User Experience

Is a Google Smartwatch Imminent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Place 2013 - Agenda & Presentations

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

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Agenda & Presentations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Android Hits a Wall in US While iPhone Climbs

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

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

  August OS share 

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

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

top mobile apps August

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

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

top-five-iphone-search-terms 

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

iPhone survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North American Non-iPad Traffic Share

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

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

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

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

Report: PayPal Nears Deal for Rival Braintree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pew: 137 Million Mobile Internet Users

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.16.06 AM

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

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

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

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

Google Wallet Moves Beyond NFC in Bid for More Consumer Adoption

As I wrote last week the advent of iBeacon and bluetooth low energy may effectively mean that NFC as an in-store mobile payments standard in the US market is dead. Google Wallet had placed a big bet on NFC payments but has been thwarted in its bid for adoption by two principal factors:

  1. The public doesn't understand or care about NFC and the NFC infrastructure is still piecemeal
  2. The major carriers other than Sprint blocked Google Wallet because they have a competing NFC intiative (this anti-competitive behavior was never investigated by the FTC)

Google Wallet 1.0 thus was a failure. Google is now out with a new Android version (and soon iOS) is making a renewed bid for consumer adoption with a range of new features and a partial move away from NFC. In-store payments still depend on NFC and so won't be happening at scale any time soon for the same reasons cited above.

However the new features add utility and breadth to the user experience. Here's what's new:  

  • Google has added the ability to send money via email from Wallet (following the ability to use Gmail to send money with Google Wallet). This is a great feature. 
  • The ability to enter/scan loyalty cards into Google Wallet. ("Google Now will notify you when you have a saved loyalty program nearby.")
  • Save and later redeem Google Offers via Wallet (showing the phone at checkout to redeem).

Exactly a year ago we surveyed 1,501 US adults and found the vast majority were not interested in the idea of mobile wallets: 71% said "I'm not at all interested . . . in using [my] mobile phone to pay for things and replace cash or credit cards." Another 15% said they had only "limited interest." Only 14% had some interest or significant interest. 

In specific contexts, where consumers see the tangible benefits of mobile wallets, these numbers change. But in the abstract the public remains largely uninterested in mobile wallets.  

McDonald's Could Accelerate Mobile Payments Adoption

Last week news broke than McDonald's is considering rolling out mobile payments. Currently the McDonald's app is primarily a store locator. The app also offers nutrition information.

According to a Bloomberg report, the company has been testing mobile payments in Salt Lake City, Utah and in Austin, Texas. McDonald's has roughly 14,000 US stores and 35,000 globally. 

Mobile payments would allow McDonald's patrons to pre-order meals online and then pick them up at the drive-thru window. Other fast-food chains have tested, are testing or now using mobile ordering/payments. The McDonald's app will also feature deals and rewards according to Bloomberg.

A mobile ordering/payments capability may also help McDonald's attract younger users and Millennials, who are less inclined than others to visit the QSR chain. According to an AdAge write-up of an NPD Group survey

Millennials are indeed going to burger chains, but they are going less often. The hamburger category, which includes McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, still receives 29% of all millennials' quick-service visits, according to NPD, more than any other restaurant category. Fast casual, which includes chains like Chipotle, gets 6% of millennial quick-service traffic.

But hamburger chains have seen a 16% decline in traffic from Millennials since 2007, NPD said. In the year ended November 2012, Millennials made 3.6 billion visits to hamburger chains, down from 4.2 billion visits in the year ended November 2007. There was a 12% decline in quick-service restaurant visits by Millennials in the same time period.

Ultimately all QSR chains will offer mobile ordering/payments. And that will help acclimate a generation to using their smartphones as wallets to pay for things. 

Once people are familiar and comfortable with mobile payments in a specific context (e.g., ordering food) they will be more inclined to embrace them in other scenarios.

Time Spent Online: Mobile 51%, PC 49%

Jumptap (now part of Millennial Media) and comScore released a report last week on cross-platform device usage. The report contains considerable data about smartphone and tablet penetration, day parting and device usage by content category and demographic group.

Much of the data is from comScore and has already been released in other contexts. However there were a number of interesting data points in the report worth revisiting, including the fact that combined smartphone and tablet time online now exceeds time online with PCs.

As a general matter smartphones and tablets have increased overall time spent online rather than simply cannibalizing PC time, though there has been some of that (e.g., maps, local). 

Another interesting set of data in the document explore device share of online minutes by content category or vertical. The PC is dominant (more than 50% of time spent) in a little more than half the categories examined.

PC usage is highest in the automotive segment and lowest in "radio" (think Pandora). Retail sees slightly more mobile than PC time. 

The numbers above are aggregate data. Demographic segments are going to display different device behaviors. For example, those in the US under 30 are likely to be more involved and spend more time with smartphones than those over 50. That pattern has been repeatedly shown in our surveys and other third party data, including this report.

Below are the demographic groups profiled in the report:

Age 18 - 24: 

  • 69% own a Smartphone
  • 65% of digital users are cross-platform
  • 59% of time with digital is mobile

Women 25 - 49:

  • 69% are cross-platform
  • 67% own a Smartphone
  • 14% Mobile only (vs. 17% PC only)
  • Spend 63 hours monthly on Smartphone
  • 75% of time on social media is on Mobile

Men 25 - 49:

  • 74% of digital users are cross-platform
  • 62% own a Smartphone
  • 45% of time with digital is Mobile

Age 50+:

  • 39% own a Smartphone
  • 51% are cross-platform
  • Represent 31% of Tablet owners (only 25% of Smartphone owners)

There's quite a bit more data in the report, which can be downloaded for free.

As a broad takeaway marketers can now assume almost everyone above a certain income threshold is "cross platform." The minority are "smartphone only" or "PC only" (select younger and older users respectively).

Marketers can also reliably make the assumption that those under 45 are going to favor smartphones vs. PCs as primary devices in a wide range of categories. However people are also rational and prefer larger screens in many contexts (at least until mobile user experiences are improved).

By comparison tablet behaviors are still being established. However the tablet is typically used as a PC substitute (provided a larger screen) in the home.

Microsoft Readies Its Answer to Siri: 'Cortana'

Microsoft is reportedly readying its answer to Siri and Google Now: Cortana. Named after a central character in the game Halo, Cortana aims to go beyond both Siri and Google Now by being a more comprehensive way to interact with Microsoft devices.

According to Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley:

Cortana, Microsoft's assistant technology, likewise will be able to learn and adapt, relying on machine-learning technology and the "Satori" knowledge repository powering Bing.

Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire "shell" -- the core services and experience -- of the future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating systems, from what I've heard from my contacts.

A comprehensive personal assistant powered by AI across all Microsoft systems and devices is a very ambitious plan. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft can do it. 

Yet in order to not be perceived as more than a me-too product Microsoft will have to roll out something truly impressive and more utilitarian than Siri or Google's mix of voice-enabled search and personalized data features.  

Update: TheVerge offers a series of relatively bland Cortana screenshots.  

Apple Shunned NFC, Has Anointed BLE for Indoor Location

I wrote several days ago on my Screenwerk blog about PayPal's new Beacon payments and indoor location initiative. I explained that Apple's decision not to include an NFC chip in the new iPhone means essentially that NFC is marginalized if not dead in the US market. In its place Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) may become the mainstream alternative to what NFC would have enabled (e.g., mobile payments).

PayPal Beacon relies on BLE. At those businesses where a Beacon device is plugged in PayPal users simply check-in. Beacon identifies them and payment is automatically transferred from the default account. Payment happens “hands free” without a tap, swipe or other app interaction. 

Beacon is also PayPal’s entry into indoor location. PayPal will obviously know you’re in a venue and then can do any number of things, including delivering highly specific, indoor marketing messages or ads. PayPal is also making Beacon available to third party developers, who will be able to do similar things accordingly.

Apple's iOS 7, which will be available on September 18 (to older iPhones as well), will permit all eqipped devices to interact with BLE iBeacons in malls, airports, stores and other venues. 

Apple acquired indoor mapping company WiFiSlam earlier this year. That was the "wake up call" for many people to take indoor location seriously. One of the first and obvious applications of iBeacon is indoor mapping. But it doesn't stop there. 

Just as with PayPal's BLE initiative, iBeacon will enable Apple to move into payments and indoor marketing and allow third party developers to leverage those capabilities. With its more than 600 million credit cards on file I've got to believe that Apple will enter mobile payments eventually and BLE will be the way in all likelihood.

More broadly I suspect that iBeacon will popularize and jumpstart indoor location for a host of third party developers. 

For a comprehensive introduction to the indoor location and marketing opportunity, and its broader implications, come to Place 2013.

iPhone 'Touch ID' Is the New Siri

The Apple iPhone event just concluded. Everything that was announced at the event had been leaked or written about beforehand, including:

  • The cheaper iPhone 5C in 5 colors
  • The gold iPhone 5S
  • The faster 5S processor
  • iTunes Radio
  • The biometric fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone ("Touch ID")

However that last item, the "Touch ID" fingerprint sensor, was the stand-out announcement in my view. It will enable users to both unlock their phones and confirm iTunes purchases instead of entering a password: 

Put your finger on the Home button, and just like that your iPhone unlocks. Your fingerprint can also approve purchases from iTunes or the App Store.

What I mean by the headline is that Touch ID is to the 5S what Siri was to the 4S: a kind of "wow" feature that helps it stand out from other smartphones. It partly compensates for the fact that Apple didn't introduce a larger screen, which everyone now wants. That's coming with the iPhone 6. 

Splashy New Apps from Yahoo, Opera Make a Play for iPad Usage

Both Opera and Yahoo introduced splashy new apps for the iPad today. Opera introduced a new browser called Coast. On first glance, the browser has some nice features. In particular users can pin icons to the home screen, much like they can on the iPhone and close pages by swiping them away (like the old PalmOS and Android today). Most of the nagivation is based on swiping or the touch of a single button. 

Opera calls Coast a totally new tablet experience: 

The result is a completely designed-for-iPad browser, subtly elegant, made to fit tablet users in every respect. Crafting Coast meant redesigning the complete experience. We focused on how iPad users actually interact with their tablets. Coast is the perfect companion for your iPad, allowing a more relaxing and lean-back browsing experience when you are on the go or just hanging out on the couch.

The iPad is nearly buttonless; why shouldn’t the apps for it be? Elements such as back and forward buttons are gone from Coast. All navigation is done by swiping the way you naturally would on an iPad – just like in a good iPad app. A single button takes you to the home screen, and another shows the sites you have recently visited – that’s about it for buttons in Coast.

When using touch-based navigation, small buttons that work on a regular computer don’t work well on a tablet. It’s not about just enlarging already existing elements; it’s about making the design interesting and uncluttered . . .

Designing for iPad means rethinking everything. Tablets have a lot of screen real estate, and we thought it was about time to put it to good use. Coast does way more than merely migrating the lessons learned from desktop computers to a tablet.

Yahoo has a new tablet-centric video app (though it also works on the iPhone). Called "Yahoo Screen," the app features video from multiple sources, including Comedy Central and SNL, among numerous others. It's not YouTube but an attempt to created a video destination, with lots of clips that can support video pre-roll ads. There's quite a diverse array of content from food and instructional video to sports and movie clips. 

Yahoo has done a nice job with the user experience. Content is the key to success however. The company will continue to need to feed content to the app if it wants to build and sustain an audience. The company had sought to buy Hulu at one point. And now it's moving ahead with its own video product and increasingly original web-only programming. 

While Opera's iPad app is part of a bid to remain relevant in a mobile-centric world -- its mobile browser has largely been sidelined by Android and the iPhone -- Yahoo is hoping to create a way to generate more mobile revenue from lucrative video ads.

Aisle411 $6.3M Round Shows Growing Investor Focus on Indoor Opportunity

A few years ago companies like aisle411 or PointInside were mobile apps in search of an audience and a business model. In the past couple of years, however, everything has changed.

The proliferation of public WiFi, the adoption of smartphones (now 62% in the US) and the recognition among hospitals, malls, airports, stadiums, grocery and retail stores that indoor location could bring better customer experiences (and compelling data) has radically altered the landscape. The principal business model also went from being an ad/coupon-supported one to a technology licensing model, with indoor analytics leading the way.

Today aisle411 announced a $6.3 million Series A round (Cultivation Capital, Google’s Don Dodge, St. Louis Arch Angels, the Billiken Angels, and the Springfield Angel Network). The total the company has raised since being founded in 2008 is roughly $10 million. 

Most major US retailers (e.g., HomeDepot, Macy's, Wal-Mart, Target, Nordstrom, etc.) and malls across the US are now adopting indoor location, to reap the "big data" and offer more personalized, locally relevant and engaing customer experiences. We're only just at the beginning of a huge wave of indoor innovation.

One of the featured sessions at the Place Conference will showcase aisle411. I'll also be "in conversation" with Google's Don Dodge on why he believes indoor location and marketing will be bigger than outdoor maps and GPS. 

The conference will also present other in-venue and retail case studies from PointInside, ByteLight and Meridian (Aruba). If you haven't yet registered for the October 8, 2013 event do so today

26 Reasons to Attend Place 2013: The Indoor Marketing Summit

On October 8 in San Francisco, Opus Research will host Place 2013: The Indoor Marketing Summit. The first event of its kind devoted to the implications of indoor location, it's shaping up to be one of the most interesting events of the year.

The Place Conference will feature Keynotes from Google and Dick's Sporting Goods (+ aisle411), as well as multiple indoor location case studies and demos (existing deployments). Panels will take on consumer privacy, in-store analytics, the implications of indoor location for ROI measurement, online-to-offline ad tracking, in-store marketing to consumers and a range of other topics of interest to all digital marketers, agencies and merchants.

If you haven't already registered, do so today. The early bird rate is gone but if you attend our upcoming webinar, Beyond CTR: Tracking Mobile Ad Impact on Store Visits, you can get access to a new discount code that will save you money off the full rate. 

If you're not already convinced, here are 26 additional reasons to attend the event:

  1. Alexei Agratchev, Co-Founder, RetailNext
  2. Laura Berger, Senior Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  3. Cormac Conroy, VP, Mobile, Location and Computing, Qualcomm Atheros
  4. Don Dodge, Developer Advocate, Google
  5. Jeremy Geiger, CEO, Retailigence
  6. Jeff Hardison, Vice President, Meridian (Aruba Networks)
  7. Monica Ho, Vice President of Marketing, xAd
  8. Michael Healander, General Manager, GISi Indoors
  9. Waleed Kadous, Android location team lead, Google
  10. Asif Khan, Founder, Location Based Marketing Association
  11. Joseph Leigh, Head of Venue Maps, Nokia
  12. Duncan McCall, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaceIQ
  13. Dan Miller, Senior Analyst, Opus Research
  14. Patrick Moorhead, Vice President - Mobile, Catalina Marketing
  15. Neg Norton, President, Local Search Association
  16. Sarah Peterson, Product Manager, Google Maps
  17. Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & CEO, aisle411
  18. Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director & Co-chairman, Future of Privacy Forum
  19. Jon Rosen, Executive Vice President, iInside (Wireless Werx)
  20. Todd Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer, Point Inside
  21. David Shim, Founder & CEO, Placed
  22. Ben T. Smith, IV, Chief Executive Officer, Wanderful Media
  23. Will Smith, CEO, Euclid Analytics
  24. Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst & Program Director, Internet2Go
  25. Melissa Tait, VP of Technology, Primacy
  26. Derek Top, Research Director, Opus Research

Data Smackdown: Two Views of M-Commerce (Smartphones vs. Tablets)

E-commerce hosting and services provider MarketLive released a mid-year benchmarketing report yesterday, covering digital marketing and commerce trends through the lens of its many clients. There are many interesting findings. I'll focus however on the mobile aspects of the report, which appear to directly contradict a comScore m-commerce report released today.

The comScore data argue that there are many more e-commerce transactions happening on smartphones vs. tablets. This was something of a surprise to me. Accordingly, comScore puts the total value of US mobile-drive e-commerce at $10.6 billion for 1H 2013; 6% is from smartphones and 3.5% is from tablets.

mobile commerce

These numbers contradict everything I've seen about conversions and commerce on smartphones and tablets. One potential explanation may be that there are nearly 2X the number of smartphones as tablets in the US market.

However the MarketLive data, as mentioned, show something much more consistent with earlier findings I've seen from many sources: tablet e-commerce conversions are higher and tablets are driving a greater percentage of overall revenue than smartphones. 

According to the very busy MarkeLive slide below, smartphones drive more overall traffic but tablets generate considerably more revenue. MarketLive says that roughly 12% of e-commerce revenue for its clients are coming from tablets, whereas only 2.7% is coming from smartphones. However 19% of traffic comes from smartphones vs. 13% of visits from tablets. 

Tablet conversions are 3X conversions on smartphones. 

I cannot reconcile the comScore data with the MarketLive data. The weight of evidence is on the side of MarketLive however. 

Mobile Teens Voice Privacy Concerns, Facebook Offers More Privacy Control

This morning the Pew Internet & American Life project released new data on teen app usage and mobile privacy. The big "takeaway" is that teens care very much about privacy and have taken action against (deleted) mobile apps they feel unnecessarily or gratuitously collect personal information or location data.

Pew says that 78% of teens have a mobile phone (though not all have smartphones) and 23% have tablets. The teen smartphone penetration number is probably 58%, given that's the number of teens who have downloaded mobile apps. 

Just over half (51%) "have avoided apps due to privacy concerns" while 26% have uninstalled an app because it was collecting personal data. And 46% of teen mobile users have turned off location tracking features (on their phone or in an app) out of concern for privacy. 

Teens and location tracking

Teens are more forgiving of apps that seek location data where there's a logical and clear justification for the information (e.g., maps). Girls are more likely to disable location tracking than boys; 59% of girls vs. 37% of boys have done so. 

Separately but still on the theme of privacy, Facebook announced today that it would give more control to Facebook mobile log-in users over what information is shared by third party apps on the Facebook Timeline and News Feed. Here's what the company said today in its announcement:

Although Facebook Login is widely used, we understand people’s concerns about apps posting on their Timeline or to their friends. For the past several months, we’ve been rolling out a new version of Facebook Login on mobile to address these concerns.

With this new update, mobile apps using Facebook Login must now separately ask you for permission to post back to Facebook.

Don’t want to share your music playlist or workout routine with friends? You can choose to skip sharing altogether.

Clearly separating sharing means people can decide whether they only want to use Facebook Login for fast registration without also sharing back to Facebook. If you want to share later, you still can.

This involuntary sharing element was a selling point for publishers and developers but a turn-off to many users. It became a significant barrier for some to using Facebook log-in for third party apps/sites.

By separating sharing from social log-ins Facebook hopes to remove friction for many people who might log in with Facebook but don't today for privacy reasons. I'm in that group. 

Facebook Closing in on $4B Mobile Run Rate

To say that Facebook's mobile ad revenue growth has been impressive is an understatement. It has been, what you might call, meteoric.

In the course of a 12 month period the company has gone from less than 10% of ad revenue from mobile to 41% in Q2 of this year. By the end of this year (or very early next) 50% of Facebook's ad revenue will likely come from mobile. (By comparison, in 2012 more than half of Twitter's ad revenues came from mobile.)

Facebook mobile ad revenue growth

In Q2 '13 Facebook made more than $650 million in mobile ad revenue. If current trends continue expect Facebook to have a $1 billion mobile quarter by 1H 2014 (and possibly Q1 earnings). That would enable the company to claim a $4 billion annual mobile-ad revenue run rate.  

Based on averages and simple math, Facebook made roughly $0.80 per mobile user in Q2 on a global basis -- up from $0.50 in Q1 of this year. However developed markets offer more revenue than emerging markets and so the revenue generated per mobile user will vary considerably from market to market in practice.

Facebook monetization per mobile user

In 2010 we asked "How Long Before Facebook is a Mobile Ad Network?" and predicted that when Facebook turned on mobile ads it would immediately become the largest mobile "network." 

As formidable as Facebook is becoming in mobile Google is still dominant globally. Incredibly, Mountain View is expected to capture more than 50% of mobile revenues on a global basis this year. Facebook claims a much smaller percentage of mobile revenues, but still ranks as the number two player in mobile advertising today. 

Most Smartphone Commerce Happening in the House

As apps and websites become optimized for mobile commerce, and as the "credit card problem" is addressed (see TheFind and Jumio), there will be more buying on smartphones. Most retailers and brands currently assume smartphone transactions happen on the go or in stores (or on other devices). In the home e-commerce is supposed to be the domain of PCs (and increasingly tablets).

The conventional wisdom is that smartphones are more heavily used for shopping out of home and that's been supported by prior survey data. Yet data released yesterday by Nielsen tell a somewhat different and more nuanced story.

Americans are indeed buying things on their smartphones (24%) but they're mostly doing it at home: 72% of people making purchases on their smartphones did so at home and not "on the go," as one would have expected. Only 3% of smartphone owners buying things on their devices did so in stores; 6% did so in their cars. The remainder, 18%, fall into an unidentified "other" bucket. 

It's interesting that smartphones are so widely used for commerce-related activities (store locators) on the go but buying happens at home. Nielsen doesn't offer any real explanation however. It may be that the "immediacy" and availability of the device make it a preferred option for some. 

There's also no data about audience segments. It would be interesting to see if these at-home smartphone transactors are younger, older and whether they have other devices available to them. 

Regardless this is another "wake up call" arguing that marketers and retailers need to quickly optimize e-commerce experiences for smartphones.