Friday, April 30, 2010

Mobile Device Sales Surge 22% in First Quarter

The worldwide mobile phone market grew 21.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010, compared to contraction during the first quarter of 2009, when sales plunged 17 percent.

Stronger smartphone demand is part of the reason, says International Data Corporation. Vendors shipped 294.9 million units in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 242.4 million units in the first quarter of 2009.

Growing demand for smartphones also helped Research In Motion (RIM) move into the top-five vendor rankings for the first time. RIM, which replaced Motorola in the top five, tied Sony Ericsson for the number four position.

Annual sales are expected to up 11 percent, globally. The top-five suppliers include Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, Research In Motion and Sony Ericsson.

HP Cancels Windows 7 Slate

In a move that quite likely is related to its purchase of Palm, Hewlett Packard says it is dropping development of a Windows 7 tablet device. Microsoft itself recently decided to cancel its own tablet project based on Windows 7. link

HP may also be abandoning Intel-based hardware for its slate lineup simply because it’s too power hungry. That would also rule out Windows 7 as an operating system.

HP has been looking at  Google-powered devices, but the Palm WebOS has been cited as an important tool for HP as it looks to compete in the smartphone market, and WebOS also has been talked about as suitable for slates as well.


Smartphones for $65?

If smartphones represent the future for mobile phones, the cost of acquiring one will have to drop, and that appears to be precisely what HTC Corporation has in mind with its new HTC "Smart," a smartphone designed for use in all sorts of markets where cost might be an issue.

The HTC Smart will be available this spring across Europe and Asia, selling for a suggested retail price of Php 12,900 (Philippines pesos), or $65 in U.S. currency.

HTC Smart uses the HTC "Sense" user interface, allowing personal customization of each person’s own phone experience.  It also provides a quick and easy way to see what friends are up to via various social networks as well as quickly communicating over the phone, through text messaging or email.

HTC Smart uses Qualcomm’s "Brew Mobile Platform,"  a popular mobile operating system that enables smartphone devices to be offered at more aggressive price points.

Such developments are important because they make smartphone features available to users beyond the advanced regions of the world.

Is it possible that simple tools, such as low-cost mobile phones, can have more positive economic and social impact than our typical large-scale government-to-government and typical development aid efforts? The aid establishment might not like the question, or the answers, but MIT NextLab project staff seem to believe the answer is "yes."

“Traditional aid does little for the very poor,” says Jhonatan Rotberg, founder and director of the NextLab program. “Only a fraction of the donated money trickles down to those who need it most."

"But with a mobile phone, poor people can get ahead," he says.

By any measure, recent progress, especially over the past few years, has been quite dramatic: mobile cellular penetration in developing countries has more than doubled since 2005, when it stood at only 23 per cent.

Last year, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries passed the 50 per cent mark, reaching an estimated 57 per 100 inhabitants at the end of 2009. Even though this remains well below the average in developed countries, where penetration exceeds 100 per cent, the rate of progress is remarkable.

Android might be the next big evolution, not that voice and text messaging are propagating. Using Android, devices could be customized for any number of applications that might otherwise be run on a PC, an important development in markets where device cost and access to electricity are issues.

Already, over four billion mobile phones are in use in the world today. The next billion new users, Rotberg says, will be spread out in the developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. Android could be important in that regard.

Not since abour 2006 have there been more fixed broadband lines in service in the most-developed broadband markets than emerging countries, and by 2009 a group of about 15 nations, including the BRICs, as well as countries in Southeast Asia, South American and Eastern Europe had surpassed the developed countries in total subscribers.

These days, the 15 emerging countries have the biggest share of broadband lines and the fastest growth rates as well, says Point Topic.

It's worth pondering that for just a moment. In 2000 there were 738 million global mobile subscribers. In 2010, there are 4.3 billion mobile subscribers, and most of those subscribers live in the developing world, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

It took just four years to double the number of global mobility users, from 2000 to 2004, and just another four years to double yet again, from 2004 to 2008. That sort of growth does not happen much in the telecom business, and has not happened before in the developed world.

Broadband growth is likely to assume something of the same pattern, but likely will be driven by mobile, not fixed access. Mobility has proven to be a raging, unexpected success story for people in developed regions. Broadband is about to repeat that feat.

Quietly, without much fanfare, communications really has become a capability available to all the world's people, after many decades of attempts by policymakers and providers to figure out how to do that. In the end, better technology has made all the difference. We don't use wires, we use airwaves. We don't use analog, we use digital. We don't use physical goods; we use electronic goods.

By 2014 just 15 developing nations will account for over 320 million broadband lines, 43 percent of the world total of 740 million broadband lines, by that time.

The fastest-growing group of 15 countries will have broadband growth rates of 14.2 percent annually. Another group of 12 countries, including the United States, Japan, Greece and Taiwan, will see annual growth of about 5.5 percent each year through 2014. Some 13 countries, including Western European nations, Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong, will see 4.6 percent annual growth rates.

All of those statistics are important for one compelling reason. Global subscriber and revenue growth for voice services, mobile services and broadband now has shifted to developing regions of the world.

Apple Gets Ready for 3G iPad Launch

You might think the launch of the 3G version of the Apple iPad, able to use both Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access, will not get the attention the initial launch itself has gotten. Apple will launch the mobile network version today, April 29, 2010.

But it appears every Apple retail location will be closed for one hour, starting at 4 p.m, in order to prepare for the launch of the iPad 3G. 

Apple might be expecting lines. It's a non-scientific, nearly random observation, but two Apple iPad owners I know of already plan to give their Wi-Fi-only versions to other family members and buy a 3G-capable unit. There could be lines. 

Apple Calls the Tune, Again

Apple might not yet have remade the notebook or netbook business, and might not have conclusively proved there is an undiscovered new consumer electronics niche for tablet devices, but it has caused Microsoft to kill its existing slate project, known as "Courier."

Microsoft’s Courier originally was conceived as the tablet of the future, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iPad, with two screens. Apple might disagree that the iPad is a "big iPod Touch," but Microsoft apparently has concluded that a two-screen device with a book style form factor is not what the market will want.

Perhaps the bigger deal, perhaps obvious in retrospect, is that although the device would have been "touch" capable, it somehow fails to offer an experience similar to the iPad. Make that one more case of Apple disrupting the conventional wisdom about user experience and user interface. And it apparently hopes to do the same in the mobile advertising businesss.

Apple never likes to play at the low end of any business, so we should not be surprised to see Apple taking that tack as it attempts to show what its iAd network can do on devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple also is famously "controlling" about the "user experience," so you should not be surprised to hear that Apple is making "initial demands for greater control over advertisers' marketing campaigns."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is looking for placements priced about an order of magnitude (10 times) higher than is typical.

If you recall the demo Apple put together for its iAd announcment, you can understand why: Apple is aiming for content-rich campaigns that may involve branded characters and expensive production.

Apple Inc. aims to charge close to $1 million for ads on its mobile devices this year and perhaps even more--as much as $10 million--to be among the first participants.

Ad executives say they are used to paying between $100,000 and $200,000 for similar mobile deals.

Obviously, Apple is attempting to pull off a couple "hero" campaigns that likely cannot be replicated too widely in the future because most campaigns will not be able to afford the high rates.

One example Apple has been showing advertisers is an ad for Nike's Air Jordan basketball shoe.

When a user is in an application, an animated banner ad appears on the border of the screen, along with an iAd logo. If the user taps on the ad, it expands across the screen, displaying a video, an interactive store locator and exclusive offers at local stores, among other features.

Apple is planning to charge advertisers a penny each time a consumer sees a banner ad, ad executives say. When a user taps on the banner and the ad pops up, Apple will charge $2. Under large ad buys, such as the $1 million package, costs would rack up to reach $1 million with the various views and taps.

Marketers will be able to target ads to groups of users based on consumers' download preferences from its iTunes store, according to ad executives. For instance, a marketer could choose to show its ads to people who have downloaded financial applications or reggaeton music, horror movies or comedy TV shows.

Marketers also will be able to target ads to users in a general location like a city, although they cannot target ads to individual consumers or access personal details.

Apple is seeking high quality ads from big-name marketers for the launch, ad executives say. The ads will go through an approval process, and Apple will build the ads itself during the first couple of months to make sure they work well and attain a certain aesthetic and functionality, ad executives say. Eventually, Apple plans to create a developer kit so that agencies will be able to design and create the ads themselves.

The process is causing tension among some ad directors, who are hesitant to give up control. Welcome to Apple's world.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

About 1/2 of 1 Percent of Time Warner Cable Customers Buy 50 Mbps Service

It's likely fair to keep in mind, as ISPs, regulators and policy advocates ponder future service offerings at speeds of 100 Mbps, or even higher, that few U.S. consumers appear to want to buy service at speeds of 50 Mbps or higher.

Time Warner Cable  added 212,000 high-speed Internet subs in the first quarter, with about 1,000 buying the ultra-high-speed Docsis 3.0 services. That represents about one half of one percent of new customers, roughly in line with the few figures that have emerged from other ISPs able to sell 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps access services in Europe or North America.

The number of wideband subscription adds in the first quarter are consistent with recent trends at TWC, the only major US MSO so far that's even been willing to share those numbers. In January, TWC said it added only about 2,000 wideband subs in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Comcast, which has 80 percent of its plant wired up for wideband and intends to finish the job later this year, hasn't disclosed any D3 subscriber figures.

AT&T noted during its first quarter conference call that 59 percent of its customers buy access at speeds of at least 3 Mbps. What that might suggest is that most consumers still do not buy ultra-fast connections, preferring medium-speed connections instead.

Layar Launches First Augmented Reality Content Store

You might be wondering whether "augmented reality" is a feature or a business model. Layar hopes to prove it can be a business model, by introducing an AR content store that allows publishers to offer AR experiences on multiple mobile platforms such as iPhone and Android.

The content store is seamlessly integrated into the Layar "Reality Browser", which is already used on more than 1.6 million mobile devices globally.

The Layar Payment Platform supports multiple payment providers and multiple currencies, ready to serve the different local markets.

Layar deals with legal, administrative and tax rules enabling the publisher to focus on their core activities. The first payment provider is PayPal, supporting payments to residents of United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. More countries, currencies, payment methods and payment providers will be added regularly, the company says.

Publishers can set up accounts at

Among the developers that already have signed up are Berlitz City Guides, Mouse Reality for Disney World, UK Sold Prices and Disneyland and EyeTour.

UK sold prices allows users to check the latest UK residential sold price information while users are out and about.  Berlitz helps people experience the city’s highlights: the best attractions, coziest restaurants, most comfortable hotels, coolest places to shop and most fashionable nightlife.

Mouse Reality for Disney World and Disneyland helps users find and navigate all attractions, shows, shops, dinning, transportation, and more in Disneyland and Disney World.

EyeTour helps users explore Puerto using exclusive video content of historical sites, museums, restaurants, parks and more.

Looking ahead, the company believes it can use AR to create a business offering a marketplace for content, services and goods, says Raimo van der Klein, Layar CEO.

Publishers can start selling their content without upfront investments while Layar facilitates payments between the end-user and the publisher. Publishers receive 60 percent of the net proceeds.

Android users who are residents of United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Australia can start buying layers right now after installing the new version of the Layar Augmented Reality Browser. The iPhone update is soon to follow.

Layar describes itself as the world’s leading Augmented Reality Platform on mobile. The Layar Reality Browser currently has more than 1.6 million users and comes pre-installed on tens of millions of phones from leading handset manufacturers and carriers by the end of the year. Over 500 layers are developed by the global community of 3000 Layar publishers.

The free Layar Reality Browser is available on Android devices and iPhone 3GS.


HTC Incredible Goes On Sale Today at Verizon Wireless

19% CAGR for Tablet Style PCs

Sales of slate-style tablet PCs will grow at a 19-percent compound annual growth rate through 2015, the same rate as smartphones, while Wi-Fi-equipped handsets will grow at about a 21 percent CAGR, say researchers at Coda Research Consultancy.

That forecast could be taken to mean either that the tablet, such as the Apple iPad, really will create a new segment of the consumer electronics market, or that it will cannibalize part of existing markets such as netbooks, notebooks or laptops, or that tablets. In the former case the tablet might replace some parts of the need for e-book readers and netbooks or notebooks; in the latter case the tablet will change the user interface from keys to touchpad.

To be sure, devices such as the iPad could succeed simply by rearranging existing demand. But Apple, for one, seems to have achieved its greatest success when it can create a whole new market or rearrange an existing market. The iPod created a new market, while the iPhone rearranged an existing market.

Coda researchers so far think tablet computers represent the emergence of a new market, and new behaviors.

Consumer usage will tend to be around content consumption rather than creation, and for accessing information. A greater proportion of slates will be shared across household members than notebooks currently are. It is possible, in other words, that although high-end slates might continue to be personal items, as are mobile phones, some lower-end slates might be more like remote controls, used by everybody in a household, and not "owned" by individuals.

Business uses also could arise in healthcare, education, field sales and services, real estate, the insurance industry, and industrial design, Coda believes.

The other likely avenue is use by traveling workers, for the same reason many people now claim they can travel without a PC, and simply use a smartphone. Though the iPad and other tablets will not likely replace the smartphone on trips, many could decide it works well enough to take along as a substitute for the PC, the iPod and the e-book reader.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nokia to Introduce N8, Using New Version of Symbian

The Nokia N8, Nokia's latest smartphone, using the new Symbian 3 operating system, is designed to challenge the iPhone and BlackBerry at the high end of the market, where Nokia arguably has been struggling.

The Nokia N8 will be available in selected markets from the third quarter of 2010 and comes with an estimated price tag of €370 (about $493) before taxes and subsidies.

The Nokia N8 introduces a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash and a large sensor that rivals those found in compact digital cameras. Additionally, the Nokia N8 offers the ability to make HD-quality videos and edit them with an intuitive built-in editing suite.

Doubling as a portable entertainment center, people can enjoy HD-quality video with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound by plugging into their home theatre system. The Nokia N8 enables access to Web TV services that deliver programs, news and entertainment from channels like CNN, E! Entertainment, Paramount and National Geographic. Additional local Web TV content is also available from the Ovi Store.

Social networking also is featured. People can update their status, share location and photos, and view live feeds from Facebook and Twitter in a single app directly on the home screen. Calendar events from social networks can also be transferred to the device calendar.

The Nokia N8 comes with free global Ovi Maps walk and drive navigation, guiding people to places and points of interest in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Nokia has upgraded its Symbian software to make it more user friendly, a criticism of earlier versions of Symbian.

The Symbian 3 operating system supports features touchscreen commands such as multi-touch, flick scrolling and pinch-zoom, as well as faster multi-tasking, Nokia says.

Will Rogers Introduce Bundled Mobile Broadband Plans?

Canadian wireless provider Rogers apparently is considering giving customers a data plan that would let them use an iPad (or other similar devices) plus mobile phones, on a single access plan,  according to Electronista.

That's the sort of innovation in pricing plans and packaging that seems almost inevitable as people start using multiple wireless devices, and start to rebel against paying separate access fees for every single device they use, especially when some of those devices might not require much bandwidth, while others are used often enough to justify a typical $30 a month plan.

Observers often criticize mobile and other service providers for unimaginative thinking on such matters. Fair or not, one wonders what changes might be in store when fourth-generation Long Term Evolution networks start to enter their marketing phases.

So far, Clearwire has been more experimental than other leading mobile providers. To be fair, it isn't clear how much creativity actually can be brought to bear on the basic access service. But we ought to expect some changes as the types of devices benefiting from mobile access proliferate, and people start using multiple devices.


Blockbuster Tries to Take Advantage of its 28-Day Release Window Advantage

We should soon see whether Blockbuster's 28-day earlier release window for new release DVDs confers any business advantage over other competitors in the space, especially Netflix and Redbox, as Blockbuster and its studio partners seem to think will be the case.

Blockbuster announced availability of the hit movie, "It's Complicated" from Blockbuster in stores, by mail, or digitally, a full four weeks before it will be available through some competitors.

Blockbuster's early advantage reflects its ongoing agreement with Universal Studios to provide customers with the opportunity to rent hit movies the day they are released. Blockbuster also has early availability of other box office hits like Sherlock Holmes and the highest grossing film of all-time, Avatar, as well as other upcoming new releases such as Tooth Fairy, Valentine's Day, and Invictus.

Blockbuster also has struck deals with mobile handset providers to put the "Blockbuster On Demand" app prominently on the main screens of about 60 models of Samsung Blu-ray Players, HDTVs, and Blu-ray Home Theater Systems, as well as on T-Mobile's HTC HD2.

Blockbuster is the only multichannel provider that has every hot new movie on the day of its release, it's just that simple. What we now shall see is whether that makes a material difference for Blockbuster. Release windows typically have been important in the movie distribution business, so some shift should be seen.

What do you Think of This Google Tablet?

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I don't know what you think, but this Android-powered tablet, if it winds up being a commercial product, does not seem to have the "wow" factor of the Apple iPad.

A Skirmish in the Apple-Google Fight

It's a small skirmish, but Android will be supporting Flash natively in version 2.2 of the operating system, though Google appears to think highly of HTML5 as well. Apple, of course, does not support Flash for the iPad.

Adobe demonstrated Flash running on Android about 10 months ago, it seems, and HTC devices do support Flash on at least some "Sense"-capable devices.

Putting Flash support into Android does not mean Google will not also support HTML5, but the decision seems at least partly a stake in the ground in the growing battle over video playback standards for the mobile Web.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Android Market Closes on 50,000 Apps

At this rate, it will not be long before the Android Market features 50,000 or so applications.

That's well behind Apple's total of about 150,000 apps, but Android is catching up pretty fast.

Would You Rather Have had the First iPod or $14,500?

“If you spent the money on an original iPod in 2001 on Apple stock ($499), you would have $14,513.78 today.” 

In part that's a commentary on Apple's soaring equity value;in part that's a clue about product pricing for device pricing. 

So the issue is whether the same choices exist today for the Apple iPad. Of course, 2001 was a good time to buy equities. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alcatel-Lucent Gets into Mobile Advertising Business

Alcatel-Lucent has created a white-label direct marketing platform called  "Optism" that is designed to help mobile operators create “media inventory” and provide advertisers with easy access to highly-targeted audiences.

Optism is not an ad network so much as an enabler of ad networks, since it is the mobile service providers who actually will retail the services, but Optism does create a permission and preference-based mobile marketing capability aggregated across multiple mobile operators.

Optism features a media arm that brokers relationships between mobile operators and advertisers, greatly simplifying the media selling process for aggregated operator inventory.

You might wonder whether Alcatel-Lucent now is competing with Google or Apple. It says it isn't, since Optism primarily aims to create direct marketing campaigns taking advantage of mobile communication features, such as text messaging.

It's an interesting approach to creating business-to-business revenue streams that are not directly dependent on end-user subscriptions. Available as a hosted and white-labled solution, Optism might be able to get economies of scale no single mobile operator could.

watch the video

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Study Confirms: Wireless Cheaper than Fixed for Rural Broadband

Wireless infrastructure has significant cost advantages over wired access in reaching homes in rural areas, it is often the most efficient way to provide broadband access, says the Brattle Group. That will come as no surprise to anybody who ever has attempted to model the cost of building broadband access infrastructure

The Group's analysis suggests that the cost of bringing high-speed access to most rural counties is between $1,000 per household to $7,500 per household.

The bigger issue is the degree to which mobile broadband can be a viable subsitute for fixed broadband in urban areas where fixed access already is plentiful.

source document

Can a Device Save a Brand?

Okay, it is a dumb idea to think any mobile device can "save" a brand, unless that brand is Apple. But it isn't so far fetched to imagine ways to use an iPad as a virtual sales assistant or automated checkout device in some scenarios, as Hertz does in its rental return lines.

With its bigger screen, the iPad could be useful as a platform for social shopping. That can be done on PCs or  mobiles, but the portability and form factor is different from a netbook or laptop and screen size is a key difference from a mobile phone. One might argue the overall cost of creating an app and avoiding application-specific hardware are other advantages.

Conceivably it could replace kiosks or other digital signage approaches, especially where the attempt is to allow end users to imagine different products in different configurations, for example.


iPad Users Watch a Lot of Video

Data from MeFeedia suggests the Apple iPad, on the market for just a few weeks, already is the fifth most-used mobile device, trailing the  iPhone, iPod Touch, SymbianOS, and Android in terms of unique users.

Based on its user data, MeFeedia says iPad users consume three times as many videos as PC-based Web users, up from the 2.5 times at launch. It appears iPad users also spend four times as much time watching videos as PC-based Web users.

Also, iPad users seem to consume five times as many videos as iPhone users do, MeFeedia says.

One might suggest that a lack of distractions accounts for the longer engagement time with video. One might also suggest the early adopters are more likely than the typical user to be heavy consumers of
media, games and video. It might also be the case that users are in an experimental phase, playing with the device to figure out what they can do with it, which might boost engagement on any number of levels.

Should those sorts of findings be confirmed as the device gets wider distribution past the early adopters, it would be safe to say that at least one of the iPad use modes is as a multimedia content device, in the same general class as an e-book reader, but with a focus on multimedia.

Should that be the case, the iPad might legitimately emerge as a showcase for video-based mobile advertising.


Microsoft Sends Small Business to Alteva

Alteva, a provider of cloud-based unified communications solutions, is partnering with Microsoft and BroadSoft to provide a hosted Unified Communications solution to small businesses. Alteva has developed a way to interconnect its hosted voice and messaging services with Microsoft Communication Services product suite, including Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server for both its small business and enterprise customers.

Alteva also has launched a Web store, where organizations with less than 25 users can easily select the right UC solution to suit their needs. Alteva has designed four different UC packages from which small businesses can choose from.

The "UC Complete" bundle supplies a fully-integrated, high-definition voice and unified communications solution priced from $38 per user, per month. Other packages are priced at $28 to $15 per user, per month.

Alteva also offers a la carte purchasing options for those who seek only to purchase Exchange email, OCS or Alteva's hosted VoIP.

Alteva says it is North America's largest provider of enterprise-class hosted VoIP, and provides hosted UC solutions to businesses in all 50 states and four continents.

CounterPath Launches Nomadic PBX Capability

CounterPath Corporation, which many of you know as a provider of desktop and mobile voice over Internet protocol software solutions, announced "NomadicPBX", its turnkey platform for enabling converged mobile and broadband Session Initiation Protocol voice, messaging and presence services.

Available immediately, NomadicPBX enables wireless operators and other service providers to extend the value of mobility for small and medium enterprises by integrating mobile communications with the existing fixed communications infrastructure.

NomadicPBX allows the integration of mobile handsets into the enterprise communications architecture. End users benefit from a single number and identity, which lets them be reached immediately from any mobile, desk phone or VoIP softphone, including a client running on a mobile phone.

Extension dialing such as short-dialing or speed calling from any mobile handset is supported, as are
core calling features found in most PBX solutions.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Will 13% of Video Subs Cut All or Some of Their Services This Year?

It probably would not surprise you if the Yankee Group suggested that younger people are more likely to stop subscribing to cable, satellite or telco video services.

It might surprise you to learn that Yankee Group believes 13 percent of current subscribers will cut all or some of their video services within 12 months.

That would be unprecedented in the history of multi-channel video.

Keep in mine that Yankee Group says the forms of "cord cutting" might take the form of terminating premium channels or halting use of video-on-demand services, as well as terminating all service entirely. Still, that would be a stunning development.

Remember When Netflix Was "Toast"?

Remember when Netflix was supposed to be "toast"? You remember the arguments: Physical media was
out, online was in; Netflix was wedded to a dying business model. Online distribution, by YouTube or
Hulu, was going to destroy Netflix.

That hasn't happened. Quite to the contrary, investors have bid up Netflix's stock by nearly 100 percent
since January 2010, in part because Netflix shows every sign of being a contender in online video. And now Hulu has announced a "paid" access model that puts it in head-to-head competition with Netflix to some extent.

True, Netflix often is thought of as primarily offering movie fare, while Hulu's content leans heavily towards TV shows.

Netflix has 14 million paying subscribers, while Hulu has about 40 million unique viewers, but so far zero paid subscribers. And that is the test for Hulu. Most observers think perhaps five percent to 10 percent of Hulu users might choose to buy the new paid service, suggesting a potential base of two million to four million paid subscribers.

If one assumes four million subscribers, at a monthly fee of $10, that implies $480 million worth of annual revenue. That's interesting, but not terribly interesting.

Location Ads Work, Study Finds

A new survey conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association suggests very-high rates of user response to advertising based on location information.

"Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action," MMA says. That compares to 37 percent of text message advertising and almost twice the rate of Web browser ads (28 percent).

Ten percent of the cell phone owners surveyed use mobile location services at least once a week, while 63 percent of Apple iPhone owners use location services at least once a week.

Respondents said they use these services most frequently to “locate nearby points of interest, shops or services.”

U.S. Consumers Significantly More Likely To Respond To Location-Based Mobile Ads Than Other Mobile Ad Types | Mobile Marketing Association

Developer Interest now is a 2-Horse Race: Apple and Android

Apple and Android are at the top of developer interest as development platforms, an Appcelerator poll of 1,028 developers suggests.

In fact, developer interest largely is a two-horse race between Apple and Google. The  "true game changing news" is Android, Appcelerator says. In fact, sentiment has swung fairly quickly towards Android as the clear "second choice" for developers, after Apple.

In January 2010, 86 percent of developers were interested in iPhone and 68 percent were interested in Android, an 18 point spread. That spread has closed to just six points now (iPhone 88 percent, Android 82 percent).

About 80 percent of developers say they are interested in developing for the iPad.

Developers indicated they were most interested in developing eBooks, entertainment/media applications, business applications, medical applications, and education applications.

Why Product Management Doesn't Work Anymore

Service provider product managers essentially have lost control of their products, says Al Brisard, Vertek VP. Instead, product managers essentially have been reduced to setting service definitions and pricing. Operations and finance pretty much control the rest. As often is the case, that isn't necessarily the best way to match features with end user demand.

If you want to know why service providers sometimes cannot create compelling new products, much less get them to market quickly, perhaps this is one reason why.


Even App Store "Marketing" Apps Must be Marketed

Despite the hype about mobile apps, it remains difficult to "monetize" them, for several reasons. Most apps sell for low prices, so a developer needs huge volume. But volume means getting noticed, and simply creating an app and listing in on an app store does not guarantee attention.

That increasingly means a successful app not only has to provide value, but has to be promoted. And that means all the traditional thinking about traditional marketing still holds. Developers have to take affirmative steps to promote their apps; they won't sell themselves.

"The App Store is not a marketing vehicle; it is a distribution vehicle," said Raven Zachary, president of digital creative firm Small Society.

Of course, not all apps are sold. Some are themselves marketing vehicles. But an iPhone app can cost $50,000 or more for an agency to develop. So even the marketing vehicle must be marketed.

The U.S. Mobile Voice Market Is Saturated: So What?

The Cellular Market In The US Is Saturated – 24/7 Wall St

Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have almost 260 million wireless subscribers. The U.S. population is 305 million people and some of those are too young to need or use a phone. Others don’t want one.

During the last quarter, Verizon added only 423,000 new contract subscribers and AT&T only 512,000 customers, rates that are lower than has been the case in past quarters.

So what does that mean? What it always means: providers will have to create new products to sell to a base of existing customers, rather than selling more of the existing product to new customers. In the cable and telecom business, that has meant both getting into new lines of business as well as "bundling."

For wireless providers, the new product is wireless broadband, immediately in the form of more smartphone data plans, but over time more use of wireless to support sensor networks of various types.

But there are wider policy implications as well. U.S. regulators sometimes behave as though nothing they do will seriously impede the ability of U.S. service providers to continue to invest and innovate. But both the wireline and wireless segments of the communications business face huge challenges. Existing growth models are exhausted and competition is growing.

Instead of behaving in ways that essentially are punitive, perhaps regulators should ask what they can do to allow the fastest-possible transition to new business models as the old models continue to waste away.

Telecom is not a growth industry; that should be obvious to all observers. The big challenge is to foster a transition to a sustainable model that will support continued investment in state-of-the-art facilities. Telecom, to put it bluntly, is not an industry that needs to be punished; it needs to be fostered.

Palm Runs Out Of Options As HTC Reviews, Declines To Buy The Company

Palm Runs Out Of Options As HTC Reviews, Declines To Buy The Company: "According to a report based on a source from an Asia-based Reuters correspondent, smartphone maker HTC has decided not to bid for Palm after looking at the company’s numbers. The source, which reportedly has direct knowledge of the talks, said there “weren’t enough synergies to take the deal forward”.

That leaves Palm, which has been struggling to boost sales of its new range of smartphones, running out of options fast."

3D Augmented Reality Flash Mob in Dam Square, Amsterdam

What is described as the world's first augmented reality flash mob will happen at Dam Square in Amsterdam April 24 at 2 p.m. Attendees using Android and iPhone handsets will see three-dimensional statues using the Layar application. 

Sander Veenhof is an organizer of the event, and TAB Worldmedia helped produce the content.  "You can actually walk around them to look at them from all angles by just using your phone and the Layar browser," says Veenhof. 

To prepare, download and install the Layar Augmented Reality browser and look for the layar using “ARflashmob” under the local tab.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ringio Launches "Rich Calling" Service for SMBs

Ringio will launch a new cloud-based "rich calling" service for small and mid-sized businesses that might be mistaken for a hosted PBX sort of service but actually is more a hosted customer relationship management solution.

Ringio’s service allows users to map existing phone numbers to the CRM functions, which are available either on a desktop client or on Android-based smart phones.

The service is designed to be easy to set up and use, and requires no changes to existing hardware or software.

“We define ‘rich calling’ as bringing a telephone call and relevant information about the caller together at the same time to enrich communication and information sharing, says Ringio co-founder and Chairman Michael Zirngibl.

One example is that if an existing customer calls, notes about prior interactions with that customer are displayed, allowing any call agent to "pick up where the last agent left off" in a more-seamless way.

Ringio also features "presence" features so if a call has to be transferred, the call agent can be sure the other party is available to speak.

Ringio is launching the service’s own integrated call-control and screen-pop client for the PC, Mac desktop or Linux. Ringio also automatically retrieves and synchronizes records built using Google’s Contacts database, and plans are under way to integrate Ringio with by later this summer.

The service will be provided directly to business customers through Pricing starts at $99 per month for four users, with additional users at $25 per month. Ringio is considering distribution partnerships and invites inquiry via

Ringio’s intelligent call-routing functionality is being provided by Voxeo, a longtime platform host with an extensive history in IVR and convergent communications.

Zirngibl says it takes as little as10 minutes to set up for the first time.

Take a Kangaroo to Work Day, Apparently

"Take your child to work?" Heck! Take your kangaroo to work! This little guy wouldn't necessarily be dangerous. A full-grown red kangaroo, however, in the wild, has quite a kick. Enough to eviscerate an unlikely human facing a mad red....don't mess with me kangaroo, mate...

"Soaring Profits" for Broadband Access Providers?

The Phoenix Center says claims by proponents of increased Internet regulation are quite wrong in claiming that firms such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint-Nextel, Qwest, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable are making "record profits," "substantial profits" or  "soaring profits" that justify further regulation.

Quite to the contrary, those firms are earning at lower rates than the average Standard & Poors 500 firms does, and have done so for the last five years.

The Phoenix Center found that the profitability of the larger broadband access service providers is generally equal to, or below average, for firms in the S&P 500. It would be more accurate to say that profits are "'typical," not "soaring or 'substantial.'

Conversely, content firms like Google and EBay are substantially more profitable than the access providers are,  implying that access providers are not benefiting as much as others in the Internet ecosystem from the surge in broadband adoption and use.

Across all measures of profitability, Google and Ebay are two-to-four times more profitable than the better performing broadband providers.

In fact, the Phoenix Center found that both Wal-Mart and Colgate-Palmolive have much higher profits than the large access providers.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has issued a challenge to the industry for data-driven analysis," according to study co-author and Phoenix Center President Lawrence J. Spiwak. "Accordingly, parties calling for regulation need to present more than just hyperbole about 'soaring' profits -- they need to present facts."

"The evidence shows that BSP profitability is fairly typical of American industry, if not a little low" said study co-author and Phoenix Center Chief Economist George S. Ford, PhD. "Based on available evidence, regulatory intervention based on substantial profitability by large BSPs has no basis in fact."

Verizon and AT&T Equity Performance is a Warning Sign

Communications policymakers in nations where the government does not directly own and control key national carriers in their markets always must balance their preferred regulatory outcomes with the possible responses private firms will make to those initiatives.

Put simply, too much regulatory pressure will lead to reduced investment and innovation, not more. The other issue is that every government considers its national communications infrastructure to be a matter of national interest.

That being the case, most governments will not willingly weaken their own carriers.

So take a look at how AT&T and Verizon equities have fared over the last year or so, compared to the Standard & Poors 500 index. Not so pretty.

What that tells you is that investors believe neither company has much in the way of "growth" ahead of it. In fact, many would argue both companies will increasingly be challenged, in coming years, to stay where they are, given major changes in the underlying business models each company faces.

That suggests policymakers should be cautious about making incorrect assumptions about the underlying financial prospects for the firms that arguably are most important to the national communications infrastructure.

It is not as though either firm were Apple, creating whole new industries and muscling its way into other substantial industries with some regularity. Quite to the contrary, innovation and revenue upside nearly universally are now seen as attributes of the application and handset parts of the communication value chain, not the "access" providers as such.

To be blunt, there may be times when regulatory restraint is the right policy. But there also are times when an industry with national economic and security implications faces enough fundamental challenges that "protection or promotion" is the right policy framework.

It is not the job of other ecosystem participants to worry about the financial health of other segments. But it always is the job of national policymakers to do so, when the issue is the health of the underlying national communications infrastructure.

First-quarter 2010 results posted by AT&T suggest the outlines of the problem. Simply, wireless now is the driver of revenue growth.

But wireless is saturating, forcing mobile providers to find new revenue sources. Also, mobile voice, which has been the segment mainstay, increasingly will come under pressure as landline voice has proven to be a product in a declining lifecycle.

The point is that the appropriate regulatory framework for a fast-growing, vibrant industry is different than for an industry that is fundamentally challenged. That is not to suggest industry executives are unaware of the problems, or that they have failed to show agility in the past; they have.

The point is simply that it might be a grave mistake to assume carriers can bear any burden where it comes to regulations that choke off their ability to create new services and revenues. The financial markets already are signaling their views how the industry is situated.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Technology and Telecom Marketing Spend Up in 2010, Gartner Say

Marketing spending among high-tech and telecom providers is picking up in 2010, according to Gartner. The survey found that 44 percent of survey respondents say their 2010 marketing budgets will be flat compared with 2009, 41 percent will increase and 15 percent are likely to decrease.

In 2009 when more than half of respondents reported their budgets would decrease, compared to 2008. None of that is too surprising.

The perhaps more important conclusion Gartner draws from the results is the possbility that there is a  "new normal" in which companies might adopt "steady state" spending habits that never return to their pre-recession levels. That would not be an unusual thought, either.

At least some observers say the increased ability to target messages using lower-cost media might simply mean that marketers can achieve their objects at less cost than previously was the case.

"Marketing has to continue to look at becoming more efficient and cost-effective," said Laura McLellan, research vice president at Gartner. "For some, this means adopting lower-cost alternatives; for others, outsourcing what was once done in-house; for all, it means revisiting how they plan to support the growth of their companies through traditional and new channels, while keeping the core brands strong."

Thirty percent of these companies expect to increase budgets by between one and 15 percent, while 13 percent of respondents are planning budget increases of between 16 and 30 percent or more.

Even though the ratio of in-house to external spending is planned to be about 1:3 in 2010, fixed and recurring costs are expected to consume the largest portion (23 percent) of the 2010 marketing budget, according to the majority of respondents. That will be followed by sales channel marketing and programs at 17 percent, and 15 percent of respondents identified positioning and external marketing communications.


How Best Buy Wants to Create Business Value from "Location"

It's easy to get caught up in the hype about "location-based services." It's easy to dismiss the notion as well. But Best Buy thinks it can use the location information that increasingly is part of the mobile experience to bolster its sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Berst Buy is using Shopkick to create mobile appliucations for iPhone and Android smartphones that detect when shoppers are in or near stores and offers rewards targeted to them.

Shopkick's apps might also use mobile cameras to enable user scanning of bar codes on items to offer product information, coupons or other marketing offers.

None of that is too extremely cutting edge. Loopt provides special offers and coupons from retailers nearby. FourSquare Labs turns physical locaition into a game, where users "check in" at locations.

The goal of the Shopkick app—which is to launch this summer—is "not just to drive foot traffic, but to turn offline stores into interactive worlds" that are more entertaining to shoppers, adds Cyriac Roeding, the CEO and co-founder of Shopkick.

Shopkick expects to be paid for its performance, such as driving additional sales and bringing in new customers.

CauseWorld has also been testing users' interest in less altruistic motivations. In early April, Causeworld offered users 10% off Best Buy purchases in exchange for checking in. Mr. Roeding said a high single-digit percentage of those who checked in at Best Buy during the testalso used the coupon to make a purchase.

To go mainstream, all of these applications may still have to overcome privacy concerns about allowing one's smartphone—and big companies—to keep track of your location.


Metaio Crafts Augmented Reality App for Lego

Right now, we seem to be at the "gee whiz" point with augmented reality: you are likely to see a demonstration and say "wow," but not grasp precisely how augmented reality contributes to a business model or incremental revenue stream.

We will have gotten there when we aren't saying "wow" or wondering what the killer app is.

The New Business Paradigm: Popcorn

Nick Thomas, Forrester Research analyst, suggests content business models might emerge in ways
that are similar to what happened in the "exhibition" part of the movie business.

The "popcorn" analogy speaks to the way theater owners make money. Films don’t generally make
much profit for cinema owners. In fact, the revenue model for movie theaters actually is concessions.

Taking a look at media business models that are starting to be challenged in fundamental ways,
Thomas suggests the "popcorn" analogy is fruitful. In other words, content-based companies might
need to look at new revenue streams created around content, if little money or profit can be made from the content itself.

The observation is correct, but complicated. Theater owners make money from popcorn because
they actually cannot make money from selling content, though other entities within the value chain actually can make money directly from creation and selling of content.

You might suggest that in the future, theatrical exhibition might become a vertically-integrated part of a more-unified content distribution business. In fact, that is precisely the situation that once held, but regulators decided that arrangement put too much power into the hands of the studios, so structural separation was mandated.

The point is that under the current regulatory environment, movie studios largely cannot sell popcorn as they are legally barred from being in the theatrical distribution business. Movie theaters are allowed to be in the "sell overseas" business, the pay-per-view, the DVD or on-demand viewing businesses.

Not all options are available for participants in the value chain to make money from the content ecosystem. Licensing, for example, has been a key wrap-around for some content companies who can license the creation of toys, clothing and other products based on cartoon,movie or TV characters, for example.

Performance (live concerts) have become a key driver of revenue in the music business, where at one point it was the selling of records that was the key revenue source.

There is no question but that, under all circumstances, ancillary revenue streams are good for content or copyright owners. The issue is how much potential revenue such ancillary revenue sources might be, and how big they will be.

For U.S. content companies, syndication for TV broadcast, cable TV exhibition, pay per view, international exposition, precorded media and now on-demand have extended the original theatrical exhibition model.

The point is that such ancillary revenue streams have grown over time, but it now appears some of those venues face shrinkage. The whole idea now is what new ancillary revenue streams can be created if demand or profit margins in several of the channels seems to be weakening. "Popcorn" is the right strategic way of thinking about the problem. It will be much tougher to envision, tactically.


Big Marketers Shifting Online Budgets to Video Sites

About 57 percent of advertisers surveyed by Advertiser Perceptions say they are shifting spending from television to online vide sites, said Randy Cohen, Advertiser Perceptions president.

The study suggets that 70 percent of big ad spenders, those budgeting $10 million or more,  were likely to move money from TV to online video.

Whether any political fallout was a factor, 70% of marketers more commonly preferred to target based on demographics, vs. 59% who more commonly used behavioral metrics.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Small Cable Operators Think Dumb Pipe Might be a Better Business Model

Not every cable operator thinks over-the-top video is a worse business model than providing cable TV. In fact, some believe providing what might be wholesale services to third parties might actually provide better profit margins than cable TV now does.

"Our video margins are going down year after year," said Colleen Abdullah, the CEO of WideOpenWest Holdings.

Wave Broadband COO Steve Friedman also agreed that the profits from an over-the-top model might be better than the current cable TV business, especially if the new model simply substituted a bandwidth usage model for the current monthly subscription model.

While the dumb pipe model may in fact be better for small operators, that probably is not the case for larger providers.

Probably the worst of all possible outcomes is over-the-top competition from firms such as Comcast, where Comcast sells the video content directly to broadband users, and the local cable modem provider is not able to charge for the additional bandwidth consumed. That is one reason why the dumb pipe model would not work unless some form of consumption-based charging were adopted.

"Over-the-top video will eventually emerge as a challenge to the current model of large, expensive bundles of programming," said Blair Levin, the executive director of the FCC's Omnibus Broadband Initiative. Levin thinks such a move is "inevitable."

The basic tradeoff is that cable operators would essentially trade current linear video subscription revenue for higher broadband access revenues. That essentially was the business decision Qwest Communications made years ago, when it concluded it was better off outsourcing linear entertainment to DirecTV, and building its optical access infrastructure in a way that ultimately is conducive for over-the-top or on-demand video.

"The final inevitability is mobile broadband," said Levin. "We know it's coming. We know it's going to be very, very big."

"In 1994, you could envision as inevitable the Internet replacing existing platforms for communications and entertainment," Levin said. "And based on numerous metrics, that transformation is well underway."

Levin also warned that consumer anger over the cost of cable TV now reminds him of similar sentiment leading up to the 1992 cable act, and that there will likely be "some kind of response, either from the market or from the government," to address those concerns.

Any such move would further limit the upside from linear video and likely propel more movement towards an over-the-top approach.

HD Voice Increases Call Duration, Says Skype

Jonathan Rosenberg, Skype chief technology strategist, says high-definition call quality can increase the length of a voice call 45 percent. That, in turn, could theoretically lead to higher revenues for application or service providers whose services are sold "by the minute." Call duration might have no revenue implications at all if the endpoints are talking on a "no incremental cost" basis, though.

Skype's studies suggest, as you would expect, that audio quality is higher on a high-definition call. The Skype survey suggests there is a correlation between call audio quality and call duration.

With the lowest quality, approximating mobile call quality, the average call lasted about 21.5 minutes. At the highest quality it went about 31 minutes.

It's difficult to say whether the relationship is correlational or causal, though. One variable might be that users on the highest-quality codecs are predisposed to use Skype for conferencing sessions, which would have call duration parameters quite different from a casual voice conversation between two people, for example.

All Online Advertising Does Not "Suck"

No, all mobile or Web advertising does not "suck," as Apple CEO Steve Jobs says. But Jobs probably is right about rich media being an easier way to make ads engaging. Good creative helps, too, as shown by this Google spot for Chrome.

Why Most Advertising Will Continue to "Suck," Despite iPad

It's easy to lament the relative "ineffectiveness" of banner advertising, or for Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, to argue that mobile and online advertising "sucks."

Online banner ads have click through rates of perhaps 0.03 percent, even when lots of people are exposed, some would argue.

Though improving, it remains difficult to match an actual user's present interests, location and spending intentions with a relevant and compelling message, most of the time. So targeting will help.

But even targeting won't entirely fix the problem. Some say rich media is part of the answer, and that makes intuitive sense, as it is easier to create an emotional bond or reaction using rich media, compared to most other forms of messaging.

Rich media banners, on the other hand, might get a three-percent to 10-percent "roll over" rate. If the creative is good enough, users actually will spend time playing around with the content. That can be a game-like experience, video or even compelling content that doesn't use video.

But really-interesting rich media takes time and money to create. And that is going to be the biggest problem. Most campaigns will not support the creation of truly-compelling creative. Think of the ads developed for the Super Bowl and you'll get the problem. If it were financially possible to create that sort of content routinely, marketers clearly would.

There is another angle as well. Much advertising works, even when largely falling on "deaf ears" and "inattentive eyes." Sure, there's lots of waste. But enough eyes and ears are reached, even with simple messages, to justify the marketing expense. Targeted is better, but even minimal targeting, with everyday, run of mill creative, will produce results sufficient to justify the investment.

Not every movie ever produced is a "hit." In fact, most are either flops or modest successes. That will hold for most advertising as well.


Monday, April 19, 2010

To the Extent that Housing Instability Slows Cable and Telco Sales, Look at This

You can draw whatever conclusions you want about this chart showing a wave of option adjustable rate mortgages coming up for resets already and peaking next year, not to mention another wave of sub-prime mortgages that is building and will peak at just about the same time as the option ARMs have to be reset.

I'm not suggesting anything, one way or the other, about the potential for a double-dip recession or anything of that sort.

It does suggest that any company making a business out of services and products sold to consumers probably should assume the post-recession economy we now are in will be difficult.

Is Multitasking the iPad's Opportunity?

About 55 percent of users interviewed by the Yankee Group say they frequently surf the Web while watching TV. Slightly fewer say they use email while watching TV.

And if a new product category develops for devices such as Apple's iPad, that is the use case: people who want a convenient way to use the Web and email while watching TV, using the Wi-Fi connection in their homes.

That isn't to say some people might be able to use a tablet to replace a PC when out of the home, but that might be a subset of the tablet user audience.

Mobile Ad Spending Isn't Hype, But is Dwarfed by Online Spending

Everyone would agree that 2009 was not the best of years for advertising spending. But spending might not reach 2008 levels until 2012 or 2013.

Advertising might not reach pre-recession levels until mid-decade. There is at least some thinking advertising might not even reach pre-recession levels during the current decade.

Mobile advertising, Apple and Google expect, will grow fastest, from a low base. But online Web advertising still will be two orders of magnitude bigger than mobile advertising by 2014, Yankee Group predicts.

U.S. Media Usage Shrinks in 2009

Despite the general trend that Americans consume a bit more media every year, that was not the case in 2009, when U.S. media consumption actually fell about 17 percent in 2009, or about two hours a day, a huge drop.

The conventional wisdom is that media use should increase during a recession, as consumers shift more entertainment to the home, and substitute some amount of entertainment spending for travel, for example. But that doesn't seem to be the case, according to a new study by the Yankee Group.

The big exception was mobile media, which grew 39 percent in 2009.

"We believe the underlying reason is the economy," says Carl Howe,Yankee Group analyst. "It’s hard to spend all evening on the Internet or watching TV when you’re worried about making mortgage payments or trying to find a job."

Online activities decreased by 40 minutes, but TV and video viewing lost a full hour. Web browsing, email and social networking decreased 17 percent from their 2008 figure of 4.9 hours, but TV viewing declined by nearly a third, from 4.3 to 3.3 hours per day.

Music and reading declined the most. "The music, newspaper and magazine industries are all struggling for a reason," says Howe. "Consumers are spending less time with their media."

Listening to the radio and music fell half an hour to just 1.4 hours a day. Reading magazines and newspapers fared even worse; those activities combined total only 25 minutes a day, down from 40 minutes in 2008, says Howe.

Mobile is the only category that experienced growth. Consumers spent 40 minutes per day talking on mobile phones, up 12 percent from 2008. Mobile Internet use grew 36 percent to 11 minutes a day, and texting grew 55 percent to 27 minutes a day.

The Yankee Group findings contradict some other studies which indicate that TV watching was up in 2009. One of the differences is that Yankee Group includes both "at work" and "at home" consumption, while Nielsen only measures "at home" consumption.

But anyway one looks at the matter, consumers spend nearly half of every 24-hour day with media.

Respondents report they spend an average of 712 minutes, or 11.9 hours each day, with various types of media, with the greatest amount of time spent online, using Web browsing, email, instant messaging and social networking for an average of 4 hours and 13 minutes each day.

TV and video represents three hours and 17 minutes watching TV, pre-recorded programs on their DVRs, and DVDs and videos. TV watching takes up just over 2 hours and 19 minutes per day, on average.

Consumers report they spend an average of one hour and 26 minutes each day listening to the radio, CDs or MP3s, while all mobile phone activities consume one hour and 18 minutes on average.

Gaming time now exceeds reading. Consumers report spending an average of 36 minutes each day playing video games, but only 24 minutes reading newspapers or magazines.

Consumers routinely multitask while watching TV. "Two thirds of our respondents say they talk on the phone regularly while watching TV," says Howe. "More than half surf the Web or write email as well."

That is one reason why Apple and some observers believe the iPad will create a new niche in the market. People already have the habit of using the Internet while watching TV, so a more convenient device for doing so should be able to get traction, tablet supporters believe.

Interactive activities engage consumers in ways TV doesn’t. The top four activities on this list are all what the media industry calls “lean forward” tasks; that is, they engage the consumer interactively. Consumers naturally give cognitive priority to these “lean forward” activities over “lean back” ones like watching TV. What does that mean? It means that when consumers multitask, TV advertising takes a back seat to more interactive forms of engagement.

Former FCC Chairmen Talk Broadband

This video provides an excellent example of the old adage that having shared objectives does not mean policy proponents agree about the methods which will lead to achievement of the goals. Still, it is nice to see former Federal Communications Commission chairmen who pursued quite-different policies re-emphasize the importance of the end point.

YouTube Consumes 10% of Business Bandwidth, Study Finds

YouTube now consumes about 10 percent of business network bandwidth, while Facebook represents 4.5 percent of all consumed bandwidth, a new study by Network Box finds.

Windows updates represent about 3.3 per cent of all bandwidth used, Yimg (Yahoo!'s image server) 2.7 per cent of all bandwidth used and Google – 2.5 per cent of all bandwidth used.

When looking at traffic, rather than bandwidth consumption, Facebook is the top site visited on business networks. Network Box's analysis of 13 billion universal resource locators used by businesses in the first quarter of 2010 shows that 6.8 per cent of all business internet traffic goes to Facebook, an increase of one per cent since the last quarter of 2009.

Google vists represent 3.4 per cent of all traffic, Yimg (Yahoo!'s image server) 2.8 per cent of all traffic, Yahoo 2.4 per cent of all traffic and Doubleclick about1.7 per cent of all traffic.

The company also found that, of 250 IT managers surveyed about their biggest security concerns over the coming year,  the top concern was "employees using applications on social networks" while at work, with 43 per cent of respondents saying this is a major concern.

"The figures show that IT managers are right to be concerned about the amount of social network use at work," says Simon Heron, Network Box internet security analyst says.

Such measurements always are a bit imprecise, not in terms of URLs visited or bandwidth consumed, but in terms of business or personal use. Business users increasingly are using YouTube business videos for work, while some Facebook use undoubtedly also reflects business purposes.

HTC Incredible for Verizon Reviewed by Boy Genius Report

There's a nice detailed review by Boy Genius Report on the Verizon HTC "Incredible" here. link

You have to give credit to HTC for pushing the envelope on Android devices and design in general. The "Sense" user interface is interesting.

Revenue Sharing is the Heart of the Net Neutrality Matter

“The problem with mobile broadband so far has been most of the revenue it has generated has gone to over-the-top Internet content services, not to the operators,” says Pat McCarthy, Telcordia VP. “That’s what they are trying to change.”

And that is the heart of the matter as far as wrangling over network neutrality. Over time, consumers will have many options for buying customized wireless broadband plans, McCarthy says. And nearly everyone believes that will mean very-heavy users will have to pay more, in some way.

The key notion is that retail price will be related, in some way, to the cost of the services consumed. That doesn't necessarily mean billing by the byte, but probably a range of options for basic access that are similar to wireless voice plans, where users buy buckets of minutes or text messages a various prices, or unlimited use for higher prices.

Some have suggested pricing based on the value of services and applications and most providers tend to believe there should be the ability to buy optional services that maintain quality of service when the network is congested.

Standard users might get messages during peak congestion periods--perhaps rush hour or at a major sports or concert venue--that the network is congested, with their services shaped in some way. Premium users might get priority access and all users might be offered a temporary "power boost," for an additional fee, during the period of congestion.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Video Seen as Key for iPad

About 77 percent of 200 senior marketing executives believe that developing a video strategy for the iPad is important to their businesses' success, says KIT Digital, which took the non-scientific study during a webinar on the iPad.

The survey also asked attendees if their businesses currently have a mobile solution for other devices. About 38 percent of respondents say they do,  while 43 percent say they are currently working on developing a mobile solution.

Overall, however, 62 percent of respondents do not currently have a mobile video solution.

When asked if they were prepared to take advantage of the iPad's video capabilities, 21 percent of businesses responded that they are, while 48 percent) responded that it is an area "currently being worked on."


What Works Better for Marketing Campaigns: Twitter or Facebook?

After studying Twitter and Facebook as business marketing vehicles, Irbtrax says "Twitter performed better in the general business to business marketing category due to its viral marketing benefits."

But Facebook performed better in the business to business marketing category for select companies that are 'personalities'. In other words, "hot" products or services with high user inmvolvement can use Facebook in ways that other firms cannot. That also means Facebook likely is better for consumer products.

The study concluded that it is not even necessary to have a large group of Twitter followers to benefit from Twitter's viral marketing advantages. Twitter also might be better for real-time promotions, events, special offers or location-based offers, the study suggests.

The study concludes that both work, and that it is best to create a presence on both. But extrapolating from the findings, one might argue that a business-to-business campaign is better suited to Twitter, while consumer products might fare better on Facebook. That especialy would be true for products without a high degree of personal and emotional involvement.


Technology and Life in 2020: Good News and Bad News

Forbes continues to have a higher-than-average interest in technology and its impact on work and life, compared to some other major business news media, and in a series of related essays Forbes takes a look at where we will be in 2020, in terms of jobs, health, working and so forth.

One of the points made in one of the essays is that because of Moore's Law, we will by 2020 have 32 times more compute power available to apply to all of those tasks, and that not all the effects will be positive. Those of you who believe manufacturing (I admit I do) remains an important part of any advanced economy will be discouraged by the likely implications. read the essays here

Those of you who are parents might likewise be chastened by some findings of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report on "Generation M2," which takes a look at the role of media in the lives of youth and children.

The study shows, as I suspect most parents suspect, that reading and good grades tend to go together. About 72 percent of "heavy" readers report getting good grades, while 60 percent of the light readers say so. Read the study

There also is a direct--and inverse--relationship between "time spent with media" and "good grades," as many of you likely also suspect is the case. Children who are heavy media users get lower grades; children who are light media users get higher grades. About 47 percent of "heavy media users" say they get "fair to poor" grades, compared to 23 percent of "light users." And that remains the case when controlling for age, gender, race, parent education, or whether a child is in a one-parent or two-parent household, Kaiser says.

Conversely, 66 percent of "light users" report getting good grades. It isn't clear whether the relationship between grades and heavy media consumption is causal or only a correlation, though. Still, the findings likely correspond to what many parents would conclude.

Sales Friction Creates Barriers to Buying Behavior

Sales friction occurs when a sales process is: too long (the line at the grocery store) too complicated (working with real estate agents) a...