Mobile

Is it worth it?

It’s a question we all ask ourselves multiple times per day – even if it’s just unconsciously – ‘is it worth it?’

If your customers are thinking for too long about whether you’re worth their time, their money, their social reinforcement or their verbal recommendation then you need to be working harder at giving them more reasons to shorten the time they spend evaluating you.

You see this evaluation most frequently in the supermarket. People paused in aisles staring at one or dozens of similar brands trying to decide which one they’ll buy.

Take a look at your business and what your company puts in to the market. Find the opportunities where you can engage with your current and new customers in brand appropriate ways, perhaps even where your customers don’t expect you to be, but when you’re there, it becomes a natural and welcome addition.

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Mobile Internet Usage Grows 36% Year on Year.

According to the latest research from Statista, mobile phones now account for 17% of total global web usage – excluding tablets.

Perhaps even more importantly than the raw number though, is the growth trend as the global year on year increase in mobiles as a % of internet traffic is a whopping 36% in just 12 months.

And it’s not just the Year on year growth which is important, in Asia for example, we can now see that more than 1 in 4 internet experiences now happens on a mobile device. In Africa approximately 1 in 4 internet based experiences now happens on a mobile device, and in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand etc) and North America, roughly 1 in 6 experiences is a mobile one.

The just released global mobile internet traffic statistics, graphic below, demonstrate the explosive growth and fundamental shift in consumer behaviour globally as technology and the internet diffuse faster around the globe.

Global, Oceania and Australian mobile internet growth 2013

The biggest year on year growth has been seen in many areas of the world where many may not be expecting. with Africa’s mobile internet growth rising 52% YoY, South America growth mobile internet usage 53%, and Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand) 45%.

For the populations of Africa and South America in particular this new avenue of access not just to content, education and research within their respective countries, but more broadly globally can’t be underestimated. It’s an absolutely massive growth opportunity for many industries within and external to, those continents.

For my Australian readers, as a proxy for Oceania, according to this data we can now say that mobile accounts for at least 14.6% of internet usage in Australia, which is a 45% year on year gain on 2012 mobile internet usage. And the opportunities in Australia can’t be underestimated either.

For the data lovers, below is the table of global and broadly continent focused mobile internet usage and statistics.

Mobile internet as a percentage of all internet usage
% Mobile internet usage 2012 % Mobile internet usage 2013 YoY mobile internet usage growth
Worldwide

11.10%

17.40%

36%
North america

9.40%

15.20%

38%

South America

3.20%

6.80%

53%
Europe

5.90%

9.70%

39%
Africa

11.30%

23.70%

52%

Asia

18.80%

26.60%

29%

Oceania

8.00%

14.60%

45%

 

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Is Microsoft about to dump Bing?

A piece out of Business Insider today, by Matt Rosoff argues that maybe Microsoft is giving up on Bing. It’s a quirky question, businesses of this size don’t usually give up on products that are growing like Bing is. But nontheless Matt has some decent points, as below.

microsoft bing

Earlier today, Google and Mozilla renewed their deal to make Google the default search engine in the Firefoxbrowser for another three years.

This seems like Microsoft passed up a great opportunity to get more traffic to Bing. Right now, Firefox has about 25% market share and is used by more than 400 million people. According to Comscore, about 75% of the searches conducted from Firefox go to Google. (Users can manually select Bing or another search engine, but most don’t.)

Last year, Google paid Mozilla about $103 million for the right to be the default search engine. (That’s 84% of the Mozilla Foundation’s total $123 million, as per its 2010 financial statement, which were released in October — PDF here.)

That’s chump change for Microsoft. Even if the deal was much more expensive this time around as both companies bid up the price, Microsoft blinked first. Why?

Microsoft had no comment, but here’s one possibility: Microsoft has already reached its market share goal with Bing and is tightening the wallet to bring expenses under control.

The evidence:

  • Microsoft decreased Bing’s marketing spend last quarter. The Online group’s operating loss decreased for the first time in ages last quarter. That’s partly because sales and marketing expenses for the Online group dropped 25% last quarter (compared with the year-ago quarter). That’s a big shift from the previous four quarters, where sales and marketing expenses for Online rose 5% from the previous year.
  • It’s letting Bing talent migrate. Back in April, a former Bing engineer wrote that Microsoft was no longer spending big bucks to retain the best talent — instead, it was paying “far below market rates.” This year, two top Bing leaders — Satya Nadella and Yusuf Mehdi — took jobs elsewhere at Microsoft, suggesting that they saw more opportunity elsewhere (or that Steve Ballmer wanted to shift top talent away from Bing).

While Matt’s points are well argued he fails to address the fundamentals about why destop oriented browser based search may not be as appealing now, for Bing’s future. Businesses don’t make decisions like the size and scale of this one based on today’s conditions, they make them based on at least a 5 to 10 year window.

I’m not entirely convinced Microsoft is giving up on Bing at all. It could be that they’re recognising that desktop based browsers aren’t going as important in the future as it’s going to be – with the rise of mobile and tablet devices and growing search volumes, and it is because of Firefox that more people are willing to check out other browsers like Chrome, Opera etc.

It’s also worth considering that Google gave up it’s Twitter access a few years ago now, but no one seriously suggested that Google wasn’t taking search seriously. I wonder if they’re regetting that decision now?

Finally, it’s worth considering which search engine picked up exclusive access to Twitter, and also has exclusive access to Facebook – yep, that’d be Bing. Social Search – the seamless integration of arguably the world’s two largest Social media platforms and search data will be invaluable for both customer experience and algorithmic learning.

Perhaps it’s not that Microsoft didn’t want Firefox, perhaps it’s that they just think they don’t need it as much – because in the next few years social media sites are going to become even more important desinations than they are today and less people will use Search to get there.

India announces $35 tablet and the iPhone 4S

$35 tablet

Manufacturers in India have announced a $35 tablet, designed to get computing power to the masses.

The developer of the world’s cheapest tablet, Datawind, is reportedly selling the tablets to the government for roughly $45 per unit, and $35 for students and teachers. Regular readers will know from my previous post, that I thought India would be the obvious growth path of the future for tablet growth. I also  mentioned that I believed that  Apple may not be successful with it’s higher price points, but cheaper rivals like Android may be more successful as they have cheaper price points.

By comparison the cheapest iPad is $499, or  14 times more expensive than Datawind’s tablet, and the cheapest Android tablet the KindleFire at $199 is nearly six times more expensive.

Will Datawind’s tablet have all of the features of the iPad? No, not by a long shot, but the question has to be asked “Will the majority of the (impoverished) Indian public really care?” Will they lament the fact they can’t play Angry Birds, or Fruit Ninja? Almost definitely not, although that doesn’t mean that developers like Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) may develop for the tablet anyway.

From the Washington Post:

Datawind says it can make about 100,000 units a month at the moment, not nearly enough to meet India’s hope of getting its 220 million children online.

Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal called the announcement a message to all children of the world.

“This is not just for us. This is for all of you who are disempowered,” he said. “This is for all those who live on the fringes of society.”

Despite a burgeoning tech industry and decades of robust economic growth, there are still hundreds of thousands of Indians with no electricity, let alone access to computers and information that could help farmers improve yields, business startups reach clients, or students qualify for university.

The launch — attended by hundreds of students, some selected to help train others across the country in the tablet’s use — followed five years of efforts to design a $10 computer that could bridge the country’s vast digital divide.

“People laughed, people called us lunatics,” ministry official N.K. Sinha said. “They said we are taking the nation for a ride.”

Although the $10 goal wasn’t achieved, the Aakash has a color screen and provides word processing, Web browsing and video conferencing. The Android 2.2-based device has two USB ports and 256 megabytes of RAM. Despite hopes for a solar-powered version — important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands — no such option is currently available.

iPhone 4S

Most of what needs to be said about the iPhone 4S has been said by technology bloggers and writers around the world already. The only thing I’d like to add is that Apple no longer looks like it’s leading the innovation it kick started. With more agile competitors, and more competitors in general, Apple’s once a year, or longer, release cycle doesn’t seem like innovation and leadership so much as it looks like it’s playing catch-up.  Of course, this isn’t writing Apple off – not by a long shot – but it’s interesting to note that there wasn’t nearly as much fan-fare and media attention in general about Apple’s latest release once the details had actually been released. There was more hype and build up, than reality. Interesting times for Apple.

Tablets in 2016.

 

Juniper Research has released an interesting report predicting the sales and shipments of tablets – including iPad and newcomers like XOOM, KindleFire, and the seemingly stalled Samsung tablet offering – by 2016.

Western Europe and North America are the biggest predicted ‘one stop markets’ – but the really interesting take away is the size of predicted demand coming out of India. Small, as an overall market participant by 2016, it’ll be interesting to see how it grows by, say, 2020, or 2025 as demand grows and, presumably, for non-Apple products, prices fall.

 


Wrapped up in our own bubbles – part 1

There are several big picture issues floating around on the internet at the moment all of them revolving around filters, personalisation, social conversations, social media, anonymity and privacy vs conversations specifically tied to your real life and the real you. I’m going to try to tackle these issues/discussions one by one and hopefully finish up with a few summarised thoughts, potential implications and lots of questions worth mulling over in the coming weeks, months and years. The issues are too big for just one post however, so consider this to be part 1.

The first issue to tackle is the discussion around filters and personalisation. Eli Pariser, the former Executive Director of MoveOn.org, argues that more and more individuals and companies are wrapping themselves in ‘filtered bubbles’ of information, and that this is ultimately a bad thing. A ‘filter bubble’, is “A filter bubble is a concept developed by Internet activist Eli Pariser to describe a phenomenon in which search queries on sites such as Google or Facebook or Yahoo selectively guess what information a user would like to see based on the user’s past search history and, as a result, searches tend to play back information which agrees with the user’s past viewpoint. Accordingly, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints. And according to Pariser, the filter bubble is “that personal ecosystem of information that’s been catered by these algorithms” which, based on past choices, reflect a person’s existing viewpoint.” Source.

I strongly encourage you to watch the video below as Eli draws out, but stops short of describing, some of the impacts of a filter bubble, and what that means for individuals, groups, collectives, societies and nations.

What Eli touches on, but doesn’t go into a great deal of detail about is what this means in the medium to long-term and about the implications of companies. political and social groups trying to communicate to a broader audience. In an era of ‘over-personalisation’ where your future search and online results are influenced by past decisions it becomes easier to be convinced that you are right, because Search Engines – both algorithmic and social – deliver what you want to hear, read and see, and are influenced signficantly based on what you’ve previously asked for. How does an individual grow sufficiently to take in broad opinion if the search results they receive cater to what they know, not what they don’t know? Over time, the delivery of this personalised information leads to more like-minded searches, which in turn deliver more like-minded results. Breaking out of that cycle could be very difficult – how do you for example tell algorithmic search engines that you want to be challenged, if you don’t know what some of the alternatives are?

The challenge for business should be plainly obvious: How do you talk to the unconverted where they aren’t getting the information they might need because years of search history indicates they don’t know and an algorithm doesn’t isn’t programmed to recognise that they might need it? How do you get to individuals that should be looking at you and considering your services but where you might be prevented from delivering that information to new groups because a search engine, or personalisation algorithms have decided that your message isn’t relevant, even if it is. In an online environment a future challenge (to start working on solving now) is how to get your message to those that aren’t already singing from the same hymn sheet.

This may not be a massive issue right now because the internet is still relatively young, and personalisation more so, but consider the current generation growing up now – next generations students, consumers and leaders – how will their lives be affected, and how will businesses talk to individuals who have never known any different?

Perhaps Donald Rumsfeld said it best when he posited this:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

On to part 2.

“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas” – Steve Jobs

The biggest news of this week so far is that Apple is suing Samsung for ‘copying’ and ‘stealing’ from them regarding their mobile iOS. Wow.

apple logo

Well that’s going to take a while, a case that big isn’t going to be settled overnight, that’s for sure.

 

We should probably watch some youtube until it goes to court… like this interview from 1994…with Steve Jobs… talking about how Apple has been “shameless” when it comes to stealing great ideas.

Yeah, that court case is going to work out just great.