Forrester Research paints a vivid picture of the typical mobile shopper

More consumers research purchases on mobile devices than buy via the devices, finds a new report from Forrester Research Inc. Only 13% of U.S. online adults with a mobile phone say they have used it to purchase a product, according to the report, “How U.S. Consumers Shop on Mobile Devices.” That figure is 30% for tablet owners.

The barriers to mobile purchasing include web sites that are not optimized for mobile, concerns over the security of mobile payments and patchy wireless connections, Forrester says. As a result, the average mobile site’s conversion rate is only 1% compared with 2% to 3% on a PC, the firm adds.

Instead of making purchases, 37% of U.S. online adult tablet owners and 14% of online adult mobile phone owners are using their devices to research products and prepare to make a purchase. U.S. online consumers are also using their devices to read customer product reviews (tablet 28%, mobile phone 10%), locate a store and check store hours (tablet 17%, mobile phone 16%), and check product availability online (tablet 16%, mobile phone 7%).

When it comes to the products and services that consumers are buying on their mobile devices, they mirror the categories that early e-commerce shoppers used: 22% of mobile shoppers buy apparel, 21% pick up event tickets and 20%make hotel reservations. The average mobile shopper spent just under $90 via mobile in the past three months, Forrester finds.

Mobile shoppers are likely to be young, male and financially sound, the report says. A slight majority of mobile shoppers are male, and they are, on average, in their mid-30s. Two out of three have a full-time job, 40% earn more than $100,000 per year, and one-third have children under 18 living at home. Conversely, online adults who aren’t mobile shoppers are more likely to be female and are typically nine years older than their mobile shopping counterparts. More than one-quarter are empty nesters whose children have left home, and a good proportion of them either earn less than $49,000 per year or are retired.

Consumers looking to make purchases on their mobile phones from chain retailers prefer optimized versions of retailer web sites to mobile apps, Forrester says. However, the apps of online-only retailers are actually more popular shopping channels than the mobile web: 36% of U.S. mobile shoppers use web-only merchants’ apps compared with 31% who favor mobile commerce web sites.

As mobile retail activities and revenues have grown, retailers have been slow out of the blocks with their mobile strategies and budgets, the report says. For example, 18 out of 43 retailers Forrester surveyed for its State of Retailing Online 2012 report still had no employees dedicated to mobile. “Investment in phones and tablets is still in the early stages,” that report concludes.

“Luckily for e-business professionals, mobile is a marathon rather than a sprint,” the “How U.S. Consumers Shop on Mobile Devices” report says. “The convenience that mobile offers to consumers in the form of immediacy, simplicity and context translates into an opportunity that stretches beyond pure mobile retail sales: Next-generation mobile services will focus on customer engagement, multi-touchpoint sales and loyalty. Just as they are taking a risk by placing their bets too early, retailers run an equal risk of underinvesting in mobile.”

With Nearly Half Of All Jackthreads Orders Coming Through Mobile, The Company Launches A New iPad App

JT-iPad_Mocks-SALE

Jackthreads is a Thrillist company that features clothes and accessories for men. The style is all over the place – goofy t-shirts sit next to nice blazers and jackets – but it’s decidedly urbo-hipster in the design and sizing. Full disclosure: I try my damnedest not to buy their stuff but I still find my self idly clicking through and buying age-inappropriate streetwear. It’s pretty addicting.

That said, they’re going gangbusters.

The company will see $75-100 million in revenue this year and their iPhone app just passed 2 million downloads. The app has been a consistent top free lifestyle app and it pushes millions of pageviews and sales sessions. “It’s a huge driver for the business in every single way,” said CEO of Thrillist Media Group, Ben Lerer.

“The native app experience killed for us,” he said. “It drove tens of millions of dollars of revenue.”

They have just launched a new iPad app that acts as a catalog for their daily deals and pushes notifications when new sales are added. Lerer is excited about the new platform and has seen mobile usage explode.

“We anticipate the highest conversion rate on any channel,” he said. “I know I’m buying more frequently on the iPad. Mobile is a huge driver for the business in every single way.”

Given that Jackthreads is one of Thrillist’s most profitable properties and thanks to solid growth over the past few years, it’s clear that Lerer and team have found the goose that lays the lightweight golden track jacket with scorpion detail on the back.

iPad Mini popularity burying regular iPad, claim suppliers

Trends and shipment estimates indicate that the iPad Mini is overwhelming the iPad in popularity.

iPad Mini (R) is leaving the iPad in the dust, according to supply chain estimates.

iPad Mini (R) is leaving the iPad in the dust, according to supply chain estimates.

(Credit: Apple)

The iPad Mini appears to be trouncing the iPad in popularity based on estimates coming out of the Asia-based supply chain.

Of the 19.5 million iPads sold in Apple’s second quarter (January to March), 12.5 million wereiPad Minis, according to an estimate from Taipei-based Digitimes that cited sources. The publication defines the number as “shipments.”

Of course, only Apple (which does not break down iPad and iPad Mini sales) knows the real number, but this jibes with shipment trends that DisplaySearch was seeing in December.

At that time, DisplaySearch expected Apple to sell 6 million iPad Minis in 2012 but upped that “more than 12 million,” according to DisplaySearch analyst David Hsieh. All of those sales would have taken place in Apple’s first quarter, which ended in December. That’s because the iPad Mini wasn’t released for sale until November.

“It seems people especially like the size…[it's] lighter, slimmer and easier to carry,” Hsieh said to CNET at the time, referring to Mini’s 7.9-inch display versus the iPad’s 9.7-incher.

Sameer Singh at Tech-Thoughts put iPad Mini shipments at 12 million as the highest possible figure in the most recent quarter ending in March (estimating the lowest possible number to be a little less than 9 million).

The popularity of the Mini comes despite having a relatively low-resolution non-Retina display and older silicon compared with the iPad 4. So, it appears that the Mini’s price, starting at $329, and its chic, lightweight design are driving demand.

This also tracks the overall trend in the tablet market. Throw the 7.9-inch iPad Mini in with the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire (as low as $159), Google’s Nexus 7 ($199), and Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab ($179), and you have a market mainstream shifting toward small, low-cost tablets ranging in size from 7 inches to 8 inches.

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Apple’s iPad Dominates Tablet Web Usage with 82% Share

 

Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian tablet ad impressions from March 15th to 21st.  Not surprisingly Apple AAPL -0.39%’s iPad continues to dominate tablet Web usage with 82% share which is up slightly from February’s 80.5%.

From MoPub’s lastest survey mobile ad spend share for all iOS devices increased slightly to over 75% in March.  Monthly ad spending on iPhones increased 12% quarter over quarter and now accounts for just over 50% of all mobile ad spending.  The iPad’s share decreased to 19% and the iPod fell to 6%.  Android was just under one-quarter at 24% with Android tablets accounting for less than a 1% share.

CJ Takeaway: When you combine Apple’s dominant position in tablets with its leading market share in mobile ad spending it should help it maintain a leading position with third party add developers for new applications and features.

Chitika believes that one of the reasons that Apple’s iPad share increased in March is partially due to the company selling refurbished iPads at a discount starting in mid-March.

 

How many iPhones were sold last quarter? Analysts chime in

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The median number weighs in at 37 million, according to a group of analysts polled by Fortune.

Apple sold less than 33 million iPhones last quarter. No, wait, it sold more than 42 million. Actually, those are just the lowest and highest predictions offered by a bevy of analysts surveyed by Fortune.

Among the 48 analysts questioned about Apple’s iPhone sales last quarter, Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu was the most bearish, offering an estimate of just 32.5 million. On the other end of the spectrum, Michel Contant of the Braeburn Group was the most bullish, eyeing sales of 42.5 million.

The average turned out to be almost 36.9 million, while the median came in at exactly 37 million.

Whichever analysts are on the money, few expect a blockbuster quarter for iPhone sales. For the March quarter of 2012, Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones. But that proved to be an 88 percent jump over the same period in 2011.

Even reaching 42 million in sales last quarter would be just a 21 percent rise from a year ago. Achieving the median estimate of 37 million would represent a gain of just 5.5 percent.

Apple sold a healthy 47.8 million iPhones during its December quarter. But the stock was still rocked by Wall Street as analysts were anticipating higher overall revenues. The company is no longer the darling of Wall Street as its shares have been hit hard over the past several months.

If Apple turns in another quarter that fails to match forecasts, just how strongly will investors react? We’ll know the answer to that on April 23 when Apple reveals its results for the March quarter.

(Credit: CNET)

Facebook Mobile User Counts Revealed: 192M Android, 147M iPhone, 48M iPad, 56M Messenger

Facebook Mobile Statistics Done

Facebook keeps user counts for its mobile apps hidden, but analyst Benedict Evans found a way to uncover them and they provide critical insight into the direction and performance of Facebook’s mobile efforts. Most interestingly, Facebook’s Android user count is growing much faster than its iPhone user base, but is found on a lower percentage of Android devices. Let’s take a closer look at the data.

Old Facebook Mobile Stats HovercardsA year ago, Facebook stopped reporting user counts for its own mobile apps via the Graph API. But if you searched for one that none of your friends used and hovered over the search result, you could see its monthly active user count (MAU). Evans of Enders Analysis meticulously recorded until “some time in November [2012], those disappeared and were replaced” with hover cards lacking the usage data, he tells me. He incorrectly calculated Facebook’s mobile web site stats due to overlap between native app and HTML5 site users. Facebook declined to comment but solid analytics sources and old official numbers say the rest of his stats are accurate.

Evans gave me the raw data dump from his research, which is more current than his blog post, and here’s what it shows.

IOS VS. ANDROID

As of September 2011, Facebook for Android has 66 million MAU and Facebook for iPhone had 91 million MAU. In December 2011, right before Facebook stopped openly publishing stats, Android surpassed the iOS app. By just 11 months later in November 2012, Android had grown to 192.8 million MAU while iPhone only had 147.2 million MAU.

This shows Android is a core source of growth that helped Facebook reach 604 million mobile users by the end of Q3 2012. This underscores the need for Facebook to speed up Android development. Many new features and sometimes entirely new apps like Pages Manager launch first on iPhone. This could be because Facebook defaulted to giving employees iPhones for a long time, and still more team members carry them than Androids.

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While Facebook for Android may have more absolute users than its iPhone counterpart, the iPhone has a much better penetration rate. Facebook’s native app is actively used by 73.6 percent of the estimated 200 million iPhone install base. Only 35 percent of the estimated 550 million Android install base see monthly usage of Facebook’s native app. This may be in part due to the popularity of Android in China where Facebook is blocked. However, it may also show Facebook’s lagging penetration in emerging markets like India where Androids are common.

This all leaves out the iPad, though. Facebook for iPad rapidly grew from just a few million users in September 2011 to 48 million MAU in September 2012. If you estimate iPad’s install base at 100 million, 48 percent use the Facebook app monthly. That’s a lower penetration than on iPhone but worthy of regular updates.

Meanwhile, out of the 195.2 million iOS devices regularly accessing Facebook’s native apps, only 53.8 million or 27.5 percent of devices have turned on Facebook’s iOS 6 integration. That means there’s lot of people who aren’t using contact sync, easy sharing, and single sign-on for third-party apps. Facebook may need to come up with a way to convince more users to turn on the integration, both for its own benefit, and to convince Apple that Facebook is a powerful partner.

The big takeaway from the iOS / Android platform battle is that Facebook needs to focus more on Android. If Facebook’s iOS and Android apps have continued on the same growth trajectories, by now Android likely has more MAU than the iPhone and iPad apps combined. Even if Android is not the preferred mobile OS of employees, building for it is critical to keeping its overall mobile usage growing.

FEATURE PHONES ARE BIG. RIM, NOKIA, WINDOWS NOT SO MUCH

Facebook For Every Phone ScreenFrom September 2011 to November 2012, the Facebook’s feature phone app called Facebook For Every Phone that’s built on the Java Platform, Micro Edition, more than doubled in MAU to 82 million. The feature phone app’s growth shows emerging markets around the world are getting on mobile, and a decent number are using Facebook.

We don’t hear much about this app from Facebook. That might be because most of its employees carry smartphones, and so it may be harder to see how important it is, brainstorm improvements, and test updates. But until low-cost smartphones start displacing feature phones in the developing world, Facebook needs to innovate here.

What it doesn’t need to worry as much about are the second-tier smartphone platforms. RIM’s BlackBerry still has a somewhat significant Facebook user base of 60.2 million as of December 2012. Unfortunately that was only up from 48.9 million in November 2011, and its failed PlayBook tablet’s Facebook app had just 690,000 MAU by December 2012. Meanwhile Nokia had 15.7 million MAU by November 2012, and Windows Phone had only a couple million Facebook users. Fracturing engineering resources across these platforms is likely inefficient for Facebook.

MESSENGER GROWS QUICKLY, BUT IS STILL FAR BEHIND

Facebook does a lot. Having a ton of features on the web makes sense, but cramming them all in a single mobile app can make it feel bloated. That’s why Facebook began releasing standalone apps in August 2011. They give users quick access and a dedicated interface to a popular feature, and helps Facebook experiment with new capabilities it might add to its primary smartphone apps.

After buying the group messaging and SMS-replacement app Beluga in March 2011, Facebook re-skinned it, and hooked it into its unified web/mobile messaging system. The result was Facebook Messenger which launched for iOS and Android in August 2011.

Facebook Messenger And Camera Stats

A month later it had almost 3 million MAU. Growth picked up in the fall and it had 10 million users on each platform by November. It continued steadily gaining users, and Android pulled in front of iOS in Fall 2012. By late November 2012, Messenger had 22.8 million iOS MAU, 32.3 million Android MAU, and 1.6 million BlackBerry MAU for a combined 56.7 million MAU.

That sounds impressive but Messenger still lags far behind several international messaging apps. WhatsApp is believed to have several hundred million users and China’s TenCent says its WeChat app had 200 million users as of September 2012. That’s why we’ve heard Facebook has made inquiries about acquiring WhatsApp as well as Snapchat, which it instead ended up cloning as Poke. Owning the platform you private message on is critical to Facebook because knowing who you message with helps it refine its content-sorting relevancy algorithms. There’s also potential monetization options within messaging.

FACEBOOK CAMERA CAN’T COMPETE WITH INSTAGRAM

Facebook knew it had do something unique with photos on mobile. So, long before it began negotiations to buy Instagram, it started building Facebook Camera. The Instagram deal was signed quickly, and Camera was almost done so it launched the standalone app a month later in May 2012.

Though Camera offered its own filters, a powerful bulk upload option, and more cropping flexibility, Instagram had too much momentum and a loyal user base. Instagram passed 100 million users in September 2012.

Thanks to Evans, we’re now getting our first look at Camera’s progress, and its lackluster performance. A month after its launch it hit 1.4 million users, dipped for a while, and now six months later it only has 1.5 million MAU. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to Facebook. It showed a slick photo selection flow, filters, and bulk uploads were popular, so Facebook added them to its primary apps. But in the end, Facebook may be better off dedicating development resources to Instagram.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR FACEBOOK MOBILE?

facebook-app-overload-folderTo put it simply — going hard at Android, making its feature phone app more viral, and figuring out whether to concentrate on one omni-app or several standalone apps. Obviously there’s monetization, but that’s for another article.

Android’s growth momentum means Facebook for Android needs to become its premier app. Facebook’s competition with Google might make that painful, but it needs to stick to its social layer strategy. It should view building an incredible Android app as a way to take advantage of Google’s mobile install base, not the other way around.

There’s a ton of of feature phone users, and not enough are on Facebook. The social network should look to how it can convince its feature phone users to get their friends on-board too. That might mean some kind of incentive program for feature phone recruiters or recruits, such as mobile data discounts.

Finally, with Messenger, Camera, Poke, and Pages Manager, its standalone app portfolio is starting to bulge. Users might not want a home screen full of Facebook, and that might lead them to bury the apps in a folder. Then again, Google has done well with a suite of standalone mobile apps. Either way, 2012 was about Facebook getting serious about mobile in general. 2013 will be about trading the shotgun for the scalpel.

[Image Credit: Kelsey Dake / The Daily Beast]

Hands on with Pebble smartwatch, the most successful Kickstarter project ever

(Wired) — In the big scheme of consumer electronics, smartwatches can’t match smartphones, tablets, or even ultrabooks in piquing public curiosity.

And glancing at a photo of the Pebble smartwatch, you wouldn’t notice anything too different or special about it — it looks like an understated digital watch.

But this particular smartwatch has captured the public’s attention to the tune of $10 million in Kickstarter funding, making it the most-financed project in Kickstarter history.

Pebble, a smartwatch that wirelessly connects with your smartphone to alert you of incoming calls and messages, blew past the previous Kickstarter record of $3.3 million only five days after launching its crowdsourced funding effort. It’s an amazing feat when you consider just how many big-name smartphone and tablet brands are fighting for the same attention.

Time: Pebble Smartwatch pre-orders are sold out, $10 million pledged

What is it about the Pebble that made it such a breakout success? How is the small Pebble team going to put more than $10 million to use? And what, exactly, hides inside this insanely popular piece of hardware? We took a trip to Pebble’s Palo Alto office to find out.

Inside Pebble R&D

Pebble’s headquarters follows the grand tradition of small, Silicon Valley startups. Whereas Apple started its business in Steve Jobs’ garage, Pebble is located on the ground floor of Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky’s apartment. Granted, it’s a nice amount of space. There’s plenty of room for several desks, computers, a soldering station, and even a telepresence robot and remote-controlled helicopters. But for a $10 million operation, it’s still humble.

Of course, the Pebble team hasn’t gotten its hands on the money yet. The Kickstarter campaign officially ends on May 18, at which point all backers’ credit cards will be charged, and funding will be transferred to Pebble. (Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut of the total raised money.)

But even without cash in hand, Migicovsky and team are moving forward with aggressive product development, a move they can make in confidence now that significant public support is in the bag. They’re adding new features — water resistance and Bluetooth 4.0 — and forging new app partnerships to extend the watch’s platform.

We had an hour of hands-on time with a Pebble prototype, and found that one of the most impressive features is the watch’s unique display. It looks brilliant in direct sunlight and reads like an e-paper display, but refreshes much faster.

“I love it so much. The display is so cool, it’s just this pure black display,” Migicovsky said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew we had a product.”

The Pebble team calls its watch’s display an e-paper display, in order to highlight its readability in direct sunlight. The specific component Pebble uses, however, is Sharp’s 1.26-inch Memory LCD. This screen doesn’t use the anti-reflective e-ink that’s so familiar in Kindle and Nook e-readers. Rather, it’s a reflective display that uses a PNLC (Polymer Networked Liquid Crystal) module for improved brightness, and HR-TFT (high-reflective thin film transistor) technology to add contrast.

One bit of memory is also embedded into every pixel. This makes it possible for each pixel to hold its state without much battery power. And with 144×168 pixels in such a tiny screen, the result is a sharp, paper-like reading experience with dramatic black levels. Thanks to the screen’s lower power consumption, the watch’s lithium ion polymer battery can keep going for seven days, Migicovsky says.

But it’s not only the display that makes the Pebble special. The smart, sophisticated design of the watch itself has also inspired public interest. It’s not a large, hulking piece of hardware. The watch looked a little big on my small wrist, but was significantly less bulky than the inPulse, a previous smartwatch effort by Migicovsky’s team.

Before deciding on the Pebble’s final design, the team sketched out a number of other possibilities.

“You do 10 designs or 20 designs, then you choose three, and then you design 10 more designs around each of those three, and then you choose a path. We did that for Pebble,” Migicovsky said.

Now that Pebble has officially sold out on Kickstarter — for a grand total of 85,000 watch orders — the team still has a lot of work ahead. In its current state, the Pebble prototype is powered by a circuit board that’s much larger than the watch itself. The PCB is attached to the watch with a maze of wires, and allows the team to prototype new software and debug the system before commissioning the final miniature board that will go inside the shipping product.

“It’s much easier to make a board like this — it took only two weeks — whereas if we want to make a miniature board it would take a lot longer and cost a lot more,” Migicovsky said. “If we made a mistake, we’d have to remake all of them again.”

The “Big Board” as Migicovsky calls it, executes all the features that you’ll see in the final Pebble. There are four buttons, a 3-axis accelerometer, a vibrating motor, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0, a microcontroller, and 4MB of memory.

Migicovsky says the team will design a final, miniature board within the next couple of weeks. Pebble has already ordered more than $1 million worth of components for the watch and will be taking a trip to China soon to visit manufacturers there. (Yes, your Pebble will be made in China.)

This is the part of Pebble production where Migicovsky sees potential problems.

“The hard part will be the manufacturing process. There will be things that will come up, and we’ll have to solve them,” Migicovsky said. “It could be anything. This is our first large-scale manufacturing. There will be some problems, guaranteed.”

While the hardware is impressive, where Pebble truly shines is in its software. Pebble will be the first smartwatch capable of connecting with Apple’s iPhone, a feature that’s helped it reach a mainstream market. Users will be able to customize their watchfaces to their own personal style, and access a number of built-in notification features for calls, text messages, tweets, e-mails, and weather.

What’s more, Pebble is partnering with third-party app developers to create compatible apps. The company already announced RunKeeper, the popular running and fitness app, as its first official partner. You’ll be able to use Pebble to control the RunKeeper app on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Quick Alert for bumps in the night

Pebble has also built a partnership with another Kickstarter success, Twine. Twine, made by Supermechanical, is a small box-like device that has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, an accelerometer, temperature sensors, and an optional moisture sensor and magnetic switch. Through a simple web interface, you can configure Twine alerts for real-world events. And soon Twine will connect with Pebble too.

For example, you could put Twine in your basement during the rainy season and set it to alert your Pebble if the basement starts flooding. The two companies also released a video showing another use case: Attach Twine to a door, and when someone knocks — tripping Twine’s accelerometer — you receive an alert on your Pebble that someone’s at the door.

“We believe in connecting many simple objects to do powerful things, and when a common backer of Eric’s and ours suggested that Twine and Pebble together would be like peanut butter and chocolate, we loved the idea.” John Kestner, Supermechanical co-founder, told Wired in an e-mail. “[Pebble] is tinkerer-friendly and a kindred post-PC spirit (it even uses the same low-power ARM processor [as Twine]) and by giving users the ability to incorporate Pebble into Twine rules, the possible applications grow exponentially.”

The Twine partnership only hints at the many ways a Pebble smartwatch might be useful in people’s day-to-day lives. The Pebble team will make an open software development kit available in August, allowing developers to create more applications for the Pebble platform.

Pebble has already made Kickstarter history, but it will be even more exciting to see what becomes of the watch once it begins shipping this September. Will it be everything that the 67,000-plus Kickstarter backers are expecting? We won’t know until we get our hands on one. It’s clear, at least, that the Pebble team is already working hard to make the best possible device for its initial supporters.

If you slacked off and didn’t get around to pre-ordering a Pebble watch on Kickstarter, don’t worry — you’ll eventually be able to order a Pebble from the company website.

SXSW 3on3 Basketball Champions #techballers

SXSW Basketball 3on3 Champs

Jay Cathey founder of consulting group New Cyber Solutions, had the pleasure to taking part and winning the championship in the 2nd Annual 2013 www.sxswball.com 3on3 tournament. As an advisor to #treamfrendorsed www.frendorsed.com. Some of the other companies who took part in the tourney were hosts Appstack, Espn, 500 Startups, Citrix & Google to name a few.