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Smartphone Market Stagnates, Decline in Sales Inevitable

5 Sep


Research firm IDC presented the latest forecast for the smartphone market and things are looking pretty bleak. Apart from slower growth, developed markets – U.S., Europe, and Japan – are expected to see a decline in sales by unit over the next 5 years.

At the moment, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google’s Android OS is leading the pack with 85% market share this year while Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS trails behind at 14%. The firmpredicts that the market will change dramatically within a few short years. The IDC also predicts that growth in smartphone units will rise to just 1.6% in 2016 to approximately 1.46 billion units, which is nowhere near the 10.4% growth in 2015.

On the other hand, the research firm predicts that the total worldwide shipment growth will be at 4.1% from 2015 to 2020. However, developed markets will see a 0.2% decline while emerging markets remain at 5.4%.

According to IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani: “Growth in the smartphone market is quickly becoming reliant on replacing existing handsets rather than seeking new users. From a technological standpoint, smartphone innovation seems to be in a lull as consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with ‘good enough’ smartphones. However, with the launch of trade-in or buy-back programs from top vendors and telcos, the industry is aiming to spur early replacements and shorten lifecycles. Upcoming innovations in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) should also help stimulate upgrades in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Meanwhile, research manager Anthony Scarsella noted that phablets would enjoy greater demand in the market. “As phablets gain in popularity, we expect to see a myriad of vendors further expanding their portfolio of large-screened devices but at more affordable price points compared to market leaders Samsung and Apple. Over the past two years, high-priced flagship phablets from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and LG have set the bar for power, performance, and design within the phablet category.

Looking ahead, we anticipate many new ‘flagship type’ phablets to hit the market from both aspiring and traditional vendors that deliver similar features at considerably lower prices in both developed and emerging markets. Average selling prices (ASPs) for phablets are expected to reach $304 by 2020, down 27% from $419 in 2015, while regular smartphones (5.4 inches and smaller) are expected to drop only 12% ($264 from $232) during the same time frame,” he said.

The IDC noted that the demand for Windows-powered smartphones, in particular, remains weak. According to IDC’s chart, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is fast becoming a minor player in the smartphone segment, commanding a 0.5% market share.

Analysts noted that Microsoft’s reliance on commercial markets is the primary reason for its disappointing standing in the smartphone segment.

“IDC anticipates further decline in Windows Phone’s market share throughout the forecast. Although the platform recently saw a new device launch from one of the largest PC vendors, the device (like the OS) remains highly focused on the commercial market. Future device launches, whether from Microsoft or its partners, are expected to have a similar target market.”


By 2020, more people will own a phone than have electricity

4 Feb

Everywhere you turn, someone’s glued to the screen of a phone, e-mailing, posting status updates or playing a mobile game. But that’s largely in developed countries like the US or those in Western Europe. In many developing countries, even a basic “dumb” phone is a luxury.

That’s poised to change in the next four years. By 2020, 5.4 billion people around the world will have a phone, according to Cisco’s annual report on mobile traffic growth. In comparison, 5.3 billion people will have electricity, 3.5 billion will have running water and 2.8 billion cars will be on the road.

The mass adoption of phones underscores society’s increasing reliance on handsets for all facets of life. Yes, you can use the device to make a call, but you can also message your friends and families, pay for goods and services, turn on the lights in your home or binge-watch “Boardwalk Empire.” Cisco’s report forecasts a tenfold growth in mobile data traffic to 366.8 exabytes by 2020.

What is 366.8 exabytes? That’s the equivalent of 81 trillion Instagram photos or 7 trillion YouTube clips.

And while there’s all sorts of hype over the Internet of Things, or the concept that every gadget and appliance is connected and talking to each other, it’ll be the phones that remain the center of our lives. Phones will make up 81 percent of total mobile traffic.

In total, Cisco estimates that there will be 11.6 billion mobile-ready devices in 2020, up from 7.9 billion last year. The company believes wearable devices and machine-to-machine connections will continue to drive that number up. The year 2020 is when many in the industry expect next-generation, superfast 5G wireless technology to truly kick off in wide scale, which should jump-start both wireless speeds and the type of devices that get a connection.

The global average network speed will more than triple to 6.5 megabits per second, Cisco said. Many developed countries with modern LTE networks already exceed that. The US carriers, for instance, now average 9.9 megabits per second. But the rise in the global average will have a major impact on developing countries where the mobile infrastructure is still in its infancy. The Middle East and Africa are expected to have the highest growth rate in mobile data with a 15-fold increase.

By that time, more than 75 percent of the world’s mobile data will be video. That’s a lot of clips of adorable cats.


2016 Cyber Threat Predictions to Use to Your Advantage

8 Jan

With a Better Understanding of What the Future May Hold, Cyber Defenders Can Gain an Upper Hand With the Adversary

Predictions describe a set of events that will or are highly likely to happen in the future; they connote a degree of inevitability. But that isn’t my intent with these predictions about cyber threats. Instead, my goal is to describe how we expect bad actors will behave so that we can better prepare for and defend against attacks – in effect, empowering us to defy the inevitable impact of cyber criminal behavior on our organizations.

Based on observations over the past year, here are my predictions for threat activity in 2016.

1. Attribution remains murky. Last year both the variety of threat actors and the ability to neatly “classify” these actors into types became much more difficult as attack behaviors changed, and motivations and threats increased in their complexity. Actors no longer work in set groups, but combine with others, involve multiple individuals, and use facades to hinder attribution. This all but ensures that attribution will be even more challenging in 2016.

Cyber Security Predictions: 2016

2. Ransom continues to rule.Extortion as a mode of attack became a popular tactic for threats actors in 2015, and on a few occasions attackers have taken it to the level of demanding that businesses shut down entirely. Having proven that this is a profitable enterprise, attackers will likely further innovate their business models based on ransom and extortion in 2016.

3. More attackers share the global stage. Advanced attack methods, such as custom malware or unusual attack vectors, were historically the domain of nation states with significant engineering capability; often those states that have or are developing a nuclear defense capability. In 2015, non-nuclear states and organized criminal groups adopted these techniques thanks to lower barriers to entry and the increased trade in espionage capabilities. We can safely expect that in 2016 non-nuclear states will continue to develop their cyber capabilities and compete on the global stage.

4. Criminals follow the money. Organized criminals are focusing more intently on high value targets that provide a large value single payout. This is in contrast to the traditional consumer-focused malware approach that these groups have exploited in the past. This is highlighted even more with the Carbanak/Anunak attacks. Examples of high value/low volume transactions that may be targeted in 2016 are payroll, mortgages, and investment transactions.

5. Hacktivists get more sophisticated. Hacktivists continue to be motivated by embarrassment of their targets, but their tactics are no longer simply DDoS, doxing, and defacement. In 2015 hacktivists stole and published data in order to attract awareness to their cause, continuing to embarrass their targets despite the collateral damage. In 2016 hacktivists will use more tactics, techniques and procedures that were previously considered the preserve of cyber criminals.

6. Dark web marketplaces scramble for leadership. Global law enforcement will continue to takedown large dark web marketplaces. This will likely lead to a fragmentation of the market and rival marketplaces scrambling for pole position. This means that in 2016 we can expect the dark web will move to employ overlay networks other than Tor.

7. Attacks on the retail industry evolve. Spurred by the recent requirements for EMV chip card compliance, cyber criminals will continue to develop more sophisticated Point-Of-Sale (POS) malware.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, the point of these predictions isn’t to present a ‘gloom and doom’ scenario. Instead, we can use this information to our advantage. That’s what cyber situational awareness is all about: bringing together relevant and contextual insights to prioritize threat protection and policies and administer takedowns in order to mitigate harmful events.

Information about malicious actors is an important component of cyber situational awareness, because it analyzes which malicious actors might be targeting an organization, why, and their methods of attack. It’s even more critical that this analysis be tailored specifically to organizations and their unique threat environments. With a better understanding of what the future may hold, organizations can gain an upper hand with the adversary, preventing, detecting and containing cyber-related incidents.


How To Build Habits In A Multi-Device World

9 Mar
Allow me to take liberties with a philosophical question reworked for our digital age. If an app fails in the App Store and no one is around to use it, does it make a difference? Unlike the age-old thought experiment involving trees in forests, the answer to this riddle is easy. No!

Without engagement, your product might as well not exist. No matter how tastefully designed or ingeniously viral, without users coming back, your app is toast.

How, then, to design for engagement? And as if that were not challenging enough, how should products that touch users across multiple devices, like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, keep people coming back?

The answer is habits. For the past several years, I have studiedwritten, and lectured on how products form habits, and my work has uncovered some conclusions I hope will prove helpful to product designers.

 If the company’s business model requires users to come back on their own accord, unprompted by calls to action, a habit must be formed.


To be clear, not every product requires user habits; plenty of businesses drive traffic through emails, search engine optimization, advertising, and other means. However, if the company’s business model requires users to come back on their own accord, unprompted by calls to action, a habit must be formed.

The good news is that in today’s multi-screen world, the ability to interact with multiple devices has the potential to increase the odds of forming lasting user habits. By designing across devices, developers have a unique opportunity to leverage an ecosystem approachto drive higher engagement.

Through my research, I have found a recurring pattern endemic to these products, which I call “the Hook Model.” This simple four-phase model is intended to help designers build more engaging products.

Building for habits boils down to the four fundamental elements of the Hook: a trigger, an action, a reward, and an investment. This pattern can be found in any number of products we use automatically, almost without thinking.


Designing for multiple interfaces means your product is more readily accessible throughout the day. The more often the user chooses a particular solution to meet her needs, the faster a habit is formed. A trigger is the event in the user’s life that prompts her to use the product.

It is important that companies understand the users’ internal triggers so they can build the product to meet those needs.


Sometimes the trigger can be external, such as when a user receives a notification with a call to action. Other times, the trigger is internal and the information for what to do next is imprinted in the users’ memory through an association. For example, many products cue off of emotions as internal triggers. We use Facebook to socially connect with friends and family when we’re lonely and check ESPN or Pinterest when we’re bored.

It is important that companies understand the users’ internal triggers so they can build the product to meet those needs. Designers should be able to fill in the blank for the phrase, “Every time the user (______), they use my app.” The blank should be the internal trigger.

Take, for example, the experience Nike has constructed for its aspiring athlete customers. Nike’s suite of products includes wearable monitors, which track physical activity throughout the day, as well as a host of smartphone apps to be used while running, playing basketball, or golfing.

For Nike, it is critical that users attach the company’s products to a discrete moment in their lives. To succeed, Nike has to own the instant just before the user heads out the door to work out. Athletes want to know their effort matters and Nike helps them meet that need. By digitally recording the workout, Nike’s apps tap into a deeper emotional need to feel that all that sweating is not going to waste, that the amateur athlete is making progress.

By creating an association with a moment in time—in this case, every time the user exercises—Nike begins the process of creating a habit.


When it comes to multi-screen experiences, it is important to design a narrative for how the product is actually used. Knowing the sequence of behaviors leading up to using the products, as well as the deeper emotional user needs, is critical for successfully executing the next step of the Hook, the action phase.

The action is the simplest behavior the user can take in anticipation of reward. Minimizing the effort to get to the payoff is a critical aspect of habit-forming design. The sooner users can get to the reward, the faster they can form automatic behaviors.

Knowing the sequence of behaviors leading up to using the products, as well as the deeper emotional user needs, is critical for successfully executing the next step of the Hook, the action phase.


In Nike’s case, simply opening the app or wearing one of their body-mounted devices alleviates the user’s fear that the exercise will be in vain. Clicking a button marked Run in the Nike+ running app, for example, begins tracking the workout and gets the user closer to the relief he was looking for.

Finding ways to minimize the effort, be it by eliminating unnecessary logins or distracting functionality, improves the experience both on mobile and web interfaces. Nike makes the action of tracking exercise easier by building products designed to make recording even easier — for example, shoe-mounted devices that passively collect information.

Designers should consider how many steps they put in the way of users getting what they came for. The more complex the actions, the less likely users are to complete the intended behavior.


The reward phase of the Hook is where the user finally gets relief. After being triggered and taking the intended action, the user expects to have the internal trigger satisfied. If the user came to relieve boredom, she should be entertained. If the trigger was curiosity, she expects to find answers.

Thus, the reward phase gives the user what she came for, and quickly! When the athlete uses the Nike app, for example, a 3-2-1 countdown displays to signify that the workout is about to begin. The user can get on with her run, knowing it is being recorded. But the Nike suite of products layers on more rewards. The apps not only record the workout, they also motivate it.

When products have an element of variability or surprise, they become more interesting and engaging.


 To boost their habit-forming effects, many products utilize what psychologists call intermittent reinforcement. When products have an element of variability or surprise, they become more interesting and engaging. For example, scrolling on Twitter or Pinterest offers the allure of what might be found with the next flick of the thumb.

In Nike’s case, the element of variability can be found in various forms throughout its product experience. For example, when athletes connect to Facebook, the app posts to the social network and runners hear the sound of a cheering crowd every time one of their friends “likes” their update. The athlete never knows when they’ll hear the encouragement and the social rewards help them keep pushing forward.

Nike also implements a point system called NikeFuel, which is meant to be a quantification of physical activity. However, the mechanics of how rapidly points are earned is intentionally opaque, giving it an element of variability. Finally, exercising itself has an element of surprise, which Nike’s products accentuate by encouraging users to complete new and increasingly challenging activities.


Lastly, a critical aspect of products that keep users coming back is their ability to ask for an investment. This phase of the Hook involves inviting the user to do a bit of work to personalize the experience. By asking the user to add some effort into the app, the product increases in value with use, getting better the more the user commits to it.

Investments are actions that increase the likelihood of the next pass through the Hook by loading the next trigger, storing value, and creating preference for using the product. It is important that the four phases of the Hook are followed in sequential order for maximum impact.

Every time the user exercises with a Nike app or body monitor, she accrues a history of performance. The product becomes her digital logbook, which becomes more valuable as a way of tracking progress the more entries she makes. Additionally, each purchase of a Nike+ device—like a FuelBand, for example—is a further financial and psychological investment in the ecosystem.

Nike and other exercise training apps, like Strava, allow athletes to follow other athletes to compare performance. The action of selecting and following other users is a form of investment; it improves the product experience with use and increases the user’s likelihood of using the product again.

In the future, products like Nike+ could automatically collect information from multiple touchpoints to create an individualized workout plan. The product could improve and adapt the more the user invests in using it.

An Engagement Advantage

For multi-interface products that rely upon repeated user engagement, understanding the fundamentals of designing habits is critical. By following the Hook Model of a trigger, an action, a reward, and finally an investment, product designers can ensure they have the requisite components of a habit-forming technology.

By building products that follow users throughout their day, on smartphones, tablets, and more recently wearable devices, companies have an opportunity to cycle users through the four phases of the Hook more frequently and increase the odds of creating products people love.


Companies Pursue Cross Sector Growth as Digital Technologies Dissolve Traditional Industry Boundaries

23 Jan
New digitally enabled markets to achieve higher growth rates than the traditional sectors they replace

As the global economy continues to recover, a majority of companies intend to pursue growth opportunities outside their own industry sectors as digital technologies help create new higher growth markets, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The research also shows that most top executives believe the ability of new digital technologies to dissolve industry boundaries is the most important structural shift businesses will face over the next five years.

The report, “Remaking Customer Markets: Unlocking Growth with Digital,” includes a survey of 500 C- level executives in 10 countries, which reveals that while 64 percent say their companies will continue to focus on growth within their current industry, 60 percent plan to pursue growth in, or in collaboration with, other industries in the next five years. The report examines six ‘digitally contestable markets’ in which established and new players from multiple sectors are using digital technology to reshape traditional industries and create higher rates of growth: Healthcare, education, financial services, manufacturing, retail and transportation. Among the findings:

  • While the core healthcare sector in the United States is expected to grow at 2.5 percent annually between 2012 and 2018, the impact of digital technology (e.g. remote diagnostics, electronic records management) will help drive annual growth of 3.3 percent in the broader market for staying healthy.
  • The UK’s core financial services sector is projected to  grow at 2.0 percent per year between 2012 and 2018, but the wider digitally contested ‘paying’ market will experience annual growth of 2.9 percent, thanks to digitally enabled trends such as crowd funding, peer-to-peer lending services and virtual wallet applications.
  • Germany’s retail sector is expected to grow 1.6 percent annually between 2012 and 2018, but the wider digitally contestable ‘shopping’ market will enjoy growth of 2.6 percent per year, due to trends such as real-time pricing, e-commerce platforms that enable consumers to become retailers and online sharing and bartering services.

According to the report, the aggregate value of three digitally contestable markets in 2018, alone – shopping, paying and staying healthy – will be US$5.9 trillion to the U.S. economy, €747 billion to the German economy and GBP£519 billion to the economy of the UK.

Despite recognizing the fundamental shifts taking place within their own industries, only 38 percent of the executives surveyed said that these shifts would be the primary driver of their company’s strategy, while 60 percent said their strategy will be influenced most by broader economic conditions.

“Digital technology has been with us for years but is now dramatically disrupting and reshaping traditional industry sectors,” said Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive – Accenture Digital, which offers solutions and services across digital marketing, mobility and analytics to help companies unleash the power of digital to drive growth. “Although companies recognize the potential of digital transformation, many are not yet aligning their growth strategies accordingly. Revenue growth will increasingly depend on their ability to embrace digital business models to redefine their own sectors, transform the way they operate and create entirely new products and services.”

Working with new partners
The report also reveals how companies plan to participate in digitally contestable markets in the next five years. Collaboration, rather than acquisition, is the preference, according to the research. Of those companies seeking growth beyond their current sector, 63 percent will create strategic alliances and 46 percent will enter into joint ventures. Only 39 percent plan to expand into non-traditional industry sectors through mergers and acquisitions.

Asked what capabilities will be needed for success, executives surveyed pointed to a blend of digital and “analog” requirements. Digital technologies were identified as critical enablers, including data analytics (cited by 50 percent of respondents), mobile computing and/or app development (48 percent) and social media (46 percent). But, consistent with the need for greater collaboration, the most important enabler identified by business leaders is in fact personal relationships and networks, cited by 58 percent of executives.

The report shows that there is a gap between companies’ intentions and their readiness to pursue new business models, however. Among survey respondents who classified their companies as being above-average performers, 80 percent said their businesses were well positioned to understand trends outside their traditional industry, compared to just 52 percent of respondents representing low-performing companies. Additionally, 84 percent of respondents from self-classified high-performing companies said they were well positioned to collaborate with outside entities to grow in non-traditional business sectors, compared to only 39 percent of low performers.

“Customers’ experiences increasingly rely on services jointly provided by companies from multiple sectors as banks, retailers and travel companies work together, for instance,” saidMark Spelman, managing director, Accenture, and co-author of the report. “Incumbents must be open to entirely new ventures and partnerships that disrupt their existing business in order to secure future growth. And while sharing data and deploying mobile or analytics technologies is important, companies must develop new capabilities and more flexible strategies to form those more open and collaborative networks that are at the heart of digitally contestable markets.”

Steps to success
According to the report, companies that hope to expand into digitally contestable markets and achieve competitive success must master three key capabilities:

  • Use Digital to Anticipate Customers’ Needs: For example, a leading British luxury retailer uses a data system that makes customer histories available as soon as those customers enter the store, allowing shop assistants to offer a more relevant and individual service.
  • Be Prepared to Take on Different Roles with Partners: For example, a Spanish telecoms provider entered new markets by working with a leading bank to support e-wallet and peer-to-peer payment apps and with an Italian insurance company to provide “pay-as-I-drive” car insurance services.
  • Use Digital to Speed up Decision Making and Product Development. For example, a U.S. yacht manufacturer partnered with a software company to prototype its designs through 3D printing, enabling it to make modifications up to 40 times faster.

“In digitally contestable markets, customers care less and less about which company or sector provides services, as long as those services meet their needs,” said Mark Spelman. “That creates commercial threats and opportunities, of course. Policy makers and regulators also need to respond to the blurring of industry boundaries if they are to keep up with customer demands and if they are to ensure regulation supports rather than restricts dynamic new forms of economic growth.”

View the full report at


Mobile Trends: Vision for 2014

27 Dec

Recently, we knew that the future of Mobile technology would contain all the same things, but vastly accelerated. Today, we realize that 2014 holds a huge possibility for new and different. This article on the key Mobile trends for 2014 will focus on Mobile First, S+S or Client-Cloud, Wearables and BYOD, BYOA & BYOT.

Have you just got used to iPhones and Droids? Have you started to feel comfortable with the new mobile world order? Then prepare for a disruption as 2014 is going to be a year of changes for mobile trends and beyond…

The more precise term is mobile and wearable technology trends, as it better reflects the overwhelming integration of machines into our everyday life and business. Mobiles and Wearables are already changing lifestyles and industries. Recently, we knew that the future would contain all the same things, but vastly accelerated. Today, we realize that 2014 holds a huge possibility for new and different. In this two-part series on the key Mobile trends for 2014 I`ll focus on:


Mobile First

In 2013, the retail industry had to face the fact that the majority of time spent online is accessed via smartphones and tablets rather than from PCs, with the ratio of 55% vs. 45% in favor of mobiles, according to comScore stats.

It is a clear sign that enterprises should (and will) sit up and take notice. Their time-to-market strategies will most likely be built on top of the Mobile First initiative, which is a proof of concept for new business strategies and mobilized enterprises. Mobile First could transform into an Android First for enterprises with a field workforce, as the Android Launcher allows full smartphone customization for exclusive business needs.

S+S or Client-Cloud

The need for native apps will undoubtedly prevail. While SaaS, PaaS and IaaS are continuing to mature, we are seeing the strengthening of a new trend of Software+Services aka S+S. The occasionally connected scenario will remain as a preferred paradigm for app design. Another point in favor of native apps is hardware, especially the presence of new sensors. Lengthy standardization procedures leave no chance for creating an HTML “silver bullet” code that will run everywhere and use all novelty hardware. The native approach, on the other hand, allows instant access to new sensors and is more likely to ensure a better user experience.

While the native code on the mobile devices is Software/Client, and the back-end is Services, together they form a Software+Services model. With Services running on the Cloud, it can be considered a remake of the old Client-Server, transformed into the Client-Cloud.


Wearable devices clearly deserve a separate paragraph. Wearables signify the beginning of a new massive wave in computing. These are devices for humans, machinery and movable machinery. Let’s describe the three groups of wearables:

  • Humans will have universal wrist band gadgets and glasses, as well as medical body-friendly devices, capable of tracking the body`s vital signs and other body parameters.
  • Homes, offices, and stores will soon be packed with sensors and connected thinking machines, running real-time analytics.
  • Cars, cargo and goods will be continuously tracked and managed.

It is a domain of embedded programming, therefore it is only logical to predict the increasing popularity of embedded programming platforms and tools. By connecting everything to the Internet we are going beyond the Internet of Things (IoT), into the realm of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

And last but not least, the Wearables will become a huge data source for Big Data and analytics (Machine Data).


As a reflection of a much wider Do It Yourself (DYI) trend, enterprises will experience further strengthening of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own Application (BYOA), and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).

As the Cornerstone productivity study proves, Millennials are ready (and quite enthusiastic about it) to spend their own money on work-related mobile devices and gadgets, mobile apps and technologies.

Small and medium businesses will have to establish BYOD/BYOA/BYOT policies rather than trying to prohibit these initiatives. Of course, enterprise security is a serious issue, but far from being a road block for establishing such policies. We`ve already seen a similar process with Enterprise 2.0, when people wanted to bring Web 2.0 technologies and tools to the enterprise. Today, employees will start bringing Web of Apps to the enterprises.


Continuing the overview of the key Mobile Trends to prevail in 2014 as based on the tendencies we`ve noticed in SoftServe`s mobility projects this year, this article focuses on the three important 2014 Mobile trends: Personal Experience, Ubiquitous UI and Personalized Healthcare.

This is the second part of my overview of the key Mobile Trends to prevail in 2014 as based on the tendencies we`ve noticed in SoftServe`s mobility projects this year. In the previous part I have already discussed Mobile First, Software+Service, Wearables, and BYOD, BYOA and BYOT. This article focuses on the next four important 2014 Mobile trends: Personal Experience, Ubiquitous UI and Personalized Healthcare.

Personal Experience

Judging from the consumers` behavior and today`s marketplace situation, the strengthening of a Consumerism trend is a given. The consumers` interaction with the marketplace is further evolving.

We`ve already witnessed four eras of economy: extraction of commodities; making goods, service delivery and the staging of experience.

What a contemporary consumer wants is personal experience, authenticity, and individuality. It’s expected that the providers will meet these challenges by utilizing personal devices – mobile phones, wrist gadgets, glasses, tablets, home TV panels, car boards, etc. And although the role of speech interface will increase, I believe in the near future, visuals will prevail.

Ubiquitous User Interface

Mobile User Interface is getting ubiquitous. With smartphones omnipresent and smartwatches on the rise, people are used to always being “on” – wherever they are, it in the office, driving in a car, or sitting at home in front of a Smart TV.

Obviously, the users want to have the same features (and have them working exactly the same way) on wrist gadgets, car head units and Smart TVs. That’s probably why the iOS7 has been redesigned shifting to a “flat” style. While skeuomorphism is less efficient for cars, the flat design is a strategic step for the gadgets of tomorrow. It’s no longer a question of a single device, where form follows the function. It’s a set of connected services and products that are aware both of context and of each other, staging a special personal experience for a user. The goal is to ensure a continuous and consistent experience across all devices and channels, so it is the cross-channel UX that will become the basis for the rising demand of personal UX.

Personalized Healthcare

The impact of mobile and wearable devices is also transforming the healthcare industry, so I will mention a couple of mobile healthcare trends in this post.

Mobile and wearables are blurring the borders between treatment procedures (especially in the aftercare and preventive care) and lifestyle choices. They continuously track your behavior, nutrition, sleep, calories burned, vital signs and other health aspects and suggest the optimal behavior to prevent diseases. It`s a huge achievement for both preventive and treatment healthcare, and an important benefit is that it`s done remotely, outside of the hospital.

Here are two more technological opportunities that would have been considered a miracle just a couple of years ago:

  • It is now possible to conduct a sanitary check via spectral analysis using your smartphone only
  • Your smartphone can recognize the food on a supermarket shelf even without the bar code scanning – just from a picture of it.

Machine learning does it all; the devices we will use in 2014 are indeed smart devices.


Social TV Data might help TV Ads get better in Real-Time Business Insider

7 Nov

Social TV can sometimes seem like a lot of hype. Yes, people are engaging with social media while watching TV, but is it just the latest buzzed-about media trend with limited value to broadcast networks and advertisers?

As broadcasters have seized on social TV activity, it’s becoming clear that harnessing the phenomenon is not only about attracting and retaining viewers. Social TV activity also creates a trove of useful data, which can be put to use to generate more effective advertising and better programming decisions.

recent report from BI Intelligence finds that social TV is being put to work for a variety of big data purposes. The social TV audience is a built-in focus group, participating with content in real-time. And now a variety of measurement and analytics companies have sprung up to quantify and apply this data.


Here’s a run-down of some of the most popular uses for social TV-driven data:


The 7 habits of highly effective mobile fundraisers

14 Oct

The 7 habits of highly effective mobile fundraisers

It’s no secret that mobile Internet is disrupting technology markets, and according to McKinsey it could drive trillions of economic value within a decade. Gartner forecasts that mobile apps revenue will grow 5 from $15 billion in 2012 to more than $70 billion in 2016. So “thar’s gold in them thar hills.”

This is a huge opportunity, but it’s also a huge challenge. Even mobile app companies with millions of downloads can struggle to raise money in the current market (particularly mobile games, which currently generate ~3/4 of all mobile app revenues). Angels, accelerators, incubators and crowdfunding are great to get you started, but aren’t the solution for the “difficult” second album – Series A funding. The much talked about “Series A Crunch” (unfortunately not a breakfast cereal) means that there are >5x the number of unfunded early stage companies across industries today compared to 2008, and those make for tough odds even in a hot market.

So how do early stage mobile companies escape the Series A Crunch?

At Digi-Capital our deal flow is around 1,000 deals annually across America, Asia (China, Japan, South Korea) and Europe. Much of that comes from early stage mobile apps, mobile games and mobile technology companies, so we like to think we have a feel for the market. Our experience and pattern matching have guided us to focus on the 7 habits of highly effective mobile fundraisers:

1. Product meta-design

What do you need to demonstrate beyond beautiful graphics and great functionality/gameplay? Investors can look at a range of factors, including user interface/experience, user progression/conversion, user segmentation and app balancing, social co-operation, smartphone/tablet specific functionality, post-release content updates, sales events tied to content promotion, testing (user, black/white box), analytics, rapid low-cost development cycles, agile development, business model (including free vs paid), monetization balancing, app discovery, distribution (both local and global), localization, community management, virality/organic user acquisition, cross-platform approach, tech differentiation (hard to copy quickly) etc.

2. Product portfolio approach/roadmap

Are you a single product company, with a big investment in one product (i.e., more like Evernote)? Are you a platform developing multiple products, with low capital intensity per product launched (i.e., more like Supercell)? Is there something in your approach which can produce more than a single product success? Is your approach best for the types of investors you are targeting (VCs often prefer platforms/portfolios, industry investors can be more comfortable with one-way bets on products they deeply understand)? How can you persuade investors that the risk they might take on you is worth the potential reward?

3. Mobile sector/genre growth dynamics

Are you aiming at a sector/genre within the market that is growing or shrinking? Are you opening a new part of the market, or flying into the teeth of bigger, better funded competitors? Are you focused on iOS, Android or both? What about OTT (KakaoTalk, Line, WeChat, WhatsApp)?

4. Team track record and dynamics

Have you succeeded before? Have you failed before and survived? (Spoiler alert: that’s a good thing) Do you have everyone you need on the team to succeed? Beyond designers and engineers, who is your money person? Who in your team knows how to acquire users organically? Who on your team knows the snakes and ladders for your sector/genre (could be in the core team, or a mentor)?

5. Mobile money metrics/analytics

What are the mobile money metrics that could take you into the top 1% of mobile app companies by revenue? Digi-Capital ranks apps using its proprietary data set in terms of lifetime value, 7 day retention rate, ARPDAU, sessions per day, 3 day retention rate, ARPDPU, % of paid conversion in first 30 days, sessions in first 7 days/following 7 days, % of paid conversion in first 90 days, second session conversion rate, % of paid conversion in first 7 Days, sessions per week, average session length (minutes), and % of organic to paid users. Where do you rank against the best?

6. Company upside potential and downside protection

What is your company’s upside potential where investors could help (e.g., realize growth potential, partnerships, team augmentation, analytics, mentoring, outsourcing)? Where is the downside protection for investors in your company (e.g., underlying asset value, team, IP, user base, brand, marketshare, switching costs, commercial relationships, predictable revenue)?

7. Fundraising and exit relationships

Who are the VCs and industry investors investing in mobile apps today? Which mobile app categories are they investing in? What advantages and challenges do you face with each of them? Why could they want to invest (or not want to invest) in you? How do you get them to come to you, rather than you going to them? (Spoiler alert: that’s a really good thing). If they won’t come to you, how do you get to them? How do you pitch like an expert, not a newbie? Who might buy your company after you’re a hit, and how are you building relationships with them (VCs want an exit, IPOs are rare, industry investors want to own you)?

A lot to think about, but hopefully this might give you a better idea of how to increase your chances of raising Series A funding for your early stage mobile company. Get it right and you could do well, get it wrong and you risk being disrupted out of existence.



LTE Asia: transition from technology to value… or die

27 Sep


I am just back from LTE Asia in Singapore, where I chaired the track on Network Optimization. The show was well attended with over 900 people by Informa’s estimate.

Once again, I am a bit surprised and disappointed by the gap between operators and vendors’ discourse.

By and large, operators who came (SK, KDDI, KT, Chungwha, HKCSL, Telkomsel, Indosat to name but a few) had excellent presentations on their past successes and current challenges, highlighting the need for new revenue models, a new content (particularly video) value chain and better customer engagement.

Vendors of all stripes seem to consistently miss the message and try to push technology when their customer need value. I appreciate that the transition is difficult and as I was reflecting with a vendor’s executive at the show, selling technology feels somewhat safer and easier than value.
But, as many operators are finding out in their home turf, their consumers do not care much about technology any more. It is about brand, service, image and value that OTT service providers are winning consumers mind share. Here lies the risk and opportunity. Operators need help to evolve and re invent the mobile value chain.

The value proposition of vendors must evolve towards solutions such as intelligent roaming, 2-way business models with content providers, service type prioritization (messaging, social, video, entertainment, sports…), bundling and charging…

At the heart of this necessary revolution is something that makes many uneasy. DPI and traffic classification, relying on ports and protocols is the basis of today’s traffic management and is becoming rapidly obsolete. A new generation of traffic management engines is needed. The ability to recognize content and service types at a granular level is key. How can the mobile industry can evolve in the OTT world if operators are not able to recognize a content that is user-generated vs. Hollywood? How can operators monetize video if they cannot detect, recognize, prioritize, assure advertising content?

Operators have some key assets, though. Last mile delivery, accurate customer demographics, billing relationship and location must be leveraged. YouTube knows whether you are on iPad or laptop but not necessarily whether your cellular interface is 3G, HSPA, LTE… they certainly can’t see whether a user’s poor connection is the result of network congestion, spectrum interference, distance from the cell tower or throttling because the user exceeds its data allowance… There is value there, if operators are ready to transform themselves and their organization to harvest and sell value, not access…

Opportunities are many. Vendors who continue to sell SIP, IMS, VoLTE, Diameter and their next generation hip equivalent LTE Adavanced, 5G, cloud, NFV… will miss the point. None of these are of interest for the consumer. Even if the operator insist on buying or talking about technology, services and value will be key to success… unless you are planning to be an M2M operator, but that is a story for another time.

Verizon’s Canadian Version

9 Jul

Verizon’s Canadian Version

Canada’s wireless sector is going to be disrupted like never before. A new, formidable competitor has appeared in the horizon.  America’s largest mobile network operator Verizon is now entering the Canadian market. With this entry, the dominance and profits of Canada’s three wireless giants: Telus, BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. will be threatened.

This move to enter Canadian market is the result of a new rule of the Ottawa Conservative government that allows foreigners to acquire telcos with less than 10 per cent market share. This is to bring new competition into the Canadian wireless sector. Verizon proposes to buy up small and struggling wireless companies like Wind Mobile and Mobilicity. If these deals come through then it would mark one of the biggest shifts Canadian telecom has seen in decades.

The small start-up companies like Wind Mobile and Mobilicity exist only because of government intervention and they had been unsuccessful in competing with these three wireless giants. Verizon is all set to become a powerful competitor with a strong capital, intensive branding and operational excellence.

One of the biggest reason for Verizon to become interested in Canada is because the US market has reached a saturation point. There is 100 per cent cellphone adoption in US while in Canada it is only about 80 per cent which means there is scope for more growth. Verizon is aiming to be a player, not just a passive investor. It already has a $700-million preliminary to buy Wind Mobile and an opening bid in an upcoming wireless spectrum.

Despite having only about 1/10th of the population of the USA, there are several factors that make Canada a valuable market for Verizon. One of the main reasons is the lack of partners. By investing in Canada, Verizon can own 100 percent of the operation and the profit would go entirely to them and need not be distributed to partners. This is not possible in USA where Vodafone has 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, US Cellular owns 5.5% of Verizon’s operations in Los Angeles and several third parties own parts of its network. This lack of full ownership means that Verzion has to distribute its cashflow to these partners.

Once Verzion is established in Canada, the profits could be used directly, thus reducing the need to take dividends out of its current Verizon Wireless subsidiary. By reducing dividends from Verizon wireless, Verizon can put pressure on Vodafone and potentially allow Verizon to purchase the minority stake in Verizon Wireless for a better price.




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