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:
As the global market for smartphones matures, it is clear that the default keyboard platform is going to be key for product differentiation. That's why it is so interesting that up-and-coming Chinese OEM, TCL Communications Technology Holdings Ltd, has expanded its licensing agreement with Nuance, making Swype the default keyboard for its line of Android-based smartphones sold in the U.S. In its latest report of device shipments, TCL claims sales volume of smartphones grew 126% in June, when compared to the same month last year, exceeding 1.3 million units. Of the nearly 21 million phones sold globally in the first six months of 2013, over 18 million were sold outside the Chinese domestic market. 4.3 million were smartphones, selling under the he Alcatel OneTouch brand as well as TCL's own Idol X branding.
Like Samsung, TCL is a well-diversified consumer electronics manufacturer with a major presence in the flat-screen TV market. Its management expects the geographic expansion of its smartphone sales to fuel growth and profits in the coming years. If it does so, it will be at the expense of Samsung, HTC and Google's own Motorola brand. Matt Revis, Vice President of Dragon Devices at Nuance, points out that the company had its choice of a number of less expensive alternatives to Swype to support touch-based input, including the "free" default keyboard that ships with the Android operating system.
"This is representative of a situation where you have a company that is positioned to grow globally and looking for an innovation partner to make it a category leader," Revis explained. "They are working with Nuance."
Indeed, it is a signal event for Nuance and Swype, which is already available for free download from Google Play. While Nuance would not provide revenue estimates for the licensing agreement, the impact can be expected to be significant, given TCL's ambitious growth expectations in the coming year. A virtuous circle has been established whereby an aggressive manufacturer recognizes that innovation will be key to growth and has recognized the need to cement a relationship with a firm that has been steadily investing in improving the technologies that support touch-based and multimodal input - both through internal development and acquisition.
The mobile payments space is a little like the local market: lots of promise, lots of money but very hard to crack. Yesterday a young entrepreneur and his payments startup Clinkle received a $25 million vote of confidence from a group of celebrity investors.
This was reported to be the "largest seed round ever." Whether it is or not $25 million is a lot of money for yet another mobile payments app. While it's true that nobody in mobile payments has "broken through," Clinkle will have a tough slog as it tries to build both merchant adoption and consumer usage.
Once again it's the "cold start" or "chicken and egg" problem.
However, according to the NY Times, there's no merchant hardware requirement for Clinkle and the go to market strategy involves a Facebook-like focus on college campuses and surrounding businesses. That may be a key decision and help the startup gain some quasi-critical mass in selected markets among students.
Beyond the hardware issues surrounding NFC adoption, the central issue with mobile payments has been a lack of perceived need among consumers. Mobile payments are being used in selected contexts and commerce situations (e.g., Starbucks) but the public at large hasn't seen the need to replace plastic payment with app-based payment that relies on stored credit cards or bank accounts.
That brings me to indoor location and marketing. When discussing these topics, and the absence of technology standards, I often use mobile payments as an analogy. Yet there is a critical distinction. The difference between the two segments is that while mobile payments still largely requires a shift in consumer behavior, indoor marketing does not.
Large majorities of consumers are already using their smartphones in stores to look for price information, product reviews and coupons. The idea of brands and retailers communicating with them in stores will be built on this existing behavioral foundation. Accordingly indoor marketing won't require consumers to adopt new technology or approaches to shopping -- unlike mobile payments.
The "heavy lifting" in indoor marketing is on the merchant side, where WiFi or other sensor infrastructure needs to be in place. Fortunately in most major retail environments the rudimentary infrastructure already exists.
But don't take my word for it. We'll be discussing the competing indoor location technologies and hardware requirements for indoor marketing (as well as their accuracy) at Place: The Indoor Marketing Summit this fall in San Francisco. It will be an event anyone in the mobile or location-based marketing space won't want to miss.
By now you've no doubt read about the comScore data that showed (or argued) just over half (54%) of PC display ads are never seen by users. The finding turns the old Wanamaker "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted . . ." quote on its head: digital advertising is just as "wasteful" (if not more) than traditional advertising.
Last year, using the same "viewability" methodology, comScore reported that "31% of ads were not in-view, meaning they never had an opportunity to be seen." So the problem is apparently getting worse.
The IAB said that display ads (not counting video) in 2012 represented 21% of the $36.6 billion in US online ad spending. They contributed $7.6 billion at least to the overall pie. If half of that is wasted because ads cannot be seen or are never served it means $3.3 billion is being flushed down the digital toilet, so to speak.
Comparing the impact of PC vs. mobile display advertising across key brand metrics
Source: Dynamic Logic
Enter mobile advertising. I've argued multiple times in the past that mobile is a superior "branding" medium to online for various reasons, not the least of which is improved performance metrics over PC-based digital ads (see graphic above). The chief problem is that most of mobile display features weak ad creative, compromising the potential efficacy of the ads.
To counter this the IAB is releasing a mobile creative "manifesto" of sorts that hopes to instruct brands and agencies about the importance and hallmarks of effective mobile ad creative: A Mobile Manifesto: Creative Leaders on the Art of Successful Mobile Brand Messaging. It features hypothetical examples of best and worst practices.
Here are the broad strokes of the report's recommendations:
Many of these recommendations are merely "common sense." However even now many mobile display ad campaigns are perfunctory at best with converted or automated ad creative from PC campaigns. Thus marketers and brands are missing out on the true potential of mobile advertising by not making a "sincere" effort to maximize the value of mobile campaigns.
A new study jointly conducted by Millward Brown and mobile loyalty platform SessionM finds that consumers want a clear "value exchange" or "tangible benefits" for their time and attention to mobile ads. The study was fielded earlier this year among two survey groups of 500 US adults and combined with qualitative follow-up interviews.
A primary finding of the study, which echoes Nielsen "consumer trust" data from previous research, is that only 9% of users have a favorable view of mobile ads. Despite their typically superior performance on brand and other KPIs, consumers generally report unfavorable views of mobile advertising in surveys such as the SessionM-Millward Brown study:
The study argues that mobile ads need to deliver "tangible value" in order to gain consumer engagement. When they do they can outperform other types of digital and mobile advertising. SessionM says that tangible value has three components: "being useful, entertaining and worth the time it takes to engage."
What this means as a practical matter, according to the study, is offering a literal reward for consumer attention (e.g., coupons, points), although people respond to other types of "incentives" as well as ads that are more "relevant" (e.g., local, personalized).
The following were the preferred reward types according to the survey:
Essentially people are saying they want to be paid to look at and engage with mobile ads. It's important to note that the study argues in favor of the types of advertising and marketing that SessionM provides: incentive and reward-based mobile loyalty programs. However other data show that consumers do respond to coupons and discounts at higher rates than other categories of mobile advertising.
In April Harris Interactive conducted an online consumer survey about "showrooming" and related consumer attitudes about online and offline buying. The survey had 2,114 respondents, 824 of whom said they had showroomed: "ever visited a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online."
Accordingly 39% of the April 2013 survey population had engaged in showrooming at some point. That's actually down from 43% in November 2012 according to Harris.
Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target are the three major US retailers that are most often "victimized" by showrooming, though the order is different for men and women. This compares to a study (tracking actual store visits) with slightly different results, conducted in February by Placed:
According to the Harris study Amazon is by far the most-used online comparison point for in-store smartphone shoppers. A relatively small percentage also or alternatively consult eBay.
Harris also found that price-matching strategies being adopted by retailers are likely to succeed in combatting showrooming. A large majority of those who said they had "showroomed" also said this policy would make them more likely to buy in stores:
Source: Harris Interactive (4/13)
Survey respondents simultaneously indicated they like the option to "buy online and pick up in store." In terms of same-day delivery from an e-commerce provider, however, a majority (77%) said they would NOT be willing to pay more for the service. For those willing to pay the majority (56%) said between $1 and $5 was a tolerable range.
The survey also affirmed many of the familiar reasons that people prefer to shop locally vs. online:
Being able to "talk with a salesperson" in stores was only valued by 57% of survey respondents. Indeed, a majority (60%) strongly agreed that they "would rather use [a] smartphone to search for information about a product than ask a salesperson for help."
I suspect the latter finding is a result of years of experiences with low-paid and generally poorly trained salespeople in retail stores.
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.
The forthcoming iPhone 5S wil reportedly have the same screen size as the current iPhone 5. This will be a significant disappointment to some and potentially cause them to skip the update and wait for the iPhone 6, which is supposed to deliver a larger 4.8 inch screen. That could have a meaningful negative impact on iPhone 5S sales.
A recent survey from Retrevo shows that iPhone owners/buyers want a larger screen than the 5/5S has to offer:
The survey also showed that a significant percentage of would-be iPhone buyers have a "wait-and-see" attitude about buying their next iPhone. This is becoming a problem for Apple as media-fueled rumors of better hardware in the future cause people to delay purchases, unlike Android buyers apparently:
Despite the wait-and-see approach and yearning for a larger screen iPhone buyers are paradoxically much more loyal, according to the survey, than Android owners. This has been confirmed by other, previous surveys (e.g., ChangeWave) as well.
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.
A new report by comScore shows how mobile and social channels are changing online buying habits and how retailers can benefit in delivering a blend of choices for consumers including mobile coupons.
The study, Pulse of the Online Shopper , notes a variety of flexible options for consumers – 46 percent said they are less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer's mobile app and 44% want the ability to buy online and pick up their purchases in a stores.
Of particular note, 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. This trend underscores the potential role of indoor marketing technologies.
Regarding mobile channels, the report states:
Mobile is quickly becoming the preferred e-commerce channel as 7 out of 10 online consumers access multi-channel retailers through a digital channel. Of those mobile shoppers, 30% prefer to use a smartphone or tablet. Also, 50% of online shoppers who own a smartphone and nearly 60% who own a tablet make purchases on these devices.
More than 3,000 U.S. consumers were surveyed on their online shopping habits and the report was commissioned by UPS. A copy of the executive summary and white paper can be downloaded here.
No one should ever bet against Microsoft. But amid a flurry of new Android based "convertables" and tablets (some of which were announced today), Windows is facing a tougher fight than ever. Only the enterprise and Office stand between the company and a dire-looking market.
PC sales are off and it doesn't appear they'll turn around soon. Yet, Microsoft is hoping that its 8.1 Windows update fixes many of the problems and complaints with Windows 8, which have contributed to disappointing sales. Microsoft, with its many billions in quarterly revenues, is clearly the ironic underdog in the new world of mobile computing.
Redmond got a bit of good news from WPP research subsidiary Kantar Worldpanel ComTech earlier today. The firm found that Windows Phones had gained nearly 2 points since a year ago (however comScore data show much smaller gains). It's not clear, however, whether the needle is really moving for Microsoft given that Windows Phones generate less than 2% of all mobile OS based web traffic in the US.
Source: Kantar Worldpanel
The company's Surface tablets have also been a disappointment thus far. RT starts at $499 and Pro starts at $899. Both are going to need to come down by at least $200 before most consumers will consider them.
ASUS today said it was releasing a 7-inch tablet for $149 (outside the US there will be a 8GB version for the equivalent of $129). ASUS is the maker of the popular Nexus 7. Over time a large percentage of tablet sales will be concentrated in the 7-inch to 8-inch range and those tablets will almost without exception -- the exception being the iPad -- be priced below $200.
Regardless of how full featured Surface tablets are price is a major driver of purchase behavior.
Accordingly, in response to declining tablet prices and sluggish sales, Microsoft is going to lower its software licensing fees to enable hardware OEMs to bring down prices of their Windows devices. But it may not be enough to boost sales. In addition the absence of a native version Office on the iPad or Android hasn't boosted Surface either.
One interesting question to ask is whether Microsoft's past success has mostly relied on its ubiquity and near-monopoly status as an operating system (together with Office). If there's even a shred of truth in that question it's a serious problem because once people are no longer "compelled" to buy Windows machines a substantial number of them won't.
The following slide, presented as part of venture capitalist Mary Meeker's semi-annual internet trends report, is very surprising and revealing:
In March Harris Interactive conducted a survey on behalf of shopping site TheFind. There were slightly more than 2,000 US adult respondents. Among them 572 respondents owned tablets.
The survey revealed what one might expect: retail shopping and e-commerce are increasingly happening on tablets. However users are often frustrated by websites and checkout experiences that aren't tablet friendly. This trumps payment security as a reason for not conducting t-commerce according to the survey.
Here are the main findings (reflected in the "infographic" on the right):
There were no findings about responsive web design and whether users consider that to be "tablet friendly." In many cases responsive design is not as mobile friendly as a dedicated site.
In the "retail vertical" more consumers use or turn to to mobile websites than apps. That may be because of a lack of awareness of retailer apps. However the behavior flies in the face of general consumer trends, where 80% of mobile media time is spent in apps vs 20% on the mobile web.
Content management software company Kentico recently conducted a mobile-shopping survey (n=300 US adults). The sample size is small and so the results must be viewed cautiously. However there were a few interesting findings.
Among them, the survey found that 85% of smartphone owners do comparison shopping (products, prices). However "only" 45% do so in stores. A recent report from Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics argued that only 6% of mobile users "showroomed." Interestingly, most of the Kentico survey respondents (63%) said they would rather buy locally, in a physical store vs. online.
In terms of the mobile user/mobile commerce experience, as might be expected, the usability of websites was a major variable:
Whether or not an online shopper clicks ‘buy’ isn’t solely dependent on products or pricing: 78% of smartphone owners, 75% of tablet owners and 69% of laptop owners say it also comes down to the look and feel of a company’s mobile website . . . Word of mouth (28%), company websites (25%) and in-store experience (18%) weighed most heavily on strengthening or eroding brand affinity.
These respondents felt that PCs and laptops provided a better online shopping experience overall than tablets or smartphones.
Which device provide the best shopping experiences?:
A significant minority (44%) of users said that they would never return to websites that featured bad user experiences (not optimized for mobile). This is not a surprise and echoed by other findings already in the market.
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.
At the Google developer conference in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, Google demonstrated "conversational search" on the PC. It was one of the clear highlights of the nearly three-hour keynote. What the demo showed was Google's voice search (and audio read back) capability together with "context awareness" of previous query results.
For years Google has very self consciously been trying to replicate the "Star Trek computer." Now Google is making some meaningful strides toward that objective.
In the demonstration at the Google event, we saw the capacity to search for a person, place or thing and then do follow-up searches using pronouns or otherwise building on the previous query. The Google representative spoke to the computer and planned a trip to the Northern California beach community of Santa Cruz. She spoke queries to her PC and got voice-response answers from the Google "assistant."
This kind of "context awareness" or "conversational" capability is present to varying degrees in Siri today (and other "assistants") as well as other "AI" driven call center and customer service solutions.
Following the lead of Siri and then going beyond it, Google is transforming conventional search into a personal assistant experience. This is the clear future direction of the market. Google's voice search and Google Now information or answer "cards" illustrate this trajectory. As of late yesterday some of those same capabilities have been brought over to the Chrome browser on the PC.
If users update their Chrome browsers to the latest version they'll find a prominent new voice-search experience on Google.com (it isn't yet available from the URL bar search). Many of the answers or results are "read back" to you (where there's an answer card or Knowledge Graph entry). However this doesn't happen all the time. And in my quick testing, the ability to follow up with secondary searches using pronouns and queries referencing previous results was very limited.
Still, the spoken read-back (as in mobile search) is fun and as Google develops this contextual and conversational capability further you may be inclined to start having more verbal interactions with your computer.
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.