Ronnie05's Blog

Google+ sign ins: Why does that matter?

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on February 28, 2013

Till some time back, i had a belief that there was a bit of Google in everyone’s internet. Such was Google’s dominance – which then was challenged by the emergence of Facebook and Twitter which took on the identity of a user on the internet. So Facebook and Twitter sign ins became the key to web browsing and discovery. Google which delivers its internet revenue model on recording and using user breadcrumbs on the internet started loosing which is where Google+ came in.

The recent introduction of Google+ based sign ins to websites and apps now enable Google to be woven into the internet habit of users. Google thus re-discovers its user data goldmine. Prior to this Google Calendar and Google Drive already have permitted developers full access. Mobile and Web developers will be able to accept Google sign-ins and — depending on the permissions that the app requests and the user chooses to authorize — gain access to Google+ social sharing.

Even though Google+ as a social platform is approaching its two-year anniversary, Google+ has lagged behind its competitors when offering third-party sign-ins: Facebook Connect is a little over four years old, and Twitter has permitted sign-ins since 2009. LinkedIn offers a similar sign-in option. This aannouncement from Google puts it at par – and extends Google’s view of the user to more than mail, search, video and more.

Whats really cool about this is the way this service integrates cross platform linkages – across mobile and across web apps. Google+ will be able to leverage its Android strengths hugely to establish the lead over Twitter and Facebook.

Imagine now, the kind of leverage Google+ has with this service and the Google Glass or Android TV or Driverless Car! You get it?

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Is there room for more than 3 OSs in Mobile?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 27, 2013

Gary Kovacs, CEO Mozilla wants a piece of the action in enabling the next 2 billion people graduate to the internet. Thus the Firefox OS. Over the last couple of weeks there have been increasing number of claims to divergence in the Mobile OS space- Blackberry 10, Tizen, Ubuntu and now Mozilla. Additionally Samsung is shutting off Bada and HP is selling off WebOS (to LG).

Mobile OS logos

1. Android being the 70% market leader is working on economies of scale and scope – spreading the open platform across multiple domains – TV, Project Glass, Set Top Boxes, Refridgerators, Cars and more. Thus Android is emerging as the truly “connected OS” in the age of convergence
2. Apple still rules as the king of experience and if the experiments in India are replicated across emerging nations – and if the low cost iPhone is in works – Apple will multiply its market share in the mid range ($200) segment in the emerging nations.
3. Historically, OSs have largely oligopolistic/monopolistic in nature. Windows has ruled the PC wave and Android/iOS share the spoils in Mobile devices (Smartphones and Tablets). Even in the feature phone category – Symbian ruled the roost before the advent of Smartphones.
4.While the promise of a diversified OS experience and OS fatigue is a promised land – most of the experiments in this field have returned without encouraging results. (The Palm and HP experience with WebOS and the Samsung experience with home grown Bada being key examples)
5. Even a Goliath like Microsoft is unable to turn the RT platform with a reasonably decent Windows8 experience. Currently all it has is just a toe-hold in the industry even with a Office monopoly out there.
6. Operators – the key market facing entities in the telecom eco-system support the concept of multi OS but the consumer ask is converging to 2 or maximum of 3 OSs. Apple, Android and Blackberry/Windows take those spaces.
7. OEMs and Developers on the other hand would like to be working on 2/3 OSs – OEMs get their economies of scale and Developers have lesser customization requirements for their apps (Agree that HTML5 may change a bit of this)

There’s yet another promise of a light OS with cloud support supported by HTML5 – but even that experience is far from mainstream currently. Many of the fledgeling OSs plan to ride the HTMl5 wave. However, HTML5 and its features are also key to Android and Apple’s iOS – all the more relevant with over 600K apps each.

All these factors put together- my feeling is that there isn’t much room for multi-OS play. I had love to be proven wrong such as the way Windows explorer ceded the browser space to Chrome, Safari and Mozilla.

So to answer Mr.Kovacs narrative – “Apple and Google have led the way in the smartphone market but can’t cover the whole thing- it (is) impossible to understand how 3, 4, 5, or 6 billion people are going to get their diverse needs satisfied by one or two or five companies, no matter how delicious those companies are… Is the farmer in the Indian countryside going to have the same needs and requirements as a lawyer sitting in New York?

Yes, Mr.Kovacs- there is very limited need divergence in the age of convergence- and then there is scale!

Ericsson Mobility Report: February 2013 (Summary)

Posted in Mobile Data & Traffic by Manas Ganguly on February 20, 2013

Total number of net adds for Q4, 2012 accounted 140 million.

Ericsson- Mobile subs by region Q4, 2012

In terms of new subs/net adds, China leads the fray with 30 mln subs, followed by India (11 mln), Bangladesh (9mln), Indonesia (8 mln) and Nigeria (5mln).

Mobile subs have grown around 9% y-o-y and 2% q-o-q

Mobility Penetration Q4, 2012

In Q4, mobile broadband subscriptions1 grew ~125 million to 1.5 billion, reflecting a 50% year-on-year increase.

There is continued strong momentum for smartphone uptake in all regions. Approximately 40 percent of all mobile phones sold during 2012 were smartphones, compared to around 30 percent for the full year 2011. Only around 15-20 percent of the worldwide installed base of mobile phone subscriptions uses smartphones, which means that there is considerable room for
further uptake.

data Traffic World Wide

By the end of Q4, 2012, Global mobile penetration reached 89% totalling 6.3bln connections- However, actual number of subs is around 4.4 bln, since many users have multiple connections

GSM/GPRS/EDGE subscriptions grew ~44 million and WCDMA/HSPA grew ~70 million. Together these technologies represent ~80 percent of total net additions. LTE subscriptions grew from 14 million to 57 million. GSM/GPRS/EDGE + WCDMA/HSPA + LTE accounted for 90% of the global mobile net adds.

World wide data traffic continues a healthy uptrend and shows significant and stable growth. Data traffic has doubled Q-o-Q Q4, 2012 versus Q4, 2011 with a 28% quarterly growth between Q3, 2012 and Q4, 2012.There are variations in data consumption patterns across geographies and maturity of markets.

ericsson-mobility-report-infographic

Source of data and Infographic: Ericsson Mobility

Google’s penetration of Android is as important as Android’s penetration of the handset market

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on February 19, 2013

Continued from an earlier post on Android being Google’s best strategic move ever. This Post examines how and why Android undermines the strategic intent of Google in the mobile space.

The best anti-thesis to “Android is selling in huge numbers” is possibly “Android has huge problems in fragmentation” arguement. On a superfical level what this translates to is the consistently lower engagement and monetization of the platform – a far cry from the Apple iOS. Android is the quintessential open source which also means that the Android army stretches from the Samsungs to the Shenzhen sweat shops – the smallest white label OEMs who are fragmenting the low end markets all ends. Samsung’s dominance of Android platform is not the best solution for Google as it struggles with its own line of Motorola Android phones.

Android today is at the same place where Wintel was a decade or two back with an armmy of clones of cheap PC makers churning out tens of millions of cheap commodity PCs. What Android and its eco-system ( Qualcomm, EMP, Mediatek, Allwinner, Spreadtrum) have enabled is a flood of cheap commodity smartphones and tablets. A vast range of other devices ( netbooks, in-car PCs and DVD players, set-top-boxes and lots else besides) following on behind. Often the fragmentation of the Android means a $45 smartphone with no access to Android Play market – but only a way to latch on to the internet. Google thus starts missing out on mapping this strata of smartphone buyers. (Agreed the search would still come through Google).

Compare this with Apple, a $650+ device – bought by a completely different set of consumers to whole experience, exploration and ads make more sense.Thus,it is quite possible that iPhones generate more advertising revenue for Google than all Android phones combined. In that respect 20% iPhones sold globally are more valuable than 70% of the Androids sold.

Beyond the search and advertising revenues that Google makes from Android, there are those bits of signalling data- that the low cost Androids miss out – those valuable bits of information that map the user holistically. A data mine that can be leveraged for data with relevance to the user. The real structural benefit to Google from Android comes from the understanding it gives of actual users, and the threat comes from devices that do not provide this data – even though theoretically, it can still leverage Google search. A significant portion of the $45 handsets skimp on Google apps just as they skimp on IMEI numbers. These devices are like dark matter: a lot of it around – but nothing really adding up to the worth.

Benedict Evans does a very accurate description of the Android platform- Very powerful but spiralling semi-randomly with no clarity on where it would land. Even when there is the threat of Amazon or Samsung forking the platform, there is also the threat that an increasing number of Android devices might have no more connection to Google than does an iPhone.

To put that another way, Google’s penetration of Android is as important as Android’s penetration of the handset market.

Gartner: Q4, 2012 Mobile Phone and Smartphone Market shares

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 16, 2013

Long time back, i had written a blog on the subject of smartphones becoming the key handheld at the cost of feature phones. If the Gartner 2012 numbers are to be considered, the saturation point for feature phones has been reached and the 2012 feature phones numbers – have been on a 1.66% decline as against 2011.

Gartner 4Q 2012 2

Incidentally, i see another trend – that of smaller players/ white-labelled OEMs- and a fragmented market emerging – a far cry from the Nokia and Samsung dominance days. The rise of Android is but actually a testimony to this trend with the exception of Samsung. With no malevolence to Samsung – it does seem to me that Samsung is holding on to a untenable position in shares in mobile devices with the white labeled OEMs on the prowl.

Gartner Q4, 2012 - 1

While Apple will still hold on to the smartphone ground (because of its ability to leverage hardware, software , services and experience), Samsung doesnot hold that ace with Android. This inspite of the fact that Samsung Galaxy series was the first high end Android that has challenged and now dethroned technology leadership of the iPhone.

Gartner Q4 2012 3

The end result looks like an Android dominated market, though there could be a case of Android fatigue setting in with the audiences. However with the low end $50 smartphones on Android’s the numbers for Android will continue to add up especially in APAC and African markets. Thus Android is expected to still rule the volumes game on smartphones. It would be interesting to see how Windows and Blackberry go after Android – but the key still remains that – Android is the undisputed choice in smartphones in the fastest growing markets across the world. Windows and Blackberry will take time reversing this trend.

Q4, 2012 Smartphone Market shares- IDC

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Data & Traffic by Manas Ganguly on February 15, 2013

The new IDC report for smartphone shipments in Q4, 2012 hands it over to Android – which seems to have reached more dizzying heights than what Symbian/Nokia ever reached in their near monopolistic regime heydays. the two systems accounted for 91.1 percent of operating systems on all smartphone shipments during the fourth quarter of 2012. For the year 2012, Android and iOS accounted for 87.6 percent of operation systems on smartphones shipped.

SmartPhone OSs II

Android smartphone vendors and Apple shipped a total of 207.6 million units worldwide during Q4 which is a 70.2 percent increase from the 122.0 million shipments of Q4 2011.

Android Saw triple-digit growth for the year. According to IDC, Samsung was the biggest contributor to Android’s success as 42.0 percent of all Android smartphone shipments during the year were by Samsung. The report notes that the intra-Android competition has not stifled companies from keeping Android as the cornerstone of their respective smartphone strategies.
At the end of 2012, Android had a 68.8 percent of market, with over 497.1 million shipments. In 2011, Android’s market share was 49.2 percent with 243.5 million shipments.

IDC- Smartphone

iOS also continued to register strong growth. But the report notes that iOS’s year-over-year growth has slowed compared to the overall market. Of course the report also mentions the growing buzz around a large-screen iPhone and a cheaper variant, which it says would help sustain growth. iOS shipments for 2012 stood at 135.9 million smartphones which represents an 18.8 percent market share. This is a 46 percent growth compared to 2011 when iOS smartphone shipments stood at 93.1 million at a market share of 18.8 percent.

BlackBerry OS: The report states that the decision to postpone the release of BB10 to 2013 left the platform vulnerable in 2012 and reliant primarily on older smartphones running on BB7. As a result, BlackBerry’s tight grip on enterprise users has loosened. BlackBerry had 32.5 million shipments for 2012, which gives it a market share of 4.5 percent. This is down 36.11 percent from 2011 where it had 51.1 million shipments and a market share of 10.3 percent.

Windows Phone/Windows Mobile: The report notes that this has made some progress in Q4 of 2012. Nokia’s Lumia phones were the key driver in Microsoft’s success, says IDC. Windows Phone/Windows Mobile had a 17.9 million shipments and represents a 2.5 percent market for mobile OS on smartphones. This is 98.9 percent increase from 2011 when it had only 9.0 million shipments which was a market share of 1.8 percent.

Android – Google’s best strategic move ever?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on February 11, 2013

Android controls 70% of the Smartphone volumes in 2012. Over the last 4 years, ever since Google launched Android, this has been one huge success story. In this post, i am looking at the 3 factors that have fueled the Android’s success story. The success generated by Android is across three key levels – Present day revenues for Google,Access to mobility for Google and generating intelligence and information about the user – creating profile and semantic patterns which is the future of advertising as we know it.

android 15022013

While Google’s intent behind Android was such that it was not completely shut out of the mobile Internet by a dominant OS provider. The initial fears were around the dominance of Microsoft which in the post 2007-iPhone era came to be Apple. However, it just did better – it went on to become the dominant OS in Mobiles and handhelds itself.

We all know that Google makes almost all of its money on ad revenue – 94% of Google Q4 revenues were based on advertising. Of this $8bn was generated by mobile devices of which, analysts now expect $5bn of 2013 Google Ad revenue to be from tablets alone! That makes it seem like a pretty solid investment for Google to pay whatever it does to be the default search engine in iOS ($1 billion/annual), since the iPad still holds close to half of tablet sales.

Android is Google’s footprint on mobile- An Android device, properly signed into a Google account and running all the Google Apps, generates an endless stream of little bits of ‘signalling’ information, way beyond what Google gets from a desktop search user even if they’re using Chrome. It knows where the user lives and works, how he commutes – and which phone numbers on web ads he dials. All interactions with Search, Maps and anything else can be linked together. Android, allows Google to tie searches and advertising to individual people and places. In the long term, the data that Google gets from Android users is probably just as important as Pagerank in understanding intent and relevance in search. The real structural benefit to Google from Android now comes from the understanding it gives of actual users, and the threat comes from devices that do not provide this data.

It is quite possible that even Google didnot see the scale of success of Android – Not only did it mark Google’s entry on mobiles, it also is generating revenue and most valuable user information.

Canalys: World Wide PC shipments (Q4, 2012)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 7, 2013

Worldwide PC shipments increased 12% year-on-year in Q4 2012 to reach 134.0 million units, with pads accounting for over a third. Tablet segment grew by 75% in Q4, 2012 to 46.2 million units with full year shipments totaling 114.6 million units.

Apple continues to lead the PC market, shipping 27.0 million units and taking its share over 20% for the first time. Apple’s growth in the pad segment was driven by strong demand for the iPad mini. Its overall shipments, however, were hampered by supply issues. Canalys estimates that the mini made up over half of Apple’s total pad shipments, with its attractive price point and compact design leading to significant cannibalization in the iPad range and wider PC market. Despite record shipments, Q4 saw Apple’s pad share dip to 49%, becoming the first quarter it has not controlled over half the market. Without the iPad Mini, Apple would surely have lost more ground to its competitors

HP shipped 15.0 million PCs, beating Lenovo by 200,000 units to regain second place, with both vendors taking an 11% share.

Samsung, buoyed by strong tablet shipments, had its first quarter in the top five, shipping 11.7 million PCs, giving it a 9% share and fourth place ahead of Dell. Samsung shipped 7.6 million pads in Q4, an increase of 226%, driven by its ability to push products down into lower price bands.

Dell clocked in 9.7million units, a 19% decline over its 2011 numbers. With the planned buyout of Dell to go through- it will give the company time to rethink its strategy and refocus, away from the demands of Wall Street and shareholders. Microsoft’s involvement in the Dell buyout raises eyebrows in the light of its recent aspirations to become a hardware vendor. But it is not likely to solve Dell’s problems as even Microsoft struggles with pads

Amazon’s worldwide shipments grew 18% to 4.6 million units, as it expanded the Kindle Fire range and launched in markets outside the United States.

Google’s own Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 products performed relatively well, with combined shipments of 2.6 million taking 2% of the global PC market share.

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Is Blackberry looking at the wrong end of the market?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 3, 2013

OS- Smartphones 2009-2013

Continued from an earlier post: Why am I so deeply sceptical of BB10 as RIM’s comeback kid?

The Smartphone sector looks to be one of the most extreme oligopolies of the 21st century- even while the market is exploding at 35% YoY (700 million in 2012 versus 490.5 million in 2011) – there is little room left for any one but Android and Apple.

Apple and Android contribute to 92% of the Industry Volume and 102% of the Industry profits! All others combined for 8% of the market volumes but were edged out of the profits – leaving little space for investments into devices and the markets. The thing about market share is that it is liable to change rapidly in a rapidly growing market.However, with the base of 700 million it is possible that growth rate would have topped out. On the other hand, North Americas and Europe are visibly saturated in volumes/and growth is slowing down; and with maturity are only driving Revenues and profits as people tend to purchase more high-end smartphones, including the more expensive Android variants and the iPhone.

Blackberry with its Z10 and Q10 is targetting the high end of the smartphone market – The space that is dominated by Samsung Galaxy SIII, Apple iPhone, Nokia Lumia 920 alongwith handfull others. Instead of beating its competitors out on price, it wants to offer a genuinely quality product that the most tech-savvy consumer would be happy to purchase. This part of the market is by far the most cutthroat, and also the slowest growing.Ergo, even if Blackberry succeeds in creating space in this segment, it will be just a niche! Blackberry is trying to sell an expensive smartphone with a high margin, but it is competing against the most entrenched players imaginable. The part of the market that Blackberry is choosing to enter will not grow much, and RIM will face vicious competitors from every angle. There isn’t room in the lucrative high-end smartphone market for small fry ~ a $8billion Blackberry for instance! (Refer to the Blackberry Torch as an example – well crafted – but it didnot take BB where it was designed for)

POGUE-popup
Unveiling the new Blackberry!

On the other hand, the smartphone market is growing super because Android is powering the low end of the market. These markets are typically the South East Asian regions, Indian subcontinent, China and Africa. Even while Blackberry has a strong presence in nations like India, it is the Android army that it has to content with in such markets – and currently Blackberry’s portfolio in the low end is only based on the 4 year old Blackberry Curve which is appearing a little jaded and last generation.

Thus Blackberry really needs to be focussing on low end innovation, pricing, volumes and markets – currently there is no visibility of it doing this. Hopefully it gets its act together before its too late. A flagship device is one thing – numbers, profits, revenues is quite another.

India’s edging on the cusp of data revolution

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 1, 2013

44 million smartphone users
39 million 3G subscribers

These numbers appear miniscule against a 975 million sub base in Indian Telephony. But these small numbers signify more than just numbers – these stats indicate usage and habit of data consumption which is on a up-swing in Indian data context.

screen-shot-2013-02-01-at-15-20-02

Sample Bharti Airtel’s quarterly results – which saw it posting slow down in profits for 12th successive quarter- big jumps in customers’ data usage are remarkable to note. The following extract from the result statement show – data use per customer rose 21% and the number of customers using fast 3G wireless data networks rose 29%.

This is not the single point of data as last year’s Nokia Siemens Networks reported 78% increase in 3G data traffic. In its report, based on data from 290 million Indian mobile data users, Nokia Siemens pointed out that mobile phones were the preferred medium for internet access in India, with 81% of data users saying they used their phones primarily for web browsing. Another 17% used their phones mainly for watching videos or listening to music.

Thus India and its mobile savvy 925 million subscribers is gobbling up data and is on the verge of a data revolution on small screens.

The India Internet scene thus is delivering as was expected with Internet and Entertainment consumption spiking on mobile screens. With erratic power supply it is a natural tendency to fall back on phones to deliver information and entertainment on the small screen. What complements the cause is the fact that the mobile phone screen is the single most viewed screen on a daily basis.

Howwever the best part is the significant upside that is awaiting – Internet penetration in India is lower at 11-12 per cent compared to other Asian countries (South Korea and japan have 50% data usage penetration levels). Even the densest penetration urban zones in India are only 39% penetrated. While a lot of it is to do with the infrastructure in India Compared to US, which has six carriers of 3G with 30 Mhz of 2G and 60 Mhz of 4G whereas India has an average bandwidth of of 8 Mhz of 2G.

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