Category Archives: Mobile

The Microsoft Surface: Why I’d buy it

Microsoft announced a new device today called the Surface. I’d buy it immediately if it were available. Why?

1. I dont believe it is a tablet, although it can be used as one. I believe it falls into the same line as the Mac Book Air. Its a really thin notebook with a Z-height that’s simply awesome. Light and yet fully functional. I use my iPad purely for leisure – reading mostly and the kids use it for gaming. To get work done, I need a notebook. My current notebook’s pretty heavy and I’d love the ability to add a keyboard (which is what the surface does very well). So, out goes my notebook and its going to be replaced by the Surface.

2. I dont think the partners (HP, Dell, etc.) are going to get happy with Microsoft, because they’d now be competing with the device, but I also think MSFT is borrowing a leaf from the Google Android playbook. The Galaxy nexus was by far the best Android device I have used (Got it as a gift from my brother at Google), but Samsung Galaxy S II and S III (and the others like HTC) are pretty good as well. I think MSFT is creating a benchmark for what a great device running their software will look like.

3. My primary use of computing on the go is my mobile device. I tried the iPad, but its not suited for my style of intense use of documents, spreadsheets, presentations and some development. I need a notebook, but one that’s a lot less heavy and if I dont need the keyboard I want the option of using it as a leisure device as well – (as an iPad if you like).

I’d buy it and give away my notebook if it were available today.

The Internet trends report by Mary Meeker – some key insights

I enjoy Mary Meeker’s annual trends  reports, which summarize key mobile and Internet stats and puts them in context to tell a compelling story. Below is a link to the report, which makes for a great iPad reading late in the day.

KPCB Internet Trends 2012

Some key takeaways for me.

1. Even though India is ranked #2 in the Internet users added in 2012 metric, (most of whom are thanks to the mobile phone) it “feels” like a comparison of apples to oranges. Most Indian users with mobile Internet access dont use it is my gut feeling.

2. 3G is dramatically changing the landscape. 1.1B subscribers is more than critical mass.

3. Smartphones are at little less than 1B. Again an amazing stat, but considering the number of feature phones is at 5 B, there’s a lot of room for growth. Most interesting is that this might happen in the next 5 years. Imagine every person (or most everyone) having a phone that has a camera, GPS and Internet. It has the potential to *change* the news media industry dramatically. The #1 thing people do (besides email and call) on the phone is get news and information (weather, stock, sports, news) and #2 is play games – this is by # of minutes spent.

4. Mobile traffic is 10% of all Internet traffic. For some websites its close to 30% of their visits. Mobile first seems like a very smart strategy for consumer apps / sites.

5. Mobile monetization is driven (71%) by app purchases, and very little <30% by ads.

6. India Internet traffic from mobile is reaching the same number as desktop Internet traffic (April 2012). Not surprisingly CPM’s are lower on mobile than notebooks.

7. Newspaper ad revenues was surpassed by Internet in 2012 and the trend is heading towards digital at a very fast clip.

Absolutely awesome read on the before and after pictures.

I’d buy a facebook phone today

What if?

1. Every time someone called me on my phone I get all their details, some specific reminders of their recent interests, likes and dislikes and what they are thinking.

2. I get their photo, recent images and where they had recently been on vacation, so my conversations are more engaging.

3. I dont have to pay for Text messaging (SMS) fees to chat with them and instead use the phone’s messaging function and only pay for data (not voice).

P.S. I am still trying to figure out why so many folks like voice calls instead of text messages or email.

4. I can only share my photos with my existing friends and family (automatically), with no need to manually upload, sync, tag etc.

5. I only get calls from pre-selected folks in my friend list (who I have authorized) or from companies I have confirmed a liking or intention to work with. Others need to send me a “message” so I can add them to my list if desired.

That’s something I’d pick over a “regular” android or iPhone.

That’s possibly the facebook mobile phone.

I believe, (if it comes), facebook wont focus on a hardware device. Just a software OS (fBOS sounds good) that is manufactured by HTC, Samsung, Nokia and others.

How does mobile marketing change the spend on Paid, Owned and Earned Media?

If we were to revisit paid, owned and earned media and the impact on mobile marketing.

Most marketers are now building custom mobile applications (owned) for Android / iOs and will soon start to build them for Win Phone 7. Most are already ignoring the Symbian and Blackberry RIM.

During the days of television, print and radio paid was the choice of campaign spend, whereas earned was relatively small (less than 10%). Meaning, you paid for advertising alone and worked on your PR strategy to get your message out alternatively without paying for placement.

The days of the web changed that mix from only paid and earned to spending on your website (owned) which I think reduced the percentage of paid to 70% (from 90%) with 15% being spent on owned and earned slightly increasing to remaining constant.

With mobile applications being developed by marketers and social media engagement the owned portion of marketing spend is increasing even more to close to 25% of marketing budgets, and PR at a constant 15%, the spend towards paid media has further dropped to 65%.

The challenge with every marketer trying to develop their “owned” media channels is that they need

a) more resources (social media analysts & marketers and app developers) instead of campaign spend and

b) more “viral” techniques are being adopted to promote the owned properties.

Lets assume the viral techniques are getting more ineffective as more people try them.

Marketing budgets are increasing at a pace of about 5-7% annually for large companies and more marketers are being asked to spend more money on “owned media”.

What impact does this have on the future of marketing and more specifically mobile marketing?

1. I see the mobile advertising (both display and search) largely being used for promoting marketers “owned” applications – the main reason for that is the instant gratification that comes with an ad to download an application that possibly helps you more than just an ad for branding purposes. It is a lot more measurable.

2. I see many marketers being asked to “get more technical” and start building more “owned” properties since in the long run they are cost effective, easier to control and provide measurable value to the company.

3. Mobile ad networks such as inMobi, Google Admob, etc. will start to focus on helping marketers build, deliver and then promote these owned “applications and properties” since its in their best interest to get marketers to spend more money and make it a lot more accountable.

Update: Nick Burcher has written a book on this topic, and the except is available to review.

What if scenarios for mobile phones, devices and thoughts on MWC 2012

The mobile phone is fast becoming to 6 Billion people what the PC was to 2 Billion people – a communications device (voice and text), and entertainment unit (video, music, movies, news & information, gaming), a productivity tool (contacts, email, task manager and calendar), a gadget (camera, mobile wallet) and an Internet access unit (social networking, commerce, etc.).

First the mobile phone replaced the phone booth and the pager. Email has already replaced faxes and postal mail. Given that 27% of emails are read using the mobile phone (up from 20% the previous year). I wanted to speculate all the “devices” that the mobile phone threatens and might replace.

1. Camera – done mostly. The camera market will be largely relegated to SLR, while point and shoot will reduce in # of shipments. With the announcement of the 41MP camera by Nokia, we are now getting high resolution pictures taken by the phone. This will accelerate the downward trend that point and shoot cameras are seeing overall.

2. Television – In the last few months, I have seen more people using their phone to watch movies on planes than ever before. Previously they would either watch it on their laptop or a portable DVD player with an integrated display. I can still see the need for television for the large screen viewing experience with an integrated audio system, but with projectors built into phones, they might soon be used for short movies.

3. Game console – In 3-5 years with motion sensing and gesture recognition coming to mobile devices, and built in projection, I suspect most game consoles (Wii, XBox and Sony Playstation) will go the way of the SLR camera. Hard core gaming will be for the niche market, while casual gamers will use the mobile phone as their primary game entertainment device.

4. Radio – The primary use of radio is during commute. Specialized radio units I believe are already passe, so this unit is also mostly done with. I suspect most kids born today will not even know that stand alone radio units can be bought. They will be a “feature” on the phone as are calculators.

5. Car stereo – With 3G and integrated music output into the speakers of the car, this device will also be relegated to low-end cars alone. Imagine having a “separate” MP3 device just for your songs – bizarre in 3-5 years. Most likely the phone unit will snugly fit into a slot where it will be both charged and can power the music / radio within the car.

6. Projector – this is just starting to happen, and will take longer than 3 years, but with Samsung announcing the new integrated phone / projector unit (its a start), there will be possibly no longer a need to lug large projectors for quick presentations which don’t require high resolution projection.

7. Cash / Payments – This will take longer because of ID requirements than necessarily mobile commerce. The average wallet today contains a government issued ID, a security badge (company / employer issued), a debit card, one or two credit cards and some cash. The cash and credit card can be replaced within the next 5 years, but ID’s will take much longer if at all.

8. Access (Security) device or other forms of ID – I can see the possibility of employers issuing limited ID card applications that function both as an ID and an access unit. They are easier to destroy and manage (if the employee leaves the organization) and cheaper than physical cards. I can also see insurance companies quickly providing their ID for insurance etc. on an app within the device instead of a physical card.

9. Flashlight – useful in countries such as India where you have power outages in the night.

10. Business cards – surprisingly this is taking much longer than most people thought it would. You should be able to bump your business card to another phone regardless of whether they have different platforms. It will happen in 3-5 years, but the business card is going the way of the fax – niche, used sparingly to make a statement, but not pervasive.

11. Keys – This is a lot more tricky. Given typically most people have 3-4 keys – car, home (front / back) and some cases office, replacing these will take a lot longer. I dont see this happening in the next 5-10 years.

If your phone really replaces all these devices, you will need a cloud storage and security because nearly 25% of phone are lost / stolen / dropped in liquid each year. So you should be able to walk into a store, buy a new phone and “log into” your phone, similar to what an IP phone does already.

For women, who have a larger purse or handbag with other items such as a makeup kit or lipstick, I am surprised that phones dont offer that yet (although the Micromax Bling does offer a compact mirror).

Now that all items that you carry daily on your pocket will be mostly replaced by the mobile phone, I think the laptop bag or backpack is next.