Hardware

Android on Top, Windows Phone Not Growing: comScore

ComScore put out its now monthly estimate of mobile market share today (based on a user survey of 30K respondents). As with IDC's numbers released earlier, Samsung is the top overall hardware maker in the US market. Among smartphone operating systems Android is number one and has been since roughly January 2011.

Below is the smartphone breakdown for March 2011: 

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Microsoft continues to struggle and does not seem to be gaining traction with Windows Phones (although some have pointed out that the rate of decline has slowed). Palm is entering the Nokia zone in terms of near disappearance from the US market. And the iPhone is flat according to these data.

Seemingly contradicting the data above, comScore earlier put out metrics that showed iOS in the US and Europe to have a reach that greatly exceeds Android. The iPad and iPod Touch make all the difference it would appear. 

For comparison purposes here's the same comScore smartphone market share data for July 2010:

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In the roughly nine months in-between RIM's share of the smartphone market has dropped about 12 percentage points. 

Below is another view of mobile OS market share in the US from StatCounter: 

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Nielsen Confirms Tablets Cannibalizing PC Usage

Google has continued to maintain that smartphone usage is entirely complementary to PC usage and is not cannibalizing it. However studies by Google and now Nielsen are showing something different when it comes to tablets -- they're being substituted for PCs in a variety of cases. 

Nielsen conducted a Q1 survey of tablet owners and found the following: 

  • 82% of tablet owners had either the iPad or iPad2; effectively there was no single "second place" device
  • 50% of tablet owners were the only user of the device, while 43% shared with others in their households; 8% said they own tablets but they don't use them (others in the home control them)
  • 35% of tablet owners are using their PCs less or "not at all;" 32% of laptop owners used those devices less after getting a tablet
  • 27% of those who also own eReaders use them less often or not at all since buying a tablet

Here's a breakdown of the the impact of tablet ownership on usage of other devices: 

Here's data from Google also showing reduced PC usage after buying a tablet: 

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Source: Google/AdMob, March, 2011 (n=1,403)

Veer Should Be Positioned As 'VW Beetle of Smarpthones'

Might the compact HP/Palm Veer be the OEM's comeback handset? It certainly could be but might not turn out to be in actuality if improperly positioned and marketed.

The HP Veer was previewed last year and availability was announced this morning. The handset will be exclusive to AT&T and out May 15. It will cost $99 with a two-year contract. There's both a white (pictured) and a black version. 

Though AT&T is the largest US carrier exclusivity might be the first mistake. A limited period of exclusivity is OK but prolonged exclusivity will hurt the handset's chances with consumers. 

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White is good, but a rainbow of colors would have been better and made the phone a more distinctive product.

Another black smartphone, only distinguished by its size, is not going to sell a ton. But a "cute" smartphone that comes in blue, yellow, pink, green, etc. has a better shot. 

This phone should be positioned as the "VW Beetle of smartphones." The campaign surrounding it should be about individuality, fun and personal style (kind of like Apple products). However I'm not sure that a company like HP thinks that way. 

'Galaxy Player' Samsung's Most Appealing 'Tablet'

The most appealing device in the Samsung "tablet" lineup may be its 5" "Galaxy Player" introduced at CES this year. I had read about it but hadn't seen one until yesterday. In fact I saw the full array of Samsung tablets at AppNation. (The Galaxy Player is on the left in the picture below.)

The larger tablets are much less appealing than the iPad, both in terms of hardware and software. The 7" Galaxy Tab is somewhat appealing because of its more portable "on the go" form factor. But I was surprised how drawn I was to the 5" device. 

Supposedly an iPod touch competitor the WiFi Galaxy Player looks like a giant Galaxy S Android phone but the additional screen real estate offers a better user experience than comparable Samsung smartphones. It can also still fit "in your pocket" in a way that even the 7" device cannot. 

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My belief is that if it were to be made into a phone it would be the perfect all-in-one device, with a larger screen for apps and internet use but small enough to still functional effectively as a phone. (With a data plan one could use Skype as the phone.) 

I was unable to get any pricing information out of the Samsung representatives I spoke to. However pricing is going to be a mess for the company with so many tablet devices. Ultimately perhaps only two or three sizes will survive and the others will fall away for lack of demand/sales. 

If the 5" device were priced below $200 and marketed properly it could become very successful and could become a true challenger to the iPod Touch. 

Survey: More People Want Android than Apple

Nielsen released new survey data for Q1. The measurment firm now says that more US smartphone buyers are looking at Android than Apple handsets. In terms of those planning to buy a smartphone, here's how the survey data break down:

  • 31% Android 
  • 30% Apple
  • 11% RIM
  • 6% Windows Phone
  • 20% "not sure"

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Among those who had bought a smartphone in the past six months, Nielsen said 50% bought Android devices, 25% bought an iPhone and 15% bought BlackBerry phones.

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Finally, in terms of current smartphone market share, Nielsen said the market now looks like this: 

  • Android: 37%
  • iPhone: 27%
  • RIM: 22%
  • Windows: 10%
  • Palm/WebOS: 3%
  • Symbian: 2% 

For a larger context and comparison look at comScore's recent iOS vs. Android analysis, which showed iOS reach to be greater in the US and Europe if iPad and iPod Touch devices are included.

There's something that's not clear from the top-line data released by Nielsen. That is, do people seek out "Android" devices or are they looking at particular OEM phones (Droid, Atrix, Optimus, EVO, Inspire, etc.)? My theory is that people are interested in particular OEM handsets from their carriers and that Android the OS has limited consumer awareness.

I could be wrong. But I'm interested to see data or research around this question. 

The Key to Nook's Tablet Success: Its Price

Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader is becoming a more tablet-like device with an update to Froyo, better web browsing, email and third party apps. The 7" eReader is already a success but it could become one of the most successful Android tablets because of one particular feature -- it's $249 price tag.

General consumer audiences will be reluctant to spend $499, the entry level iPad price, on smaller (and otherwise inferior) tablets. The 7" Playbook, for example, starts at $499 and the Motorola Xoom was a flop in part because of its higher entry level price tag. 

However the $249 price tag for Nook is incredibly attractive. And as Nook becomes a more full-fledged tablet more people will buy one. The Nook will continue to represent itself as an "eReader" and not a tablet; it's an eReader with other features that just happen to include web (w/Flash), email and apps. 

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Many people have speculated about Amazon eventually offering a full-blown Android tablet. Bet on it. This only makes it more likely.

Amazon will need to respond to the Nook's challenge on the eReader front and so the next-gen Kindle will probably have to offer color, apps and a better overall web experience. But to really "hit it out of the park" -- unless Amazon is going to directly compete with computer OEMs at the high-end, which I doubt -- the Amazon tablet will need to be smaller than 9" and cost less than $300 (say $299). 

The long-term threat to the iPad, just like the iPhone, comes from an army of cheap, "good enough" devices featuring Android. Two of those could come from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

InMobi: Android Passes iPhone, Nokia Falling

Ad network InMobi released its latest Mobile Insights Report: Global Edition March 2011. Based on 31.9 billion monthly impressions generated by 220 million consumers, the latest report shows phones running the Android OS overtaking Apple's iPhone. This is consistent with most other data in the market.

The report continues to show Nokia as the global smartphone leader but, like other sources, indicates a decline in its overall share. Strikingly, InMobi says "Nokia lost -3.9 share points in just 90 days, while Samsung (+1.6 share pts), Apple (+1.9 share pts) and HTC (+2.8 share pts) gained share." 

Another striking data point: "35% of all mobile ad impressions now occur on smartphones."

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In North America, as with the Millennial data just released this morning, the Verizon iPhone has helped Apple but that has not been enought to slow Android's momentum. But for quarter, according to InMobi, Apple's growth outpaced Android's in North America. RIM also grew. 

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Globally Android, iOS and RIM grew while others declined according to the report. Below, compare the most recent IDC numbers (global estimates for year-end 2011) and those from comScore (US) representing the most recent quarter. 
Screen shot 2011-03-29 at 9.48.50 AM

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The IDC numbers for Android above are quite aggressive vs. what InMobi show. IDC's numbers are projections based on existing sales and additional assumptions about future consumer purchase behavior. ComScore's data are based on consumer surveys. 

Millennial: VZW iPhone Boosts Apple Position

Millennial Media's device report, "Mobile Mix," is out for March. Here are some bullets from the data released: 

  • The iPhone grew 17% month-over-month and iOS grew 11% month-over-month -- due to the Verizon iPhone
  • Android was the leading smartphone OS
  • So-called "connected devices" (which includes the iPad) now represent 17% of impressions on Millennial's network 
  • RIM/BlackBerry OS experienced a 29% growth month-over-month (the Curve was the number two phone on its network) 

The chart immediately below reflects the top 20 phones (not devices overall) on the Millennial network in March. Microsoft devices still haven't made an appearance (or perhaps "haven't yet"). And because this is US data, Symbian is also missing.

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Sixty-four percent of mobile devices on the Millennial network were smartphones in March. Of that smartphone segment 48% ran the Android OS. 

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While Apple's OS had a 31% OS share on Millennial's network in March it generated 47% of the revenue vs. 36% for Android devices. So in terms of revenue iOS is outperforming its share and Android is still under-performing relative to share. 

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For comparison purposes, here are data from June, 2010 showing smartphones at 46% of the device mix and Android at only 15% of smartphones:

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The top two phones were iPhone and BlackBerry Curve in June 2010, identical to the March 2011 data. Another striking thing about this chart below is that there's more handset "diversity" reflected than in the similar chart above.

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Chrome OS Comes to Tablets, Where It Belongs

Over time the relationship between Google's Chrome OS and Android has become more complex and awkward. Originally Chrome OS was supposed to be for netbooks, while Android was for mobie devices. But when it launched Chrome OS, Google didn't predict the rise of tablets, nor did the company predict the stunning popularity of Android.

Android has all but crowded out Chrome as the "go to" OS for Google devices. Google TV, for example, was build with Android and not Chrome. 

When the laptop prototype "Cr-48" was released last year the netbook market was all but dead. Google stopped saying that Chrome was for "netbooks" and substituted "notebooks."

There were/are a range of big-name hardware partners that were supposed to release Chrome PCs for "holiday 2010." But that deadline came and went. Now Acer, Asustek, Sony and Samsung are supposedly releasing Chrome-based notebooks in 2H this year. 

In the meantime Google is reportedly developing a tablet version of Chrome OS. This makes a great deal of sense. The Cr-48 notebook experience, together with its apps, is very tablet-like already. Google may also be able to bridge the divide between PC and tablet that exists today, and which makes tablets less than a full replacement for laptops. 

However for the time being the focus remains on Honeycomb/Android, as dozens of new Android tablet devices roll out. Key to their success, as I've mentioned is aggressive pricing. The Xoom and to some degree the Galaxy Tab before it have proven that Android OEMs will have to at least match or undercut Apple's pricing to be competitive. 

That means they'll have to cut their margins on the entry level devices to almost nothing or even subsidize them in some cases. Samsung has gotten that message and has repriced its tablets accordingly.

Gartner Says Android Will Control 50% of Smartphone Market by 2015

IT consulting firm Gartner is even more bullish on Android than IDC. The company says that by 2015 that almost 50% of the world's smartphones will be Android devices. This is partly because of the "open OS" and because of greater pricing flexibility with Android (vs. the iPhone).

Also like IDC Gartner expects Windows Phones' share to exceed iOS by 2015: 

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Here's what the company says about Apple, RIM and Windows:

  • Apple’s iOS will remain the second biggest platform worldwide through 2014 despite its share deceasing slightly after 2011 . . . Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy.
  • Research In Motion’s share over the forecast period will decline, reflecting the stronger competitive environment in the consumer market, as well as increased competition in the business sector.
  • Gartner predicts that Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in the worldwide ranking by 2013.

Provocative and well-reasoned though they may be these predictions are unlikely to play out exactly as forecast.

The mobile market is so dynamic that current trends cannot be expected to continue as they are today. Specifically though Nokia has bet the farm on Windows Phones (and they're good devices) it's unlikely that the marriage without more -- like more improvements, apps and aggressive marketing/pricing -- will boost Windows Phones' share to the anticipated levels.

Android will run into major regulatory and anti-trust problems if its dramatic gains continue to the point where 50% of all smartphones run the Google OS (as smartphones gain more share relative to feature phones). It will be the Europeans before the Americans that would lead the charge by forcing Google to make it a truly open platform independent of Google's authority and control. 

Finally I believe that Apple is likely to try and address the "lower end" of the market in some way with an entry level or "nano" device. 

Seven-Inch HTC Flyer Tablet Poised for Takeoff

The 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab is the best-selling non-iPad tablet to date and it's basically a flop. Samsung inflated sales numbers and then had to recant when confronted by press. Apparently Motorola's much-hyped, full-sized Xoom is flopping too. One estimate argues that the tablet has sold only 100,000 units so far.

Samsung is due out with a next-gen 7" and 8.9" set of tablets. However their release dates are uncertain (later this year).

Meanwhile the 7" HTC Flyer, which will be available from Sprint (as the EVO View), is coming out in the next couple months. It will feature Honeycomb (rather than Gingerbread like the Tab) and uniquely has a pen/stylus that allows users to annotate screen captures. The pen feature is both interesting and awkward. I've only seen demos but not used it myself.

Apple has said it's not ceding any product category to competitors. But the 7" (or smaller than 10") tablet segment is where Apple has no product (though rumors persist) and where Android's tablet-related deficiencies are less obvious and compensated for by the more "mobile" nature of the form factor. 

I predict the Flyer/View will be a success. However much depends on pricing.

Consumers generally don't want to buy additional data plans from carriers for their tablets, but non-subsidized pricing makes these smaller devices more expensive than the WiFi iPad. The right "unlocked" price for the 7" device is $299. But that's likely to be the two-year contract price -- unfortunately. 

Related posts: 

New Android Phones on (Really) Cheap Data Plans

I recently bought an Android LG optimus V on VirginMobile (one of Sprint's prepaid carriers) to see how good the phone and the experience were. The phone is pretty good, though vastly inferior to my HTC EVO. As an aside, the EVO is still better than the latest Android "flagship," the Samsung Nexus S.

The more important point is that users can get a $60 all you can eat plan with that phone on Virgin (no contract), compared to the more than $100 I pay monthly for essentially the same plan on Sprint. Sure I get access to 4G but the speed isn't that much better than Sprint's 3G network. 

Now Sprint's other prepaid carrier Boost is offering a lower-end Samsung Android phone, the Prevail. The phone costs $179; I got the Optimus V for $129 on sale (at Target). But the plan is incredible.

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The unlimited Boost talk and data plan starts at $50 and declines to $35 after 18 months, as a loyalty incentive. That means that a consumer could have a very decent Android phone with an "everything plan" on the Sprint 3G network for $35. That would be a $70 per month savings over what I'm paying for comparable service.

The Virgin plan is good but the Boost plan is amazing. Accordingly, we should see people migrating toward these lower-cost deals -- to the extent that they're publicized by the carriers -- as more Android handsets become available with prepaid plans. 

Are Consumers Just Bored with the iPhone?

Over the weekend there was considerable discussion about comScore's most recent handset and mobile OS market share numbers. What they appear to show is Android clobbering all challengers, including the iPhone whose share remains largely flat. Although the Verizon iPhone was the most popular individual handset in February, the "Android Army" is winning the OS war. 

This morning Apple Insider argues that by several measures, iOS is still ahead of Google's operating system, in terms of engagement, app store growth and revenues. Indeed, StatCounter, which presumably is a better reflection of actual consumer behavior than comScore's survey data, shows iOS well ahead of Android usage.

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But there's no denying the growth of Android and its seemingly unstoppable momentum. I had a thought the other day about why iPhone may not be growing to the same degree (beyond its more limited availability and more rigid pricing): consumer boredom.

There is only one iPhone (although there are previous models still in circulation). By contrast there are dozens and dozens of Android handsets out there, with different hardware features. This creates constant marketing buzz around the "latest Android flagship" or release of the newest inexpensive Android handsets. 

If the iPhone were toothpaste it would be Crest, while Android would represent 20 different flavors. In order to reclaim consumer attention and generate new excitement, Apple may need to do to the iPhone what it did to the iPod several years ago: create different models and colors. 

Apple has declined so far to put out a "nano" model, although there have been rumors to that effect. Cupertino needs to address both the lower end of the market (and not just with last-year's model) and create some new excitement around the product -- and not just through software updates.  

Android Continues to Steamroll Competitors, iPhone Flat According to comScore

The latest comScore data, based on consumer surveys (n=30,000), show that the Android surge continues. While the Verizon iPhone was reportedly the most popular individual handset in February, the Android collective -- supported by the top three OEMs -- has now overtaken RIM too. ComScore says that 29% of US mobile subscribers have smartphones -- a number that is now probably low -- vs. Nielsen's 31% estimate. 

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In part benefiting from Android growth (and vice versa) Saumsung was the most popular handset OEM in the US. While Android gained 7% during the three-month period former smartphone leader RIM was off almost 5%.

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Now compare the same charts from a year ago (February, 2010): 

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Apple's iOS has remained constant, as a percentage of the overall market, according to comScore's figures. Android's success vs. the iPhone is based in part on its wide availability from a range of characters and price points. The iPhone remains available from just two US carriers and is restricted to contract customers.

See related:

 

Android "Closing Down," Investigations Coming Next?

The main way that Google argued its mobile operating system, Android, was superior to Apple's was its "openness." Google was merely the anchor of an open ecosystem of developers, OEMs and others. However that was never exactly true and it's less and less true today. 

An article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek reveals the degree to which Google is taking over Android to prevent "fragmentation," as well as advancing other goals and interests. The company sees the operating system as a strategic key to its future -- even though there's little direct revenue associated with it. Yet Android devices are Google search and advertising devices and the company has quickly come to dominate mobile advertising, in part because of Android's early success. 

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Google says its procedures are about quality control, fixing bugs early, and building toward a "common denominator" experience, says John Lagerling, director of global Android partnerships at Google. "After that, the customization can begin."

Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by "non-fragmentation clauses" that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code—to make new interfaces and add services—and in some cases whom they can partner with. Google's Rubin says that such clauses have always been part of the Android license, but people interviewed for this story say that Google has recently tightened its policies.

Facebook, for example, has been working to fashion its own variant of Android for smartphones. Executives at the social network are unhappy that Google gets to review Facebook's tweaks to Android, say two people who weren't comfortable being named talking about the business. Google has also tried to hold up the release of Verizon Android devices that make use of Microsoft's rival Bing search engine, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

The problem is not Google's efforts to ensure quality or establish standards. It's the rhetoric of openness and the apparent reversal of that now, as detailed in the article. There's also a perception of capriciousness on Google's part around Android.

The wide and enthusiastic embrace of Android by third parties is responsible for its popularity and success. However when the iPhone emerged Android was effectively the only place to turn for Motorola, HTC and other OEMs. Symbian wasn't competitive and neither was Windows Mobile at the time. 

HTC, Motorola and Samsung bet big on Android. That's partly why it will capture the top smartphone OS spot this year, according to IDC. Had Android not started out as an "open" platform, with the promise of third party "tweaks" and modifications, it probably wouldn't be where it is today.

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There are indications that when Google is threatend or unhappy with a development in the Android ecosystem it will intervene to protect its own self interest. This is the gist of the BusinessWeek article. However there's a darker version of this in the facts alleged in a lawsuit filed by Skyhook Wireless.

There, Google allegedly used its control over Android to disrupt economic relationships Skyhook had with two major Android handset OEMs. If true the case is very disturbing and directly contradicts Google's efforts to cast itself as the benevolent shepherd of an "open" software platform.

Meanwhile Samsung and Motorola, key Android partners, are contemplating ways to lessen their dependence on Android. Samsung has a homegrown mobile OS (Bada) and Motorola is contemplating developing one as a hedge against too much reliance on Android. However neither of these is likely to succeed at the level that Android has. 

As Google control over Android grows some partners have become upset, prompting complaints to the US Justice Department, the article reveals. The Justice Department (or FTC) may take up a near-term investigation but almost certainly the Europeans will at some point. They're currently conducting an antitrust investigation about Google's dominance of search on the PC. However Google is even more dominant in mobile search. 

I first (somewhat radically) predicted in December that Google would eventually be separated from control over Android. Given the information in the BusinessWeek piece, absent renewed "restraint" by Google, I'm increasingly led to believe my prediction will come true.

Forecast Predicts Android to Be Dominant OS This Year

IDC has released updated numbers for its global smartphone forecast (2011- 2015). The firm expects nearly 50% growth in smartphone sales this year on a global basis:

Smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. Moreover, the smartphone market will grow more than four times faster than the overall mobile phone market. 

During the forecast period IDC expects Apple and RIM to stay flat in terms of overall share. It expects Android to be the big winner becoming the dominant smartphone platform globally by the end of this year and continuing to grow through 2015. 

The company also expects that Windows Phones will gain share to reach 20% of the global market. That assumption is based on Nokia's embrace of Windows Mobile and it's global footprint. 

Here are the projections: 

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Almost certainly these figures will turn out to be wrong in one or more ways. However the phenomenal growth of Android cannot be disputed.

Yet Samsung and Motorola, both key Android OEMs, are scheming to diversify their lineups and lessen their dependence on the Google OS. Samsung is pushing Bada and Motorola is contemplating its own OS. This is part of an broader effort to get out of the "commodity" Android realm. Thus far however Samsung has emerged as the global leader in Android handset sales.

If Android growth reaches the anticipated levels in this chart there are huge implications for mobile advertising revenues as well. Google already dominates mobile advertising in the US market. These growth projections would all but ensure continued and even increasing dominance, not only in North America but internationally as well. 

Nokia's Is Mad As Hell and Won't Stop Suing

Nokia, which is losing share -- and mindshare -- in the smartphone market, has turned to litigation as a revenue strategy and seems hell-bent on extracting licensing revenue from Apple. Two years ago the company iinitiated mutiple legal actions against Cupertino, alleging numerous patent infringements. Starting in late 2009 and adding more actions in 2010 the Finland-based company sought to block the "import" of Apple devices by appealing to the International Trade Commission (ITC).

Nokia claims that a range of patents on touchscreens, music and camera technologies are being infringed by the iPhone and other Apple devices. Apple counter-sued Nokia on similar grounds. (Actually the mobile patent litigation is flying back and forth between multiple companies.) And the ITC on Friday ruled that Apple's products do not violate Nokia's patents. The ITC has not yet ruled on Apple's claims against Nokia.

However, if at first you don't succeed . . . and so today Nokia announced new patent-related complaints with the ITC:

Nokia has filed a further complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple infringes additional Nokia patents in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, tablets and computers.

The seven Nokia patents in the new complaint relate to Nokia's pioneering innovations that are now being used by Apple to create key features in its products in the areas of multi-tasking operating systems, data synchronization, positioning, call quality and the use of Bluetooth accessories.

This second ITC complaint follows the initial determination in Nokia's earlier ITC filing, announced by the ITC on Friday, March 25. Nokia does not agree with the ITC's initial determination that there was no violation of Section 337 in that complaint and is waiting to see the full details of the ruling before deciding on the next steps in that case.

In addition to the two ITC complaints, Nokia has filed cases on the same patents and others in Delaware, US and has further cases proceeding in Mannheim, Dusseldorf and the Federal Patent Court in Germany, the UK High Court in London and the District Court of the Hague in the Netherlands, some of which will come to trial in the next few months.

As the statement above indicates, Nokia has filed suits in the US and Europe against Apple. It may well be that one of the European actions succeeds in some aspect; however Apple may also succeed in its patent claims in one or more ways against Nokia.

The reciprocal actions are a by-product of failed licensing negotiations between the companies. 

Off the court, so to speak, Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop is struggling to transform the company's culture and boost productivity. Complacency and bureaucracy have been blamed for Nokia's diminishing fortunes in the smartphone market. 

Of course Nokia has bet the farm on Windows Phones, walking away from Symbian and MeeGo in favor of Redmon's software. But the first of those Nokisoft devices won't be out until 2012 according to reports. Windows Phones have seen mixed success thus far. Multiple sources indicate that the OS is not making inroads in the US market. The handsets are apparently faring better in Europe according to IDC: "The new Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft reversed its fortunes and grew 18% year-on-year and 100% sequentially [in Q4]." 

Overall there are claims that Microsoft has sold roughly 3 million Windows Phones since launch. Microsoft said in January that it sold 2 million handsets. However these numbers refer to shipments and not necessarily to consumer purchases. 

Report: Size Matters -- Screen Size That Is

They want to see it on a bigger screen -- so says NPD group. The company tracks sales of smartphones and found that those with screens measuring between 3.5 and 3.9 inches had flat sales volumes. But those larger than 4 inches saw significant gains in market share in Q4. According to NPD, the five best-selling handsets with screens over 4 inches were the following:

  1. HTC EVO 4G
  2. Motorola Droid X
  3. Samsung Fascinate
  4. Samsung Captivate
  5. Samsung Vibrant

The iPhone currently has a 3.5 inch screen though rumors surrounding "iPhone 5" suggest the model will have a larger screen.

Screen size was cited in a recent UK and US consumer survey about mobile usability as a reason that some people were dissatisfied with the mobile Internet experience:

  • 27% of Americans and an equal share of British users were "discouraged from using the mobile Internet by websites that don’t display properly on their mobile screens" and half of adults 18 to 24 complained about websites that didn't render well
  • 28% of U.S. and 32% of British consumers cite difficulty in navigating websites on a mobile device as a reason for not accessing the mobile Internet
  • 44% of men said the small size of mobile screens discouraged them from using the internet, vs. 38% of women. 

TeleNav 'Infographic' Unwittingly Indicts American Habits

TeleNav has a subscriber base of more than 20 million people, distributed over 600 devices in many countries. The company has done a good job of surviving the free navigation push by Google, Nokia and more recently Mapquest. It has an enterprise business as well as a direct consumer business. TeleNav also powers many of the carrier navigation services.

Earlier this week the company put out an "infographic" with some top-level US data about navigation usage. (As an aside I wish companies would stop putting out these so-called infographics for PR purposes. People pick them up, just as I have, but they make reading and understanding the data more difficult than it needs to be. It's a gimmick that should come to an end in my view.)

The chart shows that the top places US TeleNav users are navigating to. It also stands as a kind of unintended indictment of Americans' tastes and behavior. 

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The most searched/navigated locations are Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks, Best Buy. McDonald's is in there at number 6. Navigational queries like this (name-in-mind searches) represent about 60% of local searches coming from mobile devices currently. Collectively Pizza, American (food) and Burgers represent about 63% of restaurant-related queries. And among them McDonald's and Pizza Hut figure prominently. 

Separately TeleNav conducted a survey of drivers and found, among other things, that:

Nearly 25 percent of both sexes reported sending at least one text message while driving per week. Men texted the most, with 36 percent of those who text while driving indicating they send an average of seven or more texts per week while on the road. In contrast, only 23 percent of women admitted to texting as frequently.

Below is a video demo of the current version of TeleNav (as AT&T Navigator):

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Google Making NFC Payments Push in NY and SF

An article in Bloomberg this morning says that Google is working with VeriFone and select retailers to test NFC-based mobile payments at stores in New York and San Francisco:

The company will pay for installation of thousands of special cash-register systems from VeriFone Systems Inc. (PAY) at merchant locations, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because Google’s plans haven’t been made public. The registers would accept payments from mobile phones equipped with so-called near-field-communication technology.

The project would put Google in a growing field of companies experimenting with NFC, which lets consumers pay for products and services by tapping a device against a register at checkout, giving them an alternative to cash or physical credit cards. The Google service may combine a consumer’s financial account information, gift-card balances, store loyalty cards and coupon subscriptions on a single NFC chip on a phone.

Because of a lack of universally accepted standards Apple has apparently decided against including NFC technology in the iPhone 5. Apple has 200 million credit card accounts on file and could become a major player in mobile payments if it decides to. Google has far fewer credit cards in Checkout, its payments platform, but the company can leverage its growing Android user base. 

Google's would be the first major test of NFC mobile payments in the US. Starbucks has rolled out a mobile payments app across its stores in the US; however it doesn't rely on NFC technology. There are various NFC roll outs now going on in Europe

US carriers and credit card issuers are also seeking to be major mobile payments providers. So are eBay/PayPal as well as a range of startups including Boku, Zong, Square and Bling Nation.

Beyond payments, NFC would support a range of marketing capabilities, not unlike QR codes today only more versatile. Beyond this Google would be able to capture a range of consumer data, including purchase behavior, that would be incredibly valuable to marketers and that Google itself could use to optimize and advantage its various advertising platforms. 

In-stat has projected that mobile payment users around the globe will surpass 375 million by 2015. 

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