Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, April 30, 2010

Open Standard Pay-TV Gateway Replaces STB

According to a new IMS Research assessment, the FCC has adopted the disruptive technology formed when the "open" home network standard DLNA is combined with DTCP-IP and seems determined to use the opportunity to mandate the end of the "closed" pay-TV digital set-top box (STB).

The FCC goal: enable any consumer electronics (CE) manufacturer's devices to access pay-TV content, which the Commission believes would foster meaningful new competition and innovation in smart video devices.

The current restrictive vendor-centric service delivery model will be replaced by the FCC's non-restrictive AllVid concept -- which is a Pay-TV Gateway that translates from the platform-specific modulation and encryption (Conditional Access) to DLNA & DTCP-IP.

The proprietary STB will be replaced with standards-based Digital Media Adapters that support the same protocols. An increasing number of TVs and Blu-Ray players are also including DLNA & DTCP-IP standards support.

According to Stephen Froehlich, a senior analyst at IMS Research "The effects of a ban on traditional pay-TV set-top boxes would be massive, as this regulation would enshrine what was already an extremely disruptive technology."

Such a ban would directly effect more than 40 million STB shipments and $4.7 billion worth of sales annually. It would also enable much more rapid adoption of the same device model in other countries.

Froehlich continues, "However, almost all of the industry participants I have spoken with understand that the move to open standards adds significant value for both consumers and pay-TV operators and are therefore preparing for this transition. Most suppliers of STBs and related components also supply the broadband gateway industry, putting them in a good position to compete in the new landscape."

It's important to note that the new rule, if written correctly, will significantly decrease the overall cost of customer premise equipment (CPE) in U.S. homes by minimizing the number of MPEG decoders and associated intellectual property fees per TV.

Assuming that the new regulation allows the market to develop naturally by allowing content providers to provide their own user interface over an open-standard remote UI protocol, the trend will be that the value-adding functions will move from the MPEG decoder to the broadband gateway or to servers in the cloud.

The FCC views the new progressive policy as a revision to its previously-failed efforts to create an open market for STBs -- as previously mandated in Section 629 of the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

American Homes Have More TVs, as Usage Shifts


The average American home now has 2.93 television sets per household, up from 2.86 sets per home in 2009 -- the largest year-over-year increase since 2006 according to the latest Nielsen market study.

This year the number of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets increased to 55 percent -- with 28 percent having two sets and 17 percent have just one set.

The report also finds that while the total population continues to increase, the number of people per TV home holds steady at 2.5, continuing the recent trend of more TVs per home than people.

Other findings from the Nielsen market study include:

- Less than 10 percent of U.S. homes receive their TV signal over-the-air.

- 34 percent of American homes have a digital video recorder (DVR).

- 46 percent of U.S. homes are able to receive a high-definition (HD) signal.

- Total advertising spending on U.S. Network television in 2009 is down 10 percent from last year while spending on Cable is up 16 percent.

- The Business and Finance category is the top category overall as it continues to lead all others in advertising spending across all media.

- The total number of programs has increased since last year. General dramas continue to dominate the lineups, comprising 40 percent (79 of 199) of the programs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Regional Differences in Smartphone Adoption

According to the latest market study by Analysys Mason, the number and variety of smartphones in use worldwide is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 32 percent between 2010 and 2014 -- with Smartphones forecast to grow to 26 percent of all handsets by 2014.

More than 50 percent of this growth will be generated in developing Asia–Pacific and Latin American markets. Western European, North American and developed Asia–Pacific markets combined will account for less than 30 percent of total growth.

Analysys Mason concludes that it's clear the market for smartphones will soon transform.

Jim Morrish, Principal Analyst, responsible for Analysys Mason's Mobile Content and Applications research program says, "Smartphone markets in the developed world will continue to be fiercely competitive, but key handset manufacturers such as Nokia and Samsung are lining-up to tap a new opportunity in emerging markets."

Morrish says that there will be key differences in competitive dynamics between developed and developing markets.

"The ingredients of a successful mobile data proposition in emerging markets will be different to those in developed markets, and I don't think that an iPhone will be one of them. In the medium term, Android-, bada- and Symbian OS-based mobile devices will dominate these new markets."

According to their report, consumer devices, rather than business devices, will become the primary driver of smartphone growth.

"Ultimately, business handsets currently represent a little under 10 percent of all handsets in the market, so although we expect that in excess of 40 percent of business handsets will be smartphones by 2014, the sheer number of residential subscriptions dictate that consumer users will drive smartphone market growth," says Morrish.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UK Media Spending is Down, Consumption is Up

UK consumers are spending less on traditional and digital media, compared with six months ago, but are consuming more -- according to the latest KPMG market study of over 1000 UK survey respondents.

Average spend per UK consumer on traditional media fell from £9.19 in September 2009 to £7.46 in March 2010 and spend on digital media also fell -- from £1.99 to £0.98.

However, time spent consuming media has increased. The average monthly consumption of traditional media rose marginally from 11 hrs 40 minutes in September 2009, to 12 hours 13 minutes. Hours spent consuming digital media increased even more, from 6 hours 14 minutes to 7 hours 28 minutes.

Spend reduced across the UK media industry as follows:

- 21 percent of newspaper readers paid nothing for these over the past month, compared with 15 percent six months ago.

- In London this almost doubled -- 23 percent to 41 percent -- highlighting the impact of the Evening Standard move to a 'free' model.

- The situation is similar for print magazines with 19 percent of consumers saying they had paid nothing over the past month compared with 12 percent six months ago.

- Of concern to those aiming to introduce pay walls for online newspapers, is the increasing majority of respondents who said they paid nothing for accessing online news portals - up from 84 percent in September 2009 to 88 percent in March 2010.

- Spend on video games was significantly down, possibly reflecting the release of popular titles last summer such as the Batman game Arkham Asylum and others.

Other key findings from the KPMG market study include:

- Only 10 percent of non-subscribers anticipate possibly becoming paid subscribers to media products over the coming 12 months.

- The use of social networking and blogging sites remains the most popular online activity -- 50 percent of all respondents partake, up from 47 percent on the last Barometer. Interestingly the increase among 45-54 year olds was the greatest, increasing from 37 percent to 45 percent.

- The survey found that those aged 16-24 are more likely to pay for online content than their older counterparts.

- People who said they would definitely or possibly become a paid subscriber over the coming 12 months were most commonly prepared to pay for music (55 percent) and film (45 percent). They were less prepared to pay for TV (30 percent) and online newspapers/magazines (31 percent).

- The survey found a noticeable increase in the use of Video On Demand (VOD) services for TV programs, up from 19 percent of all respondents in September 2009 to 24 percent in March 2010.

- More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents had viewed a 3D film at the cinema during the past 12 months. Despite fairly high levels of 3D viewing, relatively few indicated they were likely to buy a 3D TV next time they purchase a television set (15 percent).

- Digital book consumption remained stable, but low, with 4 percent of respondents having read one in the last month.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Consumer Digital Media Apps Driving Storage Use

Apparently, the consumer network storage (CNS) market appears to be migrating beyond its innovator roots, which could be a key factor contributing to its continued growth.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, major vendors are now focusing on customer education, awareness and ease-of-use to influence consumer demand and increase wider adoption.

This is meaningful progress, in my opinion. I've been evaluating the mobile hard drive storage options, and there is very little purchase guidance information from vendors -- about how to select the best-fit drive for your particular needs (in my case, video editing and storage).

"Despite intense market competition, the six largest players increased market share in 2009. But with narrowing product differentiation, competition will shift to ease-of-use, functionality and brand awareness," says Norm Bogen, In-Stat analyst.

This combination of maturing market dynamics and a renaissance in the consumer home technology environment will push the growth of the consumer network storage market beyond the innovator stage and into its early adopter phase by 2014.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- The market will continue to mature as customer education and ease of use drive adoption, and market share is concentrated among the leading vendors.

- Price will become more of an issue; even the high-end CNS products will not exceed $800 per unit.

- Web-enabled consumer devices, such as TVs and Blu-ray players, are diversifying the demand and applications for CNS devices.

- The consumer network storage market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 40 percent between 2009 and 2014.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Netflix and Roku Accelerate IP Video Adoption

When I launched the IP Video Curator microsite late last year, I had followed a path of online video entertainment research and discovery that led me to sign-up for a Netflix subscription.

This new experience has changed my TV viewing behavior -- for the better.

Netflix is a month-to-month subscription-based service, where Internet access is a required part of their offering. Meaning, I must go to their Web site to select from a library of DVDs, which are then delivered to me via first-class mail.

I chose an unlimited use plan. I can rent one DVD at a time, plus stream movie and TV episode videos (17,000+) online -- as often as I want. When I’m signed-in to my Netflix account, my new content selections are placed into either the DVD or “Instant” play Queue.

TV Viewers Morph into Programmers

My Queue is the list of video content that I want to see, in the order I want to receive them. I may add, delete or change the order of content in my Queue at any time. I can also watch Instant play selections immediately while browsing, or defer them until when I’m ready.

Experimentation is a key component of the Netflix approach. They have extended the addressable market of potential subscribers by providing a list of Netflix-Ready devices -- targeted at consumers who prefer a simplified online video user experience (compared with the alternative of connecting a PC to a TV set).

Initially, I used a notebook PC (via S-video and audio cable connections) to stream my Instant play selections to our primary TV set. This configuration works just fine, if you don’t mind placing the PC next to the TV – with the required connection and disconnection of cables for each viewing.

Intuitive Set-top Box User Experience

After researching the alternative methods to view Netflix video on a TV, I purchased a Roku player. This device has Wi-Fi built-in, making it easy to add onto my wireless network at home. Just like the PC connection, the Roku player delivers a consistent high-quality TV viewing experience.

The Roku player is a purpose-built permanent installation, so it enables spontaneous use of my Netflix Instant play content. Plus, there are other noteworthy benefits that enhance the viewing experience, when compared to using a Web browser on a PC to select and play videos.

The Roku player includes a remote control that is designed to simplify the process of accessing content within the on-screen channel guide. Compared to a traditional pay-TV video-on-demand offering, the Netflix and Roku player combination is a welcomed improvement.

I can now easily stop, rewind, or fast-forward a video. I can rate the video and then remove it from my Instant play queue – all with a few clicks of the Roku remote control.

In summary, I would anticipate that this type of comprehensive à la carte service offering, and hopefully others like it, will accelerate the adoption of IP video. Today, this solution is primarily embraced by the early-adopter market segment -- meaning, the upside potential is huge.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

B2B Marketer Online Prospecting Preferences


eMarketer reports that business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles are longer than a year ago, but sales pipelines are growing, according to the results of a market study by OneSource.

Traditional outbound prospecting still produces the most qualified leads for U.S. B2B sales representatives, but companies are relying more on their corporate Website to attract new customers. Social networking sites were rated toward the low end of the scale -- though they were as helpful in lead generation as direct mail.

According to Onesource, the most effective social network for prospecting was LinkedIn, by a wide margin. The business-oriented site was rated 3.1 out of 5, compared with ratings of 2 for blogs, 1.9 for Facebook and 1.8 for Twitter.

The effectiveness of LinkedIn translated into significant increases in usage. Nearly one-half of respondents said they were now using the site more for prospecting and research than a year before.

Around one-fifth of those polled were also increasing their prospecting efforts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, but the majority of B2B sales professionals did not use those sites for research at all.

Mixed Results from Other Market Studies
January 2010 data from HubSpot showed that 45 percent of North American B2B companies using LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer through the site. Company blogs were effective for 43 percent of respondents, while 38 percent got a customer from Twitter and 33 percent from Facebook.

In contrast, research firm Outsell found that 51 percent of U.S. B2B marketers considered Facebook the most effective social media site, followed by LinkedIn (45 percent) and Twitter (35 percent). That poll focused on marketing and sales effectiveness in general, not specifically lead generation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Advertising Apocalypse: from Mad Men to Sad Men

The shift to digital marketing practices, and a move away from traditional advertising, has taken its toll on legacy media companies. In hindsight, the economic crisis hit the U.S. advertising market much harder than expected, with overall revenue dropping from $77 billion in 2008 to $67 billion in 2009.

New York Madison Avenue's traditional ad executive ranks have gone from upbeat Mad Men, to down-and-out Sad Men. The glory days are clearly over, as the industry transformation continues.

According to the latest market study by Yankee Group, contained in a report entitled "2009 Advertising Forecast Update: Less TV, More Internet," the lion's share of the decline was due to TV advertising, which plummeted from $52 billion in 2008 to just $41 billion in 2009.

"The 2008-2009 recession drove down the value of everything -- from home prices to TV advertising revenue," said Carl Howe, director at Yankee Group and author of the new report.

As consumers have become worried about the economy, they've reduced the amount of time they spend on media to less than 12 hours a day, down from nearly 14 hours in 2008. This shift in behavior has caused ad revenues to drop significantly.

Other findings from the Yankee Group study include:

- TV and video watching decreased a full hour per day. Consumers spend a total of 3 hours and 17 minutes watching TV, DVDs, videos and pre-recorded programs.

- TV's loss was the Internet's gain. While time spent online decreased by 40 minutes per day from 2008 to 2009, consumers still spend more time online -- 4 hours and 13 minutes daily -- than with any other medium. Internet advertising revenue increased from $24 billion in 2008 to nearly $26 billion in 2009.

- Mobile is the only category that gained time. Consumers spent 40 minutes per day talking on mobile phones in 2009, up 12 percent from 2008. Mobile Internet use grew 36 percent, to 11 minutes a day, and texting grew 55 percent, to 27 minutes a day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Worldwide PC Shipments Grew 27 Percent in Q1

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 84.3 million units in the first quarter (Q1) of 2010, a 27.4 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009, according to preliminary market study results by Gartner, Inc.

These first quarter results have exceeded Gartner's earlier market outlook. Gartner had been expecting first quarter PC shipments to grow 22 percent.

"The stronger-than-expected growth was led by a robust recovery in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) PC market, which grew 24.8 percent in the first quarter of 2010," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All other regions recorded double-digit growth rates, although the U.S. and Latin America were slightly lower than what we had expected."

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.4 million units in the first quarter of 2010, a 20.2 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009. The U.S. market has registered two consecutive quarters of double-digit shipment growth.

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 27.1 million units, a 24.8 percent increase from the first quarter last year. The first quarter volume was the biggest on record. The EMEA market was boosted by exceptional mobile consumer market demand, which continues to grow unabated. The professional market is starting to see some upside mainly coming from small businesses, rather than large businesses. However, the pipeline is positive with large tenders for major hardware refreshes coinciding with Windows 7 deployments.

In Asia-Pacific, PC shipments reached 26.5 million units, a 36.9 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009. PC shipments in China grew 45.4 percent; this growth was led by consumer PC demand due to the Chinese New Year holidays, when promotions and students' winter holidays stimulated purchases, especially of mobile PCs.

The PC market in Latin America grew 35.4 percent, with shipments reaching 7.2 million units in the first quarter of 2010. Brazil has a large volume of local shipments because of high tariffs imposed on imported PCs. Consequently, growth in Latin America largely depends on these vendors.

In Japan, PC shipments totaled 4.3 million units in the first quarter of 2010, a 14.7 percent increase from the same period last year. Two major growth drivers are the continuous demand in the education market and introductions of new products in the consumer market.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Advertising Agencies are Failing their Clients

Sixty-five percent of marketers worldwide believe that advertising agencies are still not results-driven. According to the latest market study by The Fournaise Marketing Group, ad agencies are not doing enough to deliver better results for their clients.

In their 2010 Global Marketing Pulse report, they compiled insights from close to 1,000 marketers around the world on several aspects of their marketing ROI -- from the increased pressure for results they get from top management, to the effectiveness of marketing strategies they implement, and their overall expectations of ad agencies.

Fournaise reports that marketer perception of agencies not being result-driven is a truly global trend. As an example, it's true for 70 percent of marketers in developed economies such as the U.S., Western Europe and Australia -- where the fight for the customer wallet is tremendous.

It's also now exceeded 50 percent in developing regions such as North Asia, Southeast Asia and India -- where the ever-increasing sophistication of customers makes each sale even more difficult.

They also found that marketers around the world classify ad agencies into three groups:

1) the Result-Drivers who truly believe that the primary purpose of a campaign is to deliver the bottom line results of their clients, and do whatever they can to attain that objective (35 percent).

2) the Result-Pretenders who claim they believe in making campaigns that deliver results, but are internally not prepared to put in place the relevant systems and processes to do so (43 percent).

3) the Dreamers who still live in legacy "Adland" (22 percent).

Fournaise further identified three of the major weaknesses that marketers believe the majority of non results-oriented ad agencies have in common:

1) Their customer insights expertise and knowledge is not deep enough (74 percent). They don't know enough about and don't spend enough time and money investing in better knowing their client's target audience. They still rely too much on gut-feeling, and often end up developing strategies and/or campaigns that have little impact.

2) They are too ad award-driven and see campaigns as a way to boost their creative portfolio instead of boosting the P&L of their clients (71 percent). This in turn often leads them to be creatively inflexible.

3) Because they usually don't have systematic tracking mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of the all-media campaigns deployed, they don't know enough about what worked (and why) and what did not, and have difficulties fine-tuning their strategies and campaigns accordingly to boost their ROI (70 percent).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Connected TV Application Market Opportunities

Most consumer electronics (CE) device manufacturers are apparently in the process of introducing software platforms that support widgets -- also called Connected TV applications.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, this sets the stage for a burgeoning new market and alters how people will access Internet content -- from news, web-surfing and purchasing to watching Netflix movies and YouTube.

"By 2013, TV applications have the potential to generate over $1.7 billion in annual revenue," says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst.

"Our primary research shows consumers already have a moderate interest in TV Widgets. An innovative web-enabled CE device and service from a company like Google or Apple could truly galvanize the market, much as the iPhone transformed the mobile telephony market."

Connected TV applications are small, self-contained software programs that can be plugged into a web application to access a wide range of content. Due to their broad scope, TV apps are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous product requirement for nearly all web-enabled CE devices.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- U.S. shipments of web-enabled CE devices that support TV applications will grow from 14.6 million in 2010 to 83.4 million by 2014.

- By 2014, over 59 million U.S. broadband households will own at least one CE device that supports TV applications.

- By 2014, the U.S. installed base of CE devices that support TV applications will be 136 million units.

Monday, April 19, 2010

4G Mobile Wireless LTE Market is Accelerating

Infonetics Research released its LTE wireless infrastructure and subscribers market size and forecast report -- which tracks E-UTRAN (Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network) macrocells (enhanced NodeBs), evolved packet core (EPC) infrastructure, and Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscribers.

"Despite NTT DoCoMo's shift in topology aimed at cutting LTE deployment costs by leveraging the existing W-CDMA footprint with remote radio head (RRH)-based expansion, there is no slowdown foreseen in the LTE market, only acceleration, notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure at Infonetics Research.

In addition to the Verizon Wireless aggressive LTE roadmap, more mobile operators have committed to LTE as their 4G wireless network solution, including China Mobile and China Telecom -- with a massive TD-LTE rollout expected in China by 2012.

According to the latest Infonetics assessment, there will be a dozen live LTE networks by the end of 2010, and the total number of committed LTE launches has grown to 64, with more commitments expected.

Highlights from the Infonetics market study include:

- The LTE infrastructure market is forecast to reach $11.4 billion by 2014, fueled by macrocell eNodeB deployments.

- To fully support the speeds it promises, LTE will be deployed in dense coverage configurations, with microcells, picocells, and possibly femtocells playing a significant role.

- While TeliaSonera launched the world's first commercial LTE network in Oslo and Stockholm in December 2009, giving the lead to EMEA, Asia Pacific and North America will drive the first major wave of LTE rollouts in 2010 through 2012.

- The second wave will kick off in 2012-2013 when the Chinese operators start their rollouts along with the majority of Western European mobile operators.

- LTE subscribers could exceed 153 million by 2014, with most of them split between Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fast Video Edits and Storage on USB Drives

As I’ve mentioned before, I have utilized low-cost USB flash drives for my video content transport applications. Initially, the largest drive that I used had a 4GB memory capacity. Recently, I’ve been using a much larger 16GB drive and discovered that the benefits go beyond storage capacity.

The developers of non-linear video editing software recommend that you store the video content that you are editing on a separate drive, to help improve performance. Typically, that meant adding a new hard disc drive to you PC configuration.

Transporting in-progress video content requires that you either use an external hard drive designed for mobile apps, or a USB drive (also known as memory stick or thumb drive). In the past your applications were greatly limited by the USB flash drives capacity – and the relative high-cost per gigabyte of storage.

As the cost of high-capacity flash drives decreased, that new development has opened up opportunities to apply these devices for more routine video applications. However, you have to consider the data transfer time – to and from the USB drive – when selecting an appropriate device for video use.

I use a Verbatim 16GB Store 'n' Go PRO USB Drive, and have been very pleased with the results. This device can transfer even large video files quickly – it features up to 80X write (12MB/s) and 200X Read (30MB/s) speed. Moreover, these devices contain advanced security features which allow you to securely encrypt and protect sensitive data from unauthorized access.

I’ve found the Windows ReadyBoost capability (introduced with the Vista OS) to be a useful added bonus – as an example, on a notebook PC with 2GB embedded memory capacity. With Windows ReadyBoost, you can use non-volatile flash memory, such as a USB flash drive, to improve performance without having to add additional memory inside the PC.

The flash memory device serves as an additional memory cache -- meaning, the memory that the PC can access directly, that’s usually much faster than on a typical hard drive. When you insert the USB drive in the PC you’re asked if you want to use this device to speed up system performance. You can choose to allocate part of a USB drive's memory to speed up performance and use the remainder to store your files.

In summary, if you have a need to transport video content, keep common video assets with you when you travel, or edit and store updates to video content on several PCs, then I recommend that you consider the Verbatim Store 'n' Go PRO 16 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

U.S. Online Population Diversity is Evolving


According to the latest market assessment by eMarketer, significant change is happening within the U.S. online population. The average age of Internet users has risen -- to more closely align with the general population.

In addition, racial and ethnic characteristics are now mirroring those in the offline population.

eMarketer predicts that in 2010, 221 million people in the U.S. will be online -- about 71 percent of the total population. Their numbers will continue to grow, reaching 250 million in 2014 -- more than 77 percent of the population.

"Marketers already know they are navigating a dynamic digital landscape in 2010," said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst. "In five years, the results of some demographic shifts now taking place will become more evident. Internet users will be older, and many will have lower levels of education and annual income."

"One thing is certain," she said. "They will be more diverse racially and ethnically and expect marketing messages to appeal to them."

Growth is still occurring among all races and ethnicities of Internet users. eMarketer estimates the Internet population will increase 13.4 percent between 2010 and 2014 -- compared with 3.9 percent for the general population.

Despite their already high Internet use, non-Hispanic whites and Asians will see further penetration by 2014, to 81.2 and 81 percent, respectively. Blacks and Hispanics, while still underrepresented online, will see steady growth in penetration rates, to 72.3 percent of the black population and 70 percent of Hispanics.

"Marketers should use multicultural marketing campaigns to target Asian, blacks and Hispanic audiences, because most are proud of their heritage and appreciate marketers who reach out to them with cultural messages," said Ms. Phillips.

But keep in mind that all these minority consumer groups are blending into the American population and do not want to feel separate from the mainstream.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mobile Phone Gaming Market Adoption Shifts

comScore released the results of their latest market study of mobile phone gaming -- highlighting the potential for market growth, despite a 13-percent decline in the number of U.S. mobile gamers during the past year.

This overall decline was driven by a 35 percent decline in mobile gaming among feature phone subscribers, who represent approximately 80 percent of the total market -- which contrasted with the 60 percent increase in the number of gamers via smartphone.

The inevitable ascent of the mobile gaming market depends on smartphone subscriber's higher propensity to play games on their mobile devices. Also, their heavier gaming activity across nearly every dimension.

Smartphone subscribers (47.1 percent) are three times more likely than feature phone subscribers (15.7) to play games on their device at least once a month. They are more than five times as likely to play games almost every day and far surpass their feature phone counterparts across various methods of game play.

Smartphone subscribers also install significantly more games on their devices -- with 27.3 percent having installed at least one game, compared to just 5.6 percent of feature phone subscribers. A third of smartphone subscribers with games have more than five games installed on their phones, while less than one percent of feature phone subscribers have that many games installed.

Smartphone subscribers are more likely to play mobile games than feature phone subscribers across every gaming genre. The genre with the highest penetration among smartphone subscribers is Arcade Puzzle games at 12.9 percent, followed by Card games (11.9 percent), Word/Number games (11.4 percent) and Casino games (7.6 percent).

While casual game genres have higher penetration than hardcore genres (sports, racing, action/adventure, first-person shooter), the hardcore genres exhibit significantly higher adoption among smartphone subscribers.

This latest finding highlights the importance of the smartphone device in driving further adoption of higher quality gaming experiences.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Digital Pay-TV Service Subscriptions Forecast

According to the latest market study by Strategy Analytics, global Digital Television (DTV) subscriptions will grow from 484 million in 2010 to 887 million by 2014, with a five-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.34 percent.

On a regional basis, Asia-Pacific, Central and Latin America and Central/Eastern Europe are expected to grow the fastest during the next five years.

Cable TV continues to be the dominant television viewing platform, however over two-thirds of subscriptions worldwide still use analog services. This is expected to change rapidly, with digital cable households outnumbering analog starting in 2012.

As countries roll out their respective Digital Switchover (DSO) programs, the relative importance of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) as a primary viewing platform will increase.

Although there has been much optimism about the future of Telco IPTV, Strategy Analytics believes that the technology may have encountered some setbacks. As such, they have scaled back their forecast, and now estimate 68 million households worldwide to use IPTV as a primary platform by 2014.

Global digital pay-TV revenues will grow from roughly $150 billion in 2010 to $215 billion by 2014. Pay-per-View (PPV) and Video-on-Demand (VOD) revenues are likewise forecast to see strong growth, reaching $21 billion in 2014.

This Strategy Analytics interactive database provides in-depth market coverage for over 50 countries in five discrete regions, and provides history and forecasts for key metrics including:

Households, TV Households, Cable Subscriptions, Analog Cable Subscriptions, Digital TV Households, Analog TV Households, Household Digital TV Penetration, Analog vs Digital splits, Service Revenues, and Subscriptions by Service (Digital Satellite, Digital Cable, Digital Terrestrial and Telco IPTV).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

U.S. Online Video Viewership Growth Continues

Over-the-Top video consumption in America increased, yet again. comScore released their February 2010 market study results showing that more than 174 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month. Video viewers at Hulu watched a record amount of video per person -- at 2.4 hours per viewer.

U.S. Internet users watched 28.1 billion videos in February, with Google Sites ranking as the top video property with 11.9 billion videos -- representing 42.5 percent of all videos viewed online. YouTube.com accounted for more than 99 percent of all videos viewed.

Hulu ranked second with 912.5 million videos, or 3.2 percent of all online videos viewed. Microsoft Sites ranked third with 623 million (2.2 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 455 million (1.6 percent) and Turner Network with 318 million (1.1 percent).

More than 174 million U.S. online viewers watched an average of 161 videos per viewer during the month of February.

Google Sites attracted 133.2 million unique viewers during the month (93.9 videos per viewer), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 53.5 million viewers (8.5 videos per viewer) and CBS Interactive with 45.3 million viewers (6.4 videos per viewer). The average Hulu viewer watched 23.3 videos during the month, representing another all-time high for the property.

In February, Tremor Media ranked as the top video advertising network with a potential reach of 81.7 million viewers, or 46.9 percent of the total video viewing audience. YuMe Video Network ranked second with a potential reach of 75.5 million viewers (43.3 percent penetration) followed closely by Advertising.com Video Network with 74.8 million viewers (42.9 percent).

Other highlights from the market study include:

- The top video ad networks in terms of their actual reach delivered were: Joost Video Network (by Adconion Media Group) with 38.3 percent penetration of online video viewers, BBE with 18.3 percent, and BrightRoll Video Network with 18.1 percent.

- 83.1 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.

- 132.4 million viewers watched 11.9 billion videos on YouTube.com (89.5 videos per viewer).

- The average Hulu viewer watched 23.3 videos, totaling 2.4 hours of video per viewer.

- The duration of the average online video was 4.3 minutes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Comparing Connected Tablet and E-Reader Devices

According to the latest market assessment by IMS Research, Apple is expected to gain a significant share of the tablet market -- with strong pre-orders for iPad tablets and millions projected to ship in 2010.

Regardless, many other suppliers are introducing either e-reader or tablet products this year, with a fair share of these based on Google's Android operating system. IMS estimates that about 24 percent of the devices shipping in 2010 will be based on the Google Android OS.

Anna Hunt, principal analyst at IMS, says "The user interface and content that a tablet supplier brings to the table will likely influence purchase decisions just as much as hardware requirements."

Suppliers are realizing the importance of content and service and many are turning to the Android ecosystem to be able to offer the complete user experience and compete with Apple's integrated offering.

In addition to Android and Apple OS, Microsoft Windows 7 will also account for some share of the tablet market -- estimated by IMS at 10 percent of shipments in 2010 and expected to grow its share onward.

Right now many of the applications specifically designed for the iPad platform, which are starting to reach the iTunes App Store, are actually more expensive than apps for the iPhone OS platform.

This leaves an opportunity for competitive suppliers that can offer a tablet solution, such as the Kindle Wireless Reading Device, that is overall more price competitive for both the hardware and the content.

Ms. Hunt adds, "Over the next couple of years, we can expect a variety of tablet models that may not be able to run word processing software, but will offer a variety of web-based and multimedia applications for under $200 to the end user."

IMS Research forecasts that starting in 2012, over half of the tablets sold each year will be distributed via mobile and fixed carriers. These broadband service providers are expected to offer increasingly competitive service plans and up-front equipment subsidies to attract tablet purchasers and increase subscription revenues.

Monday, April 12, 2010

U.S. Mobile Phone Service Subscriber Market

comScore reported key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month period between November 2009 and February 2010. Their report ranked the leading mobile phone manufacturers and smartphone platforms in the U.S. market.

In the 3 month average ending in February, 234 million Americans age 13 and older were mobile subscribers, with device manufacturer Motorola ranking as the top OEM at a 22.3 percent share of U.S. mobile subscribers. LG ranked second with 21.7 percent share, followed by Samsung (21.4 percent share), Nokia (8.7 percent share) and RIM (8.2 percent share).

45.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones in an average month during the December to February period, up 21 percent from the three months ending November 2009.

RIM (BlackBerry) was the leading mobile smartphone platform in the U.S. with 42.1 percent share of U.S. smartphone subscribers, rising 1.3 percentage points versus the prior period. Apple (iPhone) ranked second with 25.4 percent share followed by Microsoft at 15.1 percent, Google at 9.0 percent (up 5.2 percentage points), and Palm at 5.4 percent.

In an average month during the December through February 2010 time period, 64.0 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 1.9 percentage points versus three months prior.

Browsers were used by 29.4 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 2.4 percentage points), while subscribers who used downloaded applications made up 27.5 percent (up 1.8 percentage points).

Access of social networking sites or blogs continued to grow, increasing 2.9 percentage points to 18.0 percent of mobile subscribers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Editorial Content Marketing Preferred by Consumers


Editorial content marketing approaches are gaining momentum in the online marketplace. eMarketer reports that U.S. Internet users are more likely to act after viewing ads in editorials, according to longitudinal research conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation for ARAnet.

The survey found respondents were most likely to act based on reading an online article with brand information, at 53 percent -- up from 51 percent last year.

In addition, nearly six in 10 Internet users said they searched for products and services they read about in online articles at least somewhat frequently.

According to the March 2010 survey, brand-related articles interest key demographic groups, with younger and higher-income users more likely than average to take action after reading them.

"We're seeing that article-based advertising rates highest with these important and discerning audiences," said ARAnet president Scott Severson. "Compared to other online advertising options, consumers prefer reading an article, evaluating it, and then deciding to click through for more information."

I believe that the same approach that's proven to work well for B2C marketers is equally effective -- if not more so -- for B2B procurement scenarios. Particularly with complex products and services, such as those within the technology marketing sector.

Sponsored search links also appealed to younger and higher-income targets, with 23 percent of 25- to 34-year-old consumers saying they were very likely to act on such ads -- compared with 11 percent of respondents overall.

Banner ads and e-mail offers appealed most to the 18-to-34 age group, as well as the Hispanic and African-American market segments.

Friday, April 09, 2010

U.S. Broadband Service Additions Declined in 2009

Broadband service delivery in the United States is highly concentrated -- with most new subscriber additions still going to the very largest service providers, as new competition continues to elude the marketplace.

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the nineteen largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. market -- representing about 93 percent of the market -- acquired nearly 4.1 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in 2009.

Annual net broadband additions in 2009 were 75 percent of the total in 2008.

The top broadband providers now account for nearly 71.8 million subscribers -- with cable companies having 39.3 million broadband subscribers, and telephone companies having 32.5 million subscribers.

The market status-quo remains intact, with no immediate signs of progressive change on the horizon.

Highlights from the Leichtman market study include:

- The top cable companies netted 57 percent of the broadband additions in 2009.

- The top cable companies added over 2.3 million broadband subscribers in 2009, 73 percent of the total net additions for the top cable companies in 2008.

- The top telephone providers added over 1.7 million broadband subscribers in 2009, 78 percent of the total net additions for the top telephone companies in 2008.

- In the fourth quarter of 2009, cable and telephone providers added 890,000 broadband subscribers, with cable companies adding about 580,000 subscribers and phone companies adding about 310,000 subscribers in the quarter.

"The top broadband providers in the U.S. accounted for 71.8 million at the end of 2009, an increase of nearly 39 million subscribers in the past five years," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

The task of igniting new substantive broadband service market development in the U.S. now awaits action from the FCC and/or Congress. Clearly, there's little hope for meaningful broadband adoption progress under the current market conditions.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Enterprise Telepresence and Videoconference Services

Telepresence is video conferencing taken to the next level -- participants feel as if they are in the same room together. Despite the tough economic environment, sales of telepresence hardware, software and services grew to $567 million in 2009, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

Expanding the options for access to telepresence products and services is critical for maintaining strong market growth.

Video conferencing products that are a step above talking-heads at reasonable price points allow companies to experience the benefits and incorporate them into their business processes.

According to ABI's market assessment, other major trends and supplier contributions driving the market in 2010 and beyond include:

- Saving on travel costs, particularly for companies experiencing supply chain expansion.

- Suppliers targeting companies with legacy video teleconferencing systems and expanding telepresence system interoperability.

- Telepresence enhanced with unified communications features such as whiteboards, document sharing and webcam videos.

- Growth of managed and cloud telepresence from service providers such as Glowpoint, BT Onesource, Verizon and AT&T.

- Telepresence products for mobile employees and devices such as notebook PCs and smartphones.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Growing World Market for Mobile Payment Services

Mobile phone network operators -- either independently or in partnership with banks, other financial institutions and mobile payment service providers -- are developing platforms and applications to offer mobile payment services.

Such initiatives have seen the worldwide mobile payments market evolve significantly in recent years, with mobile handsets now readily used for a variety of payment-related transactions.

According to the latest market study by Portio Research, the worldwide mobile payments volume -- denoting the face value of purchases and transactions through mobile handsets -- stood at $68.7 billion in 2009, up from $45.6 billion in 2008, and will surge nine-fold to reach $633.4 billion by end-2014.

In 2009, there were 81.3 million mobile payment users worldwide and this number is forecast to grow over six-fold to reach nearly 490 million by the end of 2014, seeing the worldwide penetration of mobile payment users increasing over four-fold to reach almost 8 percent by end-2014.

Mobile payment services present huge potential for stakeholders to substantially increase their revenues and user bases. Obstacles to the adoption of mobile payments have included a lack of scalable and viable business models, lack of standardization, and fragmented commercial efforts.

However, according to Portio's assessment, the success of mobile payment business models in key markets and the uptake of services therein has revived the interest of potential stakeholders in deploying the next phase of mobile payment services worldwide.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mobile Broadband Devices and Subscribers Upside

Infonetics Research recently published its fourth quarter 2G/3G and LTE Mobile Broadband Devices and Subscribers report -- which tracks mobile broadband cards.

"The effects of the recession continue to linger, with fewer than usual USB dongles and netbooks delivered at the end of 2009, making the normally seasonally-strong fourth quarter softer than expected for the mobile broadband device market. However, fundamental drivers remain strong and the market will continue to gather momentum, driven by HSPA, and we expect to see fewer growth blips in the future," notes Richard Webb, Infonetics Research's directing analyst for mobile devices.

The Infonetics quarterly mobile broadband card report provides worldwide and regional market size, market share, analysis, and forecasts for mobile broadband cards by technology, device, and operating system, as well as mobile broadband subscribers.

Highlights from the Infonetics market study include:

- While the mobile broadband card market (including standard and embedded cards) was soft overall in 4Q09, sales are up 55 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, at $6.4 billion worldwide, driven in large part by increasing adoption of HSPA (High Speed Packet Access).

- The number of mobile broadband subscribers surpassed DSL subscribers for the first time in 2009, and is forecast by Infonetics Research to grow to 1.5 billion worldwide in 2014.

- Sales of Windows-based netbooks are forecast to reach $5.9 billion in 2014; Mac-based netbooks will be the second-highest selling, followed by Linux-based netbooks.

- Mobile broadband PC cards, including USB modems (dongles), accounted for 74 percent of total mobile broadband card revenue in 2009, and embedded mobile broadband cards on PCs, netbooks, and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) made up 26 percent.

- LTE-based mobile broadband embedded PC card sales are forecast to top $3 billion in 2014.

- Mobile router sales suffered heavily from the impact of the economic recession in 2009, with revenue down 28 percent from the previous year; growth is expected to return in 2010 and beyond, as more mobile operators offer them through their channels.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Will Consumers Tolerate More Online TV Ads?

A new comScore study, based on a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. consumers, grouped viewers into three segments -- TV-only viewers (65 percent), cross-platform (i.e. TV + online) viewers (29 percent) and online-only viewers (6 percent).

Respondents were asked questions regarding their "advertising tolerance." The questions were designed to assess the levels of advertising (based on one minute increments from 0-15 minutes) viewers would tolerate when watching one hour of TV programming on the Internet.

According to comScore, the results indicated online advertising might actually be tolerated between 6 and 7 minutes per hour -- higher than the approximately 4 minutes per hour that is currently tolerated by consumers.

When cross-platform viewers were asked about their motivations for consuming a portion of their TV content online, freedom in time and space emerged as primary motivators.

75 percent of these viewers selected online over TV because they were able to watch the show wherever they wanted, while 74 percent selected online because they were able to watch the show on their own time. They also preferred online TV viewing for the ability to stop and play shows when they wanted (70 percent) and less interference from commercials (67 percent).

When asked specifically why they watched TV episodes online, the most frequently cited reason among cross-platform viewers was that they had missed an episode on TV (71 percent), followed by convenience (57 percent) and fewer ads (38 percent). That's right, more than a third try to escape the advertising by viewing TV online.

Time shifting of TV viewing is most prevalent among younger TV viewers, with only 35 percent of viewers age 18-24 indicating they watched episodes live, 42 percent saying they watched the programming at a different time within one week of the original air date and 23 percent saying that they watched more than one week after the original air date.

25-34 year olds exhibited fairly similar time-shifting behavior to 18-24 year olds, while older age segments exhibited the least amount of time-shifting behavior.

Younger TV viewers are also more likely to watch TV across media with 54 percent of cross-platform viewers being under the age of 35 compared to just 30 percent of TV-only viewers.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

E-mail Marketing is Making Social Connections


eMarketer reports that in 2009 e-mail marketers started to get social, but 2010 will be the year social media makes e-mail marketing more powerful. Social media is a complement to e-mail marketing, because it provides new avenues for sharing and engaging customers and prospects.

"Even though people are spending more time using social media, they are not abandoning e-mail," said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst. "The two channels can help each other, offering the opportunity for marketers to create deeper connections."

More than four in 10 business executives surveyed by StrongMail said integrating e-mail and social was one of their most important initiatives for 2010 -- just after improving e-mail performance and targeting and growing opt-in lists.

About one-quarter of respondents had already implemented an integrated strategy, and another 24 percent had formulated a strategy and were researching how to put it in practice. But 18 percent wanted to add social components to their e-mail campaigns and did not know where to begin.

So far, the consensus of the value social media adds to e-mail marketing has been in the area of softer metrics. Four-fifths (81 percent) of marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa in summer 2009 said social media helped to expand the reach of their e-mail content.

A further 78 percent said social media marketing helped to increase brand awareness.

But, the fact that so many are unsure about lead generation represents an opportunity for e-mail marketing firms to extend lead-generation measurement techniques into social media.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Consumers are Unaware of Home Automation Needs

Revenue from shipments of home automation systems will exceed $11.8 billion in 2015, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. That number includes all four categories of home automation -- Luxury, Mainstream, DIY and Managed.

However, the luxury segment is forecast to deliver the greatest revenue.

In addition to quantitative market measurement, ABI Research also sampled U.S. consumer attitudes with a September 2009 survey. Nearly half of the 1001 respondents did not know what the term "home automation" actually means. A further 43 percent understood the concept but had no system installed.

According to ABI practice director Sam Lucero, "Our survey results show that a major challenge is simply lack of awareness on the part of mainstream consumers. Other issues for consumers were the expense, and a perceived lack of need for home automation."

Regardless, Lucero believes that the home automation market is approaching an inflection point beyond which its growth rate will increase significantly, for the following reasons.

- Vendors are taking advantage of standards-based wireless and powerline technologies to drive down costs and expand the addressable market.

- Companies in related home systems markets are increasingly targeting home control and monitoring functionality in their devices.

- Home security service providers view home monitoring and managed home automation services as a means of accelerating growth.

- Telco and cable broadband service providers see managed home automation services as a way to increase revenue.

- Utilities can use home automation technologies to help homeowners reduce power usage.

How do these drivers map with buyer intentions? An average of three quarters of the 39 percent of survey respondents who intend buy a home automation system within three years rated three functions as the ones they would expect to use most -- energy management, home control, and security.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

E-Reader Buyer Attitudes and Usage Behaviors

The media publishing industry needs an upside trend. Perhaps this is it. comScore released the results of a survey of 2,176 Internet users regarding their awareness, attitudes and opinions of the Apple iPad and other e-readers or tablet devices.

Results were analyzed across age and gender profiles, as well as the iOwners (a comScore term) consumer segment -- defined as those owning either an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Consumers were asked several questions regarding their awareness of various e-readers and tablet devices and their past purchase behavior or intent to purchase these devices.

The results showed very high awareness of the iPad, with an aided awareness of 65 percent, the same as that of the Amazon Kindle Wireless Reading Device. Overall, consumers have demonstrated a high level of interest in these types of devices with between 58 percent and 69 percent of consumers having conducted online research of the top five devices.

Amazon Kindle rated highest in terms of current device ownership at 6 percent of all Internet users, followed by Sony Reader at 4 percent. The iPad rated highest in terms of consumers seriously considering purchase over the next three months at 15 percent of Internet users, with the Kindle at 14 percent.

Consumers were also questioned about which features and activities they would be most likely to use if they owned an iPad, with responses indicating that they viewed the iPad differently than a traditional e-reader.

Just 37 percent of respondents indicated they were likely or very likely to read books on the device, 9 percentage points higher than those who indicated they would be unlikely or very unlikely.

Nearly half indicated a high likelihood of using the iPad for browsing the Internet (50 percent) and email (48 percent), while more than one third said they would use it for listening to music (38 percent), reading books (37 percent), maintaining an address book/contact list (37 percent), watching videos/movies (36 percent), storing and viewing photos (35 percent) and reading newspapers and magazines (34 percent).

Results also showed that iOwners exhibited very different characteristics and receptivity to the purchase and use of digital content than non-iOwners. 52 percent of iOwners said they were willing or very willing to pay for newspaper and magazine subscriptions specially formatted for e-readers, compared to just 22 percent of non-iOwners.

Similarly, 50 percent of iOwners who also own an e-reader said they had spent at least $60 on e-books in the past three months compared to only 24 percent of non-iOwners.

These findings suggest that those who are already familiar and comfortable with making digital content purchases via iTunes may have a relatively higher receptivity to making similar purchases for the iPad.