Tag Archives: mobile

Was 2014 finally, finally the year of mobile?

Written for Tech City News and published here.

If you’ve worked in mobile, you’ll remember that 2011, 2012 and 2013 were all ‘the year of mobile’, and with no jargon regulators to police what that meant, the declaration was met with nods, scowls or disbelief.

As well as being crowned the year of the selfie by Twitter, and the year of gluttony by CNBC, 2014 has yet again seen impressive highs among mobile’s key metrics. But is it finally, finally the year of mobile..?

Highs

Adoption and traffic

UK smartphone ownership is set to reach 80% post-Christmas, with a ‘saturation point’ of around 90% expected in 2016. The Internet Advertising Bureau reckons tablet penetration will tip 50% by the end of 2014, true validation for the device you never knew you needed.

Google’s Android platform continues to power more than 80% of the world’s smartphones and although Samsung remains the top manufacturer, its share of the market dropped from 32.1% in Q3 last year to 24.4% in 2014.

Apple’s share grew from 12.1% to 12.7%, with the remaining top five smartphone makers now all based in China: Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo. Record sales in emerging markets are now offsetting decline in Europe.

Mobile traffic has been threatening to overtake desktop since mid-2013, and, in Q2 and Q3, smartphone and tablet surfing on UK retail sites represented more than 50% of total traffic in two consecutive quarters for the first time.

Mobile payments

Gartner forecast last year that the value of mobile payments worldwide would reach $235.4bn (£150.7bn) in 2013, representing a 44% increase on 2012’s $163.1bn. 37% of online sales in Q3 this year in the UK were made on mobile, 80% of which were done on tablets, with that figure reaching 43% in fashion retail. That’s growth of 4000% from the 1% made in 2010.

Gartner downgraded its prediction for contactless mobile payments “due to disappointing adoption… in all markets in 2012 and the fact that some high-profile services, such as Google Wallet and Isis, are struggling to gain traction”.

But the launch of Apple Pay in September looks set to take the service mainstream, with main rival Samsung now rumoured to be kick-starting its own version.

Given the lucrative position that owning both online and offline payments data offers, rivals are soldiering on in the US, including the big retailers with CurrentC, and the mobile operators’ effort, Softcard. However, news that the Weve payments solution, part of the JV between UK mobile operators, was being shelved back in September can’t inspire much confidence.

Sharing economy

In its report on the opportunity of the so-called ‘sharing’ economy, PwC predicts that its value will grow from $15bn in 2013 to $335bn by 2025, equalling the revenue of traditional services like hotels and car rental.

Car sharing has been the biggest battleground in London, with the likes of Kabee, Hailo and new kid on the block, Maaxi, launched in October by Nat of the Rothschild banking dynasty, all fighting it out. This is all only slightly baffling given the range of other transport options in the capital!

Two major hurdles the report identifies, regulatory and scaling up, have both been poorly-cleared by 2014’s poster kids of sharing – Airbnb and Uber. Airbnb, which has ramped up its mobile efforts this year, has seen its users pinpointed, with up to 75% of listings in the city declared illegal.

In spite of it picking up terrible headlines in the past few months, Uber is now making its transition from being a noun to a verb, a sure sign it’s ubering its way to success, and the word is being usedleft, right and centre to describe Uber-like services in other sectors. As of December, it was available in 53 countries and, demonstrating there’s big money in, er, sharing, its latest round of funding, of $1.2bn, valued the company at more than $40bn.

Chat apps

Instagram just reached 300m users, overtaking Twitter’s 280m, proving that people do want to know exactly what other people had for breakfast, but now mainly in visual form. Instagram’s $1bn price, paid by Facebook for the image sharing platform and just 13 staff back in 2012, looks to have been a shrewd buy. Commentators are anticipating that it will make $100m per quarter, particularly after signing a $40m deal with Omnicom in March.

Facebook’s $18bn acquisition of WhatsApp in February has so far proved fruitless, with the company posting $15.9m in revenue, along with a loss of $232.5m, most of which went on paying share-based compensation. But Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum are said to still be focused on building on its existing 600m userbase before they monetise.

Lows

Can ad-funded and freemium services last?

According to Ofcom back in April, two-thirds of apps downloaded in the UK are never actually used, with only 10% seeing regular usage. This is reflected across developed markets and may be part of the reason that Angry Birds maker Rovio has cut 14% of its workforce and Mind Candy saw revenue drop by a third during 2013. Both combine in-app purchases and ads, a business model that may well be unsustainable.

In contrast, music and video streaming services are booming, with YouTube the latest to announce it will be offering an ad-free, £9.99-per-month subscription service.

The slow death of the banner

Display ads are on the up, largely driven by video, native and rich media. Without a banner in sight, in Q3, Facebook’s mobile ad sales represented 66% of its $2.96bn ad sales, or around $1.95bn. At the same time a year earlier, mobile ads were 49% of its ad business, demonstrating the social giant’s successful transition to being mobile-first. Overall in mobile ads, search, aka Google, remains the dominant segment, representing 48.9% of total global mobile ad revenue in 2013, at $9.5bn.

Death of Nokia

To many, the death of the Nokia brand back in April symbolised the end of engineering excellence in Europe. And soon after making the acquisition, Microsoft announced 18,000 job cuts, 14% of its workforce, the majority of which were in its new hardware division.

Having cut almost 40% of its staff late last year and losing nearly $1bn, BlackBerry is seeing if a touch of nostalgia will alter its fortunes after it has sold out on pre-orders of its new, Classic handset. IBM, Dell, Sony and Philips have all likewise made huge hardware redundancies.

Looking forward

So 2014 was certainly a year of highs and lows for mobile; margins in hardware are clearly getting slimmer, but it’s not clear whether software businesses can generate equivalent value. The battle for 2015’s mobile tech profits will surely be fought in the cloud, particularly in enterprise, with the IoT, ‘sharing’ companies and those focused on emerging markets all tipped to win big.

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Mobile Insights at LBB Pop-up School

Mobile Has Changed Your Love Life – Now Change Your Business.

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ABOUT THE TUTOR:

Tech Journalist and mobile expert Kirsty Styles works in the thick-of-it in Shoreditch’s tech city as a reporter for Mobile Marketing magazine.

Kirsty reports on the latest news and features on everything from advertising ethics to 4G.

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Kirsty has a particular interest in mobile payments, mobile advertising and using mobile for good and has also spoken on these subjects at events such as Digital Shoreditch.

Tickets:

£25 per person

Mobile Traffic Doubles at Evening Standard and Indy

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ESI Media – which comprises the Independent, the i paper and the Evening Standard, all owned by Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev – has had an exciting few years.

From taking the Standard free and launching a concise sister paper to the Independent, the i, back in 2010, to hiring the youngest ever editor of a national newspaper earlier this year, the group has consistently evolved with the changing face of news.

“It’s a challenge for all print newspapers to maintain circulation and readership, and is even harder for paid-for titles,” says digital MD Zach Leonard. “But we’ve actually got more people reading Independent journalism today than ever before because of the absolutely radical growth of the website.”  Worldwide, the company now sees 30m unique users every month and only 55 per cent of those are now in the UK, he said.

As part of its most recent reinvention, which includes a facelift for the Indy, a new iOS app has also launched this week for the Evening Standard. An Android app and a dedicated Kindle Fire app are on the way in the coming weeks – the Fire delivers the second-largest audience share after iOS – with the same updates promised for the Independent before Christmas. The apps are all powered by Page Suite, chosen as something that would work for both the free London paper as well as the paid-for national title.

40 per cent of traffic is mobile

“A year ago, 20 to 25 per cent of our web reads were coming from mobile,” Leonard said. “Including our apps, we’re solidly north of 40 per cent every single month.” The new Evening Standard app combines digital elements with a PDF replica of the day’s paper, seeking to satisfy both those who enjoy the traditional linear view, as well as serving up dynamic elements no doubt with a younger readership in mind.

People will be able to see a rolling week of content, as well as gaining access to a 30-day archive. Yes! magazine, which comes out in print each Friday, will also stay in the app for an entire week. “We’re hoping the new app gives people a reason to check in with the Evening Standard on their way to work,” he said.

The app uses push notifications to alert opted-in users to the availability of the latest edition, as well as automatically downloading each edition in the background for the reader to view offline. Within four days of the app’s release, Leonard says the Standard is running around 50 per cent more additional page impressions.

Video and virtual-only editions?

A later release will bring video into the dynamic content section and Leonard said the company’s TV channel London Live, which is launching online and on mobile in the new year, could provide a tie-in.

The company is using both print and digital resources to support the production of this new range of apps and has committed to a rather gruelling-sounding digital production schedule, actively curating a digital edition of the Standard up to five times a day. Leonard says he hopes the paper will be able to deliver an entirely virtual evening edition in the near future.

ESI is actively working with the Audit Bureau of Circulations – the organisation that counts newspaper readership – to create a standard for measuring digital publications. “We’re seeing a move towards metrics that are a lot more robust,” Leonard said.

Native, RTB and transactional ads?

The company is now looking to ensure it can sell truly cross-platform advertising packages, in some instances encouraging its historic print advertisers to go digital. Within the Evening Standard app, as well as the upcoming updated Independent app, there will be IAB-standard ads, as well as overlaid and full-page interstitials between news content.

The group sells a lot of its premium inventory directly to brands, but they do have network and RTB partners. “ESI is currently more dependent on external sales partners for mobile inventory. We’ve been selling mobile ads for the last three years within our apps and the last 18 months on the mobile web and there is growth in terms of networks and RTB.”

“But developing really interesting embedded advertising is where the market is going – the highest premium spots, particularly, are about that,” he said. “We have sponsorship conversations but it’s much more intersting to build something into a content area. I’m really keen to explore transactions and shopping opportunities on our apps in the future.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here: http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/mobile-traffic-doubles-year-evening-standard-and-indy#7g9mw54TOFCGgo6y.99