Mobile Platforms

Users Prefer Apps to Mobile Sites But High Expectations Burn Developers

Many developers and digital marketers still cling to the assumption that HTML5 and the "mobile web" will eventually win out over native apps. There's a kind of logic to that position. However they may be waiting a very long time for that to happen.

As has previously been written, the overwhelming majority of consumer time spent with mobile devices is spent in apps ("4 out of every 5 mobile minutes," per comScore). And according to a new survey from Compuware the majority of international respondents (85%) preferred apps over mobile sites.

The survey had a total of just over 3,500 respondents from the US, UK, France, Germany, India and Japan.

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Despite the positive news for app developers the survey also had some harsh findings. For example 59% of respondents said that an app should load in two seconds or less. In addition, poor user experiences result in app abandonment, switching to competitors' apps, negative word of mouth and erosion of brand perception -- among other negative consequences.

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The most common problems encountered were freezing/crashing (62%) and slow load times (47%), as well as the more generic "didn't function as expected" (37%). A majority of users had encountered one or more of these problems in using apps. Users expect apps to load faster and perform better than mobile sites: "78% expect mobile apps to load as fast as — or faster than — a mobile website."

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Nearly 80% of the survey respondents said that they would give an app one (maybe two) more chances if it didn't work correctly the first time. And app-store ratings are being taken very seriously by users: "84% users say app store ratings are important in their decisions to download and install a mobile app."

The survey report cited third-party data for the proposition that the average number of apps on users' smartphones is 41.  

US Teens Go Online 'Mostly' through Mobile Devices

The key figure from a new US "teens and technology" survey by the Pew Internet Project is this: 50% of teens who own smartphones primarily access the internet that way. According to Pew (the data are from Q3 2012) 78% of US teens overall own cell phones and nearly half (47%) of them own smartphones.

I suspect if the data were from 2013, smartphone penetration would have easily crossed 50% because of Q4 holiday gifts. Among all teens (including those who don't own a cell phone), 37% own smartphones.

Pew teen mobile users

Part of the reason that US teens may rely more heavily on their mobile phones (and tablets) for internet access is that some do not own PCs or share PCs with their families. Thus mobile devices are more private and personal because they're not shared. Regardless teens' orientation to the internet is more mobile than their parents'.

The survey also found that 23% of US teens owned tablets (compared with 25% of US adults).  

As these teens "grow up" it will be interesting to see if they adopt a more "balanced approach" and access the internet equally from PCs, tablets and smartphones. I suspect their bias will remain toward mobile devices, with tablets taking the place of PCs for non-smartphone access. 

An October 2012 survey (n=7,700 teens) by financial firm Piper Jaffray found that Apple held an advantage among US teens:

  • 40% owned iPhones (representing a majority of smartphones)
  • Next phone: 62% were going to buy an iPhone, 22% Android
  • 44% reported owning tablets (72% of those were iPads) 

Changing of Guard at Android Suggests Consolidation of Google Operating Systems

There has always been a somewhat awkward relationship between Google's Chrome OS (PC) and Android OS (mobile). Many people have remarked about it. Today that tension was potentially resolved.

Google CEO Larry Page announced that Android founder and Google Mobile chieftan Andy Rubin was transitioning to another role at the company. In his place SVP Sundar Pichai (who was once unsuccessfully recruited by Twitter) will take over leadership of the Android team. Pichai is currently responsible for Chrome OS and the two groups will be under his combined command.

Here's what Page said about him in a blog post announcing the change:  

Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.

There's a clear logic here and the move makes sense. But my instincts tell me that all may not go as smoothly as that logic suggests. 

By all measures Android is flying high: "60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play." Yet device activations have slowed somewhat and Samsung has all but taken control of Android handset (and perhaps eventually tablet) sales. Samsung Galaxy devices represents an increasingly large share of all Android sales. 

Windows Phone is unlikely to challenge Android, nor is BlackBerry -- for at least the foreseeable future, if ever. Android can coast for some time (which is clearly not happening) and the platform would continue to dominate globally. By some estimates Android is on 80% or more of Chinese smartphones.  

If indeed this leadership change is a precursor to OS consoidation we may see some technical challenges a la Windows as a unified operating system across devices. But then again, but for Apple (and partner Samsung), Google really has no competitive threats to its global-mobile dominance on the horizon.  

Tablets Pass Smartphones In Global Website Traffic, Will Marketers Respond?

According to Adobe's marketing group tablet growth is outpacing that of smartphones. This trend also showed up in several Q4 reports from other online marketing firms such as Marin Software. 

Adobe says that on a global basis, mobile devices (smartphones + tablets) generated 15% of all internet traffic. Of that 15%, tablets edged smartphones with 8% of traffic. The company also says that tablet users spend much more time and are much more engaged than smartphone users: "on aver­age inter­net users view 70% more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone." 

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Among the countries measured, the UK is seeing the highest share of internet traffic from tablets followed by the US and Canada. 

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ComScore previously reported that about 36% of total US internet time is being spent on mobile devices, even though they're generating less than that in terms of overall traffic. Part of the reason for such a discrepancy may be apps, which are often not measured but where "9 out of 10" mobile minutes are spent. 

While 6 and 7-inch tablets exist somewhere between a smartphone and a full-sized tablet (i.e., iPad Classic), tablets are increasingly replacement devices for PCs. PCs still have the largest installed base and a home in the enterprise, among business users and for more selected purposes in the home. But the centrality of the PC as the gateway to the internet is over.

Using Gartner data, USAToday chronicled the decline of PC sales (which aren't coming back): 

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The "problem" with tablets is that many marketers treat them like PCs (including Google AdWords) and don't give them special attention. A study released in Q4 last year found, for example, that only 7% of retailers' websites were tablet friendly.

Yet tablet-app mobile ad creative can be very effective. In general tablet ads (in apps) are much more engaging than smartphone ads right now.

As tablets continue to gain momentum as PC replacements we may see a very odd situation develop. That is: smartphones might be given perfunctory treatment as an ad platform or otherwise neglected in favor of tablets with their larger "canvas." However, as suggested, the bulk of marketers may treat tablets like PCs and not address them with specialized ad units.

Accordingly, as mobile devices take more and more consumer time and engagement "online advertising" could become considerably weaker than it is today. 

Jumptap: Samsung Will Control 60% of US Android Market This Year

New US smartphone figures came out today from comScore for January. According to the comSumer survey Android had 52.3% of the market, while Apple was at 37.8%. Those numbers represent a jump for Apple and a dip for Google since October, the comparison period. 

Apple is the top smartphone OEM in the US followed by Samsung. Their relative shares are 37.8% to 21.4%. However Samsung is the dominant Android handset OEM by far, though LG did experience an uptick because of the extremely popular Nexus 4 (the best Android handset currently on the market). 

comScore mobile subscriber data Jan

Today also mobile ad network Jumptap released its latest MobileSTAT report for February. In that report Jumptap says that from 2011 to 2012 Samsung's share of Android handsets on its network grew from 42% to 56%. Jumptap is predicting that Samsung's share will continue to grow, perhaps beyond 60% of the US Android handset market this year. 

Weaker or fading rivals HTC, LG and Motorola will have a much smaller share: no greater than 11% in any individual case according to the Jumptap prediction. The chart below illustrates the degree of Samsung's dominance in the US smartphone market. The comScore numbers above are not quite as severe.  

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Operating system share will remain relatively stable in 2013 according to Jumptap. Accordingly, Windows Phones and BlackBerry are stuck in the basement with a combined 4% share. Indeed, 2013 will be the year that Nokia needs to make a decision about whether it wants to "diversify" with Android. If these numbers hold it will be all but compelled to do so. 

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Tablets will take mobile browsing share from smartphones according to another Jumptap prediction. The firm believes that tablets will grow to capture 29% of mobile traffic while smartphones will generate 70% of mobile traffic. The tablet impact on PCs is not discussed.  

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According to an earlier report from comScore mobile now represents 36% of internet time vs. 67% on the PC. I believe tablets will continue to take meaningful share from PC usage even has they cannibalize some share from smartphones (chiefly in the home).  

Survey Shocker: Mobile Media Beats TV Around the Globe

Move over TV, your time at the top of the media hierarchy is coming to and end -- at least outside the US. Last week ad network InMobi released its Q4 "insights" report. The document is based on survey data drawn from more than 14,000 respondents in multiple countries around the world. However many questions don't include answers from US and UK mobile users.

The "big finding" is that around the world (US, UK excluded) time with mobile has surpassed TV. In fact time with mobile beats all other media channels. The chart below reflects aggregate findings from 12 countries, though not the US and UK. 

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The survey also discovered that 62% of respondents "engage in mobile activity" during TV watching. Accordingly TV ads in general see diminished attention because of mobile (beyond ad skipping). However this also represents an opportunity for marketers to use mobile devices to measure their TV ads' effectiveness or to generate concrete actions in response to TV ads. 

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Another "big" finding is that internet users are now going online through mobile devices in numbers equal to the PC internet or primarily use mobile to go online. This phenomenon is most pronounced in developing markets, as one might imagine. But it's also true in the US according to the InMobi data. 

According to the survey 38% of US respondents "mostly" use mobile to go online. This finding (and others) may well be biased because the survey respondents were found through the InMobi ad network: "Recruited via InMobi global mobile ad network between August and November 2012." This is therefore going to tend to be a more mobile-centric audience than the US internet population as a whole. 

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Another interesting result, this respondent pool says that it rarely clicks ads unintentionally. In contrast to some of the estimates and data floating around in the market (e.g., 40% of mobile ad clicks are "inadvertent") only a small minority said that mobile ad clicks were mistaken more than 10% of the time.

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Though these findings may not be entirely representative of internet users or perhaps even US mobile users as a whole they're still striking in multiple ways.

Back to the TV vs. mobile time spent: most marketers' ad spending and behavior fails to recognize the profound shifts in the market captured by and reflected in these data. The idea that mobile now dominates TV in terms of time spent or that mobile captures attention from TV even during TV time will be unsettling -- if not shocking -- to most brand marketers.

And most right now will have no idea what to do about it. 

Sorry PC: Tablet Buyers Want Yet More Tablets

Beyond the pure sales numbers -- tablets up, PCs flat or down -- there's a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that people are substituting tablet purchases for PCs. Adding to that, mobile ad network JiWire put out a Q4 report in which it surveyed more than 5,000 mobile consumers in the US and UK on a range of topics.

Among the findings in the report was the intention of existing tablet owners to by a second or additional tablets. The survey found that almost three-fourths of the respondents (existing tablet owners) intended to purchase another tablet.

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It should be pointed out that the JiWire audience is not necessarily representative of the general mobile user population. It tends to be a slightly more "early adopter" profile. However I would imagine this finding is a kind of leading indicator of broader consumer sentiment.

HP's announcement of a $169 7-inch Android tablet earlier this week (putting more price pressure on the entire segment) argues that tablets will become an affordable and mainstream PC alternative for a broad consumer population, not just "affluents." Indeed, this result above suggest that many households will have two, three and even more tablets: one for each family member. 

As I've argued before these devices (and smartphones) will be "primary," while the PC will be used for selected tasks and perhaps become a "secondary" Internet device in the home for large numbers of people. Developing markets may see even more dramatic patterns along these lines, with low-cost tablets simply taking the place of PCs in many instances. 

An interesting, related finding in the JiWire report is the hierarchy of tablet preferences. The findings below reflect the international nature of JiWire's results. The Galaxy tablets have not done as well in the US but have done relatively well in Europe. In the US or North America, Kindle Fire has been the most successful Android device, followed by the Nexus 7.

What's particularly interesting is the position of Windows Surface machines in the third slot, above Kindle Fire. This indicates there's healthy awareness and interest in the device. However, we'll have to see in several months whether this translates into actual sales.

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Could Firefox OS Become the "Third Mobile Ecosystem"?

Microsoft has talked a great deal about Windows Mobile being the "third ecosystem" in the smartphone universe. Of course BlackBerry would also like that distinction. And while some argue it's too little too late, it's also possible that Mozilla's HTML5-based Firefox OS will have a meaningful seat at the mobile platform table -- at least in selected markets.

Yesterday at Mobile World Congress, the company announced a wide range of mobile operators that had made a "commitment" to Firefox OS. Those carriers include: América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom.

Mozilla announced that the first group of FOS handsets will go on sale in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela. Hardware makers Huawei, LG, ZTE and Sony have all embraced the platform -- though Samsung has publicly said it isn't interested. 

While it's unlikely to appeal to existing high-end smartphone users, it's quite possible that FOS could displace Android at the smartphone entry level in developing markets. Many carriers and OEMs are hungry for Android alternatives, which partly explains the long list of operators on board. 

Related: Twitter said that it will support FOS with an HTML5 app.

Report: Mobile Now More than One Third of Digital Media Time

Metrics firm comScore is out with a couple of "Digital Future in Focus" reports. They collect the company's data from 2012 into a narrative about marketplace trends. In terms of mobile much of what's in there is familiar: smartphone penetration crossing 50%, tablet ownership growth, Android growth, the rise of apps and so on.

One stat, however, that caught my eye is in the graphic to the right: 37% of digital media time is now spent on smartphones and tablets. By contrast 63% is on the PC. This one data point shows how dramatic the shift to mobile/personal devices has been, in a relatively brief time frame. Most marketers have not fully caught up however.

Top 25 sites

Another interesting chart (above), previously released, is comScore's Top 25 digital properties. It shows PC vs. mobile usage (uniques) for the top sites, as well as the incremental lift provided by the mobile audience. The table also reflects substantial overlapping usage. However in selected cases (i.e., Pandora, Weather.com) there's a major boost in audience via mobile. 

In the report comScore also documents the erosion of PC usage in select "mobile centric" categories. In other words, there's a shift to mobile usage for some part of the audience: 

We have begun to see a marked shift in usage patterns on the traditional desktop-based web. While most mobile content usage remains incremental to existing web behavior, certain content categories particularly well-oriented to mobile usage have witnessed material softness in top-line usage from desktop computers. Over the past two years, categories such as Newspapers (down 5 percent), Maps (down 2 percent), Weather (down 12 percent), Directories (down 23 percent), Comparison Shopping (down 4 percent) and Instant Messengers (down 52 percent) have seen declines despite a 5-percent increase in the total U.S. internet population over that time.

Again the categories that have seen some or substantial migration to mobile: 

  • Instant messengers (PC traffic is down 52% YoY)
  • Directories (23%) -- this category isn't fully defined in the document
  • Weather (12%)
  • Newspapers (5%)
  • Maps (2%)
  • Comparison Shopping (4%)

Opera Buys Skyfire for $155 Million But Is It Already 'Game Over'?

Browser-maker Opera announced that it's buying much smaller rival Skyfire for approximately $155 million in cash and stock. Skyfire's chief claim to fame is video optimization. Opera also said this week that it was approaching 300 million monthly users across all its platforms (computers, mobile phones, TVs and other connected devices).

The 300 million monthly uniques figure is very impressive; however it masks a downward trend in Opera's usage in mobile. As Android and iPhones push out feature phones (except in developing markets) and BlackBerry devices, Opera is seeing its global browsing share decline.

According to current StatCounter data the company's position is deteriorating.

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In the course of a single year Opera has gone from being the leading mobile browser around the world, with a 23% share, to number three and a 15% share. This rapid deterioration probably explains the company's recent decision to switch the core of its browser to WebKit as well as the Skyfire acquisition. 

WebKit is behind both Safari and Chrome, though not IE. Opera's adoption of WebKit will enable its browser to remain relevant in a smartphone world dominated by iOS and Android.

Opera's business, since its 2010 acquisition of AdMarvel, also includes mobile advertising. And in its recent Q4 State of the Mobile Web report, intended to showcase the company's global scale and advertising chops, we discover that 64% of global ad impressions are still coming mostly from the US, though international is growing.

Revenue Graphic

In the US Opera holds a less than 1% mobile browser market share according to StatCounter. In Europe it's roughly 7%. In Asia it's 24% but Opera was just passed by the Android browser. Africa is the only region where Opera continues to lead.

However Android's global growth is a direct threat to the company given that most users will rely on the device's own browser or Chrome. By the same token most users on the iPhone rely on Safari. Currently Opera has little to offer that will clearly differentiate it from either the Android or iPhone browsers. That's partly what the Skyfire bet is about -- mobile video optimization.

However by itself that's not going to be enough to keep Opera from continuing to lose usage.

The Miserable State of (Local) Mobile Ad Creative

Location-based ad network Verve Mobile announced a Series C investment this morning of $15 million led by Nokia Growth Partners. This brings to more than $21 million the funding raised to date by Verve.

The company is one of several location-based mobile ad networks. An incomplete list of others includes xAd, YP, LSN Mobile, Telenav/ThinkNear, Marchex. In addition, all the major mobile ad networks offer varying flavors of geotargeting.

While local-mobile advertising holds enormous promise, most mobile display revenue forecasts associated with the segment are overblown for many reasons. They often contain overly simplistic assumptions or fail to recognize the complexity of the space and challenges that must be first overcome to realize its potential. 

In addition to local "infrastructure" challenges and the difficulty of proving ROI from mostly offline conversions, a major challenge facing local-mobile advertising is poor or sloppy mobile ad creative. Weak mobile creative is a problem with mobile advertising in general but it's especially true in the local space. The following are a few examples of the "current state of the art." 

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Beyond the fact that there's no call to action on the Tiffany's banner above, the landing page showcases various types of jewelry for e-commerce sales. However it's highly unlikely that a consumer would click on the ad and then buy a necklace or other jewelry item within the ad. People might go to the Tiffany's site later and buy there. 

However, what's much more likely is that someone would peruse the jewelry online but buy later in a local store. Unfortunately the store locator is yet another page down and generally buried. It should be much more prominently displayed on the landing page and connected to maps and directions. 

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The ad above was presented on the AP news app. One problem is that the ad copy is small and challenging to read. However, what's more problematic is the way that the ad dumps users into an HTML5 version of Google Maps without any context, branding or additional information. 

It's a map to lead you to a dealer (one infers) but you don't actually know what you're looking at or how it connects to the ad clicked on.  

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Immediately above is a Radio Shack ad that appeared in a local newspaper app. Like the Tiffany's ad it's really promoting e-commerce. Radio Shack has hundreds of local stores but nowhere -- not anywhere -- in the ad is there an obvious store locator. Again, the majority of users are unlikely to buy directly through the ad. The lack of a store finder is a missed opportunity. 

These are just three recent examples among many others of the many problems with mobile display and local-mobile display advertising in particular. 

With Its $12 Billion Marketing Budget, Samsung Now 'Owns' Android

I've written here and elsewhere about the fact that Samsung is increasingly the dominant global Android OEM. Samsung has ridden the Android wave to huge profits and near-global domination of the smartphone market. However the company is ambivalent about Android.

As Benedict Evans points out Samsung isn't promoting the Android brand and doesn't really mention Android in its multi-billion dollar "Next Big Thing" marketing campaign. Accordingly Evans contends that Samsung's Galaxy brand has greater recognition than Android itself. This conclusion is based on Google Trends search data, which may or may not be accurate as a reflection of actual brand recognition or demand.

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There's plenty of other evidence in the market to support Evans' argument, however, including the above Android OEM comparison chart from ad network Millennial Media. Another data set from AppBrian also supports the same conclusion: 

With the possible exception of Huawei all the other Android OEMs are in decline (re market share) including and especially HTC, which is shifting its strategy to focus on emerging markets because it can no longer compete effectively in North America and Europe. 

What happens when Samsung so totally dominates the Android landscape that it can start using that leverage against Google or creating its own "forked" version of Android independent of Google (as Amazon has done with Kindle Fire)? That's presumably why Google is working on the "X-phone" through Motorola -- to try and create a viable rival to the Galaxy. But will Google be willing to go toe-to-toe with "partner" Samsung in terms of marketing dollars? 

No is the short answer. Samsung reportedly spends roughly $12 billion annually on marketing its mobile devices. That fact alone makes it hard for any other Android OEM, even Google-Motorola, to compete. Only Apple is really in a position to compete with Samsung. 

Apple the OEM Now Driving Most Mobile Internet Traffic Globally and in US

Amid all the hand wringing over Apple's "impending decline," it's interesting to note new traffic metrics from StatCounter that show Apple driving more mobile Internet traffic than any of its rivals. This is partly a product of the iPhone 5's success during the holiday quarter. 

The StatCounter data reflect mobile OEM market share based on actual Internet traffic. This stands in marked contrast to most smartphone and tablet market share estimates (from IDC, Gartner, comScore and others) that are based on shipments or consumer surveys. There are a few actual traffic measurements out there (e.g., Chitika) but not many.

That's why StatCounter's data (as a reflection of actual user behavior) are so interesting. Shipments is an inherently flawed metric that may or may not correspond to actual sales to end users. 

The "headline" being used along with this new StatCounter OEM data is that Apple has overtaken Nokia as the company driving the most Web traffic on a global basis. Samsung is third. In the US Apple is much farther ahead of rivals, including Samsung. Nokia by comparison drives just over 3% of mobile Web traffic in the US market.

Top 10 Mobile Vendors (Global)

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Top 10 Mobile Vendors (US)

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It's interesting to compare the above numbers to "mobile OS" and mobile browser figures from StatCounter. The vendor and OS numbers are essentially identical in Apple's case, as they should be. The browser numbers are not. They suggest that roughly 10% of iOS users in the US market are using browsers other than Safari. 

Top 10 Mobile Operating Systems (US)

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Top 10 Mobile Browsers (US)

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On a global basis the Android OS has a greater share of traffic in the aggregate than iOS: 37% to Apple's 26%. 

Top 10 Mobile Operating Systems (Global)

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It's not clear to me whether StatCounter captures and includes apps in its traffic estimates -- I believe it's just conventional Web traffic. Regardless, traffic is a much better metric to discuss than handset or device shipments in terms of the influence and importance of the competing mobile platforms.

Super Bowl Advertisers' Missed Mobile Opportunity

While a few ads shown during yesterday's Super Bowl were noteworthy most were a bust -- and largely a waste of the nearly $4 million it reportedly cost to buy airtime during the game. Matt McGee at Marketing Land did a nice job of tracking and reporting on social media mentions or "calls to action" on most of the ads (Twitter and hashtags were most common).

Oreo is emerging as one of the big winners, with its fast reaction to the game's 30+ minute power outage.

Yet for all the energy put into associating ads with hashtags and social media, there was an almost total absence of explicit mentions or references to mobile. The only mobile app mention that I was aware of came on a quickly shown credits screen during an ad for the forthcoming Star Trek sequel (upper right image). Exact Target confirmed my own informal sense of that yesterday. 

A large percentage of people watching the game in the US were smartphone owners. As you already know, and as Nielsen and others have confirmed, there's a very high level of "second screen" behavior among smartphone owners. These Super Bowl ads were a huge opportunity to drive app downloads for brands. And other than the Star Trek mention, which raced by in less than a second, nobody talked about apps at all. 

One might have expected real estate company Century 21 to mention its mobile site or app in its several mediocre commercials given that so many people use mobile during their house hunting. But they did not. I could go on with numerous other examples. 

Perhaps the assumption among the agencies that produced these commercials was that people would be using Twitter or Facebook on their smartphones or tablets and the mobile call to action was thus implied. Yet it's more likely that marketers didn't really know what to do with mobile specifically and so were simply silent on the subject. 

Facebook Delivers Strong Quarter, Mobile Now 23% of Revenues

Facebook delivered the goods this afternoon. The company beat analysts' estimates and reported quarterly revenues of $1.56 billion and $5.09 billion for the year. Advertising revenue for the year was roughly $4.3 billion.

Despite the beat, Facebook shares were down after hours. 

Advertising revenue for Q4 was $1.33 billion, or 84 percent of total revenue. Impressively mobile advertising represented 23% of total ad revenue, which is up from 14% the previous quarter.Even more significantly Facebook said that mobile daily active users exceeded web daily users in Q4 for the first time. CEO Mark Zuckerberg characterized Facebook as "a mobile company" accordingly.

Facebook revenues Q4

MAUs Q4 FB

Mobily only users FB

There were 680 million mobile monthly active users in Q4 (compared with just over 1 billion in total). Of those 157 million were mobile only users.

Siri-Fandango Tie-in Will Drive More Mobile Movie Ticket Sales

For users who updated their iOS devices to 6.1 yesterday Fandango is now the commerce partner for movie ticket sales via Siri. If you look up movies using Siri you get the Rotten Tomatoes powered list with an option to buy using Fandango. If you don't have the Fandango app on your device you'll be prompted to install it to complete the transaction. 

Fandango has reported that mobile now accounts for more than 30% of ticket sales. That will undoubtedly increase with Siri and iOS integration.

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There are many Siri critics out there but the process of looking up a movie and (now) buying a ticket is pretty compelling. In fact this may well become the primary way that many iOS users buy movie tickets in the future. Once a credit card is on file with Fandango it's going to be faster and easier than conducting the same transaction even on the PC.

In addition, there's Apple Passbook integration post purchase. 

This is yet another "mobile payments" point solution (it's really e-commerce on a mobile device) that will get people comfortable with the idea of using their phones to conduct transactions and pay for things. The convenience and value here are obvious to consumers.  

 

Yahoo Rebuilding in Mobile: Excerpts from the Q4 Earnings Call

Yesterday Yahoo reported Q4 2012 earnings and full-year results. In several respects company did better than expected in Q4, though display revenue was down 5%. Search revenue was up 14%. Display advertising is the single biggest source of revenue for the company. 

On the earnings call CEO Marissa Mayer discussed the company's strategy. Among other things, Mayer is focused on improving Yahoo's mobile sites, apps and products, branding them consistently and upgrading them in those areas where Yahoo wants to concentrate. Improved Yahoo Mail and Flickr apps were two recent product upgrades for mobile. 

Mayer is very focused on modernizing Yahoo user experiences and generating more usage and engagement accordingly. She believes that will bring more revenue opportunities including in mobile.  

Below are some of her verbatim remarks about mobile from the earnings call transcript:  

Yahoo! is focused on making the world's daily habits inspiring and entertaining . . . Essentially, we need to start a chain reaction . . . To start that chain reaction of growth, we've identified approximately a dozen products to focus on, each a daily digital habit. When taking multiple platforms into consideration for each product, desktops, mobile web, mobile apps and tablets, there's a lot of work to be done . . . 

Focusing more on the pure advertising and monetization standpoint, there's greater opportunity with the big 4: Search, Display, Mobile and Video . . .

In 2012, we saw our Mobile adoption grow to more than 200 million unique monthly users. From a monetization perspective, this is still a very nascent source of revenue for us. With any platform shift, revenue always follows users, and Mobile will be no different . . .

Obviously, we have a large mobile web offering and people tend to use things like Yahoo! Finance, omg! on their mobile browsers on their phone. They also tend to use some of our applications . . .[M]ost of our applications and our mobile web experiences have Yahoo! Search boxes . . .

In terms of having 50% of our engineering workforce on Mobile, I think that this is something that will ultimately happen. I think you start looking many years in the future, it's hard to imagine that there are going to be technology companies where that isn't true. To date, we have started to shift some of our engineering teams to be more focused on Mobile. We need to get to a critical mass on that.

Just a few years ago Yahoo was well ahead of Google in terms of mobile advertising and revenue. Today that's hard to believe. Cleary, however, Mayer "gets it" and is working with her team to address Yahoo's current mobile deficiences. And the 200 million monthly unique users is a very encouraging figure for the company. By constrast Facebook, Yahoo's biggest display rival, has 600 mobile uniques on a global basis. 

Even though Yahoo is building out its mobile assets, I would expect the company to make several mobile acquisitions -- perhaps on the consumer side but also of a mobile ad network or exchange.  In fact, I would be surprised if Yahoo didn't make a meaningful acquisition to bolster its mobile advertising business. 

What You Think You Know about Local-Mobile Advertising May Be Completely Wrong

I keep reading very aggressive projections about local-mobile advertising from BIA and others. Rather than grounded in reality today, these forecasts are built on a set of "optimistic" but simple assumptions about how the market will inevitably develop. For example, one assumption is that national ad dollars from brands and retailers that sell locally will pour into mobile and that their mobile ads will necessarily be geotargeted or localized.

While all forecasts must make assumptions about the future, my belief is that many of the assumptions being made about mobile are crude at best or simply incorrect. I'm a big proponent of location-based marketing and have written extensively about how geotargeted ads and ads with localized creative outperform conventional or "generic" national advertising. There's no question about consumer demand for local information. The question is whether and how advertisers can match or exploit that demand.

There remains a great deal of friction and many challenges to overcome before these big local-mobile forecasts can come true. There are also several "unexpected" things that may change the direction of the marketplace. I go into a few of those things below. In truth the majority of the localized mobile advertising today is happening in search. The platform is mature, the demand and the tools are there. The value is obvious to all involved. That's why Google is making the most money in mobile advertising today. (Facebook is also going to make a lot of money in mobile, some of which will be localized.) By contrast, local-mobile display is in its infancy.

There are two mobile ad networks generating and syndicating a large percentage of the local display inventory that you're likely to encounter: xAd and YP. CityGrid is out there and so are Verve, LSN, Telenav/ThinkNear and a couple of others. Marchex is there too with pay-per-call; however much of that is driving mobile callers to national call centers. Among the major ad networks Millennial, JumpTap and AdMob (Google) all offer local targeting. Often that targeting doesn't extend beyond state or DMA-level precision.

The emerging exchanges and RTB platforms all offer location as part of a laundry list of targeting capabilities. Indeed, location is likely to simply become one of many targeting variables on most networks and exchanges.

Coaster Another 'Point Solution' That Will Drive Mobile Payments Adoption

Some people have described the competition for business owners in the mobile payments segment as a "race to the bottom" in terms of credit card processing fees. Indeed, there are now at least 10 mobile payments or POS vendors targeting small businesses that are undercutting traditional credit card processing fees. The include LevelUp, Groupon, Square, PayPal Here, GoPago and others. 

Just yesterday Coaster introduced an iPad POS app that charges bar owners zero credit card fees -- zero. It makes money off charging consumers a small amount for the "premium service." 

Clearly this is not the company's long-term strategy. It's trying to create more bar "inventory" for consumers in the hope of driving app adoption and expanding beyond San Francisco, it's only current market. However the zero credit-card processing fee is a major incentive for bars to sign up and use the system. 

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Coaster is another example of something I've written about multiple times: vertical or point solutions that offer self-evident value to consumers and will drive adoption of mobile payments. My favorite example is mobile parking payments but Coaster is a pretty good example.

By using Coaster smartphone owners can order, pay and tip at bars without giving over their credit cards directly or waiting in line. I've not yet used the app myself. However Coaster offers concrete and obvious value for bar patrons (and bar owners).

These kinds of vertical scenarios or "point solutions" will educate consumers and get them comfortable with mobile payments, paving the way for broader adoption of "horizontal" solutions such as Google Wallet. Exposure to a positive veritcal payments experience will tend to accelerate broader payments adoption. 

By contrast people often don't see the reason or need for "mobile wallets" in the abstract. 

How interested are you in using your mobile phone to pay for things, and replace cash or your credit cards?

Survey: mobile payments

Source: Opus Research (August, 2012; n=1,501 US adults)

Yandex Launches Voice-Powered 'Wonder' Search App, Amazon Buys Its Siri

Russian-based search engine Yandex this morning released a new mobile app called "Wonder." It's currently only available for the US market and right now only on iOS. It uses speech recognition from Nuance and social data from Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter to provide search results refracted through social networks.

The kinds of queries Wonder envisions are those such as "tech news stories liked by my friends" or "restaurants near me visited by my friends." The app can only be used in landscape mode. It offers a visually polished UI but generally poor search and user experience (it would be better on the iPad). Unless there are some dramatic changes it won't be widely adopted by consumers. 

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Indeed, Wonder is no substitute for Google or Yelp or Facebook's new local and general search capabilities. What's interesting and significant is that it does illustrate broader adoption of social data as a filter and mechanism to personalize search results. The app is also consistent with the embrace of voice as a primary UI and capability.

Wonder offers a hint of a personality there but it's not a full blown "assistant" like Siri or Speaktoit. However Amazon's acquisition of text-to-speech specialist Ivona is a move to bring a Siri-like assistant feature to Amazon's Kindle tablet devices. (Amazon previously purchased speech provider Yap.)

Amazon already had text-to-speech for Kindle but Ivona offers a smoother, human-sounding voice capability that can be deployed for a range of purposes and use cases. And like Wonder it reflects the degree to which speech has become a critical "must-have" function on mobile devices.

By itself, however, speech is not enough. Increasingly there must also be a "personality" (assistant) to go along with the raw speech-processing capability. This is the impact of Siri on the broader marketplace. 

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My colleague Dan Miller brings a different perspective to the Ivona acquisition. He sees it in the larger context of speech-industry consolidation.

Update: TechCrunch says that Facebook has blocked Wonder's access to its user data while the companies negotiate about access.