Useful Stats which Show Mobile Bringing Higher ROI

A useful article from Search Engine Land includes some useful stats which show how mobile and tablets are performing across certain sectors:

Another trend which was first identified by Adobe Research last year is that tablet devices bring a higher ROI than desktop. Whilst the reasons have not been identified, it is likely to be a combination of factors. Until very recently, the tablet landscape has been dominated by the iPad, which is largely bought by those in higher income brackets. Add to that the rich user experience, accessed from almost anywhere in the home, and you see a higher purchase value in retail. There is more here in this very useful report.

Mobile specialists are aware that different handsets and operating systems appeal to specific demographics. The chart below supports this, as it shows how Android and iOS deliver different ROIs:

Instagram is an insta-hit on Android

No surprises really, but early reports suggest that Instagram on Android is as popular as people expected, with over 1 million downloads of their app in the first 24 hours. The iPhone version has steadily built a strong following, with over 30 million users, and it looks like the Android version will match that. The question that most people are asking was ‘why did it take so long’? According to Instagram, trying to develop for two platforms earlier would have made other innovations harder to implement.

Although a number of brands, such as Starbucks, Topshop, Ford (Feistagram) and Red Bull have used the channel, the potential for co-creation remains under-used. Perhaps the Android version will see brands making more use of Instagram.

The Problem with BlackBerry: still loosing sales to Android

The indications have been there for some time, but the rise and rise of Google’s Android seems to be at the expense of RIM’s BlackBerry. Whilst iPhone sales are slowly increasing, RIM is seeing its market share eroded. In an attempt to bring back their market share the Canadian company announced a number of new handsets (and launched their poorly received Play Book) at BlackBerry World this week. One interesting development was the announcement of an NFC enable BlackBerry Bold for contactless payments and ticketing. At the moment the handset has only been announced for the US users. The potential of NFC is significant and the fact that RIM are early to market in this technology could give them an advantage.

But are these handsets enough to increase BlackBerry’s position in the handset wars? Not according to Wall Street, with analysts predicting that the developments were little more than incremental and did nothing to deal with the underlying problem: good handsets but a poor operating system. The bottom line is that RIM are attempting to play catch-up by adding iPhone-like features. In a time when OS choices are driving smartphone adoption, Wall Street analysts claim that they are not addressing the ‘ineptness’ (as one analyst described it) of their operating system.

Although Blackberry was positioned primarily to the business market, their key success in the last few years has been BBM, their free, built-in messaging product. It has been widely adopted by teenagers in a similar way to the adoption of SMS ten years ago. Unfortunately young people are not the key demographic for success in the market. It’s the 25+ professionals (so, people with money) that are defining the iPhone and Android sales. Getting sales are not just about operating systems and great handsets, these days it’s also about app stores. Apple defined the market, but Android are rapidly catching up with iTunes. They already have more free apps, and the latest predictions show Android Market overtaking Apple’s offering the autumn. Does anyone buy a BlackBerry for the app store? Not very likely.

Mobile Predictions for 2011

How accurate were the 2011 predictions? As a review of the year in mobile, I have added comments in italics. 2012’s mobile predictions are here.

1.       The rise of Contactless (or NFC).

2011 will be the year that contactless technology comes to mobile in the UK (and Europe).

In the UK Orange and Barclaycard launched a (not very good) NFC phone. More significantly both the Google Nexus, higher end BlackBerry and a number of other devices included contactless. The real potential for growth will be in 2012. In the UK it will be spurred on by the need for fast payment etc at the Olympics and growth will be also be significant elsewhere, especially if the iPhone 5 includes an NFC chip.

2.       mCommerce – where the retailers lead, others will follow

Whilst 2010 saw retailers establish themselves in the mobile web space, 2011 was where they consolidated it. From eBay to Amazon, from M&S to Halfords, mobile represented 10% or more of their digital sales. Whilst there hasn’t been exactly a charge towards mobile web from other brands outside retail, during the year most of them created some kind of offering. Interestingly retailers are seeing the potential of mobile and moving beyond just a mobile site with initiatives such as augmented reality pop-up shops.

3.       Mobile Search – the next big thing in mobile marketing?

From the user perspective, 2011 saw mobile search continue to grow. More smartphones means more search from mobile, especially in stores. Research from Google showed that over 70% of smartphone owners were searching and comparing product information whilst in store. Not only that, but most mobile search is about immediate intent – people are looking for something because they want (or need) it now. Sadly brands have not really caught on to mobile search marketing in any significant way as yet. 

4.       Mobile Advertising gets Exciting

2011 saw HTML5 take off in mobile, and particularly mobile advertising. Besides iAd, Google also started to offer HTML5 banners through their ad channel. There were some creative campaigns – Nissan Duke for iAd, Tuborg and Magnum Ice Cream and Auto Trader in the UK – there is still a lot of untapped potential. Mobile is now 8% of our ‘media time’, more than in print, yet the spend on advertising is less than 1%. Print? More than 20% of the total spend.

5.       Location, Location, Location

Whilst location is the backbone of most mobile media, social location didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2011. Although Facebook incorporated location into status updates, they ended their Places and Deals, failing to become a leader in social location. However, Foursquare continued to see their numbers rise to 15m + users. Along with the likes of SCVNGR and Instagram, they engaged both users and brands. In the meantime, Facebook hired the Gowalla crew to rethink their offering. Social location remains important.

6.       The End of Unlimited Data Plans

It happened in the UK, US and elsewhere thanks to too many iPhone users. The biggest problem has been video. More and more mobile users are accessing it but it uses tremendous amounts of bandwidth. The only long term solution is 4G, which is beginning to roll out in some countries. In the UK, the government put the licence bids back into 2012, which means 2013 will be the earliest. Developing countries may well get into 4G sooner and leap-fog the UK. The mid-term solution is in rolling out more WiFi. O2 are working on that right now … hopefully there’ll be enough data bandwidth by the time every0ne arrives for the Olympics.

7.       New Interfaces

There were announcements of 3D screens, gesture control, and electrovibration to create the feeling of textures in mobile and tablet screens. The biggest impact on the consumer came in the form of voice interfaces, notably iOS5’s Siri. After Apple upped the ante, Google are looking to implement something better than Siri into Android in 2012.

8.       Fad Gadget?

Not everyone is convinced by the iPad. It made the top 10 list of worst gadgets of 2010 in one magazine, whilst also making the top 10 best gadgets in the same publication.

This prediction was entirely wrong. The tablet device, or the iPad (others sold very few), sold at a faster rate than the iPod or iPhone.   In many territories they were outselling PCs. 

9. Moblogging

This hasn’t taken off as such, but other forms of social media activity on smartphones increased. When Twitter was incorporated into iOS5, their sign up rate went up three-fold. Now nearly half of all Tweets come from mobile devices. It’s not just writing though. Mobile users say it through photos, as demonstrated by Instagram and Flickr (the iPhone 4 was the most used camera on the site).

10. Bada

I predicted that from a very fast start, Bada would become an important OS in 2011. It didn’t happen. Samsung have not released any figures about the operating system, but they would appear to be low, and the company is likely to drop the OS. In a way, it’s not surprising when you consider that Bada was for lower end handsets but consumers have moved towards smartphones. Not only that, but Android is open source and can be put on most handsets.

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

The trouble with Google Voice Actions

Google announced this week that it is adding 13 actions (eg send a text, send an email or search for) to it’s Android operating system. Finally we have a communication device that is like something out of Star Trek. Maybe I’m just too English, but I’ve never liked the idea of talking to machines. I always hated it when you had to speak your film details when you phoned the cinema. It looks as if everyone else will go for it. Admittedly trying to type and walk along the street is not the easiest thing to do. There was even a blog the other day that attributed an increase in accidents to this. So shouting a command into your phone may be very attractive.

My biggest problem with the voice commands in my experience is that they simply don’t work very well. Someone from Google did a slot in a workshop I was running. They showed a number of their products: Google Goggles (visual search), Google Translate, and Voice Search. None of the apps actually worked! Part of the problem was the data connection being poor. I have raised this many times before: so much of these apps, particularly Google who are very pro-cloud, rely on a good constant data connection. In reality that rarely exists outside the home. However with the two voice-based apps, it returned results but in both cases the wrong results. It just didn’t understand what was being said.

If I was to put my money on Voice Actions, or Apple’s Video Calling taking off, I would say that Google are going to be the hands down winner. So, Voice Actions are a nice idea (assuming I get over my problem of talking to machines), but I’d actually like to see these things working in practice.