Data And Forecasts

Survey: Social Networking, Local in Demand on Mobile

U.K.-based consulting firm Webcredible released results of a survey of just over 1000 mobile phone users (I assume they were in the U.K.). The firm asked users what content/types of services they were most interested in "if speed and quality weren't an issue."

What the firm found was demand for access to the following capabilities and categories of information:

  • Email -- 33%
  • Social networks -- 25%
  • Local information -- 20%
  • Travel information -- 13%
  • Online shopping -- 9%

The methodology and demographics of the users weren't disclosed so it's hard to evaluate the survey. Travel and local should be seen as part of the same overall content category. In that context it would be tied with "email" at the level of highest demand.

Nielsen mobile (U.S. adults) also recently found "local listings were the leading search objective in terms of users."

Jupiter Survey: More Publishers Plan to Go Mobile

As reported in MediaPost, Jupiter just did a mobile survey of website publishers:

Some 40% of web site operators have launched mobile sites and another 22% plan to do so in the next year, according to a new JupiterResearch study . . . Still, the study found that only 29% of Web sites going mobile were developing the ability to provide user profile information to ad networks to monetize page views. Among advertisers, only 3% were placing display ads on mobile sites, and 4% on carrier portals.

Jupiter's mobile ad forecast (U.S,) is $825 million by 2012 (search and display). That stands in conservative contrast to our $2.3 billion (North America) forecast (which includes search, display, text and DA) during the same period.

While the mobile market may remain quite segmented for the foreseeable future (in order of usage: DA, text, WAP/browser-based, apps) it's clear that mobile advertising will ramp quickly in 2009 and 2010. Those that don't have mobile campaigns by 2009 will be seen as behind.

This year and next are about growing audiences to some perception of critical mass. However, there are already 40+ million WAP users today in the US, and the more highly qualified nature of mobile users (in most cases) makes them attractive targets for advertisers.

One question is how pervasive full HTML browsers will become, which blurs the distinction between the desktop and mobile Internets. Even so, the "desktop ads" viewed on a mobile HTML browser (Safari, Opera Mini) are not particularly effective.
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Related questions tied to mobile Internet growth and advertising include the phone's form factor (smart vs. conventional) and mobile Internet pricing. Many people in the U.S. simply don't have mobile Internet plans at all because: a) they don't perceive a need and b) it's another cost. The first issue (perceived need) will melt away as more users go mobile and the second issue may be affected by carrier competition. Right now, with Sprint, I only pay $15 monthly for unlimited 3G access.

iPhone Maps 'with Location' Added

I realize I've been writing too much about the iPhone recently. But Google and Apple are driving much of the U.S. wireless news right now. Yesterday, during MacWorld, which I didn't attend (Mike Blumenthal did), Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced market share figures for the iPhone. Jobs said that Apple sold 4 million iPhones in 200 days and that it now has a 19.5% share of the US smartphone market. Here's the market share breakdown as Jobs presented it:

  • RIM/Blackberry: 39%
  • iPhone: 19.5%
  • Palm: 9.8%
  • Motorola: 7.4%
  • Nokia: 3.1%
  • Other: 21.2%

What's more remarkable is that unlike these other hardware makers, Apple's iPhone is available from a single carrier. Presumably Windows Mobile is distributed throughout the list on Palm, Motorola and Other phones.

In addition to boasting about market share, Jobs also announced a number of upgrades to the iPhone but not a 3G iPhone as many had expected. Among those upgrades was "Maps with location":

Maps, one of the most popular and helpful applications on iPhone, has a new interface that is simpler and easier to use and adds incredible new features such as the ability to find your location automatically. With just the tapof a button, iPhone can now triangulate your position using nearby Wi-Fi base stations or cellular towers. You can use this as a starting or ending point for directions or to find local points of interest. The new hybrid map view combines map view and satellite view so you can see major street names overlaid on satellite imagery.

This is very much like Google's "My Location" functionality, recently introduced. Skyhook Wireless is behind Apple's "Maps with Location" capability. From a press release issued this morning by Skyhook:

Skyhook Wireless, provider of the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), today announced Apple is using its technology for the new Wi-Fi location positioning feature in its Maps application on both iPhone and iPod touch. Using WPS, iPhone and iPod touch users can now locate themselves in the popular Maps application with the tap of one button.

"Apple sells the most innovative mobile products on the market today, and now iPhone and iPod touch include Skyhook's Wi-Fi positioning capabilities," said Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless. "We are very excited to be a part of these great Apple products."

By mapping known Wi-Fi signals throughout entire metropolitan areas, Skyhook has built a database of over 23 million Wi-Fi access points with their locations. The patented technology behind WPS leverages that database to provide location information. Skyhook's software-only system offers high accuracy indoors and the ability to make location more precise for users.

While location was not an essential missing piece from maps on the iPhone, it's a very nice to have feature. (It also aids ad targeting and other LBS.) All the iPhone upgrades are also available on the iPod Touch.

Meanwhile, JiWire announced ad-supported free WiFi access for iPhone and iPod Touch:

The option will be available at select Wi-Fi hotspots located in airports, hotels, cafes, and other desirable locations around the world. Major airports include Atlanta-Hartsfield, JFK and LaGuardia in New York and Chicago's O'Hare. Members of the JiWire Wi-Fi Advertising Network collectively operate more than 100,000 hotspots.

It will be interesting to see if the economics of ad-supported WiFi will allow the development of a national system for access. If so, there are numerous implications for the adoption non-phone mobile devices (e.g., the Touch) and for VoIP mobile calling on those devices.

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Here's a bit more on Skyhook and Apple, which has put the company (Skyhook) on the map (so to speak) for many people who hadn't heard of it.

Nielsen's Mobile Research Reflects 411's popularity

According to a just released survey data from Nielsen, over 18 million mobile users called 411 for "search" services during the third quarter of 2007. The second largest group consisted of roughly 14 million "mobile data" subscribers who used SMS-texting to conduct searches.

Looking across all groups, local listings were the most frequently sought information, with over 27 million mobile users launching a directory query during the Q3 timeframe. 14 million looked for local information - like news, sports and weather, while 11 million claimed to search "mobile content" in general.

Nielsen's sample, which is based on a population of 5,700 respondents, provides info that reinforces findings that we will be publishing in a report on attitudes and usage of mobile 411 alternatives. Searching for local listings is, indeed, important. But many of the service providers have added local information, features and functions that are just starting to gain awareness and popularity. It's a complex marketplace that will undergo many changes in the coming year.

One in Three Have 'Seen or Heard' Mobile Ads

A new report from GFK/NOP Research says that 78 million Americans have seen mobile ads, most in text messages. As reported in an article last week appearing in AdWeek, here are the top-level findings.

  • 78 million people (approx. one in three U.S. mobile adults) have "seen or heard advertising on their phones within the last three months"
  • SMS is the dominant media for mobile advertising; one in six mobile users recalled seeing SMS advertising
  • Men are 20 percent more likely to recall advertising than women, and people under 20 are twice as likely to recall ads as those over 50
  • The most commonly recalled marketing sectors and brands included mobile carriers (AT&T and Verizon), entertainment (BET, Fox, MTV and various movies and musical artists) and packaged goods (Coke and Pepsi)

I haven't seen the study, but this is mostly sponsorships and "push" marketing I would imagine. There's probably no "pull" or search-style marketing here.

A study commissioned by Ingenio, conducted by Harris Interactive in April 2007, found 30% of U.S. adults had "seen or heard" advertising on their mobile phones. This is roughly consistent with the findings above.

The GFK/NOP survey was reportedly conducted in November 2007 among 1,000 U.S. adults.

Nielsen's Top Mobile Sites in 2007

According to Nielsen, based on data collected between January and October 2007, here are the top mobile sites/brands in the U.S. (monthly uniques):

  1. Yahoo! -- 16.6 million
  2. Google -- 10.8 million
  3. MSN -- 9.3 million
  4. AOL -- 6.5 million
  5. Weather Channel -- 6.4 million
  6. CNN -- 6 million
  7. ESPN -- 4.9 million
  8. MapQuest -- 3.7 million
  9. Fox -- 2.6 million
  10. Citysearch -- 2.4 million

What we've got here is mail, news, weather, sports and local. Seven out of 10 of these sites are being accessed at least in part for maps/directions and other local information. Two quick observations about this high-level data:

  • Yahoo! could leverage this to establish a solid mobile leadership position if they can properly execute on their mobile platform and personalization strategy
  • Citysearch is a surprising one in here, suggesting that the company could reestablish itself as a preeminent local brand by devoting more attention and resources to mobile

In 2008 we may see MySpace or Facebook crack this list.

Smartphones Gaining in U.S. Popularity

This article from MarketWatch offers a survey of an increasing number of smartphone options for US consumers. This Bloomberg piece discusses American's increasing willingness to splurge on the pricer handsets. Indeed, smartphone sales are growing (now representing about 12% of the market). We also know from empirical research that smartphone users access the mobile Internet more and search with greater frequency than non-smartphone users.

The question of how mainstream smartphones will eventually become is an interesting one. It's partly dependent on intangible cultural factors like buzz and fashion, which are helping drive iPhone sales, in addition to function. But perhaps the biggest determinant of smartphone sales is price.

Most smartphones retail for hundreds of dollars, but the Palm Centro is $99 and the LG Rumor is only $50, both with a two-year subscription. If the prices come down, we'll see more smartphones in the market -- with direct implications for mobile Internet adoption.

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Related: Apple is expected to announce sales of 5 million units of the iPhone at the forthcoming MacWorld event. That's ahead of schedule. Apparently Xmas demand for the devices remains very strong despite the anticipated announcement of a 3G phone early next year.

Retail Queries Popular on Mobile 411

Mobile search and DA provider V-Enable released data gathered from carrier partners between 11/23 and 12/7 about mobile 411 search activity in major U.S. metro areas (LA, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco and Dallas). Here are the "top retail searches" according to the company:

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Target
  3. Game Stop
  4. Best Buy
  5. Walgreens
  6. Publix
  7. AutoZone
  8. KMart
  9. Toys R Us
  10. Blockbuster Video
  11. CVS
  12. Circuit City
  13. Home Depot
  14. Radio Shack
  15. Sears

What it shows in part is the power of these brands and the opportunity to bridge between the Internet and physical stores, using mobile, in terms of promotions and product inventory information.

'Trillions' of Text Messages

Gartner has published its text messaging forecast for 2008 (via Mobiya's blog). The forecast says that there will be "2.3 trillion" SMS messages sent globally in 2008. That number is so large as to be almost meaningless. North America will reportedly see roughly 300 billion messages in 2008 vs. 189 billion this year.

Between 70% and 90% of US mobile users (between 175 and 225 million people) send and receive text message with varying degrees of frequency. However, there is comparatively little effort going toward monetization of that segment vs. the less widely used "mobile Web," which has between 35 and 50 million users in the US (with varying degrees of frequency).

Jingle-comScore Data on Free 411 Awareness, Usage

I received an email from Jingle CEO George Garrick criticizing my recent survey post about mobile usage and 411 as misleading because of the tiny sample involved, despite my disclaimers and qualifying remarks. (Accordingly, I want to reiterate that the survey was totally informal and cannot be generalized to any larger population.)

Garrick supplied me with comScore survey data, commissioned by Jingle Networks, on free 411 awareness and usage. The research was conducted this year in three waves. In each wave there were 1,000 respondents representing a cross section of online users (striving to be a surrogate for the US population more broadly). I'll report only most recent data ("wave 3"); the waves are all fairly consistent and responses are within a couple of points of one another:

Have you called 411 directory assistance at least once in the last 30 days?

  • Yes -- 34%
  • No -- 64%
  • Don't know -- 1%

Are you aware of any "free directory assistance" services where you get 411 for free by dialing an 800 number?

  • Yes -- 27%
  • No -- 66%
  • Don't know -- 7%

Have you actually called any "free directory assistance" services in the last 30 days?

  • Yes -- 15%
  • No -- 82%
  • Don't know -- 2%

1-800-GOOG411 -- Please tell us which of the following "free directory assistance" services you have heard of or used in the last 30 days.

  • Never heard of it -- 91%
  • Have heard of it -- 7%
  • Used in the last 30 days -- 2%

1-800-FREE411 -- Please tell us which of the following "free directory assistance" services you have heard of or used in the last 30 days.

  • Never heard of it -- 73%
  • Have heard of it -- 17%
  • Used in the last 30 days -- 9%

1-800-555-TELL -- Please tell us which of the following "free directory assistance" services you have heard of or used in the last 30 days.

  • Never heard of it -- 93%
  • Have heard of it -- 6%
  • Used in the last 30 days -- 1%

1-800-YELLOWPAGES -- Please tell us which of the following "free directory assistance" services you have heard of or used in the last 30 days.

  • Never heard of it -- 69%
  • Have heard of it -- 28%
  • Used in the last 30 days -- 3%

When calling a "free directory assistance" service rather than a standard service where you pay a fee, how important is it to you that a live operator be available if the automated system is unable to answer your request?

  • Not important -- 5%
  • Preferable -- 36%
  • Very important -- 58%

When calling a "free directory assistance" service rather than a standard service where you pay a fee, how important is it to you that the system be able to give you residential numbers rather than just business numbers that you are looking for?

  • Not important -- 9%
  • Preferable -- 36%
  • Very important -- 56%

1-800-Free-411 (Jingle) is clearly the market leader in this segment, but interestingly 1-800-Yellowpages benefits from the "brand equity" of yellow pages. I don't believe the high number of people who indicate awareness of the offering, which isn't yet nationwide. I would guess the number "seems" familiar and people are responding to that perceived familiarity.

We've just conducted an online survey with Greenfield Online about 411 user behavior (n=671) and Jingle's 1-800-Free-411 is by far and away the most used among the free 411 alternatives. Jingle received a 66% response when consumers were asked which service they'd actually used. All the others were in the low single digits.

Clearly awareness is the challenge for all these services. But it's our belief that once consumers become aware and try them they don't return to traditional 411.

Mobile Ad Forecasts Too Rosy?

BusinessWeek offers a broad look at the mobile ad environment and climate for acquisitions of startups in mobile. The article is measured but bearish in tone, arguing that the mobile forecasts in the market, specifically Gartner and Strategy Analytics, are too aggressive at $11 billion and $14 billion by 2011, respectively.

The article cites low consumer adoption of the mobile Internet to date and the challenges of the US mobile marketplace more generally as being a drag on ad growth.

The article quotes Nokia VP Mike Baker as saying "it will take at least five years for the industry to surpass $10 billion in annual revenue." It's not entirely clear what is meant by "revenue," presumably advertising on a global basis.

Our forecast is $5.08 billion in mobile ad revenues by 2012 in North America and Europe.

Mobile User Survey Results

Over at Search Engine Land, I conducted an informal mobile user survey a couple of weeks ago on a range of high-level topics. The findings, based on 75 responses, can't be generalized to a larger population and probably represent a group of "early adopters," but they're interesting. (I also posted the survey link here and may have received a few responses from readers of this blog.)

Here are the survey questions and the responses:

What sort of mobile phone do you currently own?

  • Conventional cell phone -- 58.7%
  • Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) -- 30.7%
  • iPhone -- 10.7%

Indicate how many of the following you do with your mobile phone (multiple answers permitted):

  • Send and receive text/SMS messages -- 97.2%
  • Access the mobile Internet -- 56.9%
  • Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) -- 36.1%

How frequently do you access the mobile Internet?

  • Never -- 33.8%
  • Once a month or less -- 13.5%
  • Two-three times a month -- 5.4%
  • More than once a week -- 21.6%
  • At least once daily -- 25.7%

If you don't access the Internet on your mobile phone, why not (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Keying in queries is frustrating -- 45%
  • The network is too slow -- 52.5%
  • The screen on my phone is too small -- 57.5%
  • I don't have a mobile Internet plan -- 45%

Which of the following mobile search engines/sites do you use (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Ask -- 8%
  • AOL -- 0%
  • Google -- 90%
  • Microsoft Live Search/MSN -- 8%
  • Yahoo oneSearch/Go -- 20%

Do you use any of the free directory assistance options?

  • Yes -- 29%
  • No -- 71%

If you use any of the free directory assistance options, which one(s):

  • Goog411 -- 73.9%
  • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) -- 8.7%
  • 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) -- 8.7%
  • 1-800-Free-411 -- 21.7%

Indicate your gender

  • Female -- 24%
  • Male -- 76%

Indicate your age

  • 18-24 -- 17.3%
  • 25-30 -- 25.3%
  • 31-40 -- 41.3%
  • 41-50 -- 12%
  • 51-60 -- 4%

Where do you reside?

  • US/North America -- 65.3%
  • Europe -- 25.3%
  • Asia -- 9.3%

Specifics on iPhone Users

In the informal mobile user survey posted below, almost 11% of respondents (8 out of 75) had an iPhone. Here are some interesting differences and observations about their behavior vs. the larger group:

  • 100% of iPhone respondents access the mobile Internet (vs. 56.9% of the overall sample)
  • 75% of iPhone respondents accessed the mobile Internet at least once daily (vs. 25% of the overall sample)
  • Interestingly, 62.5% of iPhone respondents use the free DA services (compared with 29% of the overall sample). That usage is split equally between 1-800-Free-411 and GOOG411 (vs. 21% and 74% respectively in the overall sample)
  • 100% of users were men (vs. 76% of the overall sample)

Again, these numbers have to be taken with a heavy dose caution because the sample size is extremely small. But the iPhone sub-sample shows interesting differences with the larger population of respondents.

Starting Young with Texting

The Nielsen Company just released the result of a poll of "tweens" (defined as 8-12 year olds). The data show that only 35% of tweens own mobile phones, which I suppose "own" in this context means "possess." Like older counterparts, tweens are texters (20%) and they have personalized their phones with downloaded ringtones and wallpaper (21%). They are *not* big browsers, with only 5% claiming to access the Internet through their phones. My belief is that pricing for data plans and the clumsiness of navigational tools through inexpensive telephones are the double whammy that daunts even obstreperous youngsters from checking out what's available through mobile Web sites.