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Showing posts from November, 2006

UK eRetail Purchases Reach All-Time High

According to IMRG, UK internet shopping reached a new all-time high in October. The IMRG Index reached 2675, eclipsing the previous high of 2602 recorded for December 2005. Sales for October were estimated to be worth 2.73 billion pounds. E-retail has grown at its fastest ever rate in 2006, increasing by an average of 50 million pounds per month during the first ten months of the year. During the same period two years ago, in 2004, the average growth rate was just 16 million pounds per month. The IMRG Index is expected to climb at least a further 30 percent between October and the peak month of December, in line with IMRG's earlier estimate of 7 billion pounds for the 10-week run-up to Christmas, which therefore remains unchanged. Ian Tansley, Head of Web Selling at John Lewis Direct, commented "October has been another fantastic month for johnlewis.com with sales 70 percent ahead of the same period last year. There has been particularly strong growth in sales of TVs, elect

Telecom and Media Share a Downward Spiral

In an interview with Tim McElligott of Telephony magazine, Keith Willetts of the TeleManagement Forum (TMF) shares his thoughts about common challenges of the incumbent big telecom and media companies -- as they face the realities of managing the 'graceful decline' of their traditional revenue streams. I have always respected Mr. Willetts for his candor in tackling the apparent and systematic denial that often handicaps the communications service provider's leadership -- as he frequently dares to address the obvious elephant in the room that everyone else clearly sees, but simply chooses to ignore. "Well, we've had times in the TMF when every operator on the planet thought they were competitors with each other. Then it settled down when they realized they could collaborate. We've had times when software suppliers were intensely competitive over certain things and in the end they too realized there were places they could collaborate. I fully expect to see that

U.S. Adoption of Mobile Phone Music Service

Amid continued growth in portable MP3 player ownership and steady sales of PC-based individual song downloads, mobile music services offered by many of the major wireless carriers have given American music consumers yet another option to consider. Recent research by Ipsos reveals that Americans are 'experimenting' with this mobile download method of music acquisition. However, while most consumers are very 'aware' of the wireless phone service provider music delivery offerings, only a few are actively adopting this option. Perhaps this scenario is the result of U.S. mobile providers applying a similar market development approach that they previously used for their SMS offerings -- where the service adoption grew at a much slower rate than the leading mobile markets in both Europe and Asia-Pacific. Ipsos recent study findings include: - Only four percent of American mobile phone owners aged 12 and older have downloaded full digital music songs over-the-air in the pas

Applications & Experience Sell Smartphones

Results obtained from a recent IDC survey of more than 4,000 mobile phone and smartphone subscribers from five countries suggests that interest in emerging applications will drive future smartphone sales. The survey results show that interest in WiFi access and location-based services are highest in the U.S. and U.K., while storage capacity, music quality, and photo quality are the highest in Germany, India, and China. "The mobile device today is increasingly becoming a multi-talented productivity and entertainment tool, and next-generation networks, services, and device technologies will only amplify that perception," said Randy Giusto, group vice president for IDC's Mobility, Computing and Consumer Markets research. Besides a focus on applications, the study also observed that monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) rose everywhere except Germany as survey respondents switched from traditional mobile phones to smartphones. IDC concludes from study results that smartp

Holiday eShopping for Consumer Electronics

Nielsen//NetRatings announced that its Holiday eShopping Index increased 12 percent from home on the day after Thanksgiving, garnering a unique audience of 19.2 million across more than 120 representative online retailers, compared with 17.2 million on Black Friday last year. Online shopping has become a U.S. Thanksgiving weekend tradition for many families who want to avoid crowded parking lots and shopping malls, yet still get a head start on holiday shopping. The fastest growing product category week over week was Consumer Electronics, with a 211 percent increase in unique audience from November 17th to November 24th. Apparel took the No. 2 spot with 117 percent Web traffic growth, followed by Home & Garden with 87 percent growth. "Black Friday officially kicks off the holiday shopping season," said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "This year, shoppers went online to check out the latest in consumer electronics, including flat scre

BBC: Old Radio & TV Terminology is Obsolete

Informitv reports that Peter Salmon returns to the BBC as chief creative officer of BBC Vision Studios. The latest game of musical deckchairs follows a radical restructure announced by the BBC director general Mark Thompson earlier in the year. BBC 'Vision' is the new name for Television and it brings together a number of former production divisions, now to be organized into 17 production studios, within a single multi-platform department of some 5,000 staff. BBC 'Audio and Music' is the new name for Radio, while 'Journalism' is the new name for News, and 'Future Media and Technology' is the new name for New Media and Technology. The charter of the Vision studios will be to make propositions work on many different platforms such as the web, mobile phones and interactive technologies, as well as the traditional platforms such as television and radio. Commissioning will be separate from production, with 25 percent of programming coming from independent p

QR Codes to Enable Easier Mobile Marketing

The International Herald Tribune tells the story of the twenty-something with the ponytail that races down the steps to the platform to find that she has just missed her subway train and will have to wait seven minutes for the next one. She is unperturbed about the unexpected delay. She pulls out her cellphone, snaps a picture of a corner of the movie poster on the other-side of the tracks and, a few seconds later, she has a list of show times at neighborhood theaters on her handset as well as a review of the film. With one more click, she can watch the trailer and buy tickets. In Japan, this scene is so 'common' as to border on the banal, and the technology that makes it possible, QR codes, is so widespread that it is employed in dozens of retail industries. In Europe and North America, a handful of imitators are looking to the QR model to try to give "point and click" a whole new meaning outside Asia. QR, or quick response, codes are a similar to 'bar codes&#

Consensus Regarding Online Ad Spending

eMarketer reports that the trend began early last week, when the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released new data showing that U.S. Internet advertising revenues reached a record $4.2 billion in the third quarter of 2006. That represents a 35 percent increase over the $3.1 billion figure posted for the third quarter of 2005, and a 2 percent increase over the second-quarter 2006 total of nearly $4.1 billion. "Interactive advertising, with its eighth consecutive quarter of growth and the largest single quarter ever, is on pace for its biggest year," said David Silverman of PwC. Now Merrill Lynch has raised its estimates. Merrill Lynch now estimates that U.S. online ad revenue for the first three quarters of 2006 was 35.5 percent more than in the same period in 2005. The firm previously forecast a 31 percent increase. Merrill Lynch currently expects U.S. online ad spending in the fourth quarter to be 30 percent more than it was in Q4 2005,

MSN and Windows Live Assessment is Mixed

According to the latest Current Analysis assessment, they are taking a slightly negative stance on MSN and Windows Live -- because while the ISP and Internet content provider benefits vastly from their being part of Microsoft, they are also beholden to it. The Online Services Business division is tied to Microsoft Windows-based operating systems and applications. In the past, consumers left MSN's dial-up services in large numbers because of its high price, outages and periods of poor customer service. While MSN has addressed these issues, its dial-up business is now dropping due to competitor broadband offerings, with telcos offering DSL in some cases below $20 a month. The Verizon/MSN relationship has been strained since Verizon made Yahoo! its primary broadband services option. Yahoo! has now locked up the top two major U.S. domestic DSL service providers (AT&T and Verizon) to utilize its content and features. MSN showed up late to the search engine party in 2005, as Googl

China Applies its Policy to Promote Digital TV

The deployment of 'Whole System Shift', a government effort to speed up the conversion of urban households from analog to digital cable TV, is driving China's digital cable set-top box (STB) market, reports In-Stat. As a result, unit shipments of digital cable STBs are projected to quadruple, from 3 million in 2005 to 12 million in 2010. "Most of the digital STB shipment increases will come from basic set-top boxes," says Rebecca Tan, In-Stat analyst. "Most cable operators that are now installing Whole System Shift provide only basic services, and networks have not yet begun to install two-way networks. Operators' ability to provide interactive services is limited in the short-term, therefore, operators prefer basic boxes." In-Stat's study found the following: - Following several trials of Whole System Shift, the digital-cable TV subscriber base jumped dramatically from 800,000 to 2.7 million by the end of 2005. - There will be steady growth

Social Networking Should Enable eShopping

USA Today reports that many who go to MySpace or Facebook to network with their friends also would go there to buy products and services. But for the most part, they can't. And that means there may be billions of dollars being left on the table by the major social networking websites, according to an eye-opening survey to be released by the American Marketing Association (AMA). In a survey commissioned by the AMA, 47 percent of consumers said they would visit these sites to search out and discuss holiday gift ideas, and 29 percent said they would buy products there. The networking sites "provide some of the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing opportunities there have ever been," says Nancy Costopulos, chief marketing officer at the American Marketing Association. "It's past the fad zone and into the reality zone." The dollars available: $211.4 billion will be spent for online purchases this year, including travel, according to Shop.org, part of the Nati

Multimedia-Centric European Mobile Devices

According to IDC, the Western European mobile phone market, consisting of traditional mobile phones and converged devices, grew by 9 percent year on year in 3Q06, with shipments reaching 44.1 million units compared to 40.5 million units in the corresponding period of 2005. "The third quarter of 2006 saw the Western European mobile phone market continue to exhibit healthy growth year on year as further intensification of competition in the high-end feature-phone segment, driven by the proliferation of media and specifically imaging-oriented handsets in highly innovative form factors, maintained healthy renewal cycles in combination with strong prepay traction at the low end," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, senior research analyst, European Mobile Devices. However, IDC also emphasizes that in contrast to the previous quarter, the converged device segment showed far healthier growth of 30 percent year on year as key vendors such as Sony Ericsson completed portfolio transitioning

comScore U.S. Online Retail Spending Report

comScore Networks released the first in a series of reports that measure consumer's online non-travel (retail) spending during the 2006 holiday season, which began November 1, 2006. During the first 19 days of November this year, total online retail spending reached $6.35 billion. "With 23 percent growth versus the same days last year, online holiday retail spending is once again strong coming out of the gate," commented Gian Fulgoni, Chairman of comScore Networks. "Already we have seen a single day amass $475 million in online retail sales (November 14, 2006). We expect 'Cyber Monday' this year to approach $600 million, which would be higher than any single day during the 2005 online holiday shopping season." With retailers raking in a cool $924 million in online retail sales during the four-day 2005 Thanksgiving weekend, online spending really took off on Cyber Monday to the tune of $484 million. comScore estimates that online retail sales during

Why WiMAX is Still a Broadband Contender

While mobile broadband is mostly "a business of tomorrow," some early consumer response is quite promising. Clearwire, a U.S. startup with $2 billion in financing including investments by Intel and Motorola, says it has achieved penetration rates of 10-15 percent in seven areas where it has offered its wireless broadband service for at least 11 months. "This low-double-digit penetration rate from Clearwire is about double expectations of a mid-single-digit penetration," notes Kagan Research senior analyst John Mansell. Telecommunications giants are scrambling to carve out a beachhead in wireless broadband either with their own proprietary systems or aligned with the WiMAX Forum, an industry group setting standards. Broadband wireless will require billions of dollars for spectrum licenses, technology development and infrastructure to deploy nationally -- since current cell phone technology and infrastructure is inadequate. "The holy grail is true mobility in

Will 2007 Be the Year of Mobile Broadband?

According to a recent Strategy Analytics report, new alternative technologies will contribute just 6 percent of the forecast 500 million mobile broadband users globally by 2010. Despite all the hype surrounding alternative technologies like WiMAX, it is iterations of existing technologies which will dominate the mobile broadband arena in the short term. What about the wild-card, free or low cost Wi-Fi hotspot services? Strategy Analytics doesn't offer an opinion. They say that technologies such as mobile WiMAX and UMTS TDD will lead the alternative technology camp, but enhancements to existing technologies, including HSPA and EV-DO Revision A+ will comprise the bulk of the market and are where the money lies in the short-term. "We’re not likely to see technologies like mobile WiMAX or indeed, anything else, really take off until the next decade," comments Sara Harris, Senior Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics and author of this report. "However, HSPA and EV-DO

Mobile Operator Business Model Challenges

Informa launched its annual Mobile Market Status report for 2007, which includes detailed insight from Informa's principal analysts on the future of the mobile market and a barometer of industry opinion based on a survey of more than 1,800 senior industry professionals. The report highlights a bullish outlook from the mobile industry as a whole, with 65 percent of respondents feeling more confident about prospects for 2007 than for 2006. Yet mobile operators do not share such a positive outlook. While handset manufacturers and equipment vendors look set to profit from the continued growth of the communications industry, the figure falls to only 54 percent among mobile operators, who face challenging times ahead as they battle to halt the slide in voice revenues and determine the best strategy as convergence takes hold. Operators are having to reassess their business models in light of revenue pressures from several quarters. Informa believes many will start to consider moving fr

Telecommunications Industry Global Outlook

Service revenues in the global telecommunications industry will reach $1.3 trillion by the close of 2007, with continued strong growth in wireless leading the way, says a new market analysis report from The Insight Research Corporation. According to the new industry market study, wireless service revenues are expected to grow at a compounded rate of nearly 10 percent over the next few years, while wireline service revenues grow much more modestly at two percent. Nearly all of the growth in both sectors is expected to occur in broadband services, with wireless broadband service revenues expected to grow at a compounded rate of more than 60 percent over the forecast period, while wireline services grow at 10 percent over the same forecast horizon. Insight's report states that in the growth environment set off by the rush to meet subscriber demand for broadband services, service providers are trying to create viable business models 'on the fly' in order to deliver new types

Global Quest for New Mobile Gaming Demand

Mobile gaming in Asia-Pacific has been successfully established, with revenues reaching $1.56 billion in 2005, reports In-Stat. Japan and South Korea have been largely responsible for the revenue thus far, accounting for around half of the region's total in 2005. Future growth drivers, however, will be the large growing mobile markets of China and India. "While there is great growth potential with expected increases in mobile subscribers and gaming-capable handsets, current problems are proving difficult to surmount," says Bryan Wang, In-Stat analyst. "In-Stat's user survey reflects low penetration of mobile games among Asia-Pacific mobile phone users. Fragmentation of the mobile gaming industry, revenue sharing issues, poor user experiences, competition from dedicated portable gaming devices, and game piracy are all issues needing to be addressed." In-Stat's study found the following: - Mobile gaming in Asia-Pacific will reach $4.4 billion in 2010.

Intel Viiv and AMD Live Won't Drive PC Sales

Business Week reports that seeking a marketing wedge amid a download-crazy consumer populace, Intel rolled out the 'Viiv' label after an overhaul of its branding strategy late last year following the ascendancy of Chief Executive Paul Otellini. It remains to be seen how strongly the Viiv value proposition is resonating with consumers, but it's apparently not a big hit with the one major PC vendor, Dell. The company, a newly minted customer of Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), announced new machines recently sporting AMD's competing media PC platform, AMD 'Live,' though it also continues to sell some Viiv systems. Luckily for Intel, Viiv has made inroads with HP, the company that sells more Media Center PCs than anyone else. Its retail lineup includes two Intel Viiv machines, two AMD Live machines, and one that uses neither. Viiv also could benefit from rising demand for PCs loaded with Microsoft's Media Center software, which are finally gaining t

The Five Personas of Broadband Consumers

According to Media-Screen research, the Netpop | Portraits segments reflect real users -- what they like to do online, why they do it and how they do it. Their report focuses on how companies can appeal to consumers' needs and interests and where their target audience can be found on the web. The five distinct segments of users differ by attitudes and behaviors, as well as by gender, age, income and other factors: 1. The Content King Content Kings value entertainment. By deciding when, where and how to access entertainment, Content Kings create their own entertainment experiences from a spectrum of established and user generated content sources. - 76 percent regularly play games online. - 75 percent visit websites for personal reasons, spending more than 2.5 hours on a typical weekday. 2. The Social Clicker Social Clickers particularly value communications. The group relies on the Internet to maintain relationships with friends and family, as well as to seek out new ones. Y

Growth of High Definition Multimedia Interface

Digital visual interface (DVI) and high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) are both experiencing record growth, but the future is much brighter for HDMI, reports In-Stat. HDMI-enabled device shipments will grow 78 percent per year through 2010, while DVI will begin to decline in 2007. DVI and HDMI are both high-bandwidth digital interface specifications. DVI is aimed primarily at PCs and peripherals, while HDMI is aimed at the consumer electronics (CE) market. HDMI has become the dominant digital interface in the CE market, first by being designed into digital televisions (DTVs), and recently gaining design wins in devices that connect to DTVs, including set top boxes, DVD players, A/V receivers and game consoles. HDMI is also gaining traction in the PC market among more media-centric notebook and desktop models. In-Stat's study found the following: - DisplayPort will succeed DVI & VGA in the PC market. - Over 90 million DVI-enabled products shipped in 2005, more than

Battle of the Next-Generation Game Consoles

Sony has launched its PlayStation 3 games system in the U.S., but Microsoft's Xbox 360 is facing even greater pressure to produce a strong holiday season, according to the latest research report from Strategy Analytics. To meet its target, the Redmond, WA, giant must sell four million consoles over the gift-buying season, notes the report, "PS3/Xbox360: Pressure On Microsoft As Well As Sony In Q4 Console Shootout," published by Strategy Analytics. "Sony will sell everything it can make of its new system," notes David Mercer, Principal Analyst. "But Microsoft has already had a year in the market to cream off early adopters, so the next few weeks will demonstrate how much pent-up demand there really is for the Xbox 360, and how many disappointed PS3 buyers are willing to switch camps." The report predicts global sales of nearly 9 million next-generation games consoles during the last quarter of 2006. The Xbox 360 will remain the leading system through

U.S. 3Q e-Commerce Sets New Retail Record

Reuters reports that U.S. retail sales transacted via the Internet and other electronic networks gained 4.5 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter and accounted for a record 2.8 percent of total retail sales in the period, according to a government study. E-commerce sales surged 20.9 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago. E-commerce sales gains of more than 20 percent on a year-on-year basis have been the norm in recent quarters, the U.S. Commerce Department said. Total retail sales grew 0.7 percent in the third quarter from the prior quarter. Sales via the Internet and other electronic means totaled a seasonally adjusted $27.5 billion in the third quarter, which is a small chunk of total sales at $991.7 billion. But the 2.8 percent share is a record high, up slightly from the prior record of 2.7 percent in the previous quarter. E-commerce sales include goods and services bought over the Internet but exclude online travel services, ticket sales, and finan

Current Gaming System Owner Brand Loyalty

A new survey has shown that despite efforts by video game console manufacturers to expand their reach to non-gamers, interest in next-generation consoles is largely centered among those who are current console gamers. When ABI Research surveyed 1725 consumers about their interest in buying a new game console, a total of 18 percent said they were likely to buy one in the coming year, compared with 28 percent of active gamers. Interest rose even more dramatically when asking those who currently play on a console, with 42 percent of PlayStation 2 owners, 55 percent of Xbox owners and 54 percent of GameCube owners indicating they were likely to buy a new console. "Not surprisingly, the interest in the new generation of consoles grows significantly among the already converted," says research director Michael Wolf. "While we think that the market of console owners will likely expand beyond its current bases, we believe that the market for the next 1 to 2 years will be driven

UK Operator 3 Finds Mobile Broadband Mojo

TelecomTV reports that UK mobile operator '3' unveiled its X-Series broadband Internet service, which will be available across all of its national networks. The service was launched in partnership with Skype, Sling Media, Yahoo!, Nokia, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Orb and Sony Ericsson. 3 says it will extend several of the core applications and uses of the broadband internet to the mobile handset, with a new pricing model. In a bold move, 3 has attempted what no other service provider has done thus far -- create the environment where consumers can freely use a broad suite of multimedia services and discover their preferred applications, all without worrying about the cost. Amongst the functions are the ability of customers to be able to make unlimited calls from their mobile using Skype, watch their home television via their mobile using Sling, access their home PC remotely using Orb and have access to the Internet and messaging services from Yahoo!, Windows Live Messenger and G

Transition from Analog to Digital Terrestrial TV

The international migration from analog broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT) marches on with a significant impact on the television set market, according to In-Stat. Many nations have announced an analog broadcast shutoff date, but how they implement this change varies. Some countries are allocating spectrum so they can transmit analog and digital broadcasts concurrently for a number of years. Other countries are rolling out DTT regionally and shutting down analog service as the roll-out is completed. "There are now four main standards for digital television (DTV) broadcasting, with some similarities between these standards in audio and video compression, but the demodulation schemes are all different," says Chris Kissel, In-Stat analyst. "Consumers that wish to receive free, over-the-air broadcasts must buy either a digital television with a digital tuner, or must have a set top box or converter box to receive the signal." Recent research by In

Profiles of Savvy Digital Music Player Owners

comScore Networks released a study which provides insight into the demographic characteristics, interests and media usage habits of online consumers who own digital music players (DMPs), including devices such as MP3 players, iPods -- and Microsoft's new Zune music player. Based on findings from comScore's new Plan Metrix media planning tool, the study revealed that these tech-savvy consumers, who typically have an above average income, represent an attractive target for consumer electronics advertisers. Twenty-seven percent of all Internet users currently own one or more DMPs. Online DMP owners are slightly more likely to be male (53 percent) and more than one-third (37 percent) are between the ages of 18-34. Moreover, they are nearly twice as likely as the typical Internet user to be enrolled as full-time college students. Thirty-six percent of online DMP owners have an annual household income above $75,000, and they are 66 percent more likely than the average Internet use

Broadband Providers Invest in Customer Care

Amdocs released results of a survey assessing the communications industry trends in the U.S. and U.K. in 2007. Based on the responses of 200 industry decision makers in the telecom, cable and satellite industries, Amdocs forecasts service providers will significantly increase investment in customer service, network infrastructure and IP-based services, as well as build their digital content offerings. "The survey confirms our own observations -- 2007 will be characterized by the four C's -- competition, consolidation, convergence and, most importantly, the customer," said Michael Matthews, chief marketing officer of Amdocs. "With ongoing market consolidation, continuing industry convergence and a highly competitive environment, service providers will place an increased focus on the customer experience in 2007. Consumers expect relevant offerings and personalized, responsive service, and providers indicate a significant increase in investments to address this need.&q

APAC Region Continues to Lead in WiMAX

WiMAX technology is entering a rapid growth phase, as service providers are now able to buy WiMAX Forum-certified equipment to build their networks, reports In-Stat. Worldwide subscribers are estimated to reach 222,000 in 2006 and are forecast to grow to 19.7 million by the end of 2010. Most of those subscribers are in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Almost all subscribers are using a fixed service today, with the exception of those in South Korea. "While WiMAX faces many challenges, the biggest challenge still comes from competing technologies and services," says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst. "WiMAX will have difficulty competing in areas that already have established broadband services. WiMAX will need to provide a demonstratively superior service to win customers from the incumbent provider. Much of WiMAX's early success will come from under-developed regions of the globe." However, in the U.S. market, competition can quickly be escalated by a WiMAX lau

Irony: Cable MSOs to Simplify Mobile Service

USA Today reports that more than one year after announcing plans to jump into the mobile phone services business, America's biggest cable TV operators, in partnership with Sprint Nextel, are finally launching their service offering. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable TV operator, later this month will add wireless to its offerings in Boston and Portland, Oregon, says Sprint CEO Gary Forsee. Time Warner Cable, at about the same time, will launch their mobile service in Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina. Cable companies believe they need to add cellphones to their TV, Internet access and home phone bundles. AT&T and Verizon, which own huge cellphone operations, are adding TV to their service bundles, putting pressure on cable operators to keep pace. Forsee acknowledges that the launch has taken longer than expected. "But the good news is that we've got something that is unique." Ease-of-use will be the hallmark of the new service. People want simplicity. One

Insights from the APAC Smartphone Market

Already known as the source of leading mobile multimedia innovations, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) smartphone market is now entering the mass adoption stage, with shipments in 2006 expected to double from 2005, according to In-Stat. In 2006, 18.8 million smartphones will be sold in the APAC region, and that figure is expected to surge to 64.2 million in 2010. While it's noteworthy that mobile device designs are improving, it is also apparent that APAC operators offer their subscribers better mobile service usability. Meaning, the device is but one ingredient of the consumer experience. "Major smartphone makers are providing better design, better functionality, and better cost structures, thus offering better product pricing and a long-term plan for product portfolios," says Victor Liu Zhoujiao, In-Stat analyst. "The APAC smartphone market is full of potential for existing players and new entrants." In-Stat's market study found the following: - More smartphone

U.S. Retailer Customer Service Survey Results

According to the second annual National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation and American Express 'Customer Service Survey', online retailer Amazon.com is the nation's top company for customer service. Amazon.com is followed by Nordstrom, L.L.Bean, Overstock.com, and Lane Bryant. Retailers rounding out the top ten included Boscov's, Kohl's, REI, Lands' End, and Macy's. The top ten will be honored with the "Customer's Choice" award, given to companies that have achieved a reputation for excellence in customer service. "Consumers are beginning to demand more from retailers and are making conscious decisions about where to shop based on their expectations for good service," said NRF Foundation President Tracy Mullin. "Making sure that customers have an exceptional shopping experience is at the top of the list for retailers this holiday season." When it comes to service, customers say they expect the most from restaurants, whi

Meaningful Role of a Chief Experience Officer

According to Forrester Research, customers and their experience are like quality -- they need to be everyone's business. So any corporate structure that offloads responsibility for customers or their experience from the broader organization to a small set of people should be avoided. That's why there is no clear-cut answer to the question "Should a firm have a chief customer officer or chief experience officer (CC/EO)?" In some areas, a CC/EO can be incredibly valuable, acting as a change agent. In those cases, these corporate execs can: Institutionalize the voice of the customer -- Most companies don't systematically incorporate the voice of the customer within their efforts. A CC/EO can be very valuable in setting up mechanisms for companies to incorporate customer insights throughout the business. These mechanisms can range from periodic analytical approaches, such as tracking NetPromoter survey scores, to more subjective inputs, like at Dell where the execut

Home Media Server Market Gains Momentum

The media server market is gaining significant momentum as large end-user platform vendors release new products across the different product categories for digital distribution and content shifting both in the home and over the Internet. ABI Research believes that a media server strategy is fast becoming a requirement for platform providers -- both for retail and service provider technology. In an upcoming post, I will share my own observations and perspective about the relevant Intel and AMD initiatives, and I'll identify untapped opportunities. "The market for networked media devices is seeing significant traction in the second half of 2006, and media servers are key component for the major vendors of platforms for consumer content," says ABI Research director Michael Wolf. "We expect that platform providers will continue their push to integrate capabilities for secure distribution of content over home networks and onto the Internet." Some key vendor-relate

Confused Consumers Need Better CE Advice

Video Business reports that nearly half of U.S. consumers plan to buy a new TV as an upgrade to their home entertainment system, but they remain 'confused about purchases' -- according to research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). CEA found that all levels of consumers are focusing more on home entertainment systems as they watch more movies at home, but many are confused about what type of system they have, which components they need and how much home theater systems cost. The survey polled 2,403 adults July 20-31, 2006. The TV market is nearing $20 billion in 2006, the biggest it has been, according to CEA. The survey found that 47 percent of consumers said they plan to buy a new TV. Another 25 percent said they plan to purchase wireless speakers. Just 21 percent said they planned to upgrade their DVD player, which is not too surprising as 73 percent of consumers already have a DVD player. More surprising is the 18 percent who still plan to buy a new VCR. Ov

U.S. Ad Agencies Search for Worldly Talent

Adweek reports that in the business of advertising, 'find the leader' requires a map and compass. Andrew Robertson, David Jones, Stephen Gatfield -- these and many others have crossed oceans to run major U.S. agency networks as the industry continues to reach beyond the border for its most senior positions. Observers credit the trend not only to the well-documented shallow pool of U.S.-bred management talent, but to an increasing demand for executives with global experience and the ability to work across disciplines. The most recent example of a foreign exec heading to the U.S. is Chris Jaques, a Briton who was CEO of Y&R Asia for the past three years and who starts Friday as CEO of Y&R North America. He succeeds Gordon McLean, a Canadian, who took the new post of global managing partner at the agency. Jaques was appointed by Hammish McLennan, an Australian who was CEO of Y&R in his native country and New Zealand until June, when he accepted the worldwide CEO job

LCD Televisions Need Value-Added Benefits

iSuppli forecasts the worldwide LCD-TV market will grow to $84.3 billion in revenue by 2010 expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.5 percent up from $25.1 billion in 2005. LCD TVs are expected to surpass CRT TVs in revenue by the end of 2006, and by the end of 2009, LCD TV units shipped will exceed those of CRTs on a worldwide basis. "The declining prices and increases in the size of LCD TVs is the best possible scenario for consumers," said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for television systems at iSuppli "Rapid growth in LCD TVs is hurting the other flat panel-television technologies -- even at the large-format level (40-inch and above) and by 2007 iSuppli predicts LCD TVs will take the lead in large screen units shipped." However, despite this robust growth, LCD TVs face a threat: creeping commoditization that is making consumers view such televisions provided by different manufacturers as being interchangeable, and thus having no unique value

Engaging CE Consumers by Lifestyle, Interests

According to JupiterResearch, retail merchandisers are continually looking for ways to get key items in front of online shoppers to effect conversion and impact average order value. Recently, to influence consumers, retailers have tried "top seller" lists -- such as lists of merchant-suggested items, and lists of products that get the highest review ratings from consumers. Unfortunately, consumers rank all these efforts low on the scale of features they find most useful when making a purchase decision. In fact, according to a recent JupiterResearch consumer survey, no more than 9 percent of online shoppers rate these features as most useful. Though such lists are probably a good idea in terms of presenting a merchandising point of view and gaining credibility via the presence of consumer-created content, they may not be moving the needle on incremental sales. This may be because more than one-half of online shoppers don't know what they want when they begin researching

FCC Commissioner: Broadband Policy Crisis

The Washington Post published a commentary this week by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps entitled " America's Internet Disconnect ." His points about the impact on the U.S. economy, and the need for a substantive national broadband strategy are familiar topics to me. Back in January of 2002, I wrote an Op-Ed entitled " Lessons Learned: The U.S. Highway System " where I used simple analogies to explain the role of Economic TeleDevelopment in enabling all Americans to participate in the global networked economy. So, what is the progress since 2002? The following is a summary assessment from Mr. Copps article. America's record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in the country. Too few of us have broadband connections, and those who do pay too much for service that is too slow. It's hurting our economy, and things are only going to get worse if we don't do somethin

Improved Support Key to SOHO Router Market

In-Stat expects moderate growth in all broadband router segments in the second half of 2006, and over the next four years. However, In-Stat has found that Small Office Home Office (SOHO) routers will show the most growth due to increased broadband adoption, more computers within the home and small office, and value-added services requiring higher speed routers. Additionally, higher levels of security, increased scalability, and multi-play services are just a few of the many drivers that will sustain continued moderate growth within the SMB branch office and enterprise router segments. In the first half of 2006 ZyXEL led the SOHO router market, capturing 16.8 percent revenue market share. Linksys, D-Link, and NetGear all have strong distribution channels and well-established corporate brands that will continue to ensure their dominance in the SOHO router market, but ZyXEL is the primary vendor to watch -- due to the growth seen in the first half of 2006. As more small business owner

Evolved EDGE as a Viable Alternative to 3G

GSM operators are increasingly focused on 'Evolved EDGE' as a viable alternative to expensive 3G network upgrades in 2008 and beyond, following the forthcoming release of a new 3GPP standard, according to ABI Research. With spectral efficiency similar to HSDPA and 1xEV-DO, Evolved EDGE promises to deliver data rates equivalent to 3G while utilizing existing GSM spectrum licenses. ABI Research forecasts that the Evolved EDGE market will generate $25 billion in revenue from network upgrades and mobile devices during the period between 2008 and 2011, and will reach 504 million subscribers worldwide by the end of that period. ABI Research analyst Ian Cox says, "As we move to the end of the decade GSM networks will continue to grow, and we expect over 2.5 billion subscriptions by 2010. In parallel, W-CDMA and HSDPA will grow to more than three quarters of a billion. This leaves a huge potential market for Evolved EDGE to be deployed in areas where 3G isn't available.&qu

Mobile Phone to be Ubiquitous, like Electricity

You have the right to remain silent, but do you also have the right to talk on a mobile phone? The answer is yes, according to iSuppli Corp., as mobile phones become increasingly ubiquitous, even among low-income subscribers in developing regions of the globe. For mobile-phone makers, this phenomenon is posing both challenges and opportunities as they strive to offer cost-reduced products that appeal to the third world. Speaking at the iSuppli 2006 North American event, analysts discussed the emerging market for such inexpensive phones, including a new breed of Ultra Low-Cost Handsets (ULCHs). "A prominent statesman once expressed the opinion that the ability to communicate with a phone has become a basic human right," said Dale Ford, vice president, market intelligence, for iSuppli. "So, the wireless handset market has moved from being a dollars-and-cents issue to becoming a basic human rights issue." Ford said that this view of mobile phones is borne out by the

Top Five Handheld Computer PDA Shipments

The worldwide market for handheld devices continued along its downward path during the third quarter of 2006. According to IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView, total worldwide shipments of handheld devices fell to 1.1 million units, down 15.4 percent from the previous quarter and down 31.3 percent from the same quarter one year ago. This quarter constitutes the eleventh consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline for the worldwide handheld market. "Contributing significantly to the decrease in shipments this quarter was a lack of new devices being announced or shipped to the market," said Ramon Llamas, research analyst for IDC's Mobile Markets team. "Vendors continue to rely on models that have been on the market anywhere between two and four quarters. Without many new devices on the market in the third quarter, it brings into question how shipments will total during the fourth quarter when vendors typically expect a boost in shipments as a result of new devices com

International Visitors Drawn to U.S. Websites

comScore Networks released the results of a study showing that 14 of the top 25 U.S. Web properties attract more traffic from people outside the U.S. than from within. Among them are the Top 5 Web properties in the U.S. -- Yahoo! Sites, Time Warner Network, Microsoft Sites, Google Sites and eBay. "As Internet usage outside the U.S. has grown rapidly from a small base, the U.S. share of the world’s online population has fallen from 65 percent to less than 25 percent in the last 10 years," said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe. "The fact that more than three-quarters of the traffic to Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft is now coming from outside of the U.S. is indicative of what a truly global medium the Internet has become." Although international users represent a larger proportion of the overall traffic to many of the top-ranked U.S. sites, comScore data show that U.S. users are more engaged with many of these properties, as indicated by the slightly

Fixed Mobile Convergence Questions Remain

According to a new study from ABI Research, fixed and mobile network operators will invest more than $450 million in capital infrastructure over the next five years to provide fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). This will improve traffic migration to VoIP service providers and lead to implementation of more SIP-based services. ABI Research forecasts that worldwide, operators will generate $97 billion in service revenue from FMC applications in 2011, mainly from offering lower fixed-line call charges to mobile users. "Operators are seeing their core voice revenues come under pressure from VoIP, and they need to minimize call substitution," says ABI Research analyst Ian Cox. "One way is to provide services over the broadband fixed network using a mobile device. Both dual-use and single-use devices will be able to do that over Wi-Fi and micro cellular access points in the home and office." Cox further comments that "UMA and SIP with VCC are competing in this market

China and U.S. are Largest Cable TV Markets

Cable TV operators continue to expand the reach of their cable video and high-speed data services, reports In-Stat. While this pay-TV service expansion is delivering only modest total household growth, it is being offset by solid service revenue gains. Overall, rising consumer demand for more TV content, combined with the rollout of new voice, video, and data services, is enabling cable TV operators to maintain a market leadership position in both pay-TV services and telecommunications service bundling. "In many parts of the world, the cable TV industry is currently riding a swell of improving business and customer satisfaction," says Mike Paxton, In-Stat analyst. "This condition is especially notable because the global cable industry has historically had a less-than-stellar reputation for both customer service and overall service value." In-Stat's study found the following: - Out of the 1.2 billion TV households around the world, 355 million are currently c

Ease of Use Still a Major Problem for Mobiles

TelecomTV reports that new research conducted by Tickbox on behalf of Sicap, demonstrates that mobile operators are failing more than a quarter of their young adult subscribers. One out of every four high-spending UK mobile consumers in the 16-34 year-old age range say they are considering changing mobile operators because their handsets are faulty -- despite also acknowledging that service operators (58 percent) and handset manufacturers (53 percent) are equally to blame for usage problems. The survey of 1,859 British mobile phone users reveals that operators are also under intense pressure not only to deliver compelling services that actually work, but also to make them much more straightforward and easy to use. The report says that with advanced services, 80 percent of all users value 'ease of use' as more important than the service working first time, indicating that many people find advanced services far too complex to access and manage. This is compounded by the fact