For at least a decade analysts and car makers have been discussing, debating and forecasting telematics. Until this point, however, telematics has mostly been about in-dash navigation. More recently, with Microsoft Sync and similar inititives, we've seen a move to integrate speech and smartphone-like app experiences into in-dash "infotainment" systems.
Apple, Microsoft and now Google are trying to expand their reach into the "connected car." This year's CES has featured a number of auto-related announcements. Among them -- and arguably the most significant -- is the Google-led "Open Automotive Alliance" (OAA). With the OAA Google seeks to bring Android into the car in a deep way:
The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people's lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.
One can imagine that if the initiative expands and succeeds it will boost Android generally and become a new channel for Google services (i.e., Gmail, Google Maps, Music, Google Play) and advertising.
Early members of the OAA, which mirrors the earlier Google-led Open Handset Alliance, include Audi, GM, Hyundai and NVIDIA. Microsoft currently works with Ford and Toyota via its Sync system. And in 2012 Apple announced partnerships to bring Siri into the car with a number of car makers, including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota and Honda, among a few others.
It's not clear to me from a technical standpoint whether auto OEMs can built multiple operating system compatibility into their vehicles or whether they'll have to bet on one. However there's much at stake in this "battle for the dash."
The operating systems that "win the car" will see a boost all around. For example, if Android beats Apple and Microsoft in the car it will help Android more broadly in the market, or vice-versa. As in-dash systems become richer and more complete, people will want their devices and apps to be compatible and accessible in the car.
The "battle for the car" also mirrors the so-called "battle for the living room" among these tech titans. It's really a battle of operating systems and ecosystems across multiple platforms.
It's amazing to think that Pizza Hut has been doing online ordering for 20 years. That would mean Pizza Hut took its first online order in 1994 -- way ahead of the curve. And when it comes to mobile Pizza Hut again appears to be ahead of the market.
Today, according to Pizza-industry publication Pizza Marketplace, roughly 30% of all Pizza Hut orders come from the internet. But half of those are now coming from mobile devices, with momentum favoring mobile (smartphones + tablets) over the PC.
The Pizza Marketplace interview is with Pizza Hut's Kevin Fish, senior e-commerce manager. He sums up the company's attitude toward mobile as follows:
It's important that we're where our customers are and that our experience meets and exceeds their needs. The app offers us the opportunity for a highly engaging and personalized experience. Meeting our consumers at their point of need is become more and more important as technology continues to advance. Our opportunity now was to provide the best experience in the industry with enhancements that meet those consumer demands.
Pizza Hut is using its app to not only deliver services but to engage and cement the loyalty of its users. The company also uses location to deliver specific local promotions and offers that aren't necessarily available in all markets nationally.
I'm not a fan of Pizza Hut pizza but the company really has the right attitude toward multi-channel marketing and engagement -- with its mobile app (and all the personalization it allows) now at the center of its "online ordering" strategy.
According to multiple sources roughly 80% of consumer smartphone time is spent in apps vs. the mobile web. However in the retail segment the story is almost the opposite. Most consumers engage with retailers through the mobile web vs. apps. That means loyalty and mobile engagement are more limited in the category.
The exceptions are Amazon and eBay. According to early December data from comScore Amazon and eBay apps dominate the mobile retail category (Apple's #3 status almost doesn't count here because of its privileged position on the iPhone).
The chart below shows leading retailers' audience reach and time spent by device categorty:
Early on Amazon and eBay invested very aggressively in mobile app development vs. traditional retailers and many other e-tail "pure plays." As a consequence consumers downloaded them "early" and have continued to be loyal to these apps.
What comScore doesn't discuss is that eBay and especially Amazon's apps are often used in retail stores to compare prices and for product reviews content. However, as the metrics firm points out, retailers without apps on consumer smartphones are at a competitive disadvantage.
While retail apps are used for buying sometimes, multi-channel retailers need to start thinking very differently about their apps and see them equally as in-store "assistants" rather than just extensions of PC websites. They will also need to expose and lobby consumers in multiple channels on the benefits of downloading their apps. Apps should be seen along with email as part of a broader, more holistic loyalty and engagement strategy.
Mobile merchant sites can already offer "pay with Amazon" as an option beside PayPal or their own checkout flow. However Amazon may now be preparing a bigger push and more direct competition with PayPal, Square and others in the mobile payments arena.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that "Amazon.com may be nearing a deal to buy payments startup GoPago." GoPago is a JP Morgan Chase backed payments startup aimed at the small business market. The company provides a range of payment services including a free "Square register"-like terminal and POS system.
In the fairly noisy payments market I wouild speculate that GoPago has struggled to gain traction and its investors may be looking for an exit. By the same token it's natural for Amazon to embrace mobile payments more fully.
Amazon has roughly 200 million consumer credit cards on file. While this is quite a bit less than Apple it's more than PayPal. And although I haven't seen any survey data on this question I suspect that Amazon has a more trusted consumer brand than PayPal. Thus Amazon is a logical candidate to enter mobile and smartphone-based payments directly and could be a major player in the segment.
In a move to bolster its own mobile and e-commerce position PayPal acquired Braintree for $800 million in September.
Apple is another very logical candidate for mobile and online payments given its massive database of consumer credit cards. Indeed Apple CEO Tim Cook keeps teasing this idea by repeating the number of consumer accounts and credit cards Apple has, now at or near 600 million.
If Apple were to power app-store payments and mobile transactions for third parties it could both remove friction from mobile commerce -- with Touch ID as the equivalent of Amazon's 1-click buying -- and potentially add meaningful revenues to its bottom line.
Update: PayPal acquires StackMob and gets more serious about being the mobile payments platform of choice for developers.
Startup Expect Labs has launched its MindMeld app after months of being in private beta. A crude but quick way to describe it is: Google Now meets Skype. Expect Labs, founded by Tim Tuttle, describes it as a "voice assistant." But that doesn't really do it justice.
Many bloggers and tech sites are reviewing MindMeld. In a way that misses the bigger picture. The app is really a "technology showcase" or demo for something larger and more forward looking. Expect Labs, which charges $4 for the app, doesn't see MindMeld as a money maker and isn't staking its future on the success (or failure) of the app.
First, here's what MindMeld does: it listens to your conversation, with one or several people, and in real time shows you pages and websites that are relevant to the discussion. The sites and data are coming from various APIs and the internet broadly. If you and your friends are talking about going to New York on vacation, for example, it will start showing hotels, restaurants and things to do based on the specifics of your conversation.
The key challenge here is filtering "signal" from "noise" and finding relevant pages and sites. Expect Labs' CEO Tim Tuttle says that the technology has significantly improved over time and the app has changed somewhat from its inception to its launch today. For example, it used to listen to the entire conversation. However now it will pause and users are required to initiate "searching" via an "OK MindMeld" wake up phrase.
The underlying technology seeks to deliver a better search and discovery experience on devices where the keyboard isn't particularly useful or there's no keyboard. There are myriad inputs into "search results" (anticipatory search results): time of day, location and "context" broadly speaking. If you sign in with Facebook it also grabs other information about you as another relevance input.
Expect Labs' technology, while imperfect, is really the fulfillment of the vision behind Google Now: real-time, useful information that dynamically changes based on context. MindMeld is the "1.0" expression of that vision. Speech recognition is from Nuance but the natural language understanding is Expect Labs' own technology.
There are a number of enterprise use cases in development; and one can see this technology being incorporated into a wide range of general and vertical applications. Google Ventures is an investor, as is Intel. Those are two potential buyers of the company.
The technology is impressive and the major practical question for Expect Labs will be where to focus and how to fully express what the technology can do in a commercial context.
I've argued a number of times in the past that had Nokia from the beginning embraced Android it wouldn't have had to sell to Microsoft. It turns out that Nokia had/has developed an Android handset, apparently code-named Normandy. It uses a customized or "forked" version of Android much like what Amazon has done with Kindle devices, taking them out of the realm of Google standards and control.
Reportedly it's a low-end device designed for emerging markets, where Nokia has had some success with its pseudo-smartphone Asha devices. Other details are scarce.
Microsoft bought Nokia's hardware business (for $7.2 billion) for multiple reasons. One of them was clearly defensive; it wasn't only about "bringing hardware and software together."
Nokia sells most (80% or more) of the Windows Phones on the market today. The continuing strength of the Nokia brand in Europe is responsible for Windows Phone's roughly 10% market share there now. Had Nokia embraced or "diversified" its lineup with Android devices Microsoft might have felt the potentially negative sales impact as Nokia split its focus and marketing.
The conventional wisdom is that Microsoft will kill the Normandy device when the acquisition formally closes -- it has been approved by regulators. Some are making the argument, however, that Microsoft might not immediately terminate the project because the version of Android being used is outside Google's control.
That remains to be seen. Yet the existence of Normandy lends further credibility to the theory that Microsoft bought Nokia's phone business to prevent it from turning to Android.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that China Mobile and Apple had struck a long-anticipated deal to offer the iPhone to China Mobile's massive customer base (estimated by the publication at 7X Verizon Wireless). Neither company has confirmed the deal.
China Mobile is the largest carrier in the world's largest mobile and internet markets. The company has more than 750 million mobile subscribers. According to several estimates Apple has about 5% of the Chinese mobile market. Various flavors of Android are by far the dominant mobile platform in the country, with nearly 80% share.
Many financial analysts think that the iPhone 5s and 5c are too expensive for China. However there appears to be a meaningful appetite for Apple's devices there. Apple's "greater China" revenue this past quarter was $6.8 billion. That number could easily double through the China Mobile deal -- if it's confirmed.
Back in the US comScore released September smartphone market share data. The firm estimated that 149.2 million American adults now own smartphones. Comscore's figures put smartphone penetration at or just under 64%, generally in agreement with Nielsen's estimates.
Apple, Samsung and Motorola were the top three smartphone OEMs in the US. HTC and LG lost share and BlackBerry is out of the top five. Android is the top OS, gaining nearly half a point. Apple and Windows Phone also gained modestly.
I was surprised not to see more of a bump for the iPhone given all the discussion of iPhone sales momentum. However it hasn't really materialized in comScore's data.
In the US Windows Phone share is 3.2%, growing but very small. By contrast, in Europe, Windows Phones now enjoy a 10% share across the EU5 (driven by UK, France and Italy) according to Kantar survey data.
Windows Phone's success in Europe is due almost entirely to Nokia and it's continued brand strength, which doesn't equally exist in North America. Nokia sells the overwhelming majority of Windows Phones globally, which is why Microsoft bought the company -- also to prevent it from starting to make Android handsets.
That largely defensive acquisition has now been approved by US regulators, with European regulatory authorities likely to follow and permit the transaction.
Roughly three years ago Steve Jobs opined that search wasn't as central to the mobile user experience as it is on the PC. That sentiment elicited dismissals as naive or self-serving and was generally disputed. This is what Jobs said verbatim:
On the desktop search is where it’s at; that’s where the money is. But on a mobile device search hasn’t happened. Search is not where it’s at, people are not searching on a mobile device like they do on the desktop.
It turns out that when you consider what he actually said, Jobs was exactly right.
Various surveys have found that search is widely used on smartphones. But it's not used as often or as centrally as on the PC. Indeed, search is a more occasional or peripheral experience on smartphones (especially the iPhone), whereas people search many times daily on the PC.
Earlier today Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) released survey data about most frequently used mobile apps among US smartphone owners. The survey measured frequency not reach. This is very important to understand about the data. The firm asked mobile users to identify their "three most frequently used [mobile] apps."
CIRP found that Facebook was the leading and most frequently used mobile app. That was followed by Twitter, Candy Crush and Instagram. The surprise is how low Google Search and Google Maps rank on the list.
Google Maps is #12 and Google (the search engine) is #10. We don't get an analysis of usage by platform (i.e., iOS vs. Android). However I suspect we'd see different rankings on the two platforms, with Google doing better among Android users given search's prominence on the Android OS.
It's unclear how large the sample in this survey was and so we can't tell how reliable these data are. In addition these are self-reported data and not behavioral or traffic data. People often report one thing and do something else.
Having said all that, these data strongly argue that what Jobs said is accurate: "People are not searching on a mobile device like they do on the desktop." Although this has been written about at length in the past, if accurate, this more modest mobile search frequency represents an obvious problem for Google as migration from PCs to tablets and smartphones continues.
Consistent with pre-Thanksgiving weekend surveys, mobile devices (at home and in the store) played a big role on "Black Friday" and will continue to do so throughout the holiday season. Among others, IBM released a trove of US e-commerce and traffic data for Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend shopping.
Here's a snapshot of some of the IBM data:
Separately, e-commerce analytics provider Custora reported that "almost 40%" of online buying on Black Friday came through mobile devices. I'm quite skeptical about the accuracy of this figure; it seems inflated or drawn from too small a sample. IBM's mobile commerce figure is 22%, which is more plausible.
Below is the Custora breakdown of overall US Black Friday e-commerce sales by device category:
While comScore has argued in the past that smartphones are outpacing tablets in terms of mobile commerce -- which makes logical sense because there are many more smartphones -- I'm doubtful of such claims. IBM's figures seem more (directionally) accurate: tablets: 14.4%, smartphones: 7.2%.
Custora said the following about the distribution of mobile commerce by platform:
We could look at a bunch of other reports and try to determine a consensus about how much e-commerce actually took place via smartphones and tablets. What's more important is the recognition that mobile devices are being widely used by US consumers for shopping and product research, and that serious "m-commerce" is now starting to happen (especially on tablets).
Another interesting fact from the IBM data: "on average, retailers sent 37% more push notifications . . . during the two day period over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday when compared to daily averages over the past two months." The company also said that retail app installs grew by 23% compared with daily averages over the preceding months.
Earlier this afternoon comScore reported its September US smartphone market share numbers. Nielsen has said that 64% of US adults now carry smartphones; however comScore asserts the number is 62%.
Android continues to be the dominant operating system, followed by the iPhone. However Android lost some ground this month though Samsung gained share. All the other Android OEMs are basically a diminishing sideshow to Samsung.
Microsoft also saw a small bump for Windows Phones. It has had considerable success in Europe because of the continuing strength of the Nokia brand but little success to date in the US market. Perhaps that will improve as BlackBerry users are forced to change platforms as they upgrade.
The numbers above probably still do not reflect sales of the iPhone 5s and 5c, which went on sale on September 20 in the US. The October figures should better reflect the iPhone 5s/c impact on the market.
Perhaps most interesting is the data about leading mobile apps and web properties. Overall Google has the greatest mobile reach, although Facebook continues to have the single most popular app. This is very analogous to the iPhone and Android, where Facebook is like the iPhone in this example.
Google Maps saw some unexpected loss of usage and reach vs. last month, dropping from the fifth most popular app to eighth position.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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."
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.
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:
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:
According to Localytics the following is the global breakdown of iPhones in market:
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.
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.
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:
The following are some additional data and details from this slice of the UK study:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.