Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that China Mobile and Apple had struck a long-anticipated deal to offer the iPhone to China Mobile's massive customer base (estimated by the publication at 7X Verizon Wireless). Neither company has confirmed the deal.
China Mobile is the largest carrier in the world's largest mobile and internet markets. The company has more than 750 million mobile subscribers. According to several estimates Apple has about 5% of the Chinese mobile market. Various flavors of Android are by far the dominant mobile platform in the country, with nearly 80% share.
Many financial analysts think that the iPhone 5s and 5c are too expensive for China. However there appears to be a meaningful appetite for Apple's devices there. Apple's "greater China" revenue this past quarter was $6.8 billion. That number could easily double through the China Mobile deal -- if it's confirmed.
Back in the US comScore released September smartphone market share data. The firm estimated that 149.2 million American adults now own smartphones. Comscore's figures put smartphone penetration at or just under 64%, generally in agreement with Nielsen's estimates.
Apple, Samsung and Motorola were the top three smartphone OEMs in the US. HTC and LG lost share and BlackBerry is out of the top five. Android is the top OS, gaining nearly half a point. Apple and Windows Phone also gained modestly.
I was surprised not to see more of a bump for the iPhone given all the discussion of iPhone sales momentum. However it hasn't really materialized in comScore's data.
In the US Windows Phone share is 3.2%, growing but very small. By contrast, in Europe, Windows Phones now enjoy a 10% share across the EU5 (driven by UK, France and Italy) according to Kantar survey data.
Windows Phone's success in Europe is due almost entirely to Nokia and it's continued brand strength, which doesn't equally exist in North America. Nokia sells the overwhelming majority of Windows Phones globally, which is why Microsoft bought the company -- also to prevent it from starting to make Android handsets.
That largely defensive acquisition has now been approved by US regulators, with European regulatory authorities likely to follow and permit the transaction.
There was an initial surprise yesterday that Apple had sold 9 million iPhones over the weekend. Since the smoke cleared, however, there has been considerable "day two" analysis of those sales. Mobile analytics firm Localytics, for example, has done a geographic breakdown of global activations and traffic iPhone 5s and 5c devices in the past 72 hours.
According to the company's analysis, the majority of overall new iPhone sales have been in the US, followed by Japan and the UK.
Though a still small market for the iPhone in absolute sales, China is significant in that the Chinese seem to be buying the 5s in much higher numbers than the 5c. This is something of a suprise considering that the price of the 5s in China exceeds $800. The now sold out gold version is selling on the grey market, according to several reports, for more than double that.
In the US, roughly 3 out of every 4 iPhones sold is a 5s. Internationally, Localytics says that more than 80% of new iPhones sold are 5s devices.
Our survey, conducted a week ago among 1,500 US adults, correctly predicted high demand for the 5s as well as the 5s to 5c ratios.
What's interesting is that even in the face of massive weekend sales, the perceived weakness of the 5c is keeping Apple's stock down and fuelling the bearish Apple-investor narrative that the company has lost its old magic.
Perhaps surprising was that of the eight countries where the most iPhone 5s’ or 5c’s were sold, the highest ratio of preference for the 5s wasn’t in the United States or Japan; leading the pack is actually China.
One possible explanation: there was a lot of hoopla around the addition of the gold-colored iPhone 5s as a very attractive addition in particular for Asian markets so this hypothesis may hold true. Keep in mind the gold-colored version is only available on the 5s, not the 5c.
Other major markets also had a very high ratio of the 5s vs. the 5c. In fact, the only country that didn’t have at least a 3 to 1 ratio of the 5s vs. the 5c was the United Kingdom. With the economy in the UK still in recovery, a slightly less strong affinity for the 5s could be the result of a more cost-conscious buyer. Subsidies also play less of a role in the UK’s phone market than in the US, making the upfront cost of phones higher for consumers. Globally the iPhone 5s represented 78% of all of the new iPhone 5s and 5c devices; 76% in the U.S. and 82% in the rest of the world.
One possible reason why more iPhone 5s’ were sold was because of the tendency of hardcore apple users wanting to buy the top of the line iPhone on the weekend it was released. It will be interesting to see if the 5c can pick up a bit of momentum in the next few weeks.
iPhone 5s & 5c Adoption by Country
Overall, the United States accounts for 68% of all active iPhone 5s and 5c devices worldwide, with Japan in second place with 13% of 5s and 5c’s.
- See more at: http://www.localytics.com/blog/2013/china-leads-the-pack-in-preference-for-iphone-5s-over-5c/#sthash.tVuxOsR6.dpuf
Samsung is the undisputed ruler of the Android roost. On a global basis it's the dominant handset OEM and there's no real challenge in sight -- other than the iPhone. Samsung continues to eclipse fellow Android manufacturers LG, HTC and Google's own Motorola in terms of sales and market share.
In that context one might expect Samsung to dominate Android-based advertising. Indeed it does. Mobile ad platform Velti has released data that show that Samsung mobile devices see nearly 70% of all Android ad impressions in the US market. This refers to display advertising but it probably extends to search impressions as well.
However on the tablet side, Samsung is second behind Amazon in the US market. There Samsung has had much less success and has yet to product a breakthrough device -- although its Note "phablet" has done well.
The following chart shows Android market share by ad impressions.
Yet when it comes to ad impressions on tablets the iPad and iPad Mini control more than 95% of the market according to Velti's network data. Chitika, another mobile ad network, puts the iPad's traffic share at about 82%, significantly lower though still dominant.
There has been some "cannibalization" of the iPad by its younger and smaller sibling. The Mini is less expensive and has lower margins than the iPad. Indications that the larger iPad's sales have declined in favor of the Mini have, to some degree, contributed to investor anxiety about today's Apple earnings (coming up shortly) .
Move over TV, your time at the top of the media hierarchy is coming to and end -- at least outside the US. Last week ad network InMobi released its Q4 "insights" report. The document is based on survey data drawn from more than 14,000 respondents in multiple countries around the world. However many questions don't include answers from US and UK mobile users.
The "big finding" is that around the world (US, UK excluded) time with mobile has surpassed TV. In fact time with mobile beats all other media channels. The chart below reflects aggregate findings from 12 countries, though not the US and UK.
The survey also discovered that 62% of respondents "engage in mobile activity" during TV watching. Accordingly TV ads in general see diminished attention because of mobile (beyond ad skipping). However this also represents an opportunity for marketers to use mobile devices to measure their TV ads' effectiveness or to generate concrete actions in response to TV ads.
Another "big" finding is that internet users are now going online through mobile devices in numbers equal to the PC internet or primarily use mobile to go online. This phenomenon is most pronounced in developing markets, as one might imagine. But it's also true in the US according to the InMobi data.
According to the survey 38% of US respondents "mostly" use mobile to go online. This finding (and others) may well be biased because the survey respondents were found through the InMobi ad network: "Recruited via InMobi global mobile ad network between August and November 2012." This is therefore going to tend to be a more mobile-centric audience than the US internet population as a whole.
Another interesting result, this respondent pool says that it rarely clicks ads unintentionally. In contrast to some of the estimates and data floating around in the market (e.g., 40% of mobile ad clicks are "inadvertent") only a small minority said that mobile ad clicks were mistaken more than 10% of the time.
Though these findings may not be entirely representative of internet users or perhaps even US mobile users as a whole they're still striking in multiple ways.
Back to the TV vs. mobile time spent: most marketers' ad spending and behavior fails to recognize the profound shifts in the market captured by and reflected in these data. The idea that mobile now dominates TV in terms of time spent or that mobile captures attention from TV even during TV time will be unsettling -- if not shocking -- to most brand marketers.
And most right now will have no idea what to do about it.
I've written here and elsewhere about the fact that Samsung is increasingly the dominant global Android OEM. Samsung has ridden the Android wave to huge profits and near-global domination of the smartphone market. However the company is ambivalent about Android.
As Benedict Evans points out Samsung isn't promoting the Android brand and doesn't really mention Android in its multi-billion dollar "Next Big Thing" marketing campaign. Accordingly Evans contends that Samsung's Galaxy brand has greater recognition than Android itself. This conclusion is based on Google Trends search data, which may or may not be accurate as a reflection of actual brand recognition or demand.
There's plenty of other evidence in the market to support Evans' argument, however, including the above Android OEM comparison chart from ad network Millennial Media. Another data set from AppBrian also supports the same conclusion:
With the possible exception of Huawei all the other Android OEMs are in decline (re market share) including and especially HTC, which is shifting its strategy to focus on emerging markets because it can no longer compete effectively in North America and Europe.
What happens when Samsung so totally dominates the Android landscape that it can start using that leverage against Google or creating its own "forked" version of Android independent of Google (as Amazon has done with Kindle Fire)? That's presumably why Google is working on the "X-phone" through Motorola -- to try and create a viable rival to the Galaxy. But will Google be willing to go toe-to-toe with "partner" Samsung in terms of marketing dollars?
No is the short answer. Samsung reportedly spends roughly $12 billion annually on marketing its mobile devices. That fact alone makes it hard for any other Android OEM, even Google-Motorola, to compete. Only Apple is really in a position to compete with Samsung.
The battle between Apple and Android is quickly turning into a face off between Apple and Samsung as the latter obliterates all other Android competitors. This morning Samsung announced massive Q3 profit, while IDC estimated that the Korean conglomerate had shipped just under 57 million smartphones in the quarter.
By comparison Apple sold just under 27 million iPhones in its fiscal Q4, which ended September 30.
A noteworthy aside related to the chart above, Nokia is gone from the ranks of the top global smartphone vendors.
In contrast to Samsung, HTC, which had been one of the early leaders with Android, is now really struggling. The company saw a nearly 50% decline in revenue for Q3. In part because it's getting squeezed out of the Android market by Samsung's success, HTC has turned its attentions back to Windows in an effort to diversify revenues.
However, unless or until Windows Phones start to gain share, the smartphone landscape is really about Apple and Samsung. Everyone and everything else is just an "also-ran."
Former Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker just did one of her famous data dumps at the D10 conference. The 100+ slide deck is a discussion of "Internet trends." However I just want to focus on three slides.
The first shows that mobile Internet traffic in India just this month has surpassed PC Internet traffic. This is a trend that will replicate itself in markets all over the globe as time goes on. It will take longer for this to happen in developed countries than developing markets but it will happen.
Marketers are going to be shocked by this as in market after market the PC Internet will become subordinate to mobile.
The second slide shows that CPM rates in mobile are much less than on the PC. This is bad news for everyone except advertisers as more users migrate to mobile devices for much of their Internet usage.
However compare our recent ad network test, which showed that the local networks (xAd, LSN) were able to command a much higher CPM.
This shows us that premium or highly targeted mobile inventory will be able to deliver PC-like, or potentially higher, CPMs.
The final Meeker slide I wanted to discuss is one of those familiar monetization vs. time spent slides. Flurry Analytics has a good one as well. Meeker points out a potentially $20 billion digital advertising opportunity over time, as PC usage migrates and ad spending catches up to consumer usage.
The "X variable" is time, however. The logic is sound but the timeframe is less certain.
It took many years for the PC Internet to start to equalize time spent and digital ad spend. Mobile is evolving faster than the PC Internet but it may well be several years before mobile advertising begins to approach user engagement/time spent levels.
Clearly what's going on right now is that advertisers are not valuing mobile impressions as much as PC impressions. In fact mobile impressions are much more valuable than PC impressions -- for both awareness and direct response.
As mobile becomes the primary Internet access vehicle for many more people marketers will be compelled to wake up, and competition should intensify for mobile ad impressions, especially well targeted impressions. In the interim it's a buying opportunity for smart marketers who right now can get high quality eye balls at a fraction of the cost of the PC Internet.
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) announced earlier today that it will buy Amobee for $321 million. Amobee, which is based in Silicon Valley, will remain intact and headquartered there. The acquisition is a bid to become a global player in mobile advertising and generate new sources of revenue, at a time when traditional telco (even wireless) carrier revenues are flattening and even stagnating.
Rather than a mobile "ad network," Amobee is a mobile advertising marketplace not unlike Velti.
SingTel has an office in Silicon Valley and has been making investments in US companies for some time.
Along with the acquisition, SingTel announced that the company would be reorganized into three groups, focused on consumers, "digital life" and communications technology. SingTel has mobile customers in 25 countries. It also has 36 offices in 19 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States. The company claims over 400 million subscribers globally.
It's becoming clear that "shipments" is a bogus metric that obscures whether products are actually selling to consumers. Accordingly it shouldn't be used to measure market share. Sales to consumer-end users is really the only valid market-share metric. Yet IDC, Strategy Analytics, Canalys and others persist in reporting "shipments." These numbers are easier to measure and capture than actual sales.
But OEMs can also manipulate the perception of market share by reporting "shipments." For example Samsung misrepresented their tablet sales by reporting "shipments." So did RIM. And Microsoft also did this early on with Windows Phone "shipments" to show momentum that had yet to really develop. And there are many other such examples.
It fair to say that in many cases there is a positive correlation between shipments and sales for popular products. However as the examples above suggest it's not always true. Samsung claimed 1 million Galaxy Tab (7") shipped but popular reports put actual sales at well below 100,000 units.
One of the big stories today is Samsung becoming the world's top smartphone vendor. That may well be true; Samsung has had enormous success with Android and it's the leading Android OEM in North America and now globally. According to numbers released by Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped nearly 28 million handsets in Q3 vs. 17 million for the iPhone.
The only problem is that's an "apples to oranges" comparison. Apple actually sold 17+ million iPhones in the quarter (vs. shipped). Recently Strategy Analytics, using the same "shipped" methodology, incorrectly estimated tablet market share.
As tablet OEMs release their dismal numbers we're seeing just how off "shipments" can be as an indicator of true penetration. Accordingly hardware tracking firms should shift to a consumer-sales metric rather than the more manipulable and opaque "shipped" concept.
Having said all that I don't doubt that Samsung is selling millions of smartphones and may indeed have taken the top spot from Apple. We just don't know how many the company actually sold.
Another piece of interesting information related to Samsung Android sales involves the amount of patent-licensing fees that may be changing hands. I was told (caveat: double hearsay) that Samsung is now paying Microsoft $18 per Android handset in IP licensing fees. This is in contrast to the widely reported $15 figure. Eighteen dollars is apparently the same amount that HTC pays, according to the same source, while other Android vendors are paying less.
I don't know if all this is accurate information, but I was surprised by the relatively high $18 per handset figure. This is pretty close to what I understand Microsoft charges for its own Windows Phone license. As a colleague of mine remarked, "this is the best business model I can imagine." And if we assume that about 85% of Samsung's smartphone "shipments" are Android handsets (that may be conservative) and Microsoft is getting $18 per unit that means the company would have made approximately $414 million in Q3 on Samsung Android handsets alone. Impressive.
Nokia has bet the farm in Espoo, so to speak, on Windows Phones. It has seen steadily declining smartphone share in North America and outside the US over the past several quarters. Nokia's biggest markets are now the BRIC developing nations. The company is hoping to reverse the trend with a combination of Microsoft's OS and bold design. (The compelling looking N9 isn't coming to the US or Europe apparently.)
However it may be tough to reverse the slide. Yesterday comScore reported US smartphone market share numbers. Symbian, which is being phased out, continues to see share losses. Yet so does Microsoft despite its new OS, which many have praised.
It's not as clear what's happening in Europe, where there are indications of greater consumer uptake of Windows Phones. But so far people aren't buying them in North America and the US in particular.
Mango, the forthcoming Windows Phone software update, offers a range of new features and improvements, though arguably not enough to dramatically advance Windows Phones vs. Android and iOS. So it's quite possible that the first "Nokisoft" phones that show up later this year in Q4 will not fly off the shelves. Pricing will be a key factor, however, and looms large in the initial sales strategy.
I'm betting that the first Nokisoft phones will see modest success -- I would be very surprised if they were a blockbuster hit out of the gate -- but it's also possible that they'll fall completely flat with consumers and disappoint expectations, which are very high. (Nokia will have to carefully manage investor and market expectations.) If they under-perform expectations you'll see investors go crazy and punish both Microsoft and Nokia, but especially Nokia.
Investors will give Nokia roughly two quarters to show traction with the new handsets. If Nokia's gambit doesn't pay off the company may go on the block. All this remains to be seen of course; but the stakes couldn't be higher.
What Nokia probably should have done, but was probably precluded from doing by its contract with Microsoft, is to embrace both Android and Windows Phones as well as continue developing MeeGo with Intel. The company walked away from MeeGo, much to the surprise of Intel, though the N9 is the first and (apparently) only MeeGo phone. And it declined to work with Google for fear of becoming a "commodity producer" of Android devices.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is of course a former Microsoft employee; some people accused him of being a "Trojan Horse" for Microsoft. But he said several times that he saw a better opportunity for differentiation by working with Microsoft. But by doing so he's limited Nokia's options and outlook if Windows Phones don't entice consumers.
To use a US baseball metaphor: it's two outs, bottom of the 9th. Nokisoft needs to hit a double, if not a home run.
Mobile ad network inMobi released new findings based on data gathered from its global mobile ad network. Among other things, the company reports the comparative market shares of mobile operating systems and handsets on its network.
In addition inMobi said that in-app ads grew faster in April than mobile web advertising: "Commenting on the study, James Lamberti, VP Global Research & Marketing at InMobi, says: "Following the global smartphone revolution, 'in-application' advertising continues to outpace mobile web ad growth."
Below are inMobi's market share charts, with the US market represented in the second chart.
Nearly 10% growth in iPhone share in the US was driven by the introduction of the Verizon iPhone. Other data from IDC, comScore, Nielsen and others have confirmed a similar lift for the Apple handset. Here are comScore's March smartphone data for comparison purposes:
What's the principal difference between the comScore data and inMobi's numbers? ComScore's data are derived from consumer surveys, while inMobi's is based on ads and impressions served on actual handsets.
The most appealing device in the Samsung "tablet" lineup may be its 5" "Galaxy Player" introduced at CES this year. I had read about it but hadn't seen one until yesterday. In fact I saw the full array of Samsung tablets at AppNation. (The Galaxy Player is on the left in the picture below.)
The larger tablets are much less appealing than the iPad, both in terms of hardware and software. The 7" Galaxy Tab is somewhat appealing because of its more portable "on the go" form factor. But I was surprised how drawn I was to the 5" device.
Supposedly an iPod touch competitor the WiFi Galaxy Player looks like a giant Galaxy S Android phone but the additional screen real estate offers a better user experience than comparable Samsung smartphones. It can also still fit "in your pocket" in a way that even the 7" device cannot.
My belief is that if it were to be made into a phone it would be the perfect all-in-one device, with a larger screen for apps and internet use but small enough to still functional effectively as a phone. (With a data plan one could use Skype as the phone.)
I was unable to get any pricing information out of the Samsung representatives I spoke to. However pricing is going to be a mess for the company with so many tablet devices. Ultimately perhaps only two or three sizes will survive and the others will fall away for lack of demand/sales.
If the 5" device were priced below $200 and marketed properly it could become very successful and could become a true challenger to the iPod Touch.
Ad network InMobi released its latest Mobile Insights Report: Global Edition March 2011. Based on 31.9 billion monthly impressions generated by 220 million consumers, the latest report shows phones running the Android OS overtaking Apple's iPhone. This is consistent with most other data in the market.
The report continues to show Nokia as the global smartphone leader but, like other sources, indicates a decline in its overall share. Strikingly, InMobi says "Nokia lost -3.9 share points in just 90 days, while Samsung (+1.6 share pts), Apple (+1.9 share pts) and HTC (+2.8 share pts) gained share."
Another striking data point: "35% of all mobile ad impressions now occur on smartphones."
In North America, as with the Millennial data just released this morning, the Verizon iPhone has helped Apple but that has not been enought to slow Android's momentum. But for quarter, according to InMobi, Apple's growth outpaced Android's in North America. RIM also grew.
Globally Android, iOS and RIM grew while others declined according to the report. Below, compare the most recent IDC numbers (global estimates for year-end 2011) and those from comScore (US) representing the most recent quarter.
The IDC numbers for Android above are quite aggressive vs. what InMobi show. IDC's numbers are projections based on existing sales and additional assumptions about future consumer purchase behavior. ComScore's data are based on consumer surveys.
Mobile ad network InMobi today released its "Mobile Insights Report: Global Edition January 2011." The report effectively covers all major regions of the globe and there's a trove of data from each continent. I'll focus only on North America and global data.
The company reports that smartphones now represent 36% of global ad requests on the InMobil publisher network, up from 24% -- just three months ago. Most of that growth has been driven by Android. But most ad requests (84%) are coming from mobile Web vs. apps (16%).
Unlike in the US where Android is now the top smartphone platform, Nokia and Apple outstrip Android on a global basis. However Android's growth is much greater than that of the iPhone and Nokia is declining by almost as much as Android is growing.
In North America operating system share appears like this to InMobi:
InMobi explains that Android has gained 21 share points in just three months to become the largest OS in North America.
These numbers are not an absolute reflection of market share but what InMobi sees in terms of handsets and operating systems making ad requests. In terms of individual handsets, the iPhone continues to dominate on InMobi's network globally and in North America.
Global device share:
North American device share:
It's clear from the totality of all the available data that Android's gains are coming through the sheer number of devices in the market. Windows isn't on the radar for InMobi in North America. And RIM appears to be getting overwhelmed by the Android onslaught.
Friday Google released AdMob data showing 2010 growth and ad distribution by region for the Google mobile display network. The largest region is North America (dominated by the US), followed by Asia and Western Europe.
According to IDC's most recent estimates mobile display is not as big a revenue source as mobile paid search for Google. Here are the estimated US mobile display ad market share figures (minus search dollars):
The following are the AdMob charts showing 2010 growth by region:
Facebook is the top free iPhone app of "all time" (so far). The site is also the top site or the number two site in most countries around the world according to Opera's regular reporting. The company has more than 200 million mobile users who are the most active of Facebook's more than 600 million global members. According to the most recently published public numbers from the social network:
Facebook also operates the "0.facebook.com" site to reach users on non-smartphones. But yesterday Facebook announced a new feature-phone app from Snaptu. The idea is to drive global penetration and usage even further, recognizing the strategic importance of mobile to the future of the business.
Smartphones will be in the majority in the "West" across the board at some point in the next five years. But around the world, inexpensive feature phones or not-quite-smartphones will remain dominant for the foreseeable future. This new app will help provide a better user experience than the 0.facebook mobile Web/Wap experience.
Simultaneously Facebook is reportedly working with mobile-handset manufacturer INQ Mobile Ltd on a couple of Android-based quasi-branded smartphones. Facebook also recently launched Connect and single sign-on for mobile phones. In short the company is trying to penetrate and conquer the entire mobile ecosystem from top to bottom, from apps to hardware.
What it doesn't (yet) have is mobile advertising. This will come without question. And when it does, Facebook will be largest mobile ads network/platform on the globe.
Now that AdMob is part of Google we're not getting the great monthly data and reports that we used to see from the company. But Google has just put out some new data on impression growth. The headline (literally) is that AdMob is seeing 2+ billion ad requests per day (on a global basis).
Google previously said that it had a $1 billion mobile advertising run rate. I did a quick analysis of how that billion might break down, assuming that mobile ad revenues were distributed along the same lines as paid-search revenue generally speaking.
IDC's revised US mobile ad numbers show Google as totally dominant over the rest of the field in terms of market share.
These figures below include search, which is 56% of mobile ad revenue in the US according to the firm. Almost none of the competing mobile ad networks and platforms have search ad revenue, which is why it's so lopsided in Google's favor. Just looking at display the IDC numbers look somewhat more balanced:
Samsung has reportedly sold more than 10 million "Galaxy S" Android handsets globally (in seven months), according to several reports. The company is selling roughly 1.4 million units per month. The largest market is North America, followed by Europe and South Korea.
Late to the smartphone party, Samsung is on pace to become the dominant Android OEM globally. Motorola would seem to be the most vulnerable of the OEMs to the Korean electronics giant's Android gains.
Below are the most recent global and US OEM sales and market share figures according to Gartner and comScore:
Of course the Consumer Electronics Show is this week and we're going to see lots of Android devices. Verizon is set to announce the first 4G Android handsets for its LTE network. There will also apparently be a million and one Android tablets on display, from Lenovo, Toshiba, Motorola, Vizio and others.
As with Android handsets it will be a battle to differentiate on hardware features and price. Most of the new Android tablets will run Honeycomb, making the Samsung Galaxy Tab obsolete unless it gets the software upgrade. (Samsung says it has sold 1.5 million Galaxy Tabs, largely because of the smaller form factor; the UX is mediocre compared to the iPad.) One thing to keep an eye out for is sub-$200 tablets of reasonable quality.
The Verizon iPhone apparently won't be announced at CES and will instead be presented at a special Apple press event in February. At that time the company may also introduce its anticipated iPad 2 to respond to the Android tablet tsunami.
We're not attending CES and because it's such a "noisy" show, we'll only be selectively reporting on announcements coming out of it.
The iPad is a great device but for true "mobility" it's arguably too large. The smartphone, for others, is too small for many tasks such as watching video, reading news or ebooks -- especially after doing these things on an iPad. What's the solution? The "Goldilocks" form factor, which provides usability and mobility, may well be the 7-inch tablet.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs attacked the 7" as too small and too big simultaneously. Conceptually he may be right but the apparent popularity of the Galaxy Tab suggests there are a lot of people looking for a larger screen (vs. a smartphone) in a more mobile unit. Tech publication eWeek reported that maker Samsung said that a million units have been sold since the recent launch of the Tab.
My brief experience with the Galaxy Tab in a store in London revealed to me that it offers much weaker user experience than the iPad. Not all agree however. But my belief is that the smaller form factor is driving sales, rather than the particulars of this device. The user experience, like Android more generally, is "good enough" but the smaller form factor is attractive to many people.
The RIM/BlackBerry Playbook is also 7 inches. The Playbook isn't out yet but it promises to be a credible competitor in the tablet market. There are many other 7-inch tablets coming as well. Acer, in particular, is launching 5 inch, 7 inch and 10 inch models.
The 5-inch Dell Streak, a non-phone connected device, is unlikely to succeed because it's expensive and not sufficiently differentiated from a smartphone. Indeed, five inches is probably too small for a tablet, unless it's also a phone, and anything larger than the iPad is too large. The dual-screen version of tablet-textbook Kno, for example, is likely to fail because it's too large and cumbersome.
My guess, however, is that the 7-inch form factor will take hold. So we'll have a range of smartphone sizes, topping out at about 5 inches, and two viable tablets sizes: 7 inches and roughly 10 inches. Apple will then be forced to confront whether it wants to build an "iPad Nano" or cede the market to others.
With many smug spinmeisters and pundits proclaiming that the "smartphone wars" are over (with Apple and Google as winners), a new survey from GfK (n=2,653 mobile users in UK, US, Brazil, Germany, Spain and China) suggests a much more fluid marketplace.
The survey found that as many as 75% of current smartphone users are open to changing or will change mobile OSs when they get new phones. Overall only 25% were loyal to their existing OS. Analysis of the findings argues that consumers are "keeping options open" as new smartphones come out on a seemingly weekly basis. This is particularly acute on the Android platform.
The frenzy of releases and the fast-changing nature of the device market has likely created the "disloyalty" reflected in the survey data. However I would caution that the sample sizes break down and become very small on an individual country basis.
Among individual operating systems, the survey found that loyalty was highest to the iPhone (59%) and lowest for Microsoft (21%). Android and Nokia didn't fare much better (at 28% and 24% respectively). RIM saw 35% of BlackBerry users saying they would likely stay on the platform.
Earlier this year Nielsen found that the iPhone had slightly higher levels of loyalty than Android. But these findings showed much higher loyalty levels for both platforms and especially Android. Indeed, these US-only findings are dramatically different than those from the GfK survey.