Last week the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released findings asserting that the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note II beat the iPhone 5 for customer satisfaction. The Galaxy S4 was not part of the study, which was conducted before the device's release. Somewhat Ironically, Korean consumers said the opposite: that they preferred Apple devices to Samsung's.
Here are the US ACSI scores by device:
Survey questions addressed the following areas:
What's interesting is that Apple rates higher than Samsung overall in the ACSI company scores -- though Samsung has closed the gap vs. 2012:
Apple more handily beats Samsung in the JD Power ratings, where the iPhone 5 contributed to Apple's overall 2013 smartphone win. In the JD Power satisfaction scoring, Samsung is at the bottom of the group. How can these conflicting scores (within the ACSI and between ACSI and JD Power) be reconciled?
The ACSI report offers no real explanation for the Galaxy and Galaxy Note wins. Other than screen specs, Samsung's phones are not the highest quality Android devices on the market. Arguably HTC, LG and perhaps Motorola have stronger offerings from an overall quality perspective. However Samsung outspends them all (combined) on marketing, which has been the chief driver of the Galaxy line's success.
My suspicion is that consumers are responding to screen size more than any other single variable or factor in rating the Galaxy S3 and Note II above the iPhone. This underscores the larger-screen imperative that Apple now confronts. The company needs to produce an iPhone with a larger screen. And according to multiple rumors, that will happen with the iPhone 6 though not the "5S," which is supposed to retain its current screen of just over 4 inches.
The new Google-Motorola Moto X chose not match the S4 and go to 5 inches after the company did considerable consumer research and arrived at 4.7 inches as the optimal screen span. Accordingly, an ideal screen size for a smartphone is probably right in-between the current iPhone 5 (4 inches) and the Galaxy S4 (5 inches).
There are a number of interesting things about Googlerola's just-released Moto X. First, it emphasizes design over specs. The latter had always been the hallmark of Motorola's previous Android ("Droid") phones. The new phone also allows for an unprecedented degree of customization:
In fact, the way the phone is presented on the Motorola site makes it effectively into a fashion accessory. However that's how many people do treat their smartphones today. The customization, which is smart, is apparently made possible because the phone is manufactured in Texas (rather than China).
But beyond those things, the phone can be activated or invoked without touching it. Users can speak commands to the phone and get responses or create reminders, set alarms and so on. Like Google Glass, Google Now can be initiated with a "wake up" phrase: "OK Google Now." This effectively turns the entire phone into a personal assistant. The TV spot linked below demonstrates this positioning and the functionality in action.
Previously Google Now and voice actions on Android devices had to be initiated by touching the screen: swiping up or touching the microphone icon. That's not required here (I haven't had a chance to use the device). Google/Motorola are using this "always ready" assistant capability to make the device stand out from both the iPhone and other Android devices. Below is one of the new TV commercials for the Moto X, which showcases how Google Now is now being "personified" -- much more like Siri than in the past.
Moto X is priced at $199 with a two-year carrier contract in the US. There will be a Google Play edition but there's no word at this point on unlocked pricing.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that carrier-backed and NFC-based mobile payments venture ISIS would begin rolling out nationally:
The nearly three-year-old venture, known as Isis, plans to announce Wednesday that it will launch the payment service nationwide later this year after nine months of testing . . .
Isis said that the pilot tests' findings will be incorporated into the latest version of the system. Among other things, the test showed that active users tapped their phones for payment more than 10 times a month. Two-thirds of active users chose to receive offers and messages from specific brands, according to the test results.
While mobile payments will eventually be widespread -- different global markets are seeing varying rates of development and adoption -- the near-term future of mobile payments in the US looks less like ISIS and much more like OpenTable's new (vertical) payments offering.
The NY Times yesterday reported that the restaurant reservations app will soon incorporate no-frills mobile payments:
The payment process, still in testing, will be straightforward, Matthew Roberts, chief executive of OpenTable, said in an interview. At the end of a meal, the diner would open the OpenTable app and pay the check with the tap of a button. The diner can review the check, adjust the tip and finish the payment.
“There’s no scanning, there’s no bar codes, there’s no geeky stuff,” Mr. Roberts said. He said that OpenTable would not take a cut of each transaction if a diner paid with the app. The restaurant would be charged the typical interchange fee for a credit card transaction. The simple transactions through the app are another way to attract people to use OpenTable, which charges restaurants for reservations made through the service as well as a monthly service charge for using its equipment.
In individual store and specific vertical contexts mobile payments are starting to take hold in the US. That's because consumers see concrete value or convenience in using mobile apps to pay (parking is my favorite example). Arguably the most successful example of mobile payments in the US to date is the Starbucks app.
As a general matter, however, credit cards remain very easy to use and there's no common standard or experience available across merchants. Most US consumers don't see a justification for mobile payments in the abstract. But "in the moment" or in very specific situations consumers can recognize their value.
The transition to NFC-based payments will probably still take years in the US market -- unless the next iPhone enables them (ISIS wants to expand to iOS). But there's a significant, immediate opportunity for vertical apps like OpenTable to cultivate consumer mobile payments usage. Mobile payments through the OpenTable app also may create more loyalty and frequency vs. competitors such as Yelp or TripAdvisor.
I believe that these very concrete use cases will help train consumers to trust and adopt mobile wallets/payments, which will eventually pave the way for services such as ISIS or Google Wallet. However it will be 3 - 5 years before there's strong, national consumer usage (and merchant adoption) of these "horizontal" payments offerings.
By contrast people will be using OpenTable payments as soon as OpenTable flips the switch.
Dan Miller and I took a briefing with Jumio this morning. Jumio is an authentication and identity management platform (mischaracterized originally as "augmented reality"). The company has been around since 2010.
It has two major products that rely on the same technology. Netswipe helps facilitate transactions on mobile apps and Netverify enables accurate remote identity authentication for fraud prevention. I'll focus on the former but the latter is very impressive and worthy of its own discussion later.
Jumio works in the same way that Card.io did. Using an SDK developers embed the Jumio solution within their apps. When the consumer is ready to complete a transaction or check out (book a room, flight or make another kind of purchase), she merely scans the desired credit card and enters the CVV number manually. The transaction takes a fraction of the time that would otherwise be required if she were to key in 16 digits, enter her address information, etc.
If you've already got your credit card and related information on file (see, e.g., Amazon, iTunes) there's less of a need for this approach. However developers should offer it to new customers as a way to generally eliminate barriers for consumers, and capture credit card details for faster checkout next time.
Jumio competitor Card.io was acquired by PayPal one year ago, leaving Jumio as the lone independent vendor of this type card-scanning technology. Every mobile publisher and developer should be using Jumio or Card.io to improve conversion rates and the customer experience. Beyond mobile transaction-abandonment, frustrating users reflects poorly on the brand according to many studies.
Accordingly, every mobile developer should be using a mobile card-scanning solution as one way to remove friction from mobile transactions. It's not clear why they might not, except for perhaps for ignorance, lethargy and inertia. I could also imagine this approach as an alternative to card swipes in stores, although that's less necessary.
Jumio has adopted a flat-fee SaaS model. Customers pay a fixed monthly fee for an unlimited number of transactions.
It's rare instance where consumer and merchant interests are entirely aligned. But here they are: more secure and faster transactions for the merchant and consumer, as well as fewer charge backs and fraud. It's kind of a "no brainer."
Below is a promotion video that explains the Jumio Netswipe offering:
Apple just reported a $35.3 billion quarter, which was somewhat better than a year ago and beat financial analyst expectations -- largely on the strength of iPhone sales. The company also announced profit was $6.9 billion (vs. $8.8 billion a year ago). Sales outside North America accounted for 57% of revenue.
The company sold 31.2 million iPhones (vs. 26 million a year ago). But it sold fewer iPads than expected:14.6 million. Mac sales were down but Macs outperformed the PC industry as a whole, which is slumping badly.
Below are two charts that show the distribution of revenues by segment/geography and by product line (figures in $billions):
Unit sales of iPads were a concern for many financial analysts. The company sold 14.6 million tablet devices compared with 17 million last year and more than 19 million last quarter. While this implies market share erosion or shift away from the iPad, today Chitika released data showing that in North America at least, the iPad's web traffic share had grown since April and now stands at just over 84%.
While Apple continues to generate huge quarterly revenues growth has slowed or declined in some cases. Accordingly there's enormous pressure from investors to bring out new products or create new product categories: TV, wearables, etc. On the earnings call Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, “We are on track to have a very busy fall" though he wouldn't elaborate.
New iPads and iPhones are expected to be introduced. There may even be "surprise" products such as the rumored iWatch.
The term "phablet," used to describe devices that operate like a phone but approach the size of small tablets, is horrible. But what may be more horrible is that Apple is reportedly considering creating one, potentially mimicking Samsung's strategy of a range of devices of differing screen sizes.
Samsung is throwing a lot of mobile device spaghetti at the refrigerator, metaphorically speaking, to see what sticks with consumers. One might even describe its strategy as "incoherent." Nonetheless Apple may be moving toward introducing more devices with various screen sizes. That's according to an article in the Wall Street Journal:
The tests with suppliers seem to suggest that Apple is exploring ways to capture diversifying customer needs when many mobile device makers offer smartphones and tablets in various sizes.
In addition to potentially developing a device in-between the iPhone and current iPad mini, Apple is also apparently experimenting with larger screens for iPads. Most of these prototype experiments probably won't come to market.
The huge-screened Samsung Galaxy Note has proven popular; however it's unclear how many units have sold. Indeed, Samsung has been the primary creator of market demand for larger-screen smartphones. And now Apple is feeling pressure to respond with a larger-screen iPhone. However that's not likely to be the 5S, due out later this year.
It might make sense for Apple to offer two iPhones: one with the current screen (small) and one with a 5-inch screen (large). However beyond that it makes little sense for Apple to go.
When Steve Jobs rejoined Apple as CEO 1997 one of the first things he did was to simplify Apple's product lineup, which had become cluttered and confusing to consumers. This is the danger if Apple tries to follow Samsung and create multiple device screen sizes.
Consumers do want a larger-screen iPhone but they haven't been asking for multiple devices of incrementally larger screens. It's also not clear that anyone wants or cares about a larger iPad. Maybe one with a slightly larger screen would be interesting but that would need to entirely replace the current iPad.
It makes sense for Apple to have four devices at most: iPhone (two screen sizes perhaps), iPad Mini and iPad. Beyond this the product lineup becomes muddled and confusing. And to the extent that Apple seeks to imitate Samsung's approach it may indicate the company has lost confidence in its vision.
While countless retailer apps and mobile websites are designed specifically to deliver an "omnichannel" experience -- tracking a customer through the lifecycle of a purchase -- retailers are missing out on opportunities to engage customers through in-store technologies, says a new report by EKN Research.
A survey of more than 60 large retailers found just 13% of retailers are offering in-store features for mobile apps indicating a significant gap in leveraging the use of smartphones or mobile devices for customer engagement.
In terms of providing the infrastructure for ubiquitous connectivity, only 1 in 5 retailers currently offer free in-store wi-fi, with 42% of retailers having no intention of ever offering free wi-fi in stores.
Mobile technologies may offer new opportunities for customers but many retailers are not willing to make the investment. The report finds that IT spending on store technologies will remain relatively flat in the next three years, representing 31% of the total IT budget in 2013. Though the share is expected to increase to 35% by 2016.
"In 2013, increasing store operations efficiency remains retailers’ top goal from investments in store technologies. Running an efficient store should be table stakes for mature retailers, and their top goal should focus more directly on improving customer engagement. EKN views this as evidence that the focus hasn’t yet shifted for a majority of the retailers."
This news comes on the heels of a recent comScore report that found consumers are open to communications from retailers on their mobile devices with 47% of shoppers willing to have a retailer to send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby.
And previous data suggest a majority of mobile users are accessing retailers' websites for in-store sales or customer service functions.
We'll be exploring the current pulse of retailers and in-store marketing technologies at our upcoming Place Conference this October in San Francisco.
Nokia paid for product placement in the wildly popular Dark Knight films and released a special Batman-themed Lumia 900 when The Dark Knight Rises was released. The short answer: no, it didn't really "work."
Nokia Windows Phones (Lumia 925) also appear several times in the also extremely popular Man of Steel. Apparently in the alternate reality of Metropolis Nokia-made Windows Phones are the only smartphones in existence. However even the Man of Steel with all his remarkable alien abilities and strength probably won't do much for Lumia handset sales.
The Superman film is opening in China this week and Nokia is offering a Chinese "Superman Limited Edition" Lumia 925 with the "hope" (S) insignia on the back. Depending on how excited the Chinese are by Man of Steel there may be some sales lift. However the Chinese market is dominated by Android devices.
Meanwhile over in the Marvel universe (Superman is a DC Comics character), Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly being paid $12 million in a two-year deal to promote HTC smartphones. It doesn't look like the Iron Man character is part of the deal or will appear in the ads.
Downey is a recognizable and popular celebrity but he probably isn't powerful enough -- at least without the Iron Man suit -- to compete with Samsung's Galaxy juggernaut (The Avengers might collectively have a shot at defeating it). The Korean company spent over $400 million in 2012 to achieve and maintain its Android smartphone lead. That compares with HTC's $46 million and Nokia's almost non-existent $13 million.
Microsoft has been in a kind of "double-bind." It has been trying to use Office integration with Windows Phone and Surface tablets to differentiate those products vs iOS and Android. However they haven't been selling particularly well (save in a few isolated countries). Yet the longer Microsoft held Office back from iOS (and Android) the more it faced the prospect of people getting used to alternative software or (Google) docs in the cloud.
Rumored for a very long time, today Office officially comes to the iPhone in app form (though not the iPad). In order to use the app iPhone owners must be subscribers to Office 365. It also requires iOS 6.1 as well and works on the iPhone 4 and above.
The product appears to require a SkyDrive account in addition but that may be a built-in feature of Office 365. (I'm not a subscriber.)
The new iPhone app allows users to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. However you can only create Word and Excel documents on the app. Users will also be able to edit docs "offline" and they will sync when the connection is resumed (think airplane flight). Microsoft promises that "formatting and content remain intact" on the iPhone and back to the 365 documents in the cloud.
As mentioned, there's no Office for iPad app but that will ultimately come in all probability. For the time being iPad users can access Office 365 through the browser. So effectively Office is available for the iPad.
There are now hundreds of millions of iOS devices in the market globally. This year more tablets are expected to ship than laptops and by 2015 more tablets than PCs in general. In the aggregate there will be more "mobile device" users than PC users in the very near future. Thus Microsoft was all but compelled to bring Office to iOS (Android users can access via the browser).
After Windows, Office is Microsoft's most important and lucrative product -- generating rougly $25 billion in revenue last year. The rise of mobile devices puts enormous pressure on both product lines. However the arrival of Office for iOS means there's less reason to buy a Surface tablet.
There's a great deal of debate and discussion about the right approaches to mobile site development in the "SEO community." Should people build dedicated mobile sites; should they use responsive design; what about dynamic serving? The debates revolve around three considerations: complexity, optimal user experience and impact on mobile visibility (chiefly in Google search results).
Yesterday morning Google posted on its "Webmaster Central" blog that desktop sites using faulty or "irrelevant" redirects -- sending people on smartphones to the mobile site homepage, "page not found" pages or otherwise the wrong page in mobile -- would potentially suffer ranking consequences in mobile search results.
Google expressed concern that "irrelevant redirects" are frustrating and disruptive to users -- and by implication reduce confidence in Google's mobile results. The company didn't address the precise ranking implications of not following its recommendations. However sites that don't correctly send people from PC pages to equivalent mobile pages will be demoted in the future.
This is part of a larger push by Google to create good mobile user experiences and reinforce mobile search among consumers.
Last year, in a first, Google recommended responsive web design. Most marketers accepted that as gospel accordingly. However Google did not say that responsive was mandatory or recommended in every single case. It's certainly the lowest common denominator solution for publishers (though not always easiest to implement).
Yet there are many reasons why "responsive" may not yield the best user experience overall (page load time, different mobile user intent, etc.). Regardless, Google is beginning to compel publishers to pay more attention to mobile user experiences (if they're not already) or suffer the ranking consequences.
It's fascinating to watch Google evolve from a "search engine" into something much more interesting and complex. The rise of mobile, the launch of Google Now, the improvements in voice search and the more recent, conceptual introduction of what Google is calling "conversational search" all point to where search at Google is headed.
The search metaphor is giving way to the personal assistant metaphor. The entry of Siri in the market roughly two years ago was the trigger of the transition.
Google search boss Amit Singhal was deeply enamored of Star Trek as a boy and, like others at Google, has openly fantasized about building the "Star Trek computer." In other words, a computer one could simply speak to naturally and get correct and complete information.
Google Now, also sometimes called "predictive search," tries to go beyond that purely "conversational" scenario by anticipating user needs and interests based on big data and personal search history (and movements). Google Now is highly imperfect but when it works it's impressive.
While Google has only recently sought to move in the direction of "personal assistant," Siri has always been an "assistant" but only recently aspired to be a search utility. Siri was explicitly conceived as a tool that would enable the accomplishment of specific tasks and not simply the retrieval and display of information.
As Apple has added more structured data feeds to what Siri can access it has improved -- much of Siri's value for users still comes from controlling the device and initiating calls, texts and emails rather than "searching" -- however the great "Achilles heel" for Siri has been its limited dataset and lack of flexibility.
Although it wasn't true when Siri was first introduced, Google has now exceeded Siri by bringing its web-search capabilities and into the virtual assistant equation. Google has a much deeper (albeit mostly unstructured) knowledge base to call upon vs. Apple. Thus for numerous questions where Siri didn't have a structured response it would have to default to web search (i.e., Google): "I didn't understand XYZ [query], shall I search the web for XYZ."
Google would then ride to the rescue. In the Google universe it can bring increasingly structured answers to the same user queries but also its full index as a backup.
With the coming integration of Twitter, Wikipedia and especially Bing into Siri's roster of data sources with iOS7, Apple adds a full web index and much more breadth to what Siri can do without having to hand off to a third party search engine (i.e., Google). And unlike current scenarios where users typically have to explicitly ask Siri to "search the web" to obtain XYZ information, soon they'll just ask for "XYZ" -- and Bing will supply the necessary or desired information.
The deal has potential to dramatically broaden Siri's utility and usage frequency. Equally it could, if successful, significantly increase search query volume coming to Bing from iPhone users. The integration will need to be very "elegant" to win over users, who are accustomed to either using apps or Google in the Safari toolbar to "search the web" on the iPhone. Users will need to be educated about Siri's new capabilities.
The integration of Bing's search capabilities is a "crossing the Rubicon" of sorts for Apple as it declares that comprehensive data and search capabilities are necessary to fully deliver on the promise of the personal-virtual assistant.
According to telephone survey data (n=2,252) released this morning by The Pew Internet & Life Project, 34% of US adults now own tablets. What that means as a practical matter is: 81 million adults. There may also be 20 million more people in the US under 18 who own tablets. (Our house has four.)
I think it's relatively safe to say that if the number of tablets in the US isn't yet 100 million it's extremely close.
A large majority of tablet owners are substituting tablets for PC usage in many instances and either buying fewer PCs overall or delaying PC replacement for a much longer period. This morning Apple will open its developer conference. A upgraded iPad/Mini is not expected to be among the announcements but it's possible.
As with other device categories, the story is largely the same with tablets. Penetration rates are higher among college educated (49%) and more affluent adults (56%). Affluent means at least $75,000 in income.
The chart above reflects the growth of tablets since 2010 when only 3% reported tablet ownership. It's possible that by Q4 of 2014 half of the US adult population will have tablets (and 75% of affluents).
Global tablet shipments this year are expected to exceed those of laptop computers according to IDC. IDC also argues most of those sales will be at the lower end of the market (size, price).
Last week both Pew and Nielsen reported that 61% of mobile subscribers now own smartphones.
More than three out of five (61%) mobile subscribers in the U.S. owned a smartphone during the most recent three-month period (March-May 2013), up more than 10 percent since smartphones became the mobile majority in early 2012.
Comscore, for its part, says that the percentage of mobile users with smartphones is slightly less: 58%. Overall we're talking about 140 - 150 million people in the US now with smartphones.
In terms of OS market share, Nielsen reports that Android has 53% of the US smartphone market, while Apple controls 40%.
Online marketing firm Monetate puts out a quarterly report, like an increasing number of digital marketing firms today. Using customer data, its "EQ1" (2013) report offers a range of metrics, including e-commerce conversions by channel/platform and average order value. It also breaks out traffic by device category and browser.
This report like others shows that iOS devices are generating a great deal more web traffic than their Android counterparts, which is mysterious given Android's market share dominance. In addition Monetate now shows roughly equal distribution between tablet and smartphone-generated traffic.
According to the chart below smartphone and tablet traffic has roughly doubled since Q1 2012. Tablets are now driving slightly more web traffic to Monetate customers than smartphones. Over all "mobile" traffic is 21%.
Despite Android's market-share lead the iPhone is responsible for almost two-thirds of smartphone-based traffic to Monetate-client websites. In the tablet arena Monetate says that just under 90% of traffic is coming from the iPad, with Android tablets (including Kindle Fire) generating just under 11%.
One of the more interesting charts shows browser market share. What we can observe from the data in the chart below are the following:
TV is arguably the lone traditional medium that been able to retain its premium ad rates and audience reach (mostly), while other media have suffered fragmenting audiences and declining ad revenues. But the fact that millions still watch TV doesn't necessarily mean TV advertising has the power and impact it once did.
A recent study from ad network InMobi, involving 15,000 users from 14 global markets including China, Europe, the US and several African countries, argues that consumers now spend more time with mobile media than TV (there are competing data that show TV is still on top).
The survey found TV to still be the most influential single medium, followed by PC/online and then mobile. Other traditional media lagged behind in their influence over purchase decisions. The following reflects the percentage of survey respondents who reported that the medium "significantly influenced" their purchase behavior:
The data above are not broken out by country. Undoubtedly there would be variation, potentially significant variation, accordingly.
With respect to TV, however, users are now widely "second screening" -- that is, diverting their attention from the programming and advertising to focus on some activity happening on their smartphones or tablets. Two-thirds of the TV audience is now doing this on a global basis, with younger users (<35) being the most likely to multiscreen (graphic above).
What are they doing on those second screens? The survey says they're on social networks or otherwise messaging friends (see graphic below). Note that a substantial number are "searching for information about products" they saw on TV. This represents both a new opportunity for brands and TV advertisers generally.
Marketers now must be conscious that a significant portion, indeed the majority, of the TV audience is going to "look away" at their smartphones or tablets. Marketers must have a mobile optimized presence on search and social media. But beyond simple presence, TV advertisers need to make it easy for mobile users at home to find their products or services easily (the many hashtags used in Super Bowl TV ads is one example).
TV advertisers can drive email sign-ups/opt-ins, app downloads as well direct purchases with the right offers and TV-ad messaging. In addition, with coordination and planning mobile can be used to measure TV ad effectiveness as well.
The larger point is that fewer and fewer TV viewers (especially those under 35) are watching TV or online video without a mobile device nearby. That allows them to either take action on ads they see -- or totally ignore them.
Location-based and WiFi ad network JiWire is out with its Q1 insights report. The document contains a range of information drawn from surveys of mobile users who access the internet at mostly JiWire-powered WiFi hotspots. This quarter the company zeroes in on behavior in the travel vertical and examines multi-screen activity and cross-platform conversions accordingly.
We know that travel is a very mobile-centric vertical with lots of apps for smartphones and tablets. And JiWire confirms extensive multi-device usage for travel research and purchases:
Next comes a fascinating chart showing the multi-screen purchase process in travel (a microcosm of consumer behavior more generally). Google documented this phenomenon previously in research showing that 90% of consumers move “sequentially” between different screens throughout the same day.
Below is the JiWire chart showing how consumers start on one device and often convert on another:
The latest installment of "Mobile Path to Purchase" research from Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics drills down into retail-shopping attitudes and behaviors. As with the broader study, previously released, the findings show a significant percentage of users are doing shopping research exclusively on mobile devices.
The Mobile Path to Purchase study is in its second year. The findings are based on an online survey of 2,000 US smartphone and tablet owners and “observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.”
According to the report, 42% of smartphone and tablet owners did not consult PCs at all as part of their retail shopping research. The broader study found the overall number to be 46%, who didn't use PCs. This is a staggering data point in my opinion.
Source: Nielsen, xAd, Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase study 2013
If we extrapolate these "mobile only" numbers, assuming they're representative, we're talking about a potential audience of perhaps 54 million in the US who may be relying primarily or exclusively on smartphones and tablets to shop.
Other noteworthy findings from the study include:
The retail report also seeks to debunk a couple of "myths" about mobile usage. The first is that smartphones are used predominantly "on the go" and/or near the point-of-sale. The study found that smartphones were used throughout the pre-purchase research process and that the largest percentage of use was in fact "at the start" of shopping rather than near the end.
Source: Nielsen, xAd, Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase study 2013
The second "myth" debunked (though not quite as easily) is the notion that most smartphone owners are "showrooming" whenever they shop. The report says that showrooming (in-store price-comparison shopping) is relatively rare and practiced by a very small minority of users:
Only 6 percent of smartphone users conducted their most recent mobile retail search in-store . . . Mobile shoppers are in fact using their devices for comparison-shopping before and after an in-store visit.
However previous survey findings from the Pew Internet Project and Google argue that significant numbers of smartphone owners do compare prices while in stores. For example, Pew's research found that 72% of smartphone owners used their devices while in retail stores. And the more recent Google-sponsored study reported the top in-store smartphone activities were the following:
What the Nielsen-xAd-Telmetrics data argue is that most of this type of activity occurs before or after someone goes into a store. It may be that the wording of the questions influenced these results, though it may not be possible to entirely reconcile the conflicting findings. Regardless, the more important point is that smartphones and tablets are heavily used by consumers as part of their shopping research.
Accordingly, retailers that are not aggressively addressing the mobile audience are completely missing huge numbers of people and potential sales.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has released new data on mobile phone satisfaction. Apple (iPhone) comes out on top, as it does in the JD Power surveys. However the iPhone has lost two satisfaction points, while Samung jumped seven points, since last year.
The iPhone may be losing ground because Android devices are being released more frequently with a range of feature improvements and form factors. For example, the iPhone 5's screen, which was enlarged vs. the 4S, looks puny by comparison to some of the Samsung devices.
Most other competitors on the ACSI list gained vs. last year except LG, HTC and BlackBerry. Immediately below are the ACSI rankings.
For comparison purposes, here are the JD Power rankings. After Apple, Nokia came in second beating Samsung. Motorola, second in ACSI's list above, was fourth overall in the JD Power rankings.
The ACSI people will tell you that satisfaction ratings matter because they're broadly predictive of future sales performance. I accept that as sound. However the data from year one have not always correctly predicted market share or sales performance in year two. One case in point is online search, where ratings declines for Google have not translated into market share loses and vice versa for other competitors.
It's also worth noting that the satisfaction rankings differences between JD Power and ACSI are probably the result of a focus on different criteria and different questions to consumers. Thus both lists may not be entirely complete measures of consumer satisfaction. However the iPhone did top both lists, which is significant.
The relationship between Google Wallet and Google Checkout has always been a bit confusing. Essentially Checkout was Google's PayPal competitor for merchant payment processing. It has been around for roughly seven years. It never really got traction, in part because Google didn't aggressively promote it.
Google Wallet is Google's mobile payments platform, the major component of which has been in-store NFC payments. It also hasn't seen much adoption, though that may change. It also can be used to store coupons and offers.
Some time ago Google merged Checkout into Wallet. This was a bid to unify the two products. The pitch to consumers was "one wallet for online and in-store shopping." And that's still the pitch. It's the merchant side of things that has changed.
Yesterday Google announced that it was shuttering Checkout (I thought the product name had gone away). The company said it will continue processing payments online until November of this year. Thereafter merchants will need a new payment processor. Google is sending people to Braintree, Shopify and Freshbooks.
If merchants do have current payment processing Google is encouraging them to apply for what it calls "Google Wallet Instant Buy." The idea is to remove friction from mobile buying by eliminating the need to enter credit card data and other related information (e.g., billing/shipping address). The solution is directed at Android app developers. (I suspect Apple will eventually do something similar with iTunes.)
Entering credit card data and related shipping/billing information on a smartphone is a major barrier to so-called "m-commerce." More than 90% of mobile users abandon shopping carts, partly for this reason. Security is another concern for many. However if Google Wallet Instant Buy is widely adopted by Android developers (there are no additional fees or changes from Google) it could have a major positive effect on mobile buying. Stored credit card data in one of the factors that has enabled Amazon to become the mobile commerce leader.
Google has also introduced a Google Wallet Objects API, which allows merchants to integrate their loyalty programs into Wallet and more broadly promote them to Google users. And, as we previously indicated, Google has also introduced the easiest possible P2P send money solution through Google Wallet (via email attachment).
Google has thrown in the towel around merchant payment processing (Checkout). But it has introduced pretty compelling new features for consumers and merchants that should make Wallet a much stronger and more broadly useful product.
Wireless equipment maker Aruba Networks is acquiring privately held Meridian Apps, developers of indoor GPS technologies. Aruba will combine its network-based Wi-Fi technology with Meridian’s software platform for smartphones and tablets to create services for use in public venues. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
“GPS-based wayfinding solutions are extraordinarily popular, but they don’t work well indoors,” said Keerti Melkote, founder and Chief Technology Officer at Aruba Networks said in a statement. “We intend to address that gap by creating ‘indoor GPS’ using Aruba’s Wi-Fi infrastructure and Meridian’s wayfinding platform … This is a clear opportunity for Wi-Fi to become not only an enabling platform for BYOD, but now across industries, a revenue-producing, customer engagement platform for the business.”
The Meridian enterprise software platform targets large, indoor facilities -- including the Art Institute of Chicago and Macy's store in New York City -- to build custom-made mobile applications that help people get around in public places.
Meridian opened up it platform last November, introducing a pair of SDKs, Nav Kit and Blue Dotto. The company, based in Portland, Oregon, had previously announced a partnership with Aruba Networks competitor Cisco.
For its part, Cisco unveiled Wi-Fi location services and analytics last November, thanks to its acquisition of ThinkSmart Technologies. The features are included in Cisco's Mobility Services Engine built in conjunction with mobile chip maker Qualcomm and AT&T. Cisco has also partnered with IBM for its "Mobile Concierge" service, which enables integrated web applications to be displayed on mobile devices and provides analytics to deliver a customized shopping experience with coupons and promotions.