Prepare For The Second Wave Of Apps

 

In July 2012, app stores — first popularized by Apple — will be four years old. There is still a lot of room to improve the discoverability and sharing of apps. For example, locally relevant content and monetization options are often missing. Adding social discovery, personalization, and recommendation features are key to improving the user experience.

However, app stores have already had a dramatic impact on the distribution of games and are starting to offer new forms of engagement between brands and consumers. Consumer usage of the most popular mobile apps has exploded in the past two years. A third of European online consumers ages 18+ who own a smartphone are using apps daily or more frequently. Seventeen percent are using apps several times a day. Stickiness and frequency of usage vary tremendously from one app category to the other. Among European online consumers ages 18+ with installed apps on their smartphones, 57% use social networking and 48% use news apps at least daily, while 69% use finance and banking apps at least weekly.

First-generation apps — aside from gaming apps — rarely made the most of the unique attributes of the mobile platform and were rarely integrated with back-end systems. We believe the market is poised for a second wave of consumer apps that are more personalized and contextual. Here’s what to expect:

■          “Big data” will enable more contextual experiences on mobile apps.

■          We'll see smarter, connected apps.

■          There will be a shift from native to hybrid and web apps.

■          Multiplatform apps will reign supreme.

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With The Galaxy S3, The Samsung/Apple Fight Will Enable Smarter Product Experiences

After months of rumors and a good marketing orchestration, Samsung has just unveiled its new flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S3. Samsung will first launch the HSPA+ device in Europe at the end of May to benefit from the current weaknesses of its competitors — in particular, Nokia. It will release in the US in an LTE version later this summer. The aim is clear: to take the lead from Apple’s iPhone in the high-end smartphone segment and do even better than the Galaxy S2, which sold more than 20 million units.

Samsung is positioning a wide range of products in all segments and in multiple consumer electronic categories, leveraging its scale and scope and its vertically integrated approach (screens, processors, storage components, etc.). Despite the growing dependence on the Android OS, Samsung does not have all its eggs in the same OS basket. However, it clearly needs to catch up in the software and services space. That’s the reason I continue to believe that, in the premium segment, Apple is still in the best position to offer a seamlessly integrated experience across devices. Samsung’s cloud component is still missing, and it will need to continue its efforts to close the gap with Apple.

On the contrary, Apple — still one of Samsung’s largest clients (chipsets and screens) — has few models and higher margins and is in a position to leverage a different ecosystem around its OS, apps, and iCloud models. Thanks to the phenomenal success of the iPad, the Apple brand is reinventing itself and expanding into hardware categories that represent new growth drivers from which Samsung is not yet able to benefit.

Beyond the Samsung/Apple high-end leadership war, the great news is that these new smartphones will increasingly enable consumer-facing brands to launch innovative new product experiences. Some of the new services introduced by the Galaxy S III highlight this phenomenon:

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With O2 Wallet, The Disruptive Mobile Payment Space Is Heating Up

A year ago, Forrester stated that mobile payments were entering a disruptive phase. More recently, my colleague Benjamin Ensor elaborated on the battle for the digital wallet.

Mobile digital wallets are emerging and going beyond payment. New technologies, mixing QR codes, apps, personal financial management software, NFC, and many more, are combining to convert mobile handsets into digital wallets that combine not just payments but also receipts, vouchers, and loyalty. Beyond the convenience of using the phone for payment, consumers will benefit from post-transaction elements such as location-based coupons or enhanced product information at the point of sale (POS).

We’ve not seen a single day without a new product launch, start-up creation, or acquisition — or a new strategic alliance between banks, payment networks, Internet firms, or mobile operators.

So what’s new today? Telefonica 02 just announced the launch of O2 Wallet in the UK.

We believe that the O2 Wallet is, for now, the most comprehensive mobile payment solution in the UK – available to a majority of smartphone owners, whether they are O2 customers or not. The new product combines the following functions:

  • Money Message — This gives customers the ability to easily transfer money to any UK mobile phone number.
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Drive Product Innovation To Mature Your Mobile Strategy

To gauge how far organizations have come with their mobile initiatives, Forrester conducted the Q4 2011 Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey among executives in charge of their companies’ mobile strategies. 

Since 2010, fewer companies report not having a mobile strategy in place. Between Q3 2010 and Q4 2011, the percentage of companies we interviewed that have no mobile strategy or are at the early stage of defining one has significantly decreased, from 57% to 31%. C-level executives are increasingly in the driver’s seat, and mobile is moving away from a test-and-learn approach to fueling companies’ corporate goals. Mobile is primarily viewed as a way to improve customer engagement and satisfaction.

 However, the majority of companies face organizational issues and struggle to allocate the right resources for mobile and to measure the success of their mobile consumer initiatives. The main obstacles they face are these:

 ■ Lack of measurable business goals clouds early success.

 ■ Limited investment, resources, and expertise slow progress.

 ■ Cross-functional and cross-geographical complexity cause inefficiency.

 There are plenty of new disruptive platforms emerging from tablets, from game consoles to connected TVs, but mobile will be the primary platform for global product innovation. Only mobile phones can offer such a global reach.

 To prepare for the accelerating pace of mobile disruption, product strategists should help other internal stakeholders rethink the life cycles of their mobile applications and services and drive innovation via smarter apps, richer data, and converging technologies.

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Thoughts About NFC, Contactless Services, And Nokia Lumia Devices

A couple of weeks ago, I stated that there was much more to Near Field Communications (NFC) than just contactless payments. The WIMA conference starting today in Monaco will showcase numerous use cases for the technology.

I continue to believe that most consumers using an NFC device in 2012 will more likely use it for device-pairing or data-sharing purposes than for payments. Pairing NFC accessories and reading NFC smart tags will open up new opportunities. NFC will be a key technology for interacting with the world around you — and it is time to test it, as highlighted in this recent piece of research written by my colleague Anthony Mullen. There is an ongoing debate about bar codes’ potential replacement by NFC; I think both technologies serve different objectives and have different advantages but will continue to co-exist. Radio and optical technologies are converging, as highlighted by French startup Mobilead, which does a fantastic job of delivering a great branded experience mixing QR codes and NFC tags.

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Thoughts From My Pilgrimage To Mobile's Mecca

Once again, I've just spent a couple of days in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Year after year, the show is opening up to non-telecom players and going beyond mobile. Think about the rise of personal cloud-based services delivering consumer experiences across devices, Sony's marketing efforts to promote seamless entertainment across different screens, or the emergence of the "phablets" acronym (devices in between a phone and a tablet, such as Asus Padfone or LG Vu).  

While it is difficult to summarize all the news and announcements, here are some thoughts on MWC 2012:

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2012 Mobile Trends And What They Mean For Product Strategists

When revisiting our 2011 mobile trends, Julie Ask and I concluded that many, if not all, of them were still evolving and relevant. We have placed the main new trends for 2012 into four categories: business, ecosystem, consumer expectations, and technology.

Mobile Is A Key Business Strategy Enabler

Product strategists must work with other roles in the organization to:

  • Develop a scalable approach to delivering mobile services. Organizations will need a strategic approach to building and spreading institutional knowledge as well as governance for the development of mobile services.
  • Craft a mobile strategy that extends beyond phones. The emergence of tablets in particular will require a different approach than smartphones.
  • Differentiate on the delivery rather than the content of mobile services. In 2012, “how” mobile services are delivered will differentiate them — not what they offer.
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Product Strategists Should See NFC As Much More Than Contactless Payments

A year ago, Forrester stated that 2011 would — finally — be the year that Near Field Communications (NFC) began to matter. We predicted that dozens of millions of NFC devices would ship and that the market would start moving away from being niche, although it would still be years away from becoming mainstream. Now that 2011 is coming to an end and it is once again the time for predictions, let’s look back at NFC’s year before we publish our report on mobile trends in 2012 at the start of next year.

I recently got confirmation from trusted sources that 35 million to 40 million would be a good estimate for worldwide NFC mobile phone shipments. 2011 was a game-changing year in that handset makers eventually started to embed the technology in their product portfolio.

Despite the hype about Google Wallet, the reality is that few consumers can use it. It will take a few more years before we reach a critical mass of not just NFC device owners but also users of services enabled by NFC technology. Why? Few services are available now; the out-of-the-box experience is still poor; consumer education is missing; and there’s only limited availability of NFC readers in the retail environment.

Product strategists should stop focusing on NFC as just a contactless payment technology but should instead anticipate new uses for the technology that enable consumers to interact with the environment around them.

Most consumers using an NFC device in 2012 will more likely use it for device-pairing or data-sharing purposes than for payments. Why? Because it can work in a closed loop without the need for NFC infrastructure. Device manufacturers will offer NFC-based multimedia content sharing services, such as the recent Blackberry Tag.

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Product Strategists At Telcos Shouldn't Obsess About "Bit Pipe Syndrome"

Product strategists in various industries tend to dismiss telcos' role in service innovation, focusing instead on disruptors such as Google and Apple. It is true that new entrants and over-the-top (OTT) players have bypassed carriers, reducing their role to providing bit pipes.

Product strategists at telcos are suffering from what we are calling “bit pipe syndrome.” Didier Lombard, the former CEO of France Telecom, summed this up well when he declared back in 2007, "I am not building freeways for Californian cars."

Since then, many observers have claimed that telcos will die if they do not reinvent their business models, leveraging their networks as a service. This case is overstated: Reports of operators' deaths are exaggerated.

No doubt telcos are increasingly being commoditized to the point that they will become utilities, but there is no shame in monetizing networks — carriers' bread and butter for a few more years. Fundamental connectivity remains a valuable service — all the more if product strategists focus on gaining more pricing power and delivering more segmented offerings, either on their own or with new strategic partners.

When it comes to product innovation, operators still have key assets to leverage — particularly their billing capabilities — to become trusted partners for consumers and third parties. Some global carriers have a strong presence in emerging countries, and they will have more sway in shaping the types of content services that the world consumes.

Product strategists at operators have the assets to continue to differentiate their offerings and innovate in a disrupted telecom ecosystem. I am not saying this is not challenging and extremely difficult, but here are some approaches that could work:

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Join Our Global Mobile Survey And Get Free Aggregated Results

A year ago, Forrester fielded our Q3 2010 Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey. We interviewed more than 200 executives in charge of their companies’ mobile strategies around the globe (40% in the US, 40% in Europe, and 20% in the rest of the world). You can see the results from last year’s survey here.

To help consumer product strategists and executives benchmark and mature their mobile consumer strategies, we’re updating this survey.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Some players are laggards and think they still need to get the basics of their online presence right, while others are clearly ahead of the curve. Yet two questions we consistently hear are: “Where is my organization compared with others in the use of mobile?” and “How can we mature our mobile consumer approach?”

Here’s how you can help:

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

Click here to start the questionnaire. 

If you’re not familiar with your company’s mobile consumer approach, please forward this survey to the relevant colleagues who are in charge of defining or implementing your mobile consumer approach. 

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • The survey will be live until December 7.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.
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