Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mobile Social Networking Top Business Model Trends

ABI Research has been studying how mobile device usage is influencing the ways in which consumers access and interact with social networking services.

The results of their latest market study provide insights that will help marketers understand the implications of several closely related trends -- both near-term and long-term.

Social networking may soon become a predominantly mobile activity -- that trend could directly impact the current business models and ultimately effect numerous key players within the leading platform ecosystems.

The number of people accessing social networks from mobile phones will exceed 550 million in 2011, and that figure will more than triple to over 1.7 billion by the end of 2016.

That means over two-thirds of the global user base of social networks will use smartphones and other mobile handsets to access these services.

For Facebook, the growing importance of mobile is both an opportunity and a serious strategic challenge.

On one hand, mobile allows the world’s leading social network to engage with millions of new consumers, but on the other hand its ability to make money from mobile users remains untested.

ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen says, “A huge problem for Facebook is that while on the web it is a platform, on mobile it’s just another application. To strengthen its hand in the short term we expect Facebook to aggressively take advantage of HTML5, but in the longer term it should absolutely become a mobile operating system of its own.”

The symbiosis of social networks and mobile phones can also be seen in recent moves by Google and Apple.

Google’s attempt at social networking, Google+, has been designed to benefit from deep integration with Android, which is likely to go down well with application developers.

Meanwhile, Apple has teamed up with Twitter and built the microblogging service into the iOS 5. The interesting aspect in the Apple and Twitter partnership is how it can provide iPhone users with a verifiable social identity for websites and apps.

That gives developers a lot of scope to innovate in areas such as authentication, personalization and advertising. It provides a hint of things to come, and how the current trends will likely evolve.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

IP STBs Find an Upside in the Mature Pay-TV Market

The pay-TV set top box market is mature -- and has been for some time now. That is to say, it has reached a state of equilibrium. Or put another way, there's an apparent absence of significant new growth.

Moreover, some industry analysts might say that meaningful innovation has been missing from this space for a very long time. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t some segments of the business that are innovating and growing.

New In-Stat research has identified the IP set top box market segment as one of the few that is still growing.

Based upon the findings of their latest market study, In-Stat is forecasting that worldwide unit shipments will surpass 21 million in 2011.

“The recent up-tick in IP set top boxes is a result of Telcos gaining subscribers from cable and satellite providers, as well as replacing the boxes of current subscribers,” says Michelle Abraham, Research Director at In-Stat.

Future increases for IP set top box (STB) shipments will likely be driven by service providers moving to a server/client architecture where there is a media gateway/server located in the media room of the house that shares its content with client boxes that are distributed throughout the rest of the home.

These client boxes will be IP STBs. DirectTV is one of the first providers to offer this service, but In-Stat expects that others may follow over the next few years.

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:
  • The IP set top box market will grow 14 percent in 2011.
  • Motorola remained the market share leader in 2010 with 21 percent of the global market.
  • North American IP STB unit shipments will increase 48 percent in 2012.
  • In 2013, Western Europe will account for 46 percent of worldwide IP STB revenues.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Multiformat Video Transcoder Demand is Growing

Consumers are now viewing video entertainment at a variety of different locations -- each having unique connectivity and display characteristics.

Moreover, various new consumer electronics devices -- and a growing list of video formats -- will increase the number of profiles required to be generated by multiformat transcoders.

While processor and product improvements will enable more from each transcoder, they will not be enough to keep up with the demand, requiring purchases of more processing capability by streaming video service providers.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, the file multiformat transcoder market grew at a rate of 72 percent in 2010 -- due mostly to the growth in multiscreen services from online video content providers and traditional pay-TV service providers.

In-Stat also forecasts that worldwide revenue for both live and file multiformat transcoders will continue strong growth over the forecast period.

“Pay-TV service providers and video content providers are the main customers for these products,” says Michelle Abraham, Research Director at In-Stat.

While there are similarities in their product needs such as video quality, there are also differences in density and the need to keep packaging together with transcoding.

And while the file transcoding market experienced the most growth in 2010, In-Stat expects multiformat transcoders for live streaming to show the most growth over the next five years.

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:
  • The multiscreen services are primarily being launched in the Americas and EMEA.
  • The expectations for TV Everywhere have brought new vendors to the market in 2011, Arris, Imagine Communications, and Thomson Video Networks.
  • Multiformat transcoder revenue will surpass $460 Million in 2015.
  • As service providers begin using multiformat transcoders in place of real-time broadcast encoders to process the signal to the TV, In-Stat expects to see even more profiles used.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mobile Broadband Market Powered by OS Ecosystems

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its second quarter (2Q11) mobile broadband devices and subscribers report -- which tracks the market performance of smartphones, mobile broadband PC cards, embedded mobile broadband cards and devices, mobile broadband routers, and mobile broadband subscribers.

"The clear synergy between smartphones and tablets, with their shared touchscreen features and common application environments, make them by far the hottest segments of the mobile broadband device market," said Richard Webb, Infonetics Research directing analyst for microwave and small cells.

Just as Apple iPhone users are more likely to buy an iPad as their tablet, so too are Android users more likely to buy Android-based tablets.

It is increasingly important for vendors to have a strong portfolio in both market segments to leverage this synergy.

Highlights from Infonetics latest market study include:
  • A total of $31.4 billion was spent on smartphones in 2Q11, down 1.4 percent from the previous quarter despite unit shipments being up about 2 percenet, indicating unit-price erosion impeded revenue growth.
  • Infonetics expects global smartphone revenue to grow 31 percent in 2011 over 2010, to $117 billion.
  • Apple's stronger volumes and higher ARPU helped increase its global smartphone revenue share every quarter thus far in 2011, now at 36 percent of the smartphone market in 2Q11.
  • HTC and Samsung leapfrogged into 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in the global smartphone market in 2Q11, ahead of RIM and Nokia.
  • Combined across all vendors, Android continues to be the number one smartphone operating system (OS) in the world, used in nearly half of all smartphones shipped worldwide.
  • The mobile device OS ecosystem is still one of the most influential drivers of the mobile broadband marketplace.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How Broadband Affordability Impacts Local Economies

The latest global market study by Point Topic has revealed that the apparent differences in affordability of broadband services around the world highlights the stark contrast in prices -- and the resulting impact on local service adoption.

Clearly, the challenge for broadband service providers and government policymakers will be to seek out ways to make broadband internet access more affordable -- as national leaders attempt to increase their market penetration and resulting economic impact.

“Broadband prices can be over a thousand times higher in real terms in the poorer countries,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO at Point Topic.

Analyzing tariff data from the middle of 2011, Point Topic has compared the cost of 12 months of subscription to the least-expensive, and usually slowest, fixed broadband service across various world markets.

Converting prices to purchasing power parity (PPP) equivalents for over 2,000 tariffs from around the world and then combining the results with the gross national income per capita (GNI/capita) again at PPP rates for the relevant country allows direct comparison between the markets.


The Point Topic analysis is based on data from 64 countries.

“The analysis allows us to see how much of an average yearly income in each country would be needed to pay a year’s subscription for the cheapest option available. The results gap between rich and poor, the haves and have-nots in broadband terms is revealing,” said Johnson.

According to Point Topic, broadband has been shifting from a luxury to a necessity -- and in some markets a human right -- over the last decade. For consumers, there have been a number of barriers to entry including education, literacy and access to equipment. But increasingly these are minimal road-blocks -- compared to the cost of a monthly service subscription.

“It’s in everyone’s interest that broadband penetration keeps increasing globally. Governments gain revenue, businesses gain competitiveness and individuals get access to a wealth of benefits online. At a time when economic growth is a major challenge broadband is a great mechanism to add a percentage point or two to GDP,” said Johnson. “How this is achieved is the big question."

Johnson concluded his latest global market assessment with what he considers to be the most likely outcome. Mobile and satellite are great and offer access quickly and easily where other options cannot. However, data caps and high overage costs mean they have their limits but given the high cost of fixed infrastructure deployment -- particularly outside urban areas -- they are going to be part of the mix.

There really is no option but central subsidy for many markets when it comes to broadband and even the richest nations are going to have to dig deep to allow access to broadband for a hundred percent of their population.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Healthcare Marketers are Using Mobile Apps


There's huge potential to evolve the healthcare industry by utilizing more appropriate information and communications technology (ICT), and mobile device applications are an excellent example of that upside opportunity.

However, the market for mobile-enabled healthcare has struggled to get gain momentum.

Held back by antiquated regulation, personal privacy issues and an apparent lack of mobile standards, industry players -- healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, governmental organizations and others -- have yet to find a clear and coordinated path towards that m-health bonanza.

“There have been experiments with mobile programs,” said Victoria Petrock, eMarketer research analyst and author of the new report entitled Mobile Healthcare Marketing: Prescriptions for Health and Wellness on the Go. But many efforts to market and deliver large-scale healthcare via mobile have, to date, been siloed and ineffectively measured.”

According to a global survey of mobile health developers and marketers by research2guidance, smartphones hold the key to mobile health business opportunities over the next several years -- followed closely by media tablets.

Adoption of both devices is rising quickly, making the applications (apps) landscape ready for m-health market development opportunities.

In yet another market study, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that specific demographic groups were more apt to use m-health resources. More men than women used apps to track their health.

Black and Hispanic consumers -- those who lived in urban areas -- and adults ages 18 to 29 also showed higher-than-average use of the mobile web and apps for healthcare.

“Mobile is giving consumers the control to help them better manage chronic diseases,” said Petrock. “As they embrace mobile devices and platforms to find and share information and monitor bio-data, more consumers are taking charge of their personal health and wellness. This presents an opportunity for marketers to encourage healthier behaviors and personalize the delivery of healthcare information and services.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

PC Ecosystem Review and Global Markets Update

Worldwide personal computer (PC) shipments are expected to grow by 4.2 percent in 2011 -- down from a February forecast of 7.1 percent, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). A combination of declining first quarter shipments, an increasingly conservative economic outlook, the relative saturation among developed market consumers, and competing products will lead to slow growth during the remainder of 2011.

For 2012 through 2015, total PC market growth is still expected to fall in the 10 to 11 percent range.

Consumer PC purchases have been a cornerstone of growth over the past five years. During this time, a transition to low-cost portables helped drive purchases by new users in emerging markets -- as well as replacement and secondary systems in more mature markets.

Consumer PC shipment growth averaged 18.9 percent from 2005 to 2007, almost 7 percent faster than commercial shipments. During 2008 and into 2009, consumer growth was actually faster at more than 21 percent while commercial growth fell below 3 percent in 2008 and then dropped to 10.5 percent during the recession in 2009.

The growth in 2009, which was independent of the economic pressures following the housing bubble, banking crisis, and related recession, was largely fueled by the mini notebook (also known as netbook) boom. Consumers in mature regions snapped up over 19 million netbooks in 2009 vs. just 6.6 million the prior year, and the jump accounted for over 80 percent of volume growth in the segment.

Emerging regions also got a bump from netbooks, which added 7 million units in 2009, accounting for roughly half of growth in portable PCs. However, the appeal of low prices for mini notebooks has given way to a number of factors, including relative saturation following this boom cycle, recognition of their limitations, and better competition from both mainstream notebooks and media tablets -- which increased 31 million and 17.9 million units in 2010 respectively vs. just 1.3 million for mini notebooks.

"Consumers are recognizing the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices and because they already own PCs, they're now adding smart phones, media tablets, and eReaders to their device collections," said Bob O'Donnell, vice president at IDC. "And, this has shifted the technology share of wallet onto other connected devices."

The potential boost to the PC market from thinner designs, longer battery life, instant on, touch, and other improvements will likely not be widely available until 2012, and will have to address price-sensitive buyers in order to drive higher levels of growth. In fact, the appeal of these future enhancements could be seen as another motive for consumers to delay the purchase of a new PC until they are available and to focus on other products in the meantime.

First quarter 2011 PC shipments were down 1.1 percent from the prior year, with a decline of 4.4 percent in consumer shipments that was only partially offset by 3.0 percenet growth in commercial segments. However, the decline in consumer shipments was particularly acute in mature regions, with double-digit declines in Western Europe, the U.S., and Canada. Relatively strong growth in the second quarter of 2010 is likely to keep second quarter 2011 growth low.

This trend in consumer growth, along with only modest growth in the commercial sector, a cautious outlook from PC makers, disruptions including the Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster, the Arab Spring, and reduced economic projections (including government stimulus) will keep overall growth in single digits the rest of 2011.

Nevertheless, IDC expects significant growth in both consumer and commercial markets to continue beyond 2011. New designs, chips, operating systems, features, and services, along with falling prices will continue to make PCs more powerful, affordable, and functional than ever before.

Despite incursions by smartphones and media tablets, PCs have a large user base and ecosystem, and continue to represent the most comprehensive and affordable computing platform. Adoption by new users in emerging regions as well as replacements in more mature markets will continue to drive double-digit growth through the end of the forecast.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worldwide Media Tablet and eReader Market Update

Worldwide media tablet shipments rose by 88.9 percent on a sequential basis and 303.8 percent year over year in the second calendar quarter of 2011 (2Q11) to 13.6 million units, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Based on this strong performance and an improved outlook for the second half of the year, IDC raised its shipment forecast for 2011 to 62.5 million units -- up from a previous projection of 53.5 million units.

Shipments in the second quarter were driven by continued robust demand for the Apple iPad 2 -- which saw shipments reach 9.3 million units, representing a 68.3 percent share of the worldwide market (up from 65.7 percent the previous quarter).

Research in Motion entered the media tablet market in 2Q11 with its PlayBook product, taking a 4.9 percent share of the market. Android-based media tablets share decreased to 26.8 percent, down from 34.0 percent the previous quarter.

Looking forward to the second half of 2011, IDC expects Android to cede additional market share in 3Q11 (dropping to 23 percent) before it starts growing its share again in 4Q11 (increasing to 25.9 percent) and beyond.

"Media tablet shipments grew at a solid pace in the second quarter, led by continued strong demand for Apple products," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC. "We expect shipment totals to continue to grow in the third and fourth quarter, as additional vendors introduce more price-competitive Android products into the market and Apple works to maintain its dominance in the category."

Apple's iOS share will continue to lead by more than 40 percentage points over Google's Android for the remainder of the year, but IDC expects this gap to decrease substantially by the end of our forecast in 2015.

Turning to eReaders, the second quarter experienced a seasonal dip, down 9 percent sequentially to 5.4 million units, while year-over-year growth was 167 percent.

Amazon led the market with a 51.7 percent share, followed by Barnes & Noble with 21.2 percent. With product refreshes and following strong 2Q11 sales, IDC expects eReader shipments to grow significantly through the holiday season, reaching a total of 27.0 million units for the year -- up from a previous projection of 16.2 million units.

"We expect major vendors to offer their current-generation black-and-white eReaders for less than $100 by the holidays," Mainelli said. "We're also expecting Amazon's much-rumored, color LCD-based device to ship later this year. Because we expect it to run a customized version of Android that ties its use to Amazon's content services, we expect the device to more closely resemble Barnes & Noble's Color Nook than Apple's iPad 2. As a result, our current plan is to count it as an eReader, and that will also help drive shipment numbers."

eReaders are also gaining traction with a combination of increasing function and affordability, as well as greater device and content availability. The strong first half performance and an improved view of eReader positioning helped boost the outlook for shipment volume.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Smart Grid Technology will Transform Utilities

Modernizing the legacy electrical grid systems around the world is long overdue, with many parts of the grid more than 100 years old. Undertaking this huge transformation hasn’t been easy to accomplish or attainable at a low cost.

Not only does the world’s electrical system require updates due to age, but as usage increases, and the building of more power plants becomes more difficult, upgrading the "Smart Grid" becomes a requirement, not an option.

Deploying the smart grid requires hundreds of millions of smart meters. Worldwide, smart meter deployments continue to grow, driven in large part by very large deployments in China where new In-Stat research forecasts that the deployment of smart meters will reach 280 million by 2016.

“The smart meter is at the heart of the smart grid transformation, and even though infrastructure and customer education are also important, in these early days it’s all about the smart meter,” says Allen Nogee, Research Director at In-Stat.

Even without other changes, a smart meter allows a utility to offer a wider range of electric rates and to greatly reduce the cost of meter reading, which alone can eventually pay for the smart meter.

With a large numbers of smart meter deployments being forecast, it naturally follows that many technology solutions will evolve, and that is exactly what is occurring.

In-Stat's latest market study includes the following:
  • Worldwide powerline is the clear leader in smart meter connectivity, connecting the meter back to the utility.
  • However, there's an increasing number of wireless solutions including cellular, whitespace, and proprietary methods that use unlicensed spectrum and operate in a mesh configuration.
  • China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, is also the biggest smart meter consumer.
  • The number of smart meters deployed in the U.S. per year will decrease after peaking in 2011, during which stimulus money drove utilities to update their meters.
  • Worldwide, smart meter deployment will continue to grow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Smartphone Adoption Increased Across Europe

There's a transition taking place across the whole mobile phone subscriber market in Europe. This change includes both an upside and a downside for service providers and device manufacturers. Western European feature phone shipments continued to decline sharply in 2Q11, as consumers increasingly move to smartphones -- according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Feature phone shipments were down 29 percent -- to 20.4 million units in 2Q11 -- while smartphone shipments were up 4 percent -- to 21.8 million units from a year ago. The total Western European mobile phone market, however, declined 3 percent year on year to 42.2 million units in the quarter.

This is the first time that smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone shipments in Western Europe, representing 52 percent of total mobile phone shipments.

All European countries are seeing increasing smartphone adoption, as consumers go for Android-based devices and the iPhone from Apple. On the other hand, mobile operators stopped subsidizing feature phones in Europe some time ago now, which has made the devices less attractive to users.

Feature phones are becoming a niche segment driven by the very-low-end devices targeted at users who only need a device for voice and texts.

"This quarter was particularly important from the device type perspective," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager at IDC.

Smartphones now dominate the Western European phone market and those vendors with stronger portfolios in the segment are consolidating their positions, compared with those manufacturers with less attractive smart devices.

Google Android-powered handsets from Samsung, HTC, and Sony Ericsson have been able to drive strong volumes -- and to take the biggest slice of market share from the declining Symbian OS, as Nokia moves to Microsoft Windows OS phones.

Jeronimo added, "The overall market had slipped into the red due to a number of factors: First, the economic environment in the eurozone is deteriorating, with a direct impact on consumer demand. Secondly, the smartphone segment was strongly impacted by the sharp decline of Nokia, which was not totally offset by the remaining players, which may indicate that Symbian fans are holding off on their phone replacements until Nokia launches its Windows Phones. Lastly, operators focused on clearing inventories for the introduction of the new devices expected in the third quarter, such as the iPhone5 from Apple and Windows Phones from HTC and other players."

The Google Android OS strengthened its leadership in the region, with shipments up an impressive 352 percent year on year to 10.5 million units, which represented 48.5 percent of total smartphone shipments. Samsung was the most representative Android manufacturer, supported by the success of the Galaxy devices family.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Growth Forecasts for Worldwide Mobile Messaging

The worldwide mobile messaging market was worth $179.2 billion in 2010, it's forecast to rise to $209.8 billion in 2011, and on to $334.7 billion by the end of 2015 -- at a CAGR of 13.3 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the latest market study by Portio Research.

The Asia Pacific region generated the highest mobile messaging revenue in 2010 and Latin America produced the least. Among the four mobile messaging service types, SMS yielded the highest revenue for operators in 2010, followed by MMS, then mobile e-mail and mobile instant messaging (IM).

SMS made the highest contribution to worldwide mobile messaging revenue in 2010 with a 63.9 percent share, followed by MMS with 18.1 percent. Mobile e-mail revenue made up 14.2 percent, and mobile IM’s 2010 share was 3.8 percent. Clearly, basic text messaging (SMS) is still the core revenue generating messaging service.

In 2010, worldwide SMS revenue stood at $114.6 billion and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 percent to reach $159 billion by end-2015. However, it is expected that post-2011, the growth of worldwide SMS revenue will slow down due to the falling prices of SMS and the growing popularity of other data services such as mobile broadband, e-mail and IM.

With close to a 40 percent contribution to worldwide SMS revenue in 2010, the Asia Pacific region continued to generate the largest regional share of SMS revenue worldwide. In 2011, messaging will still be responsible for more than 60 percent of global mobile data revenues.

In reality, SMS and MMS alone will contribute 55.7 percent to global data revenues in 2011.

In North America, SMS and MMS alone will contribute close to 56 percent to mobile data revenues in 2011, and if you add mobile e-mail and IM to the mix too, then messaging will make up more than 60 percent of mobile data revenues in North America in 2011.

SMS alone will still contribute 38.9 percent of total data revenues, despite this perception among mobile industry executives that total messaging services will only contribute 15 percent to data revenues in that region. Industry opinion has been somewhat distorted by media attention, which has focused primarily on smartphones, broadband and mobile apps.

Worldwide, messaging will continue to contribute more than 50 percent of global non-voice revenues for mobile network operators.

Portio forecasts show messaging revenues holding up at around 55 percent or more even in 2015, and that’s in a market where total mobile data revenues are growing fast. However, messaging is still growing too and holding its leading position.

SMS alone will continue to contribute 33.5 percent of mobile data revenues worldwide in 2015, to retain its position as the single biggest contributor. In 2015, even in North America, SMS will still generate 30.1 percent of mobile data revenues.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Network Operators Reach Smartphone OS Crossroads


U.S. mobile network service providers have reached an important crossroads -- they now have a clear software operating system (OS) choice: but which ecosystem will they favor going forward, Apple's or Google's?

By the end of 2011, the iPhone will no longer be the number one smartphone in the U.S. marketplace.

According to the latest market share estimates by eMarketer, with Google’s Android operating system surging ahead to first place, there's no compelling reason why network operators must concede to the numerous demands of Apple and its walled-garden business model.

Google Android will be installed on 37 percent of all smartphone handsets in the country by year-end -- up 13 percentage points over 2010. Apple will likewise see its OS increase share, but only slightly -- from 28 percent of the market last year to 29 percent this year.

Apple's iOS will continue to inch upward in market share through 2013, but by that time Google Android will hold more than two-fifths of the U.S. smartphone market. The growth in Android usage comes mostly at the expense of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry, which eMarketer predicts will drop from 30 percent of the market in 2010 to just 15 percent in 2013.

Two Front-Runners Distance Themselves from Others

Shares for Microsoft’s and other trailing competitor operating systems -- including Nokia’s Symbian -- will also dwindle over the forecast period.

"The battle for U.S. smartphone market share continues to look like a two-horse race between Android and iOS," said eMarketer Principal Analyst Noah Elkin.

Within two years, Google and Apple will control nearly three-quarters of this key segment, making it very difficult for contenders like Microsoft and RIM to achieve scale.

Apparently, eMarketer bases its smartphone OS forecasts on a meta-analysis of survey data, traffic data, smartphone sales data, smartphone shipments, company reports and company news releases.

In terms of users, Google Android will more than double again this year after posting 496 percent growth in 2010. eMarketer estimates the number of Android users will rise from 33.4 million this year to 50.4 million in 2013.

The Apple iOS user population will also grow substantially, from 26.1 million this year to 38.4 million in 2013. Despite the large addressable audience of Android users, many marketers remain more interested in advertising on the iPhone.

Network Operators Can Now Participate in Marketing

One fact that has helped Google’s OS to grow in terms of usage -- its availability on a range of devices from several manufacturers -- may also be hurting it here, as device fragmentation makes marketing efforts more difficult.

But Android’s growing influence on the U.S. smartphone market gives mobile network operators the strategic opportunity to step out from underneath the shadow that Apple has cast upon this marketplace.

Apple has used its negotiation power to control and shape the service provider marketing offerings -- this relationship has seemed less like a partnership, more like a Apple-led dictatorship. Is now the right time for a rebellion? We'll have to wait and see.

Update: here's an insightful perspective on how the "Financial Times Enjoys Life Beyond the App Store" -- it demonstrates a rebellious bold move by a legacy media company to free itself from Apple's tyranny. Yet another noteworthy trend is the Apple iOS Jailbreaking phenomenon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Europe Leads New Smart City Project Investments


Due to continued economic challenges, typical funding for municipal government infrastructure spending has been very limited. However, several forward-looking cities are currently moving ahead with plans to position their communities for the future -- while others are actively preparing to follow their lead.

A total of $8.1 billion was invested in Smart City technologies during 2010 across the globe, by 2016 that investment is forecast to reach $39.5 billion -- according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

A smart city is determined by six dimensions: smart economy, environment, governance, lifestyle, transportation, and community.

There are currently 102 smart city projects worldwide, with Europe leading the way at 38 projects, North America at 35, Asia Pacific at 21, the Middle East and Africa at six, and Latin America with two.

Some prime examples of local governments that are undertaking smart city projects are Holyoke, Massachusetts and Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

Cisco Systems teamed with Holyoke in February 2011 and promised to change the former mill town into a smart and connected community within a year.

Cisco’s plans for Holyoke include using technology to deliver urban services in order to generate new economic opportunity, improve education, and bolster population retention.

Josh Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research said, “Smart city concepts are really taking off globally. Currently, the largest spending on smart city technologies is for smart grids; however, over the next five years we will see a significant increase on spending for smart transportation technologies such as automatic vehicle ID and smart governance systems such as e-ID and ID document systems.”

Amsterdam’s smart environment project, launched in 2009, is a collaboration between Utility Liander and Amsterdam Innovation Motor. The program aims to set up a unique partnership with the city’s residents, businesses, and government to save energy now and in the future.

The program’s ultimate goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in Amsterdam, as well as eventually all of Europe.

While Amsterdam had previously committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025, compared to a baseline of 1990, the smart city project aims to achieve that goal ten years earlier by 2015.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

French Consumers Lead Adoption of Connected TVs

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the HbbTV standard is having an impact on increasing the consumers' interest and adoption for connected TVs.

In Germany and France, where HbbTV has thus far had the greatest traction, connected TVs enjoyed ongoing demand by a broad cross-section of consumers.

In France, connected TV penetration was highest amongst the surveyed countries -- with 22 percent of respondents who have a wired or wireless home network.

In terms of usage, 41 percent of French respondents with a TV connected to their home network browse the Internet -- which came in second only to viewing over-the-top online video (54 percent).

While internet connectivity brings a wealth of new features and opportunities to the consumer electronics (CE) market, this trend also engenders potential risks.

In recent months, some high profile security breaches have brought to light these issues and while consumers have expressed concerns, these reservations do not appear to have had a significant impact on consumer adoption or continued support of connected CE thus far.

“The mobile industry -- namely applications, interfaces, and interactivity -- is a leading indicator of where the connected CE market is moving,” says Jason Blackwell, practice director, digital home at ABI.

To this end, ABI Research polled French respondents on mobile security. Nearly 70 percent of respondents believe that data transmitted to and from mobile phones is not very secure.

However, this hasn’t stopped French consumers from rapidly adopting mobile banking and mobile shopping apps and services, especially relative to their German and UK counterparts.

Convenience appears to be a major driver for mobile banking services, trumping concerns with mobile security. This data highlights growth potential of mobile money services, as long as mobile suppliers can further allay French consumer security concerns.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Upside for Consumer Networked-Attached Storage

Today there are many ways to create and share digital multimedia content. Beyond the usual digital camera or camcorder format, visual content can easily be authored and edited on notebook PCs, on media tablets and even on smartphones.

Using the latest software or mobile apps, the users of these devices that are equipped with visual capture capabilities are producing HD images and video content that must be stored or archived somewhere.

From a historical context, when the number of web-enabled devices in the home was minimal, consumer networked-attached storage (NAS) offered very little value. Free or low-cost online media storage has become the preferred solution for many.

However, as the number of portable consumer electronics (CE) and computing devices in the home explodes over the next few years, the need and use for in-home network-attached centralized storage will become more practical for one reason: multimedia content access.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, their research forecasts that this network consisting of multiple computing devices sharing common storage, content access, and digital media sharing will become a key component that drives consumer value.

The increased demand for NAS will push worldwide consumer unit shipment growth to a CAGR of 36 percent from 2010 to 2015.

“The market for consumer NAS has come a long way in the last year. Many vendors have concentrated on simplifying the description of their systems, system setup, and management of their products,” says Norm Bogen, VP of Research at In-Stat.“The end goal for this transformation is for NAS systems to appear less technical and more consumer-friendly.”

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:
  • The combined market shares of the five largest vendors (Buffalo Technology, Apple, Western Digital, Iomega, and NETGEAR) increased to 62.8 percent in total NAS shipments -- including consumer and SMB NAS -- in 2010.
  • Europe will claim over 50 percent of all consumer NAS unit shipments in 2015.
  • The estimated household penetration of consumer NAS in North America will be 4.4 percenet at year-end 2015.
  • Worldwide revenues for consumer NAS were approximately $678.4 million in 2010.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Retailers are Targeting Ads at Tablet Owners

Media tablet owners are more engaged with retail brands, making more purchases and website visits compared with mobile smartphone users, according to the latest market study by eDigitalResearch and IMRG in the UK.

The results show that 30 percent of tablet users have used their device to shop online, while currently only 25 percent of smartphone owners have used their phone to do the same. Similarly, almost half (48 percent) of tablet owners have used their devices to research products in-store, but only 29 percent have done the same via their smartphone.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch comments, “While tablet device ownership remains relatively low compared to the number of consumers with smartphones, it is clear that tablet owners have the willingness and confidence to shop online via their devices."

The savvy consumer now has the power to shop where, when and how they like -- therefore it’s important that brands and retailers have a strong presence across a multitude of channels -- making their products readily available to customers across a range of mobile devices and platforms.

Net-a-Porter, ASOS and eBay are examples of the retailers that have successfully launched shopping related tablet apps in recent months as more and more retailers begin to understand emerging platforms and grasp consumer behavior across various touch points.

The results also reveal the eagerness of consumers to start using their mobile devices more for everyday tasks, including in-store purchases.

Of the 6,000 consumers surveyed, over one quarter (27 percent) said that they will be willing to use contactless mobile payment when available to them. And, almost half (47 percent) of these would be willing to pay for goods up to the value of £20, while an impressive 15 percent would be comfortable to spend £50 or over using contactless mobile payments.

David J Smith, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, said: "This research reinforces the fact that retailers need to get a mobile strategy in place, especially with so many predictions that tablets will outstrip laptop sales within a few years. When people hear the term ‘mobile’ they tend to think of phones, but retailers need to factor in other portable devices into their solution."

With recent IAB research suggesting that 30 percent of consumers would shop elsewhere if a site is not mobile-friendly, a retailer’s mobile-readiness appears to be gathering weight in terms of brand reputation.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Global IPTV Market Will Grow to $49 Billion by 2015

The global IPTV market will grow to $49 billion in service revenues and 113 million subscribers in 2015 -- as multiscreen video usage drives wireless services to new highs.

According to the latest market study by MRG, systems revenue for the seven key IPTV products analyzed will grow to $4.8 billion in 2015, with set-top boxes (STB) representing about 60 percent.

As consumers add Wi-Fi for using smart devices within their homes, market growth continues largely due to trends toward the mobile lifestyle habits of 18-55-year-olds.

Based on semiannual updates of major global Operators and their differentiating services and updated subscriber counts, Europe remains ahead of Asia by 2015 in IPTV subscribers -- partially due to continued regulatory confusion in Asia.

By 2015 worldwide, at least 25 IPTV Operators will have over 1 million subscribers, with 9 having over 3 million, the U.S. having 2 Operators with over 7.5 million each and Europe having 12 IPTV Operators with over 1 million each.

In a country-by-country analysis, Eastern Europe shows noteworthy resilience and innovation -- as illustrated by Romania’s 141 percent subscriber growth over one year ago.

Smart TVs are still not impacting overall STB penetration, due to difficulty of TV makers in getting enough content-rights and due to the slow replacement cycle of TVs in most parts of the world -- making Smart TVs obsolete for new services.

Generally IPTV Operators are using integrated hybrid services -- merging Satellite, DTT (Digital Terrestrial), IPTV and OTT (Streaming Video) -- both defensively and offensively, often using a combination of these to supplement their IPTV services in an integrated electronic program guide (EPG).

By offering integrated hybrid services, IPTV Operators are able to offer additional integrated services not available on Smart TVs. Vodafone Germany, for example, is offering IPTV and Satellite, while using Broadband to offer video-on-demand (VOD). In Australia, Telstra is using DTT for linear TV and the customers’ Broadband service to deliver (streaming) movies from its BigPond service.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mobile Coupon Use Growing at 118 Percent in U.S.


Mobile coupons currently represent a small portion of marketer's digital promotions, but usage is growing at a fast pace. The adoption of redeeming retailer coupons extends the trend of searching online for product discounts -- which emerged as a widespread, money-saving activity during the U.S. economic downturn.

"Even as the sputtering economy attempts its recovery, the popularity of couponing has continued, spurred in part by the burgeoning daily deals space," said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst. "Mobile coupons will play a central role in broadening the appeal and acceptance of digital coupons among shoppers."

eMarketer estimates that nearly 20 million American adults will redeem a mobile coupon this year -- including coupons or codes received via SMS, applications and mobile web browsers; quick response codes for redemption online or offline; and group buying coupons purchased via mobile.

By 2013, the number using such coupons will nearly double, and 16.5 percent of all U.S. adult mobile phone users will redeem a coupon that year. Among smartphone users, penetration is significantly higher.

This year, nearly one in five smartphone owners ages 18 and older will redeem a mobile coupon, representing growth of 117.6 percent.

Triple-digit uptake rates will be short-lived, but by 2013 almost one-third of smartphone users will be redeeming discounts on the go. Still, marketers and retailers will face challenges in encouraging this usage.

The technology landscape is complex, and training sales associates in the intricacies of mobile coupon programs might be as big a change as getting consumers to use them in the first place.

"Consumers have started to use mobile devices more extensively at the top of the shopping funnel -- to research products and pricing, for example," said Elkin.

But usage has yet to migrate to the bottom of the funnel on a wide scale. Although awareness of mobile coupons is growing, it remains limited. And most consumers have yet to be convinced of the benefits of using their mobile devices as a payment mechanism, for either in-store or online purchases.

Friday, September 09, 2011

82.2 Million People in the U.S. Now Own Smartphones

comScore reported key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending July 2011.

The study surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 25.5 percent market share. Google Android continued to gain ground in the smartphone market reaching 41.8 percent market share.

During the same period, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices.

Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 25.5 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 1.0 percentage points), followed by LG with 20.9 percent share and Motorola with 14.1 percent share. Apple strengthened its position at #4 with 9.5 percent share of mobile subscribers (up 1.2 percentage points), while RIM rounded out the top five with 7.6 percent share.

82.2 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in July 2011, up 10 percent from the preceding three month period.

Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 41.8 percent market share, up 5.4 percentage points. Apple strengthened its #2 position with 27.0 percent of the smartphone market, up 1.0 percentage points from the prior reporting period. RIM ranked third with 21.7 percent share, followed by Microsoft (5.7 percent) and Symbian (1.9 percent).

In July, 70 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 1.2 percentage points. Browsers were used by 41.1 percent of subscribers (up 2.0 percentage points), while downloaded applications were used by 40.6 percent (up 2.8 percentage points).

Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 2.1 percentage points to 30.1 percent of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 27.8 percent of the mobile audience (up 1.6 percentage points), while 20.3 percent listened to music on their phones (up 2.3 percentage points).

Thursday, September 08, 2011

More Mobile Device Users Viewing OTT Video at Home

Readily available online digital video distribution now enables anyone to access more content, on more devices, and more freely in more places, than ever before.

This increase in access has made rich media content more ubiquitous, but increased distribution and availability is only a part of the market development growth story.

Equally important is how, and on what devices consumers are accessing this content, and the increasing role of new mobile devices that are specifically designed for digital media consumption.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, their research uncovered that 50 percent of media tablet owners are viewing video feature-length movies on their device, and TV shows as well.

Media tablet and smartphones are becoming vital new screens for streaming online video consumption, and are also functioning as personal interaction devices for video-centric social networking and applications.

“Tablets, in particular, have become a primary video device, both inside and outside the home,” says Keith Nissen, Research Director at In-Stat.

By 2015, In-Stat research projects that 65 percent of the U.S. market population will own a smartphone and/or a media tablet.

As these devices become a center-point for video engagement and consumption, content providers, device manufacturers, and broadband service providers need to support a multi-screen usage model that reflects social interaction, screen interaction, personalization, and mobility.

Additional research findings from the In-Stat study include:
  • Frequent mobile video users will more than triple over the next five years.
  • Nearly 50 percent of 18 to 24 year old smartphone/tablet owners frequently use a social network for interaction about TV programs currently being viewed.
  • 86 percent of smartphone/tablet users will view video on their mobile devices.
  • Nearly 60 percent of smartphone/tablet owners will also be viewing OTT (over-the-top) video at home.
  • The average Apple customer household will have four Apple devices, while the average Google Android household will have at least two Android devices.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

120 Billion Wi-Fi Hotspot Connects Forecast in 2015

The global Wi-Fi hotspot market continues to surge forward with phenomenal growth in both footprint and usage.

Over the past several years, growth in the hotspot market has largely been driven by wireless and broadband providers embracing Wi-Fi as both a competitive differentiator, and an enhancement to core services.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, their research forecasts that this trend will continue -- as usage will increase to nearly 120 billion connects in 2015.

“The hotspot market is in a continuous state of flux. Now over a decade old, the market is still undergoing significant changes in usage and business models,” says Amy Cravens, Senior Analyst at In-Stat.

Wi-Fi hotspots have become a service used to attract demand for other product offerings, rather than just being a standalone offering.

Whether the primary product is broadband, mobile service, or a Starbuck's cup of coffee, Wi-Fi hotspot access is being used globally to attract new customers or retain existing ones.

In-Stat's latest market research findings include:
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots will continue to be a key factor in mobile operators' data offload strategy.
  • Worldwide hotpot venues will increase to over 1 million in 2013.
  • While transportation and convention centers only account for a small percent of venues, they account for nearly 30 percent of total connects.
  • Asia Pacific has emerged as the preeminent hotspot market, largely due to recent renewed investment in venue deployment.
  • Notebook PCs continue to account for the majority of connects in the hotspot market; however, the rate of smartphone and tablet access is increasing rapidly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Demographics of Mobile Connected Device Owners

In the U.S.market during 2010, media tablet and eReader device owners tended to be male and on the younger side.

But according to the latest market study by Nielsen, a quarterly survey of mobile connected device owners, this is no longer the case.

Back in Q3 2010, for example, 62 percent of media tablet owners were under the age of 34 and only 10 percent were over the age of 55.

By Q2 2011, only 46 percent of media tablet owners were under the age of 34 and the percentage of those over 55 had increased to 19 percent.


Looking at the data by gender underlines key changes in the eReader category. Sixty-one percent of all eReader owners are now female, compared to a mere 46 percent in Q3 2010.

By contrast, smartphone owners are now evenly split between male and female and media tablets remain primarily male.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Smartphone Design Impacts other Mobile Devices

Creative design and enhancements to the user interface has changed the look and feel of mobile phones. As a result, touchscreens can claim as much credit for the booming success of smartphones as can 3G data speeds.

Since the launch of the Apple iPhone, smartphones with touchscreens have gone from 7 percent of the total smartphone volume in 2006 to 75 percent in 2010.

They were a key driver to the smartphone market growing more than 325 percent over that period. During the next five years, touchscreens will be as pervasive in smartphones as Wi-Fi chipsets are today -- reaching 97 percent of all smartphones by 2016.

The screen is the point of fulfillment for all that a mobile device promises to deliver to its user, so there is little surprise in the impact it can have on its success.

However, it was the evolution of screen and touch technologies that triggered the market's rapid growth. The more economical resistive touch technology has been almost universally replaced in smartphones with the more elegant projected capacitive technology that was first introduced in mobile phones through the iPhone.

Screen and touch technologies continue to evolve and are starting to reshape the markets for other classes of mobile devices.

"Low-cost capacitive touch controllers that use just a single layer of sensors instead of two, and save as much as 30 percent on the cost, are opening the market for lower-end feature phones," says Kevin Burden, vice president, mobile devices at ABI Research.

Moreover, eReaders -- which are the most fragmented device category in both display and touch technology -- now have options that enable finger touch and are at a cost that could standardize the segment's displays.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Minimal Engagement with Mobile Advertising Formats


According to the latest assessment by eMarketer, advertisers will spend $1.1 billion on various mobile platforms this year. The upside potential for growth is of great interest to the whole mobile marketing ecosystem.

Display ads, including those viewed in browsers, are expected to post solid new growth -- they're predicted to soon become the top mobile advertising format.

With smartphones able to perform a variety of tasks, from communicating to information-seeking to shopping and beyond, consumers are spending more time using these multifaceted communication devices.

And, forward-looking marketers now have a greater chance of reaching consumers via the mobile device channel -- particularly with the increased adoption of media tablets, such as the Apple iPad.

According to research from Yahoo! and Ipsos, smartphone users spend the bulk of their mobile time (38 percent) connecting with other people -- including by voice, SMS, IM, email or social media. They spend just under half as much of their mobile time with online search or entertainment, and just 7 percent of their time shopping.

But, of course, mobile shopping is the task marketers are most interested in measuring, especially in regards to their growing investment in advertising. Given the current level of engagement with these ads, one has to wonder if this is a wise use of marketing budgets.

U.S. smartphone users were most likely to recall and engage with ads that they saw while actually shopping on their phone. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents had seen an ad while shopping and more than half that number had clicked on one.

Moreover, most of those ads are likely to have been seen in a mobile phone browser, since smartphone users typically preferred to shop using a browser vs. an application.

In fact, for three of the top four ad recall activities, smartphone users were likely to be using a browser. Connecting, by contrast, was most likely to be done outside a browser -- and least likely to involve an ad that smartphone users had remembered.

That's understandable, since ads are likely to seem disruptive when mobile phone users are conversing with friends and family via voice calls or by texting. For the time being, it appears that U.S. marketers will continue to spend on mobile advertising -- regardless of the financial justification challenges.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Why Media Tablet and eReader Demand Will Coexist

Many analysts predicted the demise of the e-reader product category when Apple launched the iPad -- igniting the media tablet competitor frenzy. The analysts assumption, an erroneous one, was that the buyer of each product was essentially the same.

Now, as the reality sets in, opinions have evolved. While the tablet market’s growth has had some impact on expected e-reader shipments worldwide, the two devices are inherently different. Each device segment targets a different type of consumer.

Standalone e-reader devices target the avid book and periodical readers -- to whom the reading experience is central -- while tablets are targeted towards those consumers who prefer a richer multimedia consumption experience.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, device component vendors are benefiting from the demand in both categories. As an example, they're forecasting that the combined semiconductor opportunity for media tablets and e-readers will approach $16 billion by 2015.

“There is a continued revenue opportunity for e-reader OEMs over the next five years, especially as price points drop to extremely affordable levels,” says Stephanie Ethier, Senior Analyst at In-Stat.

For tablets, market drivers such as new market entrants, increasing tablet application availability, and declining prices, will have a profound impact. These factors will fuel unit shipment growth to over 720 percent over the forecast period.

In-Stat's insights on survey data findings include:
  • In 2012, over 15 million e-readers will ship in the US. market.
  • Over 60 percent of future media tablet purchasers plan to buy a tablet equipped with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
  • By 2015, 15 percent of all tablet shipments are expected to go into business markets.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Holiday Shopping Online Gains Momentum in the UK

Thirty-five percent of UK consumers will make more online purchases via their smartphones this upcoming holiday season, according to the latest market study by eDigitalResearch and IMRG, as the popularity of shopping and browsing on mobile devices continues to increase.

The latest results show that 61 percent of the 6,000 people surveyed will browse more frequently via their phone over the next 12 months, with just under half (49%) of these making a purchase from their smartphone as well.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch explains, “Christmas is by far the most important time for retailers. This year will be one of the first Christmas shopping periods where mobile shopping will be readily available to the majority of consumers. The rapid development in mobile technology and the quick uptake by retailers of mobile sites and retail apps means that more and more brands have the opportunity to connect with potential customers, encourage purchases and increase revenues."

The results also found that more and more consumers will be relying on the internet this year for their Christmas shopping, despite the snow and disrupted deliveries that affected online orders in 2010. And, 19 percent of those surveyed will be doing more Christmas shopping online this year.

One third (33%) of consumers said that they will be spending at least half of their holiday season budget online, while 1 in 4 (25%) will do up to three quarters of their shopping on the internet.

The results also indicate that price will be the main influencing factor for consumers this Christmas period. A full 46 percent of people claim that better prices are the main reason encouraging them to shop online rather than through other channels, an increase of 5 percent on last year’s results.

Similarly, almost half (45%) of consumers are somewhat reliant on the internet to stretch their budgets, whilst 17 percent of shoppers are very reliant.

Over half of those surveyed (54%) will be commencing their shopping earlier this year in an attempt to spread the cost, signalling the importance for retailers to begin implementing their holiday season promotions early enough in time to catch the majority of Christmas shoppers.

Almost half (48%) also said that they can often be influenced by a retailer’s deals and promotions, indicating for retailers the importance of understanding key influencers for their customer base.

However, the eCSI results did reveal that 50 percent of consumers strongly prefer to purchase their groceries in-store -- with just 10 percent strongly preferring to do so online. This is far higher than any other category and reveals that consumers are missing out on potential savings, particularly during the Christmas period -- as food is a major area of expenditure.