Mobile Networks ... are there coverage issues?

I think so.

Anyone watching much TV these days has probably been as inundated with commercials from wireless carriers talking about the quality and breadth of their high speed networks.

I felt like I was in one of their TV commercials last night. I went to see the Cleveland Cavaliers play against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, CA. (Those are NBA teams, Seth) Saw someone I went to college with and I wanted to text a mutual friend. But alas, I had "no bars." I couldn't EVEN send a text message. So much for the notion of in-stadium marketing, voting, or sweepstakes. Take note marketers.

But the best part is, the spectator in front of me not only has bars, but he is streaming video clips - not the kind delivered over a broadcast network.

Warriors mobile video

Mobile Services - The "Bar" For Success Is In Motion - Upwards

My predictions for how consumers will engage with consumer brands, products and services was just posted last week. See the report link here. A brief history around mobile services and marketing:

2000-2005 - really early piloting; most consumers weren't ready; experiences were disappointing

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Mobile Services: How to calculate the ROI and justify the budget you need

Few consumer-facing product and service companies AREN'T working on their mobile strategy today. Everyone is thinking about how best to engage with their customers on their cell phones. And, can you even do NEW customer acquisition with teenagers or young adults without a mobile option?

Many mobile initiatives start without a plan or a strategy. They start with:

"Our CMO was observing his teenage daughter use her cell phone ...."

"Our competitors have an iPhone application. My boss told me to get one for us."

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What warrants an SMS alert?

I get this question a lot from clients. I think it is a hard question to answer and will differ by person. I think I'm going to start a list of what does and what doesn't. Media companies and advertisers like to use SMS to cut through the clutter of Email inboxes and ensure the message is delivered "now."

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Why did Apple buy Quattro Wireless?

Apple isn't saying. Quattro posted a blog that told their current customers not to worry - normal business operations would continue. So, I am speculating a bit.

The first questions I've fielded are, "Does Apple want to go head to head with Google?" or "Does Apple want to sell advertising?" At a high level, I believe businesses stick close to their core competencies. Apple sells hardware, software and some content. Google sells advertising. Well, mostly. There are about 4 billion cell phones worldwide and about 1 billion PC's. New Internet connects (and page views and advertising growth) will come from mobile. Mobile is high growth. PC's are a bit commoditized. My cell phone costs more than my last netbook or notebook purchase. Go figure.

Our mobile marketing foreast for the US shows revenue growing from $391M in 2009 to $1.3B in 2014 provided there aren't any game changers. Game changers? Anything that would dramatically impact the amount of inventory or the value of it. The Apple iPhone, for example, dramatically altered the number of page views or inventory in mobile. The Android phones are helping as well and gaining momentum. These numbers are US-only - growth in mobile globally has been dramatic as well and will continue to be. In the US alone (see my colleague Charlie Golvin's blog) smartphone adoption grew from 11% at the end of 2008 to 17% at the end of 2009. This is significant because a lot more browsing and application downloads happen on these phones than more basic ones. A cut of this revenue would add some to Apple's bottom line, but very small at least in the next few years.

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Mobile Banking in Arabia - What's Driving Adoption?

 

I recently returned from a trip to the UAE (Dubai mostly) and Oman. While there I did a bit of research on my own - just talking to folks about how they use their cell phones and so forth. I also had the chance to interview the head of mobile banking services in EMEA for a large, global bank. More on how global banks are avoiding building new branches by offering mobile banking services in another post. 

First, I took the public bus from Dubai to Oman. The average income per family in Oman is far below that in the States - probably less than half. Gas and other utilities are cheap as is education and healthcare. That said, we know that cell phone usage has little to do with income. One of the first things I noticed is how many of the men had at least two cell phones. My initial hypothesis was a work phone and a personal phone. I was soon corrected by my guide who drove me  up to Jebel Shams. In a country where men can have more than one wife, apparently more than one cell phone is necessary. My guide's father has five current wives, but has had nine all together. My guide had two cell phones and a lot more SIM cards. 

My guide was 37 years of age. He had four children and seemed to have an about average income. He worked in sales when he wasn't serving as a guide. He's probably easily one of the most sophisticated cell phone users I've ever met. His cell phone was his portable media player for both music and video. I was astonished by the number of videos he had sideloaded from YouTube. The ringtones were pretty much driving me crazy after about 15 hours in a car with him road tripping. He only had a couple of different ring tones and his phone rang a lot. 

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Intersection of Social & Mobile - Google's Local Places

I give my colleague Charles Golvin credit for finding this article on the official Google blog. I'll be working on a report on the intersection of social and mobile in early 2010 so please send me more examples if you have some. I'm especially interested in the role of social/mobile in the Retail environment. 

Google is mailing out storefront window stickers to 100,000 local businesses in the US. (see their blog post for complete information). If you have the right type of phone and supporting software, you can take a photo of the code on the sticker (see below) and you'll be taken to that business' PlacePage on the Web. The service will show available coupons, allow for ratings, get reviews, etc. 

Here is their post on the applications that work with the service:

 

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Nokia's OVI store reaches 1 million downloads daily

There were a number of sites that reported that Ovi is reaching nearly one million downloads a day. Here's one post with quite a few stats on the store. Congratulations to Nokia. 

I'm writing a piece of research before the end of the year on important trends in wireless. Both increasing and improved direct access to consumers through application stores on cell phones is one of the top trends. The success this past year of Android, Apple, Blackberry and Nokia provides supporting data points. The percentage of smartphones in the market grew at least by 50% from 2008 to 2009. I expect to see more of the same in 2010. Putting an application on your customer's phone is only getting easier. 

HITFIX - Local Entertainment Recommendations on the iPhone

HitFix launched their iPhone application at the beginning of last week. They basic service provides entertainment - movie, TV, performing arts - listings near where you are or where you live.  

I judge the quality of mobile services within the context of the Convenience Quotient. (See report). I define the benefits of mobile services as immediacy (value of having the information or service now), simplicity and context. This service does all three fairly well though I'd like to see it do more.

Immediacy - let's me see what is playing nearby and soon. Would love to see the application go beyond pure forms of entertainment like films and TV, but this is a starting place. I would have liked to see local festivals and street fairs ... or "Christmas Tree Lighting in GG Park," but I know this is hard. 

Simplicity - Let's me link to an area to purchase movie tickets from within the application. That seems basic, but it is not a no-brainer to get all of these partnerships lined up. If it could link to my DirectTV DVR service so I could record TV shows I find within the application, that would be cool. 

Context - uses my location/shows me what is nearby.

They also do well to help with discovery by promoting the iPhone application with two banner ads on their home screen. The link falls short though by simply connecting me to the Apple web site where I can download iTunes - it doesn't give me directions for finding the application within the App store or give me much of a description. 

Here's a screen shot:

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When do you opt for your cell phone rather than your computer?

My answer to this question was, "never" until a couple of years ago. Sure, I was more likely to make a phone call on my cell phone than on my computer, but that is to be expected - it has traditionally been designed to be a voice communication device.

Opting for my cell phone rather than my laptop first started for me a couple of years ago. I began using SMS as a substitute for email. Then I started using email on my Blackberry because it would boot faster than my computer. Next came Google SMS - for me it was soooo much faster to get a phone number for a business through Google's SMS service than to call (ok, which costs money) or look online. Then, I got an iPhone and started downloading all kinds of applications. Some I barely use, but .... there are quite a few that I use rather than comparable experiences on the PC. These include Facebook (I'm more likely to be doing something interesting when I'm out and about), Scrabble (tallies the score for you), and maps (stopped printing all those maps out) among others.

For all of these services whereby I opt for my phone rather than my PC, I do so because the experience on the cell phone is more convenient. That means the benefits outweigh the inhibitors to use. When it comes to mobile services, there is convenience when there is value to the immediacy of the information or service, tasks are simple to execute and there is context - like my location.

We lay out this framework in our newly released report, "The Convenience Quotient of Mobile Services: A Facebook Case Study."