Got to love BI for breaking it down for us. Look at that small “blip” on the chart for the FREE FOOD! Woo Hoo…! LOL
Bottom-line: Yahoo has an uphill battle to do whatever they think they can do with their content and mobile. It is a very, VERY busy world out there and right now, all the products (remaining/existing) are a mess.
Ask yourself when was the LAST time you used ANYTHING from Yahoo! I can’t even remember — it’s been at least 5 years. “Content” is a commodity and even if unique in the realm of the Economist and the Wall Street Journal, that is a world of the lucky few when it comes to digital monetization.
I certainly don’t have all the answers because content is an old paradigm and its value prop is way past DOA (are we still talking “content” in the old school world view of digital and media channels of the dot-com era? Yes, there is “content strategy” today - agreed. But “content” built in dot-com era under a media brand is really, really tired and the transition to mobile is NOT certain for monetization given the fragmented universe of apps, experiences, and mind share. People have even less time to retain any mind share on the device deck.
Media should spend less time fantasizing here on what “could be” and more time on “where’s the beef?” because at the moment, it’s a lot of buzz and a lot of talk and at least BlackBerry has DELIVERED a product (albeit late for many, many reasons) compared to Yahoo! that has failed to deliver “something” for eons.
Source: Business Insider
A great presentation from my colleague, Volker Hirsch. Great slideshare as always. ;-)
Here are some interesting mobile statistics I’ve compiled from public sources on the InterWebs:
Here’s an interesting Q1, 2012 Android breakdown by OEM manufacturer.
Clearly, Samsung is leading the pack for the Android (OEM) camp with:
- better products
- better service bundling
- better promotion
- better execution
Click here for more information on the graph findings.
- iOS is more profitable ad platform than Android, but for how long? (betanews.com)
- Rumour: Nokia may get 1 month Windows Phone 8 exclusive (wmpoweruser.com)
- Google’s Nexus 7: Android tablets have the same old problems (zdnet.com)
It’s a SUN UK-based story but the story hits home. I do hope CSRs are given more power and better tools to overcome rigid policies against consumers.
Consumers hate their telecom providers for many things, including contracts. See my earlier post on contracts here.
I am getting bombarded by one of my providers because my 3-year term (I will never lock-in for a contract again no matter what subsidy/discount/offer I am given) is coming to a end. Even though I opted out from all marketing via txt/sms, email and direct mail, I am being hit hard with offers to lock-in to free Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone) and Android Devices. Why would I shift to a new device (PLATFORM) when all my investment in the “app ecosystem” is with Apple’s iOS and further, when I am really happy with the phone itself.
Three strikes and you’re out!
The incumbent providers in Canada have a lot to deal with now. Loyalty across telecom providers has been tied to the bill and the quality of customer service response. If that’s any measure, then we all know what Canadian sentiment is like. The upstarts, like WIND Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile are not immune from customer anger either. That said, the contracts that are coming to a close (especially, the 3 years like myself) do present a huge churn challenge for incumbents in Canada because these folks are going to be in a position to pay lower monthly fees and get access to new devices as well. If Apple does release a new iPhone in the Fall (Sept/October) that works with the TMobile network, this opens up the possibility for iPhones (iOS) smartphones appearing the upstart networks.
At the moment, I am also a WIND/Blackberry customer in addition to an iPhone-carrying customer with one of the incumbents. I won’t renew under a contract so I have full flexibility to leave when desired. This decision has been made largely because the incumbent provider kept me on the phone for two hours telling me that I couldn’t do this or that while they kept changing the goal post. Two hours later, they remembered the customer should have choices but that has never been forgotten.
For the record: The customer ISN’T always right. Sometimes, they deserve to be fired. (80-20 rule). That said, being such a good ARPU customer on costly smartphone plans, I was appalled by the difficulty to address a simple, obvious matter which turned into a difficult jousting match. Too much work. So I have decided to fire the provider by not locking into a new contract/phone plan.
I think the days of mobile phone contracts are coming to an end. It’s a very common part of the North American landscape. But in a post-paid and pre-paid world (prepaid, newer to Canadian customers), it’s game over. Amateur hour is over. And most consumers will be more open to paying for the cost of the device.
What do you think? Share the same opinion or do you think I am wrong in my comments. Let me know.
The media had a
field slow day yesterday so they opted to keep harping on the same old boring drumbeat. But we have good people at Research in Motion fighting the good fight. Until then, we’ll let them speak and build their “Klout”. ;-)
And so on, and so on. Now onto more serious stuff.
My good friend, Volker Hirsch (Director, Global Head of Business Development - Games), is a likeable, tall, well-spoken international man (Where in the World is
Carmen Sandiego Volker Hirsch?) has his own view on games. Here’s the slideshare presentation. Volker, oddly your name “Volker” gets auto-corrected to “Revolver” — Volker (aka Revolver) Hirsch. It’s in the game! LOL Great presentation mate!
Looking forward to new devices, a new U/X and tons of games. I almost have too many of them on other devices. :-)
Apple’s announcement of iAd in April 2010 came with much fanfare. It touted a universe of rich, HTML5 ads that behaved like a dedicated ‘microsite’ on a mobile smartphone - specifically, the iPhone. In Jobs-speak, it would be easier for advertisers to reach premium users and make it very easy for agencies to leverage the medium on behalf of large brand advertisers. This was one of my top goals as Head of Product for MyScreen Mobile Inc. back in mid-2008. Our small Toronto startup built a robust ad-targeting platform tethered loyalty rewards, content consumption, and a mobile wallet for subscribers. Funded by Orascom Egypt with a $10m strategic round, we took our mobile marketing platform from a successful market trial with Turkcell to commercialization in Latin America in three markets with Telcel Mexico, Claro Brazil and Claro Argentina.
That was then. This is now.
Every startup idea or innovation is about market-timing. It usually requires a perfect-storm of sorts in terms of scalability, commercialization, consumer interest, and the right mix of technology from devices and networks to lower operating costs to make it all work.
According to IAB, almost $5.3 billion went into mobile advertising in 2011. That’s huge a trend and isn’t something to be ignored if you look at phone ownership vs. computer ownership. Henry Blodget’s own “Future of Mobile” presentation in March 2012 illustrates the trend between feature phones and smartphones in a series of slides that I’ve handpicked for this tumblr post.
The following data points should illustrate the power of mobile (period!) and how it relates to consumption, advertising, and purchasing.
Without any doubt, Ad spend is increasing for mobile and the rise in the global user base is happening in mobile, not fixed broadband Internet use.
Further, the user is consuming more time with media on a mobile device vs. anywhere else. That’s a compelling trend that we can’t ignore.
Clearly, this single slide (above) should highlight where the future flow of money for ad budgets will be. The biggest loser will be TV as more of that ad spend shifts to tablets and other media consumption devices that is trackable for ROI. Unmeasured television (Nielsen Family Ratings) is being decimated by on-demand viewing and to a lesser extent (today, more so) by time-shift programming via personal video recording (PVR) units. Looking at the print media, it spells all but certain death for the printed format as consumers spend more time on the web and mobile. Clearly, the losers will be TV, print and radio. Listen up media buyers and brand advertisers - don’t ignore mobile because it will be your lifeblood like online in the future. You didn’t think those YouTube ads at the beginning were doing badly, did you?
What about PCs vs. smartphones vs. Tablets? It’s not surprising that some research analysts are now ranking Apple as the top platform manufacturer for devices when the iPad is included in their data. Looking at the next slide, it seems quite obvious where things are headed. THIN CLIENT COMPUTING.
Sure, Microsoft worked on a tablet early on - c. 2000. Sure, Apple had a Newton MessagePad too. But a lot of things were missing back then. Ubiquitous cheap connectivity, content ecosystems, scalable social networks, sharing, and powerful computing that could enable consumers to do a lot more of their simpler daily tasks on anything but a personal computer. Heck, the concept of the “portable computer” did not even hit mainstream until the Compaq Portable II hit the market in 1986. Once again, this all falls back on the idea of market-timing and the “perfect storm”. So while Microsoft, Apple and mainly others dabbled with concepts early on, these concepts were far too ahead of their time. Apple, in fact, played the right game by releasing the iPhone first (vs. iPad) because it created a paradigm shift in how smartphone U/X should be. Apple then released the iPad (three years later) to much success, supported by a large existing base of customers (users!), a healthy developer base, and a robust content ecosystem which continually drives device sales today.
Looking deeper, mobile marketing is just at the starting line in terms of growth opportunity. Why? Because we haven’t fully moved away from the “dumb/feature phone” in North America and globally. For mobile advertising to be successful, the entire global population of mobile users needs to shift to the “smartphone” after Apple helped kick-start with its iPhone introduction in 2007. Look at the next two slides. Major opportunity before us!
Clearly, we still have some more time for the conversion away from feature to smartphone takes full effect. ”Smartphone penetration” across age groups is already happening but it will reach all consumers, in all age groups, with time. See this slide.
IAB’s own metrics highlight how mobile ad spend was placed globally in 2011. Clearly, North America leads the charge followed by Asia-Pacific and Europe when it comes to “display advertising” on mobile.
In June 2012, Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO confirmed that on some days, mobile ads outspent web ads in the past quarter. How did they make this money? In the form of promoted Tweets and hashtags paid for by advertisers. Naturally, we’d all expect this since twitter really is a mobile product — I rarely use my desktop client anymore to engage with others or to curate information.
This is in starkly different than Facebook’s own experience which, not surprisingly (for me), deeply affected their IPO launch. What were they thinking when they released forecasts about their advertising revenue knowing full well that a greater portion of their users were accessing the devices through a smartphone? Duh! The Facebook mobile app (iOS and Blackberry - both platforms I use today) do not have any inkling of advertising to show for. In 2011, Facebook earned 85% of its $3.7 billion from advertising revenue - none of it from mobile. To add salt to their wounds, 425 million of the total 845 million monthly active users in December 2011 accessed the Facebook platform through a mobile handset. Unbelievable how they could mess this one up. It’s not like they didn’t have time to figure this out or something.
At D10, Mary Meeker did paint a less rosy picture for mobile advertising with one slide. Interestingly, the weather category dominated the mobile eCPM bucket against all other categories.
We shouldn’t be concerned though. The business models for mobile ads haven’t been fully figured out. The same happened back in the dot-com days when I worked for a leading financial portal called StockHouse.com. At the time, online ad models weren’t defined, metrics was shoddy, and the value proposition was a tough one to sell in a world born with unmeasured television and radio media. Today, online advertising is tried, tested, true and measurable. Unfortunately, everyone is trying to still figure out the model for mobile advertising based on user interaction, use frequency, and format (device/smartphone). Even Meeker is optimistic about mobile advertising, claiming the mobile world is far more sophisticated than the folks that tried to monetize the desktop web in the 1990s. She may be right.
We will be ready for mobile advertising. It will arrive. And like every new trend before it, the right mix of ingredients will need to come together to make the perfect recipe for success. At the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, I personally saw three key trends from a macro-perspective.
- Mobile advertising
- Mobile payments
- Data Visualization and Analysis (Deep Network Inspection)
Source: Business Insider
Talk about tipping points. Small things do make a big difference.
After completing SIX YEARS as co-founder of MobileMonday Toronto with our May 2012 end of season event, here are some markers:
- 40+ events
- 15+ sponsors
- 30+ venture capital pitches
- 10+ moderators
- 40+ panelists
- 5 MobileMonday Toronto volunteers
- Cumulative attendance total: 25,000 attendees
- 2 MoMo Camp winners
- 50 cross-event promotional offers
After 5 years, we can say that MobileMonday Toronto has been a raging success. Thanks Jim Brown, my colleague and co-founder, and the helping hands of the rest of the MoMo team (Dal Layal, Jolon Craw, Janine Chin and Nick Van Vlymen) for helping us reach the tipping point in our fifth year of operation.
It started with a “fire” in the heart of two individuals with an entrepreneur bent. Jim and I met through the kind folks at MobileMonday New York to help bring “community” to Toronto’s mobile ecosystem. Along the way, our friends from the Fort York Armory to Dunedain Multimedia became our hosts as we kept “grassroots” alive and well. We then partnered with MaRS Discovery District to bring location, audio visual expertise, and a premium networking facility to the table.
Building a community is hard work. You have to enjoy networking, meeting people, building programs, and running operations…for FREE. The secret ingredient is passion and a willingness to do things for the greater good. Jim Brown and I worked many summers, nights and weekends to build strategy for event themes, chasing down speakers, and finding sponsors to build the platform for top-notch events. In the past two years, we had a breakout growth curve. My efforts in sponsorship fundraising for non-profit operations netted tier-1 mobile ecosystem brands and six-figure sponsorship funding. Our sponsors have been fantastic!
I want to thank them all:
- Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association
- Miller Thomson
- Windows Phone
- Rogers Catalyst
- Public Mobile
- WIND Mobile
- Dunedain Multimedia
- The Working Group
- SAP Canada Inc.
Without the support of the community, our sponsors, our event partners like MaRS - The Fort York Armory - Dunedain Multimedia, and our volunteer crew of Dal, Jolon, Janine and Nick — Jim Brown and I could not have taken our small idea and grown it to a level where MobileMonday Toronto is today.
It has been a heck of a ride and truly fun. Our Venture Capital 2012 Pitch was one of the best pitch events to date. The business models, the technology, and the pitches were top-notch. Even our top venture capital panel concluded that things had come “full circle” in the Toronto ecosystem for mobile concepts. A job well done to all the entrepreneurs!
Alexander S Bosika, Co-Founder, MobileMonday Toronto, 647-781-4005
Watch this video to hear from Toronto’s most innovative mobile companies as they pitch to a VC panel to fund their business.
Sean Wise, Managing Director at Wise Mentor Capital, moderated the session. The investor and expert panel participated in a discussion while listening to the presenting companies as they explained their business.
I have an interesting story to share.
It’s about user experience, the meaning of ‘express’, and about a hot new topic area called mobile transactions. However, I need to get something out of the way first.
- I am a proud customer of WIND Mobile - their pricing plans, the network quality, and the customer support have been fantastic as a new entrant in the Canadian market
- WIND is an active supporter of my efforts in the mobile industry and you can read more in my About Me section
- RIM/Blackberry is also an active supporter of my efforts in the mobile industry and you can read more as noted in #2
- My goal is not to be malicious but to demonstrate my particular user experience, what I think is wrong, and how it could be improved for all consumers
Let’s get started.
On a quiet, overcast weekend day, I opted to go to the local library to work on some personal projects. During my stay, I received a text from my friendly provider, Wind Mobile, informing me about a new feature available to customers. Essentially, they were announcing (maybe already existed but I wasn’t aware of it until receiving the SMS text message) a new express top-up service through their branded mobile portal.
Hey there! You can now top up through WINDworld. Just use Express Top Up at http://m.windmobile.ca - It’s secure and always FREE on the WIND network.
Currently, I am a prepaid top-up user with WIND Mobile with their amazing ‘Miracle Plan’ which provides me with unlimited calling to the US & Canada, unlimited global texting, and unlimited Blackberry data, including standard features like voicemail, call display, call waiting for an amazing $40. Using RIM Blackberry’s new Mobile Hotspot functionality in OS 7.1, I can even tether off the data for laptop usage. Naturally, within reason. (Yes dear customer, if you try and watch Netflix off of this, WIND will throttle your service — only fair).
Prior to this announcement, I generally would top up via the embedded feature on my Blackberry Curve 9360 which simply requires I enter the credit card, CVV number, and then simply decide if I am performing a top-up for my account or some other account (a friend, family member etc). Top-up codes are even faster as you can buy the cards through retail networks, enter the top-up code, and you get an instant confirmation of a successful top-up to your device via SMS.
After seeing WIND’s SMS message, I decided to check out the service through my Blackberry browser. Upon landing on http://mcare.windmobile.ca, I selected the “Express Top Up” to walk through the process. I will point out, to many other users, they view “browser experience” as somewhat more painful through Blackberry device with half-height screen. My own experience shifting through pages was satisfactory but the smaller screen did make visual cues are little more “strained” compared to a fuller screen device that many users are accustomed to with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices.
That said, I didn’t find the “Express Top Up” experience to be “express” in any sense of the word (considering a slower browser experience, a smaller screen and far too many payment steps compared to WIND’s own ON-device top-up feature). Let me explain.
THE PURSUIT OF MOBILE EXPRESS TOP-UP [iOS Screenshots Below]
- Via SMS, the user is directed to http://m.windmobile.ca
- Next, the user must select “Express Top-Up” in the top-navigation panel
- To be identified, the user enter the WIND mobile number
- The user can choose to “Pay By Credit Card” or “Use a Top-Up Code”
- In the screenshots below, I’ve selected “Pay by Credit Card”
- Now, the user can select their own or set amount to pay by credit card
- Next, the user must enter their name on card, the card number, the expiry date through drop-down menus, and the CVV number
- Lastly, the user must review the top-up details before authenticating the transaction
See the iOS screenshots below:
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Essentially, there’s far too many steps involved for a mobile transaction. Even though I consider myself “tech savvy”, I simply don’t have the patience for this kind of experience flow. This reminds me of the days of WAP 1.0 and the limitations and challenges we had as product developers and consumers to do anything on a mobile handset. Now, you gain the luxury of seeing this user experience flow from an iOS vantage point. I can assure you, on my Blackberry 9360 curve, the screens are much smaller and so is the font size (!); as a result, you’ve eliminated a huge chunk of an audience that won’t work to that drumbeat (older audience) and God only knows, if they’ll even be patient enough to “work through” this experience anyhow.
My hunch is that a majority of consumers won’t go through this process. Either they’ll use a top-up code which is much faster or call customer service or simply login to their online account through their laptop or desktop to top-up with a credit card. Options already exist to automatically charge your credit card on a specific day each month for your prepaid account as well.
However, the above user experience just seems pre-iPhone era and “old school”. Unfortunately, WIND doesn’t carry iPhone (iPhones don’t work on their network configuration) but Android users on their network might bear the pain to go through all these steps. Heck, I could not even do these steps with my Blackberry given the (1) amount of steps (2) screen size (3) slower browser experience
In light of this, I’d personally use these counter approaches:
- Monthly automatic prepaid payments
- Direct top-up direct from my Blackberry device (with credit card or top-up code)
- Direct top-up from WindMobile.ca from my Macbook Air or desktop PC
- Login to http://m.windmobile.ca from my Blackberry (number, pin code) to top-up by credit card or top-up code with pre-authorized cardholder information
What do you THINK? Do you see the above user experience flow as an “express top-up”? It’s hard to view the above steps in a similar vein as an Amazon ‘1-click’ or iTunes purchase experience. To be honest, the best measure of whether this new option can even be considered an “express top-up” is the time it takes for an average user to go through the steps to authenticate a transaction. If it takes more time than a top-up code, a phone call, a top-up from within WIND’s feature on the device or even a phone call, this new “express top up” has failed in its objective.
What are the parameters for a convenient, secure, successful MOBILE transaction?
A new payment feature:
- eliminates the need to enter my phone number to identify me
- eliminates the need enter in all cardholder information repeatedly for recurring transactions (your monthly mobile phone bill)
- Ensures my cardholder data is fully secure while making life easy to transact
If anything, WIND MOBILE should be ready to ‘track’ me direct from SMS with a unique identifier URL and auto-identify my number since I am on their network rather than force me to identify my account. Look, I know there are technical reasons for everything and I also know number entry is a common element of the call centre queue and gating process but we need to get out of that mindset for mobile users.
How can this be solved?
A Toronto-based company called Admeris Payment Systems Inc. offers a groundbreaking mobile payment solution for telecom providers (and any merchant) which streamlines the mobile transaction to deliver:
- security and data encryption
- customer convenience
- PCI-compliance based on card industry association policies and audits
- less customer engagement for maximum customer experience
If Admeris’ solution was deployed, after the first mobile transaction through Wind World, repeat visits by the WIND subscriber would be fast, secure and seamless. In a nutshell, on the first transaction, the subscriber’s device ID and credit card information is encrypted and stored securely off the device. When the next top-up moment occurs, the subscriber would be immediately auto-identified with their cardholder data (only the last few digits are displayed), and would only be required to select a top-up amount and then enter their CVV or pin code (in WIND’s case, a CVV code) to complete the transaction.
WHAT IS ELIMINATED?
- For an SMS sequence and to drive more transactions through credit cards, WIND Mobile could direct the subscriber to a mobile top-up page for credit cards, skipping “mobile login” (with pre-configured cardholder data) and “express top-up” path selection to choose credit card or top-up code
- If the subscriber has already done their first transaction using Admeris’ patent-pending mobile payment solution, then it becomes a simple matter of selecting the top-up amount and entering the CVV code to finalize the top-up.
That’s a one-screen experience vs. a 5-to-6 screen process. How’s that for express top-up? For mobile, this is THE OneTouch experience most consumers and merchant businesses have been looking for. (Disclaimer: I engage in business development and marketing communication functions for Admeris in Toronto)
I can appreciate the technical complexity of some initiatives in a large enterprise environments like telecom. I should know. I worked in telecom and respect the fact that legacy systems, complexity and costs can rule the day. But then I have to simply ask (ignoring Steve Jobs for a moment), “What would Alex Bosika do?” The “I can’t because of…” paradigm may be championed by engineers and number crunchers but this will not save you in a world of declining ARPU, competition, customer prominence, and customer experience ignited by Apple, let alone the fact that social media that can re-define a brand in a matter of hours.
If you wouldn’t work through the steps listed above, why expect any consumer to go through it? This is a question for CEOs, business unit directors and front line leads from product, to development, to operations and customer support.
Like I said earlier, the example above is not unique to WIND Mobile. I am a huge champion of their brand - they have excellent customer service, excellent pricing, a passionate team fighting “against the odds” with incumbent telecom providers in a very entrenched Canadian marketplace.
For more on Admeris solutions for your business, feel free to contact me directly at 647-781-4005 or by email at abosika @ admeris.com to walk through your business model and process to see how we can give you a revenue lift in the mobile channel.
To close off, I am going to share my Blackberry screenshots of the WindWorld user experience to give you a sense of the challenges of working with a smaller screen size. No doubt, my friends in Kitchener-Waterloo will come out with compelling new Blackberry devices, a powerful new O/S, and a much improved user experience. They’re not dead and the dead pool watch by media will eventually subside. Let’s see where the chips fall once BB10 is released.
BB O/S 7 screenshots for Wind World
Written passionately for the good of consumers, user experience, WIND and Blackberry. :-) Until next time.
Alexander S. Bosika
My key headlines from a week of pure madness at the world’slargest mobile show with attendance breaking 67,000 - a new high compared to a reported 29,000 at the 2004 opener. Barcelona is host to the world’s great mobile show for the next four years.
“There will be an Android in every pocket”
A new technological “middle class” is emerging to play “a decisive role in changing society”
“A mobile experience at least at the level of today will be available to almost everybody, at a fraction of the price. In 12 years, handsets are going to be 20 times faster, which means phones that cost USD $400 now will be available for USD $20.”
— Google’s Eric Schmidt
Schmidt did highlight the worrying rise in complex legislative and regulatory frameworks that hinder Google’s ascent in the US and in 25 countries where they are completely blocked from a total of 125 from which they operate.
INDIA and AFRICA
“The difficulty we have moving forward to the next business model is the lack of a cheap smartphone”
“A USD $50 device would dramatically alter the landscape”
— Sunil Mittal, Chairman and MD of Bharti Airtel
- India only has around 5% smartphone penetration in India (even less in Africa)
- Smartphone penetration has reached 10% in Russia
“Mobile data will replace voice as the main revenue earner” — VimpelCom CEO, Jo Lunder
Their view: The small screen would dominate how emerging markets access the Internet.
“Smartphone penetration is growing fast, and we expect mobile broadband to contribute around a third of all data traffic by 2013. But to continue with this growth we also need affordable smartphone”
— Santiago Fernandez Valbeuna, Chairman/CEO of Telefonica Latin America
More notes to come. This was a packed event.