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charlesarthur : mobile   187

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LG's Q2 smartphone sales continue to slow with 21% YoY revenue drop • 9to5Google
Ben Schoon:
<p>Announced in a press release today, LG has confirmed its second-quarter results with stronger sales for the company as a whole, but a 15.4% drop in overall operating income. In the mobile division specifically, though, the news wasn’t so great.

LG saw an increase between Q1 and Q2 of 2019, seeing sales of US$1.38bn. That’s an increase of 6.8% between the two quarters, but a drop of 21.9% compared to the same period in 2018. LG puts the blame on the overall stagnant demand and aggressive pricing from Chinese brands.

The mobile division also saw an operating loss of US$268.4m as it invests in relocating its smartphone production to Vietnam. LG says that it expects things to improve in Q3 with the “growing demand” for 5G smartphones as well as the introduction of “competitive mass-tier smartphones,” meaning we’ll likely see some mid-range devices this fall.</p>

LG is just shovelling money into a furnace there, and though it hasn't released its smartphone sales figures for about a year, but there's no reason to think they're increasing. Legacy players here are just throwing good money after bad.
lg  mobile  financial 
21 days ago by charlesarthur
New York City to consider banning sale of cellphone location data • The New York Times
Jeffery Mays:
<p>Telecommunications firms and mobile-based apps make billions of dollars per year by selling customer location data to marketers and other businesses, offering a vast window into the whereabouts of cellphone and app users, often without their knowledge.

That practice, which has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism in recent years, is now the subject of proposed legislation in New York. If passed, it is believed that the city would become the first to ban the sale of geolocation data to third parties.

The bill, which will be introduced on Tuesday, would make it illegal for cellphone companies and mobile app developers to share location data gathered while a customer’s mobile device is within the five boroughs.

Cellphone companies and mobile apps collect detailed geolocation data of their users and then sell that information to legitimate companies such as digital marketers, roadside emergency assistance services, retail advertisers, hedge funds or — in the case of a class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T — bounty hunters.

“The average person has no idea they are vulnerable to this,” said Councilman Justin L. Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat who is introducing the bill. “We are concerned by the fact that someone can sign up for cell service and their data can wind up in the hands of five different companies.”</p>

Just me, or is it madness that NYC is only the first, and that this is only "proposed" legislation which, the story says, will be strongly opposed by the ad tech industry "which has a strong presence in the city". Make their execs' location data public, let's see how they feel about it then.
security  location  mobile  nyc 
28 days ago by charlesarthur
Don't panic: Dixons Carphone's share price crashes 30% after statutory losses hit £329m • The Register
Paul Kunert:
<p>Consumers have generally moved from two-year contracts to SIM-only packages and more "flexible credit-based contracts", the firm reiterated. This changing mix led to Dixons' £440m goodwill write-down in December.

Group revenues for the year dropped 1 per cent to £10.443bn, and profit before tax was £298m compared to £382m a year earlier.

The big boss said today the pace of change in the mobile sector was happening more quickly than it had predicted, forcing the retailer to "move faster".

"We've renegotiated all our legacy network contacts, we're developing our new customer offer, and are accelerating the integration of Mobile and Electronics into one business," said Baldock.

Dixons had faced large penalties from the networks for falling short of "volume commitments". It is also broadening its choice of networks, and adding more SIM-only deals.

"This means taking more pain in the coming year, when Mobile will make a significant loss. But accelerating our transformation provides certainty that this year is the trough, as during next year the legacy contractual constraints on our Mobile business lift, and the integration costs benefits build," the CEO added.</p>

Shrinking mobile business (and the writeoff of goodwill means "it doesn't have any synergy after all"); this is the long slow ebb of Dixons, which used to be where you got all your PC gew-gaws, and Carphone Warehouse, from the days when fitting a mobile phone! In! Your! Car! was a thing.
Dixons  mobile  retail 
8 weeks ago by charlesarthur
The end of mobile • Benedict Evans
Benedict Evans notes that there are about 4bn smartphones in use, and surveys the broader market:
<p>the PC market, which has had flat-to-falling sales for the last few years, has something around 1.5bn active devices (including a bit over 100m Macs and a similar number running Linux of various kinds, and 800m running Windows 10, which was released 4 years ago), split roughly 50/50 consumer/enterprise. Quite which number you use depends on which analyst firm’s estimates you prefer, but they’re all in the same range.

What about tablets? Apple says 900m iPhones and ‘over 1.4bn’ total actives devices: if you subtract 200m Macs, Watches and Apple TVs combined that leaves about 300m iPads (again, this is consistent with historically reported unit sales) - 350m seems possible. Google’s numbers cited above imply something between 100m and 150m (I hesitate to be more precise given how rounded these numbers are). Non-Google Android tablets in China might be double that, or even more - here again the question of whether the device goes online to show up in the stats means it’s hard to make a firm estimate (I’m sure people will disagree with this one). But this means there are certainly over half a billion tablets in use.

So. There’s an old joke that the career of an analyst progresses from Word to Excel to Powerpoint. That’s pretty much what’s happened here over the last 20 years: first we discussed what might happen (“imagine if everyone had a phone!”), then we tracked the numbers of what was happening, and finally we draw diagrams and bullet points of what that means. That’s where we are now - we try to work out what it means that almost everyone has a phone or a smartphone (<a href="">I made a presentation about this</a>). 

But this also means that now we go back to the beginning: I’m not updating my smartphone model anymore. The next fundamental trends in tech, today, are probably machine learning, crypto and regulation. I can write about those, but it’s too early to make charts. </p>

Yup - I've long since stopped updating my many spreadsheet models. There's no drama about the industry itself. Outside it, well, that's different.
mobile  smartphone 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Apple promises privacy, but iPhone apps share your data with trackers, ad companies and research firms • The Washington Post
Geoffrey Fowler:
<p>You might assume you can count on Apple to sweat all the privacy details. After all, it touted in a recent ad, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” My investigation suggests otherwise.

IPhone apps I discovered tracking me by passing information to third parties — just while I was asleep — include Microsoft OneDrive, Intuit’s Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Washington Post and IBM’s the Weather Channel. One app, the crime-alert service Citizen, shared personally identifiable information in violation of its published privacy policy.

And your iPhone doesn’t only feed data trackers while you sleep. In a single week, I encountered over 5,400 trackers, mostly in apps, not including the incessant Yelp traffic. According to privacy firm Disconnect, which helped test my iPhone, those unwanted trackers would have spewed out 1.5 gigabytes of data over the span of a month. That’s half of an entire basic wireless service plan from AT&T.

“This is your data. Why should it even leave your phone? Why should it be collected by someone when you don’t know what they’re going to do with it?” says Patrick Jackson, a former National Security Agency researcher who is chief technology officer for Disconnect. He hooked my iPhone into special software so we could examine the traffic. “I know the value of data, and I don’t want mine in any hands where it doesn’t need to be,” he told me.

In a world of data brokers, Jackson is the data breaker. He developed <a href="">an app called Privacy Pro</a> that identifies and blocks many trackers. If you’re a little bit techie, I recommend trying the free iOS version to glimpse the secret life of your iPhone.</p>

Certainly worth a try. That's a dismaying lot of trackers (hellooo Washington Post, for which Fowler writes). Expect Apple to try to crack down on this in a future iOS release - though the US could try something like GDPR. I wonder what those apps do in Europe.
mobile  privacy  apps 
12 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Japan plans to create 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers as 5G era nears • The Japan Times
<p>The communications ministry plans to create for assignment some 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers starting with the code “020.”

With the commercialization of fifth-generation, or 5G, superfast mobile communications fast approaching, 11-digit numbers are expected to run out as early as fiscal 2022.

The plan to introduce the new numbers, by the end of 2021 at the latest, was proposed at a recent meeting of a panel of experts. It was accepted by the three major mobile phone operators — NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.

After hearing public comments, the ministry will draw up a report on the matter as early as June and make necessary preparations, including a ministerial ordinance, by the end of this year.

New numbers will be allocated to the major carriers early if they finish work to update their systems ahead of schedule.</p>

Hmm. Japan has twice the population of the UK, but it does make one wonder how full the UK's mobile number space (also 11 digits) is doing. The US, meanwhile, has three times Japan's population, and uses 10-digit numbers. Not sure how long that's going to last.
japan  mobile  numbering 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
The end of App Stores is rapidly approaching • OneZero
Owen Williams:
<p>t’s time to blow up the walled garden that keeps you locked into the products Apple and Google allow into their app stores. A new generation of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs), now taking root on desktop computers, may soon make the jump to your smartphone, changing how you download apps — and where they come from — forever.

An update in recent preview versions of Google Chrome, which enjoys 63% of the browser market share worldwide, hints at the potential here. Users can now install apps from sites simply by clicking a button that materializes in the URL bar, giving near-instant access to powerful, web-based versions of services like Spotify — no more app stores or finicky download pages.

These install buttons are a magic peek at the future of app development. If you navigate to a PWA, such as Spotify’s web player, you’ll see a desktop-style experience and a new option to install the app, so long as you’re using a browser that supports the feature.

Once you’ve installed it, the app will open in its own independent window outside of the browser, create desktop shortcuts, and offer a full feature set — like the ability to use your computer’s media keys to skip tracks or pause music — as if it were a “real,” native app.

Upcoming improvements will allow these apps to do even more. Hidden options in Chrome allow PWAs to launch themselves whenever relevant links are accessed — Twitter’s PWA becomes almost as good as a desktop app with this option enabled, auto-redirecting tweet URLs to the right place.</p>

I love how this story appears every two years. The future is web apps, and has been since Steve Jobs told the WWDC audience in 2007 he had a "sweet solution" to their desire to put apps on the iPhone - the web! - and was greeted by the stoniest of silences. PWAs aren't even fully functional on the desktop; you can't use any browser. On mobile, still a non-starter.
mobile  apps  pwas 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
A weather tech startup wants to do forecasts based on cell phone signals • MIT Technology Review
Douglas Heaven:
<p>Other forecasters use proxies, such as radar signals. But by using information from millions of everyday wireless devices [ie mobile phones], ClimaCell claims it has a far more fine-grained view of most of the globe than other forecasters get from the existing network of weather sensors, which range from ground-based devices to satellites. (ClimaCell taps into those, too.)

The company has now opened a new research center in Boulder, Colorado, where it is developing a new mathematical model that turns cell phone observations into weather data that can be plugged into a simulation. The more accurate your picture of the weather today, the more accurate your forecast for tomorrow.

The model can be tweaked to focus on the region, the type of weather, and the frequency of updates a subscriber wants. That would help renewable-energy companies know how much sunshine is going to hit their solar panels or how much wind will hit their turbines, for example. Better forecasting lets power providers match up supply and demand.

“There’s always a need for better forecasting,” says weather scientist Ken Mylne at the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. “It’s impossible to do perfect forecasts, but we keep trying to narrow that gap between impossibility and perfection.”</p>

What isn't made clear in the story is quite what data gets collected - barometric? (Not all phones do that.) Temperature? (Very few phones do that, if any.) It seems promising yet also hand-wavy.
Weather  mobile  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
The terrifying potential of the 5G network • The New Yorker
Sue Halpern:
<p>A totally connected world will also be especially susceptible to cyberattacks. Even before the introduction of 5G networks, hackers have breached the control center of a municipal dam system, stopped an Internet-connected car as it travelled down an interstate, and sabotaged home appliances. Ransomware, malware, crypto-jacking, identity theft, and data breaches have become so common that more Americans are afraid of cybercrime than they are of becoming a victim of violent crime. Adding more devices to the online universe is destined to create more opportunities for disruption. “5G is not just for refrigerators,” Spalding said. “It’s farm implements, it’s airplanes, it’s all kinds of different things that can actually kill people or that allow someone to reach into the network and direct those things to do what they want them to do. It’s a completely different threat that we’ve never experienced before.”

Spalding’s solution, he told me, was to build the 5G network from scratch, incorporating cyber defenses into its design. Because this would be a massive undertaking, he initially suggested that one option would be for the federal government to pay for it and, essentially, rent it out to the telecom companies. But he had scrapped that idea. A later draft, he said, proposed that the major telecom companies—Verizon, AT+T, Sprint, and T-Mobile—form a separate company to build the network together and share it. “It was meant to be a nationwide network,” Spalding told me, not a nationalized one. “They could build this network and then sell bandwidth to their retail customers. That was one idea, but it was never that the government would own the network. It was always about, How do we get industry to actually secure the system?”</p>
mobile  privacy  data  5g 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
LG Electronics to suspend mobile phones production in South Korea this year: Yonhap • Reuters
Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park:
<p>South Korea’s LG Electronics plans to suspend manufacturing of its loss-making mobile phones in the country this year and shift the production to its existing plant in Vietnam, Yonhap News Agency said on Wednesday.

Citing an unidentified source, Yonhap reported that LG decided to move its local handset production to Vietnam to help turn around the money-losing smartphones division.

LG’s mobile business, in the red for seven quarters, and intensifying price competition in the global TV market likely weighed on its first quarter earnings, analysts have said.</p>

Can't see it making a difference. And the mobile business has been losing money for 14 quarters, not seven. The South Korean factory does high-end phones, which is 10%-20% of its output. The mobile is circling the drain; or, if you prefer, the event horizon.
lg  mobile  smartphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Brits will face immediate return of mobile phone roaming charges under No-Deal Brexit, government reveals • HuffPost UK
Paul Waugh:
<p>A <a href="">little-noticed government regulation</a> laid before parliament on Tuesday confirms that the UK will revoke the current legislation that allows holidaymakers and business people to use their smartphones in the EU at no extra cost.

The draft ‘statutory instrument’, which has been tabled as part of a raft of no-deal preparations, means that from March 29 phone users will be liable for surcharges when they travel on the continent.

In a note accompanying the secondary legislation - the Mobile Roaming (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - government admits that consumer groups lobbied hard for a new scheme to maintain the current arrangements.

But “after careful consideration, the government decided not to adopt this proposal”, it states.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) justified its stance by saying that if the current system continued after Brexit, UK phone firms would face “increased costs” from EU carriers that they might then pass on to customers.</p>

For American readers: charges for UK visitors to the continent used to be a ripoff. Then the EU forced carriers to zero-rate them across the EU. Now the UK's going to repeal it (probably).
brexit  roaming  mobile 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Mobile payments now account for 6% of all UK card transactions • NFC World
Sarah Clark:
<p>The percentage of payments made with a mobile phone in UK stores has jumped from 1.3% in Q3 2016 to 5.6% in Q3 2018, an analysis of 190m card transactions has shown. Compared to this time last year, the volume of contactless mobile payments has increased by 60%.

For payments under the £30 contactless payments limit, the number of transactions accounted for by mobile payments increased from 1.8% in Q3 2016, to 4.6% in Q3 2017 and then 7% in Q3 2018, the analysis by Cardlytics found.

“The biggest beneficiaries of growing mobile payments are quick-service merchants who have introduced contactless payment methods,” the company says. “This includes quick-service-restaurants (11.3%), coffee shops (11%), public transport (11%) and bars and pubs (9.25%).

“This reflects that mobile payments are used more readily at merchants that people visit on a daily basis and wish to pay more expediently, while less popular amongst bigger-ticket, one off purchases.”</p>

That's roughly a doubling every year. One observation: for places where some staff might rely on or hope for tips, mobile payments preclude them. If this is repeated in the US, where tipping is pretty much essential as a salary topup for many service jobs, it's going to create a big disjoint.
Contactless  mobile  payment 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
The end is near for mobile apps • Medium
Lance Ng:
<p>When smartphones first appeared, major corporations rushed to make apps. Then they realized it was a real headache to maintain them. Every time you update information on your website or promote a product, you have to do the same on your app. And every time a handset manufacturer updates its operating system, you have to debug your app to make sure it keeps working — plus there are the pains of managing bugs on different brands, models, and screen sizes. If you’ve ever been involved in mobile app development, you know what I’m talking about.

The truth is, unless you are a major retailer or content publisher that needs to sell or deliver to customers frequently, all you really need is a mobile-friendly website. If information is all people want, they’re going to Google it in a browser.

Given the first two points, this third is a logical evolution and is already happening in some parts of the world. It’s what the industry calls “building an ecosystem.” The strategy involves binding users’ daily behaviors and spending into their mobile apps.

A good example is how restaurants and cafes are integrating into food delivery apps instead of maintaining their own online order and delivery systems. In turn, these food delivery apps are consolidating with mobile wallet or ride-share apps to provide synergy and convenience to users. Consider Go-Jek, the biggest motorcycle ride-share app in Indonesia. To many people, it’s an all-in-one mobile wallet, ride-hailing, food delivery, and lifestyle services app.

Go-Jek took its inspiration from China’s WeChat, the biggest instant messaging app in that country, which has integrated just about every lifestyle service you can think of into their mobile wallet section.</p>

The "platform rolling up apps" might apply in China, and possibly some parts of Asia, but I don't see it happening in Europe. And for mobile apps: you do the updates to the web page and the app simultaneously via an API.
mobile  apps 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Strategy Analytics: Mobile Advertising Spend Growth to Slow to 12% CAGR | Strategy Analytics Online Newsroom
<p>After growing over 6-fold between 2013 and 2018, growth in mobile advertising revenue will fall to a 12% CAGR and the market value will reach $222bn in 2023. The mobile share of digital advertising will grow rapidly in less developed advertising markets but in advanced markets the share over mobile is reaching a plateau. Strategy Analytics expects mobile advertising to continue to suffer from headwinds including increased cautiousness following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the implementation of GDPR in 2018.

Mobile advertising will rise to 67% in 2023. In markets where multi-device use is high, like the U.S., mobile advertising will account for just 58% of all digital in 2023, while in mobile-centric markets like India it will reach 71%.

Asia-Pacific is leading the mobile transition, representing around 44% of global mobile ad spend across the period. At a country-level and in terms of absolute ad spend, the U.S., and mobile-first markets China and Japan will remain leaders although their positions will erode.

Search will remain the dominant mobile advertising format with 47% of ad spend across the period while mobile video ad spend will be the fastest growing (+16.5% CAGR over 2018-2023) driven by the adoption of 6-second mid-rolls, and vertical ad formats by industry leaders Snapchat, Facebook and more recently YouTube.</p>

So it's a sort of good-news-bad-news for Facebook (and properties) and Google (and properties).
google  facebook  mobile  advertising 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Canny Brits are nuking the phone bundle • The Register
Andrew Orlowski:
<p>Consumers are now more aware that they can buy the phone and the network access separately, and are increasingly doing so.

"Many were totally unaware of the true value of the plan, and this marks a real change," CCS Insight analyst Kester Mann told us. CCS Insight calls the unbundling "cracking the code".

Only 36 per cent of UK SIM-only customers expect to take a traditional bundle-plus-phone deal when their current plan ends, CCS found [in a survey of 2,000 people in the UK and France]. Mann noted that this figure is considerably higher than the number of SIM-only customers today, who will upgrade to another SIM-only deal – indicating strong growth for the SIM-only bit of the market. One in 12 phones in use is a second-hand phone.

And there are a variety of fascinating knock-on effects.

<img src="" width="100%" />
<em>Phone fatigue ... 46 per cent of punters say the latest and greatest phones don't wow them</em>

For example, almost 10 per cent of UK punters now buy direct through Amazon. Operators, who have traditionally acted as credit companies, will have to make their bundles more flexible and attractive. High-margin manufacturers may have to make more use of the refurbished channel, or make older models available for longer. In fact, all OEMs have to look at refurb and online.

Mann told us all of these trends are happening already.

"The Amazon figure is surprising and significant. And Amazon plays a large part in the overall 'buying journey'. We found customers who may not have bought the phone through Amazon, but who accessed Amazon in making their buying decision."

The refurbished market is small, at 4% of new purchases, but growing, according to CCS Insight. "We will see more growth," Mann predicted, as buyers look to Argos and eBay.</p>
phones  mobile  uk 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Who will steal Android from Google? • Medium
Steve Yegge on the challenge to Google's Android frameworks from React Native, built by Facebook:
<p>[Google is] doubling down on “native” (traditional) Android programming, with official support for the Kotlin language, which was a big step up for native Android programmers. I love Kotlin; it’s the future of Java. But let’s face it: It’s not where the mobile market is headed. People are writing cross-platform frameworks for two big reasons: First, because they want their company’s app to work on two platforms without doing 2x the work. And second, because Android native programming is still so painful, even with Kotlin, many companies feel (justifiably) that they should just throw it all out and start from scratch with something easier.

If you are an Android or iOS developer, and you take some time to try React Native (which Facebook created to help address these problems), you’ll realize within about 30 seconds that it’s WAY better, assuming you’re not writing a game, in which case you’d probably use Unity anyway. For business and productivity apps, React Native offers reasonable performance, cross-platform compatibility, incredible tools (the best being from Microsoft. Hello, relevance! Welcome back!), and vastly improved development speed. Remember I said it could take 20 minutes to see a 1-line code change in the regular Android stack? That can happen in the biggest apps like Nest or Facebook, but even for medium-size apps it can be 2 or 3 minutes. Whereas with React Native it’s instantaneous. You make a change, you see the change.

And that, folks, means you get to launch features 10x faster, which means faster time to market, which means first-mover advantage, which means you win win win.</p>
google  mobile  android  development 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Fortnite earns $100m in its first 90 days on mobile • Sensor Tower
Randy Nelson:
<p>Having brought in more than $25m during its first month on mobile, Fortnite increased its revenue generating momentum to surpass $50m by its 45 day mark. Now, three months since its March 15 launch, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals that the game—which debuted on Nintendo’s Switch console last week—has reached $100m in worldwide player spending on Apple’s mobile platform.

In reaching this milestone, Epic Games has managed to surpass some of most successful multiplayer mobile titles of the past two years, despite the fact that Fortnite initially launched in invite-only form for two of the 12 weeks it has been available. As the chart below shows, it earned more than 3x as much as Tencent’s massively successful Honor of Kings—known as Arena of Valor in Western markets—did in China during its first 90 days on iOS, despite not being available there itself. (It will be launching in China at an undetermined future date courtesy of none other than Tencent.)

<img src="" width="100%" />

The mobile version of Fortnite has also earned about 4.3x more than its closest revenue rival among the new breed of battle royale titles on mobile, Knives Out from NetEase. What’s more, it managed to earn approximately 65% as much as Supercell’s Clash Royale did in its first 90 days, a title that had the most successful launch in mobile gaming history next to Niantic’s Pokémon GO in terms of revenue.</p>
Fortnite  gaming  mobile  revenue 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Dixons Carphone risks loss of big mobile groups in contracts row • FT
Nic Fildes:
<p>Alex Baldock, new chief executive of Dixons Carphone, warned the mobile phone sector this week that its contracts — some signed after the collapse of its rival Phones 4U in 2014 — were “unsustainable” and in need of renegotiation.

The company revealed plans to close 92 Carphone Warehouse stores and said that revisiting the contracts was a key part of its strategy to improve profitability.

“Our performance is unacceptable in mobile and we won’t tolerate it. One way or another, this performance will improve in the medium-term,” he said during an analysts call.

The mobile operators said that the bellicose statements, and demands for more cash upfront, did not signal that Mr Baldock wanted to build long-term relationships.

One person on the retail side of one of the largest networks said that it has delayed a decision on whether to re-sign with the retailer, and that it could walk away.

Another person at a rival network said that selling phone contracts through Carphone Warehouse was the “least profitable channel for operators” and that the comments suggested that the business was struggling.</p>

This is an existential threat for CPW, which grew - as its name suggests - from the original demands to put mobile phones in cars. (Mobile phones were physically big in those days.) If the mobile operators pull out, it has a real problem - the same one that sank Phones4U.
Dixons  mobile  saturation 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
US mobile market update – Q1 2018 • Chetan Sharma
• Smartphone penetration stood at 94%.
• For the first time, there were more connected smart watches added to the network than postpaid or prepaid phones. Connected smart watches (read Apple Watch) have proved to be a surprise hit for the operators.
• The quarter saw a sharp decline (biggest decline ever) in connected tablets indicating waning interest from consumers in the segment. This might have implications to the 5G strategy for OEMs.
• Connected cars and IoT continue to dominate the net-adds. Their share of the net-adds reached historic highs in Q1 2018. In fact, the combined category commanded well over 90% share for the first time.
Again, connected vehicles was the biggest net-adds category for the quarter which was dominated by AT&T.
• While the operators struggled to maintain growth, the overall wireless market continues to grow rapidly thanks to the continued explosion on the 4th Wave by new digital players.
• Net Income rose 10% while Capex and Opex declined sharply.</p>

A stagnant market; if the TMobile/Sprint merger comes off, I’d expect downward pressure on prices.
Also: handset renewal cycle is now an average of 3 years.
Us  mobile 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Mobile gaming cements its dominance, takes majority of worldwide sales • Ars Technica
Kyle Orland:
<p>Just over two years ago, we looked back at analyst reports for the 2015 gaming market and highlighted the surprising finding that the PC was actually the world's most important gaming platform from a raw revenue perspective. But we warned that continued double-digit growth in the mobile market meant the PC's market dominance wouldn't last forever.

Fast-forward to the forecast for the 2018 global game market, and things could scarcely look more different. Newzoo's 2018 Global Games Market Forecast now predicts that mobile games will make up a slim majority (51%) of all worldwide gaming revenue this year (including smartphones and tablets, but not dedicated gaming handhelds). That's up from 34% in 2015 and just 18% in 2012. Console and PC games will split the remainder of the pie relatively evenly in 2018, at 25% and 24% of worldwide spending, respectively.

<img src="" width="100%" />

The growth of the mobile market doesn't show any signs of stopping, either: by 2021, Newzoo estimates that 59% of all gaming spending will go to mobile platforms, with console and PC games dividing up the scraps.

If you had to sum up that change in one word, it could easily be "Asia," which now represents 52% of the global games market (when paired with Oceania). China alone is now responsible for 28% of all gaming spending in the world, up from 24% in 2015. Mobile gaming is overrepresented in the world's biggest gaming market, responsible for 61% of all Chinese gaming revenue and poised to grow to 70% by 2021.</p>
games  mobile  console 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
LG mobile division sees big jump in losses, blames new strategy • Android Authority
Hadlee Simons:
<p>The [overall] firm reported a 20% increase in operating income, making for the “highest first-quarter profit and revenue in company history.” The performance also translates to the “highest quarterly profitability” since Q2 2009, LG added.

It’s a different tale for the LG mobile division, however, as the unit posted sales of 2.16trn won ($2bn) and an operating loss of 136.1bn won ($126.85m) for the quarter. By comparison, Q1 2017 saw the unit deliver an operating loss of 200m won ($185,000 by today’s conversion rate).

“Sales declined from the same quarter last year due to a revised smartphone launch strategy,” the company explained.

That strategy was first revealed back at CES 2018, when LG Electronics CEO Cho Sung-jin said the company would release new phones “when it is needed.” The executive said it would also reveal more variants of the G and V series flagship phones. We saw the first major variant at MWC 2018 in the form of the V30s ThinQ, packing more RAM/storage, as well as improved AI-related camera features compared to the V30.

The company is forecasting improved sales in the second quarter of the year, citing the upcoming LG G7 ThinQ flagship and its software upgrade center as two major drivers. The new flagship will be officially revealed on May 2, but we already know it’ll pack a notch, a super bright LCD screen, and a dedicated AI button.</p>

The only, tiny chance that LG's mobile business has of ever coming back to profit is if Huawei and ZTE get banned from the US (and maybe UK) markets. So far it has lost money for 12 straight quarters - a tidy $2.6bn.
lg  mobile  profit 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Lenovo heads for a goodwill iceberg • Bloomberg Gadfly
Tim Culpan:
<p>There's absolutely no doubt, based on management's previous public statements, that those units [Motorola’s mobile business and IBM’s server business] bought at a cost of $5bn are performing worse than expected. What's extraordinary is that after four years Lenovo hasn't recognized such impairment and allows the goodwill to sit on the balance sheet.

Reporting standards only require a test of goodwill to be done annually, so it's reasonable not to see anything announced in the past few quarters. But the company's financial year is coming to an end March 31, so the clock is ticking.

You can understand management's reticence. After a slew of deals in the late 2000s, Acer, a Taiwanese PC maker, clung to inflated goodwill figures despite clear signs that the acquisitions weren't bearing fruit. In the end, it had to conduct an IAS36 impairment test and recognized a NT$9.4bn ($335m) writedown, enough to plunge Acer into a record annual loss and spur the ousting of its chairman and CEO.

That impairment was equivalent to about 24% of Acer's total intangible assets at the time.

For Lenovo, I calculate it would take a mere 10.3% writedown to push it into a loss for the current fiscal year - and that's only for an impairment on goodwill, and only at the mobile and server divisions. A deeper, 20% impairment on those units would bring about a record annual loss.</p>

This is a terrific insight. Lenovo was clearly suffering from hubris when it took on Motorola and the IBM server division. The PC division is the only thing keeping it afloat.
Lenovo  pc  mobile  server  goodwill 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Is SEO opportunity growing or shrinking? • Rand's Blog
Rand Fishkin on data from Jumpshot about how much searching and clicking people do on Google in the US:
<p>I wanted to understand how many clicks per search are happening each month, so I made a new chart that illustrates that trend:

<img src="" width="100%" />

The metric of “clicks / ten search queries” helps us avoid seasonality biases and look instead at the rate of queries that lead to traffic opportunity. Here, the reality is sobering.

• The high point was the first month of the graph, November 2015<br />• Since then, there have been two significant declines in organic clicks/query (12/2015 and 11/2016) and one significant decline in paid clicks/query (01/2016, though it’s now nearly recovered)<br />• The 5.41 clicks/10 queries in October, 2017 is 23% lower than the 6.97 clicks/10 queries we had back in November, 2015. That’s a lot of lost SEO opportunity<br />• I haven’t yet tried to tie the drops back to noted changes in the SERPs, but I suspect the growth in featured snippets, instant answers, and knowledge panels in the results are at least partially responsible<br />• The growth of search volume has made up for much of the lost click opportunities, but this is a tough trend chart to see as an SEO<br />• That said, SEO still gets ~20X more traffic than PPC, and it doesn’t cost anything close to as much, so there’s still a massive advantage to ranking organically.

My conclusion from this — we’re living in a world with slightly less SEO opportunity and a trendline over the last couple years that worries and frustrates me. </p>

There's also a really interesting graph of "no-click seaches" for mobile v desktop (ie, someone does a query but then doesn't visit a result) which indicates that Google changed something in November 2016 to dramatically increase those numbers on mobile, but not desktop.
seo  google  mobile  desktop 
december 2017 by charlesarthur
Native Mobile Apps Part 1 • David Bressler
Bressler has hit the age everyone eventually hits: he needs glasses for reading, but not for other stuff. But it's hard to read text on his phone:
<p>I remem­ber when Apple first had a sys­tem font pref­er­ence that worked across apps. Before then, using a Black­ber­ry or Win­dows Mobile, I remem­ber hav­ing to change the font set­ting for each app indi­vid­u­al­ly (if the app sup­port­ed one). It was awk­ward at best. Font sizes between apps were incon­sis­tent dri­ving the OCD (fig­u­ra­tive, not diag­nos­ti­cal­ly lit­er­al) part of me insane.

I remem­ber the relief that I could go to one set­ting on the iPhone and nev­er have to think about it again.

Here’s the thing.

I now have the sys­tem font set to the high­est size. It works great, most­ly. How­ev­er…

Respon­sive apps either can’t, can’t eas­i­ly, or have devel­op­ers that don’t care to imple­ment the sys­tem font set­ting in their apps. I could call out banks, hos­pi­tals, and even Coin­Mar­ket­Cap (where I track my cryp­to port­fo­lio dai­ly) and Telegram (where I learn more about Cryp­to) that don’t sup­port the sys­tem font.

It dri­ves me insane when peo­ple don’t accept that their crap­py respon­sive apps are crap­py. I under­stand why they have to be some­times done (some apps just aren’t that impor­tant)… but that’s not the case with the ones I’m most­ly using.</p>
apps  mobile  usability 
december 2017 by charlesarthur
June 2016: how Yahoo derailed Tumblr • Mashable
Seth Fiegerman, in June 2016:
<p>several Tumblr staffers we spoke with are quietly fantasizing about the social network getting spun off if Yahoo is sold as expected [to Verizon - a sale which has since gone through], however unlikely that spinoff scenario may be. The most popular rumor is that Karp would buy back Tumblr - though no one knows if he can afford it - to save his company from the grips of Yahoo, or whichever new owner comes along next.

Tumblr’s stumbles under Yahoo may go down as a cautionary tale, both for the perils of a large corporation buying a hot startup and for Silicon Valley’s belief that any social network reaching hundreds of millions of people will inevitably generate boatloads of cash one day. Tumblr was slow to monetize before it was acquired, struggled to grow revenue enough to meet its new parent company's expectations in the first year and struggled even more to keep up with ambitious goals when Yahoo began to meddle.

The massive Tumblr acquisition may also come to highlight Mayer’s broader management missteps in making flashy bets, trusting deputies with limited knowledge of a product to oversee it and some mix of arrogance or denial in failing to quickly right those wrongs when necessary.

“It’s such a black eye,” says one former Yahoo executive. “It didn’t have to be this way.”</p>

This doesn't quite explain why Tumblr is seeing falling engagement. Stopped being the hot thing? Wasn't mobile enough? Perhaps the latter, given how bad Yahoo has been at mobile.
mobile  yahoo  tumblr 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
How often do consumers intentionally click mobile ads? • eMarketer
<p>A new survey found that most consumers say they rarely or never mean to click on ads served up on their phones.

Button, a mobile partnership platform that facilitates discovery and transactions for brands, and App Annie, a mobile app data and insights provider, surveyed 1,106 US smartphone users ages 18 to 73. The study found that for the most part, consumers aren't too keen on mobile ads.

Take millennials, for example. More than four in 10 said they rarely click on a mobile ad, and another 17% said they never did.

While there were some (31%) who said they sometimes click on a mobile ad, very few (10%) did so regularly.

This was the case for older consumers as well. In fact, baby boomers were the least likely to engage with mobile ads. Nearly a quarter said they never did, while another 49% said they rarely did so. Just 4% said they clicked on a mobile ad at least somewhat often.

Meanwhile, ads promoting mobile apps tell a somewhat different story. The study found that when it comes to those types of ads, consumers are more engaged than with ads in general. But even that engagement rate is declining.</p>

Frankly, I'm surprised it's that high. Given these are self-reported, these may be on the low side - people hit ads all the time because they're under their fingers.
mobile  ads 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
Windows 10 Mobile gets its final death sentence • CNET
<p>Corporate vice president of Windows 10 and head of Microsoft's "PC-Tablet-Phone" division, Joe Belfiore, said on Twitter Sunday that Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 Mobile with bug fixes and security updates, but new features and hardware are no longer front and centre.

Microsoft is no upstart in the mobile space. It produced versions of its software for mobile devices for more than 20 years - starting with Windows CE for personal digital assistants in 1996, and later with Windows Mobile in 2000…

While Belfiore said Microsoft has tried "very hard" to provide incentives for app developers to get apps onto Windows Mobile, the "volume of users is too low for most companies to invest" in the ecosystem.</p>

Belfiore tweeted from an Android phone. That says it all: it's dead. Seven years and a few billion dollars down the pan, and what is there to show from it? Nada. No solid assets you could point to at all.
windowsphone  mobile 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
How smartphones hijack our minds • WSJ
Nick Carr:
<p>In an April article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Dr. Ward and his colleagues wrote that the “integration of smartphones into daily life” appears to cause a “brain drain” that can diminish such vital mental skills as “learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity.” Smartphones have become so entangled with our existence that, even when we’re not peering or pawing at them, they tug at our attention, diverting precious cognitive resources. Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking. The fact that most of us now habitually keep our phones “nearby and in sight,” the researchers noted, only magnifies the mental toll.

Dr. Ward’s findings are consistent with other recently published research. In a similar but smaller 2014 study (involving 47 subjects) in the journal Social Psychology, psychologists at the University of Southern Maine found that people who had their phones in view, albeit turned off, during two demanding tests of attention and cognition made significantly more errors than did a control group whose phones remained out of sight. (The two groups performed about the same on a set of easier tests.)

In another study, published in Applied Cognitive Psychology in April, researchers examined how smartphones affected learning in a lecture class with 160 students at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. They found that students who didn’t bring their phones to the classroom scored a full letter-grade higher on a test of the material presented than those who brought their phones. It didn’t matter whether the students who had their phones used them or not: All of them scored equally poorly. A study of 91 secondary schools in the U.K., published last year in the journal Labour Economics, found that when schools ban smartphones, students’ examination scores go up substantially, with the weakest students benefiting the most.</p>

Carr is author of The Shallows, a book investigating the way that reliance on autopilots and other systems can dull cognitive skills we'd otherwise keep sharp. This article seems pertinent after <a href="">yesterday's on the internet engineers who worry about smartphones' effect on the world</a>.
mobile  concentration  effect 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
1992: the executive computer - 'mother of all markets' or a 'pipe dream driven by greed'? •
Peter Lewis, in July 1992:
<p>"We are writing Chapter 2 of the history of personal computers," said Nobuo Mii, vice president and general manager of the International Business Machines Corporation's entry systems division.

How rich is this lode? At one end of the spectrum is John Sculley, the chief executive of Apple Computer Inc., who says these personal communicators could be "the mother of all markets."

At the other end is Andrew Grove, the chairman of the Intel Corporation, the huge chip maker based in Santa Clara, Calif. He says the idea of a wireless personal communicator in every pocket is "a pipe dream driven by greed."

These devices are expected to combine the best features of personal computers, facsimile machines, computer networks, pagers, personal secretaries, appointment books, address books and even paperback books and pocket CD players -- all in a hand-held box operated by pen, or even voice commands.

Stuck in traffic on a business trip, an executive carrying a personal communicator could send and receive electronic mail and facsimile messages from anywhere in the country. She could also call up a local map on a 3-inch by 5-inch screen, draw a line between her current position (confirmed by satellite positioning signals) and her intended destination, and the device would give her specific driving instructions (as well as real-time warnings about traffic jams or accidents). Certainly, these are just predictions for now, but they sure are fun to think about.</p>

I do hope you're reading this on your personal communicator with a 3in by 5in screen while in traffic. The iPhone in particular was still 15 years away, but notice the difference in Apple's and Intel's view. This was, for most people, pre-internet too. Vision is difficult; patience to realise it, even more so.
mobile  history 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Geekbench chief: Android stagnates while iPhone soars • Tom's Guide
Mark Spoonauer:
<p>"The thing that I don't fully understand is why performance has seemed to stagnate on the Android side," said John Poole, founder of Primate Labs [which developed the Geekbench 4 benchmark for phones]. "Where you don't see these big leaps forward. I don't understand what's happening there."

On the multicore portion of the Geekbench 4 test, the iPhone 8’s A11 Bionic processor scored 10,170. The fastest Android phone we’ve tested, the Note 8, hit 6,564. That’s 54% slower. The iPhone 8 also blew away the Android competition on the 3DMark graphics test and on our own 4K video-editing test…

If you look at the Geekbench 4 numbers, the iPhone 8 is technically faster than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, but is that really the case? Yes and no.

"Everybody looks at the A11 scores and they go, ‘Holy crap, this is . . . what does this mean? Are these even comparable?’ said Poole. "Well, yes, they're comparable, but at the same time, you're not going to use your phone to render a huge video because, simply, the form factor doesn't lend itself to it."

Poole is referring to the difference between burst performance and sustained performance. Laptops can keep up their speeds for a longer period of time because they have active cooling. With an iPhone or other smartphone, the processor will eventually generate more heat than the case can dissipate.

But that doesn’t diminish what Apple has accomplished with the A11 Bionic chip. Whether it’s for 5 minutes or 10 minutes, the performance gap between iOS and Android has suddenly widened.</p>

The question many are asking is how relevant this is; if all you're doing is a bit of light Facebooking, will it make a difference? Except that there's lots of new processing of photos and, soon, video (in AR) to come. So performance is going to make a difference.

If you don't believe that, try using the phone you used to use before your last upgrade. It will feel excruciatingly slow. Performance matters.
apple  mobile  processor  android 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Why Canadian cell phone bills are among the most expensive on the planet • National Post
Tristin Hopper:
<p>The more likely reason for the high prices is that the people setting these prices don’t have any reason not to.

As Michael Geist <a href="">put it in 2013</a>, cell phone carriers raise prices “because they can.”

They’re not a cartel, which would be illegal. Rather, Canadian telecoms are in a situation in which there’s no real incentive to undercut each other. The three companies know they are better off when Canadians are paying among the world’s highest rates for cell phone usage.

As industry watchers have noted, these companies have a strange habit of raising their prices in tandem. In January 2016, Bell hiked its monthly plans by $5 per month. Within a week, Telus and Rogers had independently followed suit.

These are not the normal actions of an industry. When Air Canada hikes prices, WestJet and NewLeaf don’t follow suit within a matter of hours. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: By constantly trying to grab market share from each other, the competing airlines force prices to a bare minimum.

But Canadian cell phone providers don’t have to worry about a WestJet or a NewLeaf. The awesome costs and regulatory barriers of starting a competing Canadian wireless company are so prohibitive that telecoms can rest assured that they won’t suddenly be challenged by an ambitious startup.</p>

Weird that Canada's regulators haven't thought of providing some sort of incentive to encourage another carrier to move in, perhaps simply by forcing the sharing of infrastructure. This is similar to the problem in the UK where there's no competitor to BT for landlines because of the cost of infrastructure.
wireless  mobile  carrier  canada  competition 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Smartphones are driving all growth in web traffic • Recode
<p>Smartphones are driving all growth in U.S. web traffic, while tablets and computer web access has declined, according to new data from Adobe Analytics.

Since January 2015, there has been a 68% increase in smartphone web traffic in the U.S., while desktop and tablet both saw declines. Overall, web traffic has been pretty much flat, according to Adobe’s Media & Metrics report that was released Monday. Adobe tracked more than 150 billion visits to or launches of 400 large company sites and apps since January 2015, using anonymous and aggregated data from companies on Adobe Experience Cloud.</p>

This is change rather than total, but it's still dramatic. -30% for desktops/laptops, -16% for tablets.
mobile  apps  tablet  analytics 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
TalkTalk plans to bail on mobile in major shake-up for beleaguered biz • The Register
Kat Hall:
<p>Beleaguered UK comms provider TalkTalk is set to go against the received "wisdom" of having multiple services to flog as it plans to pull out of the mobile market entirely.

The move is a fairly significant change of tack given that not so long ago it had targeted four million mobile customers. TalkTalk now has just 913,000 SIM customers. Chief exec Tristia Harrison said the company wants to refocus on its core strength as a "fixed-line business" and reassess its mobile strategy.

No doubt she hopes concentrating on broadband will help boost the company's lacklustre results, with revenues continuing to decline by 3% to £1.7bn for the full-year 2016/17.

The plans are part of a shake-up following founder Charles Dunstone's return as chair after chief exec Dido Harding resigned earlier this year.</p>

Likely buyer for those mobile customers is Three, the smallest of the UK carriers.
talktalk  mobile  three 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Response to NY Post article • NYPD News
Deputy commissioner of Information & Technology Jessica Tisch:
<p>This Sunday, while a Post reporter was writing her story, NYPD officers used their smartphones to help respond to over 25,000 911 calls; ran 18,000 searches; and viewed 1,080 flyers of missing or wanted persons. Sunday is a slow day.

Three years ago we made the decision to bring mobility to the NYPD. At that time, neither iOS nor Android phones allowed us to cost-effectively utilize prior investment in custom Windows applications.

Moreover, we assessed that the Windows platform would be most effective at achieving our goal of securing 36,000 devices that would be used for sensitive law enforcement operations. This was of paramount importance. The devices were rolled out as tools to help officers fight crime, enhance their safety and improve policing in New York City.

The contract entered provided for the smartphones at no cost. It also allowed for the NYPD to replace the smartphones with devices of our choosing two years later, also at no cost.

We have since continually reviewed the evolution of mobile platforms. A year ago, we learned that improvements in Apple controls would allow NYPD to responsibly and cost effectively move our mobility initiative to the Apple platform. We began plans to make the transition, which will take effect this fall.

Our smartphone initiative is 45% under budget. Based on current rate of spending, we expect to stretch what was initially budgeted at two years of spending to more than four years.</p>

Ah. So the phones were free, and they can be replaced for free. Microsoft took a gamble that it would be stronger by now, but instead it failed. I wrongly thought that Tisch would get fired over this, before knowing the details of the free phones.

Instead, she looks quite smart: for the cost of a few app rewrites, the NYPD doesn't have to gamble on the mobile platform war.
nypd  mobile  iphone  windows  microsoft 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
TrackID music recognition service closing down • Xperia Blog
<p>In an unexpected move, Sony Mobile will be closing its TrackID music discovery app on 15 September 2017. The reason for the closure hasn’t been given, with Sony simply saying that “all businesses move forwards, and sometimes this means that apps are discontinued”.

Unfortunately, this means that your TrackID history will also be lost after this date, so if this important to you, then you should find a means of recreating the list elsewhere. Sony is recommending users to try Shazam as its top pick in recognising music. </p>

TrackID has <a href="">between 10m and 50m downloads on Google Play</a>, so that's surely millions of users who will be affected. Another sign of Sony cutting costs in mobile to improve the bottom line? A nice fillip for Shazam though.
sony  mobile  trackid  shazam 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
In mobile internet speed, the US lags. It does not matter • Spectrum Matters
Gary Kim:
<p>To my knowledge, the United States has never ranked at the top of any key measure of tele-density (voice adoption), mobile adoption, internet access speed or take rates.

In other words, U.S. consumers often (virtually always) have lagged behind consumers in other nations on measures of telecom service adoption, and U.S. providers often have lagged behind in terms of network performance.

<img src="" />

And there are reasons for that situation, including large areas of very-low population density where any fixed network is unsustainable. The expense and time required to “wire” a continent-sized area also plays a role.

Also, although wide gaps historically have existed, those gaps always have closed fairly quickly. So the size of the gap, early on, is often quite large. There is no historical evidence that such gaps persist very long. The gap is going to close, and relatively quickly.

Beyond all those statistical measures, there is the matter of impact. Researchers have noted that for long periods of time, information technology investment has failed to produce measurable increases in productivity, for example.

So one way of looking at tele-density or IT intensity is to ascertain measurable impact. If high adoption does not appear to lead to commensurate economic advantage, one might question whether what we are measuring actually matters.

Few, if any observers would claim that “not at the top” U.S. adoption of any form of internet access prevents U.S. businesses and consumers from wringing benefit from the internet ecosystem. In other words, beyond a certain point, perhaps the state of infrastructure adoption is not key.</p>
internet  mobile  speed 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
AppsFlyer helps mobile advertisers beat back ad fraud via machine learning • VentureBeat
Dean Takahashi:
<p>AppsFlyer is helping mobile game and app developers deal with the severe problem of fraudulent advertising responses via third-party ad networks. In doing so, the company said it has already saved brands tens of millions of dollars since 2016.

Today, the San Francisco-based maker of mobile attribution and marketing analytics is launching Active Fraud Insights 2.0, hoping to set a new marketing industry standard for detecting fraud. The platform leverages metadata from 98 percent of the world’s mobile devices, and it uses proprietary advances in big data and machine learning. Ad fraud is causing an estimated $7.2 billion to $16.4 billion losses a year.

<img src="" width="100%" />

AppsFlyer’s tool can review ad network partners in an effort to combat mobile fraud, where an ad network or other party creates a fake user that tricks the advertiser into believing that a real human is downloading or using an app or game.</p>

The scale of this is probably a lot bigger than we think.
apps  mobile  fraud 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Americans hang up on landlines as cellphone homes dominate • Associated Press
Anick Jesdanun:
<p>Deborah Braswell, a university administrator in Alabama, is a member of a dwindling group — people with a landline phone at home.

According to a U.S. government study released Thursday, 50.8% of homes and apartments had only cellphone service in the latter half of 2016, the first time such households attained a majority in the survey. Braswell and her family are part of the 45.9% that still have landline phones. The remaining households have no phone service at all.

More than 39 percent of U.S. households — including Braswell’s — have both landline and cellphone service. The landline comes in handy when someone misplaces one of the seven cellphones kicking around her three-story house in a Birmingham suburb. “You walk around your house calling yourself to find it,” she says.

It’s also useful when someone breaks or loses a cellphone and has to wait for a replacement.

Renters and younger adults are more likely to have just a cellphone, which researchers attribute to their mobility and comfort with newer technologies.

The in-person survey of 19,956 households was part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, which tracks landline use in order to assure representative samples in ongoing health studies. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.</p>

<a href="">Full data here</a>. The percentage of households only with mobiles has gone from a couple of percent in spring 2003 to over 50%. (One takes it their internet is "bare cable" where the ISP doesn't tie provision to having a landline phone contract - as is effectively obligatory in the UK.)

However the data show that poorer households are less likely to have a landline (66% v 49%); ditto for renters v homeowners (71% v 41%).
mobile  household  us 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Security advisory: mobile phones • Kraken
This is not short, but if you really do get concerned about the security of your systems, this is the blogpost for you:
<p>Somehow, the masses have been led to believe that phone numbers are inextricably bound to identities and therefore make good authentication tools.  There’s a reason that Kraken has never supported SMS-based authentication:  The painful reality is that your telco operates at the security level of a third-rate coat check.  Here’s an example interaction:

Hacker:  Can I have my jacket?
Telco: Sure, can I have your ticket?
Hacker:  I lost it.
Telco:  Do you remember the number?
Hacker:  Nope, but it’s that one right there. ;)
Telco:  Ok cool.  Here ya go.  Please rate 10/10 on survey ^_^

So, we need to achieve three things:
1.  A shift in the way we think about phone numbers
2.  The securing of your phone number (to the extent possible)
3.  The separation of your phone number from any security functions</p>
security  mobile  2fa  authentication 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Theft and loss recovery for iOS users • Fraser Speirs
Speirs's wife had her iPhone nicked at the end of a family holiday. Things went OK. But now he's wondering: what if all my oh-so-secure stuff got stolen? How do I take back control?
<p>So, assuming the worst happens and all your devices are gone forever - what now? Well, I need to get back into those accounts.

Let's assume that somehow I can acquire a new device. As a side issue, ask yourself how you would even do that. If everything was gone - how would you call home? How would you get money? Do you even have those numbers written down anywhere that isn't in your phone?

Also bear in mind that to activate an iPhone you might also need a working SIM card. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere on all networks, but I've certainly seen that requirement in the UK.

To sign into a new device, you need your iCloud password and a way to access your 2-factor information. With Apple's current implementation of 2-factor authentication, you can use a number of methods to get that second factor.

First, you can get it from another trusted device. This is when that dialog pops up and tells you that someone is trying to log in from a specific location, you tap OK and then you see a 6-digit code that you can provide.

Except in this scenario, all your trusted devices are gone. So that's out.

The next thing you can do is have a code sent to a trusted phone number. But your phone is gone and the SIM card is gone with it, so no calls or texts to that number.

Here, I discovered the second flaw in my setup. I only had my own devices set up as Trusted Devices and I only had one phone number set up as a Trusted Number - namely, my iPhone's phone number.</p>

This is worth considering if you're one of those people who does take security seriously: it's possible to be too serious.
security  mobile 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
The problem with AMP • 80x24
Kyle Schreiber:
<p>Make no mistake. AMP is about lock-in for Google. AMP is meant to keep publishers tied to Google. Clicking on an AMP link feels like you never even leave the search page, and links to AMP content are displayed prominently in Google’s news carousel. This is their response to similar formats from both Facebook and Apple, both of which are designed to keep users within their respective ecosystems. However, Google’s implementation of AMP is more broad and far reaching than the Apple and Facebook equivalents. Google’s implementation of AMP is on the open web and isn’t limited to just an app like Facebook or Apple.

If you want to avoid AMP, it is a lot easier to stop using the Facebook app or Apple News app than it is to avoid Google search. Google is the gateway to the web at large and is the doorway to information access in a way that Facebook will never be. Facebook might be the gatekeeper of social, but Google is the gatekeeper to a far larger and more meaningful set of information stored on the web – anything from cat pictures to scientific research. It’s disappointing to see Google promoting a closed standard under the guise of an open one.

Google insists that AMP is not a factor in a site’s search ranking. However, AMP compatibility does determine whether or not publishers are featured in the much coveted news carousel. This, in effect, forces publishers to start using AMP regardless of how fast their site loaded previously.

Google has the ability to further change the AMP HTML specification to keep publishers in their ecosystem. Google already makes deleting AMP pages difficult. Despite touting AMP HTML as an open standard, every one of the AMP Project’s core developers appears to be a Google employee.</p>

There's open, and there's "open". His point about external Javascript might also give some people pause. Question is: will AMP become embedded as the way publishers provide pages, or will the pendulum swing back? The "news carousel" factor is probably determinant there.
google  mobile  news  amp 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
ComScore reports $109bn in Q4 2016 total digital US retail e-commerce spending • ComScore
<p>comScore today reported Q4 2016 U.S. retail e-commerce spending from desktop computers and mobile devices. For Q4 2016, $109.3bn was spent online, marking an 18% increase versus the same quarter in 2015. The majority of online buying occurred on desktop computers, with $86.6bn spent, up 13% vs. year ago. Meanwhile, m-commerce spending on smartphones and tablets contributed $22.7bn, with a significantly higher year-over-year growth rate than desktop at 45%.</p>

Let me save you the calculation: on that basis, mobile spending would overtake desktop in about six years. More likely though is that something brings growth to a stop for both.
desktop  ecommerce  mobile 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
Mobile app helps China recover hundreds of missing children • Reuters
Ryan Woo:
<p>A mobile app helped Chinese authorities recover hundreds of missing children last year, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, in a country where child trafficking is rampant.

The Ministry of Public Security said 611 missing children were found last year, Xinhua said.

The "Tuanyuan", or "reunion" in Chinese, app developed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was launched in May and has allowed police officers to share information and work together.

Users near the location where a child has disappeared receive push notifications, including photos and descriptions. Notifications are sent to users farther and farther from the location of the disappearance if the child is still not found.</p>

In case you were wondering if the internet and mobile has delivered any benefit at all lately.
mobile  app  children  missing 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
Most smartphone users spend nothing on apps • Gartner
<p>Over half of smartphone users spend no money on smartphone apps (paid-for downloads and in-app transactions), according to a new survey by Gartner, Inc. (see Figure 1)*. However, end-user spending on in-app transactions continues to rise.

"Where users are prepared to pay for apps, spending on in-app transactions is on the rise — up 26 percent from 2015 — while spending on paid-for downloads only increased 4 percent in 2016," said Stéphanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner. In this year's survey, mean spending on in-app transactions was $11.59, while mean spending on paid-for downloads reached $7.67.

Paid-for downloads are more likely to be associated with smaller amounts of spending. Respondents who spent $15 or more over a three-month period were more likely to have done so through in-app transactions. "This is largely because the vast majority of paid-for mobile apps have a price tag of $1.99 or less, while the activation of in-app transactions usually means that the user has found value in an app and will be happy to spend more on it," Ms, Baghdassarian added.

<img src="" width="100%" /></p>

Not surprising; I think the same applies for many things, including searches and app downloads. But it does show how reliant app developers are on the "whales" who spend big: those people on the right-hand side may not be a big percentage, but they're worth far more (obviously) than those on the left.
mobile  apps  payment 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Lousy ads are ruining the online experience - The Verge
Walt Mossberg didn't like the ad on a TV sports show; but he's beginning to realise that the model is increasingly broken online:
<p>Some combination of ads and subscriptions has long supported both news and entertainment, in print and on television. But, as a young journalist coming up at The Wall Street Journal, I was always led to understand that the price and volume of ads was based on a variety of factors — not just how big your audience was, but who it was (as best as could be measured back then) and how desirable your journalism was. I was also taught that our job as journalists was to just do great work and the readers, and advertisers would follow.

But the world has changed as journalism and entertainment have been disrupted by technology. Great power has shifted to the advertisers. I learned this almost immediately after I left the Journal in 2013 and co-founded Recode on January 2nd, 2014.

About a week after our launch, I was seated at a dinner next to a major advertising executive. He complimented me on our new site’s quality and on that of a predecessor site we had created and run, I asked him if that meant he’d be placing ads on our fledgling site. He said yes, he’d do that for a little while. And then, after the cookies he placed on Recode helped him to track our desirable audience around the web, his agency would begin removing the ads and placing them on cheaper sites our readers also happened to visit. In other words, our quality journalism was, to him, nothing more than a lead generator for target-rich readers, and would ultimately benefit sites that might care less about quality.</p>

Subscriptions. Gotta be. Ads will always have the tragedy of the commons.
mobile  advertising  business 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Mobile is eating the world • Benedict Evans
<p>As we pass 2.5bn smartphones on earth and head towards 5bn, and mobile moves from creation to deployment, the questions change. What's the state of the smartphone, machine learning and 'GAFA', and what can we build as we stand on the shoulders of giants?</p>

A new version of Evans's presentation, in slide form and also as a video (embedded below). Some of the points - about machine learning and retail ("the internet lets you buy, but not yet shop") are subtle but, once you consider them, far-reaching.

<iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
mobile  analysis 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
Nearly half the world is online •
Angela Moscaritolo:
<p>Forty-seven percent of the world's population is online, according to a <a href="">new report</a> from the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

At this point, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions around the world as there are people on Earth. But that doesn't everyone on the planet has a mobile phone, since many people have multiple subscriptions or devices.

The offline population — some 3.9 billion people around the world — is "disproportionately female, elderly, less educated, lower income, and rural," the report notes.

But with the resources and desire, almost everyone could be connected. Ninety-five percent of the global population lives in an area that is covered by a mobile cell signal. But while most people have access to Internet services, many don't actually use them, largely due to high prices.</p>
internet  mobile 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
Regeneration ← Terence Eden's Blog
The aforesaid Eden:
<p>I've spent the last 15 years working in the mobile industry and, in truth, I think it is the industry that I'm leaving.

When I started out, I was the weirdo for having a touchscreen smartphone (Treo 180 represent!) - now everyone has them.

When I first began doing mobile websites, people thought it was a fad - I ended up running mobile websites with millions of users generating billions of euros.

They told me that no one wanted to wear Google Glass and... OK... I might have missed the ball on that one!

What I'm getting at is that mobile is saturated. I'm not naive enough to say Everything that can be Invented has been Invented - but we're definitely in the "incremental improvement" stage of the industry. Short of a massive leap in power-delivery technology, the public acceptance of face-worn computers, or neural interfaces - I think the future might be *whispers* kinda dull.

Time to shake things up. Time to get out of a 15 year comfort zone. Time to change the world.</p>

Looking forward to finding out what's next, since we'll probably all be heading there after him.
october 2016 by charlesarthur
UK Mobile Consumer Survey • Deloitte
<p>This year’s report will likely mark the end of the smartphone growth era, and the start of its consolidation. A mere nine years after the launch of the first full touchscreen smartphone, adoption is nearing a plateau, at 81% of UK adults, and 91% of 18–44 year olds.

The smartphone user base is approaching an unprecedented peak. No other personal device has had the same commercial and societal impact as the smartphone, and no other current device seems likely to.

While the base may plateau, relentless innovation continues at device and network levels. Devices are likely to incorporate more functionality and get even faster.

Biometric sensors, particularly fingerprint readers (this year’s cover image), are likely to see widespread adoption. Over a quarter of smartphones now have a fingerprint reader, of which three quarters are in use.</p>
deloitte  mobile 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
The mobile phone market has peaked • CCS Insight
<p>CCS Insight's latest global forecast for mobile phones confirms that the market has peaked at about 2 billion units per year after decades of growth.

The research firm expects than in 2016 shipments of mobile phones will slip 1.3% from their level in 2015, with most markets experiencing a difficult year. A notable exception is China, where the market is recovering from a very weak 2015; however, echoing the global trend, total shipments in the country are expected to stabilise at about 450m units a year until 2020.

Marina Koytcheva, Director of Forecasting at CCS Insight, noted, "After years of analysts and commentators talking about mobile phone market peaking within the visible horizon, it has now reached that point".

CCS Insight's forecast shows that smartphones remain the powerhouse of mobile phone shipment volumes. They continue to grow as a proportion of the total market and will account for almost three-quarters of the market in 2016, rising to nearly 90% in 2020. In 2016, 1.42bn units are forecast to ship, up 4.1% from 2015.

However, CCS Insight believes the pressure on smaller phone makers is increasing. Koytcheva continues, "As growth is depleting, competition is intensifying and it comes as little surprise that margins are being squeezed harder than ever. Companies without the scale advantages of manufacturers such as Samsung, Apple or Huawei will find it much harder to make money".</p>

Those without scale will lose money because of component price rises. Winter, of a sort, is coming.
mobile  growth  end  saturation 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Google Trips is a killer travel app for the modern tourist • The Verge
Casey Newton:
<p>Google today announced Trips, a new app that serves as a trip planner and travel guide for anyone who is exploring a new place. The free app, which is available on Android and iOS, will organize your plane tickets and hotel reservations, offer editorial guides to more than 200 cities, and make personalized recommendations based on your Google history. Best of all, it works offline: you can download everything to your phone before you leave, including maps and walking directions — sparing you from having to use an expensive international data plan.

Trips is the culmination of more than two years of work on improving Google’s travel products, said Richard Holden, a vice president of product management at the company, in an interview. In recent months Google introduced Destinations, a travel-planning feature inside mobile search, and revamped its hotel and flight search features.

Now the company is introducing an app that it hopes will become the default way for travelers to organize trip information ahead of their travels and get around town once they have arrived. "We’re doing a great job on the planning stages, but we really need to help consumers when they’re actually at their destination," Holden said.</p>

More aggregation by Google (see <a href="">ridesharing</a> yesterday - which as <a href="">Sameer Singh pointed out</a>, labels the ridesharing services as Ads, which means it's both getting people to use its apps *and* getting paid). It is very noticeable how focussed it has become on leveraging its strengths (search, aggregation, brand) to get people using its apps on mobile in the past few months.
google  app  mobile  trips 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Your smartphone performs better in one hand than the other • Quartz
Akshat Rathi:
<p>If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re likely to get better reception if you hold it in your right hand (and right ear) during a call. That’s the <a href="">conclusion of a report</a> (pdf), commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, that analyzed how effectively different smartphones caught and sent radio signals.

To many of us, our black slabs are nothing but magical devices. They catch and send invisible signals, let us browse the internet and keep in touch with our friends and family. The radio signals that enable these devices to work wirelessly are caught and sent by antennas which, in the modern incarnation of smartphones, have been hidden inside the body.

<img src="" width="100%" />

However, hiding them inside comes with a usability cost. The users of these smartphones have no idea where the antenna is and thus they cannot knowingly keep it clear of obstructions. Phone companies won’t always reveal where they are and taking one apart doesn’t help, because each manufacturer puts the antenna in a different place. The result is that holding your phone in a certain hand can have a large impact on how effectively your phone’s antenna works.</p>

The report makes interesting reading, and also looks at how good various phones and tablets are for data downloads. Overall the message seems to be: use headphones to make your phone call. Now, wired or wireless headphones..?
mobile  phone  radio 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Breaking through • AVC
Fred Wilson:
<p>I exchanged an email with a friend who is trying to get a mobile app business off the ground. I told him that he and his team are attempting to do something that is hard and has gotten a lot harder in the past few years.  He replied that he is looking for a way to break through. I encouraged him and wished him well.

This morning I did something I do on a regular basis. I went through the iOS and Android app store free app leaderboards looking for non-game apps that have broken into the top 100 and stayed there for months. I could not find any. It’s possible that I missed something. My technique is not scientific. I just browse and use my memory, which is not exactly a foolproof method. There are better ways to do this but I like to do it this way.

I think launching a consumer focused mobile app and getting sustained traction (>1mm MAUs for six straight months), is almost impossible right now. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I am sure there will be exceptions that will prove the rule.</p>

Yup. The mobile app business has commoditised at amazing speed. The bigger the user base, the faster it happens.
mobile  apps 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Speech is 3x faster than typing for English and Mandarin text entry on mobile devices • Stanford University
<p>With the ubiquity of mobile devices like smartphones, two new widely used methods have emerged: miniature touch screen keyboards and speech-based dictation. It is currently unknown how these two modern methods compare. We therefore evaluated the text entry performance of both methods in English and in Mandarin Chinese on a mobile smartphone. In the speech input case, our speech recognition system gave an initial transcription, and then recognition errors could be corrected using either speech again or the smartphone keyboard.

We found that with speech recognition, the English input rate was 3.0x faster, and the Mandarin Chinese input rate 2.8x faster, than a state-of-the-art miniature smartphone keyboard. Further, with speech, the English error rate was 20.4% lower, and Mandarin error rate 63.4% lower, than the keyboard. Our experiment was carried out using Baidu's Deep Speech 2, a deep learning-based speech recognition system, and the built-in Qwerty or Pinyin (Mandarin) Apple iOS keyboards. These results show that a significant shift from typing to speech might be imminent and impactful.</p>

That's a big difference. But do you really want people burbling away to their phone with their Facebook update?
data  mobile  speech 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Mobile phone data reveals literacy rates in developing countries • MIT Technology Review
<p>[Telenor Research Ground member Pål] Sundsøy says that his machine learning algorithm has found several factors that seem to predict illiteracy. The most powerful is the location where people spend most of their time. “One explanation can be that the model catches regions of low economic development status, e.g. slum areas where illiteracy is high,” says Sundsøy.

Another predictor of illiteracy is the number of incoming texts and how they differ from the number of outgoing texts. That could be because people do not send texts to others who they know are illiterate, points out Sundsøy.

And the social network seems to be a useful indicator as well. “Illiterates tend to concentrate their communication on few people,” says Sundsøy. That’s in line with other work suggesting that economic well-being correlates with diversity among social contacts.

All in all, he says, his machine learning algorithm can spot illiterate individuals with surprising accuracy. “By deriving economic, social, and mobility features for each mobile user we predict individual illiteracy status with 70 percent accuracy,” he says, pointing out that this allows areas with low literacy rates to be mapped.

That could be a useful trick for aid agencies wanting to allocate resources to areas with low literacy rates.</p>

From an ArXiv paper <a href="">Can mobile usage predict illiteracy in a developing country?</a>
mobile  illiteracy 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Hamburger menus and hidden navigation hurt UX metrics • Nielsen Norman Group
Kara Pernice and Raluca Budiu did an in-depth study of those things that are increasingly used on desktop as well as mobile screens:
<p>The other three metrics that we collected focused on the quality of the user experience:<br />• Content discoverability. Our tasks were fairly simple and gave users a fair amount of freedom (e.g., “Find a technology article that interests you”), so people were actually able to complete them most of the time. However, given the focus of our study, we used a more nuanced measure of success (content discoverability) that took into account not only whether people completed the task, but also how they completed it. Thus, content discoverability measured whether users were able to find the content they were looking for by using navigation (and not search) in those cases when the content wasn’t directly linked from the homepage.<br />• Task-difficulty rating. At the end of each task, we asked participants to rate how easy or difficult the task was on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 being easy and 7 being difficult. The task difficulty is a subjective metric; it measures users’ self-reported assessment of the task. It usually reflects their overall experience in using the site, so a high estimated difficulty rating will indirectly indicate actual difficulty in locating the navigation and navigating through the site.<br />• Time on task. This metric represented the time it took participants to complete the task, whether successfully or not. A menu can add or decrease task time, if it is easy or difficult to find, open, or use, so longer task times also reflect the added interaction cost due to a less usable navigation.

Our findings show that, across all three different metrics, hidden navigation significantly decreases user experience both on mobile and on desktop.</p>
hamburger  mobile  navigation  ux 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
LG sacks executives amid mobile struggle • Korea Times
Kim Yoo-chul and Lee Min-hyung:
<p>LG Electronics has announced a major shake-up of senior executives in its mobile business division, as it struggles to rebrand itself in the highly competitive smartphone market.

On Friday, LG Electronics said it has created a program management office (PMO) in its troubled handset business and replaced some executives.

"Friday's announcement is because LG Electronics' latest flagship G5 smartphone failed to generate sales," LG said, adding it hopes the shake-up will give its ailing mobile business "new momentum."</p>

But in the analysis part of the story we learn:
<p>In March, the company unveiled what it called the "game-changing" modular smartphone, expressing confidence the G5 would drive up weak profitability in the mobiles unit.

The device looked like meeting expectations in the first few weeks following its launch, garnering huge media attention and recording a threefold sales increase on its predecessor ― the G4.

But the G5's initial attention is withering, as shipments continue to drop more steeply than expected, analysts said.

"The estimated G5 shipment for the second quarter of this year will remain 2.2m, below a previous expectation of some 3m," Mirae Asset Securities analyst Cho jin-ho said in a report. "This is because the G5's market response is getting weaker and the company failed to compete with the aggressive promotion campaigns of its rivals."</p>

LG's mobile division has lost money since Q2 2015, and there's no sign of things improving. <a href="">My thoughts in February</a> were that "modularity in the handset kills premium pricing even faster than OS modularity." Not looking wrong so far.
lg  mobile 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Well....Google just announced at SMX that the 3-pack is going to start… • Google+
Joy Hawkins:
<p>Well....Google just announced at SMX that the 3-pack is going to start containing an ad soon. So instead of the 3-pack it's going to be 1-ad + 2 organic listings. Yes, the ones right on Google search (not the expanded pack). Be prepared to try to get clients in the top 2 instead of the top 3!</p>

Translation: in local search on mobile/desktop, there will be an ad (or two) above the maps, and then two organic results. <a href="">Here's a screenshot</a>.

It's the only way for Google to keep growing its ad revenues as mobile becomes bigger but the number of searches on it don't grow.
google  mobile 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Could Brexit result in higher roaming charges? • CCS Insigh
Kester Mann:
<p>Should the UK vote for Brexit, mobile operators would no longer be accountable to Brussels' regulation on roaming. Under pressure from declining revenue in traditional areas such as voice and messaging, they would be foolish not to at least consider seizing an opportunity to reapply charges.

In reality however, this would be much easier said than done in a hugely competitive market that includes a number of strong virtual providers. Indeed, some operators have already gone a long way toward abolishing roaming ahead of the ruling next June. Backtracking would be extremely unpopular and probably only work if operators moved in unison. Even then, Ofcom may still be within its rights to clamp down if it deemed the move unnecessary.

Already more than 3 million customers of Three have taken advantage of inclusive roaming since the operator launched its Feel at Home offer in 2013. Significantly, it includes popular tourist and business destinations beyond Brussels' jurisdiction, such as Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US. In my view, this demonstrates a long-term strategy to offer low-cost roaming charges, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

Other UK providers have followed suit. Carphone Warehouse currently offers inclusive roaming in 29 countries, including Australia and the US, through its virtual service, iD. Meanwhile, Vodafone last month moved to largely abolish roaming across Europe. Tesco Mobile has a similar offer, although it is only available during the summer, a possible indication that it will review its options after the UK goes to the polls.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this debate is Swisscom's recent decision to virtually abolish roaming within the EU for its Natel Infinity Plus subscribers. Given that Switzerland is not a member state and has a hugely dominant market position, this was a surprising move that suggests the value of roaming may be overestimated by some commentators.</p>

(My family loves Three's "Feel At Home" international roaming for no extra cost.)
roaming  mobile  brexit 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
No Signal (and other cellular drama) • YouTube
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

After <a href="">last week's wonderment</a> about whether people in Star Wars are post- (or pre-) literate, here's how screenplay writers deal with those damn mobile phones which could scupper plots in which people are meant to be out of contact and able to call help. Texas Chainsaw Massacre never had to deal with this (though probably would have in a scene like this).
signal  mobile  films 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Tesco Mobile lets customers reduce bills by viewing ads • Total Telecom
Nick Wood:
<p>Tesco Mobile announced on Thursday it is giving customers the option to lower their monthly bills in return for watching adverts.

The scheme is called Tesco Mobile Xtras, and has been brought about by a partnership between the U.K. MVNO and mobile advertising platform Unlockd.

Unlockd has created an Android app that serves targeted offers and content at various times when the end user unlocks their smartphone. By viewing the ads or marketing offers, customers can lower their monthly bill by up to £3 (€3.83)…

…Many others have attempted to woo customers with the promise of free or cut-price mobile service in return for consuming adverts, with limited success.

First came Blyk, which offered free service to 16-24 year-olds provided they clicked on ads. 200,000 signed up in the first year, but momentum stalled, and the MVNO shut down its mobile service in July 2009.

Samba Mobile, another ad-funded free MVNO, gave mobile data to customers who interacted with adverts. It closed down after it failed to negotiate a lower wholesale data price with its network provider.</p>

And there are plenty of others. If your bill is really high, £3 isn't going to make a difference. If it's really low, will you view enough ads to make the differential worthwhile - and are you a worthwhile target of those "targeted" apps?
apps  ad  tesco  mobile 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Why Britain banned mobile apps • GovInsider
Joshua Chambers spoke to Ben Terrett, former design chief at the UK's Government Digital Service, which often acted as a sort of "tiger team" to fix big or little projects that had got bogged down in spec-land:
<p>Key to the GDS’ approach is designing for user needs, not organizational requirements, Terrett says. “That is how good digital services designed and built these days. That is how everyone does it, whether that’s google or facebook or British Airways or whoever.”

The problem is that public sector agencies tend not to design with citizens in mind. “Things are just designed to suit the very silos that the project sits in, and the user gets lost in there,” Terrett adds.

For example, opening a restaurant might require multiple permits from different agencies. A good digital service should combine them all in one place.

Focusing on user needs also needs officials to cut bad ideas out. Most Ministers might want there to be sharing options on websites so that citizens can easily promote government on Facebook and Twitter. But the GDS tested this, and found that only 0.1% of citizens ever clicked on them. These stats allowed officials to remove them from the design, making the site simpler, cleaner and quicker to load.</p>

The mobile apps stuff? Because then you have to update them for each version of each platform. Responsive websites are better.
business  design  government  mobile 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
2016 Internet Trends Report • Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers
<p>The 2016 edition of Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report covers today’s Internet growth and an in-depth look at the following:

Global Internet users have surpassed 3B; India has supplanted the US as the world’s second-largest Internet market.
• Internet user growth remains consistent (led by acceleration in India), while smartphone user and shipment growth have slowed.
• In the face of a slowing global economy, key macro growth drivers from the past 2 decades are less certain.
• Internet advertising (particularly via mobile) continues to grow, but so does ad-blocking, pushing the envelope on development of more innovative ad formats.
• New online-first brands have rapidly grown in popularity for the millennial generation with their focus on omni-channel and personalized distribution strategies.
• In communication, video and images shared are growing as a means of storytelling; creators, consumers, and advertisers are taking part.
• Messaging has evolved from simple, expressive conversation to business-focused use cases, with Asian platforms often leading the way.
• More efficient and often more convenient than typing, voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction.</p>

And much more. You might take issue with some of the detail (it overstates the iPhone's ASP, but the general direction is right) but it's a reference, as usual. Question is, is it predicting the future or just setting up how the past looked?
marymeeker  digital  internet  mobile 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Nearly 1 in 4 people abandon mobile apps after only one use • TechCrunch
Sarah Perez:
<p>Based on data from analytics firm Localytics, and its user base of 37,000 applications, user retention has seen a slight increase year-over-year from 34% in 2015 to 38% in 2016.

However, just because this figure has recovered a bit, that doesn’t mean the numbers are good. Instead, what this indicates is that 62 percent of users will use an app less than 11 times.

Says the report, “this is not a sustainable business model.”

These days, 23% launch an app only once – an improvement over last year, but only slightly. For comparison’s sake, only 20% of users were abandoning apps in 2014.

On iOS, user retention saw some slight improvements. The percentage of those only opening apps once fell to 24% from 26% last year, and those who return to apps 11 times or more grew to 36% from 32% in 2015.</p>

That seems depressing. Then again, thinking of my own use, I tend to install apps, and not use them for ages; then I'll suddenly discover a use, and go with it. It's not quite "abandonment". There aren't that many apps that I have to use every day, or even every month. But there are lots that I might use once a year. (And there's no particular distinction between mobile and desktop in that regard.)
apps  mobile 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Cellphone radiation is still safer than viral science stories • Mashable
Jason Abbruzzese:
<p>Here's the study's title: "<a href="">Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure)</a>"

And here's a summary from Mashable science editor Andrew Freedman: “The partial results show that exposing large doses of radiation over about two years to male rats can cause unusually high rates of two specific kinds of tumors. But the comparison to humans is a question mark and comparison even to the control group of rats is problematic because of abnormalities in that group. There are a lot of statistical oddities in the study."

And now, a selection of headlines from various outlets that covered the study.</p>

They're all terrible misrepresentations. Survival in the control group of males was lower than in the exposed group of males. So.. mobile phones make you live longer?
mobile  phones  radiation  cancer 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Three network to run 24-hour adblocking trial • The Guardian
Jasper Jackson:
<p>Mobile provider Three is to run a 24-hour adblocking trial in the UK in the first step towards removing ads for all its customers.

The company is planning to contact customers and ask them to sign up for the trial, which will take place in mid June.

Three claims it wants to introduce adblocking to improve customer privacy, reduce data costs and provide a better experience accessing the web on phones. The company said advertisers should pay for the data costs associated with ads, but that it isn’t trying to get ads removed completely.

Three UK chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz said: “This is the next step in our journey to make mobile ads better for our customers. The current ad model is broken. It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something needs to change.”

“We can only achieve change by working with all stakeholders in the advertising industry – customers, advertising networks and publishers – to create a new form of advertising that is better for all parties.”

Despite Three’s insistence it wants to work with the companies that are showing its customers ads, many publishers will view the move as an all-out attack on their businesses.</p>

This could get ugly.
three  mobile  adblocking 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Google Maps directions may soon lead you to ... more ads • Associated Press
Michael Liedtke:
<p>You might start seeing more ads when getting directions from Google's popular mapping service.

The ads, called "promoted pins," will highlight restaurants and other merchants located along your way. They'll show up inside the directions map as Google routes you to your destination.

Google has displayed text ads alongside its online maps for several years. But the change announced Tuesday marks the first time the Internet company has inserted the equivalent of a digital billboard into the directions map itself.

Google is importing the concept to its Maps app from Waze, a smaller traffic-navigation service that the company also runs.

Google Maps boasts more than 1 billion users worldwide, but not everyone will see the new ads right away.</p>

Images <a href="">started getting ads a few weeks ago</a>. Once ads come in, it's irreversible. Choose for yourself whether you want to view companies' reliance on them as an addiction, or an infection (along the lines of a retrovirus which inserts itself into the DNA - like HIV).
google  mobile  ads 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Fitbit buys Coin to help with mobile payments • Engadget
Daniel Cooper:
<p>Fitbit is purchasing (almost all of) Coin, the payments startup that developed <a href="">a universal credit card replacement</a>. The world's biggest maker of wearable technology can now leverage Coin's know-how and integrate NFC-based commerce to its hardware. Fitbit has already said that there are "no plans" to integrate Coin's setup into the products it'll launch in 2016, so you can be damn sure it'll be there for 2017. It's not going to be a big leap for either party, as Coin was working on <a href="">some form of payments watch</a> earlier this year. At the time, it had signed up Atlas Wearables, Omate and Moov, as well as MasterCard to handle the processing.

The deal specifically excludes the Coin 2.0 hardware, the "universal card" that integrated every credit card you owned into one, wallet-friendly gizmo. If you own one of the units, your hardware will last for the duration of the built-in battery, which is expected to be two years. After that, however, you're SOL. In addition, Coin Rewards and the Coin Developer Program are being retired following the announcement.</p>

Inching upwards to more functionality. Where it will meet Android Wear and Apple Watch.
fitbit  mobile 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Microsoft selling feature phone business to FIH Mobile Ltd. and HMD Global, Oy • Microsoft
<p>REDMOND, Wash. — May 18, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced it reached an agreement to sell the company’s entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd., a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, and HMD Global, Oy for $350 million. As part of the deal, FIH Mobile Ltd. will also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam — the company’s Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility. Upon close of this deal, approximately 4,500 employees will transfer to, or have the opportunity to join, FIH Mobile Ltd. or HMD Global, Oy, subject to compliance with local law.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.</p>

The wording of that second paragraph is subtle. I read it to mean that there won't be any new Lumia phones.
featurephone  microsoft  mobile 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Mobile traffic dominates among the web's most popular sites • The Atlantic
Adriene Lafrance:
<p>More than half of Facebook’s roughly 1.7 billion monthly users visit the site exclusively from their smartphones—that’s 894 million mobile-only users each month, up from 581 million such users last year and 341 million mobile-only users in 2014, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

Google confirmed last year that more searches come from mobile devices than computers in 10 countries, including the United States. Over the holiday season, Amazon said more than 60% of shoppers used mobile. And Wikipedia, which recently revamped the way it tracks site traffic, says it’s getting more mobile than desktop visits to its English language site.

In April, Wikipedia had about 361 million unique visits from smartphones and tablets compared with some 229 million from desktops—meaning roughly 61% of traffic to the English-language version of Wikipedia came from mobile devices, according to data provided by a spokeswoman.</p>

Didn't know the Wikipedia stat, but that's really persuasive.
mobile  internet 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
The mobile-ad world sucks, and Vungle's chief wants to make it better • VentureBeat
Dean Takahashi:
<p>The popularity of so many ad blockers means one thing to Zain Jaffer, chief executive of Vungle, which helps mobile game and app publishers acquire more users and make money via in-app video ads

“It tells us the advertising world sucks,” said Jaffer in an interview with VentureBeat. “Consumers are so sick of ads being intrusive that a website doesn’t even load. You need an ad blocker just to browse the Web. Advertising has become a game of … it’s the opposite of transparency.”

Vungle tries to generate more revenue for mobile-app makers and get better exposure for brands as they follow consumers into the huge mobile-apps market and the $34 billion mobile-game market. Roughly half of Vungle’s business is in games. Vungle’s video ad technology is used in apps that generate billions of views a month. And Jaffer wants to keep improving return on investment and performance so that the value of the advertising is transparent.</p>

I'm puzzled by how people who want other people to see more adverts always start from those who use adblockers, and say "clearly, people are sick of ads! So we need to figure out how to show them ads."
adblocking  mobile 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Open letter to CMOs: Stop all mobile advertising immediately • VentureBeat
Scotty Moore:
<p>Many have jumped on the mobile advertising bandwagon, but I’m here to tell you that mobile advertising, as it currently exists, is a wasteful and non-productive activity. It wastes money, it wastes company time, it doesn’t deliver accurate results, and people hate it.

Now I’m not saying that marketers should completely give up on the mobile space. It is my opinion that branded apps are the better way to go about advertising on smartphones and tablets. However, before I can promote that idea I need to explain why mobile ads are such a bad investment.

If you’re a digital marketer, open up your analytics and take a look at your click-through rate. Hopefully it’s a pretty good number and you’re getting a good ROI on your ads. After all, that’s the whole point of any advertisement: get the customer to respond in a way we want.

Now what if I were to say that 60% of those clicks were complete accidents? Still getting a good ROI? And what if on top of that, viewers were getting mad at your brand because it was getting in the way of their smartphone use?

Not looking so hot now, is it?

Yet that is what the research is showing, <a href="">according to a study done by Retale</a>, a location-based advertising company. The study surveyed 500 people for a week toward the end of January, 2016. 69% said that they had clicked on a mobile advertisement on at least one occasion. 60% of respondents said the reason they clicked on the ad was an accident due to small screen size.</p>
mobile  advertising 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Longform reading shows signs of life in our mobile news world • Pew Research Center
Ann Mitchell, Galen Stocking and Katerina Eva Matsa:
<p>A unique, new study of online reader behavior by Pew Research Center, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, addresses this question from the angle of time spent with long- versus short-form news. It suggests the answer is yes: When it comes to the relative time consumers spend with this content, long-form journalism does have a place in today’s mobile-centric society…

…The analysis finds that despite the small screen space and multitasking often associated with cellphones, consumers do spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. Indeed, the total engaged time with articles 1,000 words or longer averages about twice that of the engaged time with short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57.1

This gap between short- and long-form content in engaged time remains consistent across time of day and the pathway taken to get to the news story. However, when looking solely within either short- or long-form content, engaged time varies significantly depending on how the reader got to the article, whether it is midday or evening, and even what topic the article covers, according to the study.</p>
data  journalism  media  mobile 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
The end of a mobile wave » Benedict Evans
Evans notes that we've hit the end of the "which ecosystem will win?" (answer: both) challenge, and now we have a free-for all among Android/AOSP offerings:
<p>coming from the other end of the spectrum, mobile operators are increasing buying in a selection of low-end smartphones than they sell (generally unsubsidised on prepay) under their own brand. Sometimes these have operator apps preloaded (if they've not given up on that yet), sometimes not. One could argue that the value being added here is really only distribution, and so one might see other companies with distribution getting into this, such as mass-market retailers. Some of these have <a href="">already experimented with Android tablets</a>, with mixed results (as of course they did with MVNOs). 

This is all rather like the PC clone market of the 1980s - hundreds of undifferentiated companies fighting it out to sell commodity computers built with commodity components running a commodity operating system (though those companies mainly made the PCs themselves, where many phone brands do not). That world in due course led to companies like Dell - people who embraced the volume, low-margin commodity model and found an angle of their own. We’re starting to see equivalent model-creation now. </p>
business  mobile  android 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Hacking your phone » CBS News
Sharyn Alfonsi spoke to a team of German hackers who have found a flaw in <a href="">SS7</a>, aka Signalling System 7, the phone protocol for voice calls and text - and had a demo of how they could hack into her call to a congressman Ted Lieu, who is knowledgeable about technology, by knowing the number for the iPhone that CBS had provided to Lieu :
<p>[Karsten] Nohl told us the SS7 flaw is a significant risk mostly to political leaders and business executives whose private communications could be of high value to hackers. The ability to intercept cellphone calls through the SS7 network is an open secret among the world's intelligence agencies -- -including ours -- and they don't necessarily want that hole plugged.

"We live in a world where we cannot trust the technology that we use."

Sharyn Alfonsi: If you end up hearing from the intelligence agencies that this flaw is extremely valuable to them and to the information that they're able to get from it, what would you say to that?

Rep. Ted Lieu: That the people who knew about this flaw and saying that should be fired.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Should be fired?

Rep. Ted Lieu: Absolutely.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Why?

Rep. Ted Lieu: You cannot have 300-some million Americans-- and really, right, the global citizenry be at risk of having their phone conversations intercepted with a known flaw, simply because some intelligence agencies might get some data. That is not acceptable.</p>
hack  mobile  ss7 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Has desktop internet use peaked? » WSJ
Jack Marshall:
<p>The amount of time people spend accessing the Internet from desktop devices is showing signs of decline, according to online measurement specialist comScore.

Data from the research company indicate overall time spent online in the U.S. from desktop devices—which include laptop computers—has fallen for the past four months, on a year-over-year basis. It dipped 9.3% in December 2015, 7.6% in January, 2% in February and 6% in March.</p>

"Great story, Jack! What's the data look like?"

<img src="" width="100%" />

"Hmm - should we mention the four-month dip in 2014? No, probably better if we don't. Just leave that out of the story."

(I suspect desktop use is probably falling, but this isn't quite proof yet.)
online  mobile 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Presentation: Mobile ate the world » Benedict Evans
<p>Updated for spring 2016, this is a snapshot of why mobile matters, where it is and where it's going. I've written quite a lot of blog posts discussing these issues, which I collated in <a href="">this [other] post</a>. </p>

76-slide presentation, with lots of subtle points in it to absorb; I think that AI will play a more important role than is immediately obvious, because it can be subsumed into the device. That, though, isn't what the platform opportunity is about.
analysis  mobile 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
Explaining the struggles of Apple Pay and mobile payments » Tech-Thoughts
Sameer Singh:
<p>From the perspective of mainstream consumers, mobile payments are no more "mobile" than a credit card or cash. Security and privacy have never been a draw except for a vocal minority. The only benefit left is transaction processing time or "convenience". Last year, most early adopters (and some analysts) argued that mobile payments were so much more convenient than existing payment solutions that it was only a matter of time until adoption exploded. Except, it hasn't. And the longer you think about it, the more superficial this "convenience" argument seems.

<img src="" width="100%" />

If a "normal" iPhone user has to make a trip to the closest big box retailer, say Walmart, would Apple Pay improve his experience? Does saving ten seconds at the checkout counter matter when he has to wait ten minutes for his groceries to be scanned and bagged anyway? Even if the wait is a few minutes for other types of in-store purchases, the added convenience is minimal. At the very least, it isn't enough of an experience boost to change the deeply-ingrained habit of pulling out a credit card. Now, if the credit card itself could save a few seconds, it would be actively utilized. And that's a selling point for contactless payments, not for mobile payments.</p>

True, but that's only applicable in the US (where the survey comes from), where <a href="">amazingly insecure but fast-to-use credit cards</a> have been in use for decades; in Europe chip-abnd-PIN has been in use for much longer. Singh points out that in-app purchases are a better use, but I'd love to know how much Apple Pay is used for travel in London, where it's accepted on the underground.
applepay  mobile 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better » andrewchen
Andrew Chen and Ankit Jain:
<p>The first graph shows a retention curve: The number of days that have passed since the initial install, and what % of those users are active on that particular day. As my readers know, this is often used in a sentence like “the D7 retention is 40%” meaning that seven days after the initial install, 40% of those users was active on that specific day.

The graph is pretty amazing to see:

<img src="" width="100%" />

Based on Quettra’s data, we can see that the average app loses 77% of its DAUs [daily active users] within the first 3 days after the install. Within 30 days, it’s lost 90% of DAUs. Within 90 days, it’s over 95%. Stunning. The other way to say this is that the average app mostly loses its entire userbase within a few months, which is why of the >1.5 million apps in the Google Play store, only a few thousand sustain meaningful traffic. (*Tabular data in the footnotes if you’re interested)

Ankit Jain, who collaborated with me on this essay, commented on this trend: "Users try out a lot of apps but decide which ones they want to ‘stop using’ within the first 3-7 days. For ‘decent’ apps, the majority of users retained for 7 days stick around much longer. The key to success is to get the users hooked during that critical first 3-7 day period."</p>

The graph for top 10 apps, by contrast, shows them at over 50% retention even after 90 days. Data via 125m Android devices worldwide, and excluding Google's own apps.
apps  mobile 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
October 2010: What's really wrong with BlackBerry (and what to do about it) » Mobile Opportunity
Michael Mace, on an old post which happens to hold some useful insights that are worth remembering:
<p>When I worked at Apple, I spent a lot of time studying failed computer platforms. I thought that if we understood the failures, we might be able to prevent the same thing from happening to us.

I looked at everything from videogame companies to the early PC pioneers (companies like Commodore and Atari), and I found an interesting pattern in their financial results. The early symptoms of decline in a computing platform were very subtle, and easy for a business executive to rationalize away. By the time the symptoms became obvious, it was usually too late to do anything about them.

The symptoms to watch closely are small declines in two metrics: the rate of growth of sales, and gross profit per unit sold (gross margins). Here's why:

Every computing platform has a natural pool of customers. Some people need or want the platform, and some people don't. Your product spreads through its pool of customers via the traditional "diffusion" process -- early enthusiasts first, late adopters at the end.

It's relatively easy to get good revenue from the early adopters. They seek out innovations like yours, and are willing to pay top dollar for it. As the market for a computer system matures, the early adopters get used up, and the company starts selling to middle adopters who are more price-sensitive. In response to this, the company cuts prices, which results in a big jump in sales. Total revenue goes up, and usually overall profits as well. Everybody in the company feels good…</p>

But trouble lies ahead.
mobile  business 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
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