A recent report from my colleague Alexander Hesse on 'The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe: 2010' shows that about one in eight European Net users with a mobile phone use mobile banking today — with SMS account alerts being the most common type. Many European banks like Rabobank and Lloyds TSB let customers set up time- and event-triggered text alerts, but currently, only 10% of European online mobile phone users actually use them.
We expect that 39% of European mobile phone users will use the mobile Internet by 2014. Why? Smartphones becoming the norm, more widely available, all-you-can-eat data plans, and more compelling content will drive uptake. Today's iPhone and BlackBerry users are, for example, already nearly three times as likely to use mobile banking as other mobile phone users.
Simplicity has been central to Spotify’s success to date. In fact the Spotify experience was so simple it looked positively archaic compared to more feature-rich and socially-rich services such as Last.FM and imeem. But that simplicity was Apple-like in its elegance and a key reason it has proven so popular. The barriers to entry were lowered so that it had mass-market appeal rather than being condemned to ending up as another niche hide-out for the tech savvy music aficionados.
Spotify was always going to flick the switch on a greater level of sophistication, but only when it needed to. Doing so now is a very cleverly timed move. Today’s announcement both raises the stakes for new entrants such as mFlow and beats Apple to the music cloud. To understand why, we need to take a quick look at what strategy the new functionality implies. The two most important groups of functionality are social and cloud.
Spotify becomes a social experience. Spotify has always had a keen sense of how to coexist in the broader ecosystem rather than try to do everything itself (cf integrating audio scrobbling). It has now taken that a step further with Facebook integration and relatively sophisticated sharing and interaction. Doing it in the context of Facebook simplifies the education process for users.
Spain’s piracy problem appears to be testing content owner’s patience. Sony Pictures’ chairman Michael Lynton was reported yesterday as saying "People are downloading movies in such large quantities that Spain is on the brink of no longer being a viable home entertainment market for us."
Spain has long been the content piracy hub of Europe, both online and offline. Online music file sharing stands at over 30%, that’s more than double the European average. Movie and TV file sharing in Spain are both more than three times the European average. It is no coincidence that during the Spanish recorded music industry lost half its value last decade.
But that doesn’t justify Mr Lynton’s position. Like it loathe it (and if you’re a content owner it’s probably the latter) Spain is the shape of things to come. By that I don’t mean everyone is going to become a BitTorrent user, but consumers’ relationships with content is changing irrevocably. They increasingly just expect content to be there, and – also in growing numbers – don’t expect to pay a per unit fee for it. This is the Media Meltdown.
Instead of creating some sort of creative trade blockade around Spain – which of course will just force more Spaniards on to P2P networks to find Sony content – Sony and other content partners should invest their time and efforts instead on making Spain a test bed for content monetization models in the digital age.