Tag Archives: Smartphone

A Peek Forward

I’ve written before about how the hardest job in digital media and technology is seeing over the horizon.

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The folks at comScore try to be helpful in that regard and issue an ongoing study about trends and predictions.  As they put it, they “examine… the latest trends in social media, search, online video, digital advertising, mobile and e-commerce are currently shaping the U.S. digital marketplace and what they mean for the coming year, as comScore helps bring the digital future into focus.”  Exactly.

The latest version of the study – The 2013 U.S. Digital Future In Focus Report – came out last week and there were a few nuggets I thought you might find interesting. You can read the entire deck here.

The first has to do with something that content producers have dealt with for years – the perceived mindset that consumers won’t pay for content:

Digital Content & Subscriptions, a category predominantly composed of digital content downloads such as music, movies, TV shows and e-books, ranked as the top-gaining retail e-commerce product category for 2012, its second consecutive year to claim that distinction. The increasing proliferation of devices like smartphones, tablets and digital music players has accelerated consumer demand for digital content downloads, contributing to the 26-percent gain in the category.

So much for that myth.  As it turns out, people will pay for high-quality content delivered seamlessly to all devices.  The next tidbit is related to, or perhaps even drives, the previous finding:

Smartphones continued to drive the mobile landscape in 2012, finally reaching 50-percent market penetration in 2012. Smartphone media usage is dominated by apps, which account for 4 out of every 5 minutes spent on smartphones with mobile web usage accounting for the remainder. Despite Facebook’s leadership in the app market, Google apps dominated the rest of the list of top apps visited in the U.S., with Google Maps, Google Play, Google Search, Gmail and YouTube ranking as the most heavily visited apps next to Facebook.

Consumers are using these devices to access content but I think there’s an opening for some smart company.  Notice that 80% of the usage is not on the mobile web.  I’ve yet to run into a great mobile web experience (although there is a lot of B+ stuff) and so developers are having to support the two big platforms, often with very different degrees of success between the two.  It’s interesting to me that the top mobile apps are all, with the exception of Maps, continuations of a desktop experience.  Instragram (not a top app) is about the only exception to that.

Finally, just as the web became a valuable extension of media’s primary channels, so too mobile is becoming that for the web:

The average Top 25 digital media property extended its reach via mobile channels by 29 percent. Even those with a relatively modest incremental reach in the teens are recognizing that mobile channels represent more than a mere rounding error. The future revenue streams of these media companies depend on effectively delivering content and commerce to their consumers through these channels, and demonstrating why they are an important part of the marketing mix. Failure to meet consumer expectations and aggressively prove the value of these additional channels in 2013 could spell a very rocky economic transition by the time 2014 comes around.

There’s your peek over the horizon.  Now, what are we going to do with it?

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You Carry A Tamagotchi, Honestly.

Anyone remember the Tamagotchi?  They were a late 1990’s phenomenon – digital handheld pets.  The owner had to care for them on a daily – maybe even hourly – basis or they’d die.  Not a fun experience for either the owner (generally a child) or the parent.

I was reminded of the constant care and feeding required by those things this morning as I booted up my phone and found nearly a dozen app updates that needed to be installed.  That, of course, was after I updated a half-dozen yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong – some of the updates contained wonderful enhancements to the app and were very welcome but way too many were either bug or security fixes.  In fact, if you own a smartphone, notice how often you get an update followed within a day or two by another.

Having worked on a few mobile apps, I know how hard it can be to catch everything in QC.  We’re not going to have the Android vs. iOS chat now but even in a closed system like iOS there are multiple versions in multiple devices and the updates come fast and furious.  Using the mobile web and web apps is better although various browser/hardware/OS issues still make testing hard.  At least the user doesn’t have to do any updating though.

The real issue for me is that I’m not sure there’s enough thought or care given to the constant update issue.  Some apps will do a partial release – they think if a button was bigger it would get better results so they push an update to some of their users to test it.  Other apps decide to change the permissions (to get more of them and more data) on their installed base knowing that most people don’t look at that when they install the update.  Still others move features behind a pay wall.  Obviously security issues need to be fixed immediately, but a logo change can certainly wait until a big release, right?

Way back when in the early web days the dream was for a universal browser looking a web sites – no client side activity at all.  Now in mobile it’s gone back the other way – dedicated client-side apps have replaced the server activity.  Maybe it’s that apps are a closed world – I’m not shopping Barnes & Noble while I’m in Amazon’s app.  But there’s got to be something other than grown-up Tamagotchi worlds living on our smartphones.

Thoughts?

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Making Snacks

Another thought-provoking report from the folks at eMarketer last week.  This one is called “The Smartphone Class: Connected Consumers Transform US Commerce and Culture.”  When you think about it, are you aware of anyone who has purchased a new phone in the last year that hasn’t bought a smartphone of some sort?  I don’t want to sound like a techno-snob and I’m well aware that the installed base of “feature phones” – those that some things such as text beyond just voice but aren’t really smart phones (Android, iPhones, etc.) is still pretty large (as in almost half), but giving them a ton of thought is akin to filming TV showsin black and white when color became the norm.

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any event:

eMarketer estimates nearly 116 million Americans will use a smartphone at least monthly by the end of this year, up from 93.1 million in 2011. By 2013, they will represent over half of all mobile phone users, and by 2016, nearly three in five consumers will have a smartphone.

Turns out, eMarketer underestimated how quickly they’d be the majority:

50.4% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones in March 2012, up from 47.8% in December 2011, according to Q1 2012 data from Nielsen Mobile Insights. Broken down by operating system: Android was first with a 48.5% share, followed by Apple’s iOS (32%), RIM‘s BlackBerry (11.6%), Windows Mobile (4.1%), Windows Phone (1.7%), and other (2.1%).

What’s interesting is how this has changed user behavior.  People with these devices are “always on.”  They are constantly consuming content, generally in small increments.  A few minutes of news, a funny video, 10 minutes of a game while commuting.  The issue becomes how are the old guard of content producers adapting?  It’s great that TV shows are available across platforms, but the study tells us that a 20 minute TV episode is unlikely to hit the sweet spot of consumption.  Could it be that the nature of TV itself changes?  What made the 30 or 60 minute episode king other than an ability to tell people when to tune in?

So while “consuming content in frequent, small portions means more touch points for marketers,” it seems to me that users want to be touched differently from how they’ve been in the past.  If we’re producing content, we need to keep that in mind.  And I’ll just leave it there before we head into weirdness.

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