Here are the latest data from Skyhook Wireless, which is tracking location-based apps on the iPhone (and Android).
Week of October 3:
As of October 10:
It appears that in the week that separates the two charts there are about 75 more location-aware apps for the iPhone.
What's also interesting to note about Android apps, is that ShopSavvy is the most downloaded app in the first 24 hours. This is partly because the app was an Android Developer Challenge winner and has received a lot of publicity but also because it has inherent appeal.
Local and mobile search provider Poynt (Multiplied Media) won the prize for its "personal productivity and lifestyle" category and was one of three overall winners in the BlackBerry Developer Challenge.
Each grand prize winner gets $150K and becomes part of the BlackBerry Fund Partners JumpStart program. The other two "grand prize" winners were music related applications: Strands Social Player and Nobex Radio Companion.
MapQuest, which has been quite busy of late rolling out desktop site improvements and a new Local product, has just launched a new mobile site optimized for the iPhone. It features maps, directions, business search and gas price information.
Overall it offers a very strong user experience, nicely rendered. The only drawback is that because it's Safari-based and not an application it can't take advantage of the phone's built-in location awareness. Consequently most locations need to be manually entered.
Voice and local mobile search provider CallGenie announced that it's expanding its services beyond its core directory and DA markets. From the press release out this morning:
Call Genie is now bringing its groundbreaking mobile local search and advertising products to newspaper, television and triple-play publishers and is attracting both local and national brand advertisers interested in capitalizing on this newly created inventory.
In a very challenging economy with a limited number of buyers in the core YP and DA segments, local and mobile search vendors need to diversify.
I was in the Apple iTunes Apps Store and discovered that the top featured apps on both the "What's Hot" and "Staff Favorites" lists are local apps -- Urbanspoon and GoodRec. (I wrote previously about GoodRec here.)
In addition TheFind's shopping application (with local inventory data) "Where to Shop" is now available:
The application allows users to search by keyword, item or brand and find the desired item(s) online or in nearby stores (it uses the iPhone's location awareness). The latter offers a conventional list view and map view. Some of TheFind's local inventory data are from NearbyNow. Slifter also has a local-mobile shopping app. There are also two among the initial wave of Android apps.
A piece in AdWeek captures the topline figures on an eMarketer "location based services" forecast for mobile:
eMarketer forecasts that 486 million consumers worldwide will be using location-based services by 2012, up from 18.9 million in 2007.
Of course the size of the potential market all depends on how you define "location based services." There's the geotargeted advertising angle and then there's the conumers demand/use angle. eMarketer is talking about the latter.
Basically everyone who has a mobile phone and conducts a search is going to be searching for local/offline information from time to time. That doesn't take into account applications and favorites that are location-specific or location aware.
We found most recently in our own survey work that 29% of mobile phone users accessed the Internet and 16% searched. That 16% figure is identical to the recent TMP-comScore survey. Of course smartphone users access the mobile Internet and search much more than the average (over 50%).
Local is one of the top content categories across all mobile consumers surveys (Opus, comScore, Nielsen). In practice it's a subset of all query volume on mobile handsets (see "What Do 20 Million Queries Tell Us about Mobile Search?")
The number of LBS/local content users on mobile devices is thus a function of overall mobile Intenet access and, in particular, smartphone growth. Today (per CTIA) we have approximately 260 million mobile users in the US. The range of mobile Internet access is between 15% and 30%, let's say. That represents (in the US alone) between about 40 and almost 80 million people -- today.
It should thus be very easy to hit the eMarketer numbers in four years, on a global basis.
AdAge reports on mobile search and some of the recent TMP Directional Marketing-comScore survey findings. The survey of roughly 3,000 online consumers went into a broad range of areas. Mobile was a piece of the larger set of data.
We'll be rounding up this and other third party data in an advisory that will publish this week. For now here's a slide reflecting data from the TMP survey pertaining to mobile:
According to the data above, the majority of smartphone users (including PDAs) conduct mobile searches and local searches on their mobile phones. Putting aside DA and ad-supported DA, it thus becomes a fairly straightforward formula to predict the growth of search on mobile handsets -- it's tied to smartphone adoption. And on that point, NDP said that three of the top five selling phones in the US are now smartphones.
The CallGenie-powered 1-800-CallDex free DA service is exiting its trial periond and expanding its offering. The new services include SMS (listings back), enhanced business name search (previously there was only category search) and live operators.
Publisher RH Donnelley owns Dex and the CallDex service.
The following is data from a recent LMS survey asking people which of the free DA/voice search tools they'd used. Dex isn't on this list because it's not a national service.
Source: Opus/Multiplied Media, Sept 2008 (caution small sample)
Note: The people that answered this question were a subset of mobile search users. I'm surprised that the Google Maps with voice ranked as highly as it did because it was only recently introduced and Goog411 is a much more well-known service. The most reliable data point here may be the 63% who haven't used any of these services, indicating a general lack of consumer awareness.
Skyhook Wireless is monitoring the growth of location-aware applications for the iPhone (300+), and now Android. The following charts reflect Skyhook's most recent data (through October 3).
There are a few capabilities of Google Maps for Android that don't exist on the iPhone version of Google maps -- specifically StreetView and Compass (a unique and very compelling feature). There are rumors that StreetView is coming to the iPhone. But Google, so far, has reserved the richest experience of Google Maps for its own Android platform.
Related: T-Mobile has now put an "Android emulator" online here.
The new "Say Where" application for the iPhone from Dial Directions launched today and is now officially available from the iTunes apps store. We wrote about it a couple of weeks ago when the company announced the offering at the DEMO conference.
While there are a range of companies that have developed or are working on voice-enabled iPhone applications, Say Where is the first to come out. It offers a voice "front end" on a range of local sites: Google Maps, YellowPages.com, Yelp and Traffic.com. Users can obtain directions or do business name or category searches.
Location can be set using the 3G iPhone's internal location awareness capabilities or users can speak the city or place if it's not their current location. The application then launches the Safari browser and takes users to the listing or category in the desired site. In informally testing it this morning it performed generally well although aspects of the application are not 100% intuitive.
It does, however, illustrate the power of voice as an enabling interface for mobile and local-mobile search.
Local Matters and mobilePeople announce that, in light of the current equity markets, their planned merger will not occur. The two companies will return to, and build upon, their previous business partnership where they will continue to collaborate on projects with a growing base of global local media publishers.
This has clearly got to be a big disappointment for Local Matters (and mobilePeople).
Sprint's (soon to be Clearwire's) XOHM WiMax mobile broadband initiative is now live in Baltimore Maryland. Soon it's coming to Washington DC and Chicago. There's a long digression into LTE vs. WiMax that's not very interesting to me: which standard will prevail?
What's much more interesting is to imagine what happens when most major metropolitan areas are blanketed in coverage. Google's recent patent application concerning a wireless marketplace envisions this and is trying to accelerate the eventuality of such a development.
In perhaps 7-10 years (maybe less) we will see US and European cities blanketed with wireless broadband. Hotspots will be dead (Amen). That will usher in an interesting era of all sorts of connected and mobile devices that sit in-between most of the smartphones of today and laptops, even so-called netbooks.
We may see connected fashion in the form of Internet-enabled watches, which already exist to some degree.
Related: Mixed review for WiMax.
Just when you thought you’d seen all the local review sites you were going to see for awhile along comes GoodRec. The temptation might be to regard the site as a Yelp wannabe and quickly dismiss it. Not so fast.
There are some very interesting things going on here that make the site different:
The rest of my discussion of the site is on Screenwerk.
Related: TechCrunch profiles some of the location-enabled social networks for the iPhone.
Some of the sites discussed by TechCrunch, including Loopt and Whrrl, may find audiences and sustain themselves. (There's not enough mobile advertising right now to realize the promise of LBS.) But to truly succeed, these sites have to do more than tell you who's nearby on top of a local database; they must provide real value.
This is not to say "game over" already, but it's pretty clear that Facebook and MySpace will dominate social networking on mobile phones -- or it's their market to lose I should say.
The dearth of speech-enabled applications in the iPhone App Store is self-evident. In a truly "open" process for mobile phone applications, a significant percentage would involve speech recognition or text to speech. But the iPhone is barely a phone. It is a mobile, communicating computer with an elegant user interface that presents a multiplicity of popular applications in response to touch (or MultiTouch). Nuance and Dial Directions have both demonstrated applications for the iPhone and now, according to a report in YahooNews, Tellme (now a subsidiary of Microsoft) is moving closer to introducing its own iPhone application.
Tellme's voice portal and Tellme's enhanced directory assistance are both available from any telephone, through 1-800-555-TELL and 1-800-CALL-411, respectively. To reach Tellme's enhanced local search on an iPhone users need only press the Tellme entry in the iPhone "Contact" list. One press, one utterance, and the job is done. That may explain Apple's reticence to add speech enabled services to the virtual shelves in the App Store.
Still, voice services are still destined to weigh heavily in the mix of smartphone and feature phone applications. As an alternative to traditional keypads and QWERTY keyboards, push-to-talk, spoken input is a marked improvement, especially in situations that are mandated to be hands-free (most commonly, while driving). Adoption of speech input has proven to be "success-driven", meaning that subscribers who have successfully used their voice to input commands and text are more likely to try again. In addition to Tellme, Nuance and Dial Directions, V-Enable has created a set of local search services that a number of wireless subscribers are using their voice to invoke.
Empirical evidence is that they use the mode of communications that makes the most sense "in context". Thus far, the iPhone "context" remains devoid of push-to-talk and speech-enabled applications.
Mobile payments are well established in Asia and in many places in Europe, however there's been relatively little action in the US market until (perhaps) now. Just this week both Sprint and Visa (with Google and Nokia) announced mobile banking and payments initiatives.
Sprint has launched "MyMoneyManager," a mobile client application that provides access to a range of banks and financial services including Citibank and mobile PayPal. It works on selected handsets.
At the same time, Visa and Google announced a more elaborate set of mobile initiatives. (Visa is also working with Nokia and Apple but launching a pilot first with Android.) One service will enable people, using a mobile browser, to transfer money between Visa holder accounts.
The Visa-Android partnership involves money transfers and alerts and notifications of financial transactions; but it also has an ad or promotions component as well. Users can get offers or deals from merchants, which may then be plotted or viewed on the built-in Google map.
As mentioned, Visa will bring this to the iPhone but it started with Andriod because of its open marketplace, which would seem to be a validation of that strategy for Google.
Those of us who remember using the first “connected Palm” device (the Palm V) have a little something to mourn as we learned that For-Side.com has shut down operations at Vindigo. A report out of New York indicated that more than 30 employees in New York City are immediately affected, but Jason DeVitt (who founded Vindigo in 1999) notes in his blog that he recognized that For-Side.com had placed his company on the wrong track when he made his exit back in 2005. At the time, he had built Vindigo to a $10 million top line while sister company Zingy had grown its revenues to $50 million.
The vision was to merge Zingy and Vindigo, grow it to a six-digit top line and take the company public, riding on the wave of popularity for local and personalized mobile content. Indeed, even today visitors to the Vindigo Web site will find it offering subscribers wireless access to real-time restaurant & movie listings (including reviews and ratings from trusted content providers), shopping and nightlife listings, door-to-door directions and maps and listings of locations for “essentials” like police stations, pharmacies, ATMs and public restrooms.
Yet the ensuing four years witnessed a revolving door in the executive suite and general failure to capitalize on its “first mover” advantage while new participants entered the marketplace with mobile flavors of search engine resiults, Yellow Pages, directory listings, coupons and the like.
But all might not be lost. A couple of comments on Jason DeVitt’s blog reflect continued interest in the Vindigo brand (as an asset for acquisition) as well as the mix of services that Vindigo had aggregated. With iPhone’s AppStore and Android’s “open” application development process constantly evolving, it would not be surprising to see Vindigo or a Vindigo clone re-appear for the iPhone, G1 or one of its peers.
There's an interesting paradox in mobile. On the one hand we have firms such as Portio Research forecasting continued "robust" handset growth amid the global economic downturn. According to Cellular-News:
A new report from Portio Research reveals that over half the world now uses a mobile phone and predicts that 80% of the world’s population will be doing so by the end of 2013 - a staggering 5.8 billion people.
But then there's this bit about declining ARPU:
Meanwhile despite rising worldwide mobile voice and data revenues Mobile ARPU continues to decline and is predicted to fall from USD 23.2 in 2005 to USD 15.8 by the end of 2013, largely because additional subscriber growth is likely to come from low per capita income markets.
Separately, others are predicting that nascent mobile advertising growth is likely to suffer in an uncertain economic climate. Despite billions of users and growth in mobile data/text and Internet access, some are predicting that the growth in mobile ads will slow because of the "unproven" nature of mobile advertising. Adify's Russ Fradin is quoted in a BusinessWeek article along those lines:
When budgets are tight, advertisers tend to look for proven methods, such as ads placed alongside a Google or Yahoo search, and place less emphasis on experimental venues, such as social networks, experts say. "Mobile and social networks will be hit," Fradin says.
Mobile advertising's development is inevitable. The question is how quickly and in what precise segments of the market will revenues develop? Fradin's comment is correct; in a time of uncertainty there's retrenchment and conservatism among media buyers and planners. No one wants to take risks and lose his job over novel strategies, which may or may not perform as anticipated.
But the numbers in mobile can't be ignored. It's just for the infrastructure to develop more fully and for agencies and marketers to become educated and comfortable with the medium. That's probably about a 2-3 year cycle.
I moderated a panel on Location Based Services this morning at the GigaOM conference Mobilize in San Francisco. On the panel were Yahoo, XOHM, Google, Skyhook Wireless, JumpTap. We discussed the full range of subjects here but far from exhaustively. The takeaways were the following:
The audience is mostly tech companies and funders. Most of the panels at the show have been about product development, user experience and technology. There were some discussions here and there about advertising and revenue models but that has mostly been at the margins of the show.
Google's Rich Miner keynoted the afternoon session. Miner provided some good historical perspective about the mobile and carrier ecosystem. In particular he was critical of his early experiences with Windows Mobile at France Telecom. He lamented the absence of open standards and the challenges of doing software development for mobile in the past. Fast forward, Miner celebrated some of the recent developments toward greater openness at Verizon, AT&T and elsewhere in the indutry.
He made a range of fairly "generic" comments about Android. The first handset is expected next week. However, Miner didn't discuss that or preview the announcement in any way. He also didn't take any audience questions, perhaps becaue he knew they'd all be about the launch next week. Accordingly the speech felt somewhat truncated.
A mobile "guru" panel featuring Yahoo, Sprint, Zumobi and Motorola was an interesting exercise in future speculation. Generally the panelists were quite thoughtful. My favorite part was a sci-fi-like discussion of "augmented reality" (projection of images, labels, etc. onto the real world via mobile accessories).
There was also an interesting panel about mobile social networking featuring Loopt, Hi5, Facebook and MySpace. There were few new insights here but some interesting discussion about user behavior, mobile video and its potential. The panelists said they're seeing growing adoption but they still haven't figured out what the right revenue model is.
Most of the panels I attended featured the obligatory hommages to the iPhone. Indeed, perhaps the most interesting coversation of the day for me was with an Apple executive at lunch who'd slipped into the event but wasn't speaking at the conference. He was eager to see what the Android experience would be like -- as we all are.