Category: Industry News


APAC hot market for m-commerce

MEF – the global community for mobile content and commerce – have recently completed a Global Consumer Study which demonstrates how consumers across the globe are increasingly embracing  mobile for their content and commerce needs.

The study, which was conducted in nine countries across five continents with over 8,500 respondents from both developed and developing markets – including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil, the United States and United Kingdom – clearly shows an explosion in consumer engagement in mobile commerce. (http://www.mefglobal.com/).

“The survey reveals that Asian consumers, more than any other, first go to their phones to source, service and support commercial decisions,”  said the MEF Asia Chairman Colin Miles. “For example, when it comes to remittance, the Asia-Pacific region is particularly adept at understanding this way of supporting families and friends back home. Most mobile operators have taken quickly to offering airtime transfer and other ancillary financial services using mobile as the primary platform.”

– In Singapore for example, 74% of respondents said they access the mobile web on a daily basis, while 84% have already adopted mobile commerce by using their device to either research or buy goods. The majority of mobile purchases are digital goods (40%), but physical goods constitute a notable part, with 15% of consumers having bought electronic goods via mobile. Mobile banking is also clearly establishing itself in this market, with 32% regularly checking their balance via mobile and almost one-fifth (18%) paying bills on a mobile device.

– In Indonesia, 63% of respondents had sent airtime remittances via mobile. Among those in Indonesia that have bought something on their mobile, 19% have done so through a retailer mobile store front, illustrating the value of the mobile channel for retailers. Meanwhile, 41% have bought items via their network operator in the last six months.

Asked how mobile commerce will further develop in Asia-Pacific, Miles said the pace of change will grow even more rapidly with more retail outlets enabling payment accounts and wallets to form in-store selection and payment.

“The industry is eyeing the potential for unleashing the so-called ‘unbanked’ population of countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China, with ‘low-value’ retail transaction consummated purely on the mobile,” he added.

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Although we have recently talked about mobile payment , it does sometimes still feel like it belongs to the future.However, I think that it is important to understand that it is coming a lot faster than we expect it, and will soon become part of our everyday live.We have already seen examples of companies such as Starbuck and Tesco  who have successfully implemented mobile payment methods using QR codes or NFC technology, while other companies such as Coca Cola are on the verge of launching their offering

The infographic below produced by Gplus paints a rather positive picture of mobile payment growth, and explore some of the most known payment methods such as : Google Wallet , ISIS, Visa Wallet and Serve.

Mobile payment

What are your views on mobile payment, do you believe in a mass adoption or just see it as a trend?

Baidu – China’s largest Search Engine, with over 75% SoV – is said to be very close to unveiling its long awaited mobile software platform, which could accelerate the process of sidelining Google,  in the Chinese smartphone experience. Google had to exit the market last year over a censorship controversy, allowing Baidu to dominate even more.

Now the threat to Google is now expanding beyond China, as Baidu is looking to expand its services abroad: It is being reported that the Chinese search giant  has signed a deal with Microsoft to power its English-language search results, serving a market that currently numbers 450 million Internet users and quickly growing.

The new relationship will apparently mean that English-language searches entered into Baidu’s engine will automatically trigger Bing results. At the moment, an English term entered into Baidu’s main search window yields results in Chinese.

It will be interesting to see how and if this relationship gets played out on the mobile front. This alliance could be deepened over time, and strengthen Windows Phone 7 against Google’s Android.

Watch this space!

China has become the second largest market for downloads in Apple’s App Store – after the US.  As more and more people have access to smart phones, the number of downloads continue to grow significantly, whilst Western countries have experience a decrease. 

But how exactly do these two markets differ, both in terms of App generated revenue and content users consume?

In China, users are more likely to download the free version of an app, as opposed to upgarde to the premium ad-free version. Even if downloads are decreasing in the US, the sales revenue generated from apps there are therefor much larger.

That said, both countries like to consume similar types of content – Games being the most important category, followed by entertainment. Social networking apps are the third most popular category in Asia – with Indonedia being the second largest market for Facebook after the US – while photography apps are the third most popular group in the U.S.

 News last week that Coca Cola are to launch worldwide SMS-enabled vending machines that allow consumers to purchase beloved Coke via their mobile devices couldn’t have come at a more game-changing time; not only for profit hungry network operators and handset manufacturers, but for Near Field Communication (NFC) powered commerce as a whole.

Apple’s recent keynote announcement around the iMessaging platform adds further fuel into this fire and could fundamentally signal the eventual death of traditional peer to peer SMS messaging and non-smart handsets as we know it. According to a recent 2011 Nielsen report, the smartphone is now playing a more critical role in our shopping habits:

“Across the board, more consumers are using their smartphone while in a store: US-82%, UK-68%, France-82%, Germany-65%, Japan-75%” and are also making more purchases on their mobile device than ever before: “US-29%, UK-28%, France-17%, Germany-28%, Japan-45%”.

 

Statistics have also shown that in just the last 12 months, the amount of smartphone data consumption has grown by 89% worldwide from 230 Megabytes (MB) in Q1 2010 to 435 MB in Q1 2011. This is all good and well for the smartphone owner, as services and technologies complementary to their handset will only grow in standardised utility and ubiquity.

So what does this mean for non-smartphone owners and manufacturers? Could this shifting paradigm in mobile data consumption and smartphone manufacturing herald a new wave of innovative mobile commerce solutions just like Coke is trying to achieve? Can the traditional SMS of old thus sustain this increasing trend towards 3G/4G data transfer?

Redefining the core premise of SMS isn’t a new thing though. Companies far and wide have appropriated gross revenues from a multiplicity of radicalised SMS related activities such as ringtone downloads, charity donations, voting, games and let’s not forget services the adult entertainment market provides.

Though what fundamentally is different here is the shift in the perception of SMS as a 1-2-1 communication system: firstly it’s no longer just that; and it has been supplemented by other more seemingly “free” forms of peer based web comms such as Blackberry’s popular messenger platform, other intercompatible messaging apps such as “WhatsApp” or even email.

Apple’s iMessage although clever in scope is fundamentally flawed and relies on several key determinant factors to be successful in wiping out SMS standardization; I mean not everyone has an iPhone for instance and I somehow doubt that network operators will allow for this monopolistic manoeuvre by the computer giant to really gain fruition. That said iPhone users and its Android counterparts are growing vastly in size by the day and has affirmatively stamped its presence in the mobile marketplace.

 

SMS however is still the no.2 use of cellphones in the US and that’s down to the fact that it’ more of a standardised technology than 3G/4G data transfer- having been around for a lot longer, is more accessible in scope and is fundamentally cheaper because of it.

The fact that an SMS can now viably produce a tangible product purchase like a can of Coke is truly exciting; and will undoubtedly open the doors to a wealth of other SMS activated commercial areas and activities that will compete to the detriment of the data consumer. Mobile commerce of this nature can and would allow for the larger market share of non-smartphone mobile users to participate in the phenomenon of mobile payment without the need of an expensive NFC powered handset.

Exciting times are definitely ahead. But for now…I need a Coke can I borrow your phone a sec?

Google has officially unveiled its new NFC payment service, which goes by the name of Google Wallet.

Google wallet

If your geeky side is a bit more developed than the average human, you must have been as excited as we were this week when Google gave a demo in the US of Google Wallet.

This new payment service from the search giant which uses Near field communication technology (same technology used for your Oyster card) is actually a free app that can be downloaded on NFC capable Android phones and which allows you to Tap to Pay wherever MasterCard PayPass is accepted.

Google reported that some of the great advantages of this new service are :

  • Faster payment transaction
  • Much more secured payment
  • Better shopping experience
  • Possibility to sync Google Wallet with Google offers (the company’s deal of the day service)

Google wallet really appears as being a serious innovation that we should keep an eye on at several levels. From a technological/user perspective, because the technology is already existing, it will be quiet easy in the near future to replace all our membership, credit, office access cards, as well as boarding passes, ID, tickets, etc…by this type of service. From a merchant perspective, it is ultimately an increase in terms of footfall and purchase thanks to this carefree new service as well as a wide range of new targeted promotional options.

The video below will tell you more about the overall excitement around Google Wallet.

 

 

In a surprising but smart move, Nokia have announced that they are losing the “Ovi” brand and choosing to focus on all services being wrapped under “Nokia Services”.

The official positon from Nokia’s EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Jerri DeVar:

“We have made the decision to change our service branding from Ovi to Nokia. By centralizing our services identity under one brand, not two, we will reinforce the powerful master brand of Nokia and unify our brand architecture – while continuing to deliver compellingopportunities and experiences for partners and consumers alike.”

After the announcement of the Micrsoft-Nokia partnership many of us predicted that there would be an adjustment or aligning of branding to accomodate the new OS shift.  It will be interesting to note what other services and technology will get a Microsoft-treatment in the next few months.

Millennial Media, one of the main actor on the mobile advertising landscape has recently announced the release of a new mobile advertising SDK (Software development kit) specially tailored for Microsoft’s Windows phone 7 platform.

Head of product development Steve McCord, explained; “Although we have been providing monetization services for current Windows Mobile developers, we have now extended a toolkit for developers to much more easily integrate ads into their applications, while providing rich and engaging experiences to the advertisers across all Windows Phone 7 Applications”

The following are some of the new SDK features available to advertisers and developers

  • Fully supported Silverlight and XNA SDK
  • Rich set up development tools to insert ads where and how the developer chooses, while still providing easy integration
  • Full Rich Media Support for Silverlight applications
  • Interactive Ad Units for Agencies and Creative Shops
  • Interstitial Ad Support for Silverlight applications

Full story on Millennial media blog

Malaysia is leader in fast 4G Mobile Internet Services

As cellphone users in many countries are getting used to the greater speed of the 3G mobile internet, telecom companies around the world are testing even faster 4G high-bandwidth services.

Malaysia’s YTL Communications is a leader in this race. The Malaysian company is investing more than $700 million to get its 4G network up and running in that southeast Asian market by the end of this year, with help from global companies including Samsung, Cisco and Intel .

Other 4G services have debuted around the world in pockets of countries as diverse as the U.S. and Russia but this will be the world’s first nationwide, 4G network, enabling real mobile broadband. Convergence of voice and data through mobile hasn’t really been done properly yet through 3G.

Mobile phone ownership in Malaysia is already about 100% or even higher since some people have more than one phone account.

Malaysians also have shown strong interest in mobile internet. According to The Economist, only 7% of subscribers in Malaysia had a handset capable of connecting with a 3G network in 2007. That number jumped to 25% last year, and if “dongles” (devices that connect laptops to mobile networks) are included, 3G penetration is closer to 40%.

Android set for growth in China

A recent article written by Richard Yu for Techcrunch looks into Android on the verge of dominance in the Chinese market.

What was most interesting for me were the factoids:

Number of Mobile Internet Users in China (start of 2010): 233 million
– Number of Mobile Internet Users in China (projected for 2014): 957 million
– Population of USA + EU (2010): roughly 800 million

When you think about Android taking the dominant positon in China, within a global context, you start to realise how much this will tip the scales, in battle of mobile os dominance and the revenue opportunties linked to this, in favour of Google.

Also worth noting is how Google have managed to work around the censorship challenges that have dogged them in this market. By allowing app function like Google search and Gmail to be removed from the OS and replaced by local suppliers (eg baidu for default search),  they open up the potnetial for greater handset OS adoption. This coupled with the power of Android and the fact that it is free makes for a very enticing alternative to the likes of Symbian and Wndows.

For the full article click here