Someone claiming to be an SEO expert told me that ‘there’s no difference between mobile and web searches’. In fact there is a difference. I’ve put together this article to explain the need for mobile search optimisation and how you can do it (it’s not that hard).
In my ongoing need to justify whey I’m not on Facebook, I have a couple of quotes that aptly explain some of the reasons:
Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site.
Your social-networking site becomes a central platform—a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it. The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the Web becomes fragmented, and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space.
Who said that? Tim Berners-Lee. I’m not saying that we should make all of our personal details available on the web, but what I do think is that using our personal information as a currency for advertisers is not good. It is inevitable that such data has to be kept behind a walled garden, which is entirely against the core principles of the web.
Mobile analysts, Royal Pingdom, have produced some surprising research regarding worldwide mobile web usage. Proportionately it is highest in Asia and Africa. Not only that, the most used handsets by far are Nokia’s running Symbian OS. Or is it really that surprising? Given that these are proportional figures comparing fixed vs mobile web, rather than volumes. In the UK for example, 20m+ people access the mobile web every month. That represents over 20% of mobile users, however proportionately the web usage only accounts for just a few percent. That’s because mobile access is shorter demonstrating a more ‘snacking’ behaviour. In large parts of Africa and Asia, fixed web is difficult to obtain, and mobile offers the only practical way to get online. Similarly with the handsets, the iPhones and BlackBerrys of this world are just not available in many of those countries. They are the places where Nokia dominate.
Some countries particularly stand out for their relatively high mobile web usage: in Nigeria it’s 25% and in India and Bangladesh it’s 15%. What the figures don’t tell us is what kind of web usage it is. Are they browsing mobile optimised sites? Social media? Or email? Certainly the predictions that mobile web will overtake the fixed web in the next few years look very realistic.
I’ve dug up a some more information to enhance my post about Nokia Ovi Store’s 3 million users per day. I guessed that there were around 195m Nokia Smartphone users worldwide. Not a bad guess. Nokia tell us that 165m people are registered with the Ovi Store. Great news. It still puts them way below itunes app downloads though. This handy chart shows the comparison between the two:
There has been quite a bit written in the telecoms press about various initiatives that will see the death of the SIM card as we know it. This is very significant for mobile marketing for a number of reasons, but primarily there could be a major shift in customers’ relationships with their operator. For mobile marketers it means the brand engagement in mobile could shift with it.
Firstly I’ll explain what the change in the technology and business model will be. Since the advent of GSM, the defining technology has been the SIM card. The rectangular card with the corner cut off. Technically it’s not a SIM card at all, but a UICC. SIM is the subscriber information (such as the mobile number) embedded in the card. We will stick with the SIM term as that is what we all understand. At the moment, the SIM comes from the mobile network operator, which has the mobile number and operator information hard coded within it. That’s been good news for the mobile opeartors as they have complete control over the access and billing for that phone. It means that handsets can be sold below cost as the operator has a guaranteed revenue. The operators call it a ‘subsidy’ but technically it’s really a loan, as consumer pay for the cost of the handset (and much more) through their monthly tariff.
However, the change is that the SIM will no longer be hard coded. In the future, the SIM information will be able to be remotely programmed by anyone prepared to provide a service. Apple are showing a particular interest in this for a few reasons. Perhaps the biggest one is that there will no longer be a SIM card in the iphone. Instead you will buy the handset from Apple and the whole thing will be activated via something like itunes. Thus they have cut out the operator from the whole sales model. Apple managed to do it with content, with the app store cutting operators out of the content business, so there’s every reason to suppose that it could happen with the SIM information as well. What this means from a brand perspective is that media ownership will be even further entrenched with the likes of Apple and Google.
By having a remotely programmable SIM, it allows many different things to be done. For starters subscribers are no longer tied to an operator and can jump around from one to the other. No need to get codes and new SIM cards. It also makes it easier to create other SIM embeded devices, such as smart metering. It also means that other information to be programmed into the SIM. One area that would obviously benefit from this is NFC, or Contactless Payments. Apple are beginning to show a keen interest in this area, whilst all the major credit card companies (not to mention the GSM Association) have already invested heavily. The idea is that there will be a standard protocol (not yet agreed!), so any phone with an NFC chip will work on any reader. The specific card company information can then be remotely programmed into the SIM. So, you won’t have to buy a Barclaycard phone, you just get your handset reprogrammed.
The GSM Association are also interested in remote SIM programming. Some observers have thought that a strange position as it makes the operators into providers of even dumber pipes than present. However, when you think of it in terms of NFC, then it makes sense. The operators want to be in on payments and this could be the way to do it.
I previously blogged about Apple becoming the fourth largest handset manufacturer. Here, I look at the figures for smartphones only. The at-a-glance status is:
Nokia 26.5M (33%)
Apple 14.1M (18%)
RIM 12.4M (15%)
Samsung 7.9M (10%)
HTC 6.8M (9%)
Moto 3.8M (5%)
Traditionally Q3 is Nokia’s worst time, and Apple’s best. They only bring out one iPhone a year, and this is reflected in the sales figures. My guess is that a vast majority of these sales are the iPhone 4, so we can estimate their current sales of this mobile at 12-14 million. What is significant about this though is that Apple has jumped ahead of RIM. In spite of the youth appeal of BlackBerry and BBM, the Canadian company have lost their way, failing to bring out the killer handsets that others have. Samsung have done particularly well, but it’s no surprise when you look at the Galaxy S and their entry level smartphones. What they have also done through using Google’s OS, Android, is make it the second most popular operating system:
Symbian 29M – 36%
Android 20M – 25%
iOS 14M – 18%
RIM 12M – 15%
WinMo 2M – 3%
Samsung, Motorola and HTC have all benefitted from using Android. This appears to have been at the expense of Symbian, which may have previously appealed to the Android manufacturers.The distribution of Android amongst manufacturers is as follows:
1. HTC 33%
2. Samsung 31%
3. Motorola 18%
4. SonyEricsson 8%
Although Samsung sell more smartphones than HTC, some of those use their own Bada OS. Interestingly sales of Bada phones are greater than Android sales were at the equivalent point. Certainly one OS to watch.
Overall smartphone sales were up this quarter by nearly 30% – yet more evidence that the mobile world will be all smartphones sooner or later.
*Source figures from TomiAhonen Consulting
Whilst brands have been rushing to get their apps (and the iphone variety in particular) into the appstores, a study has found that most mobile shoppers would prefer to use the mobile web. An Orange study (Orange Exposure 2010) has found that 70% of people would prefer it that way. In many ways these figures are unsurprising. So many brand apps could have been done using the mobile web, at less cost and with a far greater reach. Marks and Spencer‘s understand this. They don’t do apps. Apps don’t reach many of their customers (an interesting side note to this is that men are far more interested in downloading apps than women). Instead they came up with a fully transactional site with 26,000 products. And people buy from it. Would they have achieved the same success with an app? Very unlikely. Although the ebay iphone app has been successful, the company has a very broad demographic, and a very good mobile website.
Mobile retail is currently small – around £125m in the UK – but set to grow. Figures from Verdict and Ovum suggest that mobile retail sales in the UK will more than double in the next two yours with 4% of online sales being made by mobile browsers. Given that only around 2% of the UK buy through their mobile at the moment, the potential there waiting to be realised.
You can get more mobile internet stats here.