Local Search

PNDs Must React to TomTom's Move

We've been arguing for some time that PNDs are an endangered species, as smartphones gain turn-by-turn navigational capabilities and offer a great deal more than PNDs can. Indeed, RIM just bought DASH and may do some interesting things with the platform, which had failed to gain consumer adoption. But it's the TomTom announcement for the iPhone that should strike fear into the rest of the market.

In becoming an app, TomTom may at once be protecting and promoting itself while hastening the demise of the larger PND market. Other PND firms will need to push more aggressively now into software for existing smarthphone platforms unless the TomTom app totally bombs. 

Although it will be expensive (perhaps near $100), TomTom's move will underscore the point that if people need to choose between devices it will be a smartphone that people will choose. Garmin defensively built the Nuvifone in recognition of the way the market is going. 

Here's a promotional video for TomTom's app (you can bet Apple will do lot's of free promotion for the company).

comScore: Lo-Mo Content Audience Up 51%

This afternoon comScore put out a press release showing significant growth in local content access on mobile devices vs. a year ago -- across the browser, apps and SMS. Local here is defined as "maps, movies, directories or restaurants."

Local information on mobile devices, according to comScore, is most often accessed via the mobile browser. However, the strongest growth is coming from apps, "which grew 83 percent versus year ago, followed by SMS at 72 percent."

Here are their numbers (from March):

  • Browser: 20.7 million users
  • SMS: 11.7 million
  • Apps: 11.3 million

That would be 43.7 million users of local content on mobile devices out of a total US mobile Internet audience of approximately 65 million. Some of that audience, however, is going to be duplicated (e.g., iPhone users who access both the browser and apps). Remember that this is not all content on mobile devices; it's local content as defined by comScore above.

Local content by access category:

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Growth by local content category:

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The release ends with a discussion of yellow pages apps and related mobile distribution efforts.

These data present a directionally accurate but incomplete picture of local content access on mobile devices. For example, there are other categories of local content not reflected here (e.g., shopping, weather) and directory assistance lookups/calls don't appear. It also seems that "search" is not part of this analysis, although search may be factored in as a way that users nagivate to local content via the browser. 

These data are also not segmented by device type (i.e., smartphone vs. feature phone). My guess is that we'd see browser and apps use concentrated in the smartphone category, while SMS would dominate on feature phones. In addition apps usage would probably be highest on the iPhone, which makes sense given the fact that most apps developers have focused on the platform and not been as prolific for other smartphones to date. 

Here's the apps count as reported yesterday by Apple:

  • Apple: 50K
    Android: 5K
    Nokia/Symbian: 1K
    RIM: 1K

Our most recent research show the following types of content accessed via mobile devices: 

  1. Email
  2. Weather information
  3. Games
  4. Search engines
  5. Maps and driving directions
  6. News and sports information
  7. Local business search
  8. Social networking
  9. Movies, show times
  10. Local restaurants and reviews
  11. Product information shopping
  12. Financial information
  13. Adult content
  14. Other types of content

iPhone 3Gs: Location in the Browser

The new iPhone 3Gs is a lot more location savvy. For example: 

  • TomTom is now an app
  • It's got a new compass function that orients the map view to the user's direction/position
  • It allows turn-by-turn directions
  • Third parties can embed maps in their apps
  • Location is now available to the Safari browser (this will be true of Android's browser going forward as well)

In particular, on the last point, location in the browser means that publishers and websites can localize their content, functionality and potentially ads through the browser. They no longer have to build apps to capture the phone's location awareness. This is a big deal for both the user experience and for publishers/marketers potentially.

Users will still need to opt-in to share their location. However the experience will be simple as with the current "X would like to use your location" message for apps. 

Rather than driving or boosting "local search" this will allow location to be more seamlessly integrated across mobile sites and into the broad user experience. 

The $99 iPhone, TomTom Becomes an App, and More

At the WWDC Apple keynote this morning a dizzying array of upgrades and refinements were announced for the Mac laptop line and the Mac OS. The Safari browser also saw a range of improvements, but it was the iPhone-related announcements that everyone was waiting for.

Apple announced a faster iPhone (3Gs) with a 3 megapixel camera and video and an impressive voice control that extends across the device to contacts and iPod/iTunes. The battery life has also been extended. The new device reportedly has 5 hours of talk time and 9 hours of WiFi-Internet life. 

There are two models: 16 and 32GB for $199 and $299 respectively with an AT&T contract. The company also announced the much-anticipated $99 8GB version to broaden the appeal of the device. That will draw lots more folks to AT&T. 

Here's a partial list of the new capabilities announced (some were pre-announced):

  • App sharing for free apps (not paid)
  • Cut and paste
  • MMS including video from all carriers at launch (AT&T late summer but maybe not video).
  • Direct movie rental and purchase over the air (audio books too). ent and purchase movies from the phone, along with audiobooks.
  • Tethering via bluetooth and USB for Macs and PCs (but no AT&T support in US)
  • MobileMe features: find my phone (from PC browser) and remote clearing of data
  • Google Maps embeddable in third party apps, including turn by turn
  • Video embeddable in third party apps
  • Push notifications of various sorts
  • Search over all apps, contact, etc. 

Also on display were a range of games and various useful apps (e.g., ZipCar, which allows users to unlock the car with the app) for the new 3.0 software. This part of the keynote underscored the critical role of apps for Apple in staying ahead of the competition.  

One of the more noteworthy apps shown was the TomTom for iPhone with a windshield mount. No price was mentioned so it's probably expensive. But it's GPS, turn by turn + points of interest, etc. and provides another reason to buy the device (bad news PND market). RIM just bought DASH so expect it to be used in a similar way. 

There are now 50K apps in the apps store (vs. 18 so far for Pre) and a combined total of 40 million iPhone + iPod touches sold on a global basis. Apple said that 65% of mobile browser usage is on the iPhone/iPod touch.

Here's the apps count according to Apple:

  • Apple: 50K
  • Android: 5K
  • Nokia/Symbian: 1K
  • RIM: 1K

The combination of hardware and software upgrades announced today, combined with the new $99 8GB iPhone, makes it still the device to beat in the space. It's also clear that AT&T remains a drag on the iPhone's potential sales in the US. And while the $99 model will drive some additional subs to AT&T (perhaps a lot), if it were more broadly available there would probably be 2X the sales for the coveted device.

Android Places Directory, Leverages Location Not Search

Google has just put out an Android app called Places Directory (see also, Google Labs) which takes a page from the iPhone app "Around Me." It organizes content into popular categories and uses the phone's location awareness to show people the nearest hotels, restaurants, attractions, bars, banks, shopping, taxis, etc. It's also not unlike Earthcomber's LBS app as well.

Places Directory is especially noteworthy because there's no search box anywhere in the app itself, although it can be searched via the search button on the handset. It emphasizes browsing, although the consumer intent is still directional -- to find a restaurant, hotel, etc. So from that standpoint it's no different than a search query. But it's more convenient and effective than using search because it offers a range of choices (including ratings, maps, details) in close proximity to the user, without dealing with links.

In a more polished way it reminds me of a mobile experiment Google launched (mobile LCB) early last year that emphasized browsing over search.

At a press conference during the recent Google developer conference I asked a question about whether the mobile device presented challenges to search and whether search (as it has evolved online) might become a "secondary" tool for users, who might turn to apps or even bookmarks before a search box. The Google panelists and Tim O'Reilly were practically incredulous that such a question could be raised. While I might not have made the point clearly or well then, I think that the Places Directly does that pretty well now. 

Bing Mobile and Rebranded Bing 411

Live Search mobile has relaunched as Bing Mobile at m.bing.com. It's just a rebranding in this case because none of the new functionality from the Bing interface makes it into the mobile version (screenshot below).

1-800-Call-411 has also been rebranded "Bing 411." This is a different number than Call-411, but both numbers send you to the Tellme-driven service now announced as "Bing 411." This is a much richer and more complete experience than Goog-411 (this is a case where it's clearly better not just a little better). In addition to business listings you can get movie times, traffic and weather. And they've put back search by neighborhood, which is an incredibly valuable feature. Authour's observations on Bing 411 are posted on the site here.

When you search for restaurants on Bing 411, for example, it also offers you a star rating as opposed to just the business listing information. This is consistent with Microsoft's presentation of Bing as a "decision engine" rather than just a search engine.

If Microsoft were really smart it would do separate marketing around Bing 411 to get mobile users engaged with it. That would in turn drive branding, adoption and loyalty (to varying degrees) on the PC search side. 

Mobile Bing

 

Tetherball Brings RFID to Mobile Couponing

Coupons, deals and offers are consistently regarded with more consumer interest and less "hostility" than other forms of mobile advertising. When you ask consumers in the abstract whether they're interested in ads on their phones they typically say "no" or "not at all." More experienced or sophisticated users with smartphones are more open to mobile advertising and generally more engaged. However the concept of mobile advertising (vs. the experience) is often distasteful to users. 

In previous research Jupiter (now part of Forrester) found that 30% of consumers had some interest in mobile coupons. Last year in our own survey, we found that closer to 43% were either "somewhat interested" or "very interested" in mobile deals/offers. And SMS marketer HipCricket had almost identical results to ours in its own survey last year. 

In our most recent survey (3/09) we found that 57% of respondents agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" with the statement: "I'm interested in any ad that offers me a discount or way to save money."

ValPak found dramatic results when it revamped its mobile site to make it more user-friendly. And coupon interest on the PC has been growing remarkably this past year. So there's no question in my mind about consumer interest. However, there have been many challenges with mobile couponing on the merchant side, both from an infrastructure perspective and in terms of a practical POS sale entry. There are also some residual merchant concerns about fraud, although those will disappear over time.

Mobile loyalty marketer Tetherball has just introduced something unique in the US market: RFID-based mobile loyalty/couponing. There's some complexity here but the system is very interesting. Here's how the press release explains it:

Tetherball’s unique 360˚ approach helps clients "tether" their brand to target audiences by identifying what their customers want and delivering mobile campaigns that interact with the ultimate call to action through permission based mobile coupons, mobile rewards, mobile sweepstakes and mobile notifications. Integrating traditional marketing methods such as in-store advertising, customers are engaged to sign up for mobile loyalty rewards programs offering promotional discounts. Upon joining, customers are given a Tetherball Tag™, a tiny RFID chip that is easily affixed to their mobile phones, which uniquely identifies them through Tetherball’s sophisticated technology platform. Tetherball clients are then able to send offers to their customers via standard text messaging. Offers are redeemed electronically using existing in-store RFID point of sale terminals or stand-alone RFID kiosks provided by Tetherball.

Mobiquitous™, a patent-pending real time web-based reporting system, delivers detailed visibility and analytics into coupon redemption rates and overall program performance. Whether it’s reporting at a campaign level, geographical level or for a specific period of time, Mobiquitous provides clients with “real time visibility” so that they can adjust quickly and leverage the real time nature of mobile marketing.

Essentially a customer is prompted to sign up for a mobile loyalty program (as part of that s/he affixes an RFID tag to his/her phone). She later gets an SMS message (targeted based on a range of parameters) and is given an incentive to visit a local quick service (fast food) restaurant -- a coupon. The user swipes their phone with the RFID tag in front of a physical kiosk and gets a paper coupon, which is printed out, to present at the register. 

In one sense this isn't a "mobile coupon" program because the coupons themselves aren't mobile. The prompt and notification of the deal is however. 

I spoke last week with Jay Highley, formerly of ChaCha, who is now President of Tetherball. He conveyed some of the results of the program, which has been quite successful and been running for some time. He said that the company has tried all the existing approaches to mobile couponing and is convinced that this addresses the deficiencies that they've found. Quoted in the release, Dairy Queen said: 

Due to the success of our program, we now average over 900 members per store and continue to see solid growth in membership and redemption rates - which is making a measurable difference in our year over year traffic and revenue.

Highly says the program is really about loyalty and not about couponing. When I asked him about the challenges of getting all these kioks installed, Highly said that the cost was inexpensive and the merchants liked the kioks because it removed the confusion of mobile coupon redemption from the register line and simplified the process. He added that the kiosks themselves in the stores become marketing vehicles for the program: people wonder what they are and investigate. 

Highly stressed also with me that this solves all the current challenges of mobile couponing: fraud, tracking, redemption. There can be no fraud because the system knows whether the user has already taken advantage of the offer and so on. 

We're likely to see lots of innovation around RFID and mobile marketing in the next few years. But this is a pretty interesting example already in the market.

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Related: Here's CBS News' piece on Tetherball. 

The Mobile Location Infrastructure

The NY Times covers the location infrastucture with a focus on Skyhook Wireless and how it does triangulation:

When an iPhone owner starts up an application that involves location — like the restaurant finder Urbanspoon or the forecast service WeatherBug — the phone calculates whether it is likely to get the best and fastest information from its own GPS chip or from Skyhook’s system. Skyhook says it can provide a fix on location in seconds, versus up to a minute for GPS, although Skyhook is less useful in areas with few Wi-Fi networks.

Skyhook checks a list of nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers against its database and triangulates the device’s location within 30 to 60 feet. The company says it is not connecting to those Wi-Fi networks, just detecting their presence. (As a backup, the iPhone can also use cell tower information from Google.)

In addition it appears that location is coming to the browser in the iPhone 3.0 update. That means websites will be able to tap location without users having to manually enter it and that publishers will get access to user location without having to build a "native app." 

Location in the mobile browser is a parallel development to location on the desktop browser.

On BlackBerry Poynt Dominates Local Search

The story of Multiplied Media's Poynt is the story of an amazing comeback. The company was having quite a rough time of it a year ago (very rough), despite some big deals in the pipeline.

Then the company won the grand prize in the BlackBerry app developer challenge. (One of the principals of the BlackBerry Partners Fund was singing its praises to me at the EconSM conference a couple weeks ago.) Then the BlackBerry App World store launched and the app has seen great success reportedly

It has also won other prizes and recognition. And now Poynt has launched in Germany with a big partnership there (Deutsche Telekom and its associated directory publishers [Muller Medien]):

Multiplied Media Corporation  . . . today announces the launch of its award-winning Poynt local search application for BlackBerry(R) smartphones in Germany. Multiplied has been working with SEARCHTEQ GmbH (formerly t-info), a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom Medien GmbH (DeTeMedien) and directory publishers in Germany, to develop its Poynt application for the German market.

Through SEARCHTEQ, Poynt utilizes data from suchen.de to provide business listing results while movie results are provided by kino.de . . .

I won't say that the company's future is assured but it's come back from a dire position to be a leading local search app on the leading smartphone platform. 

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Related: Multiplied seeking to acquire mobile messaging/email provider UnoMobi in all-stock deal. 

Goog 411 Adds Intersections Info to Service

The Google Mobile Blog announced that callers to Goog 411 can now get information on the nearest intersection to a desired business location:

If you're out and about, you can call GOOG-411 and get local information about businesses. Now we've made it even easier to orient yourself without a map in front of you: call GOOG-411, ask for 'details', and in addition to the address and phone number of the business, we'll also point you to the nearest street intersection or adjacent streets.

This is a helpful addition to the service. Now Google needs to add the ability to request information by neighborhood and not just city (e.g., "cafes Tribeca, New York). 

I don't have data on whether Goog 411 and related services from competitors are more popular with feature phone users or whether they're equally used by smartphone owners. However, in our most recent consumer/mobile user survey we found that only 20% of respondents said they called 411 on their handsets. Interestingly smartphone owners were more likely to call 411 on their handsets. They may be less concerned about cost, which is a factor cited for not calling.

Nokia Wants to Emphasize LBS As Differentiator

Nokia spent over $8 billion for Navteq so it should want to leverage LBS. According to the WSJ:

Nokia Corp. is striving to integrate location-based functionalities with other services and social applications available through its handsets, Chief Executive Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said Wednesday.

"The phone knows where you are. It might know where you're going or what you're going to do," said Kallasvuo at the All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, California.

However Nokia won't have any real advantage with LBS given the general emphasis on location across mobile platforms. So it won't materialize as a differentiator in fact. At the D event Kallasvuo also demonstrated the N97, not yet in the US market. Here's how Barrons summarized the demo:

He’s going to do a Demo of their newest handheld computer, the N97, not in the marketplace yet, but coming soon. Will be in the U.S. 5MP autofocus camera. Home screen has collection of widgets. With weather info. Uses GPS to pick out where it is. Facebook feed real time. Email. AP news ticker. Widgets on the Ovi store, their version of the App Stpre. Can post photos, tag them, upload them to Facebook or Twitter or Flickr. Has 32 GB internal, plus micro SD card. Plays MP3s, AAC music tracks. Stereo speakers. Has built in FM transmitter, so works on any radio. In email, there is text to speech. Can read one email, or all of them. Also speech to text to respond. Maps functionality includes 3D, and turn by turn directions. Ovi store will recommend appropriate applications based on relevancy from data on SIM card. Twitter client. And full QWERTY physical keyboard. Browser plays Flash natively on the Web. Can play video in most formats. Can do video chat, with video camera on the front.

Here's our earlier post on the N97

Despite the fact that Nokia is the leading handset maker in the world and continues to enjoy strength in markets outside the US it's in trouble. A range of rivals continue to attack its position with increasing success. It has talked about re-entering the US market with cheap smartphones (not the N97) and that's a good strategy in my view. By contrast the N97 is not a low-end device; the unsubsidized price is apparently a whopping €550 ($695).

Unless carriers are willing to subsidize the N97 and bring the cost down to less than $200 it won't have a chance regardless of its features and capabilities. 

Sprint Launches Customizable Screen Saver

Based on Sprint's "Now Network" promotion, the company has launched a customizable screen saver that allows to access multiple services and types of content:

While screensavers are nothing new, Sprint has overhauled the familiar application in a fresh and exciting way to encapsulate the depth, breadth and power of the Sprint Now Network. The NOW customizable screensaver, which launched today, lets you see the present moment on your screen by drawing in information from your Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr data. In addition, it enables you to tailor other real time elements, such as local traffic and bus schedules, the weather, and even how many Google results match your name!

Customization/personalization is one of the ways that carriers can remain relevant to end users as more subscribers opt for mobile devices that offer full browsers. The "carrier deck" becomes less and less relevant or entirely absent when users are on the iPhone or Android for example. There was a deck of sorts on WinMo 6.1. But people will increasingly just go to apps/widgets or directly to the Internet.

On the back end, with user location and other user data, carriers can potentially get a piece of ad revenues by providing some of that targeting data to third party publishers and ad networks (provided the FTC doesn't bar it). However as consumers migrate to more Internet-cable phones carriers will need to offer positive reasons to consumers to interact with their content. AT&T and Verizon have accordingly said they'll be creating apps stores. 

But I imagine a situation -- a more "robust" version of what Sprint is talking about -- where users can customize a start page with third party content. Some portion of that page could be reserved for carrier branding and messaging or carrier-sold ads. This is analogous to MyYahoo today. 

But for these more compelling tools and services to mobile subscribers, the "dumb-pipe" scenario looms larger and larger for operators. 

Apps vs. Search: An Evolving Story

More than a year ago we wrote the following in the conclusion to a report speculating, "Will Google Dominate the Mobile Web?"

Users have been conditioned to search online some of that behavior will translate into mobile. The evidence is already there; and the transference will likely become even more pronounced if full HTML browsers (i.e., Opera Mini, Safari, Skyfire) gain broader adoption. They explicitly seek to minimize the distinctions between the Internet and the “mobile Internet.” Google also hopes there will be a few distinctions between the two over time – hence Google’s WAP homepage redesign.

Despite this hope for convergence there remain a wide range of devices and user experiences in mobile. That’s partly why Google is pursuing a diversified mobile strategy. It’s very likely that search will have a significant role to play on the handset. The question is: will that be central and primary or secondary and more peripheral? This is very much up for grabs as the mobile market evolves and companies jockey for position. Google has a significant advantage “going in,” given its brand strength and resources. But, as we’ve tried to argue, there are other paradigms and use cases that are emerging. The wide range of devices and user experiences thus creates potential openings for companies other than Google to rise in mobile and potentially gain mindshare and market share. We’ll see if that happens.

I was remind of that report when I saw this article: iPhone apps are Google's biggest threat in mobile search. While the title sums it up, here's the core of the article:

The last example points to one of the reasons why mobile apps trump mobile search. With mobile search you don’t always know whether the stuff you click on in the search results will be viewable or functional on your smartphone. But if you have a mobile app or site that’s designed for that smartphone then you can be relatively confident that a search using that app will quickly return results (and links) that are optimized for a smartphone.

The article also assumes continued smartphone penetration. The question is how much and how soon? 

While apps pre-date the iPhone, the iPhone made apps central to the smartphone experience. Our earlier speculation was that apps, browser favorites and other input methods (e.g., camera phones) could affect the centrality of search as a way to obtain content on mobile devices.

All the major smartphone platforms now have apps stores: iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm and now Nokia/Symbian. What we're now callling smartphones and their successors will eventually come to dominate the market. But when that will be is up in the air. In five years a significant minority of US and global phones will function as mobile Internet devices (and potentially have access to apps).

The market is fluid and it's still too early to tell conclusively but we agree that the emergence of apps, combined with the limitations of "mobile search" today make it less likely that a PC-like search experience will be as central in mobile as it is on the desktop. That still could change as mobile search evolves -- the iPhone 3.0 upgrade has a spotlight like search feature -- and as voice becomes more reliable as a mobile search interface.

For Google that means it must develop its display and contextual ads business for mobile, which it is, rather than simply assume and rely upon search revenues. They will grow but, in the near term, they may not produce the mobile gold rush that some are anticipating. 

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Related: The Ovi store launch has apparently not gone well

Scoot Launches iPhone App in UK

UK directory and local search site Scoot, which embraced Twitter recently on behalf of its local advertisers, has added an iPhone site. It uses icons and location-awareness to find the nearest business in the given category. From the release:

Scoot uses the iPhone’s GPS capability to locate the user, then find the nearest cafe, bank, restaurant, petrol station and much more. “It’s so quick and easy to use when you’re on the move”, said Sue Barnes, Scoot’s managing director. “There’s no need to type anything in: you just open the app and tap the relevant icon – cafe, for example. Scoot will then show your nearest cafes with name, address, phone number and distance from your current location.

The mobile user can tap the ‘More’ button on each business listed to see further information such as descriptions, opening times, payment methods, special offers/coupons, pictures and even videos. They can see the business on a map, get directions, click to call or view their website. Your browser may not support display of this image.

The application includes a number of standard icons as the default, representing some of the more popular business categories within the Scoot UK business directory. These include banks, cafes, car repairs, chemists, dentists, doctors, drinks, estate agents, food, hospitals, hotels, newsagents, petrol stations, post offices, supermarkets, special offers and favourites. However, the user can easily customise the application by using the simple on/off toggle button to add search icons for more categories or even their favourite brands. Scoot will be adding more categories and brands in future releases of the application.

scoot

Coupious: Mobile Coupons, CPA Billing

Ahh the coupon space . . . Newly resurgent online it represents both danger and opportunity.

I just discovered another mobile coupon provider: Coupious. The company is offering location-enabled mobile coupons as a marketing vehicle for local businesses. Right now it's only in a single market: West Lafayette, Indiana.

With slick apps for the iPhone and Android, the company's "infrastructure" is way ahead of its model/marketing. The model is CPA; local businesses only pay when coupons are redeemed. While that model is relatively easy to sell as risk free and is easy to track and prove value accordingly, the challenge is going to be sales and inventory. Cellfire (focused on nationals) has had mobile coupons forever but has yet to really gain traction because it's had very few vendors/companies providing coupons, although that may be changing. More recently it's beefed up its coupon inventory with CPG content. 

Many companies have tried to crack the SMB market with coupons and it's very tough. To name just a few examples, there was Zixxo (now done, acquired by MSFT) and more recently there was Dizgo (Boulder, CO; not sure the status) and 8coupons in New York (still at it). The problem that all of these and others who cater to SMBs confront is scale. Sales generate inventory, which gets distribution and consumer attention. 

Even Google has fumbled local coupons pretty badly. 

Larger, more established companies are at a big advantage in the segment. Companies such as ValPak and RetailMeNot are in a much stronger position. ValPak deals with SMBs but it has what amounts to a national "feet on the street" sales force (though the business is franchised). Smaller companies need to align themselves with established companies or piggyback on others' sales channels. 

There's no question regarding the opportunity and consumer demand. I recently wrote about ValPak's early findings in mobile:

I was told that for every four site visitors to ValPak.com on the PC the company sees one coupon print (25% response/conversion) on average. But in April, with a smaller base, the company saw four coupons selected/downloaded for every mobile site visitor (400% response/conversion). This grew from 200% in March. 

Coupious needs to do distribution deals both for its advertisers and as a way to get other content into its apps in the near term. That's because people won't go to a party when nobody's there yet. 

Kelsey Mobile Forecast Gets It Wrong

From MediaWeek:

In five years, more than half of mobile advertising, or 56 percent, will be spent on local search, even though local search will make up a little over 35 percent of all searches, according to [The Kelsey Group].

As bullish as we are on local/LBS and search, unless you define "search" in the most expansive way possible these numbers are incorrect. Mobile is going to see a broad and diverse array of ad and marketing spending, some of which will fall into search but it will run the gamut:

  • Display
  • Search (using several types of inputs)
  • Apps (ads w/in apps and ads as apps)
  • SMS/MMS
  • Voice (very small) 

Local/offline will be a component of many if not most mobile campaigns but that doesn't mean "search" exactly.

Two Developments in LBS: Skyhook, Placecast

I wrote two pieces this morning on Screenwerk of potential interest to LMS readers:

Placecast will serve opt-in SMS/MMS ads within advertiser-defined "geo-fences" supported by Alcatel technology. This is purely in the mobile context.

In the second story, Skyhook is working with a broad range of publishers to bring one-click location (content and ads) to the PC. Here location is detected using Skyhook's triangulation technology after installation of some Javascript code (permission based). 

Both advance the cause of location-awareness and LBS advertising.

Pelago/Whrrl: From Clickstreams to Footstreams

Pelago/Whrrl, which started as a mobile social network and Yelp competitor and reinvented itself a "storytelling" app, was at Where 2.0. CEO Jeff Holden spoke about his experience at Amazon and the company's successful use of clickstream data for higher revenues: those who bought book X also bought book Y.

He discussed how this might apply to the emerging arena of "footstream" data and recommendations for people and places in the real world on mobile devices. Tracking mobile user behavior yields lots of data about the types of places users go and their real-world behavior. This hypotehtically could deliver local recommendations based on user profiles and corresponding "footstreams." 

Holden said that he felt the local search market was relatively mature but that "local discovery" was undeveloped. 

Footstream tracking of individuals would have to be personal by necessity (with all the potential privacy questions), but the local recommendations Holden spoke about could be provided anonymously to users who are grouped into certain profiles based on their favorite places and activities in the real world. 

He hinted that there might be an emerging business model here for Pelago as a repository and provider of this type of data for other publishers and sites. 

Idearc Launches Mobile App for BlackBerry

Last month Idearc launched its Superpages app for the iPhone. Now it has done the same for BlackBerry (Storm) devices, where it should see even greater visibility given the lesser competition in BlackBerry App World (Poynt is the top or one of the top LBS apps in BlackBerry right now).

In addition to the standard directory listings data, here are some of the enhanced features:

  • Add Photos: Did your food taste as good as it looked? Take a snap shot before you chow down and upload it when you rate your experience.
  • Find Movies Fast: Search by movie or theater and see show times, read reviews, watch trailers or browse movie posters.
  • Get Directions: Get step-by-step interactive driving directions with an option to have multiple stops on the way to your destination.
  • Locate Local WiFi Hotspots: Find free and pay-for-use WiFi hotspots near you.
  • See your local five-day forecast with current conditions, conduct a reverse lookup of people or businesses and access your My Superpages account to easily see your previous searches.

Here are some screenshots of the new Superpages BlackBerry app:

 Picture 17

Picture 18

Picture 19

 Picture 20

Yellow pages publishers have a great opportunity in mobile to (re)gain user adoption that to some degree they ceded to search engines on the PC. 

Related: Yellowspaces launched an iPhone app (more from MediaPost).

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Skyhook: LBS Lookups Growing, BlackBerry Apps Expensive

Skyhook Wireless has been tracking the number and distribution of location-enabled apps in the various smartphone app stores since the iPhone was released. And now, with the debut of BlackBerry App World, there's more interesting data in the market from several platforms.

As an aside, Skyhook found that BlackBerry had on average more expensive location-enabled apps than the iPhone or Android. According to Skyhook's analysis, "The
 average
price of
 an
 app 
is
 $13.60." The company will be tracking Nokia and Windows Mobile apps once those stores go live. 

One particularly interesting piece of data is the number of location lookups per day that Skyhook is tracking -- since its technology is typically used to get location. It saw growth as follows in location lookups (per device per day):

  • October, 2008: 5.4
  • January, 2009: 5.0
  • April, 2009: 6.1

These are apps using location to support some sort of lookup or query. These aren't "mobile searches" per se (as in local searches on Google or Yahoo!). But they are directional lookups or "searches" in terms of user intent. We can see this data as a kind of proxy for "local search" through a broader lens. What it thus indicates is that people are already doing "searches" (again, broadly defined) via apps on a monthly basis that would equal search volume on the PC and certainly exceed "local search" volumes.

Based on the April Skyhook report here are the latest numbers on LBS apps on the iPhone, Android and now BlackBerry.

Category distribution of LBS apps across platforms:

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Apple:

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Android:

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 BlackBerry:

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 Growth in LBS apps:

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Pricing:

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