Mobile Forecasts

117 posts categorized

May 21, 2015

Global Smartphone Sales of $96bn in 2015 Q1

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Recently released figures suggest 2015 will be a record-breaking year for the smartphone. According to market research company GfK, global sales hit $96 billion in Q1 - an 8% year-on-year increase.  

The market has never witnessed such a successful quarter. The number of units sold went up by 7%, to 309.7 million (from 290.1 million in the first quarter of 2014). The lion’s share of that growth comes from Middle Eastern and African markets, but strong growth in North America continues to drive revenues. 

Outside the USA, there has been a slowing of growth in other mature markets such as China and Japan - though analysts predict this is a temporary hiccup rather than a new trend. As more consumers make the transition from 3G to 4G, developed Asian markets are expected to fuel a resurgence in regional sales. 

Much of the ground made can be attributed to a combination of 4G and large-screen adoption, but low-end smartphones have also experienced an upsurge, increasing their market share from 52% in the previous quarter, to 56% in Q1 of 2015. Mid-range devices remained stable and price erosion in emerging markets has seen high-end models (retailing at $500+) take a tumble.

What are we to make of these figures? According to GfK, global smartphone demand is predicted to grow by at least 10% year-on-year for the remainder of 2015. Asia - and in particular India and Indonesia - is forecast to be the primary growth area, as the economies are strong but smartphone penetration is still relatively low.

May 20, 2015

Millennials Pose Biggest Mobile Security Risk

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Internet technology security has become of increased concern for companies with sensitive internal data. The risk from outsider infiltration has been of topic for years, yet a recent report conducted by endpoint security specialists Absolute Software, says otherwise.

According to the survey, almost fifty percent of the workforce will be millennials by 2020. As this group replaces the baby boomers, there are new concerns posed by use and behavior with employer-owned mobile devices and personal computers. 

The survey took a look at 750 Americans over the age of 18 who work for companies with at least fifty employees. Although seventy-nine percent of those questioned reported they prefer separate mobile devices for personal and work use, fifty-two percent will use the company-owned property for personal reasons. What’s more, of that total, fourteen percent admit their personal behavior could compromise company data and lead to a potential security risk. 

What’s more interesting still, the age demographic and position level have strong influences on this behavior. Only five percent of baby boomers reported compromising activities on company property, while twenty-five percent of millennials report similar activity. Sixty-four percent of millennials reported using desktop computers for personal use, while only thirty-seven percent of baby boomer reported the personal use of company desktops. 

Aside from breaking company policies that protect sensitive data, among those surveyed, twenty-seven percent reported the content they view is not safe on company property. Five percent concluded their personal content was of no threat to the company’s security. 

Moreover, as position level increases, so too does the likeliness of an employee using employee-owned property for personal use. Of those at senior level positions, seventy-six percent admitted to personal use, and twenty-six percent have actually lost company devices in the last five years. Lower level positions were significantly less, with fifty-one percent admitting to similar personal use.

Vice President of Global Marketing Absolute, Stephen Midgley, says the report was conducted to help companies become more aware of this unique threat to IT security.

“Armed with this information, our customers can consider user behavior as an additional data point in their endpoint security and data risk management strategies,” said Midgley. 

The recommendation is simple: implement a security solution on all employee-owned devices. Additional measures might also include a combination of employee training, updates to guidelines and procedures, as well as personal responsibility placed on the employees.

 

May 18, 2015

Mobile Gaming Revenue to Hit $110 Billion by 2018

 

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New research from intelligence firm Digi-Capital highlights the omnipresence and financial power of the mobile gaming industry. Spending predictions are record-breaking, with a steady annual growth of eight percent leading up to $110 billion by 2018.

Currently, mobile games are taking $3 of every $10 spent by gamers. That figure is expected to increase to $4 in three years time, which will have a dramatic impact on who and how new games go to market.

Spending on smartphones and other mobile devices is already high, generating more revenue than game console software this year—this does not include hardware, or free to play games. Strong growth predictions account for current trends as well as the success of popular games currently in market and budding player downloads in foreign counties.

Compared to North America and Europe, Asia will be responsible for nearly fifty percent of all mobile game revenues by 2018. Asia already leads these figures but is expected to take a larger share as the industry grows and the Asian markets continue to liberalize.

The top grossing mobile games are of no surprise. According to Digi-Capitol founder and managing director, Tim Merel, games like Clash of Clan, Candy Crush Saga, and Game of War will continue their reign from the top. These games have lead considerable marketing campaigns, including Super Bowl ads, regular television campaigns, and comprehensive online advertising. These games have also been available on both iOS and Android since 2012.

The growth potential for these games is great for shareholders, but a challenge for games being squeezed out of the competition. Player acquisition costs are high, $3 a player, which to too expensive for independent companies at the present. These costs are also slimming to already delicate profit margins even if some companies manage to edge it out.

All things considered, there is some good news for emerging mobile games. Mobile marketing automation technologies are improving and the prices seem to be lowering. Solutions used by games like Plants vs. Zombies, Rivals of War and Subway Surfers are becoming more available to independent games and small enterprise.

With China and India looking prospectively good for downloads and users in the coming year, there’s still plenty of room for developers to capitalize on this growing sector of the game market. Moreover, the real takeaway of this research is the proliferation of mobile use among users, which along with the gaming industry parallels in growth.

May 16, 2015

A Third of UK Online Purchases in 2015 Will Be Mobile

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According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, one-third of all 2015 online sales in the UK will take place on smartphones and tablets. The figure is believed to increase by over 40 percent by 2019. eMarketer also estimates that UK retail ecommerce sales will rise 14.5 percent this year to reach £60.4bn. This increase is due to an improved economy, more purchase delivery options, and shoppers turning to mobile devices for buying products and services.

Digital will function as the “main driver” of overall retail sales growth, and subsequently its share of total retail sales will increase to 14.4 percent this year. The increase puts the UK on top of global rankings in regards to ecommerce’s portion of total retail sales. China will be second, with a 12 percent share. The U.S. is farther down the line at 7.1 percent.

Additionally, growth trajectory for mCommerce sales is quite sharp, with this year’s forecast predicting a 30.3 percent increase. eMarketer experts say UK retail mCommerce sales “will reach £19.9bn in 2015, and by 2019, that figure will almost double to just short of £37bn.”

Tablets are especially essential to UK mCommerce sales growth, says eMarketer, as more and more consumers use the devices for “lean-back browsing” of potential purchases. Some retailers are putting extra effort into their tablet retail sites and apps, ensuring they’re both rich and responsive. eMarketer predicts that in 2015 tablet retail mCommerce sales will reach £13.3bn, nearly 67 percent of overall UK retail mcommerce sales. Compare that to 2013, when tablets accounted for a 60.5 percent share of such sales. 

“That mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the retail shopping habits of UK consumers is without question, be that via smartphone, phablet or tablet,” said eMarketer analyst, Bill Fisher. “What this demonstrates, though, is that digital shopping and buying long ago entered the mainstream for most UK consumers, and buying via mobile is just the next step. Indeed, device-agnostic buying, thanks to users’ familiarity with these various device types, is becoming the norm.” 

Even though consumers have demonstrated their willingness to rely on tablets and other mobile devices for making purchases, many retailers have been slow to adapt. Security concerns are one reason for this, and new payment technology options have stagnated as a result. However, the UK is set to establish itself as a huge player in the mobile commerce market over the next few years. 

May 15, 2015

The World's First SMS Referendum Took Place Last Month... in Mongolia

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For all the rapid advances in digital technology over the past decade, the business of democracy remains firmly analogue. Ever since mutterings ranging from ‘foul play’ to ‘system error’ cast a pall over the 2000 Presidential elections, electronic voting in the U.S. has been in decline, with states abandoning machines in favor of traditional pencil-and-paper voting. Voting watchdogs and analysts have major reservations about the security of a digital system if faced with committed, politically motivated hackers. Strange as it seems, electronic voting may have had it’s day.

If e-voting - which is at least supervised by election officials in a centralized venue - is on the wane, it seems unlikely that mobile voting will fare any better. For those fearful of tampering and corruption, the remoteness of casting votes via a mobile device will do nothing to reassure. 

Well, it doesn’t get any more remote than Mongolia, which last month became the world’s first country to stage a referendum in which citizens can engage with the democratic process via their mobile devices.  

Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed asked three million Mongolians to air their views on the country’s dwindling economy, which, according to Bloomberg, has slowed down from a record 17.5 per cent in 2011 to around 7 per cent in 2013. The mining industry, a bedrock of the economy, is beset with legal wrangles. Foreign investment has collapsed, causing the Tugrik to fall 42% against the U.S. dollar. The government is involved in a tax dispute with Rio Tinto Group, who were slated to finance one of Mongolia’s biggest assets, the $6.6 billion Oyo Tolgoi mine. Public and political opposition to the open-cast mining industry has only fanned the flames of economic unrest.

With negotiations at a stalemate, Saikhanbileg has shrewdly recognized the only credible way out of the mess is via a public mandate. In January, just two months into his office, Saikhanbileg took to national television to offer Mongolians a stark choice to save the economy: press on with multi-billion dollar mining projects or cut spending and scale back investment in the industry. The Prime Minister invited citizens to state their preferred strategy via text message.

Four days later, the votes were in. Austerity measures received a resounding ‘no’ from the people, giving the government the go-ahead to - hopefully - revitalize the mining industry and resume negotiations with multinationals like Rio Tinto.

For the wider world, the implications of the result are perhaps less significant than the implications of the voting method. Democracy by text message had never been tried before. It seems to have worked, but only time will tell whether the Mongolian experiment is destined to be an anomaly or a historic precedent.

Is Your Website Primed for Mobile Users?

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At the end of last month, Google updated their algorithms to reward mobile-friendly sites. 

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal,” the company wrote on its Webmaster Central Blog back in February. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” 

The substantial change in how the search engine giant rank websites means it’s essential that your website, blog, and landing pages are completely optimized for mobile.  

Are you ready for this historic change? Let’s look at what you need to do if you haven’t already: 

 

Test Your Website 

Google has provided website owners with a free tool that lets them know what they need to do to ensure they’re prepared for the new mobile search algorithm. Simply run the tool on your site to obtain a speedy assessment of whether your mobile rank is good enough for the change. If your site is fully optimized, you’ll receive a success message saying “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” or something similar. You’ll also receive a visual of how Google sees your site. 

If your website is less-than-mobile-friendly, you’ll receive a notification that reads, “Not mobile-friendly” complete with a list of why not. Typical reasons include “text too small to read,” “links too close together,” and “mobile viewpoint not set.” You’ll also be notified as to how Google sees the page and what you can do to change it. 

 

Select Your Approach

Google recognizes three different “mobile-friendly” configurations so you may move content as needed. The first is responsive design, also Google’s number-one recommended design pattern. Responsive design never creates two copies of the same site, meaning viewers have only one go-to URL, and the website adapts to whatever device it’s on, whether tablet, smartphone...you get the idea. 

Dynamic serving and mobile websites round out the list, with the former allowing you to again keep the same URL. The difference is the change in HTML, as dynamic serving utilizes user-agents to determine what device the consumer is using and sets up the appropriate view.  

The mobile website option refers to creation of a separate mobile website, however it means creating and maintaining two different versions of content. Responsive design is considered the best option because website viewers, Google, marketers, and website owners are all big, big fans. 

 

Wrap-Up

Google has also created a list of common mistakes in addition to its mobile-optimization tool so you may correct whatever’s wrong with your site, if applicable. If your site isn’t optimized, don’t panic--you can still rebuild your search credit. However, the sooner you implement changes, the better. 

 

May 07, 2015

Infographic: Where Do People Use Smartphones?

 

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April 22, 2015

This App Lets You Send a Text 25 Years into the Future... Sort Of

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In an age of instant communication and 24-hour rolling news, the notion of posterity may seem rather quaint. The emphasis is on the now, with scant consideration for what might happen a few weeks - let alone a few years - from now.  

One new app aims to put long-term thinking back in the spotlight, by providing users with a platform to delay the release of their text messages for up to 25 years. Launched last month, Incubate Messenger is the innovation of Atlanta-based entrepreneur Michael McCluney.  

Incubate’s uses aren’t immediately obvious but, according to McCluney, it doesn’t take long for people to ‘think of reasons they need to strategically time [a] message’ when you give them the functionality. Those reasons range from forgetful spouses priming an anniversary text message months ahead of the date, to soldiers on tour sending a time-delayed SMS to their kids when they know they’ll be unable to reach a phone on duty. In addition to SMS messaging, movies, photos and audio messages are also catered for by the app.

McCluney’s lightbulb moment came when an exhausted friend - and father of triplets - told him of the nightly struggles tending to three 3-month-old babies. The developer suggested his friend make audio recordings to capture the chaos of a trio of screaming infants in the middle of the night. Wouldn’t it be great if Dad could somehow share these moments with his kids when they were old enough to laugh at their tiny selves?  

That exchange inspired one of Incubate’s unique features: Nursery. The feature allows parents to send time-delayed messages to their kids from the moment they are born. Parents simply create an account, which their child can access when they get their first mobile device. Anyone with an account can exchange messages and see how many messages await them in the future but - and here’s the clever bit - they can’t access the message or see the identity of the sender until the date set by the sender. Having a mystery text message that you can’t read for 25 years is the ultimate in delayed gratification, and a masterstroke of an emotional hook.

Asynchronous communication is not entirely new. Boomerang and Gmail both have options for time-delayed messages, as do Vine and Snapchat. But Incubate aims to promote the sharing of information with a little more gravitas than photographs of desserts. It’s about creating a time capsule capable of creating a bond through space and time. Until now, a dewy-eyed father packing his kid off to college can do his best to reminisce about his youth - and probably get rolled eyes and groans in return. With Incubate, it’s possible to capture and store precious memories as they happen, and share them in the future when they’ve taken on new significance.

 

April 21, 2015

Could Google's Mobile Update Backfire?

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Today sees the roll out of Google’s most significant algorithm update in years. In response to mass migration from desktop to mobile, the search engine will now use a website’s ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking metric. 

It’s great news for businesses who put themselves ahead of the mobile marketing curve in time to reap the benefits. It’s not so great for those lagging behind - many of them big businesses with expensive, unwieldy marketing departments. According to research firm SumAll, a staggering 67% of Fortune 100 companies do not have mobile friendly sites. They can expect their traffic to nosedive now the change has taken effect

The changes - dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some - are perfectly consistent with Google’s track record of responding to shifts in search culture. Mobile traffic has increased, and desktop search has declined correspondingly. For the average user, more likely to access the internet from a mobile device than a desktop computer, the update will doubtlessly improve their experience.  

Assuming Google isn’t doing this for purely altruistic reasons, what are their motivations for implementing changes that will not only harm powerful corporate influences but reduce Google’s own ad revenue?  

One answer may lie in the question. Google knows it must close the gap between desktop and mobile ad rates in anticipation of a full-blown small-screen revolution. Another possibility is that Google isn’t so much reacting to external trends, but rather influencing consumer behavior. If sites render well on mobile devices, they will become more popular, thus increasing the number of mobile clicks.

The businesses who aren’t ready for this will definitely suffer. They may even claim that the content available on mobile friendly sites just isn’t as good, nullifying Google’s objective to (ostensibly) provide a meritocratic search tool. The worst case scenario for Google is that big companies switch their search focus to Yahoo or Bing, and move their ad spending to Facebook. Such gloomy predictions have always failed to materialize in the past, and Google remains synonymous with search for the majority of internet users. 

Nonetheless, it’s a risky strategy. Without ad revenue Google is nothing, but they have proven themselves time and again to be deft at bending with the wind. Whether today’s major algorithmic update will turn into ‘mobilegeddon’ remains to be seen, but as risky as the move may seem, betting against Google is riskier still.

 

April 18, 2015

Wrap Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding

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In today’s mobile era, content in increasingly digested in “bite-size” chunks. Wrap Media is a new company looking to develop a viable alternative to what it calls “wraps,” or small stories delivered as swipe-able content on mobile devices. The company has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding from FF Angel LLC and Raine Ventures. 

Launching a wrap from your mobile device is easy enough, and once launched you may swipe left or right through the assorted pages to view content. It’s also possible to watch embedded YouTube videos or tap through links to connect with Wrap on social media. As far as potential use goes, options include sharing stories and embedding coupons or merchandise you can purchase from automated business emails, such as digital receipts and order confirmations.  

The folks at Wrap Media stress that what they’ve created is not “another website creation service,” but a “presentation layer” that sits pretty atop any platform. While wraps are currently delivered via the mobile web, founder Eric Greenberg says the company’s long-term goal is to provide such experiences from anywhere, whether a small smartphone screen or a gigantic living room television.  

Greenberg had the idea for Wrap while building a mobile gifting app through a card-based user interface. He found the interface had more potential than the app itself, and subsequently shifted company focus to the interface. Greenberg is also the founder of several other companies, including systems integrators Scient and Viant. 

Wrap’s web-based authoring service provides companies with the ability to create app-like messages using simplistic tools, and messages may be shared as links on social media, SMS, and email. The idea is to provide a new format for mobile marketing so companies can share their stories without having to invest in serious development and design resources, even though it still looks like they did. Wraps are created in 15 minutes or over the course of a few hours depending on the amount of content involved. 

“This is a story that can’t be told today…because you’d have to develop something from scratch. And to do something like this, is a minimum of six figures,” Greenberg explained. “So instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with developers and designers, you can literally create these interactive experiences with a junior marketing manager, with no code and no design experience.”  

Companies currently utilizing Wrap’s services include CBS Interactive, Loverly, and StumbleUpon. Wrap is also in talks with some 50 other companies. Pricing is on a transitional basis as well as software-as-a-service, as Wrap is still in private beta. Service is intended to start around $300-$500 per month. 

The $3.5 million Wrap has acquired in funding includes $3 million from Founders Fund’s seed stage fund FF Angel LLC and Raine Ventures. The remaining $500,000 is out of Greenberg’s pocket. He also seeded the company with another $2.5 million, resulting in $6 million in raised funds. 

Wrap is expected to launch in September 2015.