Samsung’s Galaxy S5: More Content, Software, & Services Needed To Truly Differentiate The Experience

Instead of launching their new flagship device at a separate event like last year, Samsung decided to leverage Mobile World Congress to cast a shadow on some other devices’ announcements. Expectations have been high in the past two weeks about what Samsung could announce. And while the atmosphere was not as crazy and irrational as for an Apple announcement, you could still feel today in Barcelona that expectations have been raised for the new smartphone sales leader.

As I pointed out in my post two weeks ago on what to expect at MWC, the Barcelona trade show is strongly biased on hardware specs. No exception to the rule here. The Samsung Galaxy S5 looks very promising on that front: faster, thinner, better battery and camera, etc. What’s more differentiating here is the positioning of the S5 as a fitness phone. It comes with a growing range of smart wearables, such as the Gear Fit – a fitness wristband with a curved screen – with a nice design. This is a way for Samsung to better engage users, especially when used in conjunction with new services like the enhanced S Health 3.0. It offers more tools to help people stay fit and well – providing a comprehensive personal fitness tracker to help users monitor and manage their behavior, along with additional tools including a pedometer, diet and exercise records, and a new, built-in heart rate monitor. Galaxy S5 users can further customize their experience with an enriched third-party app ecosystem and the ability to pair with next-generation Gear products for real-time fitness coaching.

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Facebook at MWC: The World Is Shifting Mobile

Together with Nokia X announcement this morning and Samsung Galaxy S5 later today, one of the most expected events of Day 1 at Mobile World Congress was Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote. He did not announce anything new and mostly shared his vision of the Internet.org coalition. Facebook wants to connect up to 3 billion people in the next five years.

Facebook already has numerous agreements with telecom operators worldwide – especially in emerging countries where the social media giant can be used to generate acquisitions of new customers. On the contrary, operators are a key distribution platform to help Facebook acquire its next billion customers.

This morning at MWC, WhatsApp’s CEO announced that the messaging app will enable voice within its app starting from Q2 2014. Services like WhatsApp are already cannibalizing SMS among smartphone owners as highlighted here by colleague Dan Bieler. What if WhatsApp does the same thing, further cannibalizing operators’ core voice revenues? This will for sure force operators to reinvent their business models and to embrace agile innovation and partnerships with OTT players. For example, Reliance in India and Mobily in Saudi Arabia have existing partnerships with WhatsApp.

However, Facebook’s CEO first keynote at MWC goes beyond the love-hate relationship with telcos.

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What Can We Expect At Mobile World Congress 2014?

Last year, when attending my tenth Congress in a row, I wrote that MWC 2013 would be more global and more disruptive than ever before. I believe the same will be true this year, with 2014 bringing a very important milestone in the shift to mobile: an install base of more than 2 billion smartphones globally. Mobile is transforming every industry by offering global reach and the ability to offer contextual services. That’s why we'll see many more marketers, agencies, business executives, and strategists attend the traditional telecom show.

Gone are the days when MWC was about operators' supremacy. As my colleague Dan Bieler summed it up in this blog post, telcos are increasingly being backed into a corner. I still remember this quote from Arun Sarin, the former CEO of Vodafone, in the Financial Times in November 2007: “Just the simple fact we have the customer and billing relationship is a hugely powerful thing that nobody can take away from us.” Really? Well, in the meantime, Apple and Google have created two powerful mobile platforms that have disrupted entire industries and enabled new entrants to connect directly to customers.

From a marketing and strategy perspective, I'd categorize the likely announcements in three main areas:

1)    The Asian Device Spec Fashion Week: Getting Lost In Device Translation

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Mobile Is A Catalyst Toward Agile Marketing

Seventy-six percent of marketers think that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50 years!*

Mobile is a significant contributing factor to this rapid pace of change. For example, between 2011 and 2013, Google’s YouTube share of mobile traffic has increased from 6% to 40%! Facebook’s mobile monthly active users have more than doubled from 432 to 945 million!

My colleague Craig Le Clair recently explained why business agility is a key competitive advantage. I just revisited his framework analysis to explain how marketers must adopt the principles of business agility to survive in the mobile era.

For mobile marketing to succeed, you must deliver your brand as a service, implementing more-personalized and more-contextualized brand experiences on mobile phones — but you can’t do it alone. These differentiated experiences require revamped back-end systems, which requires marketers to take an interest in the software, architecture, and processes handled by business technology (BT) teams. You must work closely with your BT counterparts to innovate new capabilities and deploy them with modern process methodologies and tools. Marketers have a lot to learn from the values underlying the notion of agile IT development.

As mobile matures as a marketing outlet, and as consumers around the world continue to embrace it as their primary Internet touchpoint, mobile’s volatility and velocity of change will instill the need to constantly iterate your entire marketing approach. It will become increasingly imperative for marketing leaders to embrace agile marketing.

Moving forward, agile marketers will:

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Predictions 2014: Mobile Trends For Marketers

My colleague Julie Ask and I revisited our predictions for 2013's mobile trends and found that all of them are still evolving and relevant in 2014.

During 2014, we’ll pass a key milestone: an installed base of 2 billion smartphones globally. Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That’s why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business. 2014 will be the year that companies increase investments to transform their businesses, with mobile as a focal point.

Let’s highlight a few of the mobile trends that we predict for 2014:

  • Competitive advantage in mobile will shift from experience design to big data and analytics. Mobile is transformative but only if you can engage your consumers in their exact moment of need with the right services, content, or information. Not only do you need to understand their context in that moment but you also need insights gleaned from data over time to know how to best serve them in that moment.
  • Mobile contextual data will offer deep customer insights — beyond mobile. Mobile is a key driver of big data. Most advanced marketers will get that mobile’s value as a marketing tool will be measured by more than just the effectiveness of marketing to people on mobile websites or apps. They will start evaluating mobile’s impact on other channels.
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Another Year In Review: Revisiting 2013's Mobile Trends

Every year for the past few years, I've revisited our predictions for the previous year's mobile trends. It's now time to look back at 2013 and, specifically, at the 2013 mobile trends post I put together a year ago with my colleague Julie Ask.

So many things happened in 2013, making it difficult to sum up the year overall. BlackBerry’s struggle and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia devices offered apt symbols for the end of the old mobile era. However, the mobile war is far from over. Following marketers’ integration of mobile into the mix, many vendors started to acquire mobile expertise, technology, and resources — and those acquisitions are far from over. Players like Facebook that acknowledged their past mistakes and turned into mobile-first companies managed to generate significant revenues; mobile now represents more than 40% of Facebook's ad revenues.

Let’s take a look at some of the key trends we highlighted last year. We expected that:

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LeWeb: The Next 10 Years

What do all of these players have in common?

Most of them are US startups initially backed by venture capital (VC). Some of them are now worth more than $1 billion; others are planning for an IPO; and a couple of them have been acquired for a lot of money while generating little (if any) revenue. Most originated in social media, in the collaborative economy, and pretty much all of them depend on mobile as a significant and growing part of their business. They represent the typical attendees at the LeWeb conference in Paris, looking to become the next Facebook or Amazon in the next 10 years. Some other smaller and less well-known startups competing in LeWeb's startup competition this year may join this list: http://paris.leweb.co/programme/startup-competition

In fact, what they really have in common is that they are all digital disruptors leveraging digital platforms to create new experiences on top of connected devices. They are taking advantage of open development tools and free infrastructure resources to overhaul products, invert category economics, and redefine customer relationships. They are more agile than traditional companies. As my colleague James L. McQuivey stated recently, digital disruption requires an organizational fix if you don’t want your company to be disrupted.

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New iPad Air And iPad Mini Will Maintain Apple's Premium Positioning In The Increasingly Competitive Tablet Market

As it did for the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple has tweaked its product portfolio with two new products to maintain premium positioning in an increasingly competitive tablet market. Both the iPad mini 2 (starting at $399) with Retina display and the iPad Air (starting at $499), which is thinner (43% thinner than the iPad 4), lighter, and faster (with a super-fast A7 chip) are great additions to the iPad product portfolio and come with new colors and covers. As always with Apple, expectations on systematic breakthrough hardware innovations are irrational. Apple is good at inventing new products (e.g., iPod, iPhone, or iPad) and at maximizing profitability of its product range over time through software innovations and clever marketing. Yes, at some point, the company will need to disrupt a new market once again, but today’s announcement is really about making sure it maintains the premium brand experience for the holiday season when competition is heating up — not just for tablets but also for the amazing new line of Mac products.

Competition is heating up

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The Mobile War Is Not Over

Let’s step back to January 2007. Do you remember what your job was at that time? I was already an industry analyst covering mobility, and at that time, the space was less fascinating to cover. Back in January 2007, Google had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion only a couple of months before. Android did not exist. The iPhone did not exist. Twitter did not exist. Facebook was only a couple of months old as an open public website. Nokia had a market valuation of around $120 billion, and its share of the global smartphone market was above 45%. BlackBerry – then the leader in enterprise mobility solutions – had initiated a move in the consumer space with the BlackBerry Pearl.

Less than seven years later, Google has activated more than 1 billion Android devices, and Apple will soon pass the 700 million iOS devices mark. YouTube now has more than one billion users globally and generates 40% of its traffic from mobile devices. Facebook has 1.2 billion users and generates 41% of its ad revenues from smartphones and tablets (it could even reach 50% in Q3 2013; Facebook discloses its financial results on October 30). Twitter has more than 230 million users and generates more than 70% of its revenue via mobile.

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Beyond Push Notifications: Mobile As The New Holy Grail Of One-To-One Marketing?

Push notifications make the most of mobile marketing’s unique attributes: intimacy, immediacy, and context. When consumers opt in to receive push notifications, it means they trust you to the point of giving you permission to contact them on their most personal devices. If your messages are not relevant, you will lose your best customers.

Our research shows that consumers who receive push notifications are also the heaviest app users. However, to avoid being spammed with irrelevant messages, consumers increasingly want to be in control, setting preferences on the types of messages they want to receive and when they want to receive them.

While push notifications enable better engagement, the challenge for marketers will be to think beyond just push notifications for smartphone apps. Push notifications already extend messaging to other connected devices. How will push notifications complement email, SMS, and in-app messaging? How will performance from various direct marketing channels evolve?

To differentiate, marketers will have to integrate push into cross-channel and CRM platforms and integrate mobile as a variable of their customer base. Marketing vendors will have to add new messaging platforms, like push notifications, into their core offerings, pushing for another wave of consolidation highlighted by the recent acquisition of Xtify by IBM.

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