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.
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.
The Apple iPhone event just concluded. Everything that was announced at the event had been leaked or written about beforehand, including:
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.
MoPub presents itself as the "world's largest RTB exchange for mobile apps." Arguably, MoPub emerged over the past couple years as the leading mobile-publisher/developer exchange.
In May the site announced it had reached a $100 million "run rate." That of course is tiny compared to the major mobile networks and publishers such as Google and Facebook.
Today one of the other major mobile ad platforms, Twitter, announced that it had acquired MoPub. TechCrunch estimated that the purchase price was $350 million. MoPub said nothing would change for the publishers in its network:
It’s important to underscore that our commitment to you, the publisher, will not change. In fact, it will be strengthened. Twitter will invest in our core business and we will continue to build the tools and technology you need to better run your mobile advertising business.
In addition to investing in new capabilities for our publisher platform, we believe there are opportunities to bring better native advertising to the mobile ecosystem. With the support of the team and resources of Twitter, we’ll be able to move even more quickly towards the realization of our original vision.
MoPub CEO Jim Payne likened Twitter's acquisition of MoPub to Google's acquisition of DoubleClick. He argued that Twitter's resources would enable MoPub's to get even stronger and serve its publishers better. Indeed Twitter's brand strength and clout may attract more mobile advertisers to the platform.
For its part Twitter was pretty transparent about what it was after in buying MoPub:
The MoPub team has built a leading mobile ad exchange, and their focus on providing transparency to advertisers and publishers aligns with our values. We’ll continue to invest in and improve their core business. In particular, we think there is a key opportunity to extend many types of native advertising across the mobile ecosystem through the MoPub exchange.
We also plan to use MoPub’s technology to build real-time bidding into the Twitter ads platform so our advertisers can more easily automate and scale their buys. We’ll maintain the same high quality standards that define our platform today. Our approach is to show an ad when we think it will be useful or interesting to a user, and that isn’t changing.
This acquisition gives Twitter a significant new mobile asset and ad network. This follows Millennial's acquisition of Jumptap for technology and more scale. It may also indicate that a new wave of mobile network consolidation has begun.
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.
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.
As expected today at the IFA conference in Berlin, Samsung announced its anticipated Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The device, which can make calls when connected to a phone via bluetooth, is currently only compatible with the new Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy 10.1. Both were introduced today and both run Android 4.3, which is required.
More Galaxy phones will be updated to 4.3 in the near future, thus making them compatible with the Gear watch. Below are some of the relevant details and specs for the device:
The $299 price tag may be costly to some consumers, especially given the fact that you've got to have a Samsung smartphone to fully utilize it.
My first (entirely vicarious) impression of the watch, which comes in multiple colors, is that the UI and overall design are not as elegant as they might be. That's especially true of the UI. The camera is awkwardly positioned on the band as well.
It will be interesting to see how all this lines up with Apple's iWatch (especially pricing), which is expected to be announced on September 10. Google is also working on a smartwatch reportedly.
Apple's iPhone launch event is confirmed for September 10. It will take place at Apple's HQ in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to announce multiple devices at the event, including a new iPhone 5S, potentially an iPhone 5C and possibly an iWatch wearable device. There may also be new iPads.
The iPhone 5C is real and may come in a variety of colors (5 is the rumor) -- hence the colorful bubbles in the invitation. The forthcoming 5S is supposed to come in a champagne or gold in addition to traditional black and white. Pricing of these devices is uncertain, though the 5S will likely follow past pricing ($199 with 2-year contract, etc.).
Some reports have suggested the 5C will cost between $400 and $500 unlocked. Carrier subsidy pricing is TBD. The real question surrounding the 5C is how appealing will it be? How "good" wil it be?
Apple is walking a tightrope.
The 5C is intended to make Apple more competitive in developing markets and at the "lower end" of the market where there's more price sensitivity. If the phone is "good enough" and cheap enough -- does the "C" stand for "cheap" or "China" or "color"? -- it could potentially cannibalize sales of the 5S. But if the phone is not of sufficiently high quality it will fail and Apple's brand will suffer.
I suspect that Apple will include a previous-generation chip in the 5C (perhaps the current 5 chip), whereas the 5S will get a new more powerful processor. There may also be memory limitations with the 5C. However the apps and app ecosystem should be the same.
The primary differentiators will thus likely be price, color, materials (plastic) and processing power/speed. But how does Apple build an attractive product that is competitive but doesn't overshadow its more profitable flagship product? That's the dilemma.
Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reports that Windows Phone has made gains across major EU markets and now stands as the solid #3 platform behind Android and Apple. Windows Phone success in Europe is largely due to its association with Nokia, which remains a strong brand in Europe.
Germany, UK, France and Italy are Windows Phones' strongest markets. Gains in those countries helped elevate the Microsoft OS's share of the smartphone market in the "EU5" to 8.2%, up from 4.9% a year ago. That's an impressive gain. Mexico and Australia are also big markets for Windows Phones, according to Kantar.
Here are a comparison of the Kantar smartphone market-share data for the US, China and EU5 markets:
As indicated above, Kantar says that Windows Phone has a 3.5% share in the US. However, comScore shows a smaller gain and share (as of June 2013):
The Kantar data show a significant loss of share in the US for Android -- nearly 8%. Given this I'm skeptical that the data are truly reflective of the broader US market. However Kantar boasts that its panel is the largest and its data are the most accurate in the industry.
In Europe, BlackBerry and Symbian have lost a combined 7.4%. That's more than the gains enjoyed by Windows Phones. Accordingly the question arises: to what extent are those defecting BlackBerry, Symbian and "other" adopting Windows Phones? The Kantar data strongly imply that's where Windows Phones' EU gains are coming from.
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:
Last year Google brought in ad revenues of $43.7 billion. This year, thus far, the company has made roughly $24 billion. For the full year 2013 Google is likely to earn $50 billion in advertising revenue. That may be a low projection, however.
EMarketer today released some estimates on the breakdown of PC vs. mobile and search vs. display revenues for Google. According to the estimates, search will generate 82% of Google's overall revenue this year with just under 20% of search revenue coming from mobile.
By comparison 2% of display ad revenue will come from mobile.
Over time the data aggregator sees more than 40% of Google's total ad revenues coming from mobile (search + display).
Let's look at what these breakdowns (if accurate) would mean in real terms, assuming $50 billion in total projected ad revenue for 2013:
The other way to view those revenues is the following:
If the standard US (45%) vs. international (55%) ad revenue distribution holds for mobile then the following will be the rough figures for Google mobile ad revenue by geography (approximately):
Despite the above, Google's US mobile ad revenue is likely to be somewhat stronger than its mobile revenues from outside the US. Accordingly I would probably flip those percentage figures when it came to mobile.
Last year the IAB reported that mobile ad revenue in the US was $3.4 billion. This year it's likely to hit $7 billion according to our estimates. If that's correct then the Google figure above is too aggressive.
In roughly two years, Facebook has rapidly become the second most successful ad "network" (after Google) both in terms of overall revenue and mobile advertising specifically. According to its most recent quarterly data 41% of Facebook ad revenues were attributable to mobile ($656 million). It's not unreasonable to assume that by the end of Q4 nearly half of Facebook's ad revenue will come from mobile.
Facebook's overall ad revenue in 2013 is likely to be somewhere between $6.2 and $6.5 billion (not all Facebook's revenue is from advertising). Assuming 48% of Facebook's ad revenues are from mobile that would mean between $2.9 and $3.1 billion in mobile revenue for 2013.
Data aggregator eMarketer projects that Facebook overall ad revenue will come in at $6.36 billion this year. By contrast, Google will control more than 50% of global ad revenue in 2013 ($39 billion). Google will capture 53% of total mobile ad revenue, whereas Facebook will grab roughly 16% of the global mobile market according to eMarketer's projection.
What's striking is how a handful of companies (publishers) are dominating mobile advertising, while dozens of others capture relatively small shares of the mobile market (which still may be over $100 million annually).
Emarketer also projects that by 2017 mobile will be nearly half of all US display ad revenue.
By the end of the year total US mobile ad revenue (search + display) could reach $7 billion according to our estimates. The mobile display revenue figure in the chart above ($3.81 billion) is thus probably a bit aggressive. Search continues to dominate mobile advertising (55% to 60%) and nearly all of that revenue belongs to Google.
Google's enhanced campaigns is a wild card that could boost mobile search revenue -- it's mandatory -- and raise overall US mobile ad revenues to over $7 bilion.
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.
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.
Given that Jumptap has now sold itself to Millennial Media it's not clear whether we'll get many more of the company's monthly Mobile STAT reports. The August report focuses on device market share by traffic on the Jumptap network.
It's interesting to contrast the Jumptap traffic figures with survey based market-share data from comScore. First the Jumptap numbers:
Jumptap sees Apple devices (iPhone + iPod Touch) generating 56.8% of smartphone traffic on its network. Collectively Android devices are responsible for roughly 35% of traffic according to the slide above.
By comparison comScore (based on consumer survey data) says that Android has a US smartphone market share of 52% vs 40% for Apple -- almost the reverse of the Jumptap numbers. Millennial ad network data are more consistent with the comScore figures below.
The tablet traffic data provided by Jumptap show the iPad remains well ahead of other competing devices, though the Galaxy Tab and Nexus 7 have grown since last year. The "headline" from the chart below is the dramatic decline in Amazon Kindle traffic in the past 12 months.
Compare tablet traffic data from Chitika, another mobile ad network. It shows an even greater margin (June 2013) between the iPad and its rivals.
Finally Jumptap reflects the relative traffic split between the mobile web and apps. The Jumptap data show that ad requests from apps now generate 84% of the traffic it sees vs. 16% from the mobile web. This is consistent with data from both Nielsen and comScore that show a roughly 80-20 split between apps and mobile web traffic in favor of apps.
However 2012 survey data from Nielsen, xAd, Telmetrics reflect differing levels of app usage by category. And in retail the mobile web is used more than apps as a general matter. So despite app dominance in the aggregate, in particular verticals the story may be quite different and much more nuanced.
Pandora is now essentially a mobile company. Although its users listen on multiple platforms, mobile is the driver of the company's growth and revenue. It's iPhone app arguably saved the company from going under in 2008.
Last week Pandora released revenue numbers for Q2. The company had earnings of $162 million. Ad revenue was $128 million and subscription and "other" revenue was more than $33 million.
The company also said that $116 million of that revenue was attributable to mobile. That works out to almost 72% of overall ($162 million) quarterly revenue coming from mobile devices. By comparison Facebook said that 41% of its Q2 2013 revenue came from mobile.
The company didn't break out mobile revenue in more detail so it's not clear whether the $116 million is all advertising or whether some of the subscription and "other" revenue is being attributed to mobile. My guess is that subscription revenue would not attributed to mobile.
Potentially then if the $116 is all ad revenue it would mean that essentially 90% of Pandora's ad revenue was being generated by mobile users.
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 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.
Yesterday comScore reported that Yahoo had claimed the top spot on its Top 50 websites chart from Google for the first time since March 2011 (originally I thought it was March 2008). Following that announcement and the excitement it generated, I decided to look at some of the mobile data, using StatCounter (which is actual traffic rather than extrapolated consumer survey data).
On a global basis Google dominates mobile search and has for the past several years. A year ago it controlled 97% of the worldwide mobile search market. Today that number is down slightly to just under 94%. Yahoo and Bing have grown slightly over the last year, which accounts for the change.
In the US market something more interesting has happened. According to StatCounter data, Google has lost more than 10 points of mobile search market share in the past year:
It's not clear why this has happened. But it is clear that if Google were to suffer a 11% loss in online search market share, investors and pundits would be going berserk. Yet this mobile decline has passed relatively unnoticed.
While Bing has had a strong search app for some time, Yahoo hasn't. The latter has, however, poured money and effort into developing better mobile apps and redesigned key properties online and in mobile (e.g., homepage, mail).
It may be that many of Yahoo's mobile intiatives and effort to "update" the Yahoo identity and UX as a whole have started to pay off by lifting the brand. And those things may have translated into more mobile search volume.
Last week Placed introduced Placed Attribution, a mobile ads offline tracking solution. The idea is to used Placed's opt-in panel to measure the impact of mobile ad exposures on in-store visits. PlaceIQ has a similar offering using a different methodology.
Capturing the offline impact of digital ads on store visits (and potentially sales) is really a kind of "holy grail" when it comes to conversion tracking. The ratio of online to offline conversions is skewed heavily in the direction of offline. E-commerce is only 5.5% of offline retail and mobile commerce is approaching 10% of e-commerce.
Yet up to half of offline retail spending may not be impacted by digital media and the internet. Clicks are a terrible metric for mobile advertising, and secondary metrics like map views and calls are better but don't capture the entire picture for marketers.
There's a lot more "visibility" on performance when you can start to measure how digital ads impact offline purchase activity. That's the objective of Placed Attribution. Here are the kind of data to be reported: