Nielsen on Thursday ushered in a new era of mobile device usage reporting brought about by customer metering software installed on thousands of iOS and Android devices around the U.S. Rather than relying on survey results as is typical in the industry, Nielsen is now able to directly measure consumer behavior with its metering software — installed on consumers’ devices with their approval, of course — and report extremely accurate data. This first report examines Android owners’ usage of apps and the mobile Web, and finds that time spent using apps is roughly double time spent browsing the mobile Web. More interestingly, Nielsen found that the top-10 apps in the Android Market account for a whopping 43% of app usage on Android devices. “Despite the hundreds of thousands of apps available for Android, a very small proportion of apps make up the vast majority of time spent,” writes Don Kellogg, Director of Telecom Research & Insights, on Nielsen’s blog. The top-50 apps in the Market account for 61% of all usage, which means the overwhelming bulk of Android apps account for just 39% of app usage. Kellogg continued, “With 250,000+ Android apps available at the time of this writing, that means the remaining 249,950+ apps have to compete for the remaining 39 percent of the pie.” More →
Twitter on Wednesday took the wraps off a redesigned version of its mobile website that has already begun rolling out to select users. The new design, most agree, represents a marked improvement over the inefficient, cartoony mobile site design found on the company’s current mobile web app. Twitter’s mobile web redesign looks much more like its native iPhone app, which makes sense considering the company’s recent promise to create a more unified experience across platforms. We still far prefer native apps, of course, as web apps currently don’t have the same access to the plethora of APIs on various platforms that allow developers to build fluid, comprehensive apps. The new mobile site design is already being rolled out to “a small percentage” of Twitter users with Android phones, iPhones and iPod touch devices. Twitter says is will continue rolling out the new site to more users fitting that criteria in the coming weeks. More →
In tandem with its announcement that it will move to a paid subscription model for online content, The New York Times said Thursday that it will also begin to sell subscriptions for news content in its mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. As per Apple’s iTunes App Store terms, The New York Times will also have to fork over 30% of the revenues from each subscription sold. Users will be able to access the “Top News” content for free, but will have to subscribe for access to other stories. Eileen Murphy, spokesperson for the Times, told AllThingsD that content will also be available for Android devices, as well as BlackBerry smartphones, although it will not be selling subscriptions through those app stores. As we reported earlier, those viewing The New York Times content will be able to read 20 articles at no charge, and subscription plans will range from $15 to $35. The $35 option provides all access to digital content, although we also found that print subscriptions, which include full digital access, may save users some money each month. More →
FCC unsatisfied and troubled by Verizon Wireless' response regarding its ETF and $1.99 phantom data fee
In a scathing one page response, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn cut Verizon Wireless to its knees by saying the answers the wireless carrier provided in response to the FCC’s investigation were “unsatisfying and, in some cases, troubling.” The commissioner chided Verizon for the fluctuating rationale behind its early termination fee, which has been expanded to include not only the cost of the device itself but operating and retail costs as well. She pointed out that high voice and data costs already subsidize these business costs and the fees levied, especially those at the end of a contract, are not in the public’s best interest. Clyburn further condemned Verizon by stating that she was “alarmed” by these $1.99 phantom data fees and that Verizon can not just bury its head in the sand and ignore this issue by saying it does not exist. The letter concludes with a stern reprimand reminding Verizon Wireless that they should be “focusing primarily on developing innovative products, maintaining affordable prices, and providing excellent customer service”. Hear that Big Red? Clyburn also promises to discuss this issue in greater depth with her colleagues next year. That water in which Verizon Wireless is standing just got a little bit hotter. More →
Verizon Wireless responds to FCC complaint regarding its early termination fee and Mobile Web charges
On Friday afternoon, Verizon Wireless issued its response to the FCC complaint which investigated the carrier’s increased early termination fees for advanced devices and the spurious charges some customers incur when accidentally accessing the Mobile Web. As expected, Verizon defended the increased ETF and dismissed the accusation that it charges customers $1.99 for accidentally connecting to the Mobile Web. Verizon justifies its increased ETF by claiming that the fee is not limited to the recovery of the wholesale purchase price of the device. The fee is also necessary to partially offset the cost of running a smartphone network. There is a cost to sell the device (advertising, commission, store costs, device subsidy), a cost to technically support the device, and a cost associated with maintaining a broadband network. Verizon also reminds the FCC that the number of advanced devices is increasing and “the overall cost to the company for providing and supporting devices to customers at low up-front cost has increased substantially”. When asked why a person canceling in the 23rd month of a 24 month contract still has to pay a $120 ETF, Verizon responded by claiming that it “still incurs a financial loss from early terminations, even with the $350 ETF”. If the ETF was prorated to$0 at the end of the contract, Verizon would be forced to charge a higher starting ETF and customers would be worse off. When you consider what Verizon has said about its need to increase its ETF, also consider the fact that Verizon’s revenue from its data services grew to $4.1 billion in Q3 2009, up 48.1 percent and up 28.9percent on a pro forma basis. In the midst of all this talk about expenses, Verizon conveniently left that information out. Now that we have seen what Verizon thinks about its ETF, let’s examine what it said about its erroneous $1.99 Mobile web charges. Hit the jump for all the details. More →
The FCC has taken notice of Verizon Wireless’ new $350 early termination fee that applies to all advanced devices purchased after November 15th, 2009. The governmental agency sent an inquiry letter to Verizon Wireless asking them answer several questions regarding this increased fee. The questionnaire focuses on Verizon Wireless’ disclosure of the ETF to customers and the rationale behind the increase. The FCC also does the math and calculates that a customer with a $350 ETF will still have $120 fee remaining after 23 months into a 24 month contract. It then asks the loaded question, “If the ETF is meant to recoup the wholesale cost of the phone over the life of the contract, why does a $120 ETF apply?” Verizon also gets hit up about the $1.99 fee it charges customers for inadvertently accessing the Mobile Web, and is asked to explain the terms and conditions of such access. Naughty, naughty Verizon has until December 17th to provide its answers.
AdMob, a leading mobile ad service provider, issues mobile metrics and analysis each month and today it has released April data. Key points from AdMob’s press release:
- While Gartner estimated global smartphone sales represented 12 percent of total device sales in 2008, 35 percent of AdMob’s worldwide ad requests in April 2009 came from smartphones. This means that smartphones accounted for nearly 3 times more usage than their relative market share.
- The iPhone OS had 8 percent of the smartphone market, but generated 43 percent of mobile Web requests and 65 percent of HTML usage.
- The Android OS share of the smartphone market was less than 1 percent, but generated 3 percent of mobile Web requests and 9 percent of HTML usage.
- The Symbian OS had 52 percent of the smartphone market, but generated only 36 percent of mobile Web usage and 7 percent of HTML usage.
- Usage of mobile Web sites greatly out paces usage of HTML sites on smartphones running the Symbian and RIM Operating System (OS).
- 24 percent of US requests were made over a Wi-Fi network. The top five Wi-Fi devices in terms of usage were the iPhone, iPod touch, Sony PSP, HTC Dream (G1), and HTC Dash.
There are definitely some interesting takeaways here — the most interesting to us is actually the Symbian stat. Symbian has 52 percent of the market but generated only 7 percent of HTML usage. 7 percent! Conversely, the iPhone holds about 8 percent of the smartphone market but accounts for 65 percent of mobile HTML usage. Even Android, which accounts for 1 percent of smartphones worldwide, topped Symbian with 9 percent of HTML traffic.
The Webkit-based S60 browser is certainly capable of displaying HTML but as we’ve commented on numerous occasions, it’s clunky and slow. We really (REALLY) hope this will be a particular area of focus as the Symbian Foundation continues work on Symbian^2 because S60 5th Edition hardly addresses the issue. Oh and RIM, your browser is even worse… But you know this.
In all of the hubbub surrounding Google’s recent revival and transformation of GrandCentral, one of the greatest aspects of the service was lost in the fray by most — mobile access to google.com/voice. Along with a new web-based UI and a handful of awesome new features such as free SMS and voicemail transcriptions, Google introduced new mobile sites that provide on-device access to all of Google Voice’s core functions. Users now have access to inboxes (voicemail transcriptions and SMS, each with threaded view), contacts, settings and plenty more from just about any mobile phone with a browser. What’s more, calls can be initiated with one click using the “Quick Call” feature and users can even send SMS messages quickly and easily right from the homepage. Above, a couple of grabs from the iPhone-optimized mobile site show the layout and how accessible all of the features are. Below, you can see that other devices have access to an equally-useful mobile site:
Remember the great concept video of Firefox Mobile we showed you? The one that had us oh so excited for a Mozilla-powered browser experience on our mobiles? Well it might just be the most you see of the highly-anticipated mobile browser for quite a while unfortunately. According to The Register’s interpretation of some comments made by Mozilla Foundation Chairperson Mitchell Baker, Mozilla doesn’t plan to release its mobile browser product until 2010. That… would not be cool. While The Register’s post has spawned a great deal of chatter on the interwebs, it may all be the result of a misinterpretation. Let’s look at the mobile bullet points in Baker’s “Proposed 2010 Goals” post:
• have an effective product in the mobile market
• demonstrate that “mobile” is part of one, unified, open web
It is quite possible that “have an effective product in the mobile market” might not mean “release Firefox Mobile” as The Register seems to believe. Is it reasonable for a company to think that its virgin mobile browser offering can be released and become “effective” in the same year? We might argue that Mozilla is targeting next year for initial release and it might hope to have a more refined product that has a decent early market share by some time in 2010. Or are we just letting our hopes get the best of us? Either way, there is nothing concrete in The Register’s post so we’ll keep holding on to the dream that Mozilla will swoop down and save us from the horror that is [most] mobile browsing sometime in 2009.
[Via The Register]
If you didn’t see this coming, it might be time for a new pair of glasses. We know, we know – you’re as sick of reading about Chrome as we are. At the same time, the fact that Google is preparing to inject its own proprietary web browser into its mobile OS is pretty big news. Chromedroid? A quote from Sergey Brin, the Googliest of all Googlers:
Probably a subsequent version of Android is going to pick up a lot of the Chrome stack… My guess is we’ll have ‘Chrome-like’ or something similar
Short and sweet, but huge all the same. Google OS + Google browser = means web apps built on Google’s App Engine will be mobilized from the get-go. Imagine SaaS apps that work just as well on your desktop as they do on your mobile. Tasty indeed. While the initial release version of Android coming shortly to T-Mobile by way of the HTC Dream is not expected to ship with Chrome, it looks like early adopters already have a major update to look forward to.
Google has launched its new Gears Geolocation API for mobile and desktop browsers. Websites using this API can provide targeted information based upon your current location. The API determines your location using GPS or cell phone triangulation for cell phones and the IP address for desktop browsers. If you are in the UK, you can see the Gears Geolocation API in action on supported Windows Mobile devices at the European Travel site, lastminute.com, and the social discovery tool, Rummble. Point your mobile browser to m.lastminute.com or m.rummble.com, install the Gears application, and get your location based web content served up to you. Gears currently is only available for Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Mobile devices and for Firefox and Internet Explorer on the desktop. Expansion to include other devices and operating systems such as Android is expected. It is also free for both developers and users. All in all, not bad guys, not bad.
This, people, is a smart service. Schmap, provider of interactive online maps with guide and tourism info, has just pushed an innovative iPhone-friendly solution into public beta. The service allows users to quickly and easily publish iPhone-friendly contact details with a map on their websites. When we say “Quickly and easily” we mean it. First of all, no registration is required and the service is completely free. Secondly, the setup from beginning to end takes about two minutes. The user need only enter the contact details in a few form fields on the Schmap site, copy the resulting code and paste it onto their homepage. Done. The results will be completely invisible to most browsers but visit the site on an iPhone and bar will appear across the top of the screen. Tap it and you will be brought to a page with contact details; rotate the iPhone and a map will be displayed pointing you to the exact location of the business. Schmap also has plans to make the service S60, Android and BlackBerry-friendly in the near future, meaning that the same piece of code will yield properly-formatted results for each of the aforementioned platforms. No changes to the code currently in place will be required when the update comes around. The key challenge for Schmap of course will be getting exposure with less-web savvy retail business owners, restaurants, bars, etc so that they know the service exists. We wonder what other cool services could be added to websites in a similar no-registration, two minute-implementation way? For a sample of Schmap’s service in action, hit http://www.purefoodandwine.com from an iPhone.
[Via The Outsidr]