I met yesterday with Preston Carey, the head of business development for Russian search engine Yandex. Full disclosure: Carey and Yandex originator John Boynton are both Forrester alumni, but that’s not the only reason I think Yandex is smart.
Yandex has tapped into two forces that yet elude the larger US-based search engines (ahem, Google and Yahoo!):
We published a report about location-based social networks (LBSNs) earlier this week, and it's spurred quite a lot of dialogue. The opinions are varied -- and so much the better for it because it's lead to rigorous discussion about the users of these services and how marketers can get involved, rather than just focusing on the technologies and their (admittedly very real) cool factors.
Should Marketers Check In To Location-Based Social Networks?
Location-based social networks (LBSNs) have been all over the media lately. Foursquare hit 2 million users. Twitter launched, revamped, and re-launched Places. CNNMoney partnered with Gowalla around its popular annual “100 Best Places to Live” list. There’s even a social experiment -- PleaseRobMe -- that was started in response to the hype around this new social sharing technology. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been getting a lot more questions from marketers lately about these services. Marketers want to know who’s using these services, how often they’re using them, what they’re using them for, how marketers can get involved, and whether they should.
We dug into our research to try to answer these questions, and at a high level what we found is that just 1% of US online adults are using LBSNs weekly, while 4% of them have tried them at least once. The sample size of this 1% of adults who use LBSNs regularly is small, so our findings on their behaviors are directional only, but our research shows that these users are typically young, male, well-educated, and influential. In fact, LBSN users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
Apple reinvented the distribution of products and services on mobile phones, opening up direct-to-consumer opportunities for nontelecom companies. The numbers look impressive — more than 5 billion downloads and $1 billion paid to developers in the two years since the launch of the Apple App Store.
However, it also generated $429 million for Apple itself in two years. These revenues are not meaningful to Apple’s core revenues. Due to the limited number of paid apps and their significant concentration among games and navigation apps, it is likely that a significant number of independent developers have not recouped their investments via the current revenue-sharing model. The recent launch of iAd is a way for Apple to maintain the attractiveness of its platform, allowing third parties that provide free apps to develop sustainable business models.
But, despite all the hype around apps, only a minority of consumers download them monthly. A recent Forrester survey of more than 25,000 European adults shows that only 4% of all mobile users and 15% of smartphone users report downloading apps at least once per month. However, the fact that 21% of all European mobile users consider apps to be an important feature when choosing a new mobile handset highlights the large gap between today’s limited usage of apps and consumer awareness and interest.
The application store market is still nascent, but it is evolving quickly. However, in the longer run, few players will be able to address the key factors that will make them a success:
I booked my first hotel night via a mobile device a year ago.
I didn’t even think about the fact that it would be considered an “mCommerce” transaction, as I simply booked it directly on the hotel group’s Web site via the browser of my mobile phone. The site wasn’t actually optimized for mobile devices, but it was possible to enter my credit card details via a secure Web transaction. That’s not ideal, so I wonder how many mobile transactions that firm has missed simply because it doesn’t provide a compelling user experience.
European mobile commerce is still at an early stage. Digital content is still the primary product purchased via mobile devices, but European consumers show growing interest in using their mobile phones for all sorts of shopping activities. I have recently contributed to a new report on the state of mobile commerce in Europe, written by my colleagues serving eBusiness Channel and Strategy Professionals. The report reveals that:
Bear with me one second. I am not denying the fact that iPhone owners are the heaviest users of mobile services. I am just saying that there are plenty of opportunities in the mobile space on other smartphone platforms and with selected audiences. Mobile is not just about applications or mobile Web sites. Even good old SMS can be powerful depending on the objectives you have set and the audiences you want to interact with.
What’s certain is that iPhone owners can only be a subset of your customer base. Only 2% of European mobile users report having an iPhone as their main mobile phone. Does that mean that there are no opportunities to target more mainstream audiences? Not at all.
A much larger near- and medium-term opportunity exists within other groups — particularly among young consumers, business users, and consumers with flat-rate data plans — as well as, increasingly, with new, competing smartphone platforms. In fact, if you’re not targeting them, you’re neglecting the majority of your customer base — including many consumers who are mobile-savvy but don’t have an iPhone.
Let’s make this even clearer. 96% of European 16- to 24-year-olds do not own an iPhone. Should you avoid engaging with youth via mobile because of that? I don’t think so.
Orange announced today its new industrial project, "conquests 2015." After NExT from Didier Lombard, the recently appointed CEO is now communicating Orange's five-year action plan.
One of the main objectives of the plan is the "conquest of employee pride" and the recruitment of 10,000 additional employees (including the 3,500 already announced for 2010) between 2010 and 2012. Following the unprecedented social crisis that took place in France, the company had no other choice than to offer a new management vision and to make sure employees can participate in the future of the company, involving them in such a way that they feel part of a long-term project.
Beyond this initial objective, a couple of other interesting conquests have been announced:
Just a few short months ago, I was an implementer of community and social media products and programs. The success I had in those roles, and the knowledge I carry with me now, is thanks in part to the Forrester research reports that helped guide me along the way — so I’m especially excited to now be the author of one of those documents.
My first Forrester report is called the Community Management Checklist (Forrester clients can click the link to read it.) It’s an overview of the process marketers need to follow and the important-but-sometimes-overlooked concepts and ideas to keep in mind as they work towards launching or engaging with their community.
Through my research, I identified four phases of the process that can be handily summarized by the acronym PALM:
Planning: Laying the groundwork, setting objectives, exploring existing conversations, making necessary early decisions.
Alignment: Building internal consensus and processes.
Launch: Attracting and retaining members.
Maintenance: Cultivating relationships with your members and turning them into loyalists.
In the document, I’ve covered many issues that marketers have told me they’ve struggled with, so I hope you’ll find that it gives you actionable advice to help you during your own planning process. If it sparks other thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments here or on Twitter — a quick comment from you might turn into an important research topic for me.
Taking a step back, mobile phones have changed the way we live and communicate in the past 10 years. They’ve had a deep effect on society. At Forrester, we believe they’ll change the way companies do business in the next 10 years. Back in 2007, the iPhone created a market catalyst, not only in the way consumers use and perceive mobile phones but also in the way companies engage with their customers in the mobile environment. Since then, a growing number of companies have launched a mobile consumer presence and started to define a road map for their mobile products and services. Some of them are still testing and learning, while many companies are starting to integrate mobile in their corporate strategies, and others have already created dedicated mobile business units and plan to generate millions of €/$ per month in direct revenues. They follow different objectives — whether building brand loyalty, delivering added-value services in a multichannel experience, reducing costs, or acquiring new customers.
I spent some time last week in Italy, where I regularly visit clients to discuss mobile opportunities.
I always try to spend a few hours visiting operators' shops and getting hold of some brochures. The ones below from Telecom Italia are very typical of a certain type of Italian ad...
Beyond this, however Italy is a very interesting market to study. It is wrongly perceived as leading in Europe because of its huge penetration rate — more than 140% — which doesn’t mean much, per se. Put simply, it links to the high ratio of prepay phones and to the multi-SIM phenomenon, in which Italian consumers take advantage of the most attractive tariffs. For example, handset subsidies are not common and were introduced by Tre (greenfield operator Hutchison Whampoa), the operator with the highest postpay market share.
However, Italian consumers are starting to demonstrate sophisticated mobile usage. An example: At the end of 2009, 15% of Italian online users accessed the mobile Internet on a weekly basis and more than 10% were interested in receiving contextualized mobile coupons. I see numerous examples of mobile innovation, and many companies (from media groups to banks) are starting to integrate mobile into their corporate strategies. I am, however, surprised by the lack of a cohesive and consistent approach. Few companies have a clear understanding of how their own customers use mobile services and what their attitudes toward mobile are. That's the first step in assessing mobile opportunities. For example, does it make sense to launch an Android application if you don't know how many of your customers own an Android device? Few companies have defined clear and measurable objectives or have a vision of how they want to integrate mobile as part of a multichannel and multimedia approach moving forward.