TechJournal South Header

Archive for the ‘smartphones’ Category

Customers are liking feature-rich smartphones

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

smartphonesOverall satisfaction among smartphone customers increases significantly as manufacturers continue to improve styling, feature sets, usability and software, according to two J.D. Power and Associates 2013 studies released today.

Study Key Findings

  • Nearly two in 10 (17%) smartphone customers experience a software or device malfunction.
  • Smartphone customers spend an average of 115 minutes per week using social networking applications on their device.
  • Smartphone customers spending more than 100 minutes per week on social apps are 14% more likely to recommend their smartphone model than those that spend 100 minutes or less on social apps.

The studies measure satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones among customers who have used their current mobile device for less than one year.

Satisfaction is measured in several key factors. In order of importance, the key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional mobile phones are performance (29%); ease of operation (26%); physical design (24%); and features (21%). For smartphones, the key factors are performance (33%); physical design (23%); features (22%); and ease of operation (22%).

Satisfaction increases in all factors

The Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study finds that satisfaction among smartphone customers is 796 (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of 22 points from 2012.

This improvement is likely due to a growing array of new features and services being offered that are providing a seamless product experience between the operating system functions and third-party apps.

While satisfaction in all factors of the smartphone customer experience increases from 2012, satisfaction has increased the most in performance (26 points), as a few key attributes, such as operating system reliability, processing speed and video/camera picture quality, have improved significantly.

“As the capabilities of wireless phones and their applications continue to expand, and as customers grow more reliant on their device, handset manufacturers have an opportunity to further shape the customer experience and impact satisfaction with better integration of services and more communication options, such as video chat,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power and Associates.

Important to meet customer expectations

“It is important, however, that manufacturers meet the expectations of those customers who take advantage of such offers by ensuring the features are intuitive and, ultimately, rewarding to them. Providing an easy-to-use, yet powerful operating system with the ability to customize applications to suit individual needs is essential to providing a high-quality and rewarding wireless experience.”

Among traditional mobile phone customers, overall satisfaction has remained virtually unchanged during the past two years.

However, among the 42 percent of traditional handset customers who indicate they are likely to purchase a new mobile phone in the next 12 months, 76 percent say they “definitely will” or “probably will” upgrade to a smartphone.

Satisfaction mostly unchanged for traditional users

“Satisfaction remains relatively unchanged among traditional mobile phone customers, likely as a result of heightened awareness of advanced services available on smartphones and the lack on new device offerings with upgraded feature sets,” said Parsons.

For the ninth consecutive study, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 855 and performs particularly well in physical design and ease of operation.

For the third consecutive study, LG ranks highest among traditional mobile phones with a score of 719. LG performs particularly well in the physical design and features factors. Nokia (714) follows LG in traditional mobile phone rankings.

Hold onto the luck of the Irish – and your mobile device on St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

mobile devicesA number of studies have noted that many of us consider our mobile devices as almost an extension of ourselves, so that losing them is traumatic. St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March,  is often commemorated with parades, pub parties, city festivities and large crowds. As with all major celebrations, the day’s reputation is to encourage people to relax, enjoy the company of friends and family and toast life with a glass of green beer or two.

However, as with all major celebrations, crowded gatherings have the tendency to attract pickpockets and thieves who can easily steal consumers’ personal devices in the blink of an eye.

“In this mobile age, our smart devices hold an immense amount of personal data, such as financial details, emails and intimate photos, which can easily be left behind or stolen during celebratory holidays,” said Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG.

To help keep the luck of the Irish with the good guys, AVG has created a list of tips to help keep consumers and their mobile devices safe during their shamrock celebrations:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious behavior
  • Don’t let go of personal property: keep phones in pockets or bags, and keep bags attached to you
  • Leave things at home: do you really need to carry all the normal credit/debit cards?
  • If you need to use your phone, step aside or off the street and into a shop so you are less visible
  • Protect your device with a PIN
  • Install software such as AVG AntiVirus Free for Android that allows you to lock, locate and wipe your device
  • Keep details of how to block credit cards and phones somewhere simple to access
  • If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim, ensure you lock your data and stop all of your credit cards immediately. Make the benefit to the bad guys smaller by acting faster.

Smartphone makers may be losing billions in revenue (infographic)

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

iPhone 5sAre smartphone makers losing billions of dollars a year due to poor revenue management?

According to Gartner, Inc., a leading IT research and advisory company, given that chargeback credits can exceed millions of dollars per month, wholesale distributors can severely undermine profitability through inaccurate and inefficient processes, with revenue leakage accounting for as much as 1-2 percent of gross revenue.

Manufacturers also face similar revenue leakage exposure and although the percentage might seem small, for technology giants such as Apple and Samsung, this could mean billions of dollars in lost revenue each quarter.

Why does this matter to anyone but a manufacturer? It’s pretty basic: if the manufacturer’s costs are higher, so is the price consumers will have to pay for devices.

Here’s an infographic detailing the problem from Revitas, which, not surprisingly, sells  solutions for contracts, pricing, and compliance.

Need to pay that bill? Take its picture

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

US BankYou may soon be paying your bills by snapping a photo of them with your mobile device.

U.S. Bank is the first major bank in the United States to deliver Mobile Photo BillPay to its customers. This feature allows customers to set up bill payments by snapping a picture of their bills with their camera-enabled smartphone or tablet.

By eliminating the need to manually enter payment information, it makes adding or transferring billers and paying bills literally a snap.

U.S. Bank announced in December 2012 that it was partnering with San Diego-based Mitek to bring Mobile Photo Bill Pay to its customers.

A third will use it in five years

mobilephonesRecent research forecasts Mobile Photo Bill Pay adoption to reach 33 percent among adult U.S. consumers by 2018, and result in 1.4 billion bills migrating to the mobile channel. Another study suggests that more than 1 in 5 customers would use this feature.

“We continue to leverage the capabilities of smartphones, and use innovative ways of making banking more convenient for our customers,” said Niti Badarinath, senior vice president and leader of U.S. Bank’s mobile banking channel.

“U.S. Bank customers were among the first in the nation to be able to use their mobile device to deposit checks. Now, we’ve made it really easy for our customers to enroll and use BillPay, add billers and pay bills whenever and wherever they choose.”

U.S. Bank is using Mitek’s patented Mobile Photo Bill Pay technology that automatically and securely extracts relevant information from the paper bill and populates the fields required to make a mobile payment.

The consumer can review the information and schedule the payment by clicking “Pay Now.” The new U.S. Bank Mobile Photo BillPay feature is available to customers free of charge within U.S. Bank’s iPhone, iPad and Android mobile banking apps.

Mobile rolls on as smartphone shipments top feature phones

Monday, March 4th, 2013

smartphonesThe mobile revolution shows no signs of slowing down just yet. IDC says more smartphones than feature phones will ship for the first time in 2013 and they’re cheaper and more versatile than ever.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors will ship 918.6 million smartphones this year, or 50.1% of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide.

Prices falling

Smartphone prices have fallen globally, the smartphone strata are wider than ever, and the roll-out of data-centric fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks are three factors that have made these “do-it-all” devices an increasingly attractive option for users.

By the end of 2017, IDC forecasts 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide, which equates to just over two-thirds of the total mobile phone forecast for the year due to these primary factors.

The potential global audience for marketers using mobile platforms is also increasing rapidly. 

Smartphone shipments to China, Brazil, and India will comprise a growing percentage of the device type’s volume in each forecast year. Smartphone demand is burgeoning in these large, populous nations as their respective economies have grown; this has made for a larger middle class that is prepared to buy smartphones.

China, which supplanted the U.S. last year as the global leader in smartphone shipments, is at the forefront of this shift.

Targeting: when users are on which devices during the day

Monday, February 25th, 2013

mobile devicesHow many digital devices are you using to access media? Do you use different ones for specific purposes during the day?

A significant majority of Americans now access media using multiple devices each day with TV, PC, tablet and smartphone devices each dominating media usage at different parts of the day, according to Collective, a leading data-driven, multi-screen platform company.

Collective’s findings are included in a new report, “The Multi-Screen Dayparting Playbook: How to Utilize Device Dayparts for Greater Reach & Impact,” which was released today.

Multi-screen users outnumber single screen users

The research, which Collective commissioned Nielsen to conduct, quantifies for the first time that multi-screen users now outnumber single screen users by 2.5 to 1.

“This fundamental change in media consumption is a major opportunity for brands to redefine their engagement with audiences,” said Joe Apprendi, CEO of Collective. “In today’s multi-screen market, advertisers must deliver coordinated creative campaigns that are personalized with the right content for each device.”

Personally, we use both a tablet and/or our laptop while watching TV or listening to the radio on a daily basis. So we fit right in.

Enabling better message targeting

“The more we can learn about how people are consuming media via their multiple devices, the better we can pinpoint our client’s messages and get the most out of our commercial content,” said Simon Bond, BBDO Worldwide, CMO.

“As consumers continue to spread their engagement across more devices, marketers must have compelling creative on each device to achieve the same reach they might have with just TV a few years ago,” said Justin Evans, executive vice president, Emerging Media, Collective, and co-author of the whitepaper.

“Brands now need a data-driven understanding of consumer behavior across device and daypart.”

Key Multi-Screen Findings

mobilephonesAmong the key findings included in “The Multi-Screen Dayparting Playbook: How to Utilize Device Dayparts for Greater Reach & Impact,” are:

  1. the largest group of U.S. multi-screen users, 80.8 million or 25% of the U.S. population, accesses media using a combination of TV, PC, tablet and smartphone devices each day;
  2. in any given daypart, at least 100 million, or 32% of consumers are accessing media using multiple screens;
  3. “second screening” or combining tablet and TV use was reported by 35 million or 11% of consumers, a behavior that peaks in Prime Time; and
  4. Even in Prime Time, where media use peaks, there are 169 million multi-screen users outnumbering single-screen users by 1.5 to 1.

Key Device Findings by Daypart

Collective found that different devices achieve peak usage at different times of the day compared to other devices:

  • Early Morning – Smartphones are preferred during the commute.
  • Daytime – PC dominates work-related search and video.
  • Prime Time – Tablets drive multi-tasking during evening TV viewing.
  • Late Fringe – TV-only use increases as the day winds down.

“Consumers are using multiple screens to customize their media engagement,” said Frederick Stallings, director of Mobile, Collective, and co-author of the report. “Device daypart creative strategies will be critical for brands moving forward.”

Smartphone, tablet growth driving mobility market

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

mobile devicesLooking at a holistic view of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, one thing is clear – smartphones and tablets are driving mobility growth.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, vendors shipped 367.7 million desktop PCs, portable PCs, tablets, and smartphones – a collective view IDC refers to as “Smart Connected Devices” – the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), up 28.3% from the prior year.

As desktop PCs and portable PCs declined (-4.1% and -3.4%, respectively), the overall smart connected device space continued to surge to just over 1.2 billion shipments cumulatively in 2012.

Tablet shipments see largest growth

Tablet shipments experienced the largest year-over-year growth in 2012, up 78.4% over 2011, while smartphones grew 46.1% but accounted for 60.1% of all smart connected devices shipped throughout the year.

After finishing 2011 second to Apple in the smart connected device market, Samsung arose to the number one position in 2012 with just over 20% share across the four device categories. Samsung shipped 250.0 million PCs, tablets, and smartphones in the past year, up 119.3% from the previous year, driven largely in part by its surge in the smartphone space.

Average tablet selling price declined

While Samsung managed to ship more smartphones and portable PCs than Apple in 2012, Apple led all in tablet shipments, was eighth in portable PC shipments, and fifth overall in desktop PC shipments.

“Smartphones and tablets are growing at a pace that PCs and tablets can’t realistically keep up with because of device prices and to some extent disposability,” explained Ryan Reith, program manager, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at IDC.

“The average selling price (ASP) for a tablet declined 15.0% in 2012 to $461, and we expect that trend to continue in 2013. However, smartphone APSs are still lower at $408. We expect smartphones to continue to carry a shorter life cycle than PCs for the years to come based on price, use case, and overall device size.”

Rounding out the top 5 smart connected device vendors in 2012 was Lenovo at number 3 with 6.5% share. Lenovo’s strong point is still in portable PCs where it shipped just over 30 million units in 2012.

Fourth quarter saw Apple resurgence

However, smartphones are a growing space for the Chinese vendor as shipments grew from 3.7 million in 2011 to 23.7 million in 2012. In the fourth position was HP with 4.8% share, however shipments of smart connected devices were down 8.5% year over year primarily for the lack of smartphone and tablet offerings.

And in the fifth position was Dell with 3.2% share, down 12.9% from 2011 as it also struggles with a lack of presence in the smartphone and tablet markets.

“The fourth quarter market share numbers showed a fairly dramatic resurgence for Apple,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays.

“After falling well behind Samsung early in 2012, Apple came roaring back in final quarter of the year thanks to its latest hits – the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini – and reduced the market share gap to less than a single percentage point. The question moving forward will be whether or not Apple can maintain its hit parade against the juggernaut of Samsung.”

Top 5 Smart Connected Device Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q4 2012
(shipments in millions)
Vendor 4Q12 Unit
4Q12 Market
4Q11 Unit
4Q11 Market
year Change
1. Samsung 77.9   21.2 % 41.9   14.6 % 86.0 %
2. Apple 74.8 20.3 % 57.7 20.1 % 29.7 %
3. Lenovo 24.3 6.6 % 16.5 5.8 % 47.2 %
4. HP 15.1 4.1 % 15.1 5.3 % -0.2 %
5. Sony 11.1 3.0 % 9.2 3.2 % 19.6 %
Others 164.5 44.7 % 146.2 51.0 % 12.5 %
Total 367.7 100.0 % 286.7 100.0 % 28.3 %
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, February 20, 2013.
Top 5 Smart Connected Device Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, 2012
(shipments in millions)
Vendor 2012 Unit
2012 Market
2011 Unit
2011 Market
year Change
1. Samsung 250.0 20.8% 114.0 12.3% 119.3%
2. Apple 218.7 18.2% 151.5 16.3% 44.3%
3. Lenovo 78.3 6.5% 48.5 5.2% 61.4%
4. HP 58.2 4.8% 63.6 6.8% -8.5%
5. Dell 38.8 3.2% 44.6 4.8% -12.9%
Others 557.1 46.4% 508.1 54.6% 9.6%
Total 1201.1 100.0% 930.4 100.0% 29.1%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, February 20, 2013.
Smart Connected Device Market by Product Category, Shipments, Market Share, 2012

(shipments in millions)

2012 Unit
2012 Market
2011 Unit
2011 Market
year Change
Smartphone 722.4 60.1 % 494.5 53.1 % 46.1 %
Tablet 128.3 10.7 % 72.0 7.7 % 78.4 %
Portable PC 202.0 16.8 % 209.1 22.5 % -3.4 %
Desktop PC 148.4 12.4 % 154.8 16.6 % -4.1 %
Total 1201.1 100.0 % 930.4 100.0 % 29.1 %
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, February 20, 2013.

Smartphone users primarily rely on private WiFi

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
WiFi icon

Researchers say they can boost the speed of public WiFi networks by up to 700 percent.

Smartphone users rely on Wi-Fi for their primary data connection, with Wi-Fi data consumption two to 10 times that of cellular data consumption, according to  Mobidia Technology, Inc., a leading provider of mobile analytics, in collaboration with Informa, whitepaper, “Understanding Today’s Smartphone Users.

With that level of usage, it is not surprising that the Wi-Fi market has been dynamic over the past 12 months. Incumbents, start-ups and new entrants into the Wi-Fi space, as well as many mobile operators have been battling to establish and maintain market positions and connections to the smartphone users.

Yet, little data has been available on the Wi-Fi usage trends of smartphone users, especially their usage of private vs. public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Understanding these trends

Understanding these trends is critical for both Wi-Fi and cellular providers when making a wide range of strategic investment and business decisions within the mobile broadband marketplace.

Mobidia’s data on global Wi-Fi usage in January 2013 highlights the following trends:

  • Smartphone users continue to rely on Wi-Fi as their primary connection. With very few exceptions, such as Japan, users in most developed countries consume well over 80 percent, and often over 90 percent, of their total mobile data on Wi-Fi networks.
  • Smartphone users are heavily reliant on private or unmanaged, self-provisioned public Wi-Fi hotspots, as you would find in many small businesses, for their primary Wi-Fi connections. These Wi-Fi networks consistently accounted for well over 90 percent of the Wi-Fi traffic.
  • As a corollary, usage of managed, public hotspots, as would be offered by Wi-Fi network providers or mobile operators, consistently accounted for very little traffic across all countries analyzed. For example, traffic on these hotspots was just three percent and two percent of all Wi-Fi traffic in the leading Wi-Fi markets – the U.S. and the U.K., respectively.

Does your smartphone make you smarter with your money?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

mobile devicesWith computers and mobile devices giving us anytime access to our financial information, are Americans seeing any benefit on their bottom line?

According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey, just more than half of Americans (53 percent) regularly use online banking or investment applications. Of those that do, however, 70 percent say these tools make them more diligent about tracking their finances.

This awareness isn’t necessarily leading to action, except for those Americans using multiple online banking and investing features.

  • Less than half (46 percent) of regular users say online access has improved their ability to save in the short or long term.
  • Of the 31 percent of Americans who use these tools in multiple ways, 57 percent say these applications help them save.
How Americans Use Online Banking or Investment Applications
Pay bills 36%
Check balances 26%
Use budgeting tools 3%
Manage investments 3%
All of these functions 31%

“It’s great to see a majority of Americans are more aware of their finances thanks to online banking and investment applications,” says Joe Buhrmann , manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial.


Take a holistic view to succeed in the digital marketplace

Friday, February 15th, 2013

comScoreThe digital world is maturing and moving toward successful business models in social media, search, online video and digital advertising, according to comScore’s 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report. Marketers need an understanding of the whole digital landscape to navigate it successfully, the report says.

“2013 is poised to be digital’s most exciting year yet as the growing ubiquity of digital platforms presents marketers with nearly endless opportunities to connect and engage with consumers,” said Linda Abraham , comScore CMO and EVP of Global Product Development.

“It’s clear that the dynamics of the marketplace have fundamentally evolved through the adoption of smartphones and tablets and the increasingly ‘digital’ nature of all media. Navigating this changing landscape requires a holistic understanding of the key trends, underlying drivers and new opportunities that the digital ecosystem will bring in the year ahead.”

To download a complimentary copy of the 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report, please see:

Key insights from the 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus include:

Social Media Market Matures 

social media logosAmericans’ usage of Social Networking sites continued to be dominated by Facebook, which accounted for 5 out of every 6 minutes spent online on these sites. Facebook’s 2012 IPO signaled a maturation of the social media market with a renewed focus on building strong business models and monetization streams.

Several other social media players also made waves in the public markets this year, including LinkedIn, Yelp, Zynga and Groupon. Several other notable social media players like Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram (now part of Facebook) have all posted strong user growth as they begin to ramp up their revenue engines.

Google Leads While Bing Grows Share in Search Market

GoogleGoogle continued its strong lead in the U.S. search market, while Bing managed to gain ground as the #2 search engine in 2012. The desktop-based U.S. core search market saw its first signs of flattening as an increasing number of searches shift to vertical-specific searches and mobile platforms.

Online Video Brings TV Dollars to Digital as Consumers Become More Platform Agnostic

The U.S. online video market also shows signs of maturing from a consumption standpoint, but monetization is picking up steam as YouTube ramps up advertising efforts while traditional media players find success with TV commercial content. Because the demand for high-impact video advertising exceeds the available inventory, look for continued momentum on the advertising side – particularly as targeting improves.

Digital Advertising Improves Accountability in Quest for Print and TV Ad Dollars

Nearly 6 trillion display ad impressions were delivered across the web in 2012 as brand marketers have become increasingly comfortable with a medium capable of delivering strong marketing ROI.

Despite delivering so many impressions, comScore research showed that an average of 3 in 10 ads are never rendered in-view, leading to significant waste, weaker campaign performance and a glut of poor-performing inventory that imbalances the supply-and-demand equation and depresses CPMs.

Through the continued adoption of a viewable impressions standard, the market is beginning to embrace a digital scarcity model that better aligns monetization with the value created by the inventory.

Smartphone and Tablets Carve Out Space in Multi-Platform Digital Media Landscape

smartphonesSmartphones continued to drive the mobile landscape in 2012, finally reaching 50-percent market penetration in 2012. The Android platform also hit a 50-percent milestone as it captured the majority of the smartphone market for the first time. Meanwhile, tablets continued to gain traction, with 52.4 million U.S. tablet owners as of December 2012.

The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, and consumers’ increasing use thereof, has resulted in a fragmented digital media landscape where the typical consumer now shares his time across multiple screens.

E-Commerce Gains at Expense of Brick-And-Mortar While Consumers Experiment with M-Commerce

Despite the backdrop of continued economic uncertainty, 2012 was a strong year for retail e-commerce. Throughout the year, growth rates versus the prior year remained in the mid-teens to outpace growth at brick-and-mortar retail by a factor of approximately 4x. Total U.S. retail and travel-related e-commerce reached $289 billion in 2012, up 13 percent from the previous year.

While e-commerce continues to gain share from traditional retail, the first signs of mobile commerce affecting the digital commerce landscape are starting to emerge. In Q4 2012, comScore estimates that m-commerce transactions (from both smartphones and tablets) now represent approximately 11 percent of corresponding e-commerce spending.

How to boost sales (or your love life) through text messaging

Monday, February 11th, 2013

student with mobileNurturing a lead is not all that different than nurturing a love interest, says Leads360, which offers some tips on using text messaging effectively across your personal and professional life.

“With Valentine’s Day approaching and personal connections on the minds of many, it seemed like a good time to take a lighthearted look at some of the most successful ways to make a strong business impression and connection leveraging a less utilized communication channel in business – text messaging,” said John Reese, Vice President of Marketing at Leads360.

Texting to win love or business

“Whether you are texting to win love or business, there are quite a few similarities required to build trust and ultimately a relationship.”

With an estimated 9.6 trillion messages sent worldwide in 2012, it’s no wonder that sweethearts and marketers alike are flocking to this communication channel, and salespeople are just beginning to understand its value.

However, in the name of love or business, etiquette is essential. Much like sending flowers to someone before meeting them, sending a text prior to making contact with a prospective customer can be perceived as forcing an early personal relationship where one does not exist.

Here’s an infographic on using text messaging effectively – whether in marketing or in love:

Your Valentine might not want to know this

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Now here’s a finding that may not please your Valentine: almost 30 percent of people responding to a survey of 5,000 users from Asuriaon, which sells technology protection services, say their cell phone is more helpful to them than their significant other.

More than 20 percent say they have deleted messages their significant other might find inappropriate. Three percent even admit to having a secret cell phone their partner doesn’t know about.

Here’s an infographic detailing the survey findings:

You can’t eat that cell phone, put it away

Monday, February 11th, 2013

mobilephonesDo you think it’s ok for someone to text on a cell phone during a meal, a meeting or in a class? Most people polled in a recent national survey think using a cell phone to talk, text or browse the web during a meal is wrong, attitudes toward cell phone behavior varies greatly by age and the type of technology used.

The survey conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future in collaboration with market research and strategy firm Bovitz, Inc., found that younger users, particularly Millennials (born after 1982) are much more tolerant of cell phone use during a meal, a class, or a meeting than those over 30.

A new social etiquette

“We’re finding a whole new social etiquette developing about the appropriateness of mobile devices,” said Jeffrey I. Cole , director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

“Fifty years ago, no parent would tolerate a child answering the phone five times during a meal,” said Cole. “Now parents face an updated version of that problem when confronting their children about the endless stream of texts they want to answer while the family is together for dinner.  And parents use mobile devices, too; it’s their struggle as well.

“Now at least we have evidence that a large percentage of Americans believes some behavior involving the mobile devices in our lives is not appropriate,” Cole said.  “Whether we do anything about it is a separate issue.”

Smartphones more tolerated

The study also found that tolerance changes when ownership of different types of mobile devices is considered, regardless of age. For example, while 11 percent of basic cell phone owners said it was appropriate to text during a meeting, 25 percent of smartphone owners said it was appropriate.

“We’re starting to see that tolerance of mobile devices is not just reserved for the young; the type of technology one uses makes a difference as well,” said Greg Bovitz , president of Bovitz Inc. “Older users who own smartphones are more tolerant.”

Personally, we think people could do with a dose of common sense regarding their cell phone use in public or at times such as meals or meetings. We’ve overheard conversations on trains, planes and in stores, for instance, that would be better left private.

But as this study notes, changing behavior is easier said than done. Most people know it’s not safe to use a cell phone while driving, for instance, yet still do it.

Here’s an infographic detailing the study’s findings.


Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile betting on unlimited data to win market share

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Strategy AnalyticsOver 50 percent of US smartphone owners who say they have unlimited data showed interest in plans that allow customization, speed guarantees, or sharing of data on family plans for multiple devices, according to the Strategy Analytics Mobile Broadband Opportunities (MBO) service report, “Unlimited versus Tiered Smartphone Data Plans: Market Evolution and Opportunity.”

Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA are betting on unlimited data as a way to win market share against their larger rivals. Banking on their superior 4G LTE network coverage to help gain and retain customers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are sweetening their tiered data plans with unlimited voice and text bundles, no extra fees for tethering, as well as data share across multiple devices.

Yet the real story may be that consumers are looking for more control and personalization: in the US, UK, and China, 60 percent or more of smartphone owners show interest in monitoring data use in real-time on their device while over half say they would like to be able to customize their plans.

Who will win?

According to Susan Welsh de Grimaldo , director, Mobile Broadband Opportunities at Strategy Anaytics, “The operator who is first to market with new user-friendly capabilities for personalizing mobile plans, including premium options for guaranteed speed, may win in this next wave of mobile life.

Today’s mobile phone owners indicate they are ready for new levels of customization in their mobile plans—my mobile, my way—with an easy tool to track usage so that they remain in control.”

Phil Kendall , Director, Wireless Operator Strategies (WOS) adds, “Wireless networks get congested, and today’s tiered data plans do not adequately address peak traffic challenges. While operators with relatively empty new 4G networks may be able to sustain unlimited data as a value proposition for a short time, they may not be targeting the real pain points among consumers or networks.”

Full report: “Unlimited versus Tiered Smartphone Data Plans: Market Evolution and Opportunity.”

Smartphone hotspot adoption on the rise

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

smartphonesSixty-two percent of smartphone owners use their devices’ hotspot capabilities, an increase of nine percent since May 2012, according to a new survey of more than 700 mobile consumers in the U.S.

Despite the increase in adoption, many consumers are still concerned with the cost, usability and lack of plan options available with smartphone hotspots, and carriers are missing key opportunities to monetize personal hotspots.

This survey was conducted by uSamp and commissioned by wireless and mobility solutions provider Smith Micro Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMSI).

The Survey Reveals:

  • 71 percent of respondents have used a dedicated hotspot device, a smartphone hotspot, or both to connect Wi-Fi devices to the mobile Internet:
    • almost half are not frequent users
    • more than 25 percent do not pay their carrier for hotspot service, but instead use over-the-top applications to access this feature on their smartphones.
  • The majority of hotspot users are heavy data users, yet over two-thirds of light and moderate data users would tap personal hotspot services if their carrier offered a pay-as-you-go pricing model, presenting a revenue opportunity for carriers.
  • For nearly one-third of respondents who do not use any form of personal hotspot, privacy concerns (27 percent) and the desire to avoid another wireless contract (21 percent were major contributors to non-usage.

“Over 90 percent of tablets sold in the U.S. are Wi-Fi only, so leveraging a smartphone’s hotspot feature to monetize these devices is a great opportunity for carriers,” said Sunil Marolia, VP, Product Management, Smith Micro.

“Our survey results highlight some concerns preventing broader adoption, and significant revenue leakage associated with hotspot service. By making mobile hotspots easier to use, with more flexible business models behind them, operators can better capitalize on the revenue potential of these devices.”

Usability of Personal Hotspots

Usability and features were examined for Frequent and Occasional hotspot users. Both groups listed expense, battery life and limited plan options as their top concerns, but infrequent hotspot users also cited preferences in these areas:

  • 54 percent want easier, one-step access to connect a device to a personal hotspot
  • 49 percent want self-care diagnostics to help debug connectivity issues
  • 43 percent prefer ad-sponsored hotspot service, even if usage limits were applied

Professional versus Recreational Use

Other results from the survey reveal hotspot concerns varied significantly between professional users (devices and hotspot service paid by employer) versus recreational users. For example, 59 percent of professional users are concerned with hotspot performance, whereas only 16 percent of recreational users cited performance as a concern. However, since two-thirds of professional users also use their hotspots for recreational purposes, the importance of enhanced management and control features to prevent security breaches and skyrocketing mobile data bills should be considered not only by hotspot users but by employers.

For access to key findings from the survey, please visit findings.

FTC report recommends privacy practices for mobile platforms, developers, advertisers

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Mobile devicesThe Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s chief privacy agency, has issued a staff report recommending ways that key players in the rapidly expanding mobile marketplace can better inform consumers about their data practices.

The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations.  Most of the recommendations involve making sure that consumers get timely, easy-to-understand disclosures about what data they collect and how the data is used.

“The mobile world is expanding and innovating at breathtaking speed, allowing consumers to do things that would have been hard to imagine only a few years ago,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz .  “These best practices will help to safeguard consumer privacy and build trust in the mobile marketplace, ensuring that the market can continue to thrive.”

Consumers increasingly concerned about privacy

The report cites recent data showing that consumers increasingly are concerned about their privacy on mobile devices.  For example, 57 percent of all app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place for similar reasons.  Less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices.

Based on the Commission’s prior work in this area and information obtained through the panel discussions, written submissions, and the report offers several suggestions for the major participants in the mobile ecosystem as they work to improve mobile privacy disclosures.

The report recommends that mobile platforms should:

  • Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation;
  • Consider providing just-in-time disclosures and obtaining affirmative express consent for other content that consumers would find sensitive in many contexts, such as contacts, photos, calendar entries, or the recording of audio or video content;
  • Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded;
  • Consider developing icons to depict the transmission of user data;
  • Promote app developer best practices.  For example, platforms can require developers to make privacy disclosures, reasonably enforce these requirements, and educate app developers;
  • Consider providing consumers with clear disclosures about the extent to which platforms review apps prior to making them available for download in the app stores and conduct compliance checks after the apps have been placed in the app stores; and
  • Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.  A mobile DNT mechanism, which a majority of the Commission has endorsed, would allow consumers to choose to prevent tracking by ad networks or other third parties as they navigate among apps on their phones.

App developers should:

  • Have a privacy policy and make sure it is easily accessible through the app stores;
  • Provide just-in-time disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before collecting and sharing sensitive information (to the extent the platforms have not already provided such disclosures and obtained such consent);
  • Improve coordination and communication with ad networks and other third parties that provide services for apps, such as analytics companies, so the app developers can better understand the software they are using and, in turn, provide accurate disclosures to consumers.  For example, app developers often integrate third-party code to facilitate advertising or analytics within an app with little understanding of what information the third party is collecting and how it is being used.
  • Consider participating in self-regulatory programs, trade associations, and industry organizations, which can provide guidance on how to make uniform, short-form privacy disclosures.

Advertising networks and other third parties should:

  • Communicate with app developers so that the developers can provide truthful disclosures to consumers;
  • Work with platforms to ensure effective implementation of DNT for mobile.

App developer trade associations, along with academics, usability experts and privacy researchers can:

  • Develop short form disclosures for app developers;
  • Promote standardized app developer privacy policies that will enable consumers to compare data practices across apps;
  • Educate app developers on privacy issues.

“FTC staff strongly encourages companies in the mobile ecosystem to work expeditiously to implement the recommendations in this report.  Doing so likely will result in enhancing the consumer trust that is so vital to companies operating in the mobile environment.  Moving forward, as the mobile landscape evolves, the FTC will continue to closely monitor developments in this space and consider additional ways it can help businesses effectively provide privacy information to consumers,” the report states.

The FTC also introduces Mobile App Developers: Start with Security, a new business guide that encourages developers to aim for reasonable data security, evaluate the app ecosystem before development, and includes tips such as making someone responsible for data security and taking stock of the data collected and maintained.

Why are photo and video apps cheaper for iPhones than for Android?

Friday, February 1st, 2013
iPhone 5

The iPhone 5

While iPhone users may pay more for their device up front than Android users, they actually pay less for the most popular photo and video apps than Android users, according to the Photo/Video Apps Market Analysis January Report just published by Suite 48 Analytics.

It found that he more popular photo and video apps on iPhone cost on average 38% less than their Android equivalents. A majority of the 50 top ranking photo and video apps on iPhone are priced at the minimum allowed in the iTunes store, $0.99, compared to only 34% of Android apps.


Suite 48 Analytics president and author of the report, Hans Hartman said it’s because the photo app market is both more mature and more competitive on iPhone than on Android.

There are roughly three times more photo or video apps in the iPhone store (approximately 20,000) than in Google Play (7,500). Also, whereas only 32% of Android apps have been on the market for over a year, the majority of the top ranking iPhone photo and video apps are that old,” he said.

according to the study, 49% of iPhone apps older than one year have in-app purchasing functionality, versus only 29% of those released in the last six months.

Among other noteworthy findings of the study:

  • 38% of the top ranking photo apps are photo enhancement apps (such filters or effects apps), followed by “combine” apps (such collage apps), and camera apps.
  • Top ranking iPhone photo and video apps have higher user ratings than their Android counterparts.
  • Only 10% of the top ranking photo and video apps are video apps (another 13% are apps that can be used both for photos and videos), indicating that still photography continues to dominate the market.
  • Only 1% of the top ranking photo and video apps are primarily print product ordering apps such as greeting card or photobook apps; 5% have ordering print products as one of their features.
  • 34% of the top grossing photo and video apps on iPad are specially made for iPad, i.e. not offered on iPhone.
  • The top 25 free Android photo or video apps in the US generate 63% of their downloads outside the US. The equivalent number on the iPhone is significantly lower, at 51%.

Sales of Microsoft & Blackberry phones enough to interest developers

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

smartphonesThe global installed base of smartphones will total 1.4 billion by the end of 2013, according to the latest forecasts from ABI Research. Of this base, 57% will run on Android and 21% on iOS.

Meanwhile, there will be 268 million tablets in active use, with 62% of them built on iOS and 28% on Android.

The annual growth rate against 2012 will be 44% for smartphones and 125% for tablets. Despite of Apple’s and Google’s strong hold of the market, ABI Research anticipates that the future won’t be quite as duopolistic as it may seem now.

A relative success for Microsoft and Blackberry?

Outside of the leading two operating systems, how will the world look for the two main challengers, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10?

Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen comments, “2013 should be seen as relative success for both Microsoft and BlackBerry.

For the end of the year, we expect there to be 45 million Windows Phone handsets in use, with BlackBerry 10 holding an installed base of close to 20 million. Microsoft will also have 5.5 million Windows-powered tablets to show for it.”

Importantly, the figures refer to actively used devices, which is what app developers – with certain caveats in mind – should generally treat as an addressable market for their releases.

As Markkanen points out, “The greatest fear for both Microsoft and BlackBerry is that the initial sales of their smartphones will disappoint and thereby kill off the developer interest, which then would effectively close the window of opportunity on further sales success. Our view is that the installed bases of this scale would be large enough to keep these two in the game. It will definitely also help that both firms have actively kept the developers’ interest in mind while designing and rolling out their platforms.”

Despite setting up their own digital devices, consumers want support services

Friday, January 25th, 2013

mobile devicesWe’re all becoming IT savvy when it comes to setting up new digital devices, these days, but not everyone likes it that way. Research firm Parks Associates announced new tech support research today showing the do-it-yourself (DIY) model is the dominant, but not preferred, method for consumers setting up new connected or mobile devices.

The firm’s Creating Holistic Consumer Technology Support Services reports, among U.S. broadband households purchasing new devices, 81% set up a new tablet on their own, 72% set up a smartphone on their own, and 60% set up a new home network on their own. However, only 51% of these consumers overall would prefer the DIY method on the next setup.

Smartphones were the devices most commonly set up by broadband households over the past 12 months.

“Improvements in automated device discovery and intuitive interfaces have boosted DIY setup on new devices, but a significant percentage of people prefer assistance,” said Patrice Samuels, research analyst, Parks Associates.

Premium tech support services has growth opportunities

“Meeting this demand through premium technical support services provides outstanding growth opportunities for retailers, CE manufacturers, and service providers and creates opportunities to build long-term relationships with consumers.”

Parks Associates estimates U.S. tech support revenues will exceed $8 billion in 2017.

Consumers want a single support service for all their gadgets

The interconnectedness and interdependence among devices in the digital home blur the lines for ownership of a problem, so approximately 25% of consumers with a networking-related problem contacted their broadband service provider for assistance, regardless of where they purchased the home networking equipment.

In response, providers such Comcast and CenturyLink have expanded their support services to include services, traditionally out-of scope, available on a premium or paid basis.

“Consumers want a solution that covers their support needs for all of their gadgets—computers, tablets, and smartphones; 72% of consumers interested in technical support feel the service should be able to fix every technical problem they experience,” Samuels said. “Support services will have to expand in order to effectively meet consumers’ support needs.”

Drivers using cell phones know it’s dangerous but do it anyway

Friday, January 25th, 2013

no cell phone graphicIf you’ve ever seen someone driving erratically while talking on a cell phone, and who hasn’t, you know it’s not a good idea. But new research shows it may be an even worse practice than previously thought. Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors such as speeding, driving drowsy, driving without a seatbelt and sending texts or emails, according to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Despite the well known dangers of using a cell phone while driving, a majority of drivers do it anyway.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month despite the fact that nearly nine-in-ten respondents (89 percent) believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety.

The problem is getting worse

“Ninety percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, yet they themselves continue to engage in the same activities,” said Peter Kissinger , President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse.”

Personally, we’ve seen truck drivers talking on a cell phone run off the berm, drivers on cell phones in cars weaving across lanes and erratically changing speed, and narrowly avoided an accident when a driver chatting away veered in front of us at high speed.

Risky behaviors

AAAMotorists who fairly often or regularly used their cell phones over the last month also reported that they engaged in additional risky behaviors. The research shows:

  • 65 percent also reported speeding
  • 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy
  • 53 percent also reported sending a text or email
  • 29 percent also drove without a seatbelt

Conversely, drivers that reported never using a cell phone were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors: 

  • 31 percent reported speeding
  • 14 percent reported driving drowsy
  • 3 percent reported sending a text or email
  • 16 percent drove without a seatbelt

Disapproving of the practice doesn’t stop it

mobilephonesDespite the near-universal disapproval of texting and emailing while driving (95 percent), more than one-in-four licensed drivers (27 percent) reported sending a text or email at least once in the past 30 days, and more than one-third (35 percent) said they read a text or email while driving.

Young drivers age 16-24 were even more likely with more than half (61 percent) reporting having read a text or email while driving in the past month, while more than one-in-four (26 percent) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

“What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use,” said Kathleen Bower , AAA vice president of public affairs. “These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities.”

Distraction is the enemy of safe driving

Driver use of cell phones impairs reaction times and roughly quadruples crash risk. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly half a million are injured each year in crashes involving distraction. This is likely an underestimate given the challenges associated with determining the role of distraction in crashes.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have long been leading advocates in educating motorists about the risks of distracted driving. AAA recommends that motorists turn off their phone before driving or pull over to a safe place to talk, send texts or use email. AAA also has launched a legislative campaign to advocate for a text messaging ban in all 50 states.

To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this key traffic safety measure and AAA expects all 11 remaining states to consider this legislation in 2013.