Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, July 31, 2010

U.S. Mobile Advertising Fails to Gain Momentum


The next upside for advertising in America was supposed to be a new mass-market opportunity. Theoretically, mobile devices provide the most personal and direct ways for marketers to reach consumers with Ads. eMarketer estimates nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population has a mobile phone as of 2010.

And yet, most U.S. marketers are slow to take advantage of the opportunity.

According to an April 2010 survey by eROI, less than a third of U.S. marketers think optimizing the mobile marketing experience is important to their customers. Almost as many are unsure and nearly a quarter are "testing" the value of mobile optimization.

Despite the number of marketers testing mobile, apparently they're not serious tests. In fact, 63 percent of marketers told eROI they were not measuring how many of their email subscribers were viewing messages on mobile devices. And, mobile-optimized messages were sent by only 25 percent of respondents.

Usage of marketer websites via mobile was even more likely to be ignored -- just 23 percent of U.S. marketers reported having a mobile-optimized website. The vast majority of those sites were limited versions of the full company website.

Other studies have also showed slow uptake of mobile optimization by U.S. companies. Multichannel Merchant found in February 2010 that nearly 80 percent of U.S. multichannel retailers had no m-commerce capabilities, for example.

While many companies are still not using the channel strategically, a majority of marketers are now incorporating social media tactics into their marketing mix. eROI reported that nearly three-quarters of marketers believe that social media was having a positive effect on their efforts.

About two-thirds of respondents said they were integrating social media into email campaigns -- compared with the 25 percent who were integrated mobile into email marketing by offering mobile-optimized messages.

Clearly, the U.S. market still has a long way to go to reach the potential already attained in the Asia-Pac and European mobile device markets.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Wireless M2M Applications Don't Need 3G

Wireless cellular network M2M (Machine-to-Machine) module shipments approached 28 million in 2009, and according to the latest market study by ABI Research, they will quadruple to exceed 114 million in 2015.

The M2M category is a market showing strong growth for both mobile service providers and wireless systems vendors, but not all segments of it are benefiting equally.

"Not so long ago, it appeared likely that M2M would be making liberal use of the EDGE cellular air interface standard," says ABI practice director Sam Lucero. "However, market data suggests that EDGE has not become the technology of choice for many M2M vendors."

EDGE is in some ways a logical option for M2M applications. A 2.5G technology, it operates in the same frequency bands as the GSM/GPRS wireless standard, but with greater spectral efficiency and lower cost.

Since many M2M use cases don't require 3G speeds and bandwidth and not all carriers have 3G spectrum licenses, EDGE would seem a useful upgrade path from GSM/GPRS.

But, says Lucero, "Module shipment data since 2003 shows no significant adoption of EDGE in the M2M market. After many years of only nominal shipments, ABI Research must now conclude that EDGE will likely never gain traction in the future."

Application developers are largely either staying with the GSM/GPRS standard where bandwidth or future-proofing are not prime considerations, or are shifting directly to WCDMA in cases where they are.

Why this lack of enthusiasm? Developers have proven to be extremely cost-sensitive, opting to forgo even the minimal extra expense of EDGE technology if they can live with GSM/GPRS.

Also, concern about future-proofing appears to be growing. Despite EDGE's immediate benefits, it does not address fundamental anxieties about GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks being turned-off in favor of 3G/4G at some point within the deployed life-span of M2M applications.

This doesn't mean that EDGE is never used. It has seen uptake in commercial telematics and consumer OEM telematics, as well as fixed wireless terminals and industrial PDAs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Netbook PC Market Matures, but it's Growing

This year, almost 60 million netbook PCs are expected to ship worldwide. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, almost double that number will be reaching global markets in 2013.

This forecast is the result of the rapid netbook market growth observed since the introduction of the new computer category in 2008, a trend which will only start to abate in 2014-2015.

I recall back when the first netbook from ASUS was introduced in 2007, industry analysts wondered if there was demand for this new device category. Clearly, they're not questioning the market potential today.

As the netbook market matures, market shares are beginning to shift among vendors. Half a dozen vendors commanded 78 percent of the market in 2009. Acer and ASUS held almost equal one-third shares of the market in 2008, but ASUS didn’t maintain that lead and lost half of its market share in 2009.

"Instead of having a preeminent two," notes principal analyst Jeff Orr at ABI, "it looks as if only Acer will continue to maintain its commanding lead; but at the same time there are more vendors competing head-to-head. Most of the others major names -- HP, Dell, Lenovo -- increased their market shares in 2009, while Samsung lost a couple of percentage points."

With the market starting to settle into a stable shape, Orr expects that we'll soon start to see consolidation through attrition, with some of the smaller players exiting the market.

Some firms saw netbooks as an entry point into the PC market. Gigabyte is one example. But with a 2009 market share falling to just 0.1 percent, Gigabyte might be advised to rethink that strategy. Other suppliers, such as the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) initiative, have been hit hard by the global recession.

Consumer interest in netbooks shows no sign of waning, and the attraction remains the same: value rather than raw performance.

Netbooks are not replacing laptops or PCs -- they are being bought as complementary devices. Education remains a strong market driver, and the next several years will see very respectable continuing growth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wireless HD Video-Enabled Product Outlook

Although slow progress best describes the scenario for wireless HD chip vendors in 2010, the five-year outlook is for a triple-digit growth rate of wireless HD video-enabled products through 2014, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

The number of shipments is projected to rise from the current levels of less than 1 million to nearly 13 million by 2014.

"The long term projection is for significant growth in wireless HD video-enabled product shipments. However, these technologies are likely several years away from hitting the sweet spot of the consumer electronics (CE) and PC markets," says Brian O’Rourke, Principal Analyst for In-Stat.

There are still significant price and performance issues that need to be overcome before device manufacturers fully adopt these technologies.

In-Stat's market study insights include:

- Alternative video transmission technologies, WHDI, WirelessHD, and WiGig Alliance, are vying for a dominant position. Among the differentiating factors are whole-home range, price, and performance issues, single source, and time-to-market issues.

- WHDI and WirelessHD chip ASPs will both fall over 25 percent annually through 2014.

- WirelessHD, is championed by chipmaker SiBeam and backed by NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and LG.

- WHDI (backed by AMIMON) and WirelessHD (backed by SiBeam) device shipments will both grow at triple-digit annual percentage rates through 2014.

- WiGig Alliance members include: Broadcom, Dell, Intel, LG Electronics, Microsoft, NEC, Nokia, NXP, Panasonic, and Samsung.

- Strong competitive technologies include various flavors of Wi-Fi, Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) initiative, and Sony's TransferJet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Capitalizing on the Demand for Media Tablets

When ABI Research first examined the media tablet market, neither the Apple iPad nor any other major brand tablet had been released. Six months later, the firm has revisited its forecasts -- almost tripling the original estimate to reach about 11 million tablets expected to ship by the end of 2010.

ABI's long-term estimates, however, has remained basically unchanged.

"Our forecast of 11 million media tablet shipments in 2010 is based both on the broader availability of the iPad and on the delayed introduction of competing products," says ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr.

Assuming that competing tablets from other vendors do arrive in the second half of the year as expected, ABI believes that the iPad will account for a significant portion -- but not all -- of the projected 11 million units.

To capitalize on the usual fourth quarter sales boom, other tablets need to reach retailer shelves by early September.

Orr suggests that the media tablet segment is still far short of a mass-market and that significant shipment volume probably won't be reached before 2013. Much depends on Apple's distribution reach, which is still quite limited, and the relative success of its eventual competitors.

A number of competing tablets were to have been launched by now, but the global recession, implementation of the most suitable operating system, and the challenge of matching the iPad's user experience have all caused delays.

"The buzz around tablets has implications for other parts of the consumer electronics market," Orr continues.

In particular, the surge in interest in media tablets is impacting the MID (Mobile Internet Device) category. Most of the volume that ABI has projected for the MID category since 2007 is now being taken over by other device form factors -- such as media tablets, but also mobile smartphones.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Global Adoption of Mobile Value-Added Services

Emerging markets will be the key driver in the growth of global mobile value-added service (VAS) revenues from $200 billion in 2009 to $340 billion in 2014, according to the latest market study by Informa Telecoms & Media.

China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Poland and the Ukraine are expected to account for 36 percent of the global mobile data revenues in 2014.

“Compared to the developed world, there are very different economic, social, demographic and cultural challenges in the emerging markets. In many countries, 3G services are still not available, or are limited to mobile subscribers in larger cities," according to Shailendra Pandey, senior analyst at Informa.

Therefore, operators have to depend on 2G services such as SMS, USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, to be able to drive mass market adoption of their mobile VAS, and to successfully reach subscribers in smaller towns and rural areas.

Mobile operators and service providers in emerging markets have been more innovative and proactive in developing and deploying new mobile VAS than their counterparts in the developed world. In particular, operators are seeing strong uptake of utility type services including mobile payments, P2P funds transfer and agricultural information services.

The reason being that these services are having a big impact on the day-to-day lives of the local population and are contributing to the social and economic development of the population in these markets.

Services such as M-PESA from Safaricom in Kenya, the Rural Information Service from China Mobile, the Please-Call-Me service from MTN in South Africa, and the CellBazaar service from GrameenPhone in Bangladesh are some good examples.

Mobile social networking is also growing in emerging markets, but most of the services are instant messaging chat applications. One of the most successful service examples is China Mobile's IM service called Fetion, which has over 100 million registered users. The addressable market for the Fetion service is large as it can work using IVR, GPRS and SMS access modes.

Mobile App stores have so far not received the same attention from the operators in emerging markets as they have in the U.S. and Western Europe, but some large operators like China Mobile have already launched their own app stores.

Earlier this year,China Mobile has collaborated with Nokia to launch MM-Ovi. It has been reported that over 4 million mobile apps had been downloaded from this App store by March 2010.

With high market saturation and limited growth prospects in developed countries, the emerging markets are becoming a key focus for mobile industry players -- including operators, handset manufacturers and infrastructure vendors, as well as the VAS platform and technology vendors.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Growing Confusion about Behavioral Ad Targeting

 
eMarketer reports that Internet users have been sending mixed messages about targeted advertising. Sometimes say they appreciate the relevance; sometimes they would provide personal information to facilitate targeting; and yet they also report concerns about advertisers and publishers having too much data.

While this suggests that consumers may be confused about online privacy and what behavioral targeting entails, research from online ad preference management provider PreferenceCentral calls into question whether consumer education is a solution for marketers.

Asked if they would prefer to pay for content, view targeted advertisements in exchange for free content, or receive limited free content supported by untargeted ads, 58 percent of US internet users chose targeted ads.

However, their willingness to receive those types of ads decreased after they became more educated about how behavioral targeting worked.

Nearly half of internet users said awareness of behavioral targeting did not change their comfort level. But, only 14 percent became more comfortable with education, while twice as many said they were less so.

After behavioral targeting education, 50 percent of users preferred to receive limited content and avoid targeting, compared with 37.3 percent who remained willing to be targeted in exchange for fully free content.

Putting control into a user's hands over the ads served and the types of information used for targeting, however, restored a higher level of comfort with targeted advertising. The conclusion: education without effective empowerment may not be enough for consumers to get comfortable with targeting.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Net Operators will Limit Over the Top Video Growth

The AT&T recent decision to implement broadband data caps and charge extra fees for heavy data usage on wireless devices poses grave implications for over-the-top (OTT) video service providers, according to the latest market study by iSuppli Corp.

By discontinuing its unlimited access plan, AT&T is now seeking to limit data usage of smart phones. The data caps will make it difficult for any high-quality video streaming application -- without the permission and support of wireless operators.

"iSuppli believes that most of the emerging streaming Internet models are mistaken in postulating that they could displace, over time, traditional television and movie delivery mechanisms without paying for related network costs," said William Kidd, director and principal analyst for financial services at iSuppli.

Meanwhile, new broadband subscribers worldwide are projected to rise in 2010 by 63.5 million -- up 8.4 percent compared to total net additional subscribers of 58.5 million in 2009.

At present, video content can be freely streamed to a TV from online service offerings such as Hulu and Netflix, or accessed through a device such as the PlayStation from Sony Corp.

Kidd said that data caps will become relevant if any user viewed low-quality streaming media -- say, a 200-kbps stream -- on a wireless device for three hours, or if a standard-definition TV signal on a wired network was streamed for approximately 25 hours.

By the same token, streaming a high-definition TV signal could put a user over the data cap in just 7 hours on the wired network of Comcast Corp. -- the largest U.S. cable operator and Internet service provider for the home.

Kidd observed, in order for consumers to consider the Internet as a true substitute for their pay-TV service, content would need to be comparable in both technical quality and entertainment value. Apparently, some broadband service providers may attempt to ensure that this will not be possible, thereby limiting the growth of OTT services.

"By implementing caps now that don't impinge on the way subscribers use the Internet today, cable and telco operators are able to create for themselves an advantageous situation," Kidd said. "Under these circumstances, emerging media competitors must work more directly with the network owners before getting their services off the ground -- as opposed to around them, as they may have previously hoped."

However, does this "operator gatekeeper" scenario add credence to the FCC's previously stated net neutrality concerns? Also, will other parts of government, such as the U.S. Department of Justice, consider these methods as a "restraint of trade" practice -- essentially in violation of American law? We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

India and China will Drive Mobile TV Adoption

The latest market study by In-Stat identifies that the largest number of mobile TV subscribers and viewers will come from digital broadcast applications. This will be followed in numbers by analog broadcast viewers.

However, while cellular mobile TV subscribers will be lower, they could generate the majority of potential new service revenue, with over $15 billion in subscription revenue by 2014.

"Global 3G network development is driven by the popularity of data services such as social networking and texting," says Norm Bogen In-Stat analyst. "Mobile TV stands to leverage this demand."

To date, the market development of mobile TV has not kept pace with the prior analyst forecasts. The question remains, with the exception of brief news, weather and sports updates -- do mobile service subscribers need or want mobile television offerings?

Moreover, if most program offerings continue to mimic traditional TV formats and fail to adapt to the unique needs of mobile subscribers, then will the global market ever reach its full potential?

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Cellular mobile TV subscribers will generate over $15 billion in subscription revenue by 2014.

- Mobile TV broadcasting standards remain fragmented by geographic region worldwide, with ATSC-M/H, CMMB, DMB, DVB-H, ISDB-T (1seg) and MediaFLO all finding deployments.

- Asia, primarily India and China, will drive mobile TV subscriptions.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mobile Video Services Market Demand Upside

Revenue from mobile video services is expected to top $2 billion worldwide in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. Video services included in this forecast are video telephony, video messaging, video sharing, video-on-demand, VoD downloads, and other related video services.

"Video services revenue will only amount to about $121 million this year," says senior analyst Mark Beccue. "But the growth curve is very steep indeed, and will only continue to accelerate through the end of our forecast period in 2015."

Video sharing will be a small portion of this revenue while video telephony, video messaging and video-on-demand applications will account for the majority of the market share.

Consumer appetite for mobile infotainment, sparked by the availability of 3G networks, is one of the main drivers for this market. This demand will only increase as Mobile Network Operators (MNO) move to 4G.

At the same time, the proliferation of connected mobile devices means more screens in the hands of wireless broadband access subscribers. Web 2.0 services, with their emphasis on real-time collaboration, communication and networking will also increase demand.

A few factors, however, do have the potential to limit this growth. The lingering global recession may affect consumption patterns, especially in industrialized nations. The popularity and adoption of OTT services provide intense competition for MNO-branded mobile video services.

There is still an insufficient range and variety of video-capable mobile devices. And, because this industry is still in its infancy, the service provider business models are still immature and imperfectly matched to consumer's preferences.

"MNOs mustn't settle for the role of undifferentiated mobile ISPs that manage dumb pipes," Beccue advises. "They should provide a variety of mobile video services and leverage strategic ecosystems until they upgrade their networks to provide quality video services. Partnering with device OEMs and software solution providers will help to optimize mobile devices. This will contribute to an already significant investment, but the rewards will be great."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Making In-Home Digital Media Sharing Easier

Support for DLNA in Windows 7 will spark significant growth in Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technology, which is used to make in-home media sharing easier, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

Shipments of DLNA-enabled devices will surpass a billion units by 2014, up from several hundred million in 2009. Attached rates for UPnP are also growing and will slightly exceed those of DLNA.

UPnP enables devices from multiple vendors to communicate with one another. DLNA builds upon UPnP to provide interoperability of media across devices.

"While UPnP and DLNA are seeing increased adoption and unit shipments, it may take several years before large numbers of consumers use the technology" says Norm Bogen, In-Stat analyst. "The number of consumers who realize they have this functionality and understand its implications continues to be very low."

Apparently, yet another example of how an effective market development strategy can't be an afterthought for a new technology-based solution, it must be part of a concerted effort -- from the very beginning.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Handsets, PCs, and digital televisions will account for 74 percent of the DLNA market.

- Over 85 million DLNA-enabled Blu-Ray Players or Recorders will ship in 2014.

- Digital media controllers make up the smallest volume of UPnP shipments compared to Digital media servers and Digital media players, however, accounts for the largest growth area.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Slow Market Development for 4G Wireless Services

The market for 4G technology deployments and subscriptions will begin to develop in 2010 but only in North America and Western Europe, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

The rest of the world won't likely begin to embrace 4G Technology, in any significant way, until 2012.

"Among today's key trends is migration in 3G towards WCDMA and HSPA technology" says Chris Kissel, Industry Analyst at In-Stat. "Continued growth in data usage and competitive pressures will push operators toward the ultimate migration to 4G."

Additional findings from the In-Stat study include:

- WDCMA, HSPA/HSPA+ subscriptions will increase by 30 percent from 2010 to 2014.

-  In-Stat has tracked 11 formal LTE contracts granted in 1Q10, but sees this as the beginning of a larger global adoption.

- In 2010, CDMA-related technologies will account for 566 million global subscriptions. However, the expansion of CDMA is in doubt as many global operators, including Verizon, begin transitioning to LTE.

- By 2014 Western Europe's 3G subscriptions will reach 540 Million, all WCDMA technology.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Online Marketers Maintain a Competitive Advantage


According to the latest study by eMarketer, the online advertising market showed its resistance to the economic recession. While total media spending dropped, marketer's online ad spending increased by 2 percent to $55.2 billion.

eMarketer forecasts that 2010 will bring a return to double-digit online ad growth -- with global spending set to reach $61.8 billion. Growth will continue at rates of over 10 percent each year through 2014.

"By 2014 eMarketer forecasts that figure will leap to $96.8 billion, growing at an 11.9 percent compound annual rate, despite the slow, uneven and fragile global economic recovery," said eMarketer's Jared Jenks. "These rates will be unmatched by other media."

North America and Western Europe accounted for nearly three-quarters of the world's online ad spending in 2009, but those mature online ad markets will post slower growth rates than developing areas in Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

In terms of dollars, however, the more developed regions will still increase by many billions because of their large established bases and still largely untapped potential of the Internet.

The Internet's share of total ad spending worldwide will jump from 11.9 percent in 2009 to 17.2 percent in 2014. Continued high growth in the online space coupled with a 2009 spending decrease of 10.5 percent for total media, followed by a slower recovery, will help online get an ever-larger slice of the ad spending pie.

"The reasons for this growth in share are clear," said Jenks. "Online is more measureable, more effective and where people are increasingly spending their time."

Marketers who have moved quickly to shift their budget allocation from traditional media to online have gained a significant competitive advantage over their laggard peer group. However, it's not clear how long it will take the marketing mainstream to catch-up to the more progressive early-adopters.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Broadband Service Providers Invest in Fiber Access

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its first quarter (1Q10) Broadband CPE and Subscribers market study, which tracks DSL and cable broadband customer-premise equipment (CPE) and subscribers, voice CPE, residential gateways, and voice terminal adapters.

The first quarter of the year is usually one of the worst for the broadband customer premise equipment market, as net subscriber additions and new CPE sales slow after the much better third and fourth quarters.

This quarter was also hurt by lingering economic difficulties worldwide, which are keeping many consumers from upgrading their existing broadband CPE to support new services.

"In particular, we saw a big drop in ADSL CPE in 1Q10, as operators are focused on deploying FTTH and VDSL2 services and are spending less to market their basic broadband services. All in all, 2010 will be a difficult year for CPE vendors, as operators see fewer new subscribers and will do what they can to use their existing inventory rather than purchase new equipment," predicts Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and video at Infonetics Research.

Highlights from the Infonetics market study include:

- In 1Q10, the worldwide broadband CPE market totaled $967.3 million, down 13 percent from 4Q09.

- After moving back into first place last quarter after a difficult early 2009, Technicolor (Thomson) held on to the number one position in worldwide total broadband CPE revenue, just ahead of Huawei and of Motorola.

- Due to slowing cable subscriber growth and the fact that many cable subscribers will hold on to their DOCSIS 2.0 CPE for a long time, DOCSIS 3.0 CPE sales are expected to be negatively impacted.

- Infonetics expects VDSL CPE sales to soften as many major telcos move to direct fiber to the home (FTTH), rather than via FTTB or FTTN and VDSL2.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Europe will Continue to Dominate the IPTV Market

According to the latest market study by Multimedia Research Group (MRG), global annual growth of IPTV subscribers will reach 102 million in 2014, a 25 percent CAGR. Despite economic hardship in many countries, robust Telco broadband and IPTV investments have been driving growth as a means to meet and outperform the Cable and Satellite pay-TV competition.

IPTV operators are using fiber access in high-competition markets and advanced DSL such as channel bonding and VDSL2 in other (less competitive) markets. As a result, Telcos have been discreetly improving their IPTV bandwidth capacity to sub-markets that need upgrades -- without overspending in markets that don't require immediate upgrading.

The Eastern European IPTV market is moving quickly to early maturity, while ROW markets shows faster gains than other regions. "As late as 2007, Eastern Europe had only a few IPTV trials or start-ups. Now, there are 16 fully operating IPTV Operators and another 3-6 in trial," says Jose Alvear, IPTV Analyst with MRG.

These Operators continue to grow their service base, because they have much greater technical and creative control over their service than their Cable competition. By 2014, Europe will have 45 percent of the global market, Asia 31 percent, North America 19 percent and ROW about 5 percent.

High ARPUs still favor Europe and U.S. IPTV markets, with largest service and systems revenues also coming from these regions. Of the specific CapEx items tracked by the report, expenditures will grow from $3.1 billion in 2010 to $5.1 billion in 2014, while Service Revenue will grow from $17.5 billion to $46 billion in 2014.

Over 50 companies are profiled in the report, including many emerging markets in Eastern Europe and ROW. Despite many obstacles and competition, 23 IPTV SPs (mostly in Asia and Europe) will have exceeded the million-subscriber mark by 2014.

"For many IPTV Operators, STBs (Set-top Boxes) make up over 70 percent of CapEx expenditures," says Alvear. "Therefore we can expect greater penetration of integrated hybrid, IPTV, and over-the-top (OTT) STBs (including connected TVs with STBs embedded in TV Sets)."

In the North American markets, all eyes have recently turned to Verizon and AT&T, each adding about 1 million subscribers in 2009. Since Verizon stopped signing new franchise agreements outside its existing footprint, speculation is growing that Verizon will switch from its QAM/IPTV architecture to an all IPTV (Fiber-based) architecture for future franchises after 2010.

Meanwhile AT&T, with no such technical constraints, is free to use a discreet upgrade approach to growing bandwidth using a mix of advanced DSL or FTTX as needed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

49.1 Million People in the U.S. Own Smartphones

comScore reported key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending May 2010 compared to the preceding three-month average. For the 3 month average period ending in May, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices.

Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 22.4 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers, up one percentage point from the preceding three month period. LG ranked second with 21.5 percent share, followed by Motorola (21.2 percent share), RIM (8.7 percent share, up 0.5 percentage point) and Nokia (8.1 percent share).

49.1 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in May, up 8.1 percent from the corresponding February period. RIM was the leading mobile smartphone platform in the U.S. with 41.7 percent share of U.S. smartphone subscribers, followed by Apple with 24.4 percent share and Microsoft with 13.2 percent.

Google saw significant growth during the period, up 4.0 percentage points to capture 13.0 percent of smartphone subscribers, while Palm rounded out the top five with 4.8 percent. Despite losing share to Google Android, most smartphone platforms continue to gain subscribers as the smartphone market overall continues to grow.

65.2 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device in May, up 1.4 percentage points versus the prior three month period, while browsers were used by 31.9 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 2.3 percentage points).

Subscribers who used downloaded applications comprised 30.0 percent of the mobile audience, representing an increase of 2.1 percentage points from the previous period. Accessing of social networking sites or blogs also saw significant growth, increasing 2.6 percentage points to 20.8 percent of mobile subscribers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mobile Marketing and Advertising Market Upside

Mobile advertising is a relatively small market today, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. However, over the next five years, spending on mobile display ads in the U.S. -- estimated at just under $313 million in 2010 -- will almost quadruple to exceed $1.2 billion in 2015.

ABI practice director Neil Strother says, "A survey conducted by ABI Research in February found that 28 percent of the mobile subscribers queried accessed the mobile Internet daily. This is a huge increase over the number doing so just 14 months ago, and is a powerful driver for the mobile marketing and advertising market."

Mobile display ads -- essentially similar to online banner ads -- are only one method available to aspiring mobile marketers. The others include text messaging, search advertising, Ads within applications (in-app), and video (streaming and on-demand).

While smartphone usage is a primary driver of this new and still fragmented industry (smartphone penetration in the U.S. currently stands at about 20 percent), mobile marketing's potential extends to mobile devices of all kinds.

"Marketers have increasingly been shifting budgets into mobile campaigns," Strother reports. "This became evident during our research interviews with advertising agency executives, technology vendors and mobile ad network operators, who said they have been seeing year-over-year increases of 25 to 30 percent in campaign spending."

Major high-tech firms are now getting involved, as demonstrated by Apple's acquisition of Quattro Wireless and Google's takeover of AdMob. But independent ad networks are also serving this market, companies such as Millennial Media, Jumptap, and Greystripe.

"Each of these networks is focused on a somewhat different part of the market," says Strother, "but in principal they're open to anybody with money who wants to reach a mobile audience."

Monday, July 12, 2010

U.S. Broadband Internet Access is a Growth Market

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its Residential Voice, Data, and Video Services in North America market study.The residential services market is in rapid transition. The decline of traditional fixed-line voice service and the rise of broadband access, video, and mobile data is speeding up.

PC-based mobile broadband subscribers will surpass all other types of Internet access subscribers by 2013. If telecom operators aren't able to provide competitive mobile services, they will be at a significant disadvantage.

"Now that residential voice and Internet services are no longer tied to a physical household, operators can (and should) customize services for individual members of a household and compete on a nationwide basis versus a specific fixed territory," advises Diane Myers, Infonetics Research's directing analyst for service provider VoIP and IMS.

Highlights of the Infonetics study include:

- The residential services market in North America, which comprises voice, video, and Internet access services, held steady during the economic downturn, maintaining $240 billion in 2009.

- Service provider revenue from voice services (including VoIP and mobile voice) decreased 5 percent in 2009, while broadband access and video service revenue increased 5 and 6 percent, respectively.

- Infonetics Research forecasts the North American residential voice, video and Internet access services market to grow to $271 billion by 2014.

- Broadband access is the true growth engine for residential services, with annual revenue for North American service providers expected to grow at a 13 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2009 to 2014, driven by both fixed and mobile broadband solutions.

- In 2009, 70 percent of all North American voice subscribers were mobile; by 2014, that number will grow as an increasing number of consumers go mobile-only.

- 55 percent of all residential mobile subscribers in North America are customers of either AT&T or Verizon.

- The battle between cable operators and satellite providers for video services continues, with the dominating cable operators losing some revenue market share to satellite (DBS) and telco IPTV providers in 2009.

- Comcast leads in North American residential video service revenue share, and DirecTV and Dish Network jumped ahead of Time Warner Cable in 2009.

- Video services represent significant future revenue for service providers, but it comes at a high cost of programming and lower margins than voice services.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mobile USB Hard Drives Aid in HD Video Storage

The ongoing shift to high-definition (HD) video content, from standard-definition (SD), has gained new momentum as the price of low-end HD camcorders continues to decline. The market development from HD video resolution professional-grade to advanced prosumer and then to mainstream consumer devices has been swift.

There are several HD Video formats, which are used for video capture and for online video streaming applications. One thing that all HD formats seem to have in common, they create significantly larger file sizes than the prior SD formats. As you capture more video in HD or acquire stock video for your multimedia projects, you'll quickly discover the need for more hard drive capacity.

As an example, it takes about 13GB of memory to store one hour of standard definition (DV) video and 40GB to store an hour of high definition (HD) video. File sizes can vary depending on the video codec and bit rate options. Also, whether you store and edit in native (uncompressed) formats or choose to transcode your video, those choices can impact the resulting file size.

That said, one of the many benefits of digital video, when compared to traditional film, is the relatively economical storage options. During the production phase of a project it is common for videographers to shoot multiple versions of a given scene, knowing that they can discard unused video in the post-production editing phase.

Video Storage Options, When Mobile

When on location, flash memory storage is now becoming the preferred capture method for new cameras -- replacing the prior method, using magnetic tape. Transferring, or downloading, digital video files from a camcorder's flash media to a notebook PC's hard drive is common practice.

In addition to the built-in PC hard drive, another very useful storage option is the portable external hard drive -- in particular, those utilizing the USB 2.0 interface standard.

USB buss-powered external hard drives are preferable for mobile applications because they don't require a separate power supply; they're powered via the single USB cable. Purpose-built portable drives are very small, light and power-efficient devices that can range in data storage capacity from 250GB up to 1TB -- with the popular 500GB models now priced at about $100.

Ultra-Portable Storage - the Must-Have Tool

I've been using two ultra-portable drives for my own video applications. I highly recommend them, even if you already own an desktop external hard drive, I suggest that you consider the benefits of these sleek new ultra-portable models.

The FreeAgent Go from Seagate comes bundled with automatic back-up software and is pre-formatted for Windows PCs. My device also included a copy of muvee Reveal software, providing a convenient, all-in-one solution for creating, saving and sharing videos. This device has a standard 5-year limited warranty.

The G-Drive Mobile USB from G-Technology is a slightly larger drive that's pre-formatted for Apple MacBooks. The drive can also be initialized and formatted for Windows PC use. This storage device has a rugged aluminum case -- and yet it weighs less than 9 ounces. It's backed by a standard 3-year limited warranty.

Portable external hard disk drives have become a must-have tool for the economical real-time and archival mass storage of HD video content and various other multimedia file types.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Video Usage May Drive U.S. Broadband Revolt


eMarketer reports that while most mainstream U.S. consumers may not care much about the broadband access speed that they have at home, they are very interested in continuing to gain access to the vast array of video content that's readily available to them via the public Internet.

The number of online video viewers continues to grow, while the number of videos viewed skyrockets. Nearly 183 million U.S. internet users watched an average of 186 videos per viewer during the month of May, for a total of 34 billion videos, according to comScore.

U.S. households are also becoming more networked, as consumers buy more and more internet-enabled consumer electronics (CE) devices. A joint report from In-Stat and Capgemini predicts that by 2013, nearly 57 million U.S. households will own these devices.

All that multimedia traffic requires an adequate broadband speed -- an area where the U.S. lags behind many other countries. According to a 2009 report from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, the U.S. does not make the top 10 list of broadband leaders -- when measuring household penetration and quality of connection.

However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that most adult broadband users are "fairly satisfied" with the speed of their home internet connections -- though four out of five could not say what that speed was exactly.

The FCC offers a free test for internet users to measure their connection speed at the broadband.gov website. Men apparently professed to be more knowledgeable: Just 71 percent admitted ignorance, compared with 90 percent of women.

Another survey from the Leichtman Research Group shows these findings are not a fluke: 77 percent of adults could not say what their home broadband connection speed was, or what it was supposed to be.

Yet 71 percent of respondents agreed they were "very satisfied" with whatever speed they were getting. In contrast, the FCC survey uncovered that only 50 percent were satisfied.

Clearly, a sudden rise in over-the-top video streaming demand could shift consumer perception, from passive acceptance to active indignation. As U.S. consumers view more and more HD-quality video -- and create their own video on HD camcorders -- they may quickly discover that their Internet service provider's current access speed is totally unacceptable.

Friday, July 09, 2010

IPTV Service Providers Reach a Major Crossroads

IPTV network operators face a complex array of issues and challenges as they scale their networks to deliver services to a wider group of customers. Those challenges aren't limited solely to subscriber headcount, according to the latest market study by Heavy Reading.

"IPTV is at an exciting stage in its development, with subscriber numbers growing at a fast pace around the world," notes Simon Sherrington, research analyst with Heavy Reading.

"But even during this time of opportunity, the industry faces significant challenges related to what can broadly be described as scaling -- IPTV services and systems are scaling up in multiple ways, including not only more subscribers, but also more data, more devices, more interactivity and more content."

Demand for HD content and multi-screen delivery, the overwhelming quantity of content that must be delivered efficiently and discovered by the user, and the need to respond to competition from OTT video content -- as well as to cable operators' increasingly sophisticated services -- are all affecting telco efforts to scale IPTV services, Sherrington says.

"Vendors need to help their telco customers in many ways, pushing along multiple axes of the scaling challenge and opening up their systems to third parties to help in the development of new services in which managed IPTV is likely to become just one part of an even more complex TV and video delivery service," he adds.

IPTV service providers have reached a significant crossroads. Will they choose to open their closed walled-garden platforms to independent TV app developers, or will they stay on their current course?

Key findings of the market study include:

- Vendors are evolving their systems in several ways, from handling IPTV and video traffic at lower layers in the network to opening up middleware to innovative third-party apps.

- The IPTV service layer can cope with HD and 3DTV content, although 3D is two years away from being significant.

- Efficient technical and commercial models for multi-screen TV services have not yet emerged.

- The processing power of set-top boxes will soon approach that of PCs, and will handle hybrid managed and OTT content in an integrated way.

- Intelligent content discovery and recommendation engines are increasingly important to enhance the user experience.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sky-High Price Limits In-Flight Broadband Service

Wi-Fi connectivity deployments in airplanes have grown rapidly from a couple dozen in 2008 to an expected 2,000 planes by end of year 2010. While Internet access availability is progressing, paid usage generated from in-flight broadband service has been extremely low, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

In-Stat believes that in-flight broadband is now at the stage of market development where it must prove its sustainability through the ability to generate meaningful revenues. However, the current high price of services has limited the prospects of further adoption. That scenario may be subject to change.

"Revenues from in-flight broadband will reach $95 million in 2010, up from just under $7 million in 2009," according to Frank Dickson, VP Research at In-Stat. "However, the fee per connect is expected to deteriorate as lower connect fees are negotiated for roaming and billing partner subscribers."

Data points that impact revenue include:

- Connect fees are projected to decline 24 percent from 2010 to 2014.
- In-Flight broadband connects will exceed 76 million in 2012.

In an effort to bolster Internet revenues, providers are beginning to explore the opportunity to provide video, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) and Internet-based video. DBS revenues promise to be over 3x the size of Internet video in 2014.

Aircell is currently the in-flight broadband provider market leader with announced airline partners including Air Canada, Air Tran, Alaska Airways, American Airlines, Continental Airways, Delta Airway, Frontier Airways, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Africa is the Fastest Growing Mobile Phone Market

ABI Research forecasts over five billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010, with an approximate 4.8 billion connections having already been reached by the end of the year's first quarter.

Much of this growth will be registered in developing markets in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Africa remains the fastest growing mobile market with a YoY growth of over 22 percent. Mobile penetration in Asia-Pacific will rise significantly to 65 percent by the end of 2010.

“This unprecedented growth is driven by India and Indonesia, which have together added over 150 million subscriptions in the past four quarters,” comments ABI Research analyst Bhavya Khanna.

Falling monthly tariffs and ultra-low-cost mobile handsets have democratized the reach and use of the mobile phone, and aggressive roll-outs by mobile operators in these countries will see the current rate of subscriber addition maintained for some time to come.

At the other end of the spectrum, developed countries in North America and Europe continue to add subscriptions despite already having crossed the 100 percent penetration threshold.

Driving this growth in subscriptions are new mobile devices and the third screen -- including netbook PCs, tablet computers, USB dongles and e-book readers.

"The success of Apple's iPad 3G shows that even mobile operators in saturated markets can add subscriptions by introducing innovative and user-friendly devices," says vice president of forecasting Jake Saunders.

In addition, the introduction of 4G data networks such as WiMAX and LTE will see more consumers ditch their cables and access the Internet through mobile broadband connections.

Operators such as Clearwire in the United States and Yota in Russia have seen consumers turn to their networks as fast and mobile alternatives to fixed-line broadband services.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

U.S. OTT Video Revenue to Quadruple by 2014

Innovative leaders in the over-the-top (OTT) video market are positioning themselves for what is anticipated to be a high-growth market with multi-billion dollar revenue streams, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

As an example, companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, YouTube, and Hulu are all vying for market share growth in the U.S. marketplace. While these American companies may be leading the field today, it's clear that the ongoing transition in video entertainment distribution is a global phenomenon.

"OTT video is happening now, with over 37 million broadband households in the U.S. downloading online video content," says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. "The growing adoption of both OTT video consumption and web-enabled consumer electronics promises to further expand the opportunity content producers and OTT retailers."

In-Stat says that they define "Over-the-top" as any video content delivered via a broadband connection from a source other than the network service provider. Not to be confused with telco IPTV, which is typically a service clone of traditional pay-TV offerings from cable and satellite providers.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- U.S. broadband households that view OTT video will grow from 38 million in 2009 to 81 million by 2014.

- Revenue from OTT video will more than quadruple by 2014 as it approaches $20 billion.

- A primary success criteria for OTT video services is access to unique, first-run TV and movie content.

- Over one-third of the 18–24 year old adult households stream full-length OTT video on a regular basis, compared to less than 10 percent of adult households in the over 45 year-old age brackets.

Monday, July 05, 2010

81 Million USB Wireless Modems to Ship in 2010

Wireless modem devices come in a variety of form factors -- including USB modems, PC cards, embedded modules, and wireless routers. Among the external devices, USB modems have become one of the most popular wireless communication products.

So popular, in fact, that ABI Research forecasts shipments of nearly 81 million this year.

Today, the majority of wireless broadband subscribers enjoying portable connectivity use USB ports. The alternative, the PC Card slot, has rapidly been displaced since the introduction of USB in 2006.

"The main reason for USB modem popularity is versatility at a low price," says Jeff Orr, principal analyst, mobile devices at ABI Research.

According to the latest ABI Research market study, more than 50 percent of the modem models now available in the market utilize the ubiquitous USB interface.

Adds Orr, "USB dongles connect the subscriber to a specific network rapidly and without installing drivers. As new networks using the latest 3G or 4G protocols emerge, the USB modem is ready to update the installed base of portable and mobile computers."

The question remains whether embedded modem modules in new computers or the recent interest in personal hotspot routers connecting multiple Wi-Fi devices to a single wireless WAN connection can overtake the popularity of USB dongles.

ABI research associate Khin Sandi Lynn points out that, "In the long run, more devices are looking for a network to connect to. The wireless modem market can solve this in many ways -- different form-factors, air interface protocols, and increased attention to style and cultural interests."

The mobile broadband modems available in the market today support a variety of air interface technologies. According to the ABI Research database, approximately 50 percent of the wireless modems in the market support GSM, GPRS, EDGE or HSDPA standards.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Social Media Marketing: Lead with Talent, not Policies


Who should lead our social media marketing activity? It's a question being asked frequently, but the answer can vary greatly from one organization to another. Initially, it's wise to focus on the skilled people within your qualified talent pool -- or, talent puddle, as the case may be -- rather than choosing a functional group.

Meaning, the possession of proven experience should be a key deciding factor in leader selection.

eMarketer reports that it's quickly becoming common wisdom among marketers that a meaningful strategy is required to apply social media tools effectively. That doesn't mean a majority of those involved in the space have created a well-thought-out approach.

According to a May 2010 market study by Digital Brand Expressions, 52 percent of marketers using social media are operating "without a game plan" -- similar to the 50 percent found in April 2010 by R2integrated.

Many marketers that do have a strategy find it doesn't address all their concerns or fit their most pressing needs. The most common key elements in a social media communications plan were resource-allocation guidelines for ongoing activities, registration of branded usernames on social sites and research into competitor's use of social media.

Does that mean finding staff qualified to complete those tasks are their top priority? Actually, no it doesn't.

Instead of Empowering Talent, Policies are Enacted

When survey respondents were asked about their plan implementation, their answers had a somewhat different focus. While resource allocation was still top of mind, 71 percent were consumed with preparing and distributing the organization's guiding "policies" for ongoing communications.

Regardless, just 45 percent of companies had the completed policies in place. Perhaps they formed a "task force" to debate the topic and were stuck in a perpetual review process -- essentially distracted by the concerns of traditional command and control-centric managers who have no prior social media experience.

Respondents were equally concerned with the ongoing monitoring of brand reputation. At 71 percent, it's yet another common distraction from the more pressing needs. However, only 52 percent had a substantive plan for those custodian brand manager activities.

The greatest policy need disparity was defining how social sites should be used by sales, human resources, customer service and other groups within the company. But, while more than two-thirds of respondents saw a need for these policies, 29 percent were actually prepared.

Command and Control: Propagating the Fear of Punishment

The common desire to contain social media activity with policy creation stalling tactics highlights how social media has spread throughout many organizations and is not limited to marketing or PR departments. Regaining control -- via the threat of punitive policies -- tends to become the focal point of legacy business managers.

A majority of companies with a social strategy included marketing, PR and sales in their plans -- but most survey respondents also thought that human resources and customer service should be added. Respondents agreed that, in general, responsibility for creating strategies should fall to marketing departments.

"Companies that have held back on adopting social media throughout their organizations would benefit from starting with a cohesive plan that involves all of the key groups within the organization," said the findings in the report.

Clearly, the problem with these "group think" approaches is that the few people with demonstrated social media marketing experience are often overruled by the uninformed majority.

Friday, July 02, 2010

1.9 Billion Installed CE Devices in U.S. by 2013

Creating 3D video content is gaining momentum in Hollywood. The excitement over 3D has also found its way to the U.S. consumer electronics market. By 2013, one in five new televisions sold in America will be 3D, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

Year-over-year shipment growth will be 231 percent between 2010 and 2011 -- resulting in a doubling of the U.S. installed base of units for 3D TVs from 2010 to 2011.

"High definition (HD) did create a wave of activity in the U.S. market, not seen since the introduction of color," says Stephanie Ethier, In-Stat analyst. "3DTV promises to be the next significant innovation wave for living room entertainment."

Despite many bright spots in the U.S. consumer electronics (CE) market, there will be losers in the market. Maturing segments like MP3 audio players, handheld video games and desktop PCs will show declining growth rates in 2012 and 2013.

According to the In-Stat assessment, products with broader feature sets -- such as smartphones, tablet PCs and e-readers -- will become more integral in U.S consumers lifestyles.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Shipments of affordable e-Readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, will more than double in 2010 versus 2009.

- The installed base of MIDs or Tablet PCs will surge to nearly 20 million devices by 2013.

- By 2013, there will be 1.9 billion installed CE devices in the U.S. market.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

U.S. Mobile Map Application Users Reach 33.5 million

According to the latest study by comScore, 14 percent of mobile users in the U.S. accessed maps on their devices in April 2010 -- as the mobile map audience reached 33.5 million users, up 44 percent from the previous year.

The market study also found that more mobile users now access maps via applications than via Web browser, demonstrating the success of applications in penetrating the mobile map market.

"People are increasingly turning to their mobile phone for maps and directions when on the go," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

For the three month period ending April 2010, 26 percent of smartphone users accessed maps via applications, while 19 percent accessed maps via browser in a month. In comparison, just 2 percent of feature phone users accessed maps via applications, with 4 percent doing so via browser.

Smartphone users drove growth in both application and browser map usage with app access nearly tripling to 12.7 million smartphone users, while browser map access surged 93 percent to nearly 9 million smartphone users. The number of mobile map app users first surpassed mobile map browser users in February 2010.

For the three month period ending April 2010, 33.5 million mobile users accessed maps at least once during a month, an increase of 44 percent from the previous year.

Visitors accessing maps 1-3 times per month increased 47 percent to 17.1 million users, while those accessing once a week increased 60 percent to 11.6 million users. The most frequent users, those accessing maps on a near daily basis, climbed 9 percent to reach 4.8 million users.

Among those who accessed maps on their mobile devices, 87.2 percent did so from a car or other vehicle, with 17.2 percent doing so while walking, running or biking, and 16.7 percent while using public transit.

The most utilized types of maps were graphical maps with turn-by-turn directions (60.3 percent of mobile maps users), followed by 50.6 percent using a graphical map without turn-by-turn directions and 46.8 percent using turn-by-turn directions without a graphical map.

"87 percent of mobile navigation users are accessing maps and directions while driving," noted Donovan, "Clearly indicating that the rising sophistication of smartphones poses a challenge to dedicated GPS systems."