Saturday, December 08, 2012

Over One Billion Smartphones

According to Gartner, there are over 1 billion smartphones in the world. This is certainly a very large number of Internet enabled, multi-function phones, and means that in theory, one in six people on the planet uses a smartphone.

However, this is only part of the story. There are 6.3 billion phones subscribed to network operators on our very busy planet. These statistics tell a number of interesting things.

Firstly, it is significant to note that there are over six times as many non-smartphones as there are smartphones. It is also important to look at the demographics of smartphone versus feature phones. For example the so-called first world is, unsurprisingly, the home of most of the Internet enabled multi-purpose phones, and Africa has a much higher penetration of feature phones. In South Africa the ratio is 132%. There are 66.6 million cell phone subscribers compared to an estimated 40 million users which comprises about 80% of the South African population (figures provided by World Wide Work in their report Mobility 2012).

For anyone wanting to market to the mobile connected world, one needs to understand how your potential customer will receive your communications. If a company focusses all their marketing effort to send communications which require an Internet connection, are they ignoring over 80% of their potential market? Are other forms of marketing more appropriate, such as SMS marketing?

It is important to note however that the distinctions between feature phones and smartphones is starting to become quite blurred as many feature phones are getting Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access. There is no doubt that it will not be long before most mobile phone users will have some internet access, with only the cost of connection preventing users from easy access to Internet services.

Secondly, mobile penetration as indicated by the number of phones subscribed versus the population of a region show that in most developed nations, including South Africa, there are more phones connected than there are people living in the country. This means that every single person in these countries have one and a half phones, or, if you exclude babies and children under 10 (and there must be a few adults who do not have phones), then the rest of the population must be walking around with 2 or more phones in their pockets. Why do they need so many phones? The reality is that many phones are connected to other devices, such as 3G modems as well as many people use multiple sim cards to exploit differences between the offerings from the network operators. In Africa obviously there are far fewer phones in circulation, yet the growth of phones has been phenomenal, and far exceeds fixed line connectivity. This is also the region where feature phones have a massive penetration. The mobile phone is the primary form of communication in virtually all developing countries.

The high profile phones like the Apple iPhone have negligible market share in countries like South Africa (around 1%), so companies investing in iPhone apps need to realise that they are targeting a very small niche market. The upside down success of BlackBerry in South Africa versus the rest of the world would reward marketing effort directed towards this phone. Blackberry and Samsung each have about 18% of the SA market, with Nokia way ahead at 50%. According to Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, “Blackberry’s continued strength lies in its appeal to the younger market, with the Curve models maintaining a ‘cool’ image. In the 16-25 age group, the brand has 28% market share.” The message is clear. The market is growing but still relatively simple, and on the whole the operating systems are Android, Symbian and Blackberry. This obviously is not the case for tablets, which is a totally different market.

Statistics often blur the facts. What are the implications for business owners and media marketing agencies with respect to positioning a marketing strategy towards mobile devices? The one fact which needs to seriously considered is the following:

  • Mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines 5:1 worldwide and are a far higher percentage in developing countries and South Africa. 
  • Mobile broadband outnumbers fixed broad band 2:1 worldwide and again is higher in South Africa. 
  • Over 40% of mobile users in South Africa use their phone for Internet access 

With figures like these it is obvious why the experts agree that mobile web usage will overtake PC-based web usage. This will happen even more quickly in developing countries, and South Africa, as compared to the rest of the world. A business owner in South Africa who focuses on building a web presence using traditional PC based web developments is facing losing users as consumers move to mobile web. The real challenge is going to be to see how e-commerce manages the transition to mobile, and how will traditional on-line retailing deal with mobile consumers?

Yet again, the Internet is forcing business to re-look at how they do business. One thing is certain; nothing ever remains the same in cyber space. Lex Faure

Lex's Techno Talk http://alexius.posterous.com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Windows 8 – Mobile Alternative?

Microsoft has committed a very large chunk of its development budget to make Windows 8 the product which will firmly establish Microsoft as a dominant player in the computer and mobile market.

 

From a position of total dominance of the IT market in the 80’s and 90’s, Microsoft has been forced to accept the gauntlet thrown down by Apple and Google for a challenge against its supremacy. The battle which followed saw Apple grow rapidly as it created and dominated the alternative markets of the tablet and smartphone. So much so that Apple has overtaken Microsoft in value and has established itself as the new leader and innovator in the market. Fifty nine million Apple iPads later, not many people can question that there is a new king on the IT throne.

In the meantime, Google has used its total domination of the search engine market and smartphone operating systems to embark on a stealthy onslaught on the battling giants. Google’s Android has become the de facto standard operating system (OS) in smart phones from Samsung, HTC, Nokia and others.

The operating system market share for desktops is totally different to the market share of tablets and smartphones. In the desktop market Microsoft still dominates with 45% of the market for Windows 7, 41% of the market for Windows XP, and the various Apple OS’s amounting to less than 10% of the market. (October 2012 data supplied by Netmarketshare: www.netmarketshare.com)

Desktop_os_market_share

When one looks at Tablets and Smartphones – Apple dominates, because of its total domination of the Tablet market. Apple iPad has 33%, iPhone has 25%, Android has 24% and the rest follow.

 

Mobile_os_market_share

The figures for the mobile market excluding Tablets are very different, and this is where Windows 8 needs to make a massive impression to remain relevant. Currently Android has over 61% of the mobile market, with Apple on 21% and Windows, Blackberry and the combined others sharing more or less equally the balance of the market. (This is according to research from International Data Corporation (IDC))

Mobile-os-market-share-20121

So enough of all the facts – what does all this mean to Microsoft and Windows 8? Having used Windows 8 on a desktop for a week, I must say it is a very comfortable OS and very easy to use. However it has many features which are unfamiliar to a new user, but then this would be the same for a new user of any operating system. The phones work in a very similar manner, as does the Surface. The operating system is totally optimised for touch screens, and will only be found on touch screen phones and Tablets.

Compared to the firmly entrenched Android and iOS phones, Windows 8 is a friendly alternative, but it does not offer a huge incentive for users of other operating systems to move to it and its future will probably depend on the devices that will be sold with it as the native OS. These will need to be winning phones to win support and users. Do the big manufacturers like Samsung and HTC have enough reason to move away from Android to Microsoft? I think they will all offer Windows 8 alternatives to ensure they have a footprint in this market, but I think it unlikely that anyone will unseat the big 2 at this stage.  For Nokia, the Windows 8 phone is critically important. They have launched the new Lumia 920 as their initial Windows 8 phone, but have ported their entire smartphone line onto Windows 8. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that Nokia had joined forces with Microsoft because it needed a partner in its battle against Android and iPhone.

In Tel Aviv at the launch of Windows 8 PC and tablet operating systems, (October 29th) Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO said that that the new systems would help drive Windows 8 Phone sales, as both platforms offer a common user experience.

"The initial reaction to these products has been really, really phenomenal ... And if you look at how people will get Windows 8, the truth of the matter is more people over time will get Windows 8 by buying a new computer than by upgrading old computers," Ballmer said.

"We are still relatively small ... I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly," said Ballmer, according to Reuters.

Only time will tell if the Windows 8 phone will become a serious competitor in the smartphone market. With Microsoft committing its largest marketing budget ever to getting the Windows 8 message to consumers it is likely that many people will find security in staying with Microsoft as a perceived established and safe brand. But will it be enough? Personally I think that the Redmond software giant may just have found the right product to upset the playing fields, and Android is likely to suffer more than the iconic Apple brand in this battle.

 

Lex Faure

 

 

 

Lex's Techno Talk http://alexius.posterous.com

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mobile – The Technology Tsunami

No other development in the history of the world has caused so much change, in such a short time period, as the explosive growth of the mobile phone in general, and the smart phone in particular.

There are reportedly about 6 billion cell phones littering our planet. Taking into account the pre-technology aged, the impoverished, the lost tribes of the Amazon and those lucky babes in arms who have not yet succumbed to the slavery of connectivity – where are all these phones hiding? It would seem to me from the statistics that every drawer in the homes of the “developed” nations must be buzzing and vibrating with the syncopated chorus of inane ringtones and assorted bizarre sounds used to alert the jaded consumer that his or her shiny ringmaster is calling for attention.

We are used to concerned parents wailing about their children’s inability to communicate verbally – whilst they themselves are tied to their BB or iPhone or whatever device is fashionable in their social network.

The humble portable phone, which is how the mobile phone started its life, was just that. A phone which did not need a fixed line to operate. And this was revolutionary and exciting, if a little big and clunky. Well the brick soon transformed into a swan – except that, instead of growing UP into a swan, it grew DOWN into a smaller, lighter, thinner super computer. The current smartphone boasts quad core processors, 1Gb RAM, 1Ghz processor speeds and includes more gadgets and gizmos than most people’s desktop computers. Even the technological wizardry was not enough for the manufacturers with mobile phones and cameras merging into the same space – and Nokia upped the ante by cramming a 41 megapixel giant killer into their 808 PureView smartphone. Where does this end?

Nokia-808-pureview-01
The Nokia 808 is not really a game changer though, I think it is too extreme and too specialised, since the ubiquitous 8Mp camera as found in the Samsung Galaxy Slll, the latest iPhone and most top end smartphones seems to have become the norm, at least for the time being. Nokia has always tended to seek the top end with regard to phone cameras, largely due to their 7 year partnership with Carl Zeiss, who provide the camera technology. The camera innovations are seen by many as a desperate attempt to keep market share and retain credibility in a market which is moving away from the struggling Finish manufacturer. Although an interesting point worth thinking about is that the Nokia 1100 is the most popular phone in the world – and especially in developing countries, because it is cheap, rugged, dust proof, water resistant, has few spare parts and includes a built-in flash light! It is also easy to repair.

Where does mobile go from here? It has pushed the boundaries in development terms and has long since exceeded the needs and abilities of most of it users. So where to now?

Obviously there is no simple answer, since we are talking about a product that is used by virtually the entire population of the world. Needs and expectations vary according to the markets the phones are used in. But the primary focus areas for mobile phones are the following:

Feature Phones: 70% of phones sold world-wide are feature phones: Making calls and SMS’s are primary needs for the majority of users. For them the mobile phone is a means of communication with the added bonus for some that it can also be used to connect to the Internet. Banking services for the unbanked, such as M-PESA have revolutionised the way people can send and receive money. In developing countries such as China and India, feature phone growth will still be massive for many years to come. Quad core high performance phones become irrelevant, for most users, in such a market.

Gaming: Then there is the youth and gaming market – their needs are much more specialised and require high performance and extreme technology. Here even a quad core is too slow!

Music: There is a major need for phones which can play music, with large storage space – and these phones largely replace MP3 and other music players.

Camera Replacements: For many users, their smartphone also replaces a camera – and for these users smart phones are their phones of choice.

Business: The business user has specific needs. In South Africa, the BlackBerry rules supreme, although the iPhone and Android phones feature strongly. These phones need Exchange Server connectivity, email push, easy texting and email editing and the ability to run videos and show pictures. Most smartphones fit into this category.

Youth Market: Where youth can afford it, BBM is the communication method of choice, although MXit is almost universal amongst the youth. Messaging, music, pictures, YouTube and Facebook are the features most sought after. Phones are also seen as fashion accessories, so young people are very brand and model conscious.

Finally we have the Techno-geeks – and they just want the best gizmos and gadgets on the market. They will never be satisfied with anything the manufacturers produce!

The current mobile market is ultra-competitive, changing all the time and difficult to define. But one thing is clear, the mobile phone will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and it is rapidly becoming the alternative to a desktop computer for many users. For businesses the message is simple – ignore the mobile market and you are likely to become part of history, not part of the future.

Lex's Techno Talk http://alexius.posterous.com

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Cellular Tyranny

Do you know any person, over 20 and under 65, and not totally incapacitated, who does not own or does not have access to a mobile phone?

Long heralded as the most powerful communication tool in the history of the world, the cell phone has put international communication in the hands of potentially every breathing humanoid on planet earth, and probably in space in the not too distant future. In the process, we are drowning under a deluge of information which no one is capable of assimilating or coping with. But we cannot claim to be uninformed, as long as we do not intentionally avoid the information tsunami.

But what is the broader picture? The all-pervasive impact of the mobile phone in every nook and cranny of our social milieu is undeniable. It is virtually impossible to have a conversation or meeting with someone without an intrusive phone message or call diverting attention away from whatever is being discussed or talked about. People cannot focus on tasks, other people or activities without the inevitable ping, buzz or vibration alerting you to someone out there demanding to be heard, noticed or responded to. Even when it comes to relaxing – silence, meditation, day dreaming or spending quality time with a partner – we are never alone – there is always a mobile phone hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce when we least expect it or want it. But can we ignore the hand of mobile? Oh no! Reply, respond, text… we obey without hesitation to avoid missing that important message or call. And most importantly – we are filled with fear and guilt when we ignore the clarion call – that irritating melody or chirping sound – which calls us to obey.

Yes. We are servants of a new order. We are obedient and subservient disciples. Our worship is unfaltering. We are in bondage to the universal cellular signal. Dare we become apostates and break free? Have you ever been able to leave your cell phone at home – and gone out for the day, or to visit a friend, or gone for a long walk in the forest or along the beach. Will you be wracked with guilt and fear about that message or call you dare not miss….?

Try it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the liberation and freedom you feel.

Or… you may be so tense and distraught at what you may be missing… that you will not be able to rest or enjoy yourself. If that is the case, you might need a cellular detox. Or you need to admit that you are addicted.

A cell phone is like alcohol. Great to enjoy in moderation, but a raging beast when it gets out of control and takes over your life. It takes discipline to switch it off when you are working, or visiting, or needing to take note of the real world around you, as opposed to the mini world calling for your attention. The need for discipline and cellular control has led to the development of creative alternatives to control your phone.

Probably one of the best applications out there is AwayFind. It will manage your emails and calendar alerts and has iPhone and Android apps. It prevents you checking your emails every 5 minutes – and ensures you receive important alerts via SMS, Voice Calls or via installed apps. The program also monitors your calls and messages and can intelligently help you customise the application to determine your important calls and those you can attend to later. Not only does it sort emails, it can notify you of topics you are following and emails from people you are meeting via a calendar alert. This is really worth looking at – free for 30days, and on a basic plan – but will cost from about R 40 per month for more advanced features.

Mobile phones can be a blessing – and have revolutionised communication and business efficiency – but ensure that you own your phone and not your phone owning you!

Lex's Techno Talk http://alexius.posterous.com

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Enjoy the Journey

What makes us rise from mediocrity and soar to greatness?

Road
Once we have travelled some distance down life's highway - we often find that it is easier to engage autopilot rather than to strike out to new horizons and untravelled pathways. Security is our opiate. We seek the known, the safe and the familiar.

But is this Living?

What about Us? What about our Dreams? What about our Hopes? What about that still nagging voice inside us which keeps trying to make itself heard above the noise and traffic around us?

"Is this It?"

"When did we miss the turn-off to excitement, creativity, meaning and fulfilment?"

Man's search for meaning...A worthwhile read, written by Viktor Frankl, about trying to find meaning in the horror and desolation of Nazi Germany during World War II.

But do we ever really search for meaning in our own lives? It is more likely that we would rather watch some TV, or have a drink with friends than have to grapple with our inner demons. Soul searching is for Buddhist monks or muesli eating hippies after a joint or two.

But what about us? Do we not want more from life?

I hear you saying - but life is so busy, and the economy is so bad, and our relationships are so strained - we do not have time to go sit on a mountain and contemplate about meaning and purpose.

Ah ha! That is precisely why you need to stop and take a long deep breath (hopefully of fresh air). If you do not know where you are going, and if you do not know who you are, how can you possibly be successful in business, relationships, or just plain living!

We have the process all screwed up. We think -

If we just Have the things we want, then would be able to Do the things we want to do and then we would Be happy.

(Thanks to Neale Donald Walsch in his book "Conversation with God" for opening my mind to this concept - which I have modified a bit.)

But this is not it at all. Look at life this way - and you cannot find lasting happiness. Trying to Have things is illusive. Absolutely nothing which you aspire to own, or to have will ever bring you happiness, since we never find fulfilment in what we have.... there is always something newer, better, shinier, etc. which makes what we have, not good enough.

Getting back to our travelling metaphor - the problem is that we tend to focus on Arriving, rather than the Journey. Be brave, take a chance and forget about where you are going - but luxuriate in every aspect of the journey - live for the moment and you will be surprised to quickly find that where you thought you were going, is not where you want to go at all.

Before we even have a possibility of finding that elusive state of happiness we dream of, we need to explore our very own existence. We need to Be. To Be is not a state of doing, it is not about arriving and it is not about having things. To Be is to find the true nature of who we are. You cannot buy this at a Drive Thru. You need to grapple with who you are and you need to stop trying to Be anything - you must just Be. Can we do that? Its not easy. Our entire life, education, work, and existence in our modern society has not prepared us to Be.

The revision of the above process is

We need to Be happy and contented, before we can Do things - and only the will we Have.

We need to be content with who we are, we need to celebrate ourselves, we need to know what we want, and believe we already have it. We need Faith - faith that we are worthy of greatness and faith that we are already great, worthwhile and worthy!

As we take time to knowwho we are, things will fall into place in our lives - and as we learn to Be, we will find that we can Do more and morel

To Be or Not to Be - is not the question, it is the answer. We must Be otherwise we Not Be.....

Lex's Space http://alexius.posterous.com

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sailing - Michelle's latest blog

Michelle's latest blog

http://alrite.me/sailing/