Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

The Fall of Kin and the Rise of Everything Else

July 12, 2010

You may have heard the news, quiet though it was, that Microsoft’s foray into the world of “social media phones” has bitten the dust – prices were cut dramatically after only a little over a month on the market.  It’s hard to say how much of this was the fault of Verizon’s steep data plan price (with no other major data plan features than combined feeds from social networking sites), and how much of this was the fact that people aren’t willing to pay for social networking on a phone.  The marketing was great, but it’s maybe the other stuff, like apps, that sell phones.

For other smartphones, with more features, and other portable devices, the picture is a lot rosier.  Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report of the Mobile Internet came out recently and as you can imagine, the graph goes up, up and up.  Close to 60% of adults access the internet wirelessly with either a laptop or phone (as opposed to 41% last year).  More of them are using mobile devices to do more things – take pictures (76%, up from 66%),  send/receive text messages (72% vs. 65%), access the internet (38% vs. 25%) and play music (31% vs. 33%) among other things. The numbers for people between 18 and 29 years old, do not require an explanation at all – they use their phones for every kind of service they can get.  Interesting factoid: African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active users of the mobile web. Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87% vs. 80%) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of their phones’ features compared with white mobile phone users. Why this is interesting: for people who cannot afford a computer, the cell phone is a substitute for web access.  Many years ago, when I was in library school, we were concerned with the distinction between the digital haves (those who could afford a computer) and have-nots; libraries, of course represented a savior for the have-nots.  But now they can take that access with them, without having to go to the library (what that means for libraries is another question altogether).

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Teens, Their Phones and 100% Penetration

April 30, 2010

Wireless Carriers are in for a rough ride, as cell phone penetration gets closer to 100% in the US.  It may never be actually 100%, although in some countries it’s more than that. Both AT&T and Verizon had a big loss of customers year over year from 2009’s first quarter.  Hmm.  Maybe growth will come from people’s attachment to specific products, not to specific carriers.  I predict that Verizon’s sales will jump exponentially if they ever get around to getting the iPhone.  In any case, the CTIA has a list of all sorts of wireless facts, and one of them is that while in 2005 the number of wireless only households was 8%, it is now 23% – and that’s a number that’s likely to continue to grow. In 2005, 81 billion text messages were sent per year – now there are 2 trillion. That’s a lot of thumb action.

And that number is really high for teens — Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Older teen girls, which will come as no surprise to anyone who lives with one, top the charts at an average of 100 texts a day. This from Pew’s Internet and American Life Report on Teens and Mobile Phones.  Here are some more fun facts about teens and their phones:

Meanwhile, Black teens are more than twice as likely to use their cell phones for getting online than their Caucasian brethren are (44% vs 21%). Hispanic teens weighed in at 35%.  Most notable about this study is that teens who come from low income households where there is less likely to be computer do the most connecting to the internet with their phones.  They are more than twice as likely to get online this way than more affluent groups.

There is an impact here about largely urban teens that marketers should heed.  Says eMarketer:

Brand marketers trying to tap this market must change their thinking about this largely urban audience… Urban millennials in particular are well-connected socially and open to people from all backgrounds. They have moved beyond brands that still rely on athletes and entertainers and now expect authenticity from marketers and advertisers.

Data Passes Phone Calls in Mobile

April 2, 2010

Tech consultant Chetan Sharma looked at the financial statements of mobile carriers around the world and found that for the first time, mobile phones are used more for accessing data than they are for making phone calls. If this continues, he says, by 2010 the total number of broadband connections worldwide will exceed the number of fixed connections. And finally, the Phillipines, which for years has been the global leader in text messaging, was surpassed by the US.  And your kid probably was a prime contributor to it. As far as apps are concerned, “the total number of app downloads in 2009 reached 7 billion resulting in approximately $4.1B in revenues 12% of which was from mobile advertising.”

Small Businesses Rely on Wireless Mobile Tech

March 26, 2010

Wireless, mobile tech, such as smartphones, Wi-fi hotspots and laptop data cards are becoming increasingly important to small businesses, 23% of whom say that they could not be in business without these technologies. Another 43% said that business would be a major challenge without them. And those numbers are growing like Topsy.  eMarketer reports on a study done by AT&T which found that “while one-quarter of respondents reported the same usage as in 2007, 74% of small businesses relied on wireless at least somewhat more. …[Over the next two years] nearly three-quarters of respondents plan to up their use of mobile and wireless technologies, including 37% who say they will use the services ‘much more.’ “

Smartphones Reach Critical Mass

March 26, 2010

And in the personal sector, less and less people are using just plain phones.  The NPD group reports that in the 4th quarter of 2009, smartphones accounted for almost a third of all handset sales, reaching a sort of critical mass.  Still, because smartphones tend to be expensive, and we are not out of the woods yet, recession-wise, year over year revenues were down for manufacturers.  Still, as smartphones begin to cost under $100, and move out of “early adopter” territory and into the mainstream, some interesting changes are occurring.  First off, since there is something of a learning curve in suing these phones, recommendations from customer ratings and friends are becoming more important.  And, because many of these devices are exclusive to a single carrier, people are starting to think more in terms of the  phone they want rather than the carrier they want to use.  Maybe someday, in the far distant future, devices other than the Google phone will be carrier neutral but till then, the strong brands of the smartphones will more often determine the carrier that people use. MediaPost has the story.

Mobile TV

March 19, 2010

Although digital TV was meant for the TV set in your living room, TV stations are now starting to broadcast signals that can show programming anywhere.  For instance on mobile devices. The NY Times reports that if enough people watch using the mobile TV technology, known as “ATSC Mobile DTV Standard,” local stations will be able to charge more for commercials and increase their revenue.   The technology will be used on new portable televisions with up to 10-inch screens, while smartphones and laptops with special adapters will also receive the signals. Still, the devices have to be within about 60 miles of a broadcast tower for a clear picture. The boon for advertisers is that “The Mobile DTV standard also allows for two-way communication. When viewing an ad, a viewer may push a button to see more information or have it sent by e-mail. The system can also be used for voting, polling and audience measurement.”

When is a Cell Phone Not a Phone?

March 19, 2010

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article a few weeks ago about “The Unused Cellphone App – Calling”.  This seemed particularly poignant to me at the time because I had just gotten a Blackberry (since returned) and I needed to read the manual to figure out how to make a phone call on it.  Phones are used, says the article, non-stop by people as a device upon through which they can conduct their social lives, but only rarely are actual phone made on them by a certain group of people (mostly under the age of 25). A director of consumer experience at HTC Corp says that the new crop of college kids “grew up interacting with people in a certain way, by typing things and sharing photos. And that’s what they are comfortable with….One-on-one interaction may not be as relevant for this generation.” Meanwhile, computer programming is gaining in popularity as major, with the ultimate intent of creating cell phone apps.

Blackberry Use Fueled By Inertia?

March 19, 2010

And as far as those Blackberries are concerned, enterprise seems to be keeping RIM in business, and the leader in the smartphone market.  Still, a recent survey by Crowd Science found that 90% of iPhone and Android users would stick with their brand when buying their next phone, as opposed to Blackberry users, 40% of whom would prefer an iPhone. And while only 9% of iPhone users would be willing to switch to the Android based Nexus One, a third of Blackberry users would be willing to switch to an Android phone. So Google’s marketing opportunity seems to be with Blackberry users, most of whom have their  phones supplied by their workplace.  Which the CEO of Crowd Science refers to as “inertia”. “”There’s so much upside for iPhone and Android to be introduced to businesses that aren’t being tapped.” The story from Media Post.

The Money’s in the Apps

February 1, 2010

The big money in mobile will come from apps, according to a new report from Gartner. They expect consumers to spend $6.7 billion in mobile application stores.  They think that by 2013, downloads will surpass 21.6 billion, 87% of which will be free. Still, three years from now, total revenue for apps will be close to $30 billion.  Advertising-sponsored mobile applications will generate almost 25% of mobile application stores revenue by 2013.
“High-end smartphone users today tend to be early adopters, more trustful of billing mechanisms, and will pay for applications that meet their needs. Average smartphone users will be less tech-savvy and will be more reluctant to pay for applications. Growth in smartphone sales will not necessarily mean that consumers will spend more money, but it will widen the addressable market for an offering that will be advertising-funded.”

Why Most People Could Care Less About the Mobile Web

January 29, 2010

Another study in the UK, from Essential Research,  found that only 10% of mobile phone users access the web on a daily basis.  It may be that many people who have internet enabled phones don’t realize that they can get access.  Most phones these days, even if they’re not smartphones have the ability to get some kind of connectivity, even if only GPRS.  Yet, 60% of the people studied said that they did not have Internet-capable phones, and only half of those cared to change. In addition to this, cost and perceived usefulness are two of the biggest factors in keeping the mobile Web at bay. Over three quarters of respondents said that they thought it was too expensive to use, while 60% said that the effort necessary to learn how to use a smart phone wasn’t worth it to them. So, exactly the people you’d expect are the ones who are buying up all those iPhones and Blackberries.  They are young (16-34), urban, and primarily professionals. Living in that urban professional world, as most of us do, no matter what our ages, we tend to forget that the rest of the world doesn’t much care about being connected all the time.  Or if they do, the cost to get there is not worth it. What might get the rest of the world to change?  Alex Charlton, a Partner at Essential Research says,

“With high profile marketing campaigns all around us, consumers are aware that they can use their mobile to check their email and use Facebook. What we’ve shown here is that there is a genuine interest from consumers to engage with brands that they already connect with and use their mobiles as an extension to their everyday lives.

“There is a role for all of us to play in making the mobile internet a more attractive proposition to the mass market and the opportunity is massive. Our research highlights the task at hand to commercialise and monetise the mass mobile market and we have unique insight into what needs to happen to enable this. Brands hold the key.”