave of "buyer's remorse" among some of those with other tablets and eReaders. According to the survey of "3,171 consumers, conducted in the aftermath of that Apple announcement (Feb 1-10)," 57% of eReader owners are either uncertain about their purchase or would have bought an iPad.
Here are the data:
Here's ChangeWave's "bottom line":
While the iPad launch is likely to strengthen overall e-Reader demand, the survey suggests Amazon and its competitors could well find themselves relegated to playing catch-up within just a few quarters if they don't preemptively move quickly to upgrade their own e-Readers.
Building and optimizing a site for the "mobile Web" is a lot more difficult than doing so for the PC. You've got a conventional HTML site, which may not work if it's flash-heavy. Then you've got apps, which publishers and brands may or may not need, and then you should have a "touch-friendly" iPhone-optimized mobile site.
Most sites are not well designed for the mobile Web and many marketers are simply unaware of how critical this is becoming. Gomez, in a self-serving way, has documented that poor mobile performance can affect sales and have a negative impact on brand impression.
Mobile browser Taptu now has released a report that analyzes the degree to which sites are set up and optimized for what it calls the "touch Web" -- basically for smartphones with touchscreens. The company examined 113 million sites and found that roughly a third were "touch-friendly."
By category, here's Taptu's breakdown of the percentages of sites that are touch-friendly:
Taptu defines "higher quality sites" as those "which as used as the basis of our category-level analysis are defined as those with above average quality score for either visual quality or information quality."
The shopping sites are best positioned, with social networks not far behind. Mostly that means Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Facebook is very well set up for mobile of course, across devices and platforms. What's a bit surprising is how poorly configured the "places, travel & local" category is. Only 9% of "higher quality" sites in the category are optimized for touchscreen smartphones. Yet this is content heavily used by mobile subscribers with data plans.
Over the next 12 months every major brand and publisher will need to upgrade for smartphone owners.