Mobile Platforms

Google Updates iOS Apps with Hands-Free Voice Search

Google updated its iOS search app today for both the iPhone and iPad. The new app brings some additional functionality to Google Now, which is embedded within the app: 

  • Notifications (appear on home screen)
  • Reminders
  • New Google Now cards

The update also enables hands-free voice searching through the trigger/wake-up word "OK Google." This capability started on Google Glass and has migrated onto Android handsets such as the Motorola Moto X and LG Nexus 5. It's now available to iPhone 4S and above users. 

New Google Now cards include:

  • Tickets for movies, concerts and events
  • Airline boarding passes
  • Reservation confirmations for car rentals
  • Transit information
  • Local event listings

The combination of voice search and Google Now has turned "Google Search" into the "Google Assistant," without being rebranded as such. The combined Google capabilities rival Siri and arguably exceed it in some respects.

On iOS hands-free voice searching (OK Google) isn't as readily available as on Android. Users must first launch or open the Google Search app, which can be done with Siri, ironically. Then the hands-free searching can be initiated. That sort of defeats the point. On Android handsets voice search is immediately available on the home page. 

While probably no single feature launched today will generate massively more Google searches from iOS devices, collectively they may bring more user engagement. 

The new hands free search capability may have the biggest impact on the iPad. While users could perviously perform voice queries from Google's iPad app in the past, this new purely speech activated feature may generate more searches for Google from Apple's tablets -- which drive about 80% of all US tablet traffic.  

To Succeed Surface Pro Must Become True Laptop Replacement

Microsoft will reportedly spend north of $400 million this holiday season on marketing in the hope of selling 16 million Surface tablets. It will likely have trouble because the Surface Pro tablet is neither a true PC replacement nor does it offer as good a tablet experience as the iPad

Surface Pro 2 also starts at $899, making it considerably more expensive than the entry level iPads and even many Windows PCs. The argument in favor of Surface Pro is that it has Office and offers greater productivity than the iPad. However it's not clear that consumers are seeking a unified device for all their computing needs. 

According to data from app marketing platform Fiksu, the iPad Air had a powerhouse opening weekend. The device "is seeing five times the usage the iPad 4 did two days after launch - and more than 3 times that of the iPad mini," explains Fiksu.

iPad Air launch

Stellar reviews and early momentum indicate the iPad Air may have a very good Q4. The new iPad Mini "Retina" launches later this month, which could either divert some iPad Air sales or simply generate more tablet "shelf space" for Apple. That would be potentially bad news for Microsoft, which is competing directly with the iPad.

On the Android side in the US market it's really Kindle vs. Nexus 7 (Samsung has more of a presence in Europe). Between the two Kindle has the stronger brand and greater distribution through Amazon. But the Nexus 7 is probably the better device overall. In the 9 - 10 inch category the Air really doesn't have any competition from an Android tablet. 

In order to see more than token sales, Microsoft will have to truly make the Surface Pro (RT is RIP) a laptop replacement, with a longer battery life and better typing experience. Surface Pro 2 is not that device; so we'll need to wait for Surface Pro 3. That won't be out until next year -- if then.

That means Microsoft, no matter how much it spends on marketing for the holidays, is unlikely to meet its ambitious sales goals for Surface. That is, unless it starts cutting prices very aggressively, with a capital "V."  

Can the iPad (and the PC) Withstand the Cheap Tablet Onslaught?

The iPad Air officially became available around the world today. Supplies appear to be readily available in the US but have slipped in some international markets. In the US the 128GB T-Mobile version now has a 5 - 10 business day wait. (Update: New York is reportedly selling out of some models.) 

The new iPad Retina Mini will become available "later in November." There are undoutedly many people trying to decide which one to buy (iPad Air vs. iPad Mini Retina). 

Beyond the iPad there are the Nexus 7, Kindle HD tablets and Samsung's Galaxy Tabs. The best of that group remains the Nexus 7. However the Nexus 7 is not as polished or quite as good as the new iPads, though it is cheaper. And lower cost is a meaningful factor for many people.

These three makers form a middle tier of price and quality after the iPad.  

 

However, at the bottom, there are scores of "no-name" Android devices selling for less than $150. Many (as in the graphic above) are selling for under $100.

These super-cheap tablets are likely to have battery life and performance issues. They're not going to last little more than about a year if that (my original Nexus 7 broke twice in the same year with eventual total screen failure). Still, low pricing will make them very attractive to some. Indeed the prices are so low in some of these cases they can even be treated as disposable.

These low-end Android tablets will undoubtedly boost Android's share of the market. In the US the iPad still is responsible for more than 80% of tablet-generated web traffic. We'll have to revisit those data in Q1 2014. 

There are a couple of ways to see the potential impact of the proliferation of low-end Android tablets. They're not mutually exclusive 1) they will take share from the iPad and 2) they will expand the market for tablets to more price-sensitive groups who otherwise wouldn't pay a premium for an iPad.  

Regardless, the tablet explosion is not going to be good news for Q4 PC sales. People are likely to avoid replacing or buying new PCs in favor of smartphones and tablets. 

Apple Sells Almost $20 Billion Worth of iPhones

Earlier today Apple announced quarterly earnings. Gross revenue was $37.5 billion vs. $35.9 billion last year. The company generally beat expectations on revenue, earnings per share and iPhone sales. Mac sales were in line with expectations. However, iPad unit sales came in slightly lower than anticipated.

Here are the top-line figures from the release: 

  • Revenue: $37.5 billion (vs. expectations of $36.8 billion)
  • iPhone sales: 33.8 million units (expectations: 31 million) 
  • iPad: 14.1 million (slightly less than expected)
  • iPods: 3.5 million
  • Mac sales: 4.6 million
  • Margin: 37%

Regionally Americas sales rose only 1% year over year. Europe was flat. China was up 6% and Japan was up 41%. Here are the revenue numbers by product:

  • iPhones: $19.5 billion (52% of total revenue)
  • iPads: $6.2 billion
  • Macs: $5.6 billion 
  • iTunes/software $4.3 billion 
  • iPods: $573 million

According to Localytics the following is the global breakdown of iPhones in market: 

New iPads Coming Today Amid Intensifying Competition

Later this morning Apple will introduce at least two new or updated iPads. It's widely expected that Apple will offer a 5th generation full-sized iPad that incorporates design features of the Mini and will be thinner and lighter. In addition the company will likely introduce a "retina" display iPad Mini. There are likely to be other announcements tied to Macs and the Mavericks OS update. 

However the iPad will be the center of attention.

This update is important as Apple faces intensifying competition from Google, Samsung and Amazon. There are also a host of "no-name" tablet makers pushing the price of smaller tablets down. Intel, for example, believes that there will be reasonable quality $99 tablets for sale this holiday season. Accordingly it will be interesting to see whether Apple adjusts the pricing of its iPads in any way. 

According to data from Localytics, the most popular iPad is the iPad 2, which has 38% of the global iPad market. The 4th generation iPad has only 18% and the iPad Mini has 17% according to the firm. Among Android tablets it's a three way race between Samsung, Amazon and Google/Asus. 

Global Tablet Share by Model2

On a global basis Samsung is the Android leader with 55% market share. In the US however Amazon Kindle tablets have outsold Samsung. Overall, according to Chitika in June, the iPad drives 84% of tablet-based traffic in North America. The ad network is set to update these numbers today.  

Gartner and IDC continue to forecast the decline of the PC, with tablet growth continuing. However, thus far, Microsoft has not produced a competitive tablet to stem its falling OS and device market share. 

On Friday the Pew Research Center offered new data showing that 43% of Americans over 16 owned a tablet or an e-reader. That makes for a total of just over 100 million people in the US with one or both devices. Among them Pew said that 35% owned tablets, which I calculated was roughly 84 million people. 

Tablets and ereaders 

Study: 47% of Mobile Autos Lookups Lead to Purchase

Recently xAd and Telmetrics released more data from their UK "Mobile Path to Purchase" study conducted by Nielsen. This time the focus was on consumer behavior in the automotive vertical (car purchases and servicing). The big takeaway, once again, is how mobile devices now play a critical role in the pre-purchase research process.

The UK study is something of a mirror of the earlier US version, with some differences.

Perhaps the most important finding, the UK study discovered that 30% of UK automotive researchers used mobile devices exclusively. Tablet owners were more likely to be at home when conducting research vs. smartphone users (82% vs. 41%). In addition to price comparisons (popular with with both smartphone and tablet owners), smartphone owners are more often seeking location and contact information for dealers and service locations whereas tablet owners were doing more review checking.

In order of popularity and volume here's what UK auto mobile users are looking for or researching:

  • New or used car purchases (72%)
  • Car servicing (28%)
  • Car parts (19%)

The following are some additional data and details from this slice of the UK study: 

  • UK mobile auto searchers are more price sensitive than US automotive buyers -- 53% of UK auto searchers conduct price comparisons vs. 43% in the US
  • 47% of smartphone lookups ultimately lead to a purchase; 41% of tablet searches 
  • The mobile web has greater reach with UK auto searchers; however "nearly half of smartphone searchers and 29% of tablet searchers have used an auto app"
  • 60% of UK automotive searchers plan to purchase within a month or longer. However 32% plan to purchase within a 24 hour period (the latter is probably service or parts related)

Location was a critical factor for mobile users: 40% sought or expected business locations within 5 miles. Finally only 30% of these automotive researchers knew specifically what they were looking for. Thus there's a significant opportunity for marketers to influence these consumers' purchases though mobile marketing and advertising.

Offering PayPal Provides Modest Conversion Lift to E-Commerce

Digital marketing platform Monetate recently tested whether a site offering the option to buy through PayPal saw any conversion lift vs. not offering PayPal. Using A/B testing and data from a single client the company said there was a modest roughly 1% sales lift by offering PayPal: 

Adding this simple reassurance to product detail pages not only lifted average order value by 1.03%, but it also reduced cart abandonment by 1.21%. Not a huge lift, but not shabby either . . .

We recently asked 1,250 US adults which entities they trusted most to handle mobile payments. The following was the order of results:

  1. My credit card company
  2. PayPal (eBay)
  3. Amazon
  4. Google
  5. Apple
  6. Other (included "my bank") 

Square and Facebook were not on the list of choices. However Facebook is testing its own mobile payments service with some consumers and retailers (stored credit card and details).  

As the survey data above indicate PayPal is in a very strong position to become the dominant mobile payments company (especially after its Braintree acquisition) if it can establish and reinforce its brand and user experience as being the simplest and most secure. 

Apple could quickly enter the mobile payments arena; however so far it has held back. And while Amazon has a presence in mobile payments it's not particularly strong or developed.

Google, for its part, has failed to establish Wallet among consumers. Square is in a decent position but it doesn't have the reach that PayPal currently has. Facebook has massive reach but is not going to be trusted with payments by most consumers without a Herculean education and marketing effort. 

So currently it's PayPal's market to lose really, as mobile payments take hold.  

Report: 33% of Google's Paid-Search CTRs Now Coming from Mobile

Paid search marketing firm The Search Agency released its Q3 "State of Paid Search Report" for the US market. The report is based on a large volume of client data and discusses paid search trends by search engine and several industry segments. The headline is that a third of Google's paid search clicks in the US are now coming from smartphones and tablets. 

The following are some of top-level data released in the report:

  • Google average CPC was up across all 3 device types, with the largest growth occurring in tablets, which grew 14.2% YoY.
  • Google’s distribution of clicks continued to shift away from desktops toward smartphones and tablets, which now make up more than 1/3 of the search engine’s clicks in Q3.
  • While clicks on desktops were flat YoY, search clicks on tablets increased 63.4% and clicks on smartphones more than doubled.

The following charts show the percentage of paid-search clicks by device category.

In the aggregate, Google saw 33% of paid clicks in Q3 coming from smartphones and tablets, with the greatest growth coming from tablets. Bing saw about 18% from mobile devices, since it has a much smaller and less visible mobile presence.  

Google to Build Opt-In Mobile Panel for (Offline) Analytics

According to a report (rumor) in Engadget, Google is preparing to build an incentive-based mobile panel to track browsing and app usage behavior. The initiative is called "mobile meter" according to the blog and it would be directed toward iPhone and Android users. 

Google would offer some incentive (points, rewards, etc) to motivate users to opt-in and allow their usage to be anonymously tracked. This would be nearly identical to the system currently used by Nielsen. 

In addition Placed uses a panel to track mobile and exposures and their impact on store visits. The Placed app (with opt-in consent) watches where users go in the real world and extrapolates their data to estimate the offline impact of mobile campaigns. 

Google recently announced Estimated Total Conversions that will track the impact of search ads across devices and, eventually, into stores. The primary methodology relies on signed-in Chrome browser users. 

A Google mobile panel would complement that approach and, like Placed's panel, provide data to advertisers -- offering a more holistic view of their campaigns, especially the impact on offline store visits.  

Is a Google Smartwatch Imminent?

In the frenzy of speculation leading up to Apple's iPhone announcement last month, there was lots of discussion of smartwatches. Apple supposedly was developing an "iWatch" and would be announcing it along with the new handsets. Samsung, wanting to beat Apple to market, rushed out its Galaxy Gear watch, which has met with scathing reviews as an "unfinished product." 

Google was also rumored to be working on a smartwatch. The 9to5 Google site has some additional information on the potential release of a Google smartwatch at the end of this month: "Details are slim but the person seemed to think that Google Now functionality would be at the center of the product."

The idea is that Google would take its technology and learning (thus far) from Google Glass and put that in a watch. The emphasis on Google Now is interesting and appropriate -- the watch as a kind of notifications center. Samsung tried to cram too much half-baked functionality into Galaxy Gear.

There's considerable consumer interest in smartwatches (much more than Google Glass). Just over 40% of survey respondents in a recent survey we conducted (n=1,024 US smartphone owners) said they were interested in a smartwatch. Not surprisingly respondents were most interested in smartwatches that were made by the same maker as their current smartphones.

The right mix of features and pricing are key here. Undoubtedly Apple will develop an "iWatch." And Google, as the rumor suggests, will probably roll out a watch itself, given its new commitment to "wearables." But these initial products may not get the mix right: simplicity, aesthetics, functionality and cost.  

The optimal price is probably $99 to $199. But $299 would be OK if the watch were a great product. At $299 and above, the Galaxy Gear is simply to flawed and too expensive for what it delivers. Now we'll see what Google can come up with.  

Place 2013 - Agenda & Presentations

Place 2013 brought together the entire spectrum of companies building the indoor location ecosystem. Retailers, technology vendors, mobile developers, data providers, advertisers, agencies, and investors attended this unique, one-day event at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and was the first-of-its-kind anywhere.

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Agenda & Presentations

8:45 AM - 9:00 AM
The Consumer Foundations of Place-Based Marketing - The majority of smartphone owners are already using their devices in stores to find product and price information, as well as coupons. Opus Research will present proprietary findings on in-store behavior, privacy attitudes and consumer receptiveness to indoor promotions.
Speaker: Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst, Opus Research
View slides from this presentation

9:00 AM - 9:45 AM
The State of Indoor Location - For the past several years online mapping giants and technology providers have been laying the groundwork for indoor location. What is the current state of the infrastructure? What technologies are already deployed and how accurate are they? What indoor consumer and advertiser scenarios are possible today and what might be possible within three years?
Speakers:
Joseph Leigh, Head of Venue Maps, Nokia
Leslie Presutti, Mobile, Location and Computing Business Unit, Qualcomm Atheros
Zack Sterngold, VP of Americas, Boingo Wireless
Avinash Joshi, Chief Technologist, Wireless LAN Group, Motorola Solutions

9:45 AM - 10:25 AM
Keynote: Why Indoor Location Will Be Bigger than GPS or Maps - The explosion of smartphones with built-in sensors, accelerometers, GPS and WiFi is making indoor positioning not only possible but also inevitable. The emerging indoor opportunity for venue owners, retailers and technology providers is potentially massive. Google’s Don Dodge, an investor and close observer of the space, will explain why he believes indoor location and marketing is going to be huge and potentially larger than GPS and maps.
Speaker: Don Dodge, Developer Advocate, Google

10:45 AM - 11:05 AM
Case Study: Point Inside - Point Inside was one of the early consumer-facing apps in the indoor location space. The company has since shifted its focus to enterprises and enabling retailers to take advantage of indoor location. The company will present a new case study featuring a major home-improvement retailer.
Speaker:Todd Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer, Point Inside
View slides from this presentation

11:05 AM - 11:30 AM
Featured Case Study: Forest City and Path Intelligence - Forest City Enterprises are many years into using mobile device monitoring and advanced indoor analytics to help create a better environment for their shoppers and their retailers. Hear from the project sponsor and partner Path Intelligence on how they have transformed asset management, leasing, and marketing.
Speakers:
Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, VP, Digital Strategy, Forest City
Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, VP, Path Intelligence
View slides from this presentation

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Digital Analytics for the Real World - Using a variety of technologies to identify when and where smartphone shoppers are in stores, retailers can now leverage "big data" previously reserved for Internet companies alone. These "real world analytics" hold profound implications for everything from in-store merchandising and staffing to consumer marketing. Leaders in the segment will offer views on opportunities and potential pitfalls for indoor analytics.
Speakers:
Jon Rosen, Executive Vice President, iInside
Will Smith, CEO, Euclid
Alexei Agratchev, Co-Founder, RetailNext
Michael Healander, General Manager, GISi Indoors

1:15 PM - 1:55 PM
Retail Spotlight: Aisle411 & Dick's Sporting Goods - Aisle411 will discuss current retail deployments and their impact on operations, consumer loyalty and marketing. Dick’s Sporting Goods will share how it’s thinking about indoor location, privacy issues and the overall opportunity. And Bob Rosenblatt, former COO of Tommy Hilfiger Group, will outline the intriguing business opportunities for retailers in develop- ing indoor marketing strategies.
Speakers:
Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & CEO, aisle411
Rafeh Massod, VP, Customer Innovation Technology, Dick's Sporting Goods
Bob Rosenblatt, CEO, Rosenblatt Consulting
View slides from this session from aisle411

1:55 PM - 2:15 PM
Using Store Visits and Data for Advanced Retail Intelligence - Online to offline has been the dominant but largely invisible paradigm of Internet-driven spending. Using mobile to better target and influence store visits is only the beginning. PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall will offer a major retail case study fo- cused on measuring store visits after mobile ad exposures. He will also discuss how to connect online, nearby and indoors for a more complete picture of the customer journey.
Speaker:Duncan McCall, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaceIQ
View slides from this presentation

2:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Ad-Tracking to the Point of Sale - Panelists will discuss the current and future use of indoor location as a way to demonstrate ROI and sales lift on a per- campaign basis. What is the current state of the art in matching store visits to ad exposures? And what are the broader implications of connecting online ads and offline data?
Speakers:
Monica Ho, Vice President of Marketing, xAd
David Shim, Founder & CEO, Placed
Ameet Ranadive, Director of Product, Twitter Ads Team
Michael Shevach, SVP Ad Solutions, Retailigence
Duncan McCall, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaceIQ (moderator)

3:20 PM - 3:50 PM
Opt-in or Opt-out: Indoor Location & Consumer Privacy - Indoor location has already gained the attention of members of Congress and been called "troubling." While not everyone agrees about the level of concern, there are obvious consumer privacy issues raised by in-venue smartphone tracking. How should the companies be addressing these issues today and what might regulation require tomorrow?
Speakers:
Jennifer King, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director & Co-chairman, Future of Privacy Forum

3:50 PM - 4:10 PM
Case Study: Meridian/Aruba Networks - Meridian, who was recently acquired by Aruba Networks, will offer two indoor case studies, one involving a small business (Powell’s Books in Portland) and another involving a major U.S. apparel and housewares retailer.
Speaker: Jeff Hardison, Vice President, Meridian
View slides from this presentation

4:10 PM - 4:55 PM
Microfencing: Targeting In-Aisle Shoppers - Billions of dollars are spent each year by brands and manufacturers trying to influence consumer buying in stores. A percentage of that money will migrate to indoor digital marketing. What conditions must first exist and what will those brand-consumer interactions look like? The panel will explore these questions as well as the contours of the broader indoor marketing experience.
Speakers:
Neg Norton, President, Local Search Association Ben Smith, CEO, Wanderful Media
Melissa Tait, VP of Technology, Primacy
Erik McMillan, CEO, BrickTrends
Asif Khan, Founder, Location Based Marketing Association (moderator)

4:55 PM - 5:30 PM
Reality Check: Assessing the Indoor Opportunity - The other sessions explored major opportunities (and challenges) of indoor location and marketing. Now it’s time for a fun, yet sober assessment of whether and how soon these scenarios will come to pass. Is there real demand and who will own the “indoor channel”? Where will the "place-based market" be next year, in three years?
Speakers:
Jeremy Lockhorn,VP, Emerging Media, Razorfish
John Gardner, Partner, Nokia Growth Partners
Chandu Thota, Engineering, Google
Wibe Wagemans, IndoorAtlas

Android Hits a Wall in US While iPhone Climbs

Yesterday comScore released its US smartphone market share report for August. The interesting thing is that these data do not reflect the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c. Apple was the single most popular handset maker, with just under 41 percent of the market. Samsung was second with 23 percent. 

In terms of operating system share, Microsoft gained 0.2 points while Android lost 0.8 points. The iPhone saw a 1.5 percent gain. It certainly will be interesting to see what the September numbers are, post iPhone 5s. 

  August OS share 

In the aggregate Android devices represent just over half the smartphone market in the US (now 64% of mobile users). However it appears that may be the ceiling for Android -- at least for the time being. 

Depsite this it appears from comScore's data that Google has achieved nearly 100% (92%) smartphone reach in the US through a combination of apps and mobile search usage, though Facebook remains the top individual mobile app: 

top mobile apps August

According to research conducted by investment bank Canaccord Genuity the iPhone 5s was the top selling mobile handset at each of the four major US carriers in September, with the 5c taking second place at AT&T and Sprint and third place at Verizon. 

Notwithstanding its second place finish, the 5c is quite a bit less popular than the 5s. Hitwise (Experian) reported that search queries for the iPhone 5s were 4X more than the 5c in early September.

top-five-iphone-search-terms 

This basically mirrors our survey finding correctly predicting the enormous popularity of the 5s and lesser interest in the 5c:

iPhone survey

Source: Opus Research, n=1,508 US adults (Sept 16 - 19 2013)

Elecontrics retailer Best Buy is offering a $50 instant discount on the 5c, which effectively cuts its contract-subsidized price to $50 for the entry level device. Wal-Mart by the same token has cut the 5c's price to $45 "permanently." This should help boost sales of the 5c considerably in the short term.  

Is Amazon's Mayday a New Model for Mobile Customer Care (and Virtual Assistance)?

Arguably the most interesting thing about the new Kindle Fire "HDX" tablets is the so-called "Mayday" button. By pressing a single button HDX owners will see a live human appear in a pop-up window on their screens, as the picture to the right illustrates.

That individual can answer questions and perform diagnostic functions or fixes remotely. And while Amazon Kindle users can see the agent, the customer support person cannot see the Kindle owner (thereby preventing certain unseemly "chatroulette scenarios"). Amazon says most questions or issues are or can be resolved in relatively little time. Live support is free/included and available "24x7, 365 days a year." 

One review of the HDX questioned how scalable this service is. I suspect it's pretty scalable, especially if they offshore the support centers. But given that one can see the person on the other end of the line, offshoring may be less viable for something like this. In his post on the Opus Research Web site, my colleague Dan Miller sees the potential for a speech-enabled, automated personal virtual assistant to populate the agent screen.

My hunch is that Mayday will become a premium service or included with a Prime subscription ultimately. 

What's more interesting to consider is how Mayday might become a new model for customer service and/or sales support for tablet and mobile apps. Think about how much more e-commerce and conversions might happen if live support were available. In a mobile context "chat" doesn't really cut it. 

There are various in-between scenarios possible too, where a static image might be used instead of video together with a VoIP call. That would be the "low rent" version but it could be equally effective if executed properly. 

The success of Mayday and its emulation or replication by others would be a new spin on and give new meaning to the notion of the "personal virtual assistant." 

Report: Windows Phone Continues to Gain Share in Europe

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has released new smartphone market share data showing significant gains for Windows Phone in Europe. The research firm says that Windows Phone is now within a point of the iPhone in Germany and that its growth is outpacing Android across the Continent: 

Android remains the top operating system across Europe with a 70.1% market share, but its dominant position is increasingly threatened as growth trails behind both Windows and iOS. Windows Phone has hit double digit sales share figures in France and Great Britain with 10.8% and 12% respectively – the first time it has recorded double digits in two major markets.

Kantar also says that Apple is continuing to show momentum in the US: "Apple continues to grow strongly year on year and now makes up 39.3% of sales." These data do not include the recent 9 million handsets sold by Apple upon the debut of the iPhone 5s and 5c.

Windows Phone's strongest markets are France, UK, Germany and Italy, where Nokia's brand is still relatively strong. It continues to lag in the US and China, however. 

  

Apple Now Top Global Brand, Followed by Google

Technology and internet companies have supplanted traditional brands at the top of Interbrand's annual "Top 100 Global Brands" list. Apple and Google are number 1 and 2 on the list respectively, beating out perennial winner Coke and others such as IBM, Disney, Microsoft and GE.

Notwitstanding its beating at the hands of investors and doubts about its future performance, Apple was picked by Interbrand as the world's "most valuable brand" for 2013. Google was last year's number 4. 

Facebook is number 52 on the list and Amazon comes in at number 19. Yahoo and BlackBerry dropped off the list entirely this year and Nokia "experienced the largest decline in brand value" in the 13 year history of the report. The top 15 on the list are below. 

Interbrand determines its annual ranking using a formula that combines:

  • The financial performance of the branded products or service
  • The role the brand plays in influencing consumer choice
  • The strength the brand has to command a premium price, or secure earnings for the company

Apple's rise to become the world's most valuable brand is striking. Interbrand says the Apple brand is currently worth $98 billion, which is considerable but much less than the company's overall market cap of $435 billion. According to Interbrand:

Apple has appeared on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking since 2000, when the ranking debuted. In 2000, Apple ranked #36 and had a brand value of USD $6.6 billion. Today, Apple’s brand value is USD $98.3 billion– almost 15 times the amount of its brand value in 2000. Apple’s meteoric rise in brand value can be attributed to the way it has created a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. By keeping consumers at the center of everything it does, Apple is able to anticipate what they want next and break new ground in terms of both design and performance. With 72 million Macs in use and record-breaking sales of both the iPhone and iPad, Apple has made history by unseating Coca-Cola and becoming Interbrand’s most valuable global brand of 2013.

Amazon's New Devices, Aggressive Pricing Seek to Reclaim Tablet Spotlight

When Amazon introduced its original color tablet the Kindle Fire its chief innovations were aggressive pricing ($199) and the fact that the company used a "forked" version of Android that declared its independence from Google. There have since been two updates to the line (including yesterday's), which now includes four color tablets.

Yesterday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced refreshed Kindle hardware and software. There's a new "operating system," called Mojito (based on Android Jelly Bean). There are essentially two new tablets: Kindle Fire HDX (as in "beyond HD") in 7 and 8.9 inch versions. The Kindle Fire HD (7 inch) has been dropped to $139, which is sure to be the biggest seller, though it's effectively last year's model. There's also a clever new cover/stand called Origami

The big software innovation is "Mayday," which is live video tech support on the tablet screen. Here's how Amazon describes it: 

Kindle Fire HDX also introduces the revolutionary new "Mayday" button. With a single tap, an Amazon expert will appear on your Fire HDX and can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Mayday is available 24x7, 365 days a year, and it's free.

As a practical matter Mayday is mostly a marketing gimmick, which probably won't see a great deal of actual use but will give some confidence to older and less tech-savvy buyers. What's more interesting to consider is the degree to which Mayday may be emulated by other industries (e.g., travel, shopping) for customer care purposes. That will be fascinating to watch. 

North American Non-iPad Traffic Share

Source: Chitika, September 2013 (North American Android tablet traffic share)

Currently in North America the iPad controls about 84% of tablet-based web traffic according to Chitika. The remaining 16% is mostly Android tablets and really a battle between Amazon, Samsung and Google (in order of market share). The $139 price point on the Kindle Fire HD will capture buyer attention and may put pressure on Samsung and Google. 

When Google introduced its new Nexus 7 earlier this year the company raised the price from $199 to $229 for the entry level model. The price increase was justified on the basis of new specs and a higher resolution screen. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD is almost $100 cheaper at $139. Without ads it's $154. The Nexus 7 is a superior device (to the Kindle Fire HD) but many people will not see a difference and opt for the much cheaper Kindle. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is $199. Accordingly it will be very challenging for Google, Amazon or anyone to sell many smaller tablets at much above a low $200 price point. Whether the iPad Mini feels similar pricing or sales pressure is a question that remains to be answered. However I suspect iPad Mini sales will only be affected at the margins. 

First Weekend iPhone Sales Exceed 9 Million

Apple announced this morning that it had sold more than 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c devices this past weekend. It did not indicate how many of the 9 million were 5c devices vs. 5s devices. Most of the demand globally is likely to have been for the 5s. That's what our survey showed (see below).

The market became very nervous after the 5c went on sale for pre-orders a week ago and Apple didn't issue a press release last Monday. Many institutional investors sold Apple shares. Then the very postive 5s reviews came out stoking consumer demand.

Here's what Apple said in its release this morning: 

Apple today announced it has sold a record-breaking nine million new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c models, just three days after the launch of the new iPhones on September 20. In addition, more than 200 million iOS devices are now running the completely redesigned iOS 7, making it the fastest software upgrade in history. 

Essentially the 5s sold out of its initial supply.

demand for 5s

Source: Opus Research, n=1,508 US adults (Sept 16 – 19 2013)

Last year Apple said it had sold 5 million iPhones during its first weekend. That was a record at the time. This nearly doubles it. The company also announced this morning that since iOS7 became available late last week, 200 million devices around the world have been upgraded.

I was concerned that I would dislike or be ambivalent about the new OS. However I actually like it quite a bit. 

The iPhone 5s sellout will only fuel further demand for the device. Supplies of the 5c remain available. But the public seems to recognize the 5c as "last year's model" with a new coat of paint. While that's not entirely true (there are some upgrades) demand for the 5c has been much less than the 5s as our survey last week predicted. 

Update: Localytics now answers the 5s vs. 5c sales question, saying that the 5s outsold the other device by a factor of more than 3X in the US and an even larger margin outside the US:

Carrier market share for iPhone 5s and 5c

5s vs 5c global

Report: PayPal Nears Deal for Rival Braintree

According to the Wall Street Journal, "PayPal is near a deal to buy Braintree Payments Solutions." Braintree has had great success as a payments platform and processor both for e-commerce and in mobile.

Braintree is behind payment processing for companies such as Uber, AirBnB, LivingSocial and OpenTable among others. The company has roughly 4,000 customers according to the WSJ piece. 

Braintree processes roughly $12 billion in payments annually, about $4 billion of which come from mobile commerce transactions. PayPal, by contrast said that it would process roughly $20 billion in mobile payments in 2013.

The deal would help further accelerate PayPal's mobile business. PayPal would also acquire Venmo, a P2P payments aoo, that Braintree bought in 2012 for just over $26 million. 

Among mobile wallet/payments companies PayPal is far and away the best-known brand, though US consumers still show relatively little interest in generic "mobile wallets," according to our survey data.

Google Wallet has largely failed to date and other "mobile wallets" and mobile payments providers are almost totally unknown to the public. This deal would help cement PayPal's leadership in mobile payments.

Recently PayPal introduced Beacon, a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) in-store payments and indoor-location solution that is helping, together with Apple, show NFC the door in North America. 

Pew: 137 Million Mobile Internet Users

Today 91% of American adults own mobile phones according to new data from The Pew Research Center. More than 61% (64% per Nielsen) own smartphones. In this latest survey Pew takes a look at common activities on mobile devices (including non-smartphones).

Pew found that 81% of mobile phone owners text, the most common activity, while 60% access the internet. Just under half (49%) use maps or access location-based information on their handsets. All these percentages are higher if non-smartphones are excluded. 

There are approximately 250 million US adults today. If 91% own mobile phones that means about 228 million adults in real numbers. Of that group about 146 million own smartphones (per Nielsen's 64%). If kids and teens are added in we easily have in excess of 150 million smartphones in the US market. 

If 60% of adult mobile phone owners in the US access the internet that would be roughly 137 million people (not counting teens and kids).  

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.16.06 AM

Among the 60% going online from their mobile handsets (not including tablets) Pew says the following: 

African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to do so than whites. Younger adults, those with at least some college education, and those with an annual household income of over $75,000 a year are particularly likely to access the internet via cell phone. Those who live in rural areas are less likely than urban or suburbanites to have mobile internet access. Among those who use the internet or email on their phones, more than a third (34%) say that they mostly access the internet from their phone. 

A recent Nielsen study found that 46% of US survey respondents relied exclusively on smartphones or tablets in conducting online research across a range of categories (i.e., retail, banking, gas and convenience). That same study found that, in the banking category, more than 50% of smartphone and tablet users did not use a PC to make purchase decisions (e.g., about credit cards).

What we're thus seeing is the emergence of a "mobile first" population in the US, which may be 50 million people on the low end and 75 million on the high end. 

Nielsen: Smartphones Now 64% in US Market

The first wave of iPhone 5S reviews have come out and they're essentially raves, exemplified by Walt Mossberg's superlative laden missive: “[T]he new iPhone 5s is a delight. Its hardware and software make it the best smartphone on the market.”

While there is some question about the early success of iPhone 5C pre-orders, the 5S is almost a sure sellout when it's released this weekend. According to a survey by Opus Research, the 5S is the most desired "next smartphone" available in the US market, while the 5C is in fourth place (after Galaxy and other Android devices). 

However according to new data from Nielsen, 61% of recent smartphone buyers chose Android devices vs. 34% who bought iPhones. We'll see how those numbers are impacted, if at all, by the launch of the 5S.

Overall Nielsen says that in the US 64% of mobile subscribers are now owners of smartphones. Those in the 25 - 34 age group have the highest smartphone penetration at 81%, with teens 13 -17 closing in at 70%. Feature phones are now concentrated among those over 55 years of age. 

Below is the current smartphone OS market-share distribution according to Nielsen: