Today the European Commission fined Microsoft €561 million ($732 million) for failing to live up to a previous legal agreement. As the New York Times reported it, “the penalty Wednesday stemmed from an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on Microsoft to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers, instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.” The original agreement stipulated that Microsoft would provide PC users a Browser Choice Screen (BCS) that would easily allow them to choose from a multitude of browsers.
Without commenting on the legalities involved (I’m not a lawyer), I think there are at least two interesting dimensions to this case. First, the transgression itself could have been avoided. Microsoft admitted this itself in a statement issued on July 17, 2012: “Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7.” The company’s statement went on to say that “while we believed when we filed our most recent compliance report in December 2011 that we were distributing the BCS software to all relevant PCs as required, we learned recently that we’ve missed serving the BCS software to the roughly 28 million PCs running Windows 7 SP1.” Subsequently, today Microsoft took responsibility for the error. Clearly some execution issues around SP1 created a needless violation.
2013 is going to be a fascinating year for retail in Europe.
When I look at what’s to come this year, I can paint a picture of what Forrester predicts by looking at a tale of two brands. Both are iconic, heritage British brands that have responded to their increasingly digitally enabled consumers in two very different ways. Naturally, this has resulted in two very different levels of success.
Tablet ownership in Western Europe is set to quadruple in the next five years: The percentage of European online consumers who own a tablet will increase from 14% in 2012 to 55% in 2017, according to the Forrester Research World Tablet Adoption Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (Global). This dramatic growth follows what was a pivotal year for tablets: Ownership doubled in 2012, and one in seven online Europeans now owns a tablet. The recently published Forrester report “The European Tablet Landscape” draws on our Technographics® data and looks at the profile of European tablet owners and their usage patterns. We found that:
Unsurprisingly, tablet owners are tech-savvy. Today, tablets are most popular with 18- to 24-year-olds, with one in four online consumers in this age group now owning a tablet. Of all tablet owners, a high 45% state that they “like technology” and 36% agree that “technology is important for me.”
Income is a driver . . . for now. About 24% of high-income European online consumers have a tablet, compared with 15% of online low-income consumers. But the growing variety of tablets and form factors as well as more competitive pricing will make tablets affordable for a wider range of consumers.
I’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which has rapidly established itself as the leading European retail financial technology event of the year. This year’s event was bigger than last year’s, with 64 exhibitors spread over the two days.
Here are my impressions from the two days:
Innovation is hard and usually incremental. Our expectations are so high. It’s easy to sit in the audience and think ‘I’ve seen something like that before’. It’s a lot harder to develop truly new ideas, let alone build them and market them. Innovation is necessarily incremental, moving into the adjacent possible opportunity as my colleague James McQuivey puts it (see him explain it on video here). True invention is extremely rare. As James puts it in his new book, “The most powerful ideas consciously draw from and incorporate elements that were being developed by others along the way, ultimately generating the best outcome in the shortest time at the most efficient cost.” That’s what makes events like Finovate so useful.
When we look at our Technographics data on mobile banking adoption by bank, it’s clear that some banks are doing much better than others. Why?
Some banks are lucky. Some banks have distinctive brands or propositions that have earned them a customer base that is younger, better educated and higher income than the population as a whole. These customers are more likely to own smartphones, more like to use the mobile Internet, and more likely to be technology optimists. That makes them pre-disposed towards using mobile banking and so relatively easier to persuade to adopt mobile banking.
Others have just worked hard. The rising tide of mobile Internet adoption is not raising all boats at equal speed. Some banks have persuaded far more of their customers to use mobile banking than others. The secret of their success? The digital banking teams at the most successful banks have worked long and hard to design, build and promote mobile banking services that meet their customers’ needs.
At the beginning of this year, I took the time to sit down with my colleague Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's consumer product strategy team and a specialist in the telecom space, to discuss the top trends that will affect the European telco landscape this year.
Although we believe that the business/consumer split is increasingly vanishing, we decided to split the top 10 carrier themes that will matter in the European telco market in 2013 by enterprise and consumer perspectives.
In the enterprise segment, we see five main themes:
Over-the-top (OTT) and app-based communication services will become part of the IT landscape. OTT voice, social media, and messaging will spread in the enterprise space at the expense of traditional services. Our research shows that professional workers who travel are the most likely to embrace application-based communication services, often irrespective of what their company’s official IT policy is. Still, 2013 will not be the year (yet) that sees rich communication suites (RCSes) becoming a B2B2C communications platform.
Cloud-based enterprise services by carriers will see increasing interest from businesses. Communication-as-a-service will receive increased attention by CIOs as they plan unified communications and collaboration (UCC) projects. However, as our research shows, carriers will not be perceived as the top choice of providers for cloud-based services. Mobile device management firms like AirWatch and MobileIron will offer reselling opportunities for carriers but limit the carriers’ ability to add value around device and app store management. Business models for cloud-based data analytics of end user demand will grow in importance in 2013 but will only begin to materialize on a larger scale in 2014.
This week, there was a lot of blogging and commenting around Facebook possibly acquiring mobile messaging company WhatsApp. And although WhatsApp quickly denied that Facebook acquisition talks were happening, I still really enjoyed all the analysis shared by the different technology blogs on why this would be an interesting deal. Many of these mentioned the differences between adoption of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in Europe versus in the US.
In fact, the news got me wondering to what extent consumers use mobile messaging at the moment. Forrester’s European Technographics® Consumer Technology Online Survey, Q4 2012 shows that just over one in 10 online European adults (16+) use mobile messaging (e.g., WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber), and this rises to 21% for European smartphone owners. Further analysis shows that usage is very much driven by age:
I attended a briefing from Visa Europe yesterday, about its V.me digital wallet. Here’s what Visa said:
V.me is more than a mobile digital wallet. Customers will be able to use V.me to make online payments too. It lets users check out at online stores using a one-click solution that remembers card details from multiple providers (including MasterCard and American Express cards) as well as billing details and postal addresses.
V.me is not just about mobile contactless payments. V.me will support a variety of ways to initiate payments including bar codes and QR codes, as well as NFC.
Visa intends to distribute V.me through its member banks, much as Visa cards are distributed today. BBVA will be the first issuer in Spain.
V.me is already in extended pilots in the UK and Spain to test the system and will launch formally in both countries soon. France will be next. V.me will start rolling out into stores in the UK next spring. Officially V.me will be available in France, Spain and the UK by next summer. (Visa Inc has already launched V.me in the US).
During Huawei’s 2012 EMEA Analyst Event in Amsterdam, Huawei emphasised once again its commitment to Europe and its dedication to innovation. With sales of $3.8bn, 7,300 staff, around 800 of which are in R&D, and 10 R&D centres in Europe, Huawei has positioned itself as a leading provider of network infrastructure in the region. The main themes that we picked up during the event are:
Its carrier activities are increasingly dominated by software. Huawei emphasises the role if IT and software as a core focus area of its carrier network infrastructure activities, which still account for 74% of sales, going forward. Softcom, Huawei’s strategy to drive software defined networking and to move towards a flatter network architecture, is central to this transformation. By 2017, Huawei aims to generate around 40% of its network infrastructure revenues from software-related activities. The central goal of Softcom is to decouple applications from hardware in the network infrastructure and to integrate multiple operating systems into one cloud-based operating system. To succeed, Huawei needs to attract top IT expertise. Its partnerships with leading universities and research organisations like Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft go some way.