Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, January 31, 2011

85 Percent of U.S. Internet Users Viewing Online Video

comScore released data showing that 172 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in December for an average of 14.6 hours per viewer. The total U.S. Internet audience engaged in nearly 5.2 billion viewing sessions during the course of the month.

Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in December with 144.8 million unique viewers, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 53.1 million viewers. In one year since its launch, VEVO has steadily grown to reach 50.6 million viewers in December, with much of its viewing being driven by VEVO on YouTube.

AOL, Inc. maintained the fourth position with 48.6 million viewers, followed by Viacom Digital with 45.9 million. Google Sites had the highest number of viewing sessions with 1.9 billion, and average time spent per viewer at 274 minutes, or 4.6 hours.

Americans viewed 5.9 billion video ads in December, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at more than 1.2 billion. Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 1.0 billion ad views, followed by ADAP.TV (682 million) and BrightRoll Video Network (588 million).

Video ads reached 49 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 39.8 times during the month. Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 47.1 over the course of the month.

Other findings from December 2010 market study include:

- The top video ad networks in terms of their potential reach of the total U.S. population were: Tremor Media at 51.4 percent, BrightRoll Video Network at 40.6 percent and Break Media at 39.7 percent.

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

- The duration of the average online content video was 5.0 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.

- Video ads accounted for 16.4 percent of all videos viewed and 1.6 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Enhancing a Home Network with Powerline Adapters

As I mentioned in a recent post, web-enabled consumer electronics (CE) device shipments are forecast to grow six fold -- surpassing 230 million installed units by 2014, with the majority of these in North America and Europe, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

Many people that purchase these CE products have already discovered, and others soon will, that the essential foundation for distributing multimedia content -- particularly high-definition video -- throughout your residence is an adequately provisioned home network.

To date, much of the market emphasis on home networking options has focused on the apparent convenience of wireless solutions -- in particular, Wi-Fi multiport routers. If your residence is relatively small and on one level, then the chances of having good wireless signal coverage are likely in your favor.

Quest for High Speed and Performance

However, signal strength can be negatively impacted by a number of factors, including the construction of your home and the proximity of the Wi-Fi router. In fact, in larger homes, especially multi-story structures, the placement of the device can have a significant impact on performance.

Moreover, a wireless router is apparently still one of the most frequently returned consumer networking products. Even though the user interface has improved, the typical Wi-Fi installation and configuration process is puzzling to many non-technical people.

My use-case: I needed a better solution to connect a cable modem and router -- centrally located upstairs (the best placement in our tri-level home) -- to the main TV set in our family room at the ground floor level. Given the other alternative connection methods, I chose a powerline adapter.

The NETGEAR Powerline AV+ 200 adapter kit (XAVB2501) extends a high-speed broadband Internet access connection to any power outlet throughout your home. It's designed to support the latest network-ready CE devices -- such as the connected HDTV sets, Blu-ray disc players, DVRs, PCs, video set-top boxes and game consoles.

Easy to Install, No Configuration Issues

I discovered that setting-up the pair of HomePlug certified adapters is very easy. Just plug one adapter into the electrical wall outlet in each of the rooms where you have a device. Then, use the provided Ethernet cables to connect the adapter to your router and the other to your CE device -- you're now ready to test the connectivity.

In my application scenario, the potential speed of up to 200Mbps between the adaptors -- 100Mbps at both the Ethernet ports -- was a significant improvement over my prior Wi-Fi home network configuration. The benefit was clearly more noticeable on high-definition streamed video.

That said, these powerline adapters can be applied in a variety of ways. To test the limits of the technology, I tried downloading a large file to my notebook PC after I moved one adapter to the most remote parts of my home. In each case the performance was excellent.

Therefore, I'd recommend the NETGEAR product for similarly demanding connectivity applications. By the way, you can configure the built-in security feature, by pressing one button. Also, the product has a standard one-year warranty.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

B2B Online Marketing Spending Outlook for 2011


eMarketer reports that according to the results of a recent market study of business-to-business (B2B) marketers, traditional online tactics are still important.

Just over half of B2B marketers surveyed told BtoB Magazine their budgets would go up this year, but by less than 15 percent.

The primary marketing goal was customer acquisition (69%), with the greatest number of respondents expected spending increases for online (78%).

In contrast, 44 percent of the survey respondents said they would be spending more on events and 36 percent said more on direct mail.

Online, B2B marketers were most likely to report planned increases in spending on their websites and email programs, followed by social media.

These results differed from those of a survey by RSW/US. Among that group, 65 percent planned to spend more on social media, followed by 47 percent on email.

Overall, more than two-thirds of B2B marketers already used social media marketing, where the main focus of marketing efforts was brand building.

Even though customer acquisition was stated as the top B2B goal, less than half of the respondents were actually using social media for sales lead generation.

In 2010, social media, websites and email each received a median of 10 percent of B2B online marketing budgets. Apparently, spending levels were higher on display and video advertising.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Market Development Strategies for Mobile Content

Faster communication networks, improved smartphone designs, combined with an avalanche of new apps, games and entertainment have resulted in a steady and increasingly rapid growth in mobile content consumption.

But mobile content markets vary in their characteristics and maturity, just as the companies considering mobile content marketing vary in their goals and readiness.

The conclusion from a recent ABI Research market study: some companies should push ahead with monetizing mobile content as soon as possible, while others should wait a little before entering the market.

"Digital game publishers, music companies, video producers, news outlets, and app developers should move ahead, if they haven't already," says ABI Research practice director Neil Strother.

They have the expertise, they have the content, and mobile consumers are already enthusiastic. On the other hand, non-media companies -- especially those without suitable content at hand -- should take a breath.

Such companies should study the strategies and performance of media companies with mobile content this year, and then prepare to enter the market next year -- or perhaps later. Even experienced media producers, such as book publishers, should wait until the first handsets with E Ink displays appear.

Those that have entered the market by 2013 can expect to partake in revenue that will exceed $6 billion that year, rising to more than $10 billion by the end of 2016. Market growth will be driven in large part by the significant rise in the numbers of smartphone users combined with the improved performance available from 4G networks.

According to ABI's market assessment, as smartphone penetration grows, content providers need to have a plan of action or they may miss a potential high-growth revenue opportunity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Web-Enabled Consumer Electronics Upside Potential

The global adoption of web-enabled consumer electronics (CE) devices is growing rapidly and includes a wide variety of new products. Typically, web-enabled CE devices can execute app widgets, small software application programs that directly access an online content site -- such as Netflix, Amazon VOD or YouTube.

Smart TV applications, from a multitude of independent software developers, are expected to proliferate over the next five years. As a result, web-enabled CE device shipments are forecast to grow six fold -- surpassing 230 million installed units by 2014, with the majority of these in North America and Europe, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"Consumer adoption of online applications, using web-enabled CE devices, will be regionalized, or in some cases, country-specific," says Keith Nissen, Principal Analyst at In-Stat.

For example, in China, there is very little licensed video entertainment content available for delivery over the Internet. In contrast, the availability of online video entertainment in Europe and North America is expected to grow substantially over the next five years.

Therefore, the primary markets for web-enabled CE devices, and particularly connected TV sets, will likely correlate to where online video offerings are also available.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- There is a distinction between network-enabled and web-enabled CE devices.

- In 2014, nearly 70 percent of digital TVs shipped will be network-enabled devices, although many will not be web-enabled.

- The popularity of the over-the-top (OTT) video is creating interest in enhancing the IP video capabilities of cable, satellite and IPTV set-top boxes (STBs).

- The vast majority of Blu-ray disc players and recorders shipped will be both network-enabled and web-enabled devices.

- Yahoo! Widgets is the major connected TV app platform in the industry, so far -- though Sony and Samsung have developed their own proprietary platforms.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

IPTV Investment Data, as OTT Video Gains Customers

According to the latest market study by MRG, Inc., and based upon investment data from 875 IPTV service providers, the rate of growth of global IPTV operators continues at a rate of over 10 new Operators per quarter -- with about 50 percent of those in North America.

That said, given the phenomenal performance of the Netflix business model, can traditional pay-TV operators in a highly-saturated market -- such as the U.S. -- maintain a positive outlook to informed industry analysts?

With the 20 vendor acquisitions in 2010, the global IPTV industry is primed for a transition. The total value of the 10 reported financial transactions was $1.95 billion. If the other 10 unreported deals were added, the overall value of the transactions would be well over $2 billion.

According to MRG, in 2011 vendors and service providers also are starting to embrace Over-the-Top (OTT) video services, as well as other forms of online entertainment options in order to provide value to consumers who are questioning the high-price of the legacy offerings.

Vendors released a variety of new cloud-based IP video solutions during 2010, which focuses on delivering OTT and managed IPTV entertainment -- mixed with linear TV and video on demand (VOD). Clearly, IPTV operators around the world are looking to better compete against the incumbent pay-TV service providers through a variety of new IP-based services.

But are the incumbents the forward-looking competition for consumers in search of an affordable video entertainment offering? I think not. Digital broadcast TV, combined with a OTT on-demand subscription offerings from Netflix or LOVEFiLM is the emerging real competition.

Globally, so far, there were no changes to the number one ranked IPTV market leader vendors in the six IPTV product segments covered. However, in Asia there were several changes to leaders as service providers in China and South Korea saw large subscriber growth in 2010.

Many changes in ranks below the leaders occurred regionally.

"Some smaller Telcos are looking at unmanaged OTT or hybrid OTT (including Digital Satellite or Digital Terrestrial plus OTT) to provide video services," says Jose Alvear, IPTV analyst at MRG. "It is yet to be determined how widespread the move to OTT really is, and how much it impacts new operator trials and strategies."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Will Social TV Apps Unite the Fragmented Market?

Last year, interacting with others online about TV content was named one of the ten emerging social applications by MIT Technology Review. Why? The activity could leverage online services, such as Facebook and Twitter, with the potential to rebuild fragmented TV audiences.

With Facebook now having over 500 million active users, and Twitter over 100 million, socail media has gained significant mass. Moreover, Facebook revenue is approaching $1.1 billion in 2010, about double its 2009 revenue.

Many consumers are using social media to connect with entertainment, like movies and TV, thereby creating the new product category -- often called Social TV. It's about using social media applications with a tablet or smartphone while simultaneously watching video content.

Already, Nielsen has reported that 59 percent of U.S. Internet users browse the Internet and watch TV simultaneously. And, this number is sure to grow, especially among younger consumers -- who have grown up with smartphones and prefer watching TV on notebook PCs.

For now, social TV usage is optimal with a PC, iPad or smartphone -- because it allows for greater personalization and interactivity. Portable devices, like smartphones or iPads are popular among social TV users because they already use Facebook or Twitter for communicating with others, and because users can message to many different devices.

"Social TV is about bringing social back into TV," said Jose Alvear, IPTV Senior Analyst at MRG Inc. "TV has always been a social medium, but personal video devices and multiple TVs in the home have made it less social. Today, social networking sites are making it easy for consumers to get social with TV again."

According to MRG's latest market study, social TV's benefits for content owners, TV viewers, service providers and advertisers come in a variety of forms.

Those benefits include driving up TV content viewing ratings, rewarding consumers for watching TV, increasing brand engagement and perhaps enabling new rich-media advertising opportunities.

Monday, January 24, 2011

OTT Video Services Growing to $20 Billion by 2014

2010 was an eventful year for the Over-the-Top (OTT) video market. There have been major developments in the retail segment, the Service Provider (SP) segment and the Internet segment. Some of these developments have been successful, while others are still a work in progress.

According to the latest market study by MRG, Inc., they now forecast that the global growth of OTT video services will exceed $1 billion in 2010 and $20 billion in 2014 -- based on over 40 OTT service operators and device vendors profiled in their study.

"This is the most complete available analysis of connected OTT smart devices offering both live and on-demand video services," says Mike Galli, MRG Analyst. "It's a comprehensive guide to the next generation of smart home devices for video services connected via the Internet."

Some of the case studies presented actually show how these services enhance the incumbent IPTV operator's broadband revenue with relatively no or low investment, for smaller operators; and with various levels of CapEx for larger Operators.

Most of the results were based on updates of the early OTT trials, determining how service providers assessed the pros, cons and the ROI results.

Smart OTT video devices analyzed includes OTT set-top boxes, game consoles, smart TV sets, smartphones, OTT PCs, and Blu-ray devices.

By tracking the OTT video ARPU (Average Revenue per Unit) for each smart device, the report projects total OTT video revenues broken into four global regions from 2010-2014.

OTT content preference by consumers is also probed, based on international consumer research. Besides stating their favorite OTT viewing devices, consumers clearly express their preference for recent movies & TV shows and other kinds of niche video content, reflecting how quickly consumer preferences are changing.

Some of the more telling results include why smart device usage varies significantly depending on which rooms of the home they are in and who is using them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Legacy Marketers Provide a Windfall for Facebook


The media-buyer mentality is still pervasive with most marketers. Given what we know about the typical ROI results from advertising, when compared to quality editorial content publication, why do marketers spend their budgets on under-performing ads? It's easier to buy advertising placements than create meaningful new content that appeals to your customers and prospects.

Moreover, instead of adapting to the interactive engagement model of social networks, most legacy marketers would much rather purchase display advertising than invest the time to participate online. Their apathy has created a windfall for Facebook, and other social networks, as advertising budgets merely shift from traditional media to social media platforms.

U.S. marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year, according to the latest market study by eMarketer.

Spending will be up 55 percent over the $1.99 billion advertisers devoted to social networks in 2010 and will rise by a further 27.7 percent next year to reach nearly $4 billion.

This dramatic growth in spending this year will bring social media advertising dollars to 10.8 percent of the total spent online in the U.S. market. Worldwide, where social network ad spending will rise 71.6 percent to $5.97 billion, that proportion will be somewhat lower, at 8.7 percent.

Upside Opportunity for the Progressive Innovators

The 2011 forecast for U.S. spending is $1 billion higher than eMarketer's last estimate of U.S. social network ad spending -- made in August 2010. The primary driver of the change in projected spending is greater ad spending on Facebook, by far the biggest player in the space.

"2010 was the year that Facebook firmly established itself as a major force not only in social network advertising but all of online advertising," said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

eMarketer predicts ad spending on the world's top social network will reach $2.19 billion in the U.S. this year and just over $4 billion worldwide -- both more than double last year's figure.

"If Facebook can continue to increase its global user base and boost the amount of revenue it generates per user, it could even surpass these forecasts," Williamson said. "Facebook must continue to innovate its user experience and its ad platform."

In contrast, the herd of lazy marketers that spend their budget on Facebook display advertising clearly won't attempt to innovate, nor change their old-school behaviors.

Therefore, the few who choose to invest the time and effort in creative content marketing, and to actively engage online with their stakeholders, will continue to gain a significant competitive advantage.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Top-Three Ranked Uses for Media Tablet Owners

Awareness of the numerous applications of tablet computers is at an all time high, thanks in part to the Apple iPad launch. After close to a decade of negligible demand, the tablet market is finally starting to gain some mainstream user appeal.

So, what exactly do future owners say they plan to use a tablets for, once they get their hands on one? No, there's not an app for that, but there is a market study.

New market research from In-Stat identifies the top-three ranked uses for future media tablet owners as -- email, personal information management, and multimedia consumption (audio, video and gaming).

"Last year's small crop of tablets was being touted as potential e-readers; a way to compete against the extremely popular Amazon Kindle lineup," says Stephanie Ethier, Senior Analyst at In-Stat.

Apparently, this next generation of tablets is clearly being marketed as consumer multimedia consumption devices -- positioned to compete squarely against the Apple iPad. Will they take away market share from the current leader? Only time will tell.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to reach over 58 million units in 2014.

- Nearly 55 percent of survey respondents that own tablets spend 9 hours or more using their tablet each week.

- Over 40 percent of future tablet purchasers plan to buy an Apple iPad.

- The strongest shipment growth begins in the latter portion of the In-Stat forecast period.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Global PC Market has Modest Gains in 4Q 2010

The worldwide PC market continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2010 (4Q10) due to a softening consumer market, competing products like media tablets, and strong year ago sales.

Despite a holiday season marked by a long promotion cycle and highly competitive price points, the global PC market saw shipments rise only a modest 2.7 percent year on year during 4Q10, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Fourth quarter growth was slightly less than a projected increase of 5.5 percent, but shipments of 92.1 million for the quarter still were the largest ever. Total shipments for 2010 reached 346.2 million, an increase of 13.6 percent that was fueled by a strong recovery in the first half of the year.

Softening demand in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) contributed to the slow market with shipment growth falling into single-digits following a recent peak of more than 30 percent a year ago.

Other regions were generally in line with expectations. The United States market declined 4.8 percent year on year, while other regions continued to experience market expansion, although at a slower pace than in recent quarters.

"The U.S. market was expected to shrink year over year given the exploding growth experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009. Growth steadily slowed throughout 2010 as weakening demand and competition from the Apple iPad constrained PC shipments," said David Daoud, research director, at IDC.

In addition to relatively high market penetration and a good-enough computing experience with existing PCs, consumers are being more cautious with their purchases and competing devices have been vying for attention. This situation is likely to persist in 2011, as a wave of new media tablets could reduce demand in the traditional PC market.

"Consumer fatigue is playing an important role in many markets as the mini notebook surge wanes and consumers watch their spending and evaluate other products," said Jay Chou, research analyst, at IDC.

Softening demand in the Asia-Pacific region and the potential for similar changes in other regions represent the biggest potential shift in PC growth during 2011. These factors are likely to slightly reduce growth from previous IDC projections of about 10 percent for 2011 -- although replacements in the commercial segment and aggressive competition should still support double-digit growth in the second half of the year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Digital Multimedia Increasing Demand for Storage

The demand for more hard disc drive (HDD) storage from PC users, game enthusiasts, and video entertainment viewers is keeping the industry growing to the degree that In-Stat forecasts HDD unit shipments will increase to over 1 billion units by 2014.

The main drivers of growth have been the notebook PC market, TV set-top boxes, and external storage.

"As video has gone digital, demand for storage is found in consumer applications including set-top boxes (STBs), external drives, automotive applications, personal media players, camcorders, home servers, and video cameras," says Norm Bogen, VP, Digital Entertainment at In-Stat.

STBs have been a HDD application target since TiVo pioneered TV recordings and playback and Time Shifting. The 3.5" HDDs at 7200 rpm and with capacities starting from 500 GBs to 2 TBs are being offered in this DVR application market.

Among consumer applications, external HDDs are the second largest segment behind DVRs and will double in unit volume between 2010 and 2015.


In-Stat's latest market study found the following:

- The top 5 HDD vendors include Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. Western Digital has overtaken Seagate as the largest HDD manufacturer for the first half of 2010. Seagate retains its dominant position in enterprise HDDs.

- HDDs have maintained the stopping power against SSDs (Solid State Drives), providing storage at a tenth of the price on a cost/megabit basis.

- Drive capacities are growing at a rate of 40 percent per year.

- The industry is expected to cross the 1 Tb/sq. inch threshold in the 2012-2013 timeframe.

- The demand for 2.5" mobile or portable drives keeps growing at a faster pace and has outstripped the total addressable market for desktop drives.

- Cloud storage shifts some of the requirements for massive storage on a PC device to one in the Cloud with a company such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mobile VoIP Applications on the Rise in Businesses

Voice-over-IP (VoIP) has revolutionized voice communication services over the past several years and has reduced long-distance calling costs for both residential and business broadband subscribers. It's now spreading from the traditional landline applications to the mobile phone user.

Usage is on the rise, creating significant opportunity for mobile VoIP gateway equipment suppliers -- as expenditures in this space are expected to soar beyond the $6 billion mark in 2015, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"Mobile VoIP has only recently begun being implemented in the business environment," says Amy Cravens, Market Analyst at In-Stat.

One of the key benefits of mobile VoIP for enterprises is extending desk phone functionality to mobile devices. Business-oriented solutions will essentially enable the user's  mobile phones to become an extension of their desk phones and will deliver, in addition to voice, a unified communications experience -- including email, IM, and online collaboration.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- Business mobile VoIP users will increase tenfold over the next five years.

- Mobile operators are currently a barrier to adoption but could become a significant driver of adoption over the next several years.

- Business mobile VoIP is based on IP PBX and hosted PBX solutions.

- Growth in IP PBX mobile VoIP usage will largely be driven by mid-sized and enterprise businesses.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Asia-Pacific has 76 Percent of Global Fiber Subs

Subscribers of broadband services continue to grow across the globe, with mobile wireless growth, in particular, exceeding all expectations. The primary driver responsible for the growth of broadband subscribers continues to be the desire to access the Internet -- and the increasing availability of online multimedia content.

The growing popularity of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as viewing streamed online video, using IP-based telephony services, and streaming or downloading music files, is directly spurring demand for higher-speed Internet connections -- with global subscribers totaling 763 million in 2010.

"From 2007 through 2009, there was a continued growth rate of 25 percent in broadband subscribers worldwide," says Vahid Dejwakh, Industry Analyst at In-Stat.

Though this momentum is expected to slowly decrease to 10 percent growth by 2014 as the broadband market matures, there are still some substantial gains to be made.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, the Asia-Pacific region will continue to see very high growth rates, along with Latin America and the Middle East (incl. Africa) regions.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

By year-end 2010, the U.S. will have over 179 million broadband subscribers in the country.

- Total worldwide DSL subscribers will reach 371 million at year-end 2010, fueled primarily by strong demand for DSL service in the Asia-Pacific region.

- Mobile wireless broadband subscribers continue to grow rapidly as mobile telephone service providers roll out 3G and 4G services.

- Approximately 76 percent of the world's FTTH subscribers reside in the Asia-Pacific region.

- North America continues to be the largest market for cable modem services.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Affluent Americans Increase Usage of Mobile Apps


According to recent eMarketer estimates, 31 percent of mobile phone users -- or 73.3 million people in the U.S. market, currently have a smartphone. Penetration is still growing, and smartphones will be used by 43 percent of mobile phone service subscribers by 2015.

As advanced handsets reach more people, mobile phone application adoption has gained new momentum. But application usage still shows evidence of being most popular among the typical early-adopter demographic.

Overall, Ask.com and Harris Interactive found that 69 percent of U.S. smartphone owners had downloaded a mobile app as of October 2010. Among men the figure was 74 percent, while just 62 percent of women said they had downloaded apps.

Survey respondents ages 35 to 44 were most likely to report having downloaded a mobile app, followed closely by those ages 18 to 24. Overall, app downloads among smartphone users ages 18 to 44 were significantly higher than among older users.

Downloading an app was actually a minority activity for those over 55 years of age.

Subscriber income is a significant indicator of app download market potential, as it is with smartphone ownership overall. The most affluent respondents were much more likely to say they had downloaded an app, while those making less than $75,000 annually came in below average.

There are only a few demographic groups for which apps are still considered a niche activity. The higher focus of young and affluent smartphone users on mobile apps will make them an attractive target among marketers.

Also, as lower-usage segments of the population continue to adopt smartphones, and those with smartphones utilize all advanced features of the device, then app usage will likely increase exponentially.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Media Tablets and App Stores Gaining Adoption

Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and RIM's PlayBook are the first examples of a rapidly growing new class of portable computer product -- the Media Tablet.

Compared with other portable computing devices, Media Tablets are optimized around a limited number of content consumption functions -- such as managing pictures, watching TV shows and movies, listening to music, playing games and accessing the web. It is functions such as these that account for the majority of screen time for many portable computing buyers.

According to the latest market study by Generator Research, Apple, along with a range of rival vendors will ship a total of 117 million Media Tablets in 2014. By comparison, shipments of Notebook PCs will exceed 257 million -- but Netbook PC shipments will struggle to reach 48 million.

The development of the Media Tablet market will mean that sales of Tablet PCs, which are mostly based on Microsoft software, and Dedicated e-Readers will have fallen by 61 percent and 55 percent respectively by 2014. Media Tablets will also cause Netbook sales to fall by 20 percent in 2014.

Apple's share of the Media Tablet market, which was around 78 percent in 2010, will fall to around 47 percent by 2014 -- due to aggressive competition between rival vendors who don't want to miss this new high-growth market opportunity.

According to the Generator Research assessment, success in the Media Tablet market will require a new competitive approach.

PC vendors have traditionally focused on hardware technical specifications, but users are demanding that their Media Tablet comes with associated software in the form of an applications (app) store.

Leading vendors will also need to offer branded content and services that work on the user's Media Tablet and Smartphone.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

3D-Enabled Handheld Game Consoles Arrive in 2011

Due to advancements in autostereoscopic 3D technology, it's now being utilized to view a variety of video content in mobile devices -- such as high-end smartphones and handheld game consoles.

Autostereoscopy is any method of displaying stereoscopic images (adding perception of 3D depth) without the use of special headgear or glasses on the part of the viewer. Because headgear is not required, it is also called glasses-free or glasses-less 3D.

As an example of the applications, Nintendo plans to release its first 3D-enabled handheld game console -- called the 3DS -- in the first half of 2011. According to the latest market study by In-Stat, this will be the beginning of what will result in over 11 million unit shipments of 3D-enabled handheld game consoles by 2014.

"The uptake of 3D in handheld game consoles will happen more rapidly than in other mobile device segments over the coming year," says Stephanie Ethier at In-Stat.

Apparently, this is primarily because the two leading handheld game manufacturers need something to differentiate from one another in this maturing market -- 3D technology applications will be that unique product attribute.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- In 2011, handheld game consoles will account for 65 percent of all 3D-enabled mobile devices shipments.

- Lack of mobile 3D content will be the biggest barrier to 3D adoption in mobile devices over the coming year.

- By 2012, 3D-enabled smartphones will represent 45 percent of all 3D-enabled mobile devices shipments.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

61.5 Million Mobile Smartphone Users in U.S. Market

comScore reported key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending November 2010. Their report ranked the leading mobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and smartphone operating system (OS) platforms in the U.S. market.

In summary, the November market study found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall -- with 24.5 percent market share, while RIM continues to be the top smartphone platforms -- with 33.5 percent market share.

For the three month average period ending in November, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile phone devices.

Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 24.5 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers, up 0.9 percentage points from the three month period ending in August. LG ranked second with 20.9 percent share, followed by Motorola (17.0 percent), RIM (8.8 percent) and Nokia (7.2 percent).

61.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in November, up 10 percent from the preceding three-month period, as RIM led with 33.5 percent market share of smartphones.

After several months of strong growth, Google Android captured the #2 ranking among smartphone platforms in November with 26.0 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers. Apple accounted for 25.0 percent of smartphone subscribers (up 0.8 percentage points), followed by Microsoft with 9.0 percent and Palm with 3.9 percent.

In November, 67.1 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 0.5 percentage points versus the prior three month period, while browsers were used by 35.3 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 0.8 percentage points). Subscribers who used downloaded applications comprised 33.4 percent of the mobile audience, representing an increase of 1.1 percentage points.

Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 1.0 percentage points, representing 23.5 percent of mobile subscribers. Playing games attracted 22.6 percent of the mobile audience while listening to music attracted 15.0 percent.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Channel-Centric Pay-TV is Becoming Obsolete

Most subscribers of traditional pay-TV services have evolved beyond the channel-centric constraints of legacy video entertainment offerings. As a result, global unit shipments of personal video recorder (PVR) products set a new record in 2009, and that benchmark is expected to be eclipsed by 2010 shipments.

Fueled by growing consumer demand to time-shift television programming and thereby avoid the inherent limitations of linear programs on broadcast channels, pay-TV service providers are deploying millions of new PVR products each year.

In-Stat is forecasting that the global annual PVR product unit shipments will surpass 50 million by 2014.

"Historically, the PVR product segment has been a growth market, even though most unit shipments were restricted to just a few countries," says Mike Paxton, Principal Analyst at In-Stat.

Over the past year PVR products are becoming more common in places such as Latin America and Eastern Europe, a development that bodes well for the near-term growth prospects of the PVR market.

However, the PVR adoption phenomenon is likely short-lived, as more consumers discover the freedom that's gained from embracing on-demand IP video offerings. Perhaps the channel-centric delivery model is becoming obsolete, and it's happening sooner than industry analysts had anticipated.

In-Stat's latest market study revealed the following:

- Worldwide revenues in 2010 are projected to increase significantly, rising by over $1.2 billion in comparison to 2009 revenues.

- A key market driver for PVR products in the near-future will be digital terrestrial television (DDT) set top boxes that integrate PVR capabilities.

- PVR-enabled satellite set top boxes continue to be the largest PVR product segment, followed by cable set top boxes.

- In 2009, Motorola was the leading PVR product manufacturer with over 4.9 million PVR product unit shipments.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth Competition to Accelerate

High-Speed Bluetooth, or Bluetooth 3.0 as it's also known, was designed to elevate Bluetooth connections to higher speed applications. It works by using classic Bluetooth to connect to devices, then Wi-Fi to deliver speeds of up to 24Mbps.

The availability of High-Speed Bluetooth via combo chips with classic BT improves its chances of success. However, a new potential alternative -- Wi-Fi Direct -- allows peer-to-peer connections between Wi-Fi devices.

If Wi-Fi Direct succeeds it could eliminate the need for Bluetooth 3.0 altogether, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"Standard Wi-Fi is increasingly common in many Bluetooth target markets," says Brian O'Rourke, Principal Analyst at In-Stat.

Until recently, lack of peer-to-peer connectivity was the most significant weakness of Wi-Fi in those markets. Wi-Fi Direct addresses that weakness and, because there is significant application overlap in PCs and mobile phones, it is a very real threat to the long term viability of Bluetooth 3.0.

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:

- Classic Bluetooth technology will remain dominant in phones indefinitely.

- Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii game controllers have Bluetooth.

- Bluetooth 3.0, a new high-speed standard that combines Bluetooth with Wi-Fi, entered into the market in mobile phones in 2010.

- The Bluetooth USB adapter market will remain robust due to Bluetooth's lack of ubiquity in the mobile PC space and low penetration of desktop PCs.

- Personal media players, game consoles, and game controllers are the main drivers of Bluetooth growth in consumer electronics (CE) devices.

- Growth in industrial and medical markets will be driven by Bluetooth Low Energy.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

How Online Video is Guiding B2B Procurement


eMarketer reports that executives are taking time to view business-oriented video, according to the findings of a market study by Forbes Insights. In some cases, they may prefer video content to text -- for learning about new products and services.

A majority of businesspeople surveyed by Forbes in October 2010 said they watched more online video than a year earlier. Nearly 60 percent of all respondents said they would watch video before reading text on the same webpage, and 22 percent said they generally liked watching video more than reading text for reviewing business information.

Three-quarters of all executives said they watched work-related videos on business websites at least once a week, and more than half did the same on YouTube.

Video can be highly effective for vendor marketing. The executives surveyed reported taking a wide variety of actions after watching online videos, with about two-thirds visiting vendor websites subsequent to viewing and more than half searching for more information.

Especially among younger executives, the likelihood of making a purchase after viewing video content was high.

Generational differences ran throughout the Forbes research, with a split in behavior at age 50. While the youngest executives were most interested in video across the board, baby boomers in their 40s had comparable participation levels.

It was older executives who had not yet adopted video content, and business-to-business marketers will likely continue to reach them via other legacy marketing means.

That said, informative video has clearly become more important for the younger buyer of business products and services. In fact, marketers can depend on them to watch, pass along, and recommend a vendor's video -- potentially leading to a purchase prospect.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Wi-Fi Hotspot Leadership in Europe and North America

While the local venue growth of Wi-Fi hotspots has been, and continues to be, a leading market indicator, usage growth has been phenomenal. As an example, in the U.S. market AT&T reported a fivefold increase from 1Q09 to 1Q10.

Other broadband service providers have experienced similarly strong growth in usage. In-Stat now forecasts that worldwide annual hotspot connects will grow to over 11 billion by 2014.

"Venue growth will begin to wane over the next several years as operator networks reach a critical mass and desirable locations become saturated. Growth in usage is expected to remain strong over the forecast period," says Amy Cravens, Market Analyst at In-Stat.

In the past, usage growth has largely been tied to venue growth -- i.e., the more venues the more usage -- and the rate of usage per venue was fairly constant. Going forward, however, usage growth will be driven by increases in connects per day at each venue.

This usage and application is a result, at least in part, to a broadening base of Wi-Fi-enabled consumer electronic devices.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- Worldwide annual hotspot connects, or sessions, will reach over 2 billion by the end of 2010 with annual hotspot connects anticipated to grow to over 11 billion by 2014.

- Asia-Pacific will have about one quarter of the worldwide hotspot venues over the forecast period.

- By 2012, handheld mobile multimedia-capable (smartphone, tablet, etc) devices are anticipated to account for half of hotspot connects.

- The total worldwide hotspot market size will swell to 319,200 venues by year-end.

- Annual venue growth is expected to remain strong over the next several years, but will begin to slow in latter forecast years.

- Europe and North America are the largest hotspot markets based on usage (annual connects).

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Challenges Delivering Superfast Broadband Services

BT, the British telecom company, is facing a big challenge in 2011 -- delivering its new superfast broadband service, to at least half a million UK homes. Point Topic forecasts that the number of telephone lines carrying superfast broadband in the UK will leap from only about 45,000 today to over 600,000 by the end of the year.

"BT has to reach numbers like this to show that their investment in superfast broadband is credible," claims Tim Johnson, Chief Analyst at Point Topic. "They have to show both that the demand is there and that they have the technology to supply it. It’s going to be very exciting to see if they manage it."

If Point Topic is right, then only 3 percent of all broadband lines in the UK will be superfast, getting speeds of over 25Mbps -- using fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) by the end of 2011. Another 200,000 or so (about 1 percent) will be paying for the Virgin Media 50Mbps service over the cable TV provider's network.

Perhaps BT can achieve a big increase in its superfast rollout rate during 2011. BT Infinity was adding about 3,000 customers a week by October 2010 and new orders were running at 4,000 a week. It will need to average 9,000 new connections per week in the first half of 2011 and 14,000 in the second half to reach the total Point Topic has forecast.

"There are good reasons for thinking that can be done," says Johnson. The number of homes which BT Infinity can sell to will increase hugely, from about 600,000 in mid-2010 to over 6 million by end-2011. At the same time there are clear signs that BT Openreach has largely cracked the problems of delivering superfast broadband.

After a faltering start, reaching only 7,500 customers by the end of June 2010, according to Point Topic estimates, BT started to get its act together in the third quarter to reach 38,000 by 5 November.

"Our forecast is still very vulnerable to a wide range of potential problems," Johnson explains. "It could be hit by anything from the weather to a double-dip recession."

The key issue will be the sheer technical difficulty of keeping the process running smoothly while scaling it up to cover several times the current number of installations per week. But the rate of growth is within the range of what has been achieved with other broadband technologies in the past, notably DSL and local loop unbundling.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Broadband Service Provider Residential CPE Growth

Residential Gateways continued their growth within the broadband service provider customer premise equipment (CPE) market during the third quarter of 2010 -- rising 4.9 percent from the previous quarter and 43.2 percent from a year ago.

Residential Gateway devices represented nearly 40 percent of all broadband CPE shipments in 3Q10, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"The overall broadband CPE market grew for the 2nd consecutive quarter in 3Q10 and, as in last quarter, the growth is primarily a result of increases in Residential Gateway shipments," says Brad Shaffer, Industry Analyst at In-Stat.

This growth trend is likely to continue for the next several cycles.

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:

- In 3Q10, 30.3 million broadband CPE units were shipped, a 1.7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 5.1 percent increase from the same quarter last year.

- Cable modem unit shipments were up 10.7 percent from the previous quarter, largely due to a 15.5 percent jump in EMTA modem shipments.

- xDSL modem shipments continued to decline, falling 12.5 percent from the previous quarter and 42.7 percent from the same quarter last year.

- D-Link continues to dominate the broadband CPE market with a shipment based market share of over 14 percent, in line with their market share in the same period a year ago.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Mobile Messaging is Growing in Emerging Markets

Mobile SMS has proven to be a significant success ever since it started to show its first signs of adoption in the early 1990s. So much so that next year, according to ABI Research estimates, more than seven trillion SMS messages will be sent worldwide, from nearly 4.2 billion mobile subscriptions.

Messaging is also more prevalent among younger mobile phone service subscribers, and as they replace older subscribers, messaging will get a further boost.

Messaging includes four types of communication: SMS, MMS, mobile email and Instant Messaging. SMS is being increasingly regarded as something of a commodity by users, due to falling delivery costs and high competition.

According to ABI industry analyst Aapo Markkanen, "When these trends towards commoditization are combined with the wider adoption of mobile email and IM services, the revenue proportion of SMS and MMS against the market total is expected to decline."

Email has the advantage of familiarity for many consumers, and, says Markkanen, "Due to relatively low PC penetration in emerging regions, for many consumers across Latin America, Africa, and south Asia mobile devices will provide the primary screen for accessing email. This won't be restricted to smartphones -- many companies are developing solutions to allow more basic handsets to handle email."

Messaging is, increasingly, a tool for the enterprise as well as for individuals. Mobile messaging has distinct advantages for companies communicating with their customers. It is universal, cost-effective and reliable, and most people have their phones with them and switched on most of the time.

However the rate of mobile phone adoption generally will gradually decline over the next five years, and growth in number of new customers starting to use messaging will likewise slow gradually.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Top 10 Trends for Telecoms and Media in 2011

Informa Telecoms & Media recently revealed the top ten anticipated trends during 2011 -- for the telecoms and media sectors -- at its annual Industry Outlook event in London, England.

"We have identified the key trends across our research areas that we think will shape the converging global telecoms and media markets over the next 12 months. In addition, our annual industry survey gave us some insight into how the industry feels about the issues most likely to dominate the landscape in 2011," says Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer.

1. Operators choose a smartphone platform strategy
The popularity of smartphone devices has led mobile operators, developers and handset manufacturers alike to re-focus on this device. Operators are trying to decide whether to build their own platforms or accept that the Internet and OS players will dominate. The outcome of this decision will determine who are the winners and losers.

2. Democratization of mobile smartphones
In 2010, smartphone adoption in the lower price tiers grew data revenues from a broader user base -- this trend will accelerate in 2011. Some vendors will further reduce the cost of smartphones, to create devices for the mass-market -- a strategy that is welcomed by the mobile operators. Informa expects 342 million smartphones to be sold worldwide in 2011 -- equating to 27 percent of total handsets sold.

3. Strategic partnerships between operators and Internet players
The successful mobile operators will be those that have strategic partnerships with key Internet players, and not the ones who want to block these companies from accessing their customers. While operators look to develop these relationships, they too are being forced to partner with each other.

4. Operators to focus on vertical markets
Operators have considered the mobile enterprise opportunity for many years. In 2011, their focus is machine-to-machine (M2M) rather than voice and SMS. The healthcare sector is where they're still in the early stages of learning the best opportunities. They will need to do the same for each vertical sector, to decide where to develop applications.

5. Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for growth
Mobile operators must harness IM and social networking to increase the use of their traditional messaging services, and to generate additional revenues. Mobile operators will need to maintain a primary role in how their subscribers access IM and social apps. This means implementing network-based address book services -- which will be the starting point.

6. Operators must catch up in the superfast broadband race
So far, leaders of superfast broadband have been the cable operators -- telecoms operators must move in 2011. Those with fiber need to be assertive -- to convince consumers and service providers to adopt their new networks. Low prices and attractive bundles, rather than speeds, will be vital. Operators will likely also rekindle their interest in low-cost VDSL.

7. The battle for the connected home continues
Connected TVs will overtake games consoles as the dominant in-home device, at least in terms of units sold. It's unclear how many people will use the online video services. By the end of 2011, Informa believes that we'll know whether over-the top services are game-changers for the pay-TV industry.

8. Cable TV declines in Western Europe
Operators struggle to convert European cable homes from analog to digital, and they're competing to upsell their subscribers to service bundles -- triple-play or quad-play. Informa predicts that the number of Western European cable TV subscribers will fall from 51 million in 2006 to 48 million in 2015 -- or from 31 percent of households to 26 percent.

9. LTE spectrum fragmentation will undermine its global potential
LTE's adaptability may undermine its global potential. The failure to identify globally harmonized spectrum for next-generation 4G services means that LTE is being required to provide operators with multiple options -- in terms of channel size and spectrum band, as well as a choice between FDD and TDD modes.

10. Network rationalization continues
2010 was a year of network rationalization -- 2011 looks to be no different. When it's unsustainable for small carriers to deploy new networks, market consolidation will follow, and so too will network rationalization. Informa expects more network sharing -- as carriers come under increasing pressure to universalize their networks and reach the underserved.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Business-Oriented Mobile Apps Upside Opportunity


In December, Cisco Systems launched the Cisco Connected 360 Apple iPad app -- the on-the-move resource for Service Providers -- that's part of a growing trend where companies are co-creating and packaging content intended for consumption on new multimedia-enabled mobile devices.

eMarketer reports that business executives have been reliant on a mobile phone for years, giving them a lifeline to their work while away from the office. Moreover, as smartphones become entrenched into all aspects of life, and more tech-savvy executives move up the ranks, opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) marketers are improving.

Among C-suite executives surveyed in October 2010 by Forbes Insights, 82 percent had a smartphone -- far above smartphone penetration in the population as a whole. For a majority of executives, their mobile device is considered their primary business communications tool.

The oldest survey respondents were the group least comfortable with making a business purchase via mobile -- though even 48 percent of over-50s said they were comfortable. Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents would buy items for work over the mobile web, a proportion that reached 78 percent among executives under 40.

Most U.S. executives were also using mobile apps for business purposes. There was a dramatic drop in app usage among the oldest respondents, but a majority of all those under 50 used both free and paid B2B apps at least occasionally.

And the executives are paying attention to ads on their mobile devices as well. A majority (57%) said they noticed mobile advertising, and nearly as many had clicked on mobile web ads (56%) and paid search ads (51%).

"As optimistic as this may sound to marketers, senior executives also present a warning to would-be advertisers: 53 percent of executives -- evenly distributed across age groups -- indicate that they find mobile ads more intrusive than typical web ads," cautioned the report.

Therefore, perhaps savvy B2B marketers would be wise to focus more on creating and publishing valued content that's useful to target stakeholders, rather than spending their budget on creating mobile advertising -- that may ultimately be ignored.