US yellow pages publisher RH Donnelley just launched its "DexKnows" set of mobile sites/apps. That now completes the quartet of major US publishers with mobile sites and applications: Yellowpages.com, Idearc (with a new iPhone app coming) and Yellowbook. In particular AT&T's YPMobile application has been quite popular and successful as an iPhone app.
In Europe, MobilePeople has been building mobile apps and sites for YP publishers for several years. Now, in the US, mobile is no longer a novelty or "nice to have." It's a critical part of an overall traffic and brand strategy. As print usage in major metro markets continues to decline and the consumer market fragments even further, mobile is another piece of the traffic puzzle.
However the challenge for these publishers is to really do mobile in a way that makes it an asset rather than simply a bunch of listings distributed on a mobile handset. There are plenty of mobile apps and sites that provide local listings data. Arguably the mobile market is more competitive in this way than online.
One way in which the DexKnows iPhone app does something different on its iPhone app is by employing an Urbanspoon-like spinner/slot machine feature under a category called "Feelin' like." It provides restaurant listings by "genre" and location. That same tool also works with travel related services (e.g., lodging) and attractions (e.g., museums).
YP Mobile has included events (from Zvents), which stretches beyond the online product.
For most YP publishers, mobile will be a "defensive" strategy to avoid losing users as they shift to mobile, rather than a way to gain new users. Yet unimaginative apps or sites will fail to serve even this function. Mobile is similar to online in many respects. But there are also important differences and publishers should be sensitive to those differences accordingly. For example the categories of usage in mobile are going to be different (at least in the near term) from those in the print directory or online. The "feelin' like" functionality on the Dex iPhone app recognizes this.
Dex also offers 1-800-Call-Dex, which is a free-DA service.
The question remains in my mind: Are YP publishers "culturally" up to the task of creating compelling mobile applications and experiences (which might include verticals or specialized apps) vs. simply reproducing their directories on the handset.
Smartphones are a disproportionate driver of mobile Internet usage, especially the iPhone but other smartphones as well. AdMob's mobile metrics report for February shows that smartphones dominate mobile Internet traffic (and apps usage) in the US. These data are drawn from AdMob's network of sites and apps for which it serves ads and not identical to the "mobile Internet." It should be seen as a directional indicator of trands and user behavior.
One of the headlines from the release put out by AdMob is "HTC Dream (G1) and BlackBerry Storm are the #1 Devices on T-Mobile and Verizon Just Three Months After Launch." That points to a larger Android share in the future as more devices hit the market.
Here are the top-level bullets from this month's report:
Here are a few of the tables from the report:
Again, these data are not necessarily representative of the mobile market as a whole. But they're probably a reliable indicator of trends. The data that show the loss in mobile Internet share by Nokia/Symbian as well as Windows Mobile are striking. Palm has lost share too but that's consistent with its slow disappearance from the marketplace (although the Centro has impressive Internet usage in the US market). Palm and its investors are hoping the Pre will revive the company's fortunes.
Outwardly Microsoft betrays little or no concern about the competition for Windows Mobile, but these data -- assuming they are representative of larger trends -- have to be of concern.
Right now, it's important to point out, handset unit sales and mobile Internet share aren't equivalent; the iPhone has a mobile Internet share that is disproportionate to its overall penetration. But the mobile Internet will become a larger factor in consumer smartphone buying in the immediate future.
TechCruch offers an interesting guest post from the developer of the iPhone game app Galaxay Impact. It's a case study comparing response to the app when it was free vs. how it was received when the company charged $.99 for the download. The company also used AdMob to promote and monetize the app as well.
[T]he free downloads vs for-fee downloads is about 400:1. That means for 220,000 downloads, our revenue amounted to $550. It’s obvious that there was no way we could make money out of this with a $.99 list price.
Another lesson learned: before the price change (from free to $.99), average downloads per day was above 10,000 but after price changed back to free, the average rebounced to about 1,000 per day, which continued for a long time. If we had not experimented with charging for the app, the total number of downloads would have been much higher.
Next, we decided to try advertising and updated Galaxy Impact with ads from AdMob along with other new features. There was a huge spike of update downloads with a 30,647 peak of November 22, two days after the update release.
Regarding ad revenue the company said that it's highest daily ad revenue was $16.37 and averages "about $2.50 per day." The company also said that updates didn't really expand the audience even though they increased traffic when they were released.
The published takeaways were the following:
Many more such case studies need to be evaluated before any firm rules (or conclusions) such as these can be established definitively. For example, Pinch Media came to different conclusions from taking a look at the performance of a range of iPhone apps, suggesting making a paid app first and, if it succeeds, converting it into an ad-supported app.
Ads and paid downloads are not incompatible; it's not necessarily "either-or" but can be "and."
ChaCha announced this week that it cut some staff and secured $12 million in equity financing. ChaCha has had great success with consumers but, despite strong ROI, most advertisers are still on the sidelines when it comes to mobile.
Nancy Hill, CEO of the AAAA, gave a keynote at last week's ThinkMobile event in New York. She was very bullish on mobile and presented some great case studies. She said in her prepared remarks that "mobile was top-of-mind for agencies." However, when I questioned her a bit more on that point, she acknowledged that the recession was delaying the adoption of mobile advertising and that many marketers and agencies were still not committed to the medium because it was "early."
While ChaCha is a free service, rival kgb costs $.99 per use for consumers, in addition to any text messaging fees. kgb also doesn't have a voice front end because the firm is a directory assistance (DA) wholesaler to many US operators and doesn't want to compete with its own customers. However it operates the very successful "118 XXX" direct-to-consumer DA services in the UK and France.
In New York I spent some time with kgb's Thomas Falconer and Bruce Stewart. In promoting the new direct-to-consumer text service in the US, the company is doing something very unusual: running TV commercials for and otherwise actively marketing it. For example, it was a sponsor of MTV's spring break and demo'd the service "on the beach" to young people in Florida.
I was surprised to hear kgb say that they found many people didn't know how to use the service and so they've made their messaging much more explicit. "Text your question to 542 542" (kgb kgb) is now the tag at the end of all the company's TV ads.
Late last week, kgb announced cancellation of its planned IPO, given the recession. According to Reuters:
The New York-based company, which reported profits of $42.4 million on revenues of $649.2 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, had planned to use the IPO proceeds in part to pay off debts, according to a regulatory filing.
The company said in a filing that it answered more than one billion requests for information in 2007 on the phone, by text message and on the Internet, and created the directory assistance services known as "The Number 118 118" in the United Kingdom and "118 218" in France.
ChaCha and kgb's services sit between directory assistance and search. You can ask any question, but there are humans behind the scenes to "disambiguate" and respond to queries. ChaCha has created a distributed network of agents who respond to queries; and recently kgb, which has historically used professional DA agents, acquired the UK-based texperts, which uses non-professionals to respond to user questions.
There are a wide range of companies directly and indirectly competing with one another in the mobile search/DA segment. Most of the ad-supported/free DA providers are unknown to or little used by consumers, even call-volume leader 1-800-Free-411. Search engine use on smartphones is growing. But the majority (87%) of mobile handsets in the US are not smartphones.
It is this majority segment of the market that ChaCha and kgb can address better than their competitors because of the DA-search hybrid model. For the moment, ChaCha is relying almost exclusively on advertising for revenue, while kgb is experimenting with advertising at this point but isn't dependent upon it for survival.
ChaCha may need to consider a user-pays model if the economy remains where it is for awhile.
Google offers specialized AdWords for smartphones and the iPhone. The company also has mobile AdSense. Now, moving in on AdMob and Quattro (among others), it appears the company is placing graphical ads in iPhone apps themselves.
The appearance of these ads was first reported on VentureBeat; Search Engine Land did a screen cap of one of the ads appearing in the Urbanspoon application:
I found a number of these ads myself in various searches for New York and SF restaurants on Urbanspoon. In almost every case (six in all) there was an error or some other problem with the page after the click through. Google is undoubtedly testing the program and hasn't wanted to publicly confirm the program or make an announcement yet because it's not ready for "prime time" as they say.
I've written numerous times about 2D barcodes and use of camera phones as a search or advertising vehicle. In Japan the use of QR codes in traditional media and outdoor advertising is well established. Now in the US (as well as Europe) there's some movement toward adoption. A number of competing companies are promoting barcodes.
[Qdoba] bought ads in the [University of Michigan] campus newspaper and posted promotional posters, each with a code kids could scan with their phones to get a mobile coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free burrito. The campaign netted a 52% redemption rate with about 400 scans, roughly 1% of the total target student population
This amazing 52% redemption rate is probably a response to the combined effect of:
The advertiser also gets to see, relatively speaking, which traditional media or marketing approach is more effective as a secondary benefit. Indeed, mobile barcodes (or their equivalent) make lots of sense across the board:
The challenge with most barcode systems, as the article points out, is that an application must first be downloaded. However in the iPhone apps store and potentially other smartphone apps stores, this becomes easier. On some phones the software may eventually come pre-loaded. An open-source standard would accelerate this process overall.
Codes in SMS messages can also do something equivalent in a simplified way, as HipCricket has been doing for traditional publishers and media outlets (e.g., radio and TV). One could even imagine a "bifurcated" system in which QR codes were available for those that had the capability to read them and a short code as an alternative, parallel way to get the same information/offer for those without it.
Regardless, some version of this technology will probably take hold as one form of mobile marketing in the US and EU markets. It also makes sense for traditional publishers to adopt shortcodes or barcodes in their publications as a way to extend their value and make them more "measurable" in this time of declining confidence in traditional media.
On Wednesday this week I'm at ThinkMobile in NYC moderating a session on location and monetization. Here's the lineup:
We'll be talking about what the real opportunity is, conversion rates, challenges, the ad ecosystem and privacy issues. If you're in New York and interested to come (great speakers overall), you can get 15% off with the following code: TMLMS (at the appropriate place in the registration process).
If you're in town and/or coming to the event me know and we can connect.
After many years of hype without substance, the age of the "mobile Internet" is finally here and providing bridges to the physical world in the form of location-based content, services, and advertising. In this webinar, LMS senior analyst Greg Sterling presents a high-level marketplace and data overview of the state of mobile.
[Note: To view the presentation, you will need to register an account with BrightTALK.]
To receive a copy of the slides from the presentation, please send an email to: email@example.com
Greystripe, the leading rich media mobile advertising network, today announced that they have raised an additional $5.5 million in Series C funding led by its existing investor, Incubic Venture Capital, with Steamboat Ventures and Monitor Ventures participating. The company, which has already experienced strong growth in the mobile content distribution and monetization business, has solved the biggest problem in mobile advertising.
Despite massive industry projections around mobile advertising’s growth, many brands and agencies have debated the additional value in creating mobile-centric advertising formats and campaigns. Greystripe has solved this issue by integrating its mobile inventory directly into industry-accepted online media buying solutions. This integration allows for ad agencies to simply click to add mobile and also allows Flash advertisements, normally only available on the Web, to appear on the iPhone.
With a unified ad platform connecting mobile and online, the popular third screen now offers Web-like campaign management and measurement, such as engagement, while expanding to new levels of targeting, such as location.
As the company release discussion indicates, Greystripe is following in the footsteps of firms like Quattro (and Google to some degree), which are trying to put mobile media buying squarely into existing online processes (Quattro did this with Microsoft's Atlas.) This is indeed the future, to get the attention of young, distracted media buyers and get them to consider mobile as part of a larger, integrated media buy.
The complaint filed earlier this year by privacy advocates with the US Federal Trade Commission takes aim at ad targeting capabilities in mobile. Precisely those rich targeting capabilities that the mobile device brings to advertisers are decried by critics who object and would like to blunt data collection and tracking on the mobile Internet.
That broadside against mobile marketing is an extension of a similar complaint filed against behavioral targeting practices online. The FTC declined to regulate BT online for now but says it's keeping a watchful eye open.
An article in today's NY Times summarizes the battle lines between privacy advocates and mobile marketers who want to be able to tap the various layers and flavors of mobile targeting: demo, location, dayparting, etc. The central issue is awareness and consent from users: how explicit is it? While the MMA advocates "best practices" around opt-in and consent, these policies have not mollified mobile marketing critics.
I wrote before, in the context of a discussion about Smaato, about how express consent and explicit opt-in practices may help resolve the issue (and even benefit mobile marketing):
The MMA has promulgated best practices around opt-in for mobile marketers. But there's a difference between pure mechanics and what I believe [Smaato co-founder and CEO Ragnar] Kruse is arguing for -- a philosophical orientation to mobile marketing.
Opt-in makes mobile marketing more like search, where people indicate preferences and intentions through keyword queries. There are questions of mechanics and user experience -- how would all this be presented? -- but theoretically I would indicate my interest in seeing selected categories of ads and offers (much like opting in to email newsletters). I might also be inclined to share additional information about myself to maximize the relevance of those ads.
What it's really about is creating a more personalized culture of mobile advertising than what currently exists online, despite behavioral targeting. That might not be able to develop if the current online ad culture quickly and entirely transfers over to mobile.
Google today introduced a beta program that implements behavioral targeting. What's interesting about the program for purposes of this post is that it allows users to state category and subject preferences that will impact the ads they later see. (They're calling it not "behavioral targeting" but the more consumer and regulator-friendly "interest-based advertising.") This preferences dimension of the program goes beyond pure consent to an affirmative statement of interests by users. (Getting them to do this as a practical matter might be challenging.)
Yet there's something potentially very important for mobile marketing in this experiment.
Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney recently summarized in a research note some of Nielsen's data around consumer attitudes and resistance toward mobile advertising:
We believe there are roadblocks to the adoption of Mobile Advertising, including user skepticism, and privacy concerns. In the U.S. 68% of mobile data users are opposed to mobile Internet ads, even if those ads subsidize a portion of their mobile bills. Only 8% feel mobile ads are trustworthy, and 87% are not open to mobile ads even if those ads are relevant to their interests. However, in Europe, users are more open to mobile ads – In France, Italy and Spain, 41%, 52% and 54% would be receptive to mobile ads if they lowered their bills.
We've written at length before about consumer acceptance of mobile marketing, which is growing and exists more at the high-end of the market -- the more engaged and sophisticated mobile users are the more interested they are in advertising on their mobile devices.
The statement that a majority of consumers simply object to mobile ads is too broad. Yes there is considerable resistance; however it also depends on the context and presentation of the ads. For example when we framed a question in a way that conveyed both a sense of the benefits and user control, responses were generally favorable:
Source: Opus Research (2008), n=789
There is a potential resolution of privacy and targeting objectives that involves user education, consent and/or affirmative requests for ad categories and types (e.g., coupons). The Google example will be one to watch accordingly.
Go2 is one of the true incumbents in mobile, having started more than a decade ago. The current version of go2 is the result of a merger of the original company and 80108 in October, 2007. The company claims more than a million monthly users.
The company has a range of major carrier relationships and distributes most of its content (and advertising) accordingly through those operator decks. However go2 has seen many of those gains somewhat obscured by the movement of higher profile players into the mobile space in earnest and the shifting of the high end of the market away from the carrier deck and toward the open Internet.
go2 has taken a smart local-vertical approach to content and ads delivery with a range of niche directories. Consistent with that the company today announced "mobile entertainment guides" for "473 US colleges." Characterized as local entertainment portals, here's how the release describes the new guides:
The guides are available on AT&T MediaNET's NCAA Basketball site as "News and Events from Your School," where students can access local events, movie showtimes, college sports scores and recommendations from the go2 Content Network.
The guides will soon be available to Virgin Mobile/Helio and Sprint/Nextel subscribers.
go2 Colleges provides students with an unmatched array of useful entertainment info in one portal designed around their campus location. Students can check constantly updated local event info about movies, concerts and school sporting events or access a directory of restaurants and bars close to campus.
In fairness to go2 I haven't used the guides and so can't comment on how strong they are. If they're good people will use and promote them via word of mouth. Their greatest usage may well be on "feature phones" where consumers can't as easily access familiar Internet brands and sites that they're accustomed to using on their PCs.
Pinch Media made a presentation a week or so ago, pointing out that while there are millions of iPhone apps downloads few apps have any sort of longevity, which diminishes the advertising revenue opportunity. The Pinch presentation has interesting data about engagement and longevity by category. It says that games have the longest life and paid apps in general are used more and for longer periods.
As represented by Pinch, here are the declining usage curves of free and paid iPhone apps:
There are also some interesting strategy recommendations Pinch makes: i.e., do a paid app first and then if it's successful consider releasing an ad-supported app.
Stepping back, what's interesting here is that these apps stores (in particular iTunes) have created something new and different from the Internet. As an aside, I've spoken several times about interesting opportunities associated with "ads as apps."
In a conversation this with Pinger Media, I had another thought: apps as "magazines." Traditional print magazines typically attract advertisers with a demographic focus. These apps stores also have that opportunity. Pinger wants to build lots of apps and it may find different audiences for many of those.
Some apps will have broad, "horizontal" appeal. But some could be explicitly built with specific audiences in mind: moms, males under 30, college students, retirees, etc. And, depending on the app, the same underlying data or functionality could be packaged in different ways with slightly different emphases to accomplish this.
Building out full-featured websites online might take months (or longer) and require large investments of money. Not so for iPhone or Android apps. This fact makes it possible to build lots of apps quickly to see what catches on. The analogy that comes to mind is the record industry of the 1950s and 1960s, which rapidly turned out singles, some of which became "hits."
There's something quite interesting and very different than the Internet in the notion of being able to quickly and inexpensively build various apps that offer different slices of content or features or that try and capture different audiences. And the fact that many people are willing to pay something for them only adds interesting layers of possibility.
I like to say that Google usually has multiple objectives for any of its new products. Name a product and I'll speculate about the multiple goals it seeks to accomplish. Some of those may be altruistic or market-making and some are purely self-interested, depending on the product.
Android is a great example. Its primary object was to move the entire mobile industry toward greater openness and a overall better user experience. (On the second point, the iPhone got there first.) There's no direct monetary benefit to Google from the deployment of Android phones but there are many secondary benefits: branding, search query volumes, integration of Google mobile applications and so on.
Enabling the new iPhone segment is easy: click on the drop down menu at the top right of any report next to the text "Advanced Segments", and select "Visits from iPhones" in the list of default segments. You might want to turn off "All Visits" when viewing your iPhone segment; if the percentage of total visits to your site from the iPhone is small, it will be difficult to visualize the two sets on numbers on the same graph.
This is quite helpful to know -- how many people are coming to my site from smartphones and the iPhone in particular? (The segmentation tools allow comparison of other mobile OS visits as well.)
This builds awareness of mobile usage and, in turn, will generate additional mobile advertising -- for Google. Google's iPhone/G1 optimized AdWords program will undoubtedly benefit as people become more aware of smartphone/iPhone visits to their sites. Indeed, it will help migrate more advertisers into mobile.
And as publishers and marketers become aware of increasing mobile visits to their sites they will develop sites that take the mobile user experience into greater consideration, benefiting the entire "ecosystem."
Related: OMD seeks third party ad serving and verficiation for mobile display advertising (a la the PC Internet). That basically means using DART, Microsoft's Atlas or Eyeblaster. The move is inevitable to make for consistency across PC and mobile display campaigns and to satisfy agencies' needs and concerns.
In this era of negatively revised ad forecasts and declining media budgets, it's something of a suprise to see Jaguar and Land Rover (now owned by Indian carmaker Tata) making such a large bet on mobile advertising ($1.6 million in 2009 through AdMob). From the AdAge story today:
The $1.6 million going to AdMob represents 60% of the carmakers' total mobile budget. It's the biggest deal the network has nabbed; typically, it sees single campaigns with a price tag between $50,000 to $100,000. Autos accounted for nearly one in every five dollars AdMob took in last quarter.
But performance/response for these car companies (especially on the iPhone) has been tremendous:
"It goes back to performance," said Joao Machado, digital group director at Mindshare, the agency of record for Jaguar and Land Rover. "[Mobile] performed from a direct-marketing perspective, so with that in mind, it was easier to rationalize growth even in the climate we're in."
Reportedly these are not dollars being shifted, but additional dollars being added to the mobile budget.
At Internet2Go last month, keynote speaker Brian Mandelbaum, VP, Interactive Group Media Director, Cramer-Krasselt (the agency that ran a cross platform campaign for Porsche) said that mobile outperformed print and online in terms of response and reaching their target audience of affluent would-be buyers.
And then there's this slide again:
Source: Insight Express online & mobile campaign data (analyzed over multiple campaigns)
Marco Boerries, head of Yahoo!'s Connected Life division (mostly about mobile but not entirely), is leaving the company as part of a reorganization prompted by new CEO Carol Bartz.
This is a critical time for Yahoo! Mobile -- we got an impressive demo of the company's new mobile product suite -- and we hope that CEO Bartz recognizes the strategic importance of mobile for Yahoo!'s future. It's likely that she does but the question is: will she replace Boerries with someone who "gets it" that this is a crucial time in the development of mobile products at Yahoo?
The mobile Internet both in the US and globally is still in "early days" but not its infancy. Products and behaviors are being established that will shape the competitive landscape -- and the ability to generate mobile ad revenues accordingly -- for the future.
There's also the question of whether any of the other personnel below Boerries will be affected by the reorg. Changes there could have a significant impact as well on the company's mobile future.
It's also possible that mobile will emerge with more support and strength, post reorg, than before at Yahoo! We hope so.
Canadian mobile ad revenues are tiny, according to the Canadian branch of the IAB:
Canadian Mobile advertising revenues for 2008 are forecast to almost double (+96%) over 2007 actuals, rising to just over $5.2 Million.
The distribution of mobile ad revenues is directionally consistent with the US market, where SMS also dominates (to date). According to IAB Canada, SMS-related ad revenues were responsible for 75% of the estimated total of 2007 mobile ad revenues in the country:
Source: IAB Canada
Source: IAB Canada
These are tiny numbers but impressive growth rates. I would go back to this impressive slide from Insight Express about mobile ad performance. As more marketers test out mobile they should be all but guaranteed to continue using it and integrating it into larger campaigns.
Related: Econsultancy's vertical search resport, which surveyed online marketers about trends and intentions, showed:
Professional services and accounting firm KPMG recently conducted a survey of "200 media and advertising professionals" about important and "disruptive" advertising trends. Here's what the survey found:
Separately from Barcelona this week AdMob touted the growth of its mobile ad network on a global basis:
AdMob has extended its relationships with a number of mobile publishers and added new publisher partners to its network including Flirtomatic, MADS, peperonity.com, Taptu, and WYAN. These partners, combined with AdMob’s more than 6,000 mobile Web sites and 700 iPhone and Android applications, reinforce AdMob’s position as the largest mobile advertising network in the world.
The company also said that in December "more than 60 brand advertisers ran campaigns on AdMob’s global network including Adidas, Kodak, MTV, Nokia, O2, and Paramount, more than doubling the number that ran in the same period one year prior."
Below are some "leaked" screenshots of the forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 (taken from Gadget Mix). In addition the Windows Mobile apps store (SkyMarket or whatever it will be called) has apparently been confirmed (no surprise there).
There's a great deal at stake for Microsoft in Windows Mobile 6.5 being a hit. Windows Mobile 7 won't be out until next year and 6.1 has badly lagged other mobile OS's in the new radically more competitive world of smartphones.
Windows Mobile 6.5 and a host of other mobile offerings from Microsoft will be announced during the Steve Ballmer keynote at the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona.
Despite millions of unit sales Microsoft is the underdog now in mobile and the company has a limited window to make the necessary upgrades to make its devices more attractive to consumers.
Here's a video tour of 6.5's features that made its way onto YouTube.
See: How mobile Firefox could help Windows Mobile.
The following are some highlights from AdMob's January Mobile Metrics report.
The company exposes some data on growing WiFi usage among device owners accessing sites in AdMob's network:
These data may reflect that these states/locations have the most developed infrastructure, combined with early adopters.
Here are selected graphics and charts that I pulled from the report:
Consistent with the text above, AdMob data show that the iPhone and iPod Touch over index on their network vs. their penetration in the European market. This is entirely consistent with the other data in the market showing much greater usage of the mobile Internet among iPhone owners.
Interestingly, in the chart below global iPhone requests are somewhat flat while iPod Touch requests have grown. This reflects the rise in iPod Touch ownership:
There are probably two "constituencies" out there that own the iPod Touch. There are those who have it primarily as an iPod and for whom the mobile Internet and applications represent a secondary emphasis; then there are those who purchased it as an iPhone equivalent because they didn't want to switch to AT&T.
The following shows mobile OS representation in AdMob's US network:
In terms of changes vs. December the above chart reflects 2% growth in Apple OS share and a single point loss by Windows Mobile and Palm. Everything else is flat.
The tiny Nokia/Symbian US market share, as well as the EU OS numbers above, have got to be a continuing worry to the company. By contrast, Nokia sold over a million units of its new "Tube" Xpress Music 5800 phones in Europe last month. The phone is Nokia's first touch-screen device but carries a price tag of $400 (unclear if there will be a subsidy when it enters the US later this month). It's popuarity is partly the result of a free year of music.
However, as Wired points out, at a price that exceeds the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phones and probably the Pre, it's very unlikely to gain much traction in the US market. Meanwhile the Palm Pre (also potentially a $400 phone) may well be heavily subsidized by Sprint to jumpstart sales. Sprint has roughly six months (according to speculation) as the exclusive distributor of the device.
Smartphones that cost more than about $300 are going to have difficulty competing in the US market. If subsidized handsets will need to come in at around $200 to compete -- the pricing established by iPhone 3G and matched by the Android G1.
There are again rumors of a $99 "entry level" iPhone. While there may be some version of the truth hidden within the rumors, it's unlikely that they're true as presented. Apple has jealously guarded its brand and has repeatedly refused to make low-cost products for fear of reduced quality. In addition, its relatively inexpensive Mini has had only mixed success.
Note: AdMob's data are not necessarily representative of the entire market (they are drawn from publishers and usage of sites in the AdMob network). However, the AdMob data are directionally representative.
Few people probably remember the very early days of Google when it was just one of many search engines. In those days Google aggressively syndicated its search box to third party sites -- that was one of the ways it built its brand. Now Google is arguably the top brand in the world.
In mobile Google leads Yahoo! and Microsoft in search market share, both in the US and in Europe. But search is not as central to the mobile experience as it is online. Google has invested very heavily in mobile across multiple products and platforms.
Expanding on its mobile AdSense program, Google is seeking to put more search boxes on more sites and the carrot is AdSense. In the same way that online publishers gained revenue from this -- Google had a very generous revenue sharing program early on -- it's seeking to broaden the visibility and use of mobile search (and corresponding ad clicks).
According to the Google Mobile blog:
[W]e're happy to announce a new AdSense product for both mobile network operators and mobile website owners across the globe. AdSense for mobile search is a quick and easy way for carriers and mobile publishers to embed a Google search box on their mobile portals and web sites. Whether they are day-dreaming of Hawaii or trying to find the perfect Valentine's day gift, mobile phone users will get instant access to Google search including comprehensive web search, local, image, and news results -- all formatted for their phones. Mobile operators and website owners share in the ad revenue generated by searches originating from their sites.
Lots of operators already have search relationships (many around the world with Yahoo!). Some will undoubtedly go for this. More likely however Google will have success with mobile publishers, which will be attracted by the prospect of Google's large advertiser base and potential revenues. The mobile search/AdSense program is largely complementary to what the various mobile ad networks offer.
However, in addition to Yahoo! and Microsoft, Google mobile search has competition from JumpTap and Medio, which both offer carrier/publisher search and corresponding monetization.