Pointless Gadgets that Make People Look Stupid (#34)

I have said many times before that people will not adopt gadgets that basically make you look stupid. There was the Sinclair C5 failure and the Segway – OK a few daft American use them, but it’s not exactly the transport revolution the developers were hoping for. In mobile we have Bluetooth headsets (no one uses one unless you’re a bouncer or a taxi driver), the erm, iPhone cinama hat (you have to see it to believe it). The latest in the line of silly gadgets is the emergency power wrist band. OK, the hat thing is far far sillier, but still, wiring yourself into this clunky looking strap will make you look like you’re hard wired into your iphone. There are perfectly good battery cases that fit around iPhones and other smartphones, so why would you bother with this? And should I even bother posting a photo of it?

Is Nokia’s Ovi Store Cathing up with Apple’s downloads?

Nokia have just announced that their downloads from their app store have reached 3 million a day. That’s over 90 million Ovi Store downloads per month. At the same time the number of registered developers with Nokia has shot up to 400,000. The Finnish company put much of it down to the latest Symbian OS and the availability of apps such a Swype. It’s all pretty good going. But how does that compare with iPhone app downloads?

The last published figure from Apple earlier this year was 280 million downloads per month, or just over 9 million per day. In spite of the Ovi Store catching up quickly, Apple is still seing three times as many downloads. However, Nokia are the world’s largest handset manufacturer (with Apple in 4th), so perhaps a more telling way is to look at the number of downloads per handset. This is not an easy task. For starters, Nokia sells a majority of basic handsets and although they may be capable of downloading apps, most of their users buy them to make calls and send texts. Similarly, the Apple figures also include the iPod Touch. Most of those users will buy the device in preference to an iPod precisely because they can download and play games. Although the downloads are relevant, the Touch isn’t a a mobile phone.

The other problem is we don’t know how many of each device is in circulation. iPhones and iPod touches, we could guess at around 100 million currently in use (that’s taking sales and taking off upgrades and older models). That would mean around 0.09 per day per user or 2.7 per user per month.

Nokia is even harder. We know that they sell around three times as many smartphones as Apple, but that doesn’t tell us how many are out there. Lets say there are 65 million iPhones (not Touches) in use, the Nokia figure will be around three times that at 195 million.  That’s 0.02 downloads per user per day, or 0.6 downloads per user per month. That means Apple users download 5 times more than Nokia’s. And when you look at the bottom line, profit, Apple is way ahead of their competitors.

As with any stats, you can make of them what you want, but it looks like Nokia have a long way to go before they can challenge Apple’s premier position. (There’s more on the OviStore stats here)

Why I’m not on Facebook (Pt 2)

Earlier this year I felt it necessary to explain why I’m not on Facebook (and no, I’ve never been to a McDonalds either). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media as such (look, I blog), but I outlined my reasons pretty clearly. I was also trying to avoid seeing The Social Network film, however, I finally went to see it this weekend (yes, I’m probably the last person to get around to it). It’s not a bad film, but it confirmed to me all the reasons why I don’t do the Facebook thing. The film confirmed most of the things on my list or reasons – they talk about writing in ink on the internet, I talk about the internet not forgetting – and my prime reason for not being on it, is the cliquiness. The whole concept of FB was about cliques, both preserving and creating them. So there you have it, I don’t do Facebook and as yet I have no compelling reason to do so (nor go to a McDonalds for that matter).

Mobile Fraud may be damaging to operators

We’ve seen over the last 20 years that where ever there’s a new technology, there comes a risk of fraud. Although the telecoms industry is rife with scammers and dodgy dealers, mobile has been relatively fraud (and for that matter spam) free. There are a number of reasons for it, but at a practical level much of that is down to the way that the networks have sewn up their technology, and in particular a protocol called SS7. A warning from SS7 monitoring company, Evolved Intelligence suggest that fraud attempts are set to rise. Unfortunately fraudsers are finding their way around using it to both intercept phone calls, but to particularly send spam SMS.
Much of this is down to changes in the telecoms industry, with MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) and hub operators having more access to the network. Along with it, VOIP and internetworking have given the fraudsters more tools with which to access the networks.
The result of this is more spam and more vishing (voice-based phishing) attacks or attempts at denial of service. From a mobile marketing stand-point this could become a real headache. With an increase in fraud will come an increase in consumer distrust of mobile marketing. They may, for example, be put off signing up for a brand campaign because they are wary due to previous spam attempts.

Android now the second most popular mobile OS

In spite of Apple’s surge against RIM’s BlackBerry, the Q3 figures just published by Garnter show that Android has met expectations and become the biggest handset operating system after Symbian (widely used by Nokia phones). An interesting side note is that smartphone sales grew by 96% in the last quarter. With Android smartphones, such as those developed by Samsung now selling for under £90 on pay-as-you-go, the prediction that every phone will be a smartphone seems to becoming a reality.

If figures float your boat, here’s a table showing the relative positions:

More stuff from Gartner here

UK iPad Sales: not looking too optimistic

If the recent research from Broadband Genie is anything to go by, it looks like UK consumers are not convinced by the £400 price tag of an iPad to actually buy one. Apple have not yet published figures for iPad sales either globally or by territory, so apart from the quoted figure of 2 million iPads in two months (worldwide) little is actually known about the sales. In fact journalists were left to estimate volumes by measuring the length of queues at the Apple stores at launch (longest was Australia at 650 feet).

It’s important to not get caught up by the rush of geeks at the launch of any device, the true measure will be from long-terms sales. However, the recent UK report suggests that 60% of consumers regard the iPad as an over-priced gadget. Part of the problem may come from the fact that the market is used to highly subsidised phones, leaving consumers thinking ‘why pay £400 when I can get an iPhone as part of a contract’? However, the other element may simply be that the need that Apple saw in the market just isn’t that large.

Although eBooks have proven to be successful, the highly touted magazine subscriptions are yet to take off. Ad Age reported that magazine subscriptions for tablet devices have fallen well below expectations, ranking low on iPad users’ apps wish lists. To be fair, the tablet market is a new one and could take a while to find its feet. However, it may prove difficult for publishers to get the return on the massive investments made in this sector.

Retail mCommerce: the bandwagon rolls on

I have previously blogged about how big retail through mobile phones is going to be. The bandwagon started a few months ago with Marks and Spencer’s mobile site, followed last month by John Lewis. Tesco Direct have now launched their own fully fledged mobile site at http://www.tesco.com/direct . As with their fellow mCommerce retailers, the site has all the mCommerce functions you would expect, and is part of a plan to mobile-ise many of the Tesco services/products. Based on the M&S experience it is clear that people will buy through their mobile phones where the site functions well and the brand is trusted.

Meanwhile, in the US, Barney’s have launched their own mobile site (http://m.barneys.com), selling luxury items. Are people going to buy expensive goods through their mobile phones? Given that eBay sold a $350k sports car through their mobile app, the answer is most certainly ‘yes’. Amazon already have revenues in excess of $1 billion globally through mCommerce and eBay expect to match that in the next 12 months, so expect to see an explosion of mobile-enable sites in the next year.