The findings presented in an article by German magazine Computerwoche published on Feb 11, 2014, are a forceful reminder that messages about excessive data capture via mobile apps seem to have gone unheeded so far. As reported, tests by TÜV Trust IT established that “almost one in two mobile apps suck up data unnecessarily”.
What’s “unnecessary” of course depends on your viewpoint: it may seem unnecessary to me if my mobile email app captures my location; the provider of the app, on the other hand, could be capturing the information to provide me with a better service and/or to make money from selling such data to a third party. The trouble is that I don’t know, and I don’t have a choice if I want to use the app. From a consumer perspective, this is not a satisfactory situation; I’d even go as far as calling it unacceptable. Not that it matters what I feel; but privacy advocates and regulators are increasingly taking notice. Unless app providers take voluntary measures, they may see their data capture habits curtailed by regulation to a greater degree than would otherwise be the case.
Let’s step back a moment and consider why so many mobile apps capture more data than is strictly speaking necessary for the functioning of the app:
Mobile phones have changed not only the way we live and communicate. They have also changed the way we think. Customers have experienced a mind shift: They expect any desired information or service to be available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need. Technologies packed in mobile devices enable people not only to instantly consume but also to create content and maintain greater control in their everyday lives.
Customers' behaviors are becoming as sophisticated as their devices. Mobile has become the new digital hub. According to our Technographics data, 47% of European online adults who own a mobile phone use mobile apps at least weekly. Forty-five percent browse the Internet at least weekly, and 38% search for information on mobile search engines, too. In the US, 50% of online adults who use a mobile phone use their devices to check sports, weather, or news at least weekly. Forty-five percent access social networks on their phones at least weekly, and 22% research physical products for purchase! This implies that you must have a mobile component for your digital strategy. But it goes beyond this, as mobile is bridging the offline and online worlds.
Yes, mobile is a hot topic. Reading the press or listening to conferences, you may be under the impression that marketers have embraced the mobile mind shift and are really integrating mobile into the marketing mix. A significant majority of marketers told us that their senior leadership team understands the importance of mobile.
More often than not, people refer to 2007 and the launch of the iPhone as the key milestone that changed forever the mobile industry. Despite an incredible device, Apple struggled the first few months because its business model relied on sharing revenues with telecom operators instead of letting them subsidize its smartphones. The key milestone was in fact July 2008 and the launch of the Apple App Store because it symbolized a new era: the shift from hardware to software in the mobile industry.
While Apple was not the first app marketplace, it is fair to say it created the App economy. 5 years and 50 billion downloads later, where do we stand?
App Stores: A Unique Opportunity To Engage Consumers Directly
Ask console gaming companies what they think of disruption created by app stores (now a generic term following the end of the “app store” name lawsuit between Apple and Amazon) and you’ll get a sense of what the app economy is. We’re scratching the surface of changes to come but clearly the app economy enables brands (including those who do not have a retail presence) to get insights on consumer behaviors to create new products and to distribute them at much lower cost. Numerous consumer app stores have flourished (more than 70 different Android-based app stores in China!) but few are really succeeding. Google Play has surpassed the Apple App Store when it comes to the sheer number of available apps and both have surpassed 50 billion downloads leaving competitors in the dust. However, volume does not matter so much any more. This is all about usage, personalization and recommendation.
I'm traveling to Atlanta next week. Today - Friday - I decided late in the day to book a hotel room finally.
I'm sitting at my desk. I'm figuring there will be some time on hold. I'm multi-tasking ... so I use my PC to do a quick search, find some nearby hotels and get a couple of phone numbers. I'll use my office phone with a headset and my hands will still be free to edit a document.
I start with brand A. I place the first call and talk to an idiotic IVR that puts me into a doom loop. I hang up. I call back and get a person. The person can't book a discounted rate so gives me another phone number to write down. I write it down. I throw it in the trash.
I shift to brand B. I place the call to the hotel. A man answers. He transfers me to an IVR asking for my home phone number. I don't understand. I hang up. I call back. The same man answers. I said, "I think there must have been a mistake. I thought you placed me on hold, but I got dropped into an IVR." Man replies, "oh no - that IS our reservation system." I reply, "you don't have people making reservations." He replies, "No - just the hotel reservation system - the IVR." I reply, "I don't make reservations with IVR's." I hang up. (Sorry - but it's insanely tedious - at least in this case ... my home phone number??? C'mon - they don't need that to book my room)
I pick up my phone and click on my "hotel icon" to open the app. Within 2 minutes, I've booked a hotel - all of my information stored - and spent $750.
The SF 49ers will soon have a new stadium in Santa Clara, CA. This May 30th article from the SF Examiner describes the new stadium as "entirely cashless and ticketless." The assumption is that "... the fans will be carrying around smartphones." "Software engineers are already building apps to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from the seats."
As a mobile analyst, I love the concept. Has anyone every been to a conference though with thousands or tens of thousands or 68,500 people? How's your Internet connection?
Ten years ago, Forrester published some research with the slightly awkward title of ‘New Payment Systems’ Survival Guide’. One of our findings was that many successful new payment systems have some kind of ‘must-have’ transaction that encourages customers to go through the hassle of learning how to use a new system in the first place. Good examples of ‘must-have’ transactions include eBay’s auctions for PayPal, travel to work for Transport for London’s Oyster, and online shopping for iDeal.
Ever since, I’ve been seeking the ‘must-have’ transaction that will spark consumer adoption of mobile payments in developed economies. But what if there isn’t one? (And, after 10 years, it’s probably time to admit that there isn’t). The answer is to focus relentlessly on both lowering the barriers to mobile payment by making it as easy as possible for customers to use a new system and to increase the benefits by maximizing the number of ways and places customers can use a system.
Tablets drive worker productivity in part due to their hyper-portability, as I argued in a recent blog post. Workers can (and, we showed with data, do) use tablets in more places, places where they wouldn’t (and don’t) take their PCs.
The top question I’ve received about tablet hyper-portability is this one: “Tablets are very portable, sure, but are people using them as creation devices or as (mere) consumption devices?” The general assumption behind this question tends to be that “creation” activities are equal to “productivity,” while “consumption” activities are not. I believe this is a false dichotomy, however. Consuming the right information at the right time can increase worker productivity in and of itself. Let me offer a few examples showing how that can work:
Retail sales associates using tablets with customers. Retailers are equipping sales associates with tablets to use on the retail floor, creating richer interactions with customers – and driving higher sales.
Physicians conducting patient rounds with tablets. Physicians can gain rich, immediate insight into their patients’ health records – saving time and driving more accurate diagnoses in less time. They also use the tablets to show patients results (like x-ray images), creating a better patient experience.
Business leaders have revenue growth first and foremost on their minds. On average, 70% of these business leaders place a high or critical priority on revenue growth, customer acquisition and retention, and addressing rising customer experience expectations for 2013. Our data suggests business leaders are 50% more likely to identify these as critical initiatives than they do margin improvement or reducing operating costs. Growth and customer experience improvement take business priority.
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:
2013 is going to be an amazing year for mobile and web developers for a number of reasons, but the top one on my list today is the advance in tooling. This isn't simply a turn of the crank adding a few features/functions to the existing state of the art but instead the realization of a growing paradigm shift in how developers (experience creators, to quote my colleague Mike Gualtieri) create software. Today the majority of web and mobile apps are written by developers manually writing source code in text editors or IDEs, but tomorrow's tooling is becoming much more visual in nature. Here are the three tooling areas that excite me looking forward to 2013.