Hardware

Demand for iPhone, iPad Remains High, iPad Mini: Not So Much

Several data sources over the past week have indicated very high levels of enthusiasm for the iPhone 5 and the iPad "Classic," but not as much interest in the rumored (yet forthcoming) iPad Mini.

Financial services and investment firm Pacific Crest reports that its checks reveal continuing, high levels of demand for the iPhone, which is reportedly hurting Android sales. According to a report in Fortune: 

[Pacific Crest's James] Faucette writes that he's seeing several Android-based vendors aggressively discounted previously "high-end" flagship-type products to mid- and low-tier pricing. "While the [Samsung] Galaxy SIII will continue to generate positive news flow as a viable iPhone competitor," he writes, "we continue to believe that as an ecosystem, Android's shipment levels likely peaked in the U.S. as far back as last October and are likely to see further declines in the future if the retention gap doesn't close."

Piper Jaffray found similarly high demand among US teens for the iPhone, as well as high ownership of iOS devices. Based on a survey of more than 7,000 teens the financial frim found 40% owned an iPhone, while 44% owned (or had access to) a tablet. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who owned a tablet had an iPad, according to the survey. 

These teens were also interested in the iPad Mini, especially if it were to be priced at less than $300. Pricing an iPad Mini creates an interesting challenge for Apple because it's new iPod Touch is priced at $299 and above. Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire tablets are priced at $199; so Apple can't go much beyond $200 in pricing the Mini. However that would potentially cannibalize sales of the new iPod Touch. 

In contrast to the Piper Jaffray survey, e-commerce site TechBargains.com conducted a survey of visitors to its site (n=1,332) in September and found only 18% of respondents were interested in an iPad Mini:

  • 18% of the surveyed consumers plan to purchase the iPad Mini, while 45% of respondents planned to purchase the new iPhone
  • 50% of those surveyed are not interested in buying the iPad Mini
  • 32% are undecided about the smaller iPad

Among the 18% who were interested in buying an iPad Mini: 

  • 14% indicated a plan to wait in line the day it is released
  • Original iPad owners are the most likely to pay for the new iPad Mini with 27% of them planning to purchase the tablet
  • Current Kindle Fire owners and those who don’t currently own a tablet are least likely to purchase: 16% of Kindle Fire owners surveyed and 16% of respondents who don’t own a tablet said they plan to purchase the iPad Mini

Pricing and features will ultimately determine how popular a smaller iPad tablet turns out to be.

PC Shipments to Decline -- No Surprise Here

It's no surprise that PC shipments are set to decline this year. While the enterprise market remains modestly healthy the consumer market for PCs is weak. And it's not just the economy; demand is fading.

We're in a "post PC" world now; consumers have many more device options to accomplish tasks that at one time could only be done on the PC. Indeed, MS Office is reportedly coming to iOS and Android devices. Office was the last barrier to totally giving up the PC for many people. 

IHS iSuppli has projected a 1.2% shipment (not sales) decline from 2011. But unlike shipments that never translate into consumer sales, there can be no sales without shipments. 

The company said that not since 2001 has the PC market contracted like this on a global basis: 

The total PC market in 2012 is expected to contract by 1.2 percent to 348.7 million units, down from 352.8 million in 2011, as shown in the figure below. Not since 2001—more than a decade ago—has the worldwide PC industry suffered such a decline.

When you step back and look at the broader device market, you can see how much growth lies ahead for smartphones and tablets (and who knows what other connected devices) in the future. The PC will likely chug along in workmanlike fashion but its days of robust double-digit growth are over.

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Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database, Gartner, Morgan Stanley (2011-2012)

Report: Smartphones + Tablets = 21% of Organic Search

Digital marketing agency RKG has released a Q3 report (based on aggregated data from its client base). The report covers search optimization, paid search, social media, email, comparison shopping and mobile. I'll focus here only on the mobile data.

The firm said that tablets (mostly iPads) and smartphones combined to drive 21% of organic search traffic in the third quarter. RKG commented that "this was nearly double the level we saw in Q3 last year." Because of the iPad and iPhone, iOS dominates organic search traffic from non-PC devices. According to the RKG report, "iOS held a 77% share of mobile organic search in Q3, an increase from 75% in Q2."

Operating System Share of Organic Search

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RKG also said that "revenue per click" (RPC) was almost the same on the iPad as it was on the PC, while smartphone RPC "languished at roughly a fifth that of desktop." Part of this is because only e-commerce events are being measured and captured. RKG and its clients aren't seeing the indirect impact of smartphones on conversions or purchases that happen later on PCs, tablets or in stores. Accordingly these data are somewhat skewed. 

What's interesting to observe in a more "apples to apples" context, however, is the discrepancy between iPad owner-users and Android tablet owners: "the iPad generated an average RPC that was more than double that for Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7." 

Mobile vs. Desktop: RPC by Device

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From a paid search marketing standpoint tablets and smartphones cost less and outperform PC (search) advertising. The discrepancy between costs and performance was greatest on smartphones. One reason why this may be so is that many marketers and platforms aren't necessarily valuing mobile correctly because of the conversion-tracking problem. Nonetheless it's a great opportunity for those that aggressively embrace it. 

Mobile vs. Desktop: CPC vs. CTR

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Despite Kindle Fire, Nexus 7 Sales 98% of Tablet Traffic Still Coming from the iPad

I've written about this before: the discrepancy between tablet shipment/sales and traffic figures. On the one hand you have the IDCs and Gartners of the world reporting tablet "shipments," showing iPad rivals gaining. On the other are the companies reporting the actual traffic they're seeing, which indicates the iPad still dominates all other tablets by a huge margin. 

IDC's Q2 market share data (based on "shipments") argue the iPad has a 68% global share. That's up slightly from Q1. 

IDC: Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Media Tablet Shipments, Second Quarter 2012 (Preliminary) (Unit Shipments are in thousands) 

However, earlier today, digital publishing platform Onswipe put out some data that show that the iPad's share of traffic generated was about 98%. This finding was based on analysis of almost 30 million impressions on 1200 sites earlier this month. 

 

The iPad's nearest traffic competitor, according to Onswipe, is the Galaxy Tab with 1.53% of tablet traffic. 

Ad network Chitika has previously published similar numbers. Earlier this summer Chitika found, based on millions of impressions on its ad network, that the iPad "accounted for 94.64% of all tablet-based traffic." The nearest competitor, again the Samsung Galaxy Tab, had "a lackluster market share of 1.22%."

So while Kindle Fire and other tablet devices (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Tab) have sold millions of units, for some reason these devices are not showing up in the traffic logs of publishers. That could well change in the coming quarter with better Kindle Fire devices and the success of the Nexus 7. But for now there appears to be a strange gap between device sales/shipments and traffic figures being generated by tablets.  

HP: We Need to Get Back into the Mobile Business -- Oy!

If you want to see a case study in poor management at a major company look no farther than Hewlett Packard. Once an exemplar of high-quality corporate culture and employee satisfaction the company is a mess. The catalog of mistakes is long. Among them the purchase, fumbling and effective shuttering of the PalmOS.

Late last week current HP CEO Meg Whitman said that the company has to get into the smartphone business -- or more precisely back into it -- because that's where the growth is in the computing market. 

If you recall, HP bought the PalmOS for $1.2 billion under former CEO Mark Hurd who was pushed out for falsifying expense reports among other ethics violations. Hurd had big plans for PalmOS but his ouster scuttled them. 

When the acquisition was announced in April, 2010 I wrote the following: 

It's a good outcome because HP needs to have a mobile strategy and it gives Palm and the WebOS a way to continue. Chief HP rival Dell is very clear on the critical role of mobile and portable Internet devices in its future and is rolling out numerous Android and WinMo handsets later this year. 

Lenovo was also taking a look at Palm and will itself be moving more aggressively into mobile. 

Given HP's financial clout and resources WebOS could emerge as a reasonably strong competitor -- perhaps most directly to RIM -- in the coming months and years, especially with new form factors. And that probably includes a WebOS-based tablet.

Obviously none of that happened. As a kind of salvage maneuver, HP decided to open-source WebOS but hasn't done a very good job of rolling that out. 

Had the Palm assets been better managed HP might have a viable smartphone right now and/or be offering a open-source alternative to Android. But those outcomes would have taken vision and execution, neither of which HP seems to have. 

It's quite unlikely that HP can make an Android phone that will effectively compete against Samsung and HTC. It might be able to make Android tablets but it won't be able to make them very profitably given the price competition now in the market. So while there's plenty of growth in mobile (smartphones, tablets) it's unlikely to be an area of strength or profit for HP. 

 

iPhone 5 Aftermath: the Biggest Loser Is NFC

Even though Nokia's Windows Phone 8 handsets and all the new Android devices feature NFC capability, its absence from the iPhone 5 deprives the technology "a mainstreaming opportunity" in the immediate future. Unlike any other company in the mobile industry Apple has the ability to popularize and educate consumers about new technologies.

A case-in-point is Siri. Speech recognition and "voice search" long-predated the iPhone 4S; however Siri was able to popularize them in ways that even Google and Microsoft could not. That would also have been true of near-field communications had the iPhone 5 incorporated it. 

Apple's Passbook software/app is a mobile wallet, which will enable transactions (i.e., Starbucks stored value card). However it won't be a full-blown mobile wallet that stores a credit card an enables contactless payments. That could come with the iPhone 5S or "5N" (for NFC). 

Obviously "the industry" will be moving forward with NFC rollout plans: Project Oscar in Europe, ISIS and Google Wallet in the US and so on. However consumers still need to be educated about the use cases and benefits of the technology. In some isolated situations they are or have been but for the most part -- certainly this is true in the US -- they remain ignorant of the technology itself let alone what it can do for them. 

On the broader subject of mobile wallets and mobile payments (NFC is only one flavor) most US consumers have little or no interest today: 

Screen Shot 2012-09-13 at 6.40.38 AM
Source: Opus Research (August, 2012), n=1,501

In the US market at least there's a double challenge: sell consumers on the benefits of mobile payments, which Apple can and will help do with Passbook and other third party apps, and sell them specifically on contactless, NFC-enabled payments. 

First Reactions to iPhone 5: 'Gets the Job Done'

Much like President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, the iPhone 5 announcement today "did what it had to do." It had to deliver a 4G capability as well as a larger screen. It did both, with a 4-inch display as opposed to the current 3.5-inch display.

In addition it offers a slightly longer battery life, a better camera and it's thinner. It also uses a new chip for better performance overall. It has enhanced audio and a smaller dock connector. It doesn't include NFC. While NFC wasn't widely expected it's still a major disappointment to the industry given Apple's ability to elevate new technologies and educate consumers about them. 

The handset is the same width but taller than the iPhone 4S, which might make it aesthetically awkward. I haven't seen one in person yet. On a personal note, I would have liked to see hardware that was more of a departure from the 4S but I suppose that will have to wait. 

The 3GS has been discontinued. The iPhone 4 now becomes free with a two-year carrier contract. The 4S drops to $99 and the 5 costs $199 for the entry level model (which is what most people buy). In the US it's available from Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. 

This phone will probably sell well -- just how well remains to be seen. Pre-orders start on Friday with delivery on September 21.

As many of the pundits remarked after Obama's speech last week, it wasn't entirely inspiring but it "gets the job done." The same can be said for the iPhone 5. 

If you're interested in more detailed coverage there's much much more, about every aspect of today's announcement, on Techmeme

As World Awaits iPhone 5 Google Reminds Everyone It's the Market Leader

Apple's rivals have been trying to get out in front of the iPhone 5 and the announcement today. Nokia held its Lumia/Windows Phone 8 event last week. Motorola (Google) announced a number of new Android handsets and, of course, Amazon had its big Kindle Fire press conference last week as well. All of these anticipated the iPhone 5 announcement today and tried to preempt it to some degree.

Last night Google's Hugo Barra casually posted some stats on his Google+ page: "Today is a big day for Android... 500 million devices activated globally, and over 1.3 million added every single day."

Android is the dominant smartphone platform in the world -- in case you forgot. And Google wanted to get that stat out there and inserted into the blizzard of articles that will be published today about Apple and the iPhone: " . . . but Android is the market leader with 500 million devices activated globally." 

The iPhone 5, as I said on my personal blog Screenwerk," is a critical release for Apple because Android phones have caught up or in some cases surpassed the device (i.e., LTE support, NFC). The new iPhone today must offer a larger screen and LTE support at a minimum to maintain consumer interest. 

An unintended leak on the Apple site indicates that there will in fact be LTE support. We'll see what else in less than a half hour.  

Nielsen: 58% of Teens Own Smartphones

Ahead of tomorrow's iPhone 5 launch -- perhaps they'll call it the "iPhone Cinq" -- there's lots of smartphone data flying around. Today Pew released some new demographic data about smartphone ownership (penetration higher among younger and more affluent users). And yesterday Nielsen discussed smartphone adoption among younger users:

Overall, young adults are leading the growth in smartphone ownership in the U.S., with 74 percent of 25-34 year olds now owning smartphones, up from 59 percent in July 2011. Interestingly, teenagers between 13 and 17 years old demonstrated the most dramatic increases in smartphone adoption, with the majority of American teens (58%) owning a smartphone, compared to roughly a third (36%) of teens saying they owned a smartphone just a year ago.

According to the US Census Bureau there are roughly 21 million teens in the US (according to 2008 data). Pew surveys have shown that 88% of US adults own mobile phones. Pew says that 77% of teens have mobile phones and 23% have smartphones. Nielsen is saying the overall teen smartphone number is much higher: 58% 

If 23% of US teens have smartphones that translates into roughly 4.8 million people. The Nielsen 58% figure equals roughly 12.1 million teens who own smartphones. If we average the two sets of numbers it comes out to 8.5 million teens with smartphones approximately. 

Using population data and the Pew survey figures, that would mean roughly 120 (or so) million US adults owned smartphones in the US today. Beyond this we can add 5 - 10 million more for teens. That would mean today we're looking at something like 125 to 130 million smartphones in the US. 

Millennial Media: Smartphones Now 74% of Impressions on Network

Millennial Media is out with its quarterly device barometer: Mobile Mix. The report tracks the top devices and operating system share on its network. It's based on a different methodology (share of ad impressions) vs. Nielsen or comScore, which both rely on surveys.

It's not a totally "objective" view of the marketplace. But its helpful to identify and monitor trends on a directional basis. The three big trends identified in the document are the following:

  • Increasing percentage of smartphones on Millennial's network (now 74%) vs. 50%+ for the overall mobile market
  • iOS growth and slight Windows Phone growth vs. other operating systems. It appears the iPhone grew at Android's expense, while Windows grew at RIM and "other's" expense
  • The document also shows the growth of "connected devices" (tablets)

Here are the charts that illustrate the above: 

Screen Shot 2012-09-11 at 9.31.57 AM

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In the future the tablet market will be a contest between Apple, Google and Amazon. Samsung, unless it decides to price things much more aggressively, will be marginalized -- at least in the US.

 

Amazon's Policy Reversal on Kindle Fire Ads a Smart Move

Last week I wrote Ads to Pollute Lockscreens of Kindle Tablets:

Yesterday it was discovered that all the new Kindle tablet Fire/HD models will feature these Special-Offer ads on the lockscreen. And, according to a statement provided by Amazon to CNET, there's no way to get rid of them. This controversy undermines what was otherwise a very successful launch.

The fact that Amazon won't allow consumers to "buy out" of the ad clutter is terrible and will turn off many people (though not all). It's a horrible policy. It's also one of the factors, it now appears, that allowed Amazon to so aggressively price these devices -- and undercut iPad's pricing so significantly. 

Over the weekend, based on the outcry it appears, Amazon did the right thing and reversed itself. The company will now allow users to pay a one-time fee of $15 to opt-out of lockscreen ads and Special Offers. Amazon provided the following statement to media outlets in announcing the reversal: 

With Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15. We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We're happy to offer customers the choice.

It's not clear at all that Amazon customers actually "love" Special Offers or whether they simply tolerate or ignore them. However the irony here is that the availability of the opt-out option will likely mean that more people will feel comfortable with the ads, knowing that they can turn them off.

Otherwise the other "option" would have been to not buy one of these devices. Amazon has taken that objection away. 

Ads to Pollute Lockscreens of Kindle Tablets

According to multiple surveys (including one recently run by Opus Research) majorities of people are happy to endure advertising in exchange for free services. Ad-supported smartphone apps, for example, are much more popular than their ad-free paid counterparts.

Yesterday Amazon introduced an aggressive new array of new Kindle tablets. The specs -- and especially the pricing -- are impressive. It turns out, however, that there's a catch: ads ("Special Offers"). 

Screen Shot 2012-09-07 at 11.57.00 AM

Previously Amazon had subsidized the cost of its lowest-priced Kindle eReader with Special Offers on the lockscreen. If it turned out that you didn't like the ads, you could "buy out" of them.

Yesterday it was discovered that all the new Kindle tablet Fire/HD models will feature these Special-Offer ads on the lockscreen. And, according to a statement provided by Amazon to CNET, there's no way to get rid of them. This controversy undermines what was otherwise a very successful launch.

The fact that Amazon won't allow consumers to "buy out" of the ad clutter is terrible and will turn off many people (though not all). It's a horrible policy. It's also one of the factors, it now appears, that allowed Amazon to so aggressively price these devices -- and undercut iPad's pricing so significantly. 

Let's hope that Amazon is shamed by negative PR into allowing consumers to opt-out or buy out of receiving these ads. Alternatively let's hope that the marketplace speaks and that consumers stay away. 

Will Amazon Lower Prices (Again) With Kindle Fire 2?

Amazon is holding an event next Thursday to introduce a second-generation Kindle Fire as well as a new 10-inch version in all likelihood. The company is also expected to "refresh" and upgrade its lower-end Kindles as well. There's considerable speculation about all this going on right now.

I'm less interested in talking about device "specs" (the subject of most of the current discussion) than pricing. 

The current Kindle Fire succeeded -- caught fire if you will -- because of the price ($199) and the association with Amazon. Since that time the device has "sold out." In reality sales have slowed dramatically in recent months. Objectively Kindle Fire is quite a mediocre tablet for use cases other than consuming Amazon content. 

Indeed, Google's Nexus 7 emerged a couple of months ago to dramatically improve upon Kindle Fire. Nexus 7 is a much better 7-inch tablet at the same $199 price point as Kindle Fire. In a head-to-head match up there's no question of which tablet to buy: Google Nexus 7.

Apple is also expected to introduce a 7-inch iPad Mini next month, along with a new iPhone. The two launches will be separate in all likelihood. The iPad Mini should also be quite appealing to those interested in a smaller tablet. And it will probably be priced competitively (around $200ish). The 7-inch tablet category will thus become a battle between Apple, Google/ASUS and Amazon. Samsung may work its way in with new devices, however.

In terms of features and usability, it's extremely unlikely that the Kindle Fire 2.0 will trump either the Nexus 7 or the iPad Mini. Beyond Amazon's content ecosystem it's chief weapon is pricing -- perhaps its only real weapon now. And in an effort to gain some advantage vs. Google and Apple might we see Amazon lower the price of the new 7-inch Kindle Fire and introduce a cheaper 10-inch tablet (vs. iPad)? 

It's quite possible -- even probable. I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon priced the Kindle Fire 2 at $179 and offered a more expensive model with more memory. A 10-inch model might start at just under $400 (to beat the iPad 2 price). Again, price was the main driver of Kindle Fire sales. 

Amazon either breaks even or loses money on each Kindle Fire sold but then makes money on content sales and e-commerce thereafter. Accordingly it can afford to be aggressive on pricing. But it can't go much lower than it already has with Kindle Fire. 

In any case Kindle Fire 2 is going to be a much tougher sell in a more crowded and competitive market. 

Update: CNET is reporting that there won't be a 10-inch Kindle Fire to directly challenge the iPad but two 7-inch versions instead. 

Samsung, Windows Phone 8 and Tepid Consumer Demand

Whether or not responding to the recent Apple patent victory in US federal district court, Samsung has said it will be first out of the gate with a Windows Phone 8 device. The new device, announced yesterday, is called "Ativ S" and will be out before Nokia's first Windows Phone 8 handset. Indeed, Samsung will be formidable competition for Nokia with the new OS. 

Meanwhile an analyst at Bernstein Research argues that US consumers simply aren't interested in the Microsoft mobile OS: 

“Our research shows that for many years, poor sales of Windows-based phones stem from a deep and stable lack of consumer interest for the product. Despite numerous and repeated efforts of manufacturers (Nokia, but also Samsung and HTC) and Operators to develop an alternative to Android and Apple based on Windows, and despite the launch of numerous phones based on Windows with strong features, reviews and marketing support, the operating system remains cornered to less than 5% market share in smartphones.”

Currently Windows Phones' market share in the US is 3.8% according to the most recent comScore figures

Screen Shot 2012-08-30 at 12.16.05 PM

A consumer survey conducted by Opus Research in April indicated something quite similar in terms of demand for Windows Phones:

My next mobile phone will likely be . . .

Screen Shot 2012-08-30 at 12.23.43 PM
Source: Opus Research, April 2012 (n=1,504)

These responses won't necessarily translate into sales figures -- Android is obviously leading the market -- however they do indicate a level of interest or demand for the various handsets and operating systems.

Both Microsoft and Nokia have high expectations for Windows Phone 8. It's not clear what will happen if consumer demand fails to materialize. 

Smartphones Now Dominant, Growth Accelerating

In the US smartphone penetration crossed the 50% threshold earlier this year. And two new reports show that smartphone growth and dominance are accelerating.

The first is a forecast from IHS iSuppli, which projected that 54% of mobile handset shipments in 2013 would be smartphones. This would mark the first time that smartphone shipments will dominate feature phones. It wasn't supposed to happen for three more years. 

Part of the popularity of smartphones is driven by "culture," as well as the convenience and value of having a smartphone. But smartphone adoption is also being driven by price. Subsidized smartphone pricing in the US often makes the devices as cheap to buy ($49 - $99) as feature phones.  

Separately, Flurry Analytics said in a recent report that 78% of US mobile phone users now own smartphones (iOS or Android devices).

Most Mature iOS and Android Device Markets 

This caught my attention because this figure (78%) is obviously much larger than the Nielsen and Pew numbers that show 50%+ smartphone adoption. Pew, comScore and Nielsen extrapolate from survey samples to calculate the total number of smartphones in the US market.

I exchanged emails with Flurry seeking clarification of this 78% figure and what it represented. Flurry confirmed my interpretation was correct.

The company is saying that 78% of US adults with active mobile devices are on iOS or Android devices. Flurry says that its data are based on actual usage and its population of device owners globally is in the hundreds of millions. 

Flurry now says there are 165 million active smartphones in the US today. That compares to a PC Internet population of roughly 220 million. 

Nokia and Others Form 'In-Location Alliance' to Promote Indoor Positioning

Nokia is spearheading what's being called "The In-Location Alliance." The purpose of the new quasi-trade group is to "drive innovation and market adoption of high accuracy indoor positioning and related services." The assumption is that more accurate indoor positioning will create new markets and new revenue opportunities.

According to the press release out this morning: "The Alliance will focus on creating solutions offering high accuracy, low power consumption, mobility, implementability and usability. It will create an ecosystem that stimulates innovation, enhances service delivery, and accelerates the adoption of solutions and technologies that optimize the mobile experience."

There are 22 companies listed as founding members: Broadcom, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Eptisa, Geomobile, Genasys, Indra, Insiteo, Nokia, Nomadic Solutions, Nordic Semiconductor, Nordic Technology Group, NowOn, Primax Electronics, Qualcomm, RapidBlue Solutions, Samsung Electronics, Seolane Innovation, Sony Mobile Communications, TamperSeal AB, Team Action Zone and Visioglobe.

The release also indicates the alliance will promote open standards and systems to allow for broad participation by non-member vendors and third parties.

There are a number of companies already operating in the indoor positioning segment, including Google, Microsoft, Wifarer, Point Inside, Aisle411 and others. Interestingly none of them are on the list above. No carrier is part of this inagural group either. However, the alliance is inviting any and all interested parties to join. 

Notwithstanding the promise of new business models, that's one of the central questions: how will some of these companies make money? The superficial response is "deals and advertising." Privacy is also another major issue. However I suspect that can be addressed with an opt-in approach, much in the way that Apple does with iPhone apps requesting to use location. 

PayPal Does Distribution Deal with Discover for Massive Reach

PayPal today announced a deal with Discover Card that will potentially bring its mobile payments services to more business locations than any of its rivals, including Square. The potential reach is reportedly seven million merchants.

The new in-store payments capability should be live by Q2 of next year. Consumers will be able to pay by swiping a PayPal card, that in turn backs onto a credit card or checking account or PayPal account balance. In that instance PayPal is no different than using a conventional credit or debit card. However for some subset of merchants (but still perhaps millions) consumers will be able to enter a mobile phone number and a security PIN on the retailer POS terminal (as in the Home Depot implementation). 

That mobile + PIN scenario is potentially faster and more secure than a card swipe. Today there are roughly 16 major retailers that have implemented PayPal in stores. However number is expected to grow by the end of the year in advance of the Discover rollout. 

Yet PayPal/eBay will need to educate and aggressively market the service to consumers if it hopes to drive adoption. There will also need to be incentives and rewards to get consumers to try the system. Even though the mobile + PIN approach is more secure than a card swipe consumers often express security concerns about mobile payments. There's a perception they're less secure.  

The deal with Discover now vaults PayPal back to a leadership position in mobile payments. However mobile payments isn't a zero-sum game. There won't be a single winner. Several major competitors can operate and succeed. Beyond PayPal and Square the question is: who will be the other winners?

See related posts:  

Smartphone Demand Slips, Carrier Loyalty Trumps Smartphone OS

Yesterday I posted data from Chetan Sharma (from US carriers) that reflected growing smartphone demand and waning demand for feature phones. However Gartner's latest handset sales data reflects a decline in smartphone sales from last quarter: 

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached 419 million units in the second quarter of 2012, a 2.3 percent decline from the second quarter of 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales accounted for 36.7 percent of total mobile phone sales and grew 42.7 percent in the second quarter of 2012.

Unlike other handset figures in the market these data represent actual handset sales vs. "shipments." Samsung is now the global market leader, followed by Nokia and then Apple. Nokia's share is now just under 20% of global handset sales. Half of Samsung's 90 million unit sales were smartphones according to Gartner. 

Screen Shot 2012-08-14 at 10.36.26 AM

By contrast the firm said that demand for the iPhone weakened, "as sales fell 12.6 percent from the first quarter of 2012, but grew 47.4 percent year on year." This was reflected in Apple's Q2 earnings, which missed expectations based on lower iPhone sales. The suggestion is that consumers are waiting for the next iPhone to be released. 

In a related bit of data, gadget blog The Verge published results of a survey conducted by Apple at some point in the past (date unreported). The sample size was very small (n=89). The data are being exposed as part of the Apple-Samsung IP trial going on now. The survey asks why users chose an Android device over an iPhone.

Top reasons for buying an Android among those who considered an iPhone

  • Wanted to stay with wireless service provider -- 48%
  • Trusted the Google brand -- 36%
  • Preferred larger screen -- 30% 
  • Preferred the Android market for apps -- 27% 
  • Wanted better integration with Google services -- 26%
  • Wanted the latest and greatest smartphone -- 26%
  • Wanted GPS turn-by-turn navigation -- 25%
  • Wanted the latest technology -- 25%

The fact that the top reason for choosing Android is "wanted to stay with wireless service provider" indicates this survey was probably conducted before Verizon obtained the iPhone, which was in early 2011. The iPhone is now available from all major US carriers, except T-Mobile, as well as several pre-paid carriers. There's enormous pressure for Apple to deliver an exciting new piece of hardware when the next iPhone is announced in September. 

Returning to the Gartner data, the firm said that Nokia is under pressure at both ends of the market. Low-cost Chinese OEMs are hurting the company's feature phone business, while its "Lumia devices continue to struggle to find a place in consumers' minds as a replacement for Android." 

The Decline of Voice, WiFi Tablets and Other Carrier Data from 1H 2012

Mobile industry and carrier watcher Chetan Sharma has pulled together mostly carrier-published data for a mid-year update across a range of topics relevant to the wireless industry. I pulled four of his slides below; however you can see the full presentation here.

The first slide below shows increasing smartphone penetration in the US and abroad. No surprise here; this has been in the survey data for months. In Q2 smartphone sales exceeded 70% of new handset sales in the US.

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 8.01.50 PM

Outside the US smartphone penetration isn't rising quite as fast. However it will accelerate and US smartphone growth will start to slow over the next 12 to 24 months. Feature phone sales in the US are now clearly in the minority.

The next slide shows handset market share by manufacturer, with feature phone sales representing only about 30% of total handset sales this year.

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 8.03.02 PM

Particularly striking in the chart above are the following:

  • The rapid decline of feature phone sales since 2010 (orange)
  • The decline of RIM over the same period (green) 
  • The amazing growth of Samsung (purple), now dominating smartphone and Android sales in the US
  • The relative flatness of Apple's overall share (red)

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 8.04.29 PM

The graphic above shows the relative shares of voice and data on US carrier networks. Data, in red, now entirely eclipses voice. In 2009 the two were had nearly equal shares of traffic on carrier networks.

Finally, the following chart shows the ratio of WiFi-only tablets tablet sales with carrier network connections.

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I'm drawing a few inferences but it appears the data show consumers are avoiding additional carrier fees and service plans, preferring to run tablets on WiFi networks. Notwithstanding some of the new shared data plans it appears that carriers will not derive significant new revenues from the growth of tablets.

With nearly 50 million tablets in the US market, carrier-networked devices constitute roughly 8% of the total. The lure of discounted devices in exchange for two-year contract commitments isn't succeeding in getting customers to pay additional carrier fees. Beyond basic consumer resistance to new fees, the $199 Kindle Fire, Nexus 7 and potentially forthcoming 7-inch iPad, undermine the appeal of carrier discounts.    

Starbucks-Square and How "Point Solutions" Will Drive Mobile Payments

Yesterday Starbucks and Square made a big announcement. The deal is huge for Square and will make it the payments processor for US Starbucks locations. The coffee-lifestyle company also invested $25 million in Square at a $3.25 billion valuation. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz joined the Square board as part of the deal.

Here are the basic terms: 

  • Customers will be able to use Pay with Square, Square’s payer application, from participating company operated U.S. Starbucks stores later this fall, and find nearby Starbucks locations within Square Directory
  • Square will process Starbucks U.S. credit and debit card transactions, which will significantly expand Square’s scale and accelerate the benefits to businesses on the Square platform, especially small businesses, while reducing Starbucks payment processing costs
  • Using Square Directory, Starbucks customers will be able to discover local Square businesses -- from specialty retailers to crafts businesses -- from within a variety of Starbucks digital platforms, including the Starbucks Digital Network and eventually the Starbucks mobile payment application
  • By accepting Pay with Square, Starbucks is giving millions of customers another way to enjoy a quick and seamless payment experience at approximately 7,000 Starbucks stores.

Why is this important and what's important about it? Clearly it's a massive win for Square, which becomes the undisputed "mobile payments" leader in the US with this deal. It brings, scale, prestige, brand recognition and revenue to Square. 

However there's nothing actually new here for Starbucks from a consumer experience standpoint. Starbucks has offered mobile payments through its smartphone apps for some time. That will continue.

Square's "Pay with Square" consumer app and local business directory will also become an accepted form of payment at Starbucks. This will give a significant boost to the app, which hasn't been widely adopted.

I've described Starbucks before as "The American Idol of mobile payments." That's because it's in a nearly unique position to educate consumers and introduce them to mobile payments in a specific context, where they can experience the efficiency and convenience of paying without using cash or physically swiping their credit cards. 

I've also recently written that it's this type of "point solution" experience that's going to be the driver of mobile payments rather than abstract, "horizontal" apps such as Google Wallet. Ultimately, however, Google Wallet and others may be the beneficiaries of the Starbucks-Square partnership and the "education" it brings to the market. 

The high profile nature of this deal may motivate similar deals or the acceleration of mobile payments at other fast-food and "fast causal" eating establishments. I wouldn't be surprised, for example, if McDonald's initiated a mobile payments pilot of some sort in the very near future.