What makes Onavo’s AppRank chart so interesting is the sharp contrast it reveals compared to download charts. AppRank tells us what portion of iPhone owners use an app during a month; it describes actual engagement rather than how many consumers have downloaded an app. This is a crucial distinction, because consumers quickly lose interest in most apps they download, yet certain apps with small download volumes turn out to be highly addictive. The most important low-volume, high-engagement app cluster right now consists of new messaging apps gaining serious traction. Both Viber and Kik are hitting 5% engagement levels in America and are growing rapidly. More →
Soon after its IPO, Zynga’s share price spiked above $15 in early 2012. Very little has gone right since then. Just last month, Zynga issued yet another warning and its share price now hovers just above $3. On Thursday, Zynga’s latest flagship game, Draw Something 2, dropped out of iPhone’s top-10 paid app chart after having spent only six days there. The original Draw Something spent nearly three months on the iPhone’s top-10 chart in early 2012. More →
Cor Blimey — beginning on Wednesday, British consumers are staring at a huge 63% price cut of the cheapest Nook eReader. The Nook Simple Touch price has plunged to £29 from £79. The Glowlight version has dropped to £69 from £109. This is not a permanent price cut, but a part of the Get London Reading literacy campaign. Nevertheless, the move is eye-popping. More →
A month ago, Nokia was surfing a wave of enthusiasm in Asia. The cheap Windows Lumia 620 and Lumia 520 models both debuted in the top 5 of India’s biggest web retailer, Flipkart. Just four weeks later the situation has changed dramatically. Nokia has just one Lumia left in the top 10 chart of Flipkart and both the 620 and the 520 have crashed out of top 10. One major problem: The low-end Android vendors are now offering truly nutty value for money. Nokia’s Lumia 620 is supposed to be an attractively priced budget model at 14,000 rupees ($260) without carrier subsidies, or about half the price of high-end Samsung smartphones. The Lumia 520 is supposed to be deep value at 10,000 rupees ($186).
But the Micromax Ninja A89 now features a 4-inch screen and 1 GHz dual-core processor and sells for just 6,500 rupees ($121). Under pressure from Micromax and Karbonn, Samsung has dropped the price of its Galaxy S Advance to 14,000 rupees ($260), and this gets you a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen and a 5 megapixel primary camera. Nokia simply has not been able to keep pace with the price aggression of Asian Android vendors this spring.
The problem is not limited to Lumia models because Nokia’s Asha range of premium feature phones is clearly caught in a similar vise. The relatively fancy Asha 306 has plunged out of Flipkart top 50 over the past couple of months. It offers a 3-inch display and a 2 megapixel camera for under 4,000 rupees ($75), which was a decent deal last summer. But now there are real Android smartphones like the Karbonn A1 offering a 3.5 inch screen and a 3-megapixel camera for the same price.
Why would a budget buyer with 4,000 rupees opt for a Nokia budget phone if the alternative is an Android smartphone with a bigger screen and a camera with higher specs for the same price? The answer used to be quality. It is widely known that vendors like Karbonn and Micromax offer suspect photo quality and often sub-optimal software performance. But that argument seems to be losing its power as Android price points continue heading south.
The Lumia 720 is still the No. 1 phone at Flipkart. But in the budget category where Nokia has pinned its hopes for volume growth in 2013, both low-end Lumias and Asha models are withering under the brutal price offensive from Android specialists. Over the coming months, Nokia simply has to come up with a new strategy. Either introduce a cheaper new Lumia range or drop the prices of the 620 and the 520 rapidly and aggressively. The current formula is not working.
Perhaps the most fascinating trend in App Annie’s new March statistics is the transformation of the Google Play Android app store into a messaging app distributor. No fewer than three out of four biggest revenue generators in the non-game app chart are now messaging apps; LINE at No.1, WhatsApp at No.3 and KakaoTalk at No.4. The iPhone’s non-game revenue chart is a bit lighter on messaging app but still features LINE at No.1 and WhatsApp at No.8. More →
It is difficult for big tech companies to create hot apps. Very difficult. A few months ago, Nokia’s mapping app called HERE created a big media splash when it launched, becoming a top-5 iPhone app the day after it debuted. It then tumbled out of top-100 in just six days. Twitter’s much-hyped music app annoyingly titled “Twitter #music” managed to cling onto a top-100 position 96 hours longer — it dropped out on its tenth day. More →
The latest Kantar smartphone report had many interesting tidbits about Windows Phone and iOS market share trends, but perhaps the biggest bombshell was buried in the section about U.S. mobile carriers. T-Mobile’s share of U.S. smartphone sales has collapsed to 9.5% from 12.7% in just a year. At the same time, Sprint’s share has climbed to 12.3% from 11.0% over the same time period. This means that in 1Q 2012, T-Mobile still held a narrow lead over Sprint when it came to smartphone sales in America; by 1Q 2013, Sprint had surged to lead T-Mobile by nearly three points. More →
The latest data from analytics firm Flurry research shows that mobile apps are now used by more than 50 million people in America during the most hectic period of the day. And that moment is at 8:00 p.m. — smack in the middle of TV’s prime time. On weekdays, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. is the stretch when mobile apps reach more than 50 million U.S. consumers. This happens to coincide with the time most big broadcast television shows air. It probably is no coincidence that while mobile app usage exploded between 2011 and 2013, the most important prime time shows started imploding. “American Idol” is now only a shadow of its former self; its audience collapsed to just 12 million people last Wednesday. “Survivor” has plunged below 10 million viewers. More →
For those who followed Nokia closely in the past decade, some of Tim Cook’s comments are starting to trigger a weird sense of dislocation. “Our competitors have made some significant tradeoffs in many of these areas to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these tradeoffs exist.” Is this Apple’s CEO in 2013 or Nokia’s CEO in 2007? The strongest parallel is in the weird way both companies started fighting the consumer preference for larger displays at the peak of their profitability… and then dug in as margins began eroding rapidly. More →
Nokia on Wednesday launched a WhatsApp phone that includes unlimited WhatsApp messaging rolled into the retail price. And the retail price is just $72. The Asha 210 has a dedicated WhatsApp button that gives instant access to the service. This is a bold move, since it effectively means the hardware is specifically designed to draw consumers away from SMS services, which are very lucrative for emerging market carriers. This move is the opening salvo in Nokia’s new bid to revive the flagging fortunes of its Asha feature phone line with new software features. More →
Apple’s March quarter shows an interesting reversal of certain key December quarter growth patterns: Asian growth outside of China was reignited with real vim, while growth in China is sputtering badly. Apple’s ability to beat both earnings and revenue estimates during the past quarter hinged largely on its big Asia Pacific growth recovery — the annualized revenue growth in Asia excluding China exploded to 26% from just 10% during the December quarter. More →
If iPhone sales volumes fall as low as some Wall Street analysts now expect during the spring quarter, the decline would actually be worse than the biggest disasters in mobile phone history, including Motorola’s post-RAZR crash in 2007 and Nokia’s collapse in 2012. Can it really be this bad or are analysts simply locked in a race to outpace the possible upcoming share price plunge? More →
It is hard not to admire Sanjay Jha’s cool genius in handling Motorola’s sale to Google. He leveraged Motorola’s old sales contacts in Asia and Latin America to push nondescript models into sales channel, creating an illusion of international traction during 2010 and early 2011. He created a shadow play of a healthy AT&T relationship, feeding expectations of substantial sales growth for Motorola’s business in the United States. For a brief time, Motorola seemed like a company in healthy shape. More →