Archive for July, 2008

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July 31st, 2008

T-Mobile Hits Market with New Services Targeted Towards Parents

T-Mobile announced a new set of services (Family Allowances) today targeted toward parents with children with cell phones. It allows parents to set limits on minutes, messages and downloads. Parents also have the ability to limit use to specific times of the day while still allowing for “necessary” calls (i.e., Mom calling). Our research has shown that these services address real pain points for parents and teens. Nearly one-sixth of teens surveyed reported that they argued with their parents about their cell phone bills and had issues with their bills being too high. On the flip side, approximately one-fifth of parents were willing to pay for a range of services giving them the ability to manage monthly expenses and limit usage by their children. At $2 per month, it should be a no-brainer to add this feature to their plans.

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July 25th, 2008

Facebook Connect – Simplifying Mobile Use Cases

Saw this Facebook Connect write up today in the NYTimes.

The single username and password option is one that I like a lot and should facilitate ease of use.

I’ve been using Loopt and Loopt with Facebook and Facebook with Loopt, I think. I can post from within Loopt on my iPhone to Facebook. There is an application or widget within Facebook that lets me see where my Facebook friends are on a map IF they are signed up for Loopt. I’ve used Facebook to invite some friends to sign up for Loopt, but I haven’t had any conversions yet. I’m still hopeful for a chance encounter with a friend who happens to be nearby.

What I’d like is for a single map on Facebook to show me where my friends are regardless of what application or service or cellular provider or handset, etc. they are using. I can accept that there are competing location applications on my phone for now, but I still do wish there were one map with all of this stuff on it.

Simpler will help – working through getting these applications running has been challenging and required some calls to customer service.

Facebook Connect looks to be a step in the right direction.

I just finished a large piece of research on the roll of cell phones in social graphs and networks. I think the kinds of applications and services described above have the potential to really drive data usage and adoption of high end handsets.

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July 24th, 2008

AdMob iPhone Ad Units

AdMob announced new ad units for the iPhone today that take advantage of unique features of the touch screen user interface. They’ve done some cool stuff such as letting users slide the units to get more information as well as obtain more information (embedded XHTML mobile page) without leaving their existing session (Custom Canvas). This should be very attractive to both media companies and advertisers. Media companies don’t lose their audience while advertisers get more real estate and interactivity. One can also interact with the Canvas – fill out forms, play games, etc.

My favorite part of their announcement, however, is the “action icons” in the ad units. They can launch videos, maps, application store, web, etc.

My colleague Neil Strother just finished some research on the need for call-to-action within mobile advertising. Enabling direct response and driving product sales are two of the top five or so objectives that marketers have when leverage mobile advertising. They also want metrics – click-through-rates (CTR’s) have been fairly straightforward for networks to report, but call-to-action is more difficult when one session is abandoned for another. Quantifying the impact of mobile advertising in terms of actual leads generated or sales delivered should be a hit with advertisers. Already, nearly one-sixth want to utilize click-to-call to generate leads real time. More than twice that number wants to drive product sales. An integrated ad experience that provides a map, telephone number, driving directions, etc. is certain to deliver on a large portion of the advertisers’ wish lists. Like many other mobile initiatives, we now need to wait on inventory (= audience). Will be interesting to watch and see the impact of the 3G iPhone on the ad market during the second half of this year.

It’s very cool stuff as far as ad units go. I raised the question at a recent IAB event – which platform is more important to advertisers, Apple’s or Google’s Android? Android hasn’t launched yet, and Apple has a relatively small, but active user base. I asked a panel of four experts this question, and they were evenly split in their answers.

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July 23rd, 2008

Impact of iPhone on AT&T’s ARPU

I first blogged about the Apple iPhone and the new approach they were taking with AT&T last year. (see blog) There wasn’t much more than a small AT&T logo at the top of the screen to indicate the network. Apple owned the experience and the customer. Customers were paying for the phones in addition to about $20 per month in data access and a voice plan. Things seemed to be working well.

I walked by the Apple store in SF a day before the new 3G version went on sale. There was only one person lined up. (see post) When I walked by the SF store on day #4, however, there were probably 50 or 60 people in line – and this was AFTER Apple and AT&T announced they had already sold one million. I walked by the Apple Store near Central Park on day #10 and there were still police gates to contain what seemed to be more than 100 people still in line. I walked by the same store on day #12, and there was a sign posted out front that said “3G iPhones are not available. Please check online for store availability.” So, the line I saw a couple of days before wasn’t just Europeans taking advantage of the strong Euro to buy iPods. The device seems to be gaining in popularity as more people get it.

I knew the $199 price tag was attractive, but I thought the $30 per month in data charges alone would slow down registrations. At Jupiter, we’ve always maintained that consumers will pay for good experiences and that consumers don’t simply expect everything for free. (see research)

Just off the AT&T earnings call. They announced that 18 percent of their customers have “integrated devices.” They have 72.9 million subscribers as of the end of Q2 2008. (so new 3G iPhone customers don’t count) They stated that those customers with integrated devices have an average ARPU that is double their average customer’s ARPU. They also commented that 40 percent of 3G iPhone customers were new to AT&T. AT&T had approximately 5 million gross add’s in Q2 – they’ve made a good start on topping this number in Q3.

And …

AT&T isn’t even benefiting from the application sales directly. As is typical of new phone owners, I loaded up my iPhone with about a dozen new applications the first weekend. I spent more on games for my cell phone in one weekend than I have in the previous five years combined.

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July 10th, 2008

Short Line in SF at the Apple Store

I was on my way back from a meeting early this morning downtown when I wandered by the Apple Store. It was mostly a typical scene at 7am in downtown San Francisco. Streets were being cleaning. Vendors were opening up for the day. A handful of homeless people were beginning to wander around.

I walked by the store and saw a tent. I though – oh, a homeless person camped in the middle of the sidewalk. That’s odd. (There are a lot of homeless people in SF, but they typically don’t camp in the middle of the sidewalk at busy intersections.) Then it dawned on me, “oh …. That person is ‘the line.’” I went to my meeting for a couple of hours and then wandered back by.

Turns out I “knew” the line – was Dale Larson. I stopped to chat. I had a lot of questions – was it safe? Where did he use the bathroom? How did he fetch food without losing his place in line? (I last slept on the street about 14 years ago because I made a last minute decision to go to the San Fermin in Pamplona and didn’t have a hotel room, but wanted a great spot for watching the bulls. Felt out of practice.) Dale was dressed in a sports coat and tie none-the-less. Said the folks in the Apple store let him use their bathroom. He wears earplugs at night. Street corner is busy enough that he feels safe. One of the most interesting things is, people bring him food and stop to chat. While I was there, two women stopped by – “Number 23” and “Number 24” from the original iPhone launch in 2007. They were old friends. Dale was only #3 last year.

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July 10th, 2008

Apple’s Apps

I’m really jazzed to see some of my favorite applications making their way on to the Apple platform and into the applications store. And some of the best ones are FREE!!!

The majority of cell phone users (ok, well the minority buy applications, but among those who do buy and download content to their cell phones) who buy content and applications for their phones do so directly from the carriers’ decks. There are lots of limitations as we know. OTA allows the purchased to be spontaneous, but it can be difficult to find what you want.

An iTunes experience for mobile applications that is on par with their music, video, podcasting, etc. experience could really move the needle – at least for iPhone users in the near term. I have so many other reasons already to sync my iPhone with my computer to get my latest music, podcasts, photos, etc.

I’ve mostly been looking through press releases to see what is there plus searching for some of my favorites. Good to see a lot of location-based applications (Loopt, Where) and utilities – applications that go well beyond personalization and appeal to a more mature audience.

AT&T also announced today that they are delivering 1.4Mbps to handsets – those speeds rival your average crowded Wi-Fi hotspot.

I’m very anxious to begin downloading some applications and see how the device and the platform have been leveraged.

My colleague Michael Gartenberg is covering the launch in more detail and fielding press calls for us.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless