Mobile Platforms

Verizon Stuffs Google Wallet, Starbucks Proclaims Itself the Mobile Payments Leader

Starbucks issued a press release this morning that proclaimed the company the "mobile payments leader," which is probably not incorrect. Here are some of the numbers exposed in the statement:

  • Mobile payments available at 9,000 US Starbucks locations (7K Starbucks, 1K Target stores, 1K Safeway locations)
  • 26 million mobile transactions at Starbucks to date
  • $2.4 billion in value loaded into various payment cards during 2011 (Starbucks payment cards are used for 25% of all US transactions)
  • $110.5 million reloaded onto Starbucks Cards directly through the mobile app

These are impressive numbers and Starbucks is likely doing more to popularize and educate people about mobile payments than any other entity in the US. The company plans to expand its apps/mobile payments program internationally as well.

In a related story, VentureBeat reported this morning that US carrier Verizon, the first to gain access to an Android 4.0 handset (Galaxy Nexus), is effectively blocking Google Wallet. The Galaxy Nexus is the second US Android handset to include NFC capability. The blog received a statement from a Google representative confirming that “Verizon asked [Google] not to include this functionality in the product."

The motivation for the carrier's move is obvious: it has a competing mobile wallet/payments offering in ISIS, a joint venture with AT&T and T-Mobile. It's not clear how much "outrage" this will generate among consumers, given that most have not tried mobile wallets and are conceptually ambivalent about them according to several surveys.

According to a Retrevo survey, carriers are less trusted than Google or Apple to provide mobile payments functionality:

Screen shot 2011-06-20 at 9.15.23 AM

I'm very skeptical that carriers will be able to provide a good and highly functional mobile payments experience. Google is in a much stronger position to do so than the carriers (in the US or internationally). I've got a note in to Google and will update this post if I'm able to talk to them.

Women Outnumber Men As Smartphone Owners

In the US market there are now more female smartphone owners than men according to recent data from Compete (n=535). The percentage breakdown of women to men is 53% to 47%. Men were early adopters of smartphones and now women have more than caught up. 

Indeed, while men are a valuable audience target in mobile, the "smartphone mom" may be the true prize for marketers. 

Smartphone Owners: Men vs. Women (US data)

Compete also released some other gender breakdowns, such as smartphone activities. Men watch more movies on smartphones, while women do more of almost everything else:

 Smartphone Owners: Activities by Gender (US data)

smartphone activities

It's not clear that there are any immediate tactical takeaways from this, except that targeting smartphone owners of either gender is increasingly important for marketers. 

On a related note, comScore released smartphone marketshare data today, showing that Android now how more than 46% US market penetration. 

Siri Most Popular Feature on New iPhone

The firm ChangeWave Research surveyed Apple iPhone 4S owners (n=215) and found higher consumer satisfaction levels than for its predecessor, the iPhone 4. The firm discovered that 77% of owners reported being "Very Satisfied" vs. 72% of iPhone 4 owners. Siri apparently is a large part of that, as the most liked feature on the handset. 

The biggest frustrations or "dislikes" were: 

  • Battery life issues (38%)
  • Lack of 4G speed (30%)
  • Screen size (11%)

After Siri, the best liked features of the iPhone 4S were:

  • Ease of use (39%)
  • Camera (33%)
  • Faster browsing (24%)

This is the first emprical proof we have beyond media reports that Siri is really making an impact on people. 

All Smartphone Owners Aren't Created Equal

InsightExpress is out with some Q4 data collected during late October and early November from roughly 1,300 US survey respondents. There's a terrific QR discussion and set of case studies that I won't talk about in this post, but you can get the entire document here.

The survey showed 41% of respondents owned smartphones; Nielsen recently said that its surveys show the number to be 44%. InsightExpress then segmented smartphone users by activity level, which was generally correlated to age and device type.

Screen shot 2011-12-01 at 11.51.21 AM

It found there were four main categories of smartphone users, by increasing level of activity:

  • Those that only use mobile for phone calls on a daily basis (Only Phone group)
  • Those that do 1 or 2 activities in addition to phone calls on a daily basis (1 or 2 Activities group)
  • Those that do 3, 4, or 5 activities in addition to phone calls on a daily basis (3-5 Activities group)
  • Those that do 6 or more activities in addition to phone calls on a daily basis (6 or More Activities group)

The survey also found that 58% of those in the "6 or more" highest engagement category were 18-29 years old, while 33% of those in the "only phone" group were over 50. This makes intuitive sense, although smartphone owners have skewed older and more affluent than other types of digital consumers, at least in the past. 

In terms of devices, what InsightExpress found is that those in the "1 or 2 activities a day" category are more likely to be Windows owners (it's not clear if this includes the new Windows Phones). Smartphone owners reporting mid-level activity (3, 4 and 5) tended to own BlackBerry devices. 

Android and iPhones were more typically owned by those in the highest engagement category: "6 or more activities" per day.

Screen shot 2011-12-01 at 11.51.34 AM

Study: Tablets Are for "Couch, Bed and Kitchen"

Tablets are for fun, entertainment, relaxation, while laptops are for work says a new study from Google. The company is releasing some very interesting (and more nuanced) data today on tablet usage, which has come into sharp focus following all the post-holiday analysis.

The data in the Google study are based on self-reported dairies consumers kept over a two-week period (sample size undisclosed). Google found an emerging bifurcation between tablet and PC usage, as well as some other interesting consumer behaviors.The bottom line here is that tablets are used in the home primarily, mostly by one person for leisure activities and often along side other media. 

Most consumers in the study "use[d] their tablets for fun, entertainment and relaxation while they use[d] their desktop computer or laptop for work." Just over 90% of usage turned out to be personal (email is an exception perhaps). Google added, "When a consumer gets a tablet, we’ve found that they quickly migrate many of their entertainment activities from laptops and smartphones to this new device."

Screen shot 2011-11-30 at 12.02.44 PM

Other findings from the study:

  • The most frequent tablet activities are: email, games and social networking 
  • Usage was more compressed during the week and longer on the weekend (e.g., watching video)
  • 42% of tablet activities happened during other tasks or along side other media (i.e. watching TV). Email, games, social networking and search are the tablet activities most frequently done in front of TV 
  • Usage occurs mostly in the home, though some people use them on the commute and on vacation or work trips, “where they use them as a laptop replacement"
  • Google also discovered most tablets were used by single individuals; a smaller percentage were shared with family members

Tablets are, according to Google, “mobile within the home, with the highest usage taking place on the couch, from the bed and in the kitchen" (see first graphic above).

Google also offers some implied recommendations for publishers: “For many people, websites and apps designed for smartphones just don’t cut it on tablets" In other words have sites and apps optimized for tablets. That's somewhat ironic given how few tablet apps exist for Android -- they're mostly stretched smartphone apps (which will change hopefully soon with Ice Cream Sandwhich). 

In a parallel vein, Google said that consumers expect more interactivity from ads on tablets:

Consumers are engaging with useful, relevant and rich ads that take advantage of the touchscreen interface on tablets. Some consumers expect more interactivity from ads on tablets than they do from ads on their desktop computer.

Screen shot 2011-11-30 at 12.02.34 PM

Interestingly, most activities carried out on tablets were limited to tablets, according to Google. Only 18% were conducted across platforms (on PCs or smartphones). 

With the iPad topping wishlists and millions of Kindle Fires being sold this holiday season the influence of tablets will only grow. This seems to be further confirmed by Google's finding that tablets were mostly used by one person. This argues for subsequent tablet purchases by other family members so "each can have his/her own." 

And in a bad economy those purchases will likely come at the expense of PCs. 

Cutting through the Cyber-Monday Hype

IBM, eBay, comScore and others have been pouring out data reflecting revenue gains over the weekend and on Monday for e-commerce and specifically mobile. In particular comScore says that Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in US history clearing $1.25 billion. PayPal said that it saw a 552% increase in mobile payment volume vs. last year and a nearly 400% (397%) increase in mobile shopping.

There are a range of other statistics that reinforce the fact that there was a great deal of shopping on mobile devices over the weekend and on Monday.  

Screen shot 2011-11-29 at 3.14.22 PM

For example, IBM said the following about mobile shopping and mobile traffic over the weekend:

  • Mobile traffic increased to 14.3 percent  . . . compared to 5.6 percent in 2010
  • Sales on mobile devices surged to 9.8 percent from 3.2 percent year over year
  • Mobile shopping was led by Apple (iPhone + iPad) . . . Android came in third at 4.1 percent. Collectively iPhone and iPad accounted for 10.2 percent of all online retail traffic on Black Friday.
  • Shoppers using the iPad led to more retail purchases more often per visit than other mobile devices with conversion rates reaching 4.6 percent compared to 2.8 percent for overall mobile devices

IBM added on that on Cyber Monday mobile represented 7.7% of all online sales, up from 2.2% last year.

So what does all this mean exactly? As a basic matter, it means that people are using smartphones and tablets to shop for products and some are making purchases on them.

We need to ask several questions, however, before we can take the full measure of what happened:

  • Were mobile devices being used mostly in the home?
  • How much of the activity happened "on the go" and in stores? 
  • What percentage of people started with a mobile device and finished on a PC (and vice versa)? 
  • How many mobile purchases were made through mobile apps vs. the mobile web? 
  • What percentage of "mobile" purchases happened on the iPad vs. smartphones?
  • What percentage of mobile buying happened where the user had a stored credit card on file with the e-commerce site/app?   

Answering at least some of these questions will give us a better sense of what's really going on in terms of mobile behavior. Screen size, location, time and the immediacy of user needs are all variables that contribute to a larger consumer-behavior context. For example, a tablet (iPad) user at home is very different from a smartphone user in a store, and so on. 

While marketers and publishers can't address all these variables and nuances, they need to strive to better understand them to be effective and understand where mobile sits in the new cross-platform shopping paradigm.

Screen shot 2011-11-29 at 5.13.44 PM
Source: Google-AdMob, March 2011; Nielsen Q1 2011

Google Maps Is Android's Chief Competitive Weapon Against the iPhone

Google Maps are on both the iPhone and Android smartphones -- but they're increasingly very different products. Today Google added the beginnings of extensive interior mapping to the new version of Google Maps for Android. It provides floor plans for a number of shopping malls and retail stores in the US such as Home Depot, Macy's and IKEA. It also provides maps for quite a few major airports.

Google has said this is just the beginning of an ambitious project to map interior spaces. It complements Google's effort to bring interior business photography online. For the time being the new floor plan maps are only available for mobile devices, and only for Android. 

I recently switched from an Android EVO to an iPhone 4S as my primary phone. The screen is smaller and there's no Google Navigation; however overall the experience is superior. I do however miss the Google Navigation, although there are many navigation apps for the iPhone. 

Google knows that Maps (including Navigation and related content) is a key differentiator for Android vs. the iPhone. That's why it has never allowed Navigation on the iPhone and why it's in no rush to bring interior maps to the rival platform. Google might incorporate interior floor plans into an HTML5 version of Google Maps, in which case it would appear via the mobile Web. However it would have far less functionality than the version that's rolling out for Android Maps 6.0. 

Apple has been building up mapping assets suggestive of a total replacement for Google. But so far we haven't seen a product. If or when Apple's mapping offering appears it will need to be pretty sophisticated to satisfy users and compete with Google Maps. 

Data: Mobile Shopping, Transactions Way Up from Last Year

Data released by eBay/PayPal and IBM today show some early holiday 2011 digital commerce trends. PayPal (and parent eBay) said that there were two mobile shopping peaks yesterday across its various sites. The first happened between 1pm and 2pm PST. The other occurred between 6pm and 7pm PST.

The most popular merchandise categories on eBay mobile were the following:

  1. Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
  2. Cell Phones & PDAs
  3. Jewelry & Watches
  4. Collectibles
  5. Toys & Hobbies

The top mobile-purchased items in the electronics category were: 

  1. iPhone Accessories
  2. Apple iPhone 4 - 16GB – Black
  3. Apple iPod Touch 4th Generation 8GB

PayPal also recorded a "511% [increase] in global mobile payment volume compared to Thanksgiving 2010."

IBM reported that "Thanksgiving 2011 sales were up 39 percent over Thanksgiving 2010." The company also said the following about mobile traffic and purchases yesterday:

  • Traffic to retail sites reached 15.2%, up from 6.4% last year
  • Number of consumers buying on mobile devices increased to 11.09%, up from just over 4% last year.

EBay has said that it will record roughly $5 billion in mobile purchases and PayPal will process $3.5 billion in mobile payments by the end of 2011. Of course these sites, and rival Amazon, are leveraging a huge installed base of users. These are not new mobile adopters but existing customers who are using mobile apps to carry out transactions. Both eBay and Amazon have invested heavily in mobile apps and their overall mobile user experiences.

All of this is helped quite a bit by consumer credit cards already on file. Most other retailer sites will see significant increases in traffic from mobile devices but not corresponding purchases. The reasons for this will be a poor mobile user experience and/or lack of a stored credit card number. One solution is, which captures credit card information through the smartphone camera, eliminating the need to key in 16 digits.

Low-Priced Android Tablets Abound, iPhone Loyalty Exceeds

Tablets are at the top of many holiday wishlists and smartphones aren't very far behind. Both are being aggressively promoted online and in stores this weekend in the US. Heavy price discounting should move a lot of Android tablets (and handsets). Laptop and PC sales generally may suffer as a result.

Below, for example, US wireless carrier Verizon is selling the Motorola Xoom 10" and Samsung 7" tablets for $199 and $149 respectively. Both require commitment to a two-year contract, something most US consumers have thus far shunned.

Screen shot 2011-11-25 at 9.22.21 AM

Online retail giant Amazon is featuring a broad range of discounted tablets, beyond its own Kindle line, with many under $300 and some falling under $100. So while the iPad has the overwhelming share of tablet-based traffic today it's almost certain that will be diminished after the holidays.

Aggressive price discounting has emerged as the key to driving non-iPad tablet sales (first the HP TouchPad and then Kindle Fire). But this is a very dubious blessing for Android tablet OEMs, who may find their margins on tablets reduced to almost nothing. Apple by contrast has not had to lower prices to get attention or maintain share. We'll see what happens after the holidays.

What we're seeing now is the bi-bifurcation of the tablet market. There's a higher-end segment ($500 and above) dominated by the iPad, with almost no competition, and a lower-end segment ($250 and below) dominated by Amazon's Kindle line and Nook. Other OEMs are getting squeezed in the middle, unable to compete on quality at the high end or price at the low end for the most part. There are some "no-name" tablets priced lower than Kindle. 

This looks like the smartphone market, with inexpensive Android models driving rapid penetration across carriers and the iPhone appealing to higher-end consumers. There are obviously exceptions and some of the "flagship" Android devices have done well. Yet Android has not yet been able to establish the kind of brand identity and loyalty that the iPhone has enjoyed. 

A recent survey by GFK found that:

  • 84% of iPhone owners would remain with Apple next time
  • 60% of Android owners said they would stay with Android
  • 48% said they would remain with RIM

GFK also found that content and apps were keys to device/operating system loyalty:

As consumers build digital ecosystems and their own world of content on handsets, the study shows that their loyalty to their smartphone brand increases with the number of apps and services they use. The research reveals that the tipping point for loyalty is when a consumer uses seven or more services on their device.

Consumers in the US are the most likely to use seven or more services (61%), followed closely by China (56%) and Brazil (53%). In comparison to this, European countries use fewer services on their smartphone; France and Italy (46%), Germany (45%), Spain (43%) and the UK (42%)

This survey also reveals the uphill battle that Windows Phones now face as they try to "break in," although more than 50% of the market still don't have smartphones -- which remains a substantial opportunity. 

Windows Phones: Apps Gaining, Awareness Growing, Outlook Uncertain

There are three pieces of data recently out that paint a modestly upbeat, if mixed, picture for Windows Phones. Though Nokia's Lumia phones are not being released in the US until next year, awareness and potential demand for the Microsoft-powered devices in the US are rising (with Samsung and HTC models available).

According to recent survey data from The NPD Group, among those seeking to buy a smartphone within the next six months, a meaningful percentage of would-be smartphone buyers are considering a Windows Phone. Here are a few survey highlights: 

  • Android holds greater interest than other mobile OS (among 63% of respondents)
  • However 44% "of smartphone owners, and those who intend to buy one, are considering purchasing a Windows Phone 7"
  • Yet 45% of surveyed consumers are "still not aware of Windows Phone 7" 
  • Among those not interested in Windows Phones, 21% said the were "too invested" in another OS (iPhone, Android).

The availability of apps is critical to the near and long-term success of Windows Phones. To that end Distimo, which tracks app store inventories and downloads, released data showing strong growth of apps in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace:

  • The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is the fifth largest OS application store worldwide
  • The most popular category in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is Games. Other popular categories are Tools & Productivity, Entertainment and Travel & Navigation.
  • Paid applications in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace have grown continuous [sic] with almost 1300 new paid applications every month. Free applications have increased on average by 1650 new free applications month-over-previous month.
  • The number of publishers has consistently grown since the launch of the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace with 700 new publishers per month.
  • Nearly 50% of all applications are available in the 17 countries in which the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace was originally accessible. One-third of all applications are available in all 35 countries.
Windows Phone Marketplace stats

Overall the Windows Phone Marketplace now has roughly 40,000 apps according to All About Windows Phone. While this is a fraction of what's in the iTunes app store or Android market, The Windows Marketplace is just a year old this month. Microsoft is currently running a promotion where they give new Windows Phone buyers $25 to spend on apps.

This positive momentum is tempered by a widely covered "downgrade" of the new Nokia Windows Phones. An analyst at Pacific Crest Securities cut his forecast for Nokia Windows Phone sales by 75% (from 2M to 500K). This was based on his view that Nokia Windows Phones were not sufficiently differentiated and were without "breakthrough innovation." He also believed they were not aggressively enough priced to generate significant demand. 

However Nokia has said it will use price to compete. One must also recognize that this is one person's judgment based on preliminary information. Yet if this prediction comes true and another year of Nokia-Windows phones goes buy with unimpressive sales (and Nokia's share continues to decline) it will signal a major problem (even panic time) for both Nokia and Microsoft. 

Amazon Might Own Android Tablet Market

I've not had my hands on an Kindle Fire but the reviews are generally fair to negative, except in the context of its price: "a good tablet for the price" is the consensus. And consumers are responding to that price in large numbers. Amazon will sell millions of Kindle Fire tablets to existing Kindle owners and to some would-be iPad buyers seduced by the $199 price and the assurances of the Amazon brand.

Amazon is also intending to release a larger version of the Kindle Fire next year, though it won't be quite as large as the iPad. Putting aside the Nook and hypothetical Windows tablets, Amazon's Kindle Fire is instantly the most successful tablet after the iPad by a huge margin.

Screen shot 2011-11-21 at 10.41.56 AM

Until someone else comes along with a cheaper, better Android tablet Amazon owns the market. So when the dust settles early next year after holiday sales are over it will effectively be a two tablet market: Apple vs. Amazon. I say "Apple vs. Amazon" because Amazon has effectively obscured all Android (and Google) branding. Most people buying a Kindle Fire don't know or care that they're buying an "Android device." 

It's possible that Samsung or HTC will build a competitive tablet featuring Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich"). But the current crop of Gingerbread and Honeycomb tablets simply "blow" (as they say in the vernacular) by comparison to the iPad. It would also be very challenging for any Android tablet maker to match Amazon's pricing given that the company is effectively taking a loss -- sellig the device for less than it costs to make on the assumption that it will increase product and content sales for Amazon.

There is a scenario where wireless carriers give away some future, stellar Android tablet in exchange for two year contract commitments. However, consumers are basically loathe to enter into a second set of wireless contracts beyond the ones they already have for their smartphones. WiFi tablets are more popular than carrier-subsidized tablets. It's therefore a much longer shot.

Recent consumer surveys from Retrevo, Nielsen and ChangeWave have shown increasing demand for tablets, with the iPad leading the group but with Kindle also in the clear second position.

As tablets replace PCs for some people the question of how other PC OEMs repond to the Apple-Amazon challenge becomes a major, strategic question. As Samsung, Dell and others have already shown, they can't (so far) match Apple on quality or hardware-software integration. And they can't match Amazon on price.

Thus until the forseeable future it's a two tablet race. And right now Amazon owns Android. 

Mocospace Transitions into a Gaming Platform

A year ago Mocospace was a pure mobile-social network. Now it's a mobile gaming platform that draws revenue increasingly from microtransactions instead of advertising. I had been quite skeptical of Mocospace's prospects over the longer term, chiefly because of Facebook's entry into the mobile market. However Mocospace is on a different path today and in a much stronger position as either an acquisition target or, perhaps less likely, an IPO candidate if it gets big enough.

According to CEO and co-founder Justin Siegel Mocospace has been profitable for two years. He told me that one of the reasons they shifted the model is because "The ad market is very cyclical and tied to the well-being of the economy." Microtransactions were perceived to be more stable. "We have more control and the business model is more lucrative," explained Siegel. 

He gave me some stats about the company today:

  • 22 million registered users
  • Over 1 million gaming hours played daily
  • 27 games on the platforms (mostly developed by 3rd parties)
  • 50% of user play at least one game a month
  • 33% of daily active users playing everyday (over 700K daily active users)

Siegal's own background is in mobile gaming and he always thought that games would be incorporated into Mocospace at some point. But when the company started in 2005 the model was Friendster and MySpace. "We thought we could bring social to mobile," said Siegal. 

At a certain point Siegal and his team decided to "pivot" (I suspect partly motivated by Facebook's mobile growth). Mocospace surveyed its users, more than 50% of whom fall into the 18-30 age range, and discovered that "the vast majority were gamers."

"Over the next 12 months we'll be scaling back advertising," said Siegal. But the company won't eliminate advertising entirely. "We want to grow the business in a sustainable way." Indeed, having consumer micropayments as a revenue stream makes the company a lot more sustainable and attractive than if it were to rely entirely on advertising.

Last month the company acquired Geocade, an LBS games platform, which argues that it will be taking virtual games into the real world very soon. 

AdMob Dominant Ad Network on Android Devices

App store Xyologic released some interesting data yesterday about publisher/developer adoption of ad network SDKs for the Android platform. What the charts below reflect are the percentages of the top apps that have installed the identified ad networks to deliver advertising. 

Many of these apps access more than one SDK so there's no way to precisely extrapolate revenue from these figures. However they directionally reflect market share and revenue trends. The column on the right in the second chart below shows the percentage of all downloads in October among the top apps with mobile advertising.

Screen shot 2011-11-18 at 7.41.22 AM

Screen shot 2011-11-18 at 7.35.16 AM

According to Xyologic, the "others" category includes "AdMarvel, Smaato, Burstly, Mopub, Nexage, Fiksu, and mobile ad network Jumptap who each make up less than 3% each of the overall market share." The tiny share of Jumptap is a bit of a surprise.

Once again, iAD doesn't appear in this list because this is about the Android OS and not the iPhone.

The Decline of RIM and 'Consumerization' of IT

One of the big trends of the past few years has been the "consumerization of enterprise IT." This manifests in various ways, including the emergence of enterprise "social" tools that mimic consumer sites and user experiences (e.g., Salesforce's Chatter). Another way in which enterprise IT is changing is that workers now have more choice about the devices that they can use on the network.

RIM's stronghold and bulwark against irrelevance had been the corporate IT department, but that's no longer the case. The iPhone is now the top smartphone in the enterprise according to a new survey, the iPass 2011 Mobile Enterprise Report (based on 2,300 responses from workers at 1,100 enterprises globally).

Below are a selection of data presented in the survey report:

  • 95 percent of mobile workers now have smartphones, up from 85 percent in 2010
  • 91 percent use their smartphones for work, compared to 69 percent in 2010
  • Tablet ownership has grown to 44 percent of mobile employees, up from 33 percent in Q2 of 2011
  • The iPhone is now the top smartphone in the enterprise with 45 percent market share among mobile workers, up from 31 percent in 2010.
  • Only 28 percent of mobile workers are given no choice when it comes to smartphone selection; the majority of enterprises offer their employees some choice (62 percent) – 44 percent can select from a list of smartphones, and an additional 19 percent can use any device they choose to access corporate resources.

Current enterprise smartphone share:

 Screen shot 2011-11-17 at 9.21.01 AM

Intention to buy smartphones in 2012:

 Screen shot 2011-11-17 at 9.07.17 AM

Current tablet share in the enterprise: 

 Screen shot 2011-11-17 at 9.07.37 AM

Another interesting finding is that a growing number of workers (especially younger workers) leave their laptops at the office more frequently. Roughly 42% of workers said they left their business laptops at the office at least several days a week because they have alternative devices at home. 

Question: Do you leave your business laptop at work on weekends/evenings and just use your smartphone or tablet?

Screen shot 2011-11-17 at 9.08.01 AM
In tandem with the above finding the survey discovered that roughly 25% of respondents said they were using their laptops less today than a year ago. 

Gap Enables Google Wallet in 65 SF Bay Area Locations

The Gap has enabled Google Wallet at 65 San Fransisco Bay Area stores (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Stores and Gap Outlet). You can still only pay with MasterCard and a Google Prepaid Card, which you can fill with another credit card. Eventually Google wall "accept" all sorts of cards into Wallet. 

To promote the initiative Gap is giving Google Wallet users 15% off. The deal is presented in the Google Wallet app, in the "offers" area.

Screen shot 2011-11-16 at 10.58.39 AM

Google doesn't "see" any of the transactions today (and may never see them precisely). It only knows a transaction was made and the city in which it was made. It doesn't know the amount, the item or the store. However the Gap, in this case, knows all that information. 

Beyond the fact that this represents a convenience for the consumer it offers a powerful analytics capability to the marketer. In the not-too-distant future brands and marketers will be able to track promotions and ads to the point of sale with services like Google Wallet. In a lower-tech way Foursquare offers a similar capability through check-ins. The larger point is that NFC, check-ins and point of sale integration are starting to enable marketers to get more visibility on online-->offline transactions (or traditional media to POS). This is a major development and the arrival of a new form of analytics. 

By the day there's some new mobile payments announcement it seems. Indeed, the world of mobile payments is starting to get pretty noisy and potentially confusing to merchants and consumers. Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Verifone, Google, Apple, mobile carriers, eBay/PayPal, Square, Intuit and others are all competing for consumer and merchant attention. While not all of these players are directly competing, many of them are.

On the merchant side there need to be standards or at least compatible systems to enable mass consumer adoption of mobile payments. Fragmentation or different standards and systems will confuse and frustrate merchants and consumers alike, and only delay adoption. 

Very small merchants and service providers will likely turn to simple-to-adopt services like Square. Larger entities will ultimately adopt NFC-based systems I suspect. Broad adoption by retailers like the Gap helps the cause accordingly.

See related: PayPal Brand Weakness Standing in Way of Otherwise Compelling Shopping Vision


Report: Local-Mobile Ads Dramatically Outperform Online

Local mobile ad network xAd has released its first quarterly report on local mobile user behavior and ads. I've done a general write-up at Search Engine Land. The company collected the data from its 10 billion monthly ad impressions and 90 million monthly local-search requests. The data in the report were captured between July and September.

A couple of highlights: 

  • 75% of smartphone owners conduct local searches (other data reflect up to 95%) 
  • 62% of local-mobile users conduct at least two local searches per month, while 32% of users do at least five local lookups per month

 The top local search categories according to xAd data:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Gas stations
  3. Shopping
  4. Auto repair/dealers/rentals
  5. Fast food
  6. Cafes/coffee shops
  7. Travel & lodging
  8. Health & medical
  9. Bars & clubs
  10. Finance & legal

Most interesting to me was the discussion of ad performance and "secondary actions." CTRs on ads in apps were 8% vs. 5% for ads appearing in the browser.


When you consider that average online display ad CTRs are 0.09% you see that this performance is dramatically better. Indeed, InsightExpress and Dynamic Logic have both documented how mobile display outperforms online across all metrics. 

In addition to browser vs. apps differences, xAd documents ad performance variations between iOS and Android. While CTR rates on the iPhone and Android are roughly comparable, "secondary actions" are greater on iOS: calls, map/directions lookups and review drill downs. Interestingly calls are happen more frequently in a browser context. But they're also the most popular "post-search" secondary action (62%) across the board, followed by maps and directions lookups (35%).

Previously xAd reported that its CPMs average $30. Other specialized US-based local-mobile ad networks include CityGrid, AT&Ti, Verve Wireless, Navteq, JiWire, LSN Mobile, Chitika, Marchex and 

Android Dominates Q3, iPhone Top Device

According to Gartner, phones running the Android OS "sold" (read: shipped) at dramatically higher rates in Q3 than competing platforms. As the chart below reflects, Android's share of Q3 smartphone shipments more than doubled vs. last year. Nearly all others declined.

The iPhone was almost at parity with Symbian, which declined by more than 50% vs. 2010. RIM and Microsoft also declined. 

 Screen shot 2011-11-15 at 5.53.38 AM

Looking at overall mobile operating system share on a global basis, StatCounter shows Symbian still leading. Apple's iOS and Android are essentially tied about 10 points behind Symbian.  

Screen shot 2011-11-15 at 5.59.53 AM

In the US, NPD Group said that in Q3 Apple had the top-two selling smartphones: 

  1. iPhone 4
  2. iPhone 3GS (now free)
  3. HTC EVO 4G
  4. Motorola Droid 3
  5. Samsung Intensity II

Report: WP7 Passes RIM, Kindle Scorches Galaxy Tab re Developer Interest

Appcelerator released its Q4 developer survey this morning (n=2,160 developers). It does the survey quarterly in conjunction with IDC.

There are a number of findings but the big ones are: Kindle Fire has rocketed past other tablets in terms of developer interest and Windows Phones similarly moved past RIM:

  • Kindle Fire moved ahead of Samsung Galaxy Tab as the most popular Android tablet in North America and has become number two globally
  • Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 passed RIM to become the third largest OS after iOS and Android

Despite their enthusiasm for Kindle Fire, developers expressed concern about increasing fragmentation in the Android universe.

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It's important to keep in mind that these findings are based on perception and not an indication of actual market share; however they're correlated with consumer adoption in many cases. Developers are excited about the Kindle Fire's low price point and perceived demand. It also appears that developers have largely given up on RIM. However if new RIM devices showed consumer traction we'd see these figures change again. Consumer adoption and audience size are the key drivers of developer interest followed by capacity to monetize their apps.

Another finding of the report is that there's relatively little developer interest in "connected TV" (e.g., Google, Apple TV) -- at least until consumers show interest at scale. 

Is Siri Steve Jobs' Revenge Against Android?

In written testimony submitted to the US Senate Judiciary committee on antitrust, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt identified Apple's voice assistant Siri as a competitor in mobile search: 

Moreover, history shows that popular technology is often supplanted by entirely new models. Even in the few weeks since the hearing, Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S. As one respected technology site reported: “[E]veryone keeps insisting that Apple will eventually get into the search engine business. Well they have. But not in the way that everyone was thinking. Siri is their entry point.” Another commentator has described Siri more simply as intended to be a “Google killer."

The hyperbolic "Google killer" designation is invoked by Schmidt to show that Google is beset by competition on all sides. I've written previously that Siri may actually increase the number of Google searches coming from the iPhone, as people discover they can "search the Web for  . . ." Siri can also be used to search Bing or Yahoo, though most people continue to have Google as their "default" search provider on the iPhone. 

In the short term Siri doesn't to anything to degrade Google search query volumes. As I said it may increase them. Over time, as apps become integrated into Siri, people may use it as a tool to access their favorite vertical search or content providers for local, travel, health, weather and so on. In such a scenario (which is how the original Siri app was set up and intended to be used), Google could see less traffic. However that's speculative at this point. 

The way that Siri "harms" Google today is by making itself and not Google the starting point for mobile search and discovery on the iPhone. It hasn't become that for most users but it could in short order. Siri sits "on top" of Google (or Bing) just as Google sits on top of third party sites and content on the PC. 

In that way Siri supplants the Google brand and becomes the "go to" source for information for iPhone 4S owners. This is the way that Siri really damages Google, at least in the near term. It potentially does to Google what Google has done to so many third party content providers online.

I don't actually think that Siri is Steve Jobs' revenge -- he famously threatened to spend all Apple's cash reserves to destroy Android -- I just wrote that to get attention.  

Why QR Codes, NFC and Augmented Reality Will Disappear into 'Visual Search'

QR codes are proliferating yet it's not clear that consumers are "getting it." ScanLife, it is Q3 trends report, says that 2D or QR barcode scanning is growing dramatically:

  • We have seen over 20 million scans in 2011, and that represents a 440% increase from 2010 through the same time period.
  • The number of countries scanning in a single day increased by 66% in a year. Users are now scanning from 128 different countries daily, a testament to the expanding global footprint of this technology.
  • The aggregated growth is also translating into a significant rise in the individual scans per code. As an example, the single largest marketing campaign this past quarter saw over 400,000 scans, compared to 65,000 a year ago. 

However US and UK consumer surveys indicate that most consumers don't know what a QR code is and only between 6% and 11% have ever scanned one (in the UK it appears to be 19%). According to comScore data, QR code scanners are mainly men and younger people (18-34) vs. other market segments.

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Somewhat strangely, QR codes seem to polarize marketers. There are some very vocal and aggressive QR code detractors that consider the technology a failure. And many see QR codes as some sort of interim step before NFC technology become mass market. 

In a parallel vein there's augmented reality ("AR"), which is a "cool technology" chasing a mass market use case. AR continues to be more of a novelty than something really useful to consumers -- or marketers. But it has potential in many non-commercial and commercial situations.

Then there's NFC, which has been written about extensively in connection with the launch of Google Wallet and mobile payments. Beyond payments, NFC is also a marketing tool and can deliver content and marketing messages to a handset with a simple touch of the device on an NFC-enabled surface or receiver. Given that very close proximity is required to invoke NFC it's not a substitute in all situations for AR or QR codes, which can both work from a distance.

A category that will likely subsume and incorporate all these technologies and tools is "visual search." Exemplified by Google Goggles or Amazon's new "Flow" app, it simply asks consumers to position the handset/camera over or in front of an object and then delivers information: reviews, prices, nearby stores, additional content and so on.

The notion of "visual search" is conceptually simpler and much more consumer friendly than "Augmented Reality," "QR codes" or "NFC." For that reason I believe that visual search will become the metaphor or category name for a range of approaches and technologies that are collectively about getting information or content (whether commercial or non-commercial) into the handset through the smartphone lens. 

NFC, AR and QR Codes all wear their complexity on their proverbial sleeves, while the term "visual search" buries the technological complexity behind a very descriptive and easy to understand concept.