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."

Wireless Net Neutrality ... Does it Make Any Sense?

US as Traffic Cop in Web Fight (see WSJ article)

Ok, so there is a bit of wait and see until Monday when the FCC Chairman makes the anticipated announcement, but here's a first take:

Who, I ask, is on the side of the consumer?  This WSJ article discusses how Obama is taking the side of Silicon Valley. Republicans seem to be taking the side of the carriers. WHO is on my side as a consumer?

Most consumers are NOT demanding the ability to stream unlimited video to their cell phones. In fact, very few are even looking for video capability in their next handset purchase. If you are a Forrester client, come ask me/us for the data - we can show you. Consumers are more interested in their battery lasting all day than streaming video ... which will kill it.

What consumers WANT from their wireless service providers is high quality, reliable voice services. Really, it is. We ask consumers year in and year out what it is they want in a wireless service provider. Quality of service and value always come out on top.

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How do you get my Mom to buy gadgets?

You have Oprah promote them and offer a special coupon. That's all. That's how my Mom learned about the Kindle. She was motivated by the offer and bought one.

T-Mobile is using this tactic with their HTC 3G myTouch device. See Fierce post.

Perfect.

CE companies should pay attention - women make a lot of buying decisions.

Motorola CLIQ Delights with Social Networking Capabilities

by Julie Ask

I had the opportunity to demo MOTOBLUR on the Motorola CLIQ last night. The device will be available later this year with T-Mobile. It’s been a while since I’ve demo’ed a phone and immediately wanted to take one home.

First, let me say, I was really impressed with the look of the UI. The presentation of the widgets and information had a bit of a whimsical feel to them that appealed to me. I didn’ t feel as if I were clicking my way through a grid or file format. The pop-up boxes were cute. The device allows you to put your most frequently contacts on the home screen as an icon with a small photo – I was really drawn to this feature. [Forrester has written some research on dynamic address books and friendly UI's within the context of mobile social networking. ]

Spent most of my time focused on the social networking aspects. There were a number of features I really liked.

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Apple's Impact on Mobile Entertainment

Apple's announcements yesterday were mostly focused on iTunes and adding a video camera to the Nano (beautiful device by the way - shape, colors, form factor, weight (lessness) - blew me away). There were a couple of interesting things that came out about the iPhone platform though.

A few of the facts:

30 million iPhones sold to date

20 million iPod Touch devices with about 225 million iPods sold to date in all with 50% to new customers (wow!)

1.8 billion downloads of more than 75,000 available applications

100 million billing relationships with credit cards ... this impresses me the most and is what I consider to be one of their important competitive advantages

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